Path to Financial Independence

http://dilbert.com/strip/2009-08-12

One of the largest stressors in our lives is money.  Maybe not money itself, but the need to make money.  This traps us in jobs that we don’t like in order to pay for the things that we hope will bring us happiness.  There are various statistics on how much of the population dislikes going to work:

80% of People on LinkedIn Don’t Enjoy or Hate their Job

Only 13% of People Worldwide Actually Like Going to Work

‘I Hate My Job’ Say 70% of US Employees

If you’re in the minority of people that genuinely enjoy your job and would do it for free, I envy you.  I haven’t found that job yet.  My mom has.  She’s one of those people that I truly believe would continue to work even if she wasn’t paid to do it.  But even she probably wouldn’t work Monday-Friday, 8-5, day in and day out.  Maybe more like a few hours when she felt like it.

When trying to minimize our stress and maximize our happiness, the question then becomes: How do I escape the rat race?

The answer is quite simple:  Financial Independence.

Financial independence is the idea that once we have a method of making enough money on our own that we don’t require an employer, we’re free.  This isn’t something groundbreaking, many people are able to achieve this through retirement.  The problem here is we spend 40+ years of the prime of our lives miserably slogging away at a job only to realize true freedom for a few years when our health is at it’s worst.  It has been conditioned into our brain that this is the only way.  It’s not.

The math is quite simple.  Once you have enough money to cover your expenses, you’re done working.  Simple.  The question then becomes “how do I know when I have enough money?” and perhaps most important, “how can I get there ASAP?”

How do you know when you have enough money to be free?

The answer is both eloquently simple and incomprehensibly complex at the same time.

Huh?

Let’s start with the simple part.  Once you have enough cash flow to cover you cash burn, you have enough!

Cash Flow > Cash Burn

= Time to go chase girls on the beach

…or guys on the beach.  But don’t literally chase.  I’m going to stop here.

The devil is in the details though.  How do I establish Cash Flow and how do I determine Cash Burn?

Let’s take this step by step:

  1. Determine Cash Burn. You have to know how much money your spending in order to know how much you need.  You could call this a budget but it’s more about honestly understanding where your money goes each month.  You need to determine this by tracking it.

TurtleMode approach:  I’ve tracked my expenses for almost 5 years now.  I have both a monthly average over the last 12 months and a monthly average for the entire time I’ve been tracking.  In my case they are pretty close but I take the higher number as an estimate of what my future monthly cash burn will be.

  1. Establish Cash Flow. This is now most likely covered by your job.  The key here is to develop methods of establishing cash flow in addition to your job.  Once those methods are established, you can simply remove your job.  This is often times referred to as ‘Passive Income’.

Here are some examples:

  • Investments – “stock market”
  • Savings – savings accounts and CDs
  • Rental Properties – money from renters
  • Royalties – money from something you create (music, inventions, art, etc.)
  • Business Income – money from a side business like a blog

There are pro’s and con’s of each of these methods.

TurtleMode approach:  I focus on investments.  More details on this to come in future blog posts.

2 steps, that’s not so bad.

How can you get there ASAP?

The answer here can be thought of in 2 parts:

  1. Minimize your cash burn – reduce spending
  2. Maximize your cash flow – increase passive income

Now there is TONS to get into and that’s one of the main purposes of this blog.  But to get started, you have to realize it is possible.  When you boil it down, it’s quite simple.  Not easy, but simple.  Just don’t get trapped in the mindset that you have to stay in a job until you reach retirement age.  Once the math works out in your favor, you’re done.  I’m living proof of it.  I’m in my 30’s and plan on being financially independent quite soon.  Anyone can do it, you just have to have the mindset that you can and deserve to!