It’s 2021 and the sun is shining on me as I write this post. Currently in our spot on the harbor in downtown San Diego. As I sit here I can’t believe I made it in 6 years – financial independence. This post came faster than I would have expected it to. Yet I had a few things on my side that helped accelerate me to the end goal.
I started my journey in 2015 lost, scared, and not sure if I could ever retire. I won’t go through too much in detail about the past as I already did a post on that here.
What I can tell you is this post will break down my thoughts, insights, and just how I was able to achieve this goal so quickly. Some of these tips and insights might surprise you. Others might not in the least. I hope that this inspires you and that you find at least one actionable item to take away and apply to your situation.
I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence
I now am financially independent! What does that mean to all the new people out there? It means my investments can cover all my current living expenses forever. Often most people use the 4% rule to achieve this. I’m more on the flexible side and decided to go with a 4.3%-4.5% SWR.
Flexible means I’m ok with adjusting this from time to time when conditions tell me to do so. That is what I love about FI it allows everyone to have more flexibility for their situation. This is exactly why I say Financial Independence is for everyone. Yet I will admit retiring early might not be for you. It’s 100% for me and I could not imagine having to work for the rest of my life and not having control over my own time.
Even though I am financially independent as of today, I am not planning to retire early just yet.
Why Wait To Retire?
I honestly always think people are crazy that rather go to a job than go have fun outdoors or even just chill at home. Trust me I am not sticking around my job because I am one of these people. Nothing against those who fall into this category but in all honesty if you rather go to work your life must be pretty boring.
For me, it’s all about the benefits. In a little less than 3 years, I will hit 20 years in the Marine Corps. At that point, I will rate an inflation-adjusted pension, and health care for less than $100 a month for life. That pension will be around $30,000 a year. That is my why for sticking around the gun club for another couple of years.
That pension alone is worth the equivalent of having $750,000 invested into VTSAX assuming a 4% SWR. I have gone back and forth is it worth going to work for a few more years for that much money? I’m still not sure and honestly, I probably will look back and have way too much money as I get older.
When Is Enough Money Enough?
That is what we all must ask ourselves on this journey. That is what I asked myself when “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”. My answer seems to have changed a bit every time I think about it. Yet I can easily live very well on around $30,000 a year. As of today between my wife, me, and our two Great Danes we spend less than $33,000 living in San Diego on the beach.
By the time I reach my pension, I will have a cash flow of more than double that passively. This is why my financial strategy is so bulletproof. It has multiple layers to it, I can be flexible and I can always do some Barista Side Hustles as well.
Ever heard of Barista FIRE? Check out The Frugal Expats article on it “What is Barista FIRE? Retire Sooner“.
Ask yourself today “When is enough money enough?”. I truly believe this will help guide you on this journey. It will point you in the right direction but be prepared for it to change over the months and years.
The Secrets To How I Hit FI In 6 Years
Spoiler alert I don’t believe I have any secret hacks or ways to become wealthy. I just use things I discovered along the journey most I have learned from others’ situations and applied what I could to my life. This is one of my super life hacks. Take something from everyone and try to apply it in some way to your situation to improve your life.
Here here is a sweet hack. I use BlockFI to earn up to 8% interest on my cash.
Number One – “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”
I did a lot of reading and research when I first hit the FIRE community back in late 2015 early 2016. I read as many books as I could, blogs, listen to podcasts, and even watched YouTube. I would do this as I went to work, worked out, and got home as much as I possibly could.
After a short period, I realized not all content is created equal. So I slowly started to figure out which content was worth the time to consume and which ones were just more for fun when I had the time. Your time is valuable so remember this every time you consume any kind of content.
Number one recap, I consumed content like it was going out of style and slowly dialed in which content was worth my time and which content was just for fun.
Number Two – “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”
I came up with an action plan based on all my research. I often see two groups of people those who do no research and those who research too much. Eventually, you must come up with a plan or blueprint so to speak with how you will accomplish and put into action what you learned.
I honestly researched for a few months and started to put my plan together. That included but was not limited to switching my Roth IRA brokerage, what allocation I wanted, what was my risk tolerance, how much cash did I need for emergencies, what defined my FIRE lifestyle, what defined me as an individual, and finally how can I accelerate this plan.
I wanted to not only reach FIRE I wanted to put a Blaze to my FIRE journey. Check out the books that put a Blaze to my FIRE journey.
Number two recap, I came up with an action plan for my money and life.
Number Three – “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”
I took action based on the plan I created. I have seen people who just keep planning and they never take action. This was me as well. I started my plan at the end of 2015. I did not open a taxable account until toward the end of 2016. So I fully understand this and how it happens.
It’s the fear that holds us back from taking action. This is what held me back from opening a taxable account. I was so afraid to invest my cash that it would all just turn into a disaster and I would lose it all. That is what I was led to believe by friends, family, and even tv and on the internet. It was all around me how risky investing was.
Once I took action and opened that taxable account my wealth took a huge turn. It started to gain momentum due to compounding interest.
Number three recap, I started to take actionable steps based on my plan.
Number Four – “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”
I adjusted and pivoted when I had to. If one of my steps did not go to plan, I would either change the plan or change the action. I started to learn from my mistakes in this step. This step was not fear that took over me it was self-doubt. Every mistake or goal that did not go as planned made me feel like I was a failure. This was of course not at all true. Yet It felt like it was no matter how much I told myself it wasn’t.
Readjusting your sails in life when things don’t go as planned. This is where you have to refuse to quit. It’s going to be hard you will want to quit. Yet keep pushing forward small wins add up to huge changes. I think of these like-new years revolutions. A lot of people have great intentions yet quite once it gets tuff. You will get uncomfortable It’s a new lifestyle and new financial habits. Change is tuff yet the results are worth it.
Number four recap, I adjusted and pivoted when things did not go as planned.
Number Five – “I Made It In 6 Years – Financial Independence”
Whenever there was a roadblock or wall on my journey I found a way around it or busted straight through it. I came up with solutions vs just naming issues. Life gets crazy and we can make things worse by our reactions and choices or even lack of action. The bottom line is to think unconventionally and you will see amazing results in life.
When I lived in MS making $50K a year I saved 50% of it and lived on $25K a year. I did this while traveling all over and living a pretty freaking amazing life. Because I used CC hacking for the travel, I explored outdoors which is nearly free, and found deals on cool local events. Instead of spending $30 eating out on a Friday night. I would get 2 other friends and we would go split a room in New Orleans and have way more fun and memories.
Even now I live in San Diego for less than $34,000 a year! I live a great life on the beach for half of the year and the other half on the harbor in downtown San Diego. I do this by living full-time in an RV. When I mention this it surprises me just how many people come up with reasons why they could not do it. Those reasons are never we would hate it. Try new things and new lifestyles, the worse outcome is you learn it’s not for you.
I found out this lifestyle is 100% for me. I love living with less and more intentional. This lifestyle allows a shit ton of flexibility and we live a sustainable life.
Number five recap, think unconventionally and try to find solutions vs reasons you can’t.
Can You Replicate This?
I truly think what I have done can be replicated. Will your path and journey look the same as mine? Of course not, that is silly. Yet can you take things I mentioned and apply them to your life to improve your situation. You sure as hell can do that.
That is what I have done over and over again. I have learned and taken away something from everyone I meet and read about in this community. That is something I learned at a very young age. Take things from others and apply them to your life to improve your situation.
With focus and time you can completely change your life and the direction it’s going. I still am amazed at how far I have come and what I was able to accomplish in only 6 years of focus and getting my priorities right. My journey will be different than yours. Yet that does not mean you can’t find some takeaways from me to apply to your life to improve it. We all can learn something from each other and apply it in some way to our situation to improve.
What might seem like an impossible task, like retiring early is not. The stories we tell ourselves become true even if they are not.
Every person should be striving to reach financial independence. This way you have the power to be truly independent and not dependent on a job you hate or even love. More people should be open to alternative living situations and lifestyles. People too often buy stuff to fill voids in their life and return believe life is just too expensive to be able to invest and retire.
Living with less will teach you what happiness is. It will help you solve your issues and truly help you find out what you value and what you don’t. The secret to life is being happy with less!
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Financial Samurai says
That’s cool you live in San Diego for $34,000 a year. One of my favorite cities for an easier going lifestyle.
If you haven’t watched the short documentary Slomo, by Wynn Padula, check it out.
How do you calculate your FIRE number?
David Cole says
I will check that documentary out for sure! I use a 4%-4.3% SRW for my FIRE number. I add a bit of a buffer to that as a safety net. If I FIRE today I would probably leave San Diego but could stay if I wanted. I plan to FIRE in about 3 years though at which time I will have a pension that should cover 90%-100% of my expenses.