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- I was bad with money, but the FIRE movement helped me focus more on saving.
- When I had a new boss who didn’t value me, I quit my job even though I was earning six figures.
- Thanks to FIRE, I have enough “FU money” to last two years while continuing my freelance work.
- Compare the rates and offers of savings accounts in your area »
In the fall of 2015, I pulled my credit report and I looked at my total debt: $ 30,000. At the time, I was living in New York City and thoughtlessly spending money under the misconception that I would face my debt at some point in the future when I made more. Then I discovered the FIRE movement (financial independence / early retirement), and it completely changed my life.
I reoriented myself to the value of saving and investing rather than spending, which got me out of that $ 30,000 in debt in 11 months. From there I started saving 60% of my income and over the next five years I was able to fund a two month trip to hike the Camino de Santiago (a 500 mile hike through the Spain), buy a house on my own, and finance my own business (the Economical Conference).
I settled into a plan to achieve financial independence at age 40, and everything was going really well. Until it doesn’t.
I decided to quit my 6-figure job
A huge asset that I had on my path to financial independence was my relationship with my employer. I saw my income more than double in nine years, got two months’ leave to go to Spain, and was allowed to work remotely before it was the norm. As for the full-time job, I felt like I hit the jackpot because I didn’t feel the kind of restriction in my time and energy that causes many people to pursue FIRE and quit. their jobs.
However, that all changed about a year ago when I got a new boss. The corporate culture and the work dynamics changed and it became very clear that I was no longer valued. The party was over for me, so I quit.
If I were only focused on achieve financial independence as quickly as possible, I would probably have kept my head down and tolerated this new environment in return for the six-figure salary that would have enabled me to achieve financial independence in the next six years. I hear this theme a lot in the FIRE movement. It goes something like this: “I hate my job, but I’m only X years old from FI so I’m going to put up with it for now.”
Instead, I decided to adopt a concept that I call “fi-lexibility”.
This concept is about recognizing that the pursuit of financial independence is more than the achievement of financial independence. While achieving financial independence is about opening up the possibility of early retirement, “fi-lexibility” is about seeing the options you have now, as you are on your way to even more options.
I have enough to work for myself
I looked at my finances and decided that even though I was not financially independent, I still had enough money to quit my job:
- I’ve had “FU Silver“(Or” Peace Out Money “, for the more polite of us). It’s like an emergency steroid fund: Two years of liquid, easily accessible living expenses.
- I was “FI coast“, which meant that I had enough money in my retirement vehicles to achieve what I would need for a traditional retirement without any additional contribution. This calculator helped me confirm my Coast FI status.
- My restless side as a host of the Optimal Finance Daily Podcast covered a third of my monthly expenses, which would help me stretch my “FU money” even further.
My current finances still require me to work for a living, but I no longer need to tolerate a less than optimal work environment. So for next year I am trying freelance work. Maybe I’ll find a way to cover my expenses independently on my time. Maybe I won’t and I’ll use up my savings a bit before I throw in the towel and look for another full-time job. Whatever the outcome, I have the financial bandwidth to try.
During my journey to financial independence, I came across a surprising irony: Perhaps the best part of pursuing FIRE isn’t achieving it. The ability to seize the opportunities that present themselves on the path to financial independence is where the real magic lies.