On this day marking the celebration of our nation’s independence, I thought it fitting that thoughts of our own financial independence were near the front of my mind. I just wrapped up my second book in as many weeks, Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement. It was a great read, and I particularly enjoyed it because the author shared many actionable steps, portfolio recommendations and real-world techniques to move towards financial independence. Other works often come up short on providing anything beyond theory and “pie-in-the-sky” projections.
The most important lesson I learned (or had reinforced) from the book is the idea that I just need to get started. Many of us are paralyzed by the investment choices so we sit around and do nothing. Suddenly, we’re fifty-five years old with barely anything in savings, and twenty years left on our mortgage. That puts you about as far away from financial independence as you could get!
Here I sit at almost 32 years-old, and not a lot of savings to show. But, we’ve had some big wins in the last several months. We’ve knocked out a lot of debt, paid off our car, and rebuilt our emergency fund after a family emergency took its toll. In the next year we’ll be debt free, except the mortgage, and can then really begin to focus on our dream of a semi-retirement before traditional retirement age.
Maybe I’ll continue writing in semi-retirement; maybe I’ll find some other side hustle I enjoy. Regardless, in 15-20 years I’d like to find myself doing more meaningful with my days than working in an office. I’d like to teach, mentor, and coach young people. I’d like to do more volunteer work. I’d like to do many of the things I’ve had to forgo to this point just to keep the family checkbook in the black. When we reach financial independence we will have the freedom to use our life energy for something more worthwhile to use than earning a paycheck.
In the coming weeks and months I’ll begin to share more about my strategy for achieving financial independence. Some big decisions will have to be made regarding our future plans. Will we invest in taxable accounts, or tax-advantaged retirement accounts (or both)? Will we go with mutual funds, high-dividend stocks, bonds, cash, or some combination? How will real estate play into our plans? What will we do for health insurance? How does our kids attending college affect our plans?
Lots to sort out, but fortunately we have plenty of time. Our number one priority is becoming debt free. In the mean time we continue to save in retirement accounts, but soon we may add other investments to the mix. Of course, I’ll be seeking your input along the way as well. From the comments, I know many of you are now enjoying a semi-retired lifestyle and I deeply appreciate your input, as do other readers.
While this post was about “financial independence,” it’s worth mentioning on Independence Day that many men and women around the globe are putting their lives on the line for our independence. Many others have come before them and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Take a moment today to remember those who serve their country, and their families. Without their sacrifices the idea of financial independence would be merely a dream.