Planning To Declare Financial Independence

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.

Comments

  1. At nearly 51, I’m working my way to semi retirement. In the same way snowflaking away debt works, the same technique can be used for building wealth. Wealth is more than just cash, it’s access to ideas, helpful people and ways to create sustainability.
    Thanks for reminding us about the brave men and women who fight everyday for our freedom. I just went to Washington DC and viewed the Vietnam Vets memorial. What a moving experience to have this time of year!
    Great post FD!

  2. I am remembering those today who went before us to give us our Independence, and those who serve these days to keep our independence.

    Happy 4th!

    And keep working on your own path to financial independence. One baby step at a time is still a step in the right direction!

  3. I am celebrating my freedom to live life how ever I chose & am reminded today of what a great country we live in which will allow me to make that choice.

    Thanks for reminding me of the how important financial independence is to my freedom. I have been working hard to become debt free as it does allow REAL freedom once it is accomplished. If I may share an article I wrote about how debt enslaves us:

    http://hundredgoals.com/2009/04/17/master-of-our-own-slavery/

    Enjoy your holiday weekend & be safe!

  4. Have a question for you guys, that hopefully you can share your opinion with.

    First of all, this is a great blog entry. Thanks.

    I have $34,000 in student loans at an interest cost of only 2.6%. At the time (3 yrs ago), I locked that rate in, and I extended the repayment plan to 20 years. Hence, it only costs $220/month. I figure, why not since the rate is so low.

    Even after rates have come down, i’ve got about 90% of my CASH locked up in a 4.1% yielding CD, and about $52,000 in a 1.5% savings account and brokerage account to trade the market.

    My question is, What would you guys do if you were me? The $34,000 Student Loan is my LOWEST debt compared to my home mortgage at 4.6%, rental property mortgage at 5.25% (cash flow positive) and vacation home mortgage at 5.875% (which i don’t want to throw money at anymore since the market is so bad).

    Would you guys try and payoff the 2.6% student loan using the snowball/flake method? Or, pay off the rental property mortgage of 5.25% (2nd smallest loan)? Or, any other suggestions ie don’t pay the student loan off b/c it is so cheap?

    Thnx

  5. An excellent posting on financial freedom. I thought I’d add a note of how I took my own, many years ago, in a very unconventional way: I just did a ‘dropout’ from the world of jobs, with no advance preparation at all! Feeling, at first, that I could manage it on contract work (as a programmer) if I just let go of my automobile — my major expense — I outlined the plan in an article for Issue #3 of The Mother Earth News: “How to Retire Six Months of Every Year.”

    But it gets into your bloodstream, and in less than two more years I did the year-round thing. I learned an amazing lesson: that by just winging it, taking things as they come, life manages to work itself out. It puts security-planning way, way down, on my list of priorities. But of course, you have to DO it if you’re ever going to believe it.

  6. Great article on Financial Freedom – and thanks for remembering what the 4th stands for: celebrating our independence from England and celebrating those who are yet fighting for us.

    Financial Freedom is a great goal and one that everyone should be striving for; I think that no matter how small the steps taken as long as they are taken towards the goal, will get the person there. Slow and steady wins the race, no? Sure starting planning at a later age won’t get you the same result as starting planning at an earlier age, but the key is planning. Five years is better than no years.

    I am glad that you are getting yourself out of debt. The only debt my husband and I own is my student loan and our mortgage. Everything else is paid for. We strive to not take out loans so as not to be paying more interest than we have to. The interest that we pay now is all tax deductible. However, obviously, we would we have a lot more money to invest if we did not have to pay either of those bills. But that’s another story.

    Andrea
    Save Money to Make Money>

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