Three years ago a simple question changed my life: “How many years do you want to work?”
I thought I knew the answer. Most people retire in their 60s and 70s, while some people work really hard and finish in their late 50s. Anyone who retires earlier than that either inherited some serious money, or got wealthy launching a successful Silicon Valley startup, right?
Around her 30th birthday, my wife was in a serious car accident. She only had minor injuries, thankfully, but the car was totaled. After the ordeal we were shaken up, and had a heart to heart about how precious time is. We discussed our careers, and how they left us feeling unfulfilled. The thought of spending thirty more years in a cubicle every day deeply troubled us!
When we eventually discovered the Financial Independence community and read about people retiring after less than a decade of work, were excited, but had some serious financial issues to resolve:
- A new home worth less than half its mortgage
- Six-figure annual expenses and lifestyle inflation
- Sizable wedding and new car expenses
- No investment or money knowledge whatsoever
Although daunting, we were determined to turn our finances around. Over the next three years, we worked extremely hard to save and learn as much as possible. We devoured the FI blogs. We read every book we could find on the subject. We trimmed our spending month by month and watched our net worth start to grow. We made a ton of mistakes, sure, but we learned a lot in the process.
Our hard work paid off. We are now only two years away from our FI date. What does this mean in plain English? It means I can quit my job before my 35th birthday and spend my days doing whatever I want, no longer a slave to the 40+ hour workweek! I’ll be able to spend more time with friends and family, and work on creative endeavors with no pressure to turn a profit. I’ll be able to spend more time on my health and fitness goals and less time sitting in meaningless meetings waiting for the clock to set me free.
So who the hell am I to give you financial advice? Well, I could try to impress you with my numerous graduate degrees and M.B.A., but honestly these credentials didn’t keep me from spending my money like a lunatic, so they won’t help you either. What I have to offer is experience and perspective. I’ve been poor, and I’ve been wealthy. I’ve been spendy, and I’ve been stingy. I’ve been fat, and I’ve been skinny (more on Fat Joel in a future post!).
The point is, no matter what financial mistakes you’ve made, I’ve probably made them too, or at least something similar. Through my posts, I’ll share with you details of my household’s finances from the past decade, the mistakes we’ve made, and how we fixed them. I’ll cover topics ranging from savings and investing to expenses and my views on debt. Each post will have at least one juicy example of how I did things exactly wrong, and then how I managed to turn things around. I am pretty passionate about this stuff, so stick around for some great new posts every few days.
How did we go from broke college kids to six figure spenders, and how exactly were we able to turn things around? For that, you’ll need some backstory… on the next Financial 180.