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What is FI? This is the term that my wife and I have been pursuing since day one as a married couple. We have been pursuing the point in our life where we have enough saved that our money is making more money than we are making at our jobs.
This is the point at which you have enough money. You no longer need to earn anymore money. To some people this may sound like retirement. This is so much more than retirement. The old definition of retirement is the idea that you have to leave your job at a certain time in your life. That’s not FI. FI is not the idea of slaving away at a job for 30 years and then retiring.
FI is the idea of finding ways to save boatloads of money rapidly and reaching a point of freedom. Freedom to choose to work if you would like, but you don’t have to because you have enough money saved. This idea is called:
Financial Independence (or FI for short)
Instead of relying on a pension or social security, the FI community says take control of your money and reach Financial Independence. Now, I may not be a big fan of pensions or social security, but the FI community use pensions, social security and the tax law to help them prepare for and reach their FI number.
My wife and I have been on the path to financial independence, ever since finding Dave Ramsey around 7 years ago. We used Dave Ramsey to supercharge our debt payoff and crush our debt in 7 months. I later stumbled onto Mr. Money Mustache (MMM), who supercharged my goal of spending less. MMM and his family are ultra frugal and used this frugality to reach FI at 30.
Lately, I had felt like our finances were stagnant and we were getting complacent. We were pushing towards an early payoff of our house, but priorities were beginning to shift after the birth of our second child in July. I was looking at our numbers and I was beginning to think that our early payoff goal was in trouble.
That’s right, I was looking at our numbers and wondering, “I don’t think we can keep up with this early payoff plan.” During that time, we had set a goal of $20,000 paid off each year (or $8,000 extra each year). With the added daycare expense, I figured the house payoff money would go towards daycare and our dream of paying off the house early (in 7 years) had flown out the window.
I was even preparing an article focusing on shifting priorities and being okay with a slowed down climb towards FI.
It all Changed when I stumbled onto ChooseFI.
While I was on paternity leave in late September and early October, I read a post on somebody’s wall asking for suggestions on new podcast recommendations. This post was answered by someone that I went to high school with. They answered, ChooseFI. I had been interested in finding another financial podcast, but I had been avoiding adding anymore podcasts to my cue. There is never enough time to listen to all of my downloaded podcasts.
However, I decided to give ChooseFI a chance. I chose a random episode based on the title and it just happened to be a Friday round up show. I didn’t know what to think, because this episode was all over the place (as the Friday round ups do tend to cover a lot).
My next listen was to the travel rewards episode and I was hooked. Since that day in late September, I have given up all of my other podcasts and only listen to Choose FI (mainly because I am more interested in learning more life hacks). After binge listening during any free moments of time, I have finally reached the 2018 episodes (as 2019 is a day away).
I have learned so much from Choose FI. From travel hacking, to tax optimization, to extra motivation, to cutting back even farther as a way to reach a higher savings rate. Not only have I learned a lot, but I have put a lot of things in practice. Here are a few of the changes that we made at the end of 2018 and on…
Began building up points toward travel redemption.
Earned a Companion Pass (this allows my wife to fly free whenever I fly with her).
Slowed down our aggressive house pay off plan.
Began investing into both of our 457b plans (the ultimate FI retirement account)
Invested $810.29 per paycheck from my wife’s income over the last 4 paycheck’s of 2018 (lowering our taxable income by $3,241.16 in 2018).
Invested $400 per paycheck over the last two paychecks of 2018 (lowering our taxable income by $800 in 2018).
Began finding little frugal wins each week of every month.
Began looking at finances as more of a game (i.e become more creative).
Despite the dip in the market, I felt a lot of progress towards our financial goals at the end of 2018. We will pay less in taxes in 2018 and we will be able to use this tax savings to invest more in our retirement accounts. All of this happened, because I found something that spoke to me. It opened up my eyes to different retirement vehicles that can help you reach your goals.
Dave Ramsey and Mr. Money Mustache were exactly the motivation I needed 7 and 4 years ago, but we were getting stagnant and the old “pay off your house” statement was not going to help us. We were struggling to find extra money with both girls in daycare now.
ChooseFI gave me tangible strategies that I can use to cut down our expenses (i.e. travel hacking, etc.) and gave me strategies to save even more by using more tax optimization strategies. By focusing on more before tax savings, it allows us to save more without feeling it as much in our pocketbooks (Paying off our house early is after-tax savings). It’s the best of both worlds; more savings and less taxes!
Have you found motivation in other places? Have you heard of ChooseFI? What changes are you getting ready to make as we head into 2019?
REACHING THE FINANCIAL SUMMIT, STARTS WITH YOU!