I’ve written a little about who I am, what I am trying to do, when I plan on accomplishing FI, and how we are going to accomplish the goal. Why I would want to retire early, seems pretty obvious to me but maybe not to others. People may think they wouldn’t know what they would do with themselves. There are those that may have the same dream. Some may think that it is a life wasted . That if you retire early or at all, you are not contributing to society. That may be true in some cases but for me, it’s not. I’m not going to argue with those that take that viewpoint, everyone is entitled to their opinion. No matter how wrong they are 🙂
I am not one of the lucky ones that has a job that they love. Many of us, if not most are in this category. However, I am lucky enough to have a decent paying job. Hopefully that lasts for 10 more years but plans tend to spoil when the decision is not totally up to you. I feed off of my outside interests such as writing, painting, traveling, diy projects, and even reading financial blogs. These things interest me, hold my attention, and make me want to be a part of it. I get excited working on or finishing a painting, writing a poem/book/blog post, going to other countries and soaking in the atmosphere, remodeling projects, and learning something new. I want to feel that all the time! I feel more complete and happier to be alive. When I am at work, I know that I am helping others, building friendships, helping complete projects, and learning new things. But, it’s not my passion. I don’t get the same fulfilled high as I do with my personal interests. What I do get out of work, is a sense of security.
Security is one of a few human basic needs. I am talking about emotional, physical, and financial security. When we do not feel secure. We will feel angry and fearful. We might do drastic things so that we can survive, which can lead us down a less desirable path in our life. I already wrestle with anxiety and the stress that it causes, so I need and desire security. My job, my wife, and my kids provide me the sense of being safe. But Money can be a great incubator of that sense of security or it can destroy it if you let it. So, one might ask why. Why would I want to retire early? Because I do not want money to be an issue. I don’t want money to have any more control over me than it already has. Once I reach my FI goal, then I will feel secure enough to pursue my interests full time without hesitation, apprehension, or regret. It may be possible to pursue my life interests as a source of income now or in the future. At this time though, it is easier for me to provide for my family and reach my goals pursuing my current path. Like I have said before. Things change and I will adjust accordingly.
I feel lucky to have this dream/goal. To have a pathway to follow what I want. I know many people don’t right now. I know when I was making $7.41/hour as a young twenty-something, I never dreamed that I would be where I am at now in my life. I did know I would work hard, educate myself through school and on the job. I knew that I didn’t want to be scrapping by month to month with nothing to look forward to. I have contributed to society and I plan on contributing to society through other means as my life changes. Reaching financial independence will allow me the time to do so. If I could help someone else find their path to FI. If I could share something I write or draw that is enjoyed by even one person, I would have contributed in my opinion. To many people that is not enough. To them I say, pursue your own goals, pursue what makes you happy.
A little about me the Wannabe Retiree!
I did not and do not come from money. I was a Navy brat until my teenage years. Those of you that have grown up in the military may know that money and military are rarely used in the same sentence unless it is referring to the lack of money. Many nights were spent listening to the parents argue about bills and not having any money. I won’t get into a sob story about it. I know many more people had it worse.
I had to get my GED at age 16 because of some circumstances that prevented the traditional route of getting a diploma. I have been working full time since the age of 16 except for a five month period of unemployment. I started at Subway as a sandwich artist for $4.25/hour! I had many jobs in my youth and sometimes two full time jobs at a time. At the age of 18 I leased a brand new car. How could I not. The payment was only $234 dollars/month. I mean that was cheaper than my insurance rate of $300/month for full coverage in the great state of Arizona (How stupid is that and how stupid was I?) Before I turned 19, I decided to join the U.S. Airforce. I started out at a whole $800/month. Of course the first thing I did when I finished with basic training and technical school was to buy a stereo system for my car. Credit? No problem! I had excellent credit. Let’s go ahead and finance the $2,500 stereo at 22% interest on my Circuit City credit card. It probably only took me two years to pay that off.
I eventually got married at the ripe old age of 20. I left the military after only a few years and got a job in an aluminum extrusion/anodizing factory. I was finally making $7.80/hour working 12 hour graveyard shifts at least 4 days a week but usually more. I took classes at a university hoping to get a computer science degree but eventually stopped because I hated it, but not before I received my associates degree in general studies. Woo hoo! I was well on my way to financial freedom! Sarcasm aside, this was an accomplishment and it has helped me in my career, because any degree is better than no degree. Anyone that furthers their education to reach their dreams is usually on the right path. We rented a crap apartment during this time and eventually saved up enough money for a down payment on a house. The second item on the American dream/American nightmare checklist was finally checked off.
During my factory days(dark days) at the age of 22, I started a 401k, contributing a whopping 6% of my paycheck. When I quit, I had about $6,000 in my 401k to show after 5 years in that shit hole (This was right after the dot com bubble bursting). I was getting divorced and “luckily” kept the house and after a 5 month hiatus from work I landed a job as a research and development technician for $11.00/hour. I put a whole 8% of my paycheck into my new 401k. Life was pretty good. I eventually sold my house for a profit and lived with a friend on the cheap. During this time I also had a son and helped support him. I tried going to the university to study art but eventually had to drop out after a year and a half. I moved up in the company I worked for and stayed there for almost 6 years until a better opportunity came. I was 31 and was now going to be making about $40,000/year! I really thought that my life was coming together. I rolled over my 401k to my new Vanguard 401k plan and had about $34,000.
I have been at my current job for the past nine years. During that time I got married again to the Mrs. Wannabe Retiree and we have a total of two kids. I bought a town home and eventually started renting it out after buying another house. My family and I now live in a single family home that is probably bigger than what we need but suits our needs/wants for now. My raises and promotions increased pretty steadily because I busted my ass to show that even though I did not have a degree, I knew what the hell I was doing. My contributions to my 401k fluctuated from around 8% to 13% of my pay until I got serious about early retirement. Now I contribute close to the max of $18,000 a year to my 401k. I dabble in the company stock and sell it when I get a bit of profit to help fund vacations and other life events. I was putting money into a Roth IRA then stopped so that I can start contributing to a taxable account.
I wanted to write a little about myself, my education level (or lack thereof), and work history for a couple of reasons. First, I want to hold myself accountable for my goals and how I plan to achieve them. Second, I hope that readers(hopefully there will be readers) will find some similarity in their situation and have hope and a desire to start their own journey. Life constantly changes. Our way of living, what is important to us, what we value, how we see our life is constantly being challenged and evolving. The only person responsible for how we end up is ourselves. Ok, enough with the self help babbling. If people are going to read this blog then I just thought it would help to have a little background on the blogger.
For the past several years I have been obsessed with retiring. When I say obsessed, I mean checking my retirement account several times a day, what I will spend, how much I could potentially save, how much I need to retire, what I could spend in retirement, and on and on the cycle went. My goal for the past 8 years or so, was to retire by the time I am 60. This seemed daunting but feasible and people thought it was ridiculous that I though this was a possibility. I was confident in my ability to do so but 20+ more years of working seemed like a long nightmare, but I figured I had been through worse. Retiring at 60 would allow 10 good years of traveling and to pursue the things I enjoy before I was decrepit and done enjoying new things.
I researched and read many online articles that spewed the same retirement advice. Max your 401k, take advantage of your employer match, cut out lattes, have a savings account, buy a house, buy rental properties, and etc. I was putting money into a 401k(not the max but what I thought I could), I did buy a house (now on my 3rd), I didn’t go to coffee shops very often, I converted my second house into a rental property, and I always had some money in savings. Don’t get me wrong, most of these suggestions are relevant and important. However, these things will not get me to my goal of financial independence as soon as possible.
I compared myself to the average retirement investor, the average consumer, and the average family. I know that I probably shouldn’t do these things but i couldn’t help it. I wanted to better off, ahead of the game, and be secure in my present and future. Trying to just stay ahead of the pack of my peers was never enough for me so I toolk the next logical step and have decided that I am going to retire at age 50. That’s right, my goal has now been revised! The things that I thought were possible can be achieved earlier if I make the right choices. Thanks to other blogs (MMM, GoCurryCracker, jlcollinsnh, and many others) I have a chance to achieve early retirement just as they did or are going to. It took me 40 years to get to this point but at least it was later rather than never.
Do we need another financial independence journey website? Does anyone care? Probably not but I’m doing it anyway because I feel like I have to. If I’m going to be obsessed about something, then I might as well write about it in a permanent space so that I can keep my goals on track. Maybe this site will help other people that have the same goals. There has to be more people out there that have the same trepidation’s, concerns, and lack of education in financial independence as I do, right? Others have written how they got their financial independence after the fact. Others have posted their own journey. Many have been extremely helpful in my education to start down this path of financial independence, with what I am sure will have many twists and turns.
My hope is that whoever reads this will want to contribute and discuss ways to financial independence(fi), help each other reach their goals and believe that life beyond work that you have to do is possible. I plan on adding more information to this site, which will include financial goals, stories, and random thoughts. I have never blogged before, so I will stumbling along as I go. Thanks for reading!