Saturday, November 1, 2014

Freedom by 40

Here is the craziest concept that absolutely changed my life and my finances: your income and your spending can be completely separated - those two amounts can be entirely de-coupled, there is no reason why they should be correlated or one and the same.

That's a pretty radical statement in the financial landscape where 'Save 10% of your income and work until you're 65, then retire' is considered good advice.  More than that, it's seen as THE plan for most, except replace 10% with 15% if you want to be aggressive, or take it down to 5% because you also get a generous company match or your life is really expensive.  Isn't it weird that nobody talks about how you can increase the % you save and decrease the number of years you need to work, that it's a continuum of outcomes: how long you need to work depend on the % you can save.

I have a plan - to have enough in investments by 40 to not need to work.  This would allow me to keep working, or find other work (that's more interesting but less lucrative), or not work for stretches of time and instead travel or to do whatever.  The point isn't that I'm slaving away and putting life off until 40 - on the contrary, my life now is lovely and it is a full one, but I want a level of freedom that needing to work for a paycheck precludes.

Sebastien and I are probably at the point of our lowest income - I'm in grad school, he's working as an engineer on contract.  Before all this, we each (on average, separately) made what is now our joint income.  And yet ... now that we've started tracking our spending, we live on a bit more than my graduate stipend ($2,400/month), and save more than half of our joint income.  When we (hopefully) invest $11,000 on January 1st to max out our Roth IRAs, and pump 100% of Sebastien's paycheck into his 401k come January ... we're doing it because we can, and because we value freedom.  We still eat out, buy wine, see plays and concerts, visit family, take trips, and live in the heart of a great city.  And best of all - we're giving ourselves the gift of freedom, which is better than anything you can buy.

Here is one of my favorite articles in this topic:

Have you ever questioned conventional finance advice?  Would you be living a different life or filling your time differently if you didn't need to work for a paycheck?

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