Maybe you like your job, maybe you don’t. Don’t you at least want to have the option to leave it behind to focus on other life changing experiences?
I achieved financial independence at age 43 and left behind a career that paid me $500,000 per year.
Most people I talk to about my decision to leave behind my career in my early 40s think I’m nuts. At the same time I hear a lot of discussion from the same people about long commutes to work, bad bosses, having to choose work over time with kids, or just general unhappiness with daily routines.
I worked hard and made smart financial decisions for 20 years to be in the position to leave my job. You can do the same thing and achieve financial independence even faster than me because I really didn’t get going until after 10 years of working. I’ll share my experiences so you can accelerate your journey to financial independence.
I didn’t inherit a trust fund, I went to college, I am married with two kids, and I live in California. My experience is relevant to most people.
Here’s how I achieved financial independence (the short version):
I graduated college in 1998 with a $0 net worth. I was fortunate not to have any student debt after college but I started at ground zero. My financial outlook after graduating from college:
- Assets: $2,000 (value of my Nissan Sentra if I can call it an asset)
- Debt: $2,000 (credit card debt from my first card)
- Net Worth: $0
- Annual Passive Income: $0
My first job paid approximately $38,000 per year. I did not receive money from others to support my lifestyle.
In March 2019, I left my career in finance and law and stopped depending on a paycheck. My financial picture at the time I left my corporate career:
- Assets: $3.7 million
- Debt: $260,000
- Net Worth: $3.44 million
- Annual Passive Income (dividends and cash flow): Above $50,000
I’ll give you quarterly updates on maintaining my financial independence here on this blog.
Over time, I achieved financial independence by focusing on the following:
I always saved 30%-50% of my take home pay. My expenses grew over time but I never allowed my personal expenses to keep me from saving a meaningful part of my income.
I found opportunistic investments and managed them closely. I’ve owned trust deeds, tax lien certificates, gas stations, personal real estate, rental properties, stocks, bonds, etc. I’ve also owned basic stock index funds. I have had successes and failures with my investments but I found that I could accelerate my journey to financial independence if I expanded my investment portfolio to include investments beyond traditional index funds. Some of my investments had much greater risk but they also had significant upside.
I did avoid big expenses that I felt were unnecessary. I went to law school but I went to a school that paid for 100% of my tuition and expenses. I did not pick a school that would have left me $150,000 in debt. I also worked during law school to keep the income coming in to fund my investments. My wife and I also made other decisions to accelerate our journey to financial independence – as an example we chose to have a small wedding with only close family members attending instead of spending a good part of our savings at the time on a big wedding with hundreds of guests. We also own our cars for a while and purchased a home below what we could afford.
I invested in getting career experience in order to generate increases in my income over time. At first, I took jobs that grew my experience more than my paycheck but after 10 years of gaining significant business and financial experience my personal income accelerated and provided meaningful cash flow to use for investments.
I optimized/negotiated multiple job opportunities and exits to increase my financial standing. I made myself a valuable asset to my employers and negotiated multiple promotions, salary increases, retention payments, and severances during my corporate career. Each of these successful negotiations helped generate a small windfall to use for investments.
I did not become a minimalist to achieve financial independence. I did not:
- Ride my bike to work (I like having a car);
- Live in a modern tiny home (I want my own room);
- Spend no money on my kids and their activities/interests (I have two kids in club-level sports).
There are other great websites that combine minimalist living with achieving financial independence but that’s not my story. Fire Mountain posts will be based on my first-hand experience in achieving financial independence and will focus on topics beyond index fund investing and frugal living. I promise to give you a perspective that leverages my unique background and experience.
You can get updates from me via e-mail and limit these updates to certain categories or key words that are important or of interest to you.
Climb that mountain to financial independence and enjoy the view!
Continue reading about…
- How You Can Maintain Financial Independence
- Adding Meaning to Your Life After Achieving Financial Independence
- The Purpose Behind Fire Mountain
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