Financial Independence: Leaving The Sheep Behind

And The 4 Ways We’re Doing It

 

I know you’ve heard of it. The new epidemic sweeping the nation quietly. The trend of early retirement, financial independence, FIRE, or whatever other name it goes by has been taking over the minds of many corporate cubicle bound men and women.

The sheep mentality of retirement at 65 has been drilled into all of our minds. Not much different than the unrelenting pressure to go to college after high school, even if you don’t feel it’s for you, or getting married and having kids as the only logical step to take next. Everyone has a different path in life and is not called to the same thing. The previous expectation of living on social security is unrealistic, and to our family, the idea of working until 65 is not only unrealistic, it’s miserable.

Now, hold on. Don’t get your panties in a bunch! (Yup, went full southern on ya’ll there)

I’m sure for those that are on the other side, perfectly content to drive their new vehicles with the $400/month car note (that is never-ending because they have to get a new car every 5 years) and are super happy to spend their paychecks however they choose, those people think all of us are the crazy ones. And that is 100% okay. I hope that everyone can add the habits we share to make their life a bit better if they choose.

But for those of you who think it’s an interesting idea, keep reading for what it is and how we are getting there.

Now, what exactly is this Financial Independence that I keep mentioning?

Okay, so to be honest, when Hubs first told me what it was, it was by another name. One that I am not going to say because I don’t cuss. It was called an FU fund when told to me originally (If you’re thinking something that’s not good, that’s probably what it stands for). He made it a bit more PG by explaining to me exactly what it was and calling it Early Retirement.

Retirement? As in, old people, doing nothing?I don't like my job, so I need these! Time to make a plan!

That was my thought, yes. So the first blog he sent me to to help me understand what was in his mind was Mr. Money Mustache. If you have done any research into this, I’m sure the guy with the crazy mustache has popped up. But after reading what he had to say, I was fully intrigued and ready to figure out how it would look for us.

Everyone’s definition of what FI or early retirement means is different. TO US hitting financial independence is getting yourself set up to not have to work at a traditional job. Whether it’s through passive income like investments or rentals, or through a website or blog (maybe one day our own will help us out 🙂 ) or even just through cutting your expenses to the point of finding a lower paying job you love and not having to work full-time at a job you aren’t happy in.

I can’t say this is the traditional definition of financial independence, exactly. But we have settled on that being what it means to us. Getting ourselves in the position to enjoy life, live with a purpose both in our own family and in the world.

So, why do we want this? Does Hubs hate his job? Are we miserable where we are?

No. That’s the very simple answer.

For us, gaining FI is not about running away from something bad. It’s about running toward something awesome.

You see, we homeschool our kids and want Hubs to a full partner in that. We also want to travel with them, showing them everything we can. We want to go on mission trips, and we want to teach them to live IN the world while being OF Christ. It’s something we are passionate about.

You could do that while living the traditional life, right? Of course we could. But as I said earlier, we don’t feel that is the right path for us. And we are willing to live and be seen as weird and different to live as we are called. We’ve already been seen as weird for being frugal, being a SAHM, thinking debt was a bad thing and then getting rid of it, homeschooling, and now this.

For frugal tips, check out these posts:
How You Can Be A Shopaholic AND Be Frugal
Why you should be shopping at Aldi.

Luckily, I am not one to really care what others think. So FI is on the books for our family.

Now, here is the biggie. How are we getting to this far off mountain that is Financial Independence?

I’m not the number cruncher in our family. But, thanks to our monthly budget meeting, I know a good bit more than I ever planned or even wanted to (thanks Hubs! ) .

Here is what our savings plans look like:

  1. 15% straight off the top of Hub’s check into investments
  2. Lower monthly expenses to increase monthly savings %
  3. Pay off our house in 4 years
  4. Create a side income to speed up the process even faster

Those don’t sound too hard, right? And since we’ve already been living the frugal lifestyle for 8 years, tightening our belts a bit to hit goals has become natural. But let me break down our steps to get to that big goal.

  1. 15% into investments

    So, we got out of debt using the Dave Ramsey method, one that we still hold dear to our hearts. The step we are on now is step 4, invest 15%. We have hemmed and hawwed about doing this, trying to do other things and never feeling peace about it. So we have stuck to the Ramsey method for this step in our plan.

    There are two ways to do this: Off of the top of your check, meaning before taxes. This will be a higher number of course, but that means less will be coming home to you (which is good, if you aren’t good at saving). The other way is after taxes, meaning a smaller amount will be going into the savings, but you will get to have more come home to you. This is more of a personal preference, and for us, we chose to do it pre-tax so more can go into the account. It gives the Hubs some peace of mind knowing that we are taking care of our financial future.

  2. Lower monthly expenses to increase monthly savings %

    This is pretty simple. Live more frugally. Like I said, tightening the belts a bit won’t be an issue. We actually take it as a challenge, to see how high our saving % can get. Cut the budget, all those items that creep into your monthly expenses when you no longer have debt. And they do creep, we have seen it in ourselves!

    Check out these frugalweirdos, where I go for all sorts of frugal tips, inspiration, and challenges!

    But seriously, work hard to cut the grocery bill down. Be like Hubs, and get crazy about getting your electricity down. (He gets frustrated because I forget to turn off lights… a few lights…and a TV on occasion) See where your biggest expenses are, and figure out how to cut them down.

    Decide what is more important to you: having THINGS or having TIME? Because that is what it comes down to. Do you want to have those things? Or save it and have time for anything and everything a little ways down the road?

  3. Pay off our house

    So this is such a biggie. We are debt free, except the house. When we bought the house, we went about the best way we could think of. We kept the payment under 25% of our take home pay, gotten much less than our budget allowed, got a 15 year mortgage, and of course, put down an okay down payment (should have been more, but we didn’t have it at the time).

    So, without the house, we can easily survive on around $2,500/month. I mean, I’m pretty sure we could get a part time job that would pay for that. So this is a huge, monumental hurtle for us to get through. We are cutting our expenses and increasing our savings as mentioned in #3 so we can use those savings to throw incredible amounts at the house.

    Another thing that is helping us with this goal. Hubs has been blessed to have a company that takes incredible care of their workers. He also has a knack for the business industry and so the last position he got also came with a yearly bonus. Instead of putting that anywhere near our checking account, it can go straight into the house payment (minus 10% for tithe).

    Between our 15 year mortgage, savings %, and the yearly bonus, we know we can save up what we need in a relatively quick amount of time. With that out of the way, we just need to come up with an income of around $2500/month.

  4. Create a side income to speed up the process even faster

    In walks step 4. To get that income, we obviously have to be working on that now. We are still working through exactly what that looks like for our family.

    Putting it all out there, I have tried multiple avenues for making a side income. From babysitting (I do not handle other people’s kids well), to photography (looooove it, but it’s not something I enjoy doing for money), even an MLM business. I just wasn’t able to balance it all and be the mom/wife/teacher I need to be for my family.

    {Side note on that: I fully believe in the company I am actually still part of, Shaklee. They have incredible products and have history on their side as they have been around a long time. I just personally am not cut out to get rejected like any sales person does. I get sad… and it’s not pretty. Ask Hubs and he will back me up on this. BUT, I fully think someone who has tenacity and can stand the rejection can be successful.}

    So, after years of trying to do things on my own to boost our income, we come to this point. We both know this is the plan and we want it to happen, so how do we do it? Well, the same as so many others… start a blog!

    For more on those side income attempts read:
    How 3 Failed Businesses In 5 Years Makes Me A Success

    Okay okay, obviously we are thinking long term. We know this won’t be huge anytime soon. But we feel so passionate about sharing these principles and goal and dreams that have changed our lives so dramatically, that a slow side income build is still worth it. We also have other ideas, still marinating, to try to build more of a side hustle. Again, we are running towards something. So we know we can sacrifice a little here and there along the way, because the end result is both awesome and not that far away.

Financial freedom, financial independence, early retirement, whatever you want to call it. It’s achievable. It’s our dream. We feel that we can make such a difference in the world and know that we have to work and plan now so that can happen. Living the frugal lifestyle, investing, saving and paying off the house, even starting some type of side business: these are all our modes of financial transportation to get there.

We have been infected with the dream of living now, not waiting until the world decides it’s appropriate.

Who cares if we’re weird? We’re living!

Do you have a dream for FI? What ways are you making it happen?

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