Growing up, my parents taught me the value of working hard, saving diligently, of investing, and of living below one’s means. But having a goal and tracking my net worth has been the single biggest thing that has helped my financial life.
My “Wake-up” Call
After 11 years in corporate America, I thought I was doing pretty well. A six-figure job, a home in San Francisco that I had managed to pay off in 2 years, company stock, a mix of healthy retirement accounts, a savings/emergency fund that would last me 6 months if I ever became unemployed, and passive income streams that bring in just over $35K a year. And then it happened. On Christmas eve, the morning of Dec 24, 2014, my beloved father passed away.
A New Perspective
Losing my father was hard and brought to light several things, among them was the fact that I was winning the money game, but losing at life.
My typical day looked like this:
- 7am: Wake up, hit snooze button
- 8am: Wake up for real, check phone, email, stock portfolio, etc
- 8:30am: Shower and breakfast
- 9:30am – 6pm: Work
- 6pm-9pm: Gym, food, socializing
- 9pm-12am: Rest and relaxation, wind down before bedtime
- 12am-7am: Sleep
- Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Look familiar to you? I bet it does. I was spending my most valuable resource, time, chasing money. And what is money but a means to an end, a tool to help us lead better, richer, more fulfilling lives? To spend our time with our friends and loved ones, to see and experience the world and contribute to it in ways that go beyond what a 9-5 has to offer? Not everyone has the good fortune to work in an industry that allows them to mix work with pleasure. Now, I do enjoy my job about ~75% of the time, but there has to be more to life than this. I didn’t come to America to sell my soul and work for “the man” until I retired (or died). What about all those hopes and dreams I had as a child? As a teen I wanted more out of life, but somewhere along the way, it became “okay” to fit in, because it was the socially acceptable thing to do. Like anything else in life, no risk, no reward. I know in my heart of hearts that I owe it to myself to aim higher. And, I’m sure you feel the same, or you wouldn’t be here. It’s time to shake things up. To amp up my game.
A New Goal: Financial Freedom Before 45
Money is still important, but it no longer is the main driving factor. The goal is to break the shackles of employment in Corporate America and sail into the sunset on my boat (or Cruise ship!) of Financial Freedom. I’d say I’m about half the way there, but it’s time to amp up the volume and seriously step up my game. Follow along, become a regular reader of this blog and you’ll move up the financial ladder – fast.
Pondering the possibility of early retirement
What would I do with all my free time, once I do make the leap? Well, being blessed (cursed?) with an over-analytical mind, I tend to think (and then re-think) every decision I make. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that I have asked myself this question before. One thing’s for sure, my mind needs to be constantly stimulated, so I don’t think I will ever fully retire. I think I’d spend the first 6 months going nuts, celebrating my new-found freedom writing, traveling the world, spending time with family, pursuing an exotic hobby, or simply taking hour-long siestas on a Monday afternoon. Sure sounds like the good life!
After that, I’d probably enter semi-retirement, continuing to write and go back to work on something new and interesting, as long as it continues to excite me.