I’ve been seeing a lot of millionaire stories lately where a good part of the advice is waking up early, reading all the time, networking like crazy and working your way up the ladder.
I’ve simply never been that ambitious, and what really attracted me to financial independence in the first place was that I could achieve it without all the normal career ladder garbage. I’ll break down what I think got me to FI below.
- I’ve never been exceptional, but I found and moved to jobs that paid more. I think a key here is not being scared to move on, whether it be to another state or another job. Also, forget finding a job you “love”, find something you tolerate that you are above average at. When you move, don’t forget to roll your 401k over to Vanguard, Fidelity, or Schwab and invest in low expense ETFs.
- We waited to have kids. You don’t have to be FI first, but have a solid emergency fund, no high interest debt, and a retirement fund started.
- I’ve never been a great stock picker, but I didn’t get scared and sell all my investments when the headlines screamed Armageddon. Quite the opposite: in 2009 I had negative equity due to the housing crash, but I quit all my expensive hobbies and doubled down on saving. When your nest egg gets bigger, be relentless about expense ratios of your funds.
- Make more money, but keep your expenses the same. Frugality is easier if you freeze your standard of living than it is if you have to cut back. Where you do splurge, don’t make it a recurring, unavoidable expense (spring for better hotel on a vacation vs. a BMW. A nice bike instead of a 4×4 that needs insurance/gas/repairs).
- And #1 key was a wife who made a decent income, and who was the “saver” of the relationship until I went hardcore and surpassed her!