EARN. SAVE. INVEST. ENJOY.

I started on my journey to financial independence not long ago, around the end of 2014. Much like compound interest, my investment in financial independence (and early retirement) exponentially grew with each tidbit of knowledge I consumed. Looking back, I can’t even imagine how many blogs I ripped through; devouring their content like my cat eats her breakfast. (Imagine a tuxedo colored vacuum sucking up all the food from a tiny dish in a few seconds.) Unlike many who come across the path of financial independence, my journey started with a gift! A gift I can only imagine my wife now regrets. 🙂

Off to the Races

My dearest wife bought me a YNAB activation key back on that fateful day. For weeks I dabbled with the software, not fully understanding its purpose, or true power. At some point I stumbled head first, bewildered into the online reddit communities of r/personalfinance and r/financialindependence. One post tied into the next, which tied into the next, continuing on for a seemingly endless amount of finance related knowledge. Eventually I ended up being pulled down the Mr. Money Mustache rabbit hole for an afternoon of jaw-dropping insights and unthinkable (yet, so simple) math concepts.

I was convinced of the math. I was FIRE-d up for the task ahead. I was ready to be financially independent and I wanted it now!

Of course that is not how achieving financial independence works. It takes time (years on years), it takes dedication (heaps of on heaps), and it takes one simple guideline (so simple, that it’s kind of stupid).

Spend less than you earn, save the rest. Better yet invest!

So I started using YNAB religiously. All my accounts were updated real time, I budgeted every month, and I made sure to balance after the month finished. It was somewhere in this euphoria that I began to realize just how much waste I allowed into my life. Eating lunch out five days a week, going out for drinks and generously paying, buying frivolous, soon-to-collect-dust objects. All of this while I still had five-digits in student loan debt! (Pete at Mr. Money Mustache would be ashamed my debt was not treated like an emergency!)

Slowly, I began changing my lifestyle. I brought lunch to work with only the occasional meal out. I continued going out for drinks, but I spent less and lowered my generosity. I completely cut back on the silly little purchases that were cutting into my net worth progress. I was changing my life, and it was all thanks to my wife’s gift of a twenty-six digit YNAB activation key. (Thanks babe!) 😀

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Now that I’ve been on the path for two-plus years, my habits have changed, and my financial outlook has shifted dramatically. Our household is earning and saving like never before. Our path is destined for financial independence. But, at the same time things are becoming monotonous.

My quest for knowledge is slowed, and I am entering what is likely the most difficult segment on the path to financial independence. I’m past the exciting ramp up. I’ve stabilized and I’m beginning to see real progress towards my financial independence goal. Now I just sustain for a handful of years more before finalizing the numbers for our departure from our current work life. Fortunately, I enjoy my current lifestyle and have no feelings of deprivation. However, without staying mindful of my intentions it will be all too easy to jump right back into that consumer lifestyle of yore.

It’s because of this stage I am entering that I’ve taken a note from Ms. ONL and decided to write my own Financial Independence Mission Statement. She wrote a fantastic blog post about the purpose of such a statement and some extremely useful questions to help craft your own. You can check out here full post here: Write Your Financial Independence Mission Statement

Crafting My Financial Independence Mission Statement

My Goal

I graduated in the middle of the Great Recession with an engineering degree. For the first few years out of school I was fully engaged in my work, eager and far too happy to be a working lad. Over time that feeling was slowly replaced with indifference. I still cared about doing a good job, but my engagement surely dropped. As of last year, I switched jobs for something fresh and more tailored to my career interests. Now one year in, the excitement is beginning to wane. I can’t help but to daydream of a different life, but it’s hard walking away from such a prosperous position.

However, I don’t foresee myself quitting work entirely. I imagine I will pursue a variety of avenues. With a passive income stream sustaining my lifestyle I could see myself getting back into the outdoor recreation industry. Or, I could end up creating my own full-time project or business (blogging, brewing beer, wood working?). In my mind I imagine all of these avenues as seasonal/contractual engagements.

My goal is to escape the typical office work of an engineer by 2025.

How I WILL Achieve My Goal?

I will achieve my goal by living within my means (spending less than I earn) and using the rest of my income to build a passive, long-term cash flow machine. 

 

I will build my passive income stream via index fund investing. This is a simple, hands-off approach that requires minimal effort. I will invest in total market, or equivalent, funds with the lowest fees possible per my investment vehicle. I will consider the value of each expenditure before committing my income to the purchase. I will use to my advantage benefits existing in the tax code. (I’m looking at you 401k, HSA, home-mortgage deduction, and IRA).

On my journey I will do my best to live a full and happy life, striving to find a balance between hedonism and deprivation through frugality. I will not pursue real estate. I will stay up to date with investment vehicles and advantageous finance technology. I will not invest in single stocks.

Why is this My Goal?

I want to reach my goal so I can LIVE MY LIFE, FOR ME.

 

For years, I have been locked in by commitments to school or a job. Both positions consume my time. If I truly want to live my life on my terms, I need to be in full control of how my life energy is consumed. It should not be for someone else’s profit. I have one life to live (AFAIK) and it is my belief it should be spent pursuing what makes me happiest.

I want to spend my energy pursuing hobbies I enjoy like brewing beer, recreating outdoors, planning and executing home projects, and spending more time with my family. I want to find NEW hobbies I’ve never even tried! I want time to travel at a slower pace, so I can experience what this earth and its people have to offer. I want to travel my country in a RV or converted van. I want to have the option to donate my time.

Who Benefits from My Goal?

Ultimately, everyone benefits if I am able to achieve my goal.

 

Clearly I benefit, and nearly as clearly my family benefits from my freedom. I would be able to give more freely of my life energy to help provide for their needs. No longer will I be forced into a work-life balance where work is king, and too often family gets left behind.

With my freedom, I can begin pursuing unknown interests where I can use all of my strengths to benefit the world in my unique way. No longer will I be fearful of being late for work, or held back worrying how I will contribute to my household. Instead my only fear will be that I each day is too short to accomplish all my goals.

My Financial Independence Mission Statement

EARN 100% until 2025. SAVE abundantly without sacrifice, and INVEST lazily. ENJOY and share MY TIME with family, hobbies, and the world!

What about YOU?!

This is a fantastic exercise, and I am glad I came across it and that Ms. ONL put her post together so thoughtfully with the guiding questions. I know I spent a good amount of time considering each question and revising my statements. It is a bit difficult to capture all of my thoughts in writing, but I foresee myself coming back periodically to revise my statement. I understand how valuable these few words will be during these coming years of working and saving. They will ensure I stay mindful of my ultimate goal and guide me past the pitfalls on my path towards financial freedom.

Do you have a Financial Independence Mission Statement?

I’d love to hear it! If not, I’d love to help write one with you. Leave a comment and we can work together – the exercise is worth your time!


😀

Feature Image by Joshua Earle Inline Image by Brian MetzlerInline Image by Calum MacAulay Inline Image by Anastasia Petrova

13 Replies to “EARN. SAVE. INVEST. ENJOY.”

  1. Inspiring write up! Thanks for sharing your FI Mission Statement. These probably provide just as much benefit to the writer as they do the reader!

    1. Absolutely! It is such an insightful exercise to go through. Well worth the time tenfold. Hopefully I get some feedback to further refine mine!

      Now to write one for this blog! 🙂

  2. It always strikes me how different we all are. I am an engineer too and I positively loved my job for over thirty years. Consequently because I was frugal and invested aggressively I amassed far more than I needed to be financially independent. I did eventually leave my career a couple of years ago and enjoy messing with side gigs now for fun I need and profit I don’t. Good luck on your journey, it sounds like you’ve got a great start.

    1. For the most part I enjoy my job. I am grateful to be paid well for doing some interesting projects. What I don’t enjoy are the games people decide they need to play. You can only avoid them so much. I’d love to use my knowledge and time in my own way, with projects just as cool but more rewarding personally. Good luck with your not-for-profit projects! 😀

  3. Your introduction to FIRE sounds a lot like mine. I devoured MMM’s posts for at least a week, and it was all I could think about. Then r/financialindependence was the first place that I started participating in discussions. Now I’m glad to have found the Rockstar Finance forums. I’ll probably spend most of my time there instead of Reddit.

    “I am entering what is likely the most difficult segment on the path to financial independence.” This is a great point. I can see the newness of FIRE wearing off, and slipping back into bad habits easy. The mission statement is a good tool to use as a counter.

    A lot of FIRE is just focus, especially on the WHY. That part gets forgotten sometimes in the specifics of the HOW.

    Also – totally with you on the woodworking and beer brewing. Those are some of my top interests in early retirement!

    1. Most articles you see are all about the HOW. Tips, tricks, do these fifteen things! While every little bit helps, and not everything works for everyone – it does get to a point where it’s like “okay, but its actually really simple, go live your life.”

      There are definitely a handful of bloggers who post primarily about the WHY – and I find those posts most interesting at this point (ONL, Living a FI come to mind). I also like to see read those who have accomplished their FI goal, but too many are off having fun! 😀

  4. My favorite quote “I will achieve my goal by living within my means (spending less than I earn)…”. In my opinion so many people would be in such a better position financially if they just follow this one simple rule! It is just common sense but so many people do not follow this simple idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I mean that is the gist of personal finance. There are many details on how to allocate, what amounts you should have, blah blah. BUT, if you spend less than you earn and save the rest – well, you would be doing the best you could. You can chase higher returns, counter inflation with investments, but you don’t need to. You do need to spend less than you earn to make progress – which is a forward moving noun.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it! 🙂

  6. Great write up. I am really starting my journey to FI, not much in the way of savings but have some real estate that I will now leverage. I am interested in simple living and minimalism and a side product has been a recent lurch towards F.I. I’m still in the ‘devouring new material’ stage, it is so interesting all of the options and potential paths available. I’m from Ireland and some of the options re investing & such are a bit more limited here than the U.S but I am willing, and there is most certainly a way!

    1. From reading your site, you’re definitely on the right path with your mindset. I can’t speak much to finances in Ireland (though I love the country), but I am sure someone has it all figured out. You’ve probably already found it.

      As you pointed out in your post from today: “Financial independence and early retirement are two subjects that are impossible to avoid in the minimalism/frugality/simple living world.”

      Love it, keep up the awesome work. 😀

  7. I love your story and your mission statement! It always makes me laugh how many of us in the FI community are outdoors lovers! Nothing like the beauty of nature to motivate us to get out of the rat race… ?

    1. Thanks! I think I found the ONL post from you and said I had to write one. And I did! It was an enjoyable thing to think through and share with everyone.

      I think we just want to be out of an office in some fresh air. 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *