When I began my journey to financial independence, I discovered that there was a wealth of knowledge freely available. The only downside was that it was scattered across many blogs, books and podcasts. As a Myers Briggs INTJ, this was unacceptable to me. So I began collecting and organizing information as I came across it. After a while, patterns emerged and I began to bucketize the information. I call these buckets the 7 Steps.
Each step represents an area of your life that you need to focus on in order to achieve financial independence. Within each step there are many different activities you can perform to optimize that step. For example, when it comes to income, you could focus on getting a promotion at your current job, change jobs or start a side hustle. The key to success in becoming financially independent is to take each of these steps and continuously work to improve them, one at a time. I have sorted them in the order from most important to least important. So regardless of whether you make it all the way through or not, you are guaranteed an improvement in your life. The steps are:
Step 1 – Happiness – Nothing is more important in life than happiness. Studying and understanding what it is that makes you happy is pivotal to the FI/RE journey.
Step 2 – Spending – Frugality is the cornerstone of implementing a plan to achieve financial independence.
Step 3 – Debt – In order to start saving for retirement, you first have to clear your debts.
Step 4 – Taxes – Taxes can cause a significant reduction in your take home pay. There are many tips and techniques for reducing what the government takes. Once applied, it can have the same impact as a pay raise.
Step 5 – Investments – Once you are able to start saving some money, the next question is what to do with it. Investing is a way to make your money work for you and continue to earn you additional money. Having enough money earning you money to sustain your lifestyle is what makes early retirement possible.
Step 6 – Income – Once you have a good system in place to save money each month and invest it, then it is time to focus on growing the amount of money coming in each month.
Step 7 – FI/RE Number – Finally, last the question that needs to be answered is: how much is enough? Figuring out your FI/RE number means figuring out how much money you need in the bank/investments to last you a lifetime. While setting the goal last may seem odd, it is actually the least important part of this whole process. In fact, it isn’t even required to make this whole thing worthwhile. Many people want to continue working into their “retirement”, so a FI/RE number is more about having a personal safety net in place.
The Book and the Blog
The book and the blog are intended to be complimentary.
The book is intended as a simple starting point for someone just entering the world of financial independence that wants to get their bearings straight. It explains the basics and lays a foundation from which to grow. The information is organized, refined and distilled.
The blog, on the other hand, is less refined. I have organized my blog posts to fall under the same categories as the book, so as to keep things somewhat organized, however each post will fundamentally be a random tangent though that I have relative to each of the steps. The specific posts are intended to cover a wide range of topics. Other than the overarching themes, the specific content will not have a consistent story.
Outside of the 7 Steps, I also have a category for my random thought experiments called “Random FI/RE Musings”. This is a catchall for topics that don’t fit into the specific steps, but are topics that I want to write about because I think they are interesting.