You won’t get ahead if you don’t have a plan for your money. Instead, you’ll find yourself wondering where your money went at the end of every month! That’s not financial independence; that’s a recipe for financial disaster. If you’re married, get on the same page with your spouse about your budget. If you’re single, find an accountability partner.
Planning for retirement, or even financial freedom, is a marathon and not a sprint, as the saying goes. Breaking up your financial independence goals into small chunks can help keep you on track while making the process a bit more manageable and, hopefully, a little less stressful. Even if you are starting small, the important thing is to get started.
Comment Policy: We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and are subject to approval. Comments are solely the opinions of their authors'. The responses in the comments below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any company. It is not anyone's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Acorns: Acorns is a great way to start investing and building wealth. As it turns out, Acorns will pay you $5 to start investing with them for as little as $1. That’s a 500% return, plus it’s probably time you started investing for your future. They even have features like round-up and found money that allows you to get free money from places you already shop at.
We also keep our Safety Nets in our Betterment accounts. We do this for two reasons: 1) the money is liquid, which means we have instant access to our Safety Net if we need it, and 2) when the money is sitting in a separate account, it is less tempting to access than if it’s in our bank accounts (plus it earns a better interest rate in a safe, conservative way).
For example, as we were tackling our debts, Joshua sold his oversized house and moved into a tiny apartment. Ryan sold his fancy new car and purchased a decade-old vehicle without a monthly payment. We both jettisoned our cable subscriptions, satellite radio, and other superfluous bills that saved us hundreds of dollars each month. We also did “strange” things like deliver pizzas, work overtime, and find other ways to supplement our income in the short-term so we could pay off our debts faster. Plus, we sold hundreds of items—electronics, furniture, clothes, DVDs, books, collectibles, tools, yard equipment—that weren’t essential, and we used that money to further pay down our debts. Basically, anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor found it’s way to eBay. Now everything we own serves a purpose or brings us joy, and we don’t miss any of the trinkets of yesteryear.
We invest our money into four separate buckets using Betterment’s online software: Safety Net, Retirement Fund, House Fund, and Wealth-Building Fund. (For complete details, see our Retirement Planning article, in which we we break down how we, as minimalists, plan for retirement and other financial objectives, using screenshots and real-world examples, including statistics and personal figures.)
The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.
For those of you looking to retire early with financial freedom, think about what your bare minimum retirement would look like. Could you move to a place with a lower cost of living? Would you give up going out to dinner? Work towards a nest egg that will support this bare-bones lifestyle. You probably will decide against moving to that cabin in the woods without running water, but it might be nice to know you could. Considering your bare minimum retirement, and knowing you have enough money saved to at least cover some standard of living in your early retirement, will also influence other life choices you may make along the way.
After you start tracking your net-worth, you need to track where your money is going. Whether this is student loans, bills, food, entertainment, etc. This might not be the most exciting thing to do, but is CRUCIAL and actually does get more exciting the more money you are making (and seeing your investments grow!) Knowing where your money is going is more important than budgeting – it’s about accountability and adopting an optimization mindset. It really can put your spending in perspective.
Whatever you do to build your contribution muscle, it needn’t be grandiose; it need only contribute to someone else’s life. If you do this for a few weeks, you’ll realize that your financial problems are tiny compared to many of the problems in the world around you. By discovering the smallness of your financial woes, you’ll feel empowered to take massive action and beat the crap out of your relatively miniature problems.
If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).