How I Stumbled Upon FI and What I’m Doing to Reach It Faster

A few years ago, if you asked me what I would do with a million dollars, I would generally respond with “buy a house, a nice car, and probably some nice tech gadgets”. The purchase of a house, a nice car, and some tech gadgets would drastically reduce the million dollars to a small amount and I would have very little left over.

However, after the discovery of Financial Independence (FI), my answer has changed and I would put all of it into the stock market.

What exactly changed in my thinking? Why and how was I influenced?

Well, this is the story.

The Spendy College Me

During the first few years of college, I spent a lot of money on food and gadgets and didn’t put much thought into saving. The main majority of my income was from my parents and through the excess financial aid provided from federal grants and scholarships.

The most I would typically spend a month would normally be upwards to $2,000 and about a quarter of it was spent on rent. A quarter of it was spent on food, and the rest of the half was spent on purchasing cool and fun gadgets that would “impress” people or “make my life easier”.

It kept going for my first three years of college until I stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache’s famous article of The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement. When I read it, I didn’t quite understand how it would have been possible to retire after just a few years of working. Heck, how could someone live with so little money?

I thought that everyone would typically want more money to upgrade their lifestyle and have nice things, just like I did with my tech gadgets.

However, as I read upon more and more articles on how this could potentially work through mathematical calculations of how compound interest works, index funds, and minimalism, I eventually figured out that it is possible.

There are many people out there that are less fortunate than I am and they can live off of less than I do.

I started to become interested in reducing my lifestyle and saving as much as I can because I figured out that I don’t need to impress other people. I don’t need to have the latest and trendiest things in life. I just needed something functional, useful, and durable.

Luckily, by this time, I was about to graduate and had a good foundation of what I should do once I got my first job in terms of my finances.

I had actually compiled most of this information into a small guide that I posted a while back, which I call the Simple What to Do With Your Money Guide.

The New Working and Saving Me

After I graduated from college and started my first job, I started to save as much as I could.

I put most of my paycheck into my 401k to try and reach the $18,000 limit. I lived at home to save money on rent. I skipped breakfast and packed lunches instead of eating out. I went to the gym after work.

I was in a pretty great place, I would say.

But things like this don’t last…

I wasn’t quite satisfied with how much I was making and decided to pursue another opportunity that would give me a 20% raise.

In the new position, I had to forgo some thing and move out.

I purchased a new car. I had to find a place to live instead of living at home. I ate out more frequently.

Despite all this, I was still able to save a decent amount. Check out my Net Worth Reports if you don’t believe me.

But I could have saved more…

And I’m still working on that. My last few Net Worth Reports shows that I’m trying to spend less and less. Heck, my goal for this year is to keep my spending below $20,000! And I will most likely by successful in doing it!

Anyways, currently I’m in a job (about 2x the salary of my first job!) that allows me to travel for free and put a bunch of my paycheck towards my tax-advantaged accounts. I even get nice fat per-diem checks that are supposed to compensate for what I spend on food and entertainment when I travel, but I decide to pocket those instead.

What’s even cooler is that our company has the option to do the mysterious and mythical Mega Backdoor ROTH.

The only downside I have with this job is that I tend to work a lot more than the normal 8 hour days or 40 hour weeks people usually do.

I typically find myself working at least 60 to 80 hours a week.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m trying my hardest to chase money or if I just have no idea on what to do with my time, so I decide to work more, but I can definitely say that I’m striving to aim for FI as fast as I can… and maybe someday, I might just burn out before reaching the goal or I’ll be successful and reach FI before that happens.

Perhaps I just like the freedom to have the option of doing whatever I want once I reached FI… or maybe I just strive to work in an environment that consumes most of my time, so I don’t have to think about other things while all of my finances are automated and on auto-pilot.

Maybe I should slow down a bit and enjoy what I have.

Because after all, just like Phillip C. McGraw says, “Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”.

How Did You Discover FI?

So to you guys out there on the path to FI, why are you pursuing FI and how did you find out about it? For those who haven’t, what are your thoughts about FI?

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9 thoughts on “How I Stumbled Upon FI and What I’m Doing to Reach It Faster

  • May 29, 2017 at 7:35 am
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    Thanks for sharing your back story and motivation. I think you’re definitely going about things the right way. I’ve found time and time again that the more you save in the beginning and the harder you work right off the bat, the better off you’ll be for the rest of your life. I’m sure that as you get older and start a family, your priorities will change dramatically. But until then why not setup your financial infrastructure for success.

    Gotta love it when the company you work sends you around the world on their dime. And then pays you per diem afterwards!

    Reply
    • May 29, 2017 at 8:40 pm
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      I agree.

      My priorities will definitely change once I start a family and have kids (hopefully). As of right now, I’m just enjoying life and whatever it throws at me. 🙂

      Reply
  • May 29, 2017 at 10:12 am
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    Mr. Picky Pincher and I didn’t fall into FIRE until the summer of 2015. We were newly married and frustrated that we were living paycheck to paycheck. We stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache’s blog and began making baby steps to save money. We stopped going out to eat, we moved in to a cheaper apartment, and we got rid of a car payment. After that, we paid off $14,000 of credit card debt and finally got some breathing room. It required a lot of changes on our part, but it was so, so worth it.

    Reply
    • May 29, 2017 at 8:39 pm
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      Thanks for your story, Mrs. Picky Pincher! It’s amazing how simplistic our lives and finances can get once we’re on the path to FI.

      Reply
  • May 30, 2017 at 12:16 pm
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    I am just starting to get on the train. I just never thought it was possible to be able to retire so young. I always assumed you would have to win the lottery or be willing to live without power and running water.

    I started blogging last year and have learned so much from all the other financial bloggers. It has been a motivating time reading everyone else’s story and our spending vs saving is improving every month because of it.

    Reply
    • June 12, 2017 at 5:38 am
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      Nice, Grant!

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my story!

      I wish you luck on your journey and hope you enjoy it as well!

      Reply
  • June 4, 2017 at 10:04 am
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    Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you made a great move with your career and it is helping you get to your goal of FI that much sooner. I’m sure it sucks working the extra hours, heck, I understand your pain since I work in public accounting and it is anything but a 40 hour a week job. But it sounds like you are doing what you need to to reach FI in the new and improved (not college version of you). I commend you for doing whatever it takes.

    Congrats!

    Bert

    Reply
    • June 12, 2017 at 5:41 am
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      Thanks for reading, Dividend Diplomats.

      I do think my career moves were good and will get me to my goal of FI much faster. I don’t quite hate my job yet, but when I do, at least I’ll have a nest egg to rely on before I move to a lower stress job.

      Reply
  • November 1, 2017 at 10:12 am
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    I have been saving since I was 19 years old. I really enjoy the challenge. The real problem is that both my wife and I are in the education field, which means we do not make a lot of money. You really have to budget to reach your financial goals. However, I would not change things. I love my job and we will get there financially one day. Enjoyed your post.

    Reply

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