We all know that the most important step in making the decisions to be Financially Independent or to Retire Early is to have a goal. That goal needs to be big enough that we can stick to it when the initial excitement wears off.
Yet, there’s plenty of folks haven’t found that goal yet. So I got an idea.
What if everyone in the Personal Finance community could write about how they found their goals? Maybe newcomers would relate to one of these stories and decide to make these goals their own? What if that could help someone FIRE? 🙂
I’ll start with my story.
A missed opportunity
2013 was a crazy good year for stocks. The S&P500 went up some 24% and everyone that was invested in stocks was making a killing. If only I had 100k$ invested at that time, I could have been 24k$ richer now.
But that didn’t happen because I was too busy spending money, instead of investing.
I didn’t invest because I was too busy spending money
I spent on travels, restaurants, clothes and I wasn’t saving nearly enough to make any kind of substantial investment.
But then over Christmas, over a delicious dinner at my uncle’s house (he’s a former chef), something struck me.
When we were all done, stuffed and slowly drifting away into our respective food coma, with a well-deserved digestive in one hand, I thanked him for inviting us over and making such a delicious dinner. I also told him I felt so lucky to live such an amazing life.
That’s when he told me his story, and I’ll never forget it.
My uncle has retired 5 years ago, from working for 40 years in various restaurants as a chef. Part of his job required him to start working early to select the best produce and meat at the markets and working extended hours to cover his shifts. He was a very hard working employee.
He was a good chef, but he wasn’t particularly good with finances. Like many of his colleagues, he had his retirement contributions set on automatic, in the default fund the company made available.
The default fund was basically stock in the parent company that owned the restaurant. After 20+ years working there, the parent company went bankrupt and the restaurant closed. Many employees’ retirement savings evaporated, as did their expectations of retirement.
Seeing him working so hard for so long and ending up with no pension made me sick. Of course there is a law-suit against that company, but it’s been years since the process started and in the meantime, he has only social security to rely on. It sucks even more knowing that Social Security will be broke in a few years.
That’s when I realized that :
- I had to take my finances in my own hands. If I decided to not take care of my finances, I was implicitly trusting that someone else, anyone else, would be taking care of it for me. Not good.
- I had to have a plan for retirement, now. Because building a nest egg for retirement takes time and plans rarely work out as intended, I had to have a plan that would make it virtually impossible to have no retirement.
I was 32 at the time and thinking about retirement seemed crazy.
But working for another 35 years and getting no retirement seemed crazier!
The opportunities are endless
Now that I’ve worked on that plan, what seemed completely insane 3 years ago feels like common sense today. As it turns out, I’m now on track to be Financially Independent at 41, which means retirement at 65 should only be a formality.
All it took was a kick in the pants and trying to figure out what my money was doing (reading Personal Finance blogs helps a lot).
So what got me FIRE’d up?
Realizing that working for 40 years is no guarantee for a comfortable retirement. But if you plan carefully, you can be done in 10 years.
If this is a story you can relate to and want to start getting control of your finances, I’d recommend a few reads:
- 3 reasons to have a strategy for financial independence
- How to get rich 101: make your money work for you
- Become a millionaire
What got others FIRE’d up?
What got Mr SSC FIRE’d up?
Mrs. SSC had her retirement spreadsheet projecting us to retire at 45. I can’t believe that’s all we’d need though. I mean it’s all right there, but I’m just amazed that the number is what it is. I just thought it’d have to be higher…
What got NorthernExpenditure FIRE’d up?
We missed raising our baby together. We missed the creative projects we pursued. We missed the freedom of time and location we enjoyed.
What got Finance Superhero FIRE’d up?
For as long as I can remember, my motivation to achieve financial success has always been about one primary factor: Legacy.
In the present, those visions represent a future worthy of current sacrifice and hard work.
What got Mr PIE FIRE’d up?
We have documented our experiences with a financial advisor already. Suffice to say, this was the turning point that really got us FIRE’d up. Our experiences with him when we tried to discuss a retirement plan were painful. I simply told us that our plan was so much better than any plan his team could ever put together.
What got AmberTreeLeaves FIRE’d up?
The big change here is that I became a landlord. Most of my bonuses went to an accelerated paydown of the mortgage. At one point, the mortgage was gone! Cashflow was good! […] I decided to sell the apartment. I got a good price. […] Some of the money went to our house mortgage, some went to the garden. The left over needed a destination. This is where I started to google about how to invest and finally stumbled upon the FIRE community.
What got The Green Swan FIRE’d up?
Lucy and I have now had more conversations about “FIRE” than cavemen. We’ve always been a team and there to support each other with whatever life throws at us. She’s on board with FIRE and like always, ready to take a life’s worth of journeys with The Green Swan. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that will always be our swan song.
For those of you who have already taken control of their finances and decided to pursue Financial Independence or to Retire Early, what was your trigger? What gave you the initial motivation to get your finances in order and have a long term financial goal?
Please share your stories, your a-ha moments in the comments!
For my blogging peers, I challenge you to write a post on what really got your FIRE’d up! Let me know and I’ll add a link to it here.
How awesome would that be that a newcomer reads your story, relates to it and decides to pursue FIRE as well? 🙂