Welcome to the Financial Independence Project. I started this website to document and share our journey to financial independence where working is no longer required. Some would view this as an early retirement goal, and in some ways it is, but the idea is not to completely stop working once we no longer need to work for money. Instead the goal is to choose what and when we work, if at all, based on our interests and passions. To be honest it was only recently (the middle of 2015) that I started to think this way. Prior to that I was pretty passionate about working in my current career until 65 or even later for reasons I will explain in a future blog post. The truth is I had idealized and romanticized the idea of my career to be something more than it is or possibly could be.
To be honest I never thought I would be thinking about Financial Independence, let alone the idea that I could “retire” before I reached the traditional retirement age or later. In fact I looked forward to a long career in academia, imaging myself as the lifelong professor teaching and working with students while enjoying all aspects of my career. I even accepted that the pay when I started working at a university (about the same as I made teaching at a public high school) was great considering the prestige and opportunities of the position. Luckily I woke up from the romanticized idea of what my job could be and now see it for what it is, which is first and foremost a job. In fact the things I like so much about my job are not necessarily things I actually need to be employed to accomplish. That being said, money is still something that is required to live and pursue the things I am passionate about and this awareness has led to more focus.
It was one day when I was thinking about all these things that I started to expand my reading beyond the traditional retirement and investment books. One book I came across was Your Money or your Life (2008 by Robin, Dominguez, & Tilford) which gave me my first exposure to changing the way I look at and relate to money. What followed was months of reading websites, blogs, and a few books about the entire idea of Financial Independence and looking at my finances in a completely different and refreshing way. This led to a paradigm shift in my way of thinking about money and my future. Granted I am not going to be one of the extreme success stories of retiring in my 30’s since I am currently 39 and just getting started in this process, but I do plan to be financially independent by my mid 40s which is far better than I ever considered earlier in my life. I also don’t regret getting a late start because honestly I feel I have had a fairly balanced life up to this point because of the career path I have chosen, and you can’t change the past anyway.
While I may not have been thinking about financial independence, or retiring early in the past, I have at least made some good financial decisions early enough to make this process a little easier. First, I have never personally relied on credit card debt to fund my lifestyle and my use of credit cards has typically been limited to paying the full balance every month. Second, while my savings rate may not have been great prior to last year, I did take moderate advantage of my retirement savings plans at my different jobs. This means that other than a very reasonable mortgage on my primary residence I am not digging myself out of a debt hole trying to get started. It is tempting to think about where I would be if I would have started thinking this way 10 years ago, but I feel that I am better off than most people who never even think about their relationship with money until it is too late.
When I started thinking about financial independence I started thinking of this as a project with goals and looking at what would need to be accomplished both now and in the future. At the same time one of the things I liked about a few of the blogs I was reading was the idea of sharing personal stories and more importantly the numbers that went along with those stories. I decided that I too wanted to share not only my story and things that were working for me, but be a part of the community that shares ideas and tactics to reach these goals. I also hope to offer some insight based on experience and thinking about these ideas for others to consider. Finally, by keeping a blog that includes my numbers and strategies it will help reinforce, motivate, and hold myself accountable to my overall objectives and goals.