Financial Independence Retirement Optional

Financial Independence is rarely given. Most of us don’t get to wake up one day with the alternative of not going to work. Early retirement is seldom an option. Building a path to financial freedom is a life-changing choice, but we lack the right information to make an informed decision. Formal education never provided us with proper schooling or training to understand Personal Finance.

Armed with a degree in Accounting and over 16+ years of corporate finance experience, I researched, analyzed, and compiled the resources for you. Nomadic FIRE is your resource for tools, knowledge, and psychology needed to achieve Financial Independence and make Retirement Optional.

Four Financial Independence Cornerstones 

The resources below are the most recent articles I have released optimizing your path to financial success.

Financial Psychology

Change how we think about money. Control the emotions that shape our financial beliefs. Learn how to be rational and strategy with our economic decision making.

FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE

The core concepts you need to increase your financial intelligence. Start with the basics of personal finance all the way to Financial Independence. Learn to save more, invest intelligently, and earn additional income.

FINANCIAL TOOLS

Calculate how much you need to save per month to Retire Early. Determine the age you can retire successfully. Analyze and test your investment decisions to ensure a high return on investment. 

FINANCIAL COMMUNITY 

The best Insights and discussion from the Financial Independence community. The goal is simple: to ask questions, share expertise, and learn from real people just like you. 

What is FIRE: The Financial Independence Retire Early Movement

Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) is the name of the movement where people look for ways to drastically reduce their savings and maximize their income. Seems simple right? Spend less, save more? Don’t mistake the simplicity of FIRE with being easy. If the goal were super easy, everyone could do it.

How are people achieving Financial Independence?

The savings goal is to build up at least 25 times (25X) your annual Cost of Living expenses. When your savings hits 25X, you have effectively reach Financial Independence. Conservatively invested, 25X can allow you to live off of the passive income generated by your investments. At 25X, grinding at work is no longer necessary. At 25X, retirement becomes optional decades earlier than the standard retirement age of 65 or 67.

Investopedia defines it as follows: 

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) is a movement dedicated to a program of extreme savings and investment that allows proponents to retire far earlier than traditional budgets and retirement plans would allow. By dedicating up to 70% of income to savings, followers of the FIRE movement may eventually be able to quit their jobs and live solely off small withdrawals from their portfolios.

Is Early Retirement even possible?

FIRE is not easy, but it is possible. My path to FIRE:

$15000, $17000, $27000. These were my salary numbers running my small business for three years before I had to go back to work. This is the salary I used to eat, pay my mortgage, and put clothes on my back, I don’t have my exact net worth figures for these years (2007-2009), but it was way below ZERO. I had sold all my stocks, opened several credit cards, borrowed money from my family, opened a bank line of credit, took out a home equity loan, and did what everyone says not to do; I took money out of my 401K.

How did I go from below ZERO in 2009 to financially free by 2015? By following many of the lessons, you will find on this page. My path to Financial Independence was not perfect. Yours does not have to be either. You have to want it. You have to make a conscious decision to change your life. You can read about my complete FIRE journey here.

What does it mean to be FI? The definition of Financial Independence

First let us define Financial Dependence: Level 0.

We are born this way. We rely on our parents for everything: Food, shelter, clothes, cash to go out with friends. If we are diligent youngsters, we get to Level 0.5, where we have a high school job that helps us pay for gas money and maybe a date night with the prom queen. But for just about everything else, our parents take care of us until early adulthood.

Young adult living at home

A US Department of Labor Study showed that 59.1% of young adults age 27 have never left home or returned home.

But this isn’t just about the Bank of Mom and Dad. We are Financially Dependent, even as adults. When we use our credit cards or have loans, we are dependent on debt. Whether we rely on a bank or our parents, we are spending more money than we make and rely on other people or institutions to take care of us.

  • According to the credit card industry, average credit card debt was close to $8,811 per U.S. household
  • An estimated 68% of Americans have one credit card, many with more than one.

Financial independence (FI) is like Level 10.

Not only can you support yourself, but you have reached the stage where you are not even dependent on a job. You don’t have to work to pay for any of your living expenses. You achieve FI by building wealth through investing or passive income.​
The Wikipedia Definition of Financial Independence:

Financial independence is the status of having enough income to pay one's living expenses for the rest of one's life without having to be employed or dependent on others. Income you earn without having to work a job is commonly referred to as passive income.

What about RE? What does it mean to Retire Early?

First, let’s see what traditional retirement looks like.

Nomadic FIRE- Traditional Birth-Work-Death Timeline

The retirement of our parents and grandparents seems so simple by comparison. Work till you are 65 and retire on a pension the company provided for you. Spend your “golden years” watching tv, knitting, and playing an occasional round of golf.

Getting older today looks very different than it did 15 or 30 years ago. There are several changes from the retirement of previous generations and us:

  • Not enough money to retire

Pension plans are almost extinct, especially if you aren’t working a government job. Pension plans cover less than 13% of private-sector workers. Nowadays, once you turn 65, you are on your own.

  • Intentions to working longer

Speaking of 65, the retirement age for any of us born after 1960 is 67. So tack on two extra years of work mandatory. Combined with the lack of money, 6 out of 10 people over 65 were still working.

  • There is lots of life left after retirement

Watching TV and knitting. Nothing wrong with either of those activities, but we passed the days of sitting on the couch waiting for old age. People are staying active as they get older.

My dad climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 71.

70 is the new 40. My dad climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 71.

  • The Traditional Retirement Timeline of Life

In the above scenario, we will spend OVER 50% of our lives (47 Years!) working in a job most of us hate. I can’t explain this absurdity better than this video.

My philosophy differs slightly. In the video above, he asks why work a job you hate? I ask, why work a job at all? 

How does Early Retirement compare?

Nomadic FIRE- Retirement Optional-Birth-Work-Death Timeline

Early Retirement wants to flip that paradigm and regain our life. I made Retirement Optional at 41. I now have 40+ years of new experiences to look forward to (I fully plan on living till I’m 100 years old BTW, but that is another story).

Some experiences I have had since I turned 40:

  1. 1
    Traveled to 40+ countries and lived in over 10 of them
  2. 2
    Expanded my social circle and added friends around the world
  3. 3
    Climbed to Machu Picchu (13779 ft), Annapurna Base Camp (13,550 ft), and Everest Base Camp (17,600 ft)
  4. 4
    Experienced Carnival in Brazil (twice) and the Full Moon Party (six times)
  5. 5
    Rode a motorbike around the Mae Hong Song loop in the mountains of Northern Thailand
  6. 6
    Enjoyed festivals in Croatia, Bali, Bulgaria, and the Philippines
  7. 7
    Added surfing, boxing, acrobatics, and yoga to my list of hobbies
  8. 8
    The list keeps going... 

The point is retirement doesn’t mean you stop living. It is entirely the opposite; I finally have the FREEDOM to live the life I have always wanted to live.

Why the change to Retirement Optional?

Because I understand the psychological struggle of early retirement

If you read the section above, you probably think Early Retirement is all unicorn farts and rainbows. It is pretty amazing, but the truth is I struggled for several months to be happy.

So much of our self-identity is wrapped up in our jobs. We are our job. We introduce ourselves to people with our name, job title, and our employer. Remember the traditional timeline above where we work for 45+ years. It’s hard not to see who we are without a job.

Our psychology about work is warped: we give up vacation days we earned, we don’t take sick days, even when we are sick, and we freak out when the opportunity arises to stop working altogether. 

It takes time to establish a purpose post-retirement. You gradually discover a self-identity that is not defined by your work. You retire "to" something, rather than retiring "from" something. Nomadic FIRE has tools to help with the psychology of transitioning to a Retirement Optional life. 

To help overcome objections

The concept of Early Retirement challenges people’s minds:

  • “I am still young. I feel obligated to work.”
    Obligated to who and why? 
  • “I feel like I need to contribute to society.”
    Is helping a company make more money “contributing” to society, or would volunteering at a non-profit be more productive?
  • “I would get bored.”
    Did you see the list of things I try to fit in my day since I retired? I don’t have enough hours in my day to accomplish all my goals.

So let’s change the terminology. Early Retirement is no longer that moment where you stop working. Instead, it’s the opportunity where we no longer have to grind away solely for money. We get to choose why we work. Not our employer. Not the bank. Not the “Joneses.” Working is our choice, our option.

I choose to spend my retirement watching the sun rise over the temples in Bagan, Myanmar

I choose to spend my mornings watching the sun rise over the temples in Bagan, Myanmar

We can choose to keep working if you’re one of the lucky 18% who doesn’t HATE their jobs. You can switch to a career that has less stress and is something you want to do. You can choose to volunteer your time to an animal shelter because you love puppies. You can work at Starbucks because you like free coffee. You can teach yoga and be all spiritual and shit. You have the freedom to say you don’t want to work anymore. Retirement is optional. 

Marco Sison doing a handstand in front of the UFO monument in Buzludzha, Bulgaria

UPGRADE YOUR RETIREMENT

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