Wouldn’t it be lovely to be in a position where you had no debt? I mean absolutely no long term debt? No student loans. No car payment. No house payment. No credit card bills. Nothing! Surely this must be some fancy dream right? No one actually thinks that this is possible…right? Well, as of March 2018, our household is COMPLETELY DEBT FREE! The last item was my spouse’s car. Kind of anti-climatic, but…it’s over.
You might be thinking, “Wow, you must be an old fart then…”. Nope. Early 30’s. “Whoa, wait a minute…OK, then you must have had a LOT of help; lottery, inheritance…”. NOPE! While my family and friends provide me support in different ways, I have received very little financial assistance (I’m talking Christmas gifts; birthday presents here…which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate them; I make every dollar count…so…thanks!) from these sources. Generally speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever received any form of “windfall” greater than $100. From anyone. Ever.
“OK, OK, then what’s the secret then?” There is no magical secret. I’ve already extensively wrote about how to make good financial decisions which is the bedrock of becoming financially independent…five years ago. I then discovered Dave Ramsay shortly after that post (I’m not a zealot though…but he definitely kicked my ass into overdrive with his aggressive debt pay down mantra). What provided even more intense focus was discovering that…gasp…there’s a whole community of people that think the same way I’ve thought most of my life. That was enough to cement, well, this is going to happen. It’s incredibly powerful to know that there are other people that have gone through the same trials and come out successful.
Some more specifics? Don’t screw up the big things: buying a car, (one major thing I agree with Dave Ramsay; cars are a major, major source of economic pain, don’t fall into this trap), buying a house, selling a house. I am fortunate that I was able to: sell a house in a seller’s market, buy a house in a buyer’s market; those are huge life changing events! But make no mistake…these aren’t accidents. This is careful planning. You’ve got to put in the work and know when to execute things.
But more importantly, don’t screw up the little things. Example: I spend $9 a month on cell service (currently provided by tello; rest in peace RingPlus…this used to be free). How many people do you know that spend $9 a month on phone service? Not many, I bet. Hell, I haven’t found one yet. Deals exist on everything, you just need to search for them.
Let’s play math. If you’re paying $50+ for phone service. Know that I’m beating you by ~$5000 every ten years. Costs matter. Because when I can roll that into an investment (yielding 7%), that $5,000 has a good chance of becoming $20,000 in twenty years. You know, because of a little thing called “The Rule of 72“. Don’t believe me? Behold the power of compound interest. There’s a reason why Einstein called it the eighth wonder of the world. That’s just one example. One. It is a very critical reason why I can say our household is financially independent. Every. Dollar. Matters.
I don’t have expensive vices (well, I mean…I do really like videogames…). I don’t do stupid daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly passive things that bleed cash. But, it’s not to say you can’t ever have any fun. For example, I did just recently buy a MoviePass one year subscription for $180 for my spouse and I as a Christmas present. That’s a hell of a deal. After the year is up? It’s gone. Never get stuck into stuff that bleeds your cash. Utilize craigslist, ebay, slickdeals for buying / selling. Coupons are money. Read! It is never too late to improve yourself, your mind. This is a good list to pick from to start off. Never stop improving! Do not discount the power of doing things yourself. We live in the Internet Age. Everything you could possibly ever want to know, is most likely, available for free. I can’t stress how enormous powerful this is…
The other gigantic thing: find a significant other to be co-pilot with you as you traverse the madness of life. I wouldn’t be here without the support from my spouse. No one person can excel at everything, and it’s amazingly helpful to have someone that can cover your weaknesses and grow and learn from their example.
Finally, it’s important to be respectful that you even exist at all. Never take what you have for granted. Life is pain. But you’ve been given a wonderful gift of even being able to play the game of life. It makes no sense to not try to do the best damn job you can at it. And…I feel…that becoming financially independent is the only way to play the game. It opens up so many more doors.
What’s next? I-I don’t know. I feel like I’ve contradicted myself in saying that more doors have opened because…now I don’t quite know what to do. I don’t necessarily have a “goal”. I’ve always had a goal (do well in school, find a good job, get better at job, find a good partner to play the game with, pay off car, pay off house, etc, etc). Until I find my next objective, well, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing. Maybe write a post on investing, as I haven’t done that yet?
Never let anyone tell you what can and can’t be done. Anything is possible with hard work.
Oh, yeah…I feel like this is allowed now (hat tip to Dave…)…