My journey to Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) has been a wild ride. But at 35, I did it! Like the stock market, there were many volatile moments.
Yet, it was always upward progressing over the long-term. I’ve made a lot of money mistakes along the way. So if I can reach FIRE, so can you!
Money mistakes and financial setbacks are a part of the learning process.
Financial literacy is a lifelong learning process. There are so many things I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way. Here are my top 5 tips to help you reach your goal of early retirement.
1. Mentally Prepare to Swipe Left on the 9-5 Rat Race
At one point in my life, the personal and professional development in an office setting served me well.
Over time, I grew restless and felt like I was spinning my wheels. The work no longer resonated and I was festering in the corporate culture.
I hope you have an emergency fund or getting it squared away. Hopefully you won't ever need to touch it! But you’ll know when you’ve hit your breaking point.
2. Financially Prepare to Say “Thank You, Next”
No job is 100% secure. If you hate your job, give yourself some breathing room by having an emergency fund, aka F-You money.
The 9-5 lifestyle is not for everyone. And that’s ok! At the same time, you never know if the job will swipe left on you.
Having an F-You money allows you to swipe left on the 9-5 rat race. And if you do end up saying F-You to the boss, be sure to tell me about it.
Most financial experts recommend 6-12 months of monthly expenses saved up. Here’s how I was able to build my emergency fund in 6 months.
3. Create side hustle income
There are a endless ways to create side hustle income and reach FIRE. Investing in stocks, owning rental property, creating your own online biz, and so forth.
But it doesn’t mean you need to do it all. Just pick 1 or 2 that gets you excited.
Everyone's financial situation and personal interests is unique. It’s important to try out different side hustles to see what works best for you.
I tried many different side hustles from teaching yoga to index fund investing. Eventually, I narrowed down my preference and was able to reach FIRE mainly through index fund and real estate investing.
Not sure where to start? Here are 8 ways I created multiple streams of income.
4. Real Estate Investing
There is a difference between investing in rental property versus residential property. A rental property is an investment property, but it's not the only kind of home investment.
You can also invest in residential real estate by house flipping. With a rental property, your income comes from the monthly rent checks.
My fav tip for investing in rental properties is the 1% rule. Basically, gross monthly rent should be at least 1% of its final price (purchase price + urgent repairs). This is critical for cash flow purposes.
For residential property, location is important. I bought my condo right next to a metro stop in a major city so property value has been increasing each year.
5. Index Fund Investing
The stock market is volatile so here’s how I minimize risks:
Diversify across different asset classes
Diversify within asset classes
Diversify across markets, countries and currencies
Last but not least, I made sure I diversified across time. I’m talking at least a ten year long term investment strategy. No jumping in and out of the market.
Even the top financial gurus are not able to predict the right time to buy stocks. But if I kept adding to my investments systematically over months and years, I reduced my risk and increased my returns over time.
Specifically, I followed author of “The Simple Path to Wealth” Jim L. Collins investment strategy.
I opened a Vanguard brokerage account and invested in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX). It is a low cost index fund that hits all the diversification points mentioned above.
Roth IRA? HSA? 401K account? Yes, yes and yes.
Yes, almost 100% of my investment portfolio is invested in VTSAX. And I sleep very well each night. After all, I’m “Not a Bond Girl”!
Interested in taking a deeper look into this strategy? Read “The Simple Path to Wealth” here!
So are you ready to swipe left on the 9-5 rat race for good?
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