Author Topic: Milestones of FI  (Read 2348 times)

rudged

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Milestones of FI
« on: September 16, 2018, 10:01:09 AM »
I've run across a number of posts and podcasts by proponents of early retirement that spell out the stages or milestones of financial independence  in terms of debt and your ability to pay it off, your net worth, and the source of your income. 

I have yet another take on the milestones of financial independence with reference not only to the amount of money you have saved, but also in terms of how much time you spend thinking about money. I'm wondering what others think.

1. You are seriously in debt and feel overwhelmed by financial obligations, but are in complete denial about your ability to handle your financial obligations. Thinking about money dominates your life in a very real sense because each moment is devoted to avoiding dealing with the dire consequences that sooner or later await you.

2. You are seriously in debt and feel overwhelmed by financial obligations you recognize you will never be able to settle given your circumstances. Your entire waking life is dominated by thinking about bills and the consequences that attend to the real possibility they won't get paid.

3. You are seriously in debt and feel overwhelmed by financial obligations that you have some reason for hoping you can pay off if you just get your act together and stick with a plan for debt repayment. Your entire waking life is dominated by thinking about bills and the consequences that attend to the real possibility they won't get paid.

4. You are seriously in debt and feel overwhelmed by financial obligations. You have a realistic and specific plan for debt repayment in mind, and if everything works out according to the plan, you will eventually be able to pay it off. Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow, in part because just one small unexpected  emergency could completely derail the plan.

5. You are seriously in debt and worried about your financial obligations. You have a realistic and specific plan for debt repayment in mind, and if everything works out according to the plan, you will eventually be able to pay it off. Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow, but you have reasons to believe you will indeed be able to stick with the plan and get through this.

6. You have some manageable debt but also a realistic and specific plan for debt repayment. Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow, but you are confident you will indeed be able to stick with the plan and get through this.

7. You have no debt (other than perhaps a mortgage), but your overall net worth is much lower than what you would need to attain financial independence. Your focus shifts to thinking about how to reduce your expenses to address outstanding debts to reducing expenses to reduce the amount of time you will have to continue working until you are financially independent. Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible because you are starting to treat the achievement of financial independence as another debt (to your future self) that needs to be paid off.

8. You have no debt and your overall net worth is approaching what you need to attain financial independence. Your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible because you are on the verge of achieving financial independence but are plagued by worries that you may have underestimated the amount you need, how you will explain your decision to friends and family, and what you will do with your time after retirement.

9. You have no debt and you have attained financial independence from the perspective of any outside neutral observer. But you haven't pulled the trigger. Your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible because you are still plagued by second thoughts as to whether you are truly prepared to do this.

10. You have no debt and even you recognize you have attained financial independence. You pull the trigger, but your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible because you are still have second thoughts.

11. You reach the point at which you recognize that the point of this journey was freedom, and in particular, freedom from worrying about money and cash flow issues. You are justifiably proud of a tremendous achievement that has taken years to attain. With time, you graduate to the point of where conversations about money and how to save more and spend less become increasingly tedious, not merely because you are financially independent and no longer need to focus on these issues, but also because by now these are ingrained habits of the mind.


Tom Smith

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 10:32:58 AM »
I don't think any any of those represent my perspective. Here's one that could be in there.

Your overall net worth is approaching what you need to attain financial independence. You think about money, but you don't obsess about it, and it doesn't cause significant stress.   By now, you don't have a budget; you spend money on the things you value, and you try not to covet nonsense.  You've created a high income for yourself, but you realize, based on the huge change happening in the world, that your high income is a house of cards.  You're trying to make hay while the sun is shining because you know it won't shine forever.  You've insured yourself and your family against high cost events, and you've avoided making needless high ticket purchases because you're engineering your life to minimize stress.  You feel like you've struck a good balance of living for today, while preparing for a life in the future.

OtherJen

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2018, 10:42:59 AM »
6. You have some manageable debt but also a realistic and specific plan for debt repayment. Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow, but you are confident you will indeed be able to stick with the plan and get through this.

The first sentence is where we are (relatively small mortgage plus a few months left on an auto loan), but we definitely don't worry constantly about cash flow or other financial problems. We're not living paycheck to paycheck. We have more than enough to deal with the finances as needed and otherwise go out and live our frugal lives.

ixtap

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2018, 10:54:45 AM »
We are somewhere between 8 and 9 in the financial description, but our lives are not dominated by cash flow comcerns. We are pleasantly surprised by how much we have, but choose to work a few more years so that we can have a comfortable middle class life style in our dotage, if we should so choose. We may not always be happy as hippy nomads and it is easier to spend another couple of years as mega savers now than to try to find middle class jobs when other people our age are starting to think about retirement.

Indio

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2018, 11:16:51 AM »
I think you missed the group that is seriously in debt but doesn't spend every waking moment thinking about it and keeps accruing more debt hoping they will win the lottery, inheritance or bankruptcy. I know many people in debt who don't care. They accept the fact that they will die indebted and they have a "can't take it with you" attitude to justify that position.

lhamo

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2018, 12:18:39 PM »
I also disagree with the prevalence of "worried about cash flow" in your descriptions -- I have never been in that position.  There were parts of my journey that were focused on figuring out/optimizing the budget, but that came from a position of strength (how much MORE can I save while not decreasing my quality of life) rather than deprivation.

Your descriptions make the journey to FI sound really unpleasant -- much more so than it probably is for most people who choose this path.  Even those who start with significant debt probably have a point not too far out from debt payoff stage where they have enough assets built up that they can kick back and enjoy life quite a bit more.  Anybody who gets to that stage and is still "constantly worried about cash flow" probably needs therapy....


Zikoris

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2018, 12:26:44 PM »
I'm not crazy about it. I think the process should be easy-breezy, not stressful and difficult. I'm really big on automating all things financial, ignoring it, and focusing on living your life and dong fun things.

Also, what person in their right mind would be concerned about cash flow who had a 50-60% or higher savings rate? Like shit, that allows you to cashflow practically anything at the drop of a hat. If you only spend a small fraction of your money, you have such a massive surplus every month to tap into if needed.

rudged

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2018, 01:57:41 PM »
Thanks for your reply. I have a cash flow approaching a 50% savings rate, but the savings are all amassing in my retirement accounts. So cash flow remains an issue (at least for me).

rudged

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 02:04:00 PM »
I also disagree with the prevalence of "worried about cash flow" in your descriptions -- I have never been in that position.  There were parts of my journey that were focused on figuring out/optimizing the budget, but that came from a position of strength (how much MORE can I save while not decreasing my quality of life) rather than deprivation.

Your descriptions make the journey to FI sound really unpleasant -- much more so than it probably is for most people who choose this path.  Even those who start with significant debt probably have a point not too far out from debt payoff stage where they have enough assets built up that they can kick back and enjoy life quite a bit more.  Anybody who gets to that stage and is still "constantly worried about cash flow" probably needs therapy....

I agree I probably overstated the amount of worry one has at various stages, but there are some members of our community who seem to be obsessed with optimizing their finances. The point of my original post was that there is a fundamental difference between what might be referred to as optimizing problems (paying off debt and saving enough to "purchase" the perpetual money machine that will cover your expenses for the rest of your life) and the head game of now that I am approaching or have approached true financial independence how do I shift my attention from focusing on money. True financial independence, it seems to me, comes from never having to worry about your finances at all (perhaps by automating as much as possible).

BicycleB

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2018, 02:10:33 PM »
I agree with the posters who object to the frequency of cash flow concerns in the descriptions. I suggest temporarily reducing the % of savings going into retirement accounts in order to give yourself a better cash cushion. Once your high interest debts are paid, you should graduate within a year or so into the long happy phase where cash flow is rarely a concern.

More generally, the sequence of accumulation stages should include more expansion of joy during the journey. A quarter to half of your adult life will be in the accumulation phase. Soon after the vanishing of cash flow concerns, for example, you might enter the zone of having FU money. Boom, your quality of life rises.

rudged

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 02:34:42 PM »
I agree with the posters who object to the frequency of cash flow concerns in the descriptions. I suggest temporarily reducing the % of savings going into retirement accounts in order to give yourself a better cash cushion. Once your high interest debts are paid, you should graduate within a year or so into the long happy phase where cash flow is rarely a concern.

More generally, the sequence of accumulation stages should include more expansion of joy during the journey. A quarter to half of your adult life will be in the accumulation phase. Soon after the vanishing of cash flow concerns, for example, you might enter the zone of having FU money. Boom, your quality of life rises.

Thanks for your reply. I discovered MMM's site well into my career.  I've never been in debt (aside from a mortgage) and am well into the phase where I probably have enough money to pull the trigger now (I'm on track to pay off the mortgage later this year). But I've been able do all this precisely because I'm optimizing my finances. Perhaps I'm misreading other posts on this site (and others) but I get the distinct impression that many of us have serious reservations about having a lot of cash in a bank account, the so called cushion or emergency fund (https://earlyretirementnow.com/2016/05/05/emergency-fund/). 

JLee

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2018, 03:08:04 PM »
I am seeing a commonality across those scenarios, namely "your entire life is dominated by" financial worries, even if you have nothing to worry about. I don't think that's healthy.

I'm far from FI (about halfway to my barebones target) and it is not something I stress about. That seems unpleasant and unnecessary.

lhamo

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2018, 03:24:51 PM »
Perhaps I'm misreading other posts on this site (and others) but I get the distinct impression that many of us have serious reservations about having a lot of cash in a bank account, the so called cushion or emergency fund (https://earlyretirementnow.com/2016/05/05/emergency-fund/).

Maybe that is why you are so stressed out about things?

I personally have a feisty Inner Bag Lady who gets extremely unhappy if we don't have a significant cash reserve.  I have learned to placate her.  No, it is not financially optimal.  But we have more than enough as it is.  A slightly lower overall return rate due to having a large cash stash is what allows us to ride out the ups and downs of the market with our other investments without undue stress or worry.  The cash stash is usually enough for 2-3 years of living expenses, which allows us to ride out most recessions without touching investments.

I am also a satisficer, not a maximizer.  Good enough is good enough for me.  YMMV.

ETBen

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2018, 03:28:43 PM »
It seems to lean too heavily towards people in debt. But then most of America is so maybe thatís accurate. Maybe not enough stages given to stage 7, not in debt but not close enough in net worth.

pbkmaine

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2018, 03:42:50 PM »
I am FIRE now, but did not worry much about money along the way. I did the calculations, saved off the top, kept an entire year’s worth of expenses in cash and equivalents, and enjoyed spending and donating the rest. The year’s worth of expenses meant that DH or I could quit a job on a whim at any time, and perhaps because of this “pressure release valve”, we never did.

BicycleB

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2018, 03:56:20 PM »
I agree with the posters who object to the frequency of cash flow concerns in the descriptions. I suggest temporarily reducing the % of savings going into retirement accounts in order to give yourself a better cash cushion. Once your high interest debts are paid, you should graduate within a year or so into the long happy phase where cash flow is rarely a concern.

More generally, the sequence of accumulation stages should include more expansion of joy during the journey. A quarter to half of your adult life will be in the accumulation phase. Soon after the vanishing of cash flow concerns, for example, you might enter the zone of having FU money. Boom, your quality of life rises.

Thanks for your reply. I discovered MMM's site well into my career.  I've never been in debt (aside from a mortgage) and am well into the phase where I probably have enough money to pull the trigger now (I'm on track to pay off the mortgage later this year). But I've been able do all this precisely because I'm optimizing my finances. Perhaps I'm misreading other posts on this site (and others) but I get the distinct impression that many of us have serious reservations about having a lot of cash in a bank account, the so called cushion or emergency fund (https://earlyretirementnow.com/2016/05/05/emergency-fund/).

Very thoughtful reply! Interesting link too.

The author of the linked article doesn't seem consumed by cash flow worries. Quite the opposite. Her point is she ISN'T worried. I believe you have the capacity to achieve the same blissful result - long before reaching FI.

It's fine with me if not having actual cash in the bank makes you feel secure, and relieves you from cash flow worries. Like many Mustachians, the article author uses credit and saleable investments instead of cash to ensure that her family has lots of funds available for emergencies and variable expenses. She evinces a vast lack of worry as a result.

By contrast, your original post contains numerous repeated references to worries about cash flow. Whatever method you use of overcoming those worries is fine with me! I mean, it's your life, you can even stay worried if you want. I just hope you'll realize that persistent worry is unnecessary. I hope you will choose some method of relieving it that works for you.

Heck, you don't need to stop putting money in retirement accounts. If you're willing to pay 10% in the event of a variable expense that must be paid before the next paycheck, you already have the ability to handle anything. My experience is that either some credit, some saleable stock or some bank cash is easier on the heart than a withdrawal penalty, but what method you use is totally up to you.


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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2018, 05:48:22 PM »
I can't say I relate to much of any of those milestones.  I don't feel like we were ever "seriously in debt" and worried about finances.  Most of your descriptions are all about worry and stress and I just never worried that much about finances.   Even as a undergraduate and graduate student, I didn't worry.  I just always spent less than I earned.  I can remember when we didn't have much to eat and didn't have much of anything in our bank accounts.  But now, a couple decades of work has changed all that.  Now I focus on finances because I want to optimize % return.  We are well beyond financially independent and could have retired years ago, but we enjoy our work and appreciate having good health insurance.  Where we are on our financial journey is trying to figure out the best way to give money away because it's accumulating so fast it's crazy.  At this point, we are making money so we will have more to give away to help other people and the environment. I am in a serious quandary about retiring or continuing to make money in a job I enjoy so I can give more away.

dustinst22

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2018, 12:25:08 PM »
"your entire waking life"

God, sounds miserable.  I never approached it this way.

barbaz

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2018, 01:32:01 AM »
"your entire waking life"

God, sounds miserable.  I never approached it this way.
Came here to say this. I’m far from FIREd, but I barely think about money when making purchases.

jlcnuke

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2018, 05:35:24 AM »
Quote
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....

Nope, I never spent my life with worries about cash flow or trying to keep my expenses as low as possible, so I can't relate to any of the descriptions. Honestly, this doesn't sound healthy to me. My expenses could be lower.... so what? They don't cause me harm as they are and I enjoy what I get from them so I don't mind spending the extra money. My cash flow could be higher... but it could be lower... so what? It's what it is and I control how much of it I spend and how much I save such that I'll probably meet my goals financially AND I'll enjoy life along the way.

beer-man

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2018, 05:42:58 AM »
I don't think any any of those represent my perspective. Here's one that could be in there.

Your overall net worth is approaching what you need to attain financial independence. You think about money, but you don't obsess about it, and it doesn't cause significant stress.   By now, you don't have a budget; you spend money on the things you value, and you try not to covet nonsense.  You've created a high income for yourself, but you realize, based on the huge change happening in the world, that your high income is a house of cards.  You're trying to make hay while the sun is shining because you know it won't shine forever.  You've insured yourself and your family against high cost events, and you've avoided making needless high ticket purchases because you're engineering your life to minimize stress.  You feel like you've struck a good balance of living for today, while preparing for a life in the future.
Yep that basically sums up my outlook


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Dances With Fire

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2018, 05:49:57 AM »
Quote
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....

Nope, I never spent my life with worries about cash flow or trying to keep my expenses as low as possible, so I can't relate to any of the descriptions. Honestly, this doesn't sound healthy to me. My expenses could be lower.... so what? They don't cause me harm as they are and I enjoy what I get from them so I don't mind spending the extra money. My cash flow could be higher... but it could be lower... so what? It's what it is and I control how much of it I spend and how much I save such that I'll probably meet my goals financially AND I'll enjoy life along the way.

Agree! "Your entire waking life." Is what missed the mark for us. I (we) have never, ever lived our lives like this no matter what our net worth was. Hell, at times I think back at the freedom that I had in my 20's when cash flow was tight but I never stressed over it.

FWIW...Level 9 

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2018, 05:53:15 AM »
Eh, don't really fit into any of your buckets. It's a cool idea though.

OtherJen

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2018, 06:11:52 AM »
Quote
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....
your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow and keeping your expenses as low as possible.....

Nope, I never spent my life with worries about cash flow or trying to keep my expenses as low as possible, so I can't relate to any of the descriptions. Honestly, this doesn't sound healthy to me. My expenses could be lower.... so what? They don't cause me harm as they are and I enjoy what I get from them so I don't mind spending the extra money. My cash flow could be higher... but it could be lower... so what? It's what it is and I control how much of it I spend and how much I save such that I'll probably meet my goals financially AND I'll enjoy life along the way.

Agree! "Your entire waking life." Is what missed the mark for us. I (we) have never, ever lived our lives like this no matter what our net worth was. Hell, at times I think back at the freedom that I had in my 20's when cash flow was tight but I never stressed over it. 

Same. "Your entire waking life" sounds so exhausting and self-defeating.

Malkynn

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2018, 06:42:22 AM »
I would say that most people here stress less about money than the typical spendy-pants who has little to no grasp of their financial situation and no hope about improving it.

There's a reason that bankruptcy/insolvency specialist ads run in the middle of the night when the insomniacs can't sleep because of their out-of-control-debt stress. I have a ton of student debt and I sleep like a lazy cat in a sunbeam.

We're not here because we're stressed about money, we're here because we've learned that we don't have to be.

Reader

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2018, 05:50:58 AM »
I don't think any any of those represent my perspective. Here's one that could be in there.

Your overall net worth is approaching what you need to attain financial independence. You think about money, but you don't obsess about it, and it doesn't cause significant stress.   By now, you don't have a budget; you spend money on the things you value, and you try not to covet nonsense.  You've created a high income for yourself, but you realize, based on the huge change happening in the world, that your high income is a house of cards.  You're trying to make hay while the sun is shining because you know it won't shine forever.  You've insured yourself and your family against high cost events, and you've avoided making needless high ticket purchases because you're engineering your life to minimize stress.  You feel like you've struck a good balance of living for today, while preparing for a life in the future.
i like this. this is roughly where i am at. not worrying while working towards a minimum FI number, and focusing on enjoying the moment.

Zikoris

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2018, 10:08:00 AM »
I'd say the stage I'm at would be:

You've set your finances on autopilot and are in the "long middle" waiting until you wake up one day FIREd. You don't think about money because you sorted that thing out years ago and it takes care of itself in the background while you sleep. Your main focus is relaxing and enjoying life as your stash compounds. You work a low stress, chill job with normal work hours.

PiobStache

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2018, 10:24:24 AM »
My stage:

Have enough to be FI but not the type of FI life you want.  Realize once you turn off the money tap it's going to be hard to get it flowing again like it is right now.  Be patient, enjoy your family and leisure time.

dustinst22

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2018, 10:28:07 AM »
"your entire waking life"

God, sounds miserable.  I never approached it this way.
Came here to say this. Iím far from FIREd, but I barely think about money when making purchases.

Yep, for me "your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries " would never ever work.

I love optimizing things, to me it's beautiful when something operates in perfect optimization.  I treat my personal finances as a game/puzzle to be solved and optimized, not as a "entire waking life" worry.   Of course part of the point of optimization is that you don't have to keep worrying about it, the idea is to set the machine up and forget about it, so this "entire waking life" thing sounds really miserable.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 10:32:09 AM by dustinst22 »

pbkmaine

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2018, 10:43:58 AM »
"your entire waking life"

God, sounds miserable.  I never approached it this way.
Came here to say this. I’m far from FIREd, but I barely think about money when making purchases.

Yep, for me "your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries " would never ever work.

I love optimizing things, to me it's beautiful when something operates in perfect optimization.  I treat my personal finances as a game/puzzle to be solved and optimized, not as a "entire waking life" worry.   Of course part of the point of optimization is that you don't have to keep worrying about it, the idea is to set the machine up and forget about it, so this "entire waking life" thing sounds really miserable.

Exactly.

rudged

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2018, 12:33:56 PM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

If you then review the details of  his story further you see someone focused on optimizing his finances as an engineering problem. Does optimizing your finances mean you are attending to issues of cash flow. Of course.

All I was trying to do was draw attention to a fundamental difference in one's orientation towards money between addressing a debt problem or the problem of becoming financially independent, which are both optimization problems. And, alternatively pursing the financial life that lies beyond.


Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2018, 12:39:24 PM »
I think you missed the group that is seriously in debt but doesn't spend every waking moment thinking about it and keeps accruing more debt hoping they will win the lottery, inheritance or bankruptcy. I know many people in debt who don't care. They accept the fact that they will die indebted and they have a "can't take it with you" attitude to justify that position.

Those folks exist, but thats not "Milestone of FI" as 99% of these folks will never reach FI in the way its discussed on this site.

I'm a 9.5 I think

Malkynn

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2018, 12:39:43 PM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

If you then review the details of  his story further you see someone focused on optimizing his finances as an engineering problem. Does optimizing your finances mean you are attending to issues of cash flow. Of course.

All I was trying to do was draw attention to a fundamental difference in one's orientation towards money between addressing a debt problem or the problem of becoming financially independent, which are both optimization problems. And, alternatively pursing the financial life that lies beyond.

Okay cool.
But most people define ďyour entire waking life is dominated byĒ said worry as implying extreme and consuming stress/anxiety, not benign attention to something.

Obviously the majority of people reading your categories interpreted a lot of negativity that we donít actually experience with respect to money.

Thatís cool that you didnít mean to imply that, but you canít reject the obvious evidence that thatís the way it came off, and criticizing your readers for the way they interpret your writing is intellectually sloppy.

« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 12:41:28 PM by Malkynn »

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2018, 12:48:02 PM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

Words have specific meanings. "Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow" does not mean the same thing as "Your financial situation is your primary focus, and you enjoy optimizing your cash flow."

lhamo

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2018, 02:38:00 PM »
So maybe you meant "obsess" not "worry?"  I think for most people "worry" has a decidedly negative implication.  Obsession can, too -- but not in the default way worry does.

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2018, 03:13:41 PM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

Words have specific meanings. "Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow" does not mean the same thing as "Your financial situation is your primary focus, and you enjoy optimizing your cash flow."

Exactly!
By the time I read "Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow" - for the third time -, I suffered a panic attack! Who lives and thinks this way?
Figure out how to reach FI - commence with the plan - automate and adjust annually. End of story!
Hang out in the MMM forums and other financial blogs and forums whenever you need a little boost of energy and some new ideas to improve your plans/finances.

People in my income range and age group can't afford to obsess to the degree a Mr. MMM could be driven in his younger years. This is not a five or even ten-year plan for a median income person or a low/lower income person. If you have a high income or are lucky enough to be a two high-income family - then OK - a five to 8-10 year plan is a possibility. If you don't get sick and don't lose your job or suffer any other calamity or a divorce etc....

There are quite a few people on this board with no debt, but only a moderate salary and few options - they optimize and maximize and pay attention while they use every opportunity and every coupon that comes their way.
They enjoy the ride and they have fun along the way, because it is all about having a plan. Like a game where you score extra points along the way, because you found a tip that saved you $50, a recipe that cut your cooking time in half and tons of information to lower your expenses - priceless, habit-forming, but neither stressful nor boring.

The "Ask a Mustachian" thread is filled with good information and it is amazing how much money I've saved by reading https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/what-small-things-did-you-do-today-to-save-money/

When I think of milestones to FI - I think about reaching that last cash cushion. It means the last chip is in place and it is a good feeling. We've done what we can and we monitor along the way.
Beyond that, it is all gravy - no worries.



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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2018, 04:16:00 PM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

If you then review the details of  his story further you see someone focused on optimizing his finances as an engineering problem. Does optimizing your finances mean you are attending to issues of cash flow. Of course.

All I was trying to do was draw attention to a fundamental difference in one's orientation towards money between addressing a debt problem or the problem of becoming financially independent, which are both optimization problems. And, alternatively pursing the financial life that lies beyond.

To understand why, consider the words that were used in conjunction with the words "worry" and "cash flow":

"1. You ... feel overwhelmed... dire consequences...

2. You ... feel overwhelmed...

3. You ... feel overwhelmed...

4. You ... feel overwhelmed ... one small unexpected  emergency could completely derail the plan...

5.  ...get through this...

6.  ... get through this...

7. You have no debt ... Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow ... because you are starting to treat the achievement of financial independence as another debt (to your future self) ...

8. You have no debt ... but are plagued by worries that you may have underestimated the amount you need, how you will explain your decision to friends and family, and what you will do with your time after retirement...

9. You ... have attained financial independence from the perspective of any outside neutral observer. But... Your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow ... you are still plagued by second thoughts...

10.  ...even you recognize you have attained financial independence... your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about cash flow ... because you are still have second thoughts.

11. You reach the point at which you recognize that the point of this journey was freedom, and in particular, freedom from worrying about money and cash flow issues. You are justifiably proud of a tremendous achievement that has taken years to attain. With time, you graduate to the point of where conversations about money and how to save more and spend less become increasingly tedious, not merely because you are financially independent and no longer need to focus on these issues, but also because by now these are ingrained habits of the mind."

@rudged, I hope you can see that the words surrounding "worry" and "cash flow" include multiple indicators that "worry" had a negative connotation, just as it does in normal speech. Overwhelmed is clearly a word that implies a negative mental state. Most people would assume that being overwhelmed feels unpleasant - very different from the joyous journey of bike rides, friendship, courtship, pleasant optimizing and eventual love the MMM described himself as experiencing during his pre-FIRE wealth accumulation.  That the FI seeker actually feels overwhelmed is repeated 4 times. The phrase "get through this" implies that stages 5 and 6 are also unpleasant. By stages 8 and 9, the person is "plagued" by thoughts that detract from enjoying an objectively good state.  Milestone 11 shows that these are not positive because the person eventually gets past them. An unbiased reader would reasonably conclude that the milestones 1 through 10 offered in the original post are permeated by the implication of a negative or unpleasant emotional state.

Please be aware that the many strong reactions you are getting are caused by empathy. No one wants you or anyone else to go through the amount of emotional pain implied by the normal meanings of the words in the original milestones.  It seems likely as a reader that if there are so many separate negative connotations in one description, perhaps such pain is part of your current underlying state - even if unconsciously.

I've been through several bouts of counseling. Negative emotions are unpleasant even if we're so used to them that we don't notice. Overcoming them is confusing at first but can be very liberating. You could explore this yourself as part of your preparation for FI (congratulations on approaching the FI zone, by the way!).  If everything is perfect inside the capacious halls of your mind and soul, no harm will come from a few counseling sessions. If, like most of us, a few of life's bounces have left spots of rust here and there, a bit of professional assistance in gently smoothing out the rough spots might help you feel a lot better.

I am hopeful that your FI is going to be even better than you think, whether you follow such a suggestion or not. But, from experience, it's worth a try. In any case, glad you brought up your thoughts. Good luck in all your adventures.  And keep posting!   :)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 05:00:53 PM by BicycleB »

mak1277

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2018, 07:48:23 AM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

If you then review the details of  his story further you see someone focused on optimizing his finances as an engineering problem. Does optimizing your finances mean you are attending to issues of cash flow. Of course.

All I was trying to do was draw attention to a fundamental difference in one's orientation towards money between addressing a debt problem or the problem of becoming financially independent, which are both optimization problems. And, alternatively pursing the financial life that lies beyond.

I don't worry about money...I don't obsess about money.  I generally don't even think about money.  The best thing I got from MMM was learning about a simple 3-fund portfolio of index funds.  I have no desire to optimize my finances, nor do I spend more than about 5 minutes a month thinking about money (when I update my NW calc).  There are way more important thing in life for me than worrying/obsessing/thinking about this.

Edit to add:  When I was in debt and had less than $1,000 to my name, I thought about money even less than I do now, so be assured my attitude is not built on excess.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 07:54:24 AM by mak1277 »

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #38 on: September 20, 2018, 08:26:26 AM »
I can relate, and I like that in the FIRE stage you don't have this...

Quote
Your entire waking life continues to be dominated by worries about.... Some sort of monetary challenge

Another thing to look forward to in FIRE

Lanthiriel

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #39 on: September 20, 2018, 11:26:10 AM »
Wow, I don't think I've ever had anyone so clearly outline my current financial position. I seem to live in a constant state of "you're doing fine, but don't get complacent." I may print this out and put it on my wall as a sort of affirmation.

I don't think any any of those represent my perspective. Here's one that could be in there.

Your overall net worth is approaching what you need to attain financial independence. You think about money, but you don't obsess about it, and it doesn't cause significant stress.   By now, you don't have a budget; you spend money on the things you value, and you try not to covet nonsense.  You've created a high income for yourself, but you realize, based on the huge change happening in the world, that your high income is a house of cards.  You're trying to make hay while the sun is shining because you know it won't shine forever.  You've insured yourself and your family against high cost events, and you've avoided making needless high ticket purchases because you're engineering your life to minimize stress.  You feel like you've struck a good balance of living for today, while preparing for a life in the future.

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #40 on: Today at 05:52:24 AM »
Sigh. I do not understand why the phrases "worry" and "cash flow" are being interpreted so narrowly. If you worry about something, apparently you are losing sleep and prone to ulcers. And if you follow your cash flow, this means you are so sloppy with your finances that you are perpetually at risk of bouncing a check.

When I first came to this website I was struck by the heroic tale MMM shares about his journey. He shares a tale about how early in his career he discovered how he could become financially independent much earlier than most people traditionally retire, and how that discovery led him to take on a mission, becoming financially independent as soon as possible. i think a fair characterization of his journey is a man obsessed with reaching financial independence, focus on every aspect of his finances driven by a desire to reach his goal as soon as possible.  The journey he has is nothing short of exhilarating, not miserable. Is is appropriate to refer to someone who has such an obsession about his finances "worried" about them? Of course. Are there better ways to phrase it than using the word "worry." Yes I freely concede this.

Words have specific meanings. "Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow" does not mean the same thing as "Your financial situation is your primary focus, and you enjoy optimizing your cash flow."

Exactly!
By the time I read "Your entire waking life is dominated by worries about cash flow" - for the third time -, I suffered a panic attack! Who lives and thinks this way?
Figure out how to reach FI - commence with the plan - automate and adjust annually. End of story!
Hang out in the MMM forums and other financial blogs and forums whenever you need a little boost of energy and some new ideas to improve your plans/finances.

People in my income range and age group can't afford to obsess to the degree a Mr. MMM could be driven in his younger years. This is not a five or even ten-year plan for a median income person or a low/lower income person. If you have a high income or are lucky enough to be a two high-income family - then OK - a five to 8-10 year plan is a possibility. If you don't get sick and don't lose your job or suffer any other calamity or a divorce etc....

There are quite a few people on this board with no debt, but only a moderate salary and few options - they optimize and maximize and pay attention while they use every opportunity and every coupon that comes their way.
They enjoy the ride and they have fun along the way, because it is all about having a plan. Like a game where you score extra points along the way, because you found a tip that saved you $50, a recipe that cut your cooking time in half and tons of information to lower your expenses - priceless, habit-forming, but neither stressful nor boring.

The "Ask a Mustachian" thread is filled with good information and it is amazing how much money I've saved by reading https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/what-small-things-did-you-do-today-to-save-money/

When I think of milestones to FI - I think about reaching that last cash cushion. It means the last chip is in place and it is a good feeling. We've done what we can and we monitor along the way.
Beyond that, it is all gravy - no worries.

^^^Nice post Rosy...Great information.

rantk81

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #41 on: Today at 06:15:57 AM »
level 9.  it's nice in some ways... but the fear of "losing what I already have" is real.

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Re: Milestones of FI
« Reply #42 on: Today at 07:01:27 AM »
Lol I'm getting a kick out of some of the responses, so funny how mentally a like some of us on the forum are. I would think that for most of us, FIRE would not be possible if it were not for the absolute bone chilling fear of not achieving that goal. It takes more than just simply wanting the dream, you really have to have proper motivation that keeps you on track when life throws you a curve ball.