How the Path to Early Retirement is Like Learning to Drive a Car.

If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed. – David Viscott

Want to take control of your finances and reach for early retirement, but you're confused with where you should start? Let me help you with the first step.

How many of you were scared to learn how to drive a car?  I know I was!  I was scared, nervous and excited.  And you know what?  Taking control of your money and fighting for financial independence and early retirement gives me those same feelings!

Scared that once I am retired something will happen and I’ll have to go back to work.

Nervous because I’m doing so well on this journey so far and I don’t want to mess it up!

Excited because the thought of freedom and financial independence is exhilarating!

This post has been stewing in my head for about a week now and when I finally was able to start writing, the thought hit me.  The road to FIRE is like the road to getting your driver’s license.

There are so many steps to achieve both.

The first step is learning.

Before you actually get your license you have to take a class and learn the rules of the road, right?  When is it safe to pass?  What does that sign mean?  Should you use your high beams or low beams in the fog?

While financial independence doesn’t require you to pass a test, it is a good idea to learn about 401k’s and IRA’s, fees, taxes, investments, withdrawal rates and so much more.  It’ll make the journey a lot less confusing.

Start reading books on financial independence.  Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin is great and one that I’ve read about five times now.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is also great for helping you get out of debt.  He also has a radio show that is pretty entertaining and I highly suggest checking out.  I listen to it on my drive home from work.

Then there are the hundreds of personal finance blogs with tons of tips and tricks to help you along your journey.  Mr. Money Mustache and jlcollinsnh are two of my favorites and provide a ton of information on the FIRE movement.

I started reading books and websites when I was deep in debt.  Like $50k in debt.  I knew I had a long way to go, but I wasn’t sure what I needed to do exactly.  After doing a bunch of reading I started doing Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. Continue reading “How the Path to Early Retirement is Like Learning to Drive a Car.”

A Birthday Meal and My February Financial Update with Net Worth

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One of my best financial updates yet! I managed to keep my expenses super low in February. Also check out the post to see my income, savings and net worth!I’ve been looking forward to writing this February financial update ever since the month ended!  February ended up being a month where I had very low expenses.  It helped that the month was shorter than normal.  If only I could have low expenses like this every month!

Mr. Frugal Turtle Turns a Year Older

February was Mr. Frugal Turtle’s birthday month!  He took the day off from work and we spent the day together on his birthday.  I didn’t get him anything for his birthday.  We usually don’t do gifts for any occasion, so this is normal.

I did, however, take him to a Mexican Restaurant that gives free meals on birthdays.  Several of his siblings and their significant others were able to join us for the grand occasion.  There’s no better way to spend your birthday than surrounded by loved ones!

What Else Happened In February?

I ended up getting a nasty cold in the beginning of the month and it took a couple of weeks before I was feeling better.  I’m just happy Mr. Frugal Turtle never ended up getting it.  It had me completely down for the count for an entire weekend!

A new grocery store opened up in the area!  Fresh Thyme opened up late in January and I finally got to go there in February.  For someone who actually enjoys grocery shopping this was a big deal!  There was so much hype about this store that I couldn’t wait to see what the big deal was.

The verdict: it’s cheaper than other grocery stores on some items.  Other items they are more expensive.  Just like every other store.  It just goes to show you that you have to pay attention to prices no matter where you are.

On to the numbers!

February Net Worth

I ended February with a net worth of $115,121.53.  My goal for this year is to end the year with a net worth of $150k.  If I can reach $125k by the end of June I think I have a good shot of reaching that goal.

My net worth includes my retirement accounts and my regular savings account.

I use Personal Capital (affiliate link) to keep track of my net worth.  Personal Capital is really easy to use and I have to admit, I’m kinda addicted.  You can link your credit cards, banks, and investment accounts to this site and it updates all the time.  I log in and check my net worth almost every single day.  It also has a pretty sweet retirement planner that tells you what you can work on to make your retirement even better. Continue reading “A Birthday Meal and My February Financial Update with Net Worth”

If You Want to Retire Early, Start Doing These 12 Things Right Now

If you can implement some or all of the items on this list your journey to early retirement will be short and sweet. The hardest part is actually starting.“The thing to do is to make so much money that you don’t have to work after the age of twenty-seven. In case this is impracticable, stop work at the earliest possible moment, even if it is at a quarter past eleven on the morning of the day when you find you do have enough money.”-Robert Benchley

Dreaming of Early Retirement

While I won’t retire by the time I’m 27(I’m 36), I’m hoping to retire before I’m 45.  I’m getting more and more antsy at work.  I pretty much daydream about early retirement whenever there’s downtime.

Even though I’m not retired yet, the following list are things that I have done or currently do to help me reach early retirement as fast as possible.  If you follow this list, or do only some of the items on the list, it should help you reach early retirement as well!

Max Out Your 401k and IRA if Possible

Look, I know it’s really hard to save that much money.  Start small!  It was only 4 years ago that I was putting in 3% every paycheck.  3% was the amount I needed to contribute to get the match.  I wanted to pay down my debts before I really started investing.

Once I was debt free I slowly started contributing more and more until I was comfortable contributing the max amount.  I’m pretty sure I changed my contribution amount like four times in one year!

Pay Off Debt

Some people suggest paying off all debt before investing anything.  When I was in debt, I saved enough to get the 401k match and then focused on paying off my debts.  Making sure that my emergency fund was fully funded when I was paying off my debt was also a high priority for me.

I kept a fully funded emergency fund because I had been laid off before at a time when I wasn’t in a secure financial situation and IT SUCKED! Thanks to parental help, I made it through, but it’s a situation that I never wanted to be in again. Continue reading “If You Want to Retire Early, Start Doing These 12 Things Right Now”

When Can I Retire?

When can I retire?

The all important question for people seeking early retirement.

How do you know if you’re financially independent?  How do you know if you have enough savings to retire?  When will you be able to call it quits at work?  What’s your retirement number?

 

When can I retire? The all important question for everyone who wants to retire early. Find out how to calculate when you can retire with this blog post.The 4% Rule

For me, I will be financially independent when 4% of my retirement and savings accounts can consistently cover my expenses for a period of time (probably 6 months).

This is why I keep track of my expenses and net worth every month.  It’s important to me to see what ground I’ve gained (or lost) in the past month, and how much more work I have left to do.

On the spreadsheet where I keep track of my income, expenses and net worth, there is also a column where I calculate 4% of my net worth.  So, once I calculate my net worth for that month, I then multiply that by 4% to calculate what my annual income would be and then I divide that number by 12 to see how much of my monthly expenses I could cover.

So for instance, on January 1st, my net worth was $68,826.50.  4% of $68,826.50 is $2753.06.  Divide that number by 12 and you get $229.42.  So right now my retirement and savings accounts could consistently cover around $230 of my monthly expenses.   Continue reading “When Can I Retire?”

My First $100k Was Definitely The Hardest

Hello everyone!

I Made My $100k Net Worth Goal!

I made my goal of reaching $100k net worth by the end of 2016. This post details how I started on my journey to early retirement.So I made my goal of having a $100k net worth by the end of 2016.

I’m so happy!

Most of the year I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to hit my goal, but then November came and the markets have been going up and up ever since.

I felt like I had my foot trapped in a hole in the ground and I couldn’t go anywhere.  I was just struggling to break free and then suddenly I was able to yank my foot out and now I’m just running and running.

Lately I was just feeling like I was clawing and fighting to get ahead financially.  Now that I’ve reached the magical $100k I can calm down. Maybe.

In my spare time I read a lot of financial blogs and they always say if you save a lot of money, consistently, retirement will happen in 10, 15 years.  They always make it seem like those years will fly by.  Retirement will happen before I know it.

It’s not like that at all.

It’s slow.  It’s frustrating.  It seems like I’m never going to get there. Huge gains are followed by large expenses.  My net worth is increasing at the slowest rate ever!

At the age of 17 I got my first job.  I’ve worked consistently since then.  It’s taken me 19 years to reach a net worth of $100k.  I feel like I should have been here a long time ago.

The Day My Life Changed

It was about 9 years ago that I added up all my debt-all the credit cards, car loans and school loans that were in my name.  The total stunned me.  $50k.  How in the hell did I get that far in debt?? Continue reading “My First $100k Was Definitely The Hardest”