I don’t remember the exact day, but I remember the feeling like it was yesterday.
After a long meeting at work, I got back to my cubicle in the late afternoon of a warm summer day.
I sat down, exhaled, and smirked to myself as I thought, “well, only 40 more years of this.”
I’d made that joke many times before amongst friends. We’d all laugh and joke around about how one day we’d be making the “big bucks” where all our hard work now would pay off.
In our minds that’s just how it was, everyone worked into their 60’s. It was a normal thing.
However, this day was different.
For some reason, after that thought, I felt a chill go down my spine.
Maybe it was from the extreme coldness of the a/c my company blasts all summer. Maybe it was something else.
All I know is I felt an eerie uneasiness spread over me for the rest of the day. This was something I wasn’t accustomed to, yet I ignored it.
By the time I laid down to go to bed, it still hadn’t gone away.
As I thought back through the day, the reason of the unease finally hit me.
I didn’t want to work for 40 more years.
Let’s take a step back..
These thoughts occurred to me last year around the late June 2017 timeframe.
At the time I was nearing the completion of my third year of working after college.
Now, the first two years of work I was spoiled.
As part of my company’s Leadership rotational program, I worked four different 6 month rotations at various groups within the company.
This allowed me to get different job experiences within the Finance function at my company, as well as live in two different cities (with a third right after the program ended).
In addition, we would have quarterly Training Sessions, in which they would fly us out to different cities our company is located in to learn more about the company and strengthen our skills.
Sounds pretty ideal right?
Well, this wasn’t real life.
And by the time I was nearing the end of my third year at the company, it had been just about a year after I had finished the program.
The reality was starting to sink in.
That year after had no more work travel, no moving on to a new position after 6 months, and I was really beginning to realize the monotony of my position.
Could I really do this for 40 more years?
I immediately felt guilt.
By all means I’m in a pretty good situation, and it’s not exactly like I hate my job or anything.
I have a good, stable job that pays above average compared to other industries, has good benefits, and the work/life balance isn’t so bad either.
I know some people that would love to have this job.
But for me, I couldn’t imagine doing it for 40 years anymore.
There had to be another way.
The Discovery of FIRE
The next day I began to think.
I remembered seeing an article a few months back about some guy who had retired at 30.
At the time I had just glanced at the headline and moved on to the next. The guy obviously must’ve had a super wealthy family or invented something for that to be possible.
I decided I’d look into a little further now. Maybe there was something I could learn.
I did a quick google search, and low and behold, as many others have, I stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache.
Reading through some of his main posts, not only did I discover this world of FIRE (Financial Independence / Early Retirement), but how attainable it actually is.
His in your face style of writing made me question how I never had thought of this before. It was so obvious!
The post, The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement was what really brought it home for me.
In order to make early retirement a reality, there were a lot of changes I needed to make though.
While I immediately optimized my finances and began tracking my net worth, overall expenses and savings rate, it took until the fall for me to really crack down and realize what I needed to do.
Shortly after that, I went full convert and started this blog to help me reach my ultimate goal: “Retire” in my 30’s.
What FIRE Means to Me
I’ve been hesitant to state my ultimate goal, as for a while, I was still trying to figure out exactly what that was.
However, in the last section I put retire in parenthesis for a reason: I don’t mean to traditionally retire as someone in their late 60’s might.
I mean to put myself in a financial position where I’m able to walk away from my corporate job and go do something I’m passionate about, even if that means making much less money.
This has been coined “Barista FIRE” – where you would only need to make a few thousand dollars per year (like a part-time barista) in order to fund your lifestyle.
I have a long list of things which I’d love to do in my life. Passion projects you might call them.
The unfortunate thing though, is that most of these don’t have big earnings potential.
By setting myself up financially now, I could walk away from the corporate life, work on my passion projects and not have to worry about making a ton of money off them!
That sounds like a win-win scenario to me!
Doing this, I also would get the flexibility to travel as often as I’d like – a huge priority.
I hesitate to go into too many details or provide an exact number/date as there is so much in my life that’s up in the air and has yet to be determined.
As a single guy, I have no idea whether by this time I’ll still be single, married, have kids, etc. all of which play a big role in what my priorities would be at that point.
This ultimate goal of mine, at the very least, should not have to change based on this status.
At this point, it’s just a matter of how fast I can get there!
My Path Forwards
I now know what I need to do: to get to Barista FIRE, I need to do some combination of lowering my expenses or increasing my income.
I do not want to go find the highest paying job I can that has awful work life balance and where I’d be miserable, and neither do I want to cut my expenses to the point where I miss fun, memorable events because I don’t want to pay a certain amount of money to do it.
It’s all about finding the right balance.
Already, I have a lot of interesting ideas to help me get there faster while maintaining my quality of life.
I look forward to being able to share them as they come to fruition!
I’ll leave you all with one last nugget:
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time”
– Leo Tolstoy
Who else has that warrior mindset!?