You’ve Done The Math, Now What?

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Catching the Fever

So you learned about the about FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) and dove in headfirst. Maybe you started listening to copious amounts of podcasts and got all FIREd up. Perhaps you discovered your favorite bloggers and followed their journey only to find yourself even more inspired. And maybe you took the big step and attended a CampFI event and met some of these FI (Financial Independence) minded people in person.

You calculated you FI number and set a goal. Next, you starting driving down your monthly expenses by cutting the cord and/or switching to a cheaper cell phone plan.  Wanting to gain some of your time back, you began meal prepping each week. Overall you embraced a mind shift with your consumption habits and became a mindful spender. Maybe you even switched up your transportation mode and began to bike or walk to work.  And for the big one, perhaps you got extreme and started a form of house hacking to reduce what once was your largest monthly expense.

With your expenses low, you started working on the income side of the equation and implemented career hacking. You started excelling in your career and driving up the company’s revenues and in turn yours. Maybe just maybe, you found more purpose in your career and even dropped the RE part of FIRE. Regardless, you are still going to achieve FI because you want that choice.

Your savings rate crossed the 50% line and you started maxing out your retirement and tax-advantaged accounts with low-cost index funds.

Yeah, you’re killing it. So now what?

It’s a Lifestyle

Welcome to the most awesome community in the world!! You’ll never meet a more friendly. community than the FI/FIRE community. Everyone is willing to share what they’ve done to get to where they’re at and then help you on your way.

Now that you are cruising on autopilot towards the brazen goal of achieving FI, I don’t want you (or I) to get distracted or lose sight of why we are doing this. So I came up with 7 tips to keep our head in the game while living our most purpose-filled life…today.

Tip #1 Annual Review

A lot can change in the 10+ years you are on this journey towards FI. For example, I just read this stellar article by Fred from Money with a Purpose and decided I’m most comfortable adding some bonds back in the mix. Moreover, this made me realize that I need to set aside time once a year where I review my situation, see what has changed, and analyze how these things affect my FI goal. In turn, I may need to adjust my Investment Policy Statement.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself at your annual review meeting:

  1. If you were single, are you now not?
  2. Has your family grown?
  3. Has your salary increased?
  4. What is your COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments)?
  5. Do you need to re-balance your asset allocation?
  6. Have your career goals changed?
  7. Have your life goals changed?
  8. What has changed with your extended family?
    1. Do you need to move closer?
  9. How does all this affect your FI number?

There are probably many different questions which apply to different situations, but you get the basic idea. Schedule a repeating annual review in your calendar and/or task manager and forget it until the reminder comes, which BTW, leads me to tip #2.

Tip #2 Use A Task Manager

I’m writing this tip as much for me as I am for you. I was just talking with a friend about his choice of task managers, todoist, and he related it to Discipline Equaling Freedom. I was instantly convinced that I need to embrace a task manager personally.

While we utilize a phenomenal task manager at the office, smartsheet, I’ve realized it’s too robust for my personal and blogging tasks.  I’ve been paralyzed by the plethora of task managers out there, but the epiphany I had today was to just start.

The point is to get the stuff out of our heads so we can free up more head-space for the creative things.

Automation works with our investments why not make it work for our mundane tasks, especially the ones that are repetitive.

Tip #3 Keep on Career Hacking

I think while we are in the wealth accumulation phase the biggest factor we can focus on, which has unlimited room for growth, is our income. Think about it, you can only drive your expenses down so far before you hit a limit.

The only thing that may be putting the cap on your income is your limiting beliefs. Take some time to think on that one.

Seriously this is your biggest FIRE power so invest in it. Chief Mom Officer just put out a great article on how she went from 22k a year to 6 figures. ESI talks about career hacking on this rad ChooseFI podcast episode.

I’ve had a lot of amazing mentors in my life. By following some of their sage advice, I’ve increased my income in 7 years by 68%. And I’m not even close to being done!!

Here are some career hacking things you can do right now:

  1. Embrace change and perhaps even drive change into your company. There is so much I can say here, but I’ll simply say this – in a world where technology is rapidly changing, we all need to embrace a growth mindset.  Be open to learning and trying new things. Maybe even suggest them. Don’t be the person who is terrified of change. You’ll get left behind.
  2. Find ways to work smarter not harder. Can you do more with less? Re-evaluate your processes constantly.
  3. Keep learning. Sure this may mean getting an advanced degree (especially if your company reimburses for it). However, you can always learn something just by being curious. Check out Khan Academy for free online education.
  4. Find out what’s expected of you, beat it, track it and report it.
  5. If your boss suggests a book, read it! My boss asked us to read the book, Traction. Furthermore, implement what you’ve read into your daily work life.

Tip #4 Smell the Roses

Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the world around us. Enjoy your family. Have fun. Exercise.

Um, my nephew is not so sure about this one!

You get the idea, just don’t put off all the things you love today to kill yourself for more time with them tomorrow.

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”  – Winnie the Pooh

Take some time to do nothing. I struggle with this one but I’m learning to block off some time for it. 😉

Tip #5 Find Your Purpose!!!

In my humble opinion, this is the most important thing to figure out. Do some soul searching and discover your purpose. I’ve written about purpose before and that’s because it’s so darn important. I believe with everything in me that we were all created with a distinct and unique purpose. Our job here on earth is to figure out what that is, and then go live it.

Even if it takes you half of your life to figure it out consider yourself blessed because unfortunately some people never discover theirs.

Have you ever seen a dog doing what he/she was bred to do? They are elated, exuberant, focused and yes, living on purpose.  We can learn a lot from dogs, like unconditional love. Dogs don’t go to university to figure this out. They just do! Just sayin’.

This dog’s purpose was to pull sleds. Sometimes he needed sleep too. 🙂

If you’ve been around these parts before you know I overcame addiction. I take no credit. I only surrendered and let God into my life. God then put some extraordinary people on my path who walked the journey with me.

Now part of my purpose is walking with others who are overcoming.

Ask yourself the following question…

Who is not being helped because you’re not living your purpose?

I guarantee when you live on purpose, you’ll help others. It’s the way this thing works. You give and in turn, you get. Oh, and you’ll get more than you could ever imagine.

Tip #6 Treat Yo Self

You’ll probably never hear this expression in the rooms of FI.

Yeah, no, don’t go to that extreme. Haha! But yes you do need to occasionally ‘treat yo self.’

Do you have a 50%+ savings rate? Are you maxing out your retirement accounts? Yep, then go enjoy some of your hard earned money, mindfully. Get some ice cream, take a vacation, go skiing, or buy those shoes you’ve been dreaming about. I don’t know what it is you long for but every now and again you need to, say it with me, ‘treat yo self.’

Just don’t sacrifice your future financial goals or go into debt doing it. You know who you are. If you’re killing it, you have permission for a little splurge now and again.

And if you are currently working hard to get out of debt, I got you. Keep going with that, but you too can treat yo frugal self too.

Here are some frugal ‘treat yo self’ suggestions suitable for everyone:

  • Make dinner with friends (much cheaper than going out).
  • Take a staycation and explore your local area. This is a good way to enjoy a vacation without deviating from your debt freedom goals.
  • Join a meetup. Depending on the activity, these typically don’t cost money.
  • Check out garage sales, thrift stores or buy nothing groups. I haven’t explored the last one yet but I understand it to be a community of trading goods and services. Start at the link I listed, narrow in on your location and voila! You’ll eventually find yourself at a Facebook Buy Nothing group specific to your area.

Tip #7 Pass it On

You gotta give it away to keep it. This is a common expression in the rooms of recovery. I find it to be true in all facets of life.

I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without all the help I’ve received along the way from others. People have abundantly poured into my life and my cup overflows. What am I going to do with these blessings? I could try to hoard them and where would that get me? I’ll take a guess – completely and ironically empty.

So take that knowledge and experience you’ve racked up and…

  • Help the newbie
  • Raise amazing children
  • Mentor someone
  • Donate your time
  • Donate your money
  • Love someone who seems unlovable
I get to be an aunt to this one.

Whatever and however you do it, just pass it on…



14 thoughts on “You’ve Done The Math, Now What?”

  1. Hello, Ms. Fiology!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips! I love the idea of an annual review. At the end of this year, I will be making some adjustments to my strategy.

    Increasing your income by 68% in 7 years is impressive. Career hacking is definitely something I plan on focusing more on. I’ve just been settling for cost of living increases for the past four years at my main job. Time to change that!

    Keep up the good work, and I hope to see you at FinCon soon!

    1. You are very kind. Thank you! In regards to increasing my income, my confidence grew as I paid off my debt and amazingly so did my salary. The power of intentionality!

      Looking forward to meeting you.

  2. Deanna this is so great. Solid points and of course I love the career hacking and Jocko references ( 😉 ).

    I will often have a little celebration tied with a savings milestone to break up the monotony of the long slog to FI. It helps to have quick wins to keep the motivation up, just like paying off the debt!

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  5. For me, the pursuit of FIRE has been in itself liberating. It’s taken fear away, and so long as I make a decent living, I know I’d be ok. FIRE has given me a purpose. I enjoy my work more, I do not seek more (not sure if that’s good), and I’m content – all that has actually made be better at work, skill and people wise (although I don’t really pursue the later). FIRE brings out the best in me. Lastly, reading folks like you and others who explore (and hustle) has encouraged me to explore and share as well.

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    1. Hey, thank you for stopping by! Yeah, we need to enjoy the ride for sure. Plus once we get to autopilot with our savings, we can really focus on living and enjoying life. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Camille! With all the people reading this, you are the first to catch that typo. Why yes, I did mean to say less with more. Haha! It has been corrected. I appreciate you just like I appreciate someone telling me I have spinach in my teeth. 😉

      Seriously, thanks!

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