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I recently spoke with some people who will never achieve financial independence.
They never found the magical formula of spending less than you make and saving the rest.
Now, in the twilight of their careers, there is no way to reverse course. Their financial futures are set, and there will be no financial freedom.
Research from Lending Club found that 64% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck in early 2022. Many in this financial situation will never break the cycle.
However, financial independence is attainable for those willing to work hard and break the cycle of poor financial discipline.
An early start provides a huge leg up.
The magic of compounding interest works wonders over the long haul. The sooner you can tame your spending and begin saving, the more your nest egg can grow.
The Rule of 72 is a simple way to determine how long your money will take to double, giving a percentage of return. The formula is simple:
72 / Expected Rate of Return
For example, if your rate of return is 7%, your money will double in 10.29 years.
72 / 7 = 10.29
The earlier you start, the more doubling cycles you will see before you need to rely on the money for your living expenses.
Starting later is better than not starting at all.
If you are in your 50s or 60s and have not started saving, you face a nearly impossible challenge to reaching financial independence.
However, for most younger people, a late start is not an assurance that you will not reach financial independence. The later you start, the more discipline you require to succeed. Money mistakes are also more impactful for this group of people.
You have less time to make gains from compounding, and mistakes that impact your principal further erode the growth potential.
You will need to make more sacrifices to boost your savings rate when you start later in your career.
Grant Sabatier, the author of Financial Freedom, achieved financial independence in less than five years. He started with less than $3 in his bank account and hit his goal of $1.25M. His results are amazing, but he didn’t do anything that couldn’t be done by someone else.
Sabatier was devoted to reaching financial independence and making sacrifices to reach his goal. He shares his approach in the book, and I recommend the read for anyone trying to shorten the timeline. The strategies provide a good roadmap for someone starting later in life who needs to play catch up.
Learn about alternative paths to Financial Independence. Read – 6 Types of Financial Independence: Which Best Fits You?
You must find ways to increase your income.
Whether you work a 9–5, run your own business or a combination, you need to find ways to increase your income to increase your odds of reaching financial independence.
You can cut expenses only so much.
Ultimately you will need more income to grow your savings rate. Many side hustles can boost your income.
In my journey, I tried a few side hustles but ultimately found ways to earn more money in my career with a large company.
Earning more is crucial. You have to drive your earnings higher because no one will give you this. This is true no matter who you are working for.
Do not be afraid to reach for jobs beyond your current capabilities. If you work for someone else, make sure you are asking for these opportunities.
You have to drive your career forward.
Most people will never reach financial independence.
If you want financial independence, you will have to work for it.
The road will not be easy, especially at the start.
Eventually, as your savings rate increases and the compounding effect on your investments takes hold, things get much more manageable.
If your goal is to save a million dollars, you might think the halfway point is $500,000. In fact, the halfway point is more like $300,000, thanks to the compounding effect.
As your investments grow and interest on your principal starts earning interest, things move much faster.
The trick is to use strict financial discipline to get things moving. The first few years are the toughest and most important time to build and maintain this discipline.
Most people lack the discipline required. They give up at the first sign of trouble.
It’s much easier to be like most people. It’s easy to spend more than you earn and save nothing.
Take charge of your financial life.
Do the hard things.
Break the mold.
Read about my journey – These 10 Steps Made My Work Optional Before 50
Find others on the same path and those who have already reached financial independence.
When you surround yourself with people on the track, you increase your probability of success. Look for local groups at places like ChooseFI, BiggerPockets, MeetUp, etc.
These groups allow you to meet with others who understand what you are going through. I’ve been to several Mustachian events in Colorado, and the community is impressive. If you are struggling with something, you will find someone that has been there or even someone that is right there with you.
A community of people is stronger than one. There is no reason to go alone when you can engage with a supportive community.
Read more about community: 5 Takeaways From a Financial Cult Meetup
If you never get a handle on your financial life, you will never reach financial independence.
Most people never get a handle on their financial life.
Despite this, financial independence is an attainable goal. You will need to work hard, grow your income, and save as much as possible.
The path is much easier for those who start early, thanks to the magic of compounding. Even if you start later, financial independence is possible. The discipline and drive required are much higher, though.
A community can provide much-needed support as you work toward financial independence. Look for others with similar goals and use the power of the community to defeat the challenges you face.
A goal of financial independence may seem impossible, especially at the beginning of the journey. The journey is challenging, and most people will quit, but it’s far from impossible.
The Journey to Financial Independence Creates Freedom
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