Four Phases of FI

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. –Mark Twain

I think a lot about my life. Probably too much…

Phase 1: Normal life
Dates
: 1973 to October 2012
Money
: $0 to -$60,000 (college debt) to $700,000 

My original life’s plan was to retire in my 60s. I call it my normal phase.

At the age of 38, I found myself married living in a normal subdivision filled with normal cookie cutter homes. Mrs. 1500 and I had purchased two new cars and produced two children. We parked the cars in the 3 car garage and parked the children in our 4500 square foot home. The notion of leaving my job before the age of 62 or 65 never crossed my mind. I had known of no one who had ever left work before their 60s. This is what I had known:

Put 10 or 15% of my income into the 401(k).

Work for 40 years.

Move to a warm state and start drawing from the retirement accounts.

I wasn’t completely normal though. I enjoyed earning and investing money. I worked hard at my job and increased my income quickly. At the same time, Mrs. 1500 and I flipped houses. We made the mistake of not maxing out our 401(k)s every year, but still managed to accumulate a healthy chunk of change. In October of 2012, I had about $550,000 in investment accounts and $150,000 in home equity. Then came the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Our fancy house.

Our fancy house from a previous life.

 

Phase 2: Run to a big pile of money
Dates
: October 2012 to early 2016
Money
: $700,000 to $1,500,000

I started this blog because of a Google search. I had very bad day at work and googled something like.

I don’t want to work until I’m 65.

Or maybe it was:

How do I retire early?

Whatever it was, the search led to JD Roth and MMM. At first, I didn’t believe their message; no one quits work before 60. Then I started digging into the math. People lie, but numbers don’t. Their messages were true.

I did my own math and calculated that if we moved into a modest house, we’d be able to live on $40,000 per year. Based on the 4% Rule, I decided that my goal was to accumulate a million dollars with no debt. I later changed my mind on the latter, figuring that it would be better to leverage mortgage debt at historically low rates.

We sold our McMansion, moved to a smaller home, and started saving more than we ever had before.

Out for a walk...

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost

Phase 3: What am I running to?
Dates
: Early 2016 to now
Money
: $1,500,000 to $1,630,000

Early in 2016, I realized that there was something missing. And that something was big. It was this:

I was running away from a bad situation, but what was I running to? Quitting work just for the sake of retiring is a horrible idea.

A life without purpose is an empty life. Work is one of the keys to happiness, but let’s redefine the word. Pre financial-independence (FI):

Work: What I do in my cube every day to earn money to buy food, shelter and entertainment.

Post FI, work takes on a new and better meaning:

Work: A meaningful activity you perform for the benefit of yourself and/or others. You may or may not earn money, but you will feel better about yourself because the work gives you something more. This work makes you feel good at the end of the day.

I had no idea what my work would look like if I left my job. I let worry and doubt enter my mind:

How much of my FI life would I have to figure out before leaving my full-time job?

If I didn’t have it figured out, was I willing to quit and just hope it came to me?

And most worrisome:

Would I be bored?

I hate being bored. Sitting around with nothing to do is torture.

IMG_20141220_111629535_HDR

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great. –Mark Twain

Phase 4: Figuring the rest out
Dates
: Now to death
Money
: $1,630,000 to ???

This original purpose of this blog was to document my money journey. Now, I realize how silly that was. The journey was never about money. It was never about leaving work. Deep down, it was about figuring out who I am and my core principles. To put yourself on the same page as where I am now, ask yourself this question:

If money didn’t matter at all, say you came into $10,000,000 tomorrow, would you still be working at the same job in a month?

Most of us would say no. That’s the easy part. Now ask yourself this:

Once you quit you job, how will you live your life in such a way that you’re happier, more content and fulfilled?

I’ve considered this question almost every day for the past 9 months and have come to some basic conclusions:

  • I’m a builder: I love to make things. I get the same satisfaction whether writing code or building stuff in the physical world.
  • I need new challenges frequently.
  • I love to write.
  • I can’t sit still.

And more than anything:

  • I still haven’t got it all figured out and probably never will. And I’m OK with this. Finally. I’m a planner and don’t like loads of uncertainty. On the other hand, a life where every week or month is planned for the next decade would be incredibly boring.

One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t be the person I want to be with a full-time job. There is just too much I want to do and not enough time. I want to be a good dad. I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to devour words for three hours a day and write them for another three. Hell, I now realize that I’ll never have enough time.

FI will Change You (For the Better)

And one observation, perhaps the most incredible one of all, is something I’ve seen over and over. When people follow their hearts and start doing the work that they love; the work that they were meant for, they do incredible things.

I don’t have the same mind as MMM or the writing skills of Mrs. Frugalwoods, but I have my own set of dreams. My book project and online business that I’m building may not be successful. However, I’ll die with no regrets because I tried.

I can’t wait to see where Phase 4 of FI takes me.

IMG_20140927_105335942_HDR

I haven’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same. –One Headlight, The Wallflowers

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65 Responses to Four Phases of FI

  1. Thank you for sharing your four phases. I am in early phase 3 but like you I am trying to figure out what I value and where I want to spend my time. I think it’s so awesome that you are pursuing your passions and I have no doubt that you will have success based on all the success you’ve had so far. Hope you have a great 2017!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Ten Items to Buy After Christmas ReturnsMy Profile

  2. Interesting post, Mr. 1500. I think you’ve touched on something that’s true for all personal finance bloggers. We’re not *really* writing about money. We’re all just trying to become the best versions of ourselves, living our best lives. Money is merely a tool to help us get there.

  3. That’s the right mentality. Now that you’ve freed up the burden of racing to build the net worth, you can take more risks, challenge yourself, and still have fun!

    Cheers to a great 2017 for us all!
    Smart Money MD recently posted…Is a degree from a prestigious medical school advantageous for doctors?My Profile

  4. It’s a wonderful journey isn’t it? I don’t have the mindset or writing skills of the bloggers you mention either, but it’s fun all the same to keep on writing and discovering.

    The one thing I think you’ll discover is that after you leave your FT job, you’ll naturally find things that call to you. For the first 12 months after early retirement I was both bored and uncertain, but now after five years, I’ve found my groove. You will too.

    So long as you’re having fun, you know you’re doing it right!

    Happy New Year!

    Sam

    • Sam, the journey has been incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The best part has been meeting such wonderful people (yourself included) along the way.

      And this is reassuring and inspiring:

      “The one thing I think you’ll discover is that after you leave your FT job, you’ll naturally find things that call to you. For the first 12 months after early retirement I was both bored and uncertain, but now after five years, I’ve found my groove. You will too.”

      Thank you.

  5. I can tell you are the type that will not be bored. I had the same worry when I quit 6 months ago, I even had a backup plan to do contract work if things got boring. But they didn’t, fun projects are always popping up, and you will be left wondering how you ever got anything done while still working 40 hours a week.

    Quitting your job is just going to be the start of an awesome new story 🙂

  6. TT&R says:

    I love this! I really enjoy that your phases and accumulation are pretty much on par with what I am hoping to achieve with my family. That said, the part i related to the most was the ‘it is not about money’. The more you start focusing on this FIRE thing and become part of this online community, the more you realize it is about truly living now.

    Since starting this focused journey last year I can honestly say I feel my life has transformed in subtle but very important ways. At first I wanted to really work on cutting custs and it was easy at first then harder and harder when I had to start making changes. To avoid feeling that ‘anxiety’ to buy crap (while the transformation was happening) I started spending more time with friends and focusing on how I could help them in their lives. I started noticing the little things that I realized I had no time for before. I switched jobs to one I truly enjoy and dont focus on trying to ‘grow as fast as possible’ but rather on problem solving ‘how far can I get with the resources that I am given”. Also ‘i have 30 years to go’ vs ‘I have 12-14’ makes it a lot more engaging. I don’t have that ‘omg I am going to die doing this’ feeling, instead I want to see how much change and impact can I have in the time I have so gives my job progress more urgency in that way. THAT is what makes this super exciting for me ;).

    And planning for the future with my husband. And planning vacations with our children in the ‘now’ – it really has made a stronger bond!

    Thanks for sharing your journey – encouraging for those of us coming from behind!

    Happy, Healthy and Successful 2017!

    • Thanks for the great comment TT&R. Along the lines of what you said, one thing I’ve realized is that the path to FI isn’t a compromise. I spend less money, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been. In my early 40s now, I feel like I’m just getting going. Life is great!

      May your 2017 be the best ever!

  7. I’m definitely at phase 3. Some days I feel so close to pulling the trigger and quitting work – whereas other days I think, “just one more year”, or “it’s not so bad”. Deep down I know what I need to do, I know what will make me have fewer regrets when I’m old, but damn isn’t fear a powerful force.

    Reading your posts and learning from your journey over the last two years has been extremely helpful for me as I struggle with the exact same questions and challenges. Thanks for putting it all out there and good luck in phase 4!
    Freedom 40 Guy recently posted…Re-Balancing My Portfolio – December 2016 EditionMy Profile

  8. Quite a journey! Parallels mine in a lot of ways, as you know.

    When I leave my job, I’m going to call it a sabbatical. If I’m out of the game for too long, say, more than a year, it would be tough to get back in. But there are always other things we can do if we feel the urge to “contribute to society” in some way. Writing is one of them.

    Hope the 1500s had a wonderful Christmas!

    Best,
    -PoF
    PhysicianOnFIRE recently posted…The Sunday Best (12/25/2016)My Profile

    • Hey PoF!

      I know you’ve said more than once that once you leave, it will be hard to go back. Why is that?

      Hope your Christmas was wonderful too and happy new year!

      • Every hospital / health system credentialing application will ask you to explain, on a separate sheet of paper, any gap in work history of more than 30 or 90 days. To maintain licensure, you need to be working. There are numerous certifications, including Board certification to keep up with.

        There are also procedural skills to be maintained. If I went too long without jabbing someone in the back or neck with a long, sharp needle, I might not as facile with it upon my return. It’s not exactly like riding a bike.

        If you’ve got a squeaky clean record, and you took a sabbatical of up to about a year, you would be able to find a job. Much more time away than that, it would be tough.

        Best,
        -PoF
        PhysicianOnFIRE recently posted…My Money Is Worth More Than Your MoneyMy Profile

  9. Comtnadventure says:

    I’m sitting somewhere between phase 3 and phase 4, I’m trying to figure out exactly where I am and what I am going to do going forward. I DID quit my job at the end of 2015, not because I had reached the magical FI number, but because I couldn’t keep my integrity intact and continue to work for the organization where I was. For a year have been reshaping my life.

    Fortunately, I’ve driven my FI life via a financial model and it has worked pretty well so far. It received a bad jolt when Obamacare got implemented (I just got my early Christmas/birthday present from my insurance carrier rates, went up 24% for 2017, 22% in 2016) needless to say I am not a fan of ACA. Nevertheless, that has been the beauty of having a model where I can vary the parameters and see what happens out into the future.
    Luckily I seem possess the same trait I see shared among those reading/commenting on here, determination and persistence. For me FI is more a means to an end, it isn’t really the pot of gold that I am seeking, In my travels around the world I have met people with significantly less than what I have who are also very happy with their lives. So I am in the process of figuring THAT out, how to be very happy with my life and money is just one aspect of it, albeit an important one.

    • Powerful. Dunno if I could have done this:

      “I DID quit my job at the end of 2015, not because I had reached the magical FI number, but because I couldn’t keep my integrity intact and continue to work for the organization where I was.”

      And yeah, I had a co-worker who grew up in China. He told me that 3 generations of family lived under the same roof of a tiny home. He went on to say that those were the happiest years of his life.

  10. Ironically immediately below your line about running towards something is an ad. In my case it’s for alcohol. Lol. In all seriousness, money buys options that can lead to happiness, it doesn’t buy happiness directly. Happiness is the true point, so buy your options and figure out how to use them. Happy new year, I hope you had a great Christmas.

  11. Zaxon says:

    I may be weird but I have dozens of ideas of what i want to do if i had more free time. What i really hate is being so drained from work i literally have nothing left. I don’t know how you worked a full time and then came home and remodeled. I do NOT have that in me.

    Unfortunately many of my dream ideas will not make much (if any) money. What i’d really like to do is find something that makes a lil money to “bridge the gap” so to speak to full FI. I’m torn whether to go balls to the walls at well paid engineering position for next 10-15 years and do whatever i want. Or try to find this mythical middle ground.

    I’m only 35 but am feeling quite burnt out (thank you corporate tech america). I think what i’d really like to do is take a good 4-6 months to reset. But leaving the work force and then returning 6 months later is like a big “no-no” from a hiring standpoint. I’d never make the salary im making now / have to find a understanding employer.

    • “I don’t know how you worked a full time and then came home and remodeled.”

      Thinking back on it, I’m not sure how I did it either. I won’t ever do it again.

      “I’m only 35 but am feeling quite burnt out (thank you corporate tech america). I think what i’d really like to do is take a good 4-6 months to reset.”

      No chance of a sabbatical? You may be surprised what your employer will do to keep you. I underestimated this (myself?) throughout my life.

  12. You left us hangin’ on what specifically you’re running to 🙂 I’ve realized this as well lately. I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I’m running to. I’ve also realized I do enjoy work, but I believe I would enjoy it a lot more if I did it for 20 hours a week and with a very flexible schedule. This has also lead to the idea of pulling the plug from a traditional career before full FI, since with my young age and expertise I’d be able to make income to cover my expenses fairly “easily.”

    Best of look in Phase 4!
    Fervent Finance recently posted…2016 Year in Review & 2017 GoalsMy Profile

  13. Thank you for sharing your feelings about your FI journey. Two things really resonated with me…and are journal worthy for me. First–

    “Work: A meaningful activity you perform for the benefit of yourself and/or others. You may or may not earn money, but you will feel better about yourself because the work gives you something more. This work makes you feel good at the end of the day.”

    I can’t wait to get there…I’m in a cubical hell at the moment and I’m really looking forward to designing my days the way I want to design my days…while doing something worthwhile and helping others.

    Second–“One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t be the person I want to be with a full-time job.”

    I feel this to the core of my bones. I can’t be who I’m made to be working a full-time job. I’m made for more, and aim to get into my own “lane.”

    Again, thanks for this post. It’s given me something to think about (and look forward to).

    • Zaxon says:

      Qoute:

      Second–“One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t be the person I want to be with a full-time job.”
      I feel this to the core of my bones. I can’t be who I’m made to be working a full-time job. I’m made for more, and aim to get into my own “lane.”

      This 100%. I don’t know how to get to that next lane though. When is the right time? Do i slow down now to enjoy the journey? Do i accelerate the unhappy to hope nothing happens in between now and then? So many choice points. I’ve never been so decision locked in my life.

      • “I don’t know how to get to that next lane though. When is the right time? Do i slow down now to enjoy the journey? ”

        I think this depends on your personality. I’m insecure, so needed to have my finances completely set before moving on. I was talking to Jim Collins a couple years ago and he said something like: “I had $5,000 saved up when I was young and felt financially independent, so left my job.”

        Most FI people are high-strung, smart folks. I like to think we’ll all land on our feet no matter what we do.

  14. Amber tree says:

    very insightfull post.

    I think you capture well what the journey to FI is about: discovering our selves, our motivations, our purpose. Finding what post FI work we want to do.

    “Once you quit you job, how will you live your life in such a way that you’re happier, more content and fulfilled?”

    Once I konow this, I quit my job!

  15. Dan Griffin says:

    This mirrors my thought process over the last few months. I’m approaching FI, but the last thing I want to do is nothing. I’ve begun inviting interesting people for coffee, talking with non-profits, etc hoping to find that thing that I can get excited about.
    If retirement means watching daytime TV, I want nothing to do with it. What I hope is that it means freedom to explore, grow, and execute in a big rewarding, fulfilling way.

  16. Jan says:

    I love your post. Thanks, so much inspiring for me.
    I just started my journey to financial independence, so wish me luck as well. And the meaning of work you mention is so true. I share your concern about having tons of money and no goals (or nothing to do). And it seems that the best way to have fulfillment is to do something that helps other people. Your blog clearly did it to me! Thanks!!

    My blog is http://www.befreeandwealthy.com
    My recent post is about how to take advantage of tax-free return with your kids. http://www.befreeandwealthy.com/2016/12/25/how-can-children-invest-tax-free/

  17. “I’ll die with no regrets because I tried.”

    Love this! It reminds me of the saying that the only risk in life is not taking one.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…You Can Fear the ‘fire’ or Become the FIREMy Profile

    • A couple more thoughts… you mentioned the ‘normal’ phase. I love this quote by Ellen Goodman:

      “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”

      Also, as “primal” beings, we are not meant for commuting and cubicles. I read a novel where the character said he would rather picture himself in a coffin, than a cubicle. So true for many of us! 🙂
      Primal Prosperity recently posted…You Can Fear the ‘fire’ or Become the FIREMy Profile

  18. Mr. RIP says:

    One of your best post ever, seriously!
    I’m so aligned with your line of thoughts that it scares me.

    What? You don’t have writing skills of… what the hell are you saying? You’re definitely on the top 3-5 on my list (more than 100 blogs…) for your writing skills. I think I unconsciously steal… ahem, copy your style because I love it!

    Just keep blogging please 🙂

  19. Half the fun in life is in the figuring it out. If we somehow reached financial independence and were awarded some kind of “life diploma” that would be hella boring.

    Instead, I think if FI as a stepping stone to everything else that happens in life. A first step to build the life WE want.

  20. Kudy says:

    Great post! I love your definition of work post-FIRE, very aligned with how I want to personally define work after I’m done with obligatory ‘basic needs’ work. More than anything I want to focus on work that is satisfying and flexible.

  21. Tawcan says:

    Very inspiring and great realization/conclusions. Totally agree that “work” takes a complete different form in FI. Have you hear of the book Victory Lap Retirement? Might be a good read for ya.

  22. What a great post. Seriously, nice job. A clear illustration of your forward progress in life.
    Investment Hunting recently posted…Stock Buy – Algonquin Power & UtilitiesMy Profile

  23. ‘Deep down, it was about figuring out who I am and my core principles.’
    So much of this. I was first drawn to the Fi community because I am naturally frugal and was already investing for 15 years. To my big surprise it was the psychological parts that spoke to me the most. It made me realize that the financial stuff would talk care of itself but I had neglected big parts of my life/personality and I need to do a lot of work there.

    ‘Once you quit you job, how will you live your life in such a way that you’re happier, more content and fulfilled’
    One of the realizations I had was I had to much future vision and not enough living in the present (if I lose X weight I will do this, when I have enough money and I quit work I will finally be able to do Y). Frugal for me now is trying to already be happier, content and living a fulfilling life without spending the big bucks now. Not waiting on an undefined moment in the future but already starting to work on it in the present. It’s an internal journey, much more than it is a financial journey …
    financialfreedomsloth recently posted…Financial freedom in BelgiumMy Profile

  24. Pingback: It’s about the journey, not the packing of your bags – Financial Freedom Sloth

  25. Team CF says:

    “My book project and online business that I’m building may not be successful.” Perhaps not, but man, will you have some fun the the process! Great way to move forward in Phase 3 and Phase 4!
    All the best in the New Year with these projects.
    Team CF recently posted…What cars have you driven?My Profile

  26. Great stuff! I’m somewhere in early phase 3 I suppose. I was “fortunate” enough to be laid-offat the end of 2014 and then re-hired in April of 2015. Why was that fortunate? It gave me an early taste of what it would be like to be FI. I had a healthy severance and an emergency plan in place, so it was relatively stress free.

    Was it awesome? Yes! That’s what I’m running TOWARDS. Work out in the mornings, “work” for a few hours online (I was looking for a business to buy). Lunch with the Mrs. and then pick the kids up from the bus stop and chill with the family the rest of the day.

    Throw in a little guitar practice each nite and a few e-courses over my sabbatical and it was really great!

    For anyone who has the tenacity, grit, and determination to get out early, I think that any fear of being bored is completely overblown!
    Jon @ Be Net Worthy recently posted…The Best of 2016: My 10 Most Popular Articles of the YearMy Profile

  27. LOVE the 4 phases. It’s amazing how similar our journeys are. I’m now 18 months from FIRE, and focused intently on finding purpose for the final phase. I look forward to walking alongside you in our journey.

  28. Eric Bowlin says:

    When I stopped working, I sometimes got anxious because I felt like I should be doing more.

    Well, I found some projects to keep my occupied. It’s a good feeling to watch them grow over time, but I must say it’s definitely different than the reinforcement of a continuous paycheck.
    Eric Bowlin recently posted…What My 3 Year Old Taught Me About InvestingMy Profile

  29. The money is the easy part, unfortunately. It’s rough when we have to reflect and look inwards to see what really makes us happy.

    I got a taste of FI over the last two weeks. I’m doing a flex schedule at work where I can stay at home and work remotely only as needed (translation: stay at home and get paid anyway). I’ve been able to get so much accomplished during my day and I feel so at peace. I know quitting my 9-to-5 isn’t the answer to life’s mysteries, but it sure would solve a lot of immediate issues.

    Let’s see, if I were to win $10 million today, I’d quit my job in a heartbeat. I think the first thing I’d do would be to do absolutely nothing for 1 -2 weeks. I like being a blubberbutt and sometimes just need to be lazy for a while.

    I’ve thought about it and I’d love to go to culinary school during retirement. I abso-freakin’-lutely love to cook and especially love to bake, but I don’t have all the skills I’d like to have. I don’t even think I’d want to work in a professional kitchen; I just want to take the classes because it would be fun and I would learn so much.

    I think I’d also love to volunteer at an animal shelter. I was able to volunteer during my wonky college schedule, but my adult-world schedule isn’t compatible. I’d love to give back again and do work that’s exhausting but fulfilling.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Lying About Money Isn’t Worth ItMy Profile

  30. I love this post! It’s been fun to watch your journey and as a reader, I could always tell it wasn’t all about the money! Your “conclusions” are important considerations as you keep moving forward – building things, challenges, writing and moving (not sitting still!) I am working on a post about strength-based focuses rather than making big changes in what we do! Your strengths have and will continue to take you far in life. I too am in the “not having it all figured out” area and it doesn’t feel that good (being a planner and all) – guess we’re in this together and that’s not a bad place to be!
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Festivus, The Rockstar Community Fund, and Snow Fun!My Profile

  31. Very thought provoking post. This is exactly why I’m practicing FI rather than FIRE. I know I haven’t figured out yet what that next phase will be, and I don’t want to retire FROM something-I want to retire TO something. It’s figuring out that TO that’s tricky for me.

  32. ESI Money says:

    Dude —

    Where (city and state) is that “fancy house” located?

    It looks EXACTLY like our current house (if you email me, I’ll send you a pic to show you). Certainly we don’t live in your old house, do we?
    ESI Money recently posted…The Gap is the Key to WealthMy Profile

  33. I enjoy my career (also a software developer by way of an electrical engineering degree), but there is no room to ‘explore’ in my current corporate position. I would love to try out new ideas, processes, etc., although my current employer doesn’t have much of an appetite for innovation and risk taking.

    So one of the things I’m looking forward to in ‘Phase 4’ is to explore what I’m interested in and take some calculated risks. Having the financial independence will allow me to do that. Not to mention all of the other things that I don’t have enough time for (travel, learning new languages, learning to play the guitar and piano, lots of running and other exercise, etc.) I’m really looking forward to the time and freedom so that I don’t need to rush through these experiences.
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…What Will FIRE Look Like?My Profile

  34. Mrs. BITA says:

    I was 38 to0 when I discovered FIRE! Same pinch (is that a meme you recognize? It is something we did growing up in India, but I have no idea if it is an American thing as well).

    My post-FIRE plans are vague still. I know what my high level bits are – I want to create. What and how are still are mystery. I will confess this though – there is a part of me that is terrified. I have told myself my whole life that I want to write. Once I get to FIRE, I will be stripped off all excuses. I’ll write, or I will find out that I cannot. What would it be like to find out that the thing I have dreamed of forever was just that? A dream? *Shudder*. If I am forced to be glass half full though, at least I’ll have plenty of time to figure out what the new dream should be. And I can have plenty of fun trying and failing, when money is not a concern.

    All the best for 2017!
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The Evolution of our Plan for 2017My Profile

  35. We all go through stages in our life, I’m in my second phase, in my head it’s the “Decrease expenses and increase income” phase. Focusing on ways I can spend even less than my normal $7-900/month and build my career to be stronger and pay better.

    I’m curious as to what you’ll get up to in the new year! I have high hopes that 2017 will bring great changes and a better future for all of us.

  36. I wish that I had been smart enough at your age to downsize and save more. I would be “retired” by now. Instead, I have 5 more years before I realize my goal.

    You have the right idea. Toiling for years at a job that isn’t fulfilling is not a way to live. Especially if you have the resources to change your situation.

    Good Luck. I can’t wait for phase 4.
    Joanne Mahoney recently posted…CPA Life Insurance Referral ProgramMy Profile

  37. Great post 1500. I love how you separated out the phases so clearly – I saw them all as one continuum in my own FI journey. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it certainly buys the options that can give you happiness. This subtle difference is lost on the philosophers and ironically, also lost on the worker drones who seek happiness in expensive things and services. You have elevated yourself to a high level in Maslow’s chart to be asking (and answering!) these larger questions. Kudos on finding your life purpose.
    Ten Factorial Rocks recently posted…A River Runs Through My SoulMy Profile

  38. Welcome Neo…to the real world.

    I like the way you describe your journey. I agree with your conclusion, but I would add in the caveat that FI *may* make you better. It is not guaranteed. What FI does is take away the distractions and excuses for not doing what you were meant to do. It can actually be a bit unnerving to be completely unplugged from the matrix.

  39. Never look back once you leave the workforce. It was a bit scary when I quit my job to pursue an FI lifestyle, but it has been a blast ever since. It was agony the last two years, once I decided I could leave my W2 gig, but it’s finally here.

    Good luck to you two there too.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted…Landlord Tax PlanningMy Profile

  40. Donna says:

    I, too, can’t wait to see where Phase 4 of FI takes you. But I look forward to reading about it here.

  41. Excellent post and I really loved how you defined post FI work. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  42. Trying to get there says:

    How did you get from 700K to 1.5Mil in 4 years with stock market investment? SP500 did not double during those 4 years. So you probably took more than market risk. How did you convince yourself of that risk (back in 2012, nobody new market would recover to these levels) and did you try to manage it (with hedges/ contrarian bets)? I am obviously not asking of finer details of your investments, but would appreciate if you could provide some information on investment strategy/sector allocation.
    Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing it with all of us. Its a great source of inspiration!

    • Hi there! While I’m mostly an indexer now, purchases like Google and Facebook have allowed me to outperform the S&P 500. I’m very thankful for this and don’t have confidence that I can replicate the results. I also don’t like to discuss it much in case I give someone the wrong ideas. I did write about it over here though: http://www.1500days.com/my-portfolio-production-from-disruption/

      Thanks for the kind comments!

      • Trying to get there says:

        Thanks for the pointer to the portfolio! I have been in tech industry since 2000 and saw the dot com crash fresh out of college. I guess that made me risk averse towards most of the Internet 2.0 stocks. I stayed in cash and sp500 funds for most of the time .. so my portfolio did just ok but nothing gangbusters. Luckily we purchased a decent house in Bay area in 2009 and that has helped our net worth.

        • Wow, purchasing a home in or near SF in 2009 has worked out really well for you, congratulations!

          I lost a lot of money in 2000 too (CMGI, anyone?). However, I’ve always love the businesses of Google and Amazon. Hopefully I won’t be letting go of those for a very long time. Almost all new money goes to index funds though; no more toying with stocks!

  43. As usual, love the post. But I especially loved the quote you mentioned by Mark Twain…
    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great.”

    For a while I had a reader that would comment on my blog with annoying things like: “It’s not worth it; retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” or “this FI goal of yours won’t be worth the sacrifice you’re making”. I never engaged in the negativity, I always just let it roll. But man, I immediately thought of him when I saw that quote. (And I can’t help but wonder if he realized that “retire early” is in my blog tagline? If his goal was to persuade me to change my tagline to “work forever” he was delusional.)

    So we purposely surround ourselves with “greats” like you and the Mrs. Every time we get together with you guys, we always walk away inspired. And laughing til we pee.

  44. Hey Mr 1500, Brad forwarded me your email and to check out your article as we prep for the interview. This is very cool stuff. Dave Ramsey always talks about baby steps but then kind of leaves you at the end of an alley with “Im Debt free.” I love the phases concept and have a similar structure for myself. Debt free is the beginning, FI is the next step along with freedom. I get excited thinking about the flexibility that FI brings. I’m thrilled for you because I know you are approaching a transition here in the near future. Very exciting! We are looking forward to having you on the show. Congratulations on executing the plan

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