Are you frustrated about your money? Are you embarrassed that you don’t know how to get a grip on your spending? Are you totally frustrated with not knowing how to invest?
You’re not alone. Most Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. If you’d like to break that cycle, you’re in the right place. I’ve lived at least some of what you’re going through and there’s hope! If you haven’t read my story, you can read it at Our Story. We’re going to step through this together. Ready to get started?
I want to start by giving you a picture of where we’re headed. A vision of what your life can look like when you have your money under control. I want to tell you about Financial Independence or FI. Fi means different things to different people, but the technical definition is – When your passive income from sources other than your W2 job can cover your expenses, you are Financially Independent.
Huh, what does that mean? What’s passive income? This is income from a source that does not require you to do work. This means you’re not trading your time for money like you do at your W2 job. These sources fall into 3 categories.
- Dividends or Interest from investments like stocks or your 401k or IRA
- Income from a side job like an online store or a side business you own
- Rental Real Estate.
These are things that make you money even while you sleep. Some folks have become Financially Independent with investments only or rental real estate only and some have a combination of all 3. It’s your choice.
How Much Do I Need?
So how much money do you need to become FI? That’s up to you. The easy way to calculate this is to look at how much money it takes for you to live now. We’re going to talk through how to come up with that number in a future post. When you know how much you spend in a year, then that number is plugged into a formula. This formula is generally called the 4% Rule of Thumb. Don’t worry, it’s easy.
The 4% Rule (of Thumb)
The 4% Rule, for short, says that you can withdraw 4% of your investments each year and still maintain your principal over time.
Total Investments x 4% = Annual Income
Another way to calculate it would be:
Desired Annual Income x 25 = Total Investment needed
For example, if you need $40,000/year to cover your expenses in retirement, you will need $1,000,000 in investments.
Woah! That’s a big chunk of change!
It might sound like a huge amount right now, but I can tell you that with the right tools AND the right mindset, this is totally possible.
Where Do We Begin?
The best place to begin is by evaluating where you are. Do you know how much debt you have? I mean Total Debt. You may have never added up your total debt. It may be too scary. You may feel like you’ll be judged by your spouse, friends or family.
It may not by pleasant, but this is where we need to start. Pull out everything you owe and add it up. This will include:
- car loans
- student loans
- mortgage (if you have one)
- credit cards
- loans on toys like boats, 4-wheelers or jet skis
Hold on to your total debt number and we will use in the exercise in Part 2 – Your Net Worth Statement.
Assignment and Key Takeaway
Assignment 1 – Calculate your Total Debt.
Assignment 2 – Make a list of “10 Things That Make Me Happy”. Take some time to think about this. If you could plan your “perfect day”, what would it include? Who would you spend it with? What would you do? Cook a gourmet meal, go on a hike, take a road trip, eat chocolate? It can be anything. Think about what lights you up.
Key Takeaway – Don’t be afraid to take a good look at your debt. The first step in gaining control of your money is to access where you are right now.
In Part 2, we’ll look at How to calculate your Net Worth. Until then, Assignments 1 and 2 are your homework. See you next time!
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.