Debt Elimination

How Ashley Paid Off $45,000 in 17 Months

Are you tired of paying so many bills that you can’t save enough fast enough to retire early?

When you want to have that freedom of options, you have to get rid of what is holding you back and that’s debt.

Once I paid off my debt, I had so many options in my life that I didn’t have before. I was able to quit my stressful job that had a pension and good benefits.

If I still had a ton of debt, I wouldn’t have had that option. I would have stuck it out in a job that I was burned out in just to pay bills.

With a lot of focus and motivation, we were able to pay off $45,000, in just 17 months.

The FIRE Movement

Your FI/RE Number

There is no law requiring you work until retirement age. Technically, there is no law requiring you work at all. But, I will assume you have bills to pay and you work to live (or live to work). In the United States, the average retirement age is 65 for men and 63 for women.

The FI/RE Movement or Financial Independence / Retire Early Movement is for individuals who decide to pursue financial independence as early as possible. In this post, I will cover one way to define financial independence, how to calculate your own FI/RE Number, and how to accelerate your roadmap to FI/RE.

Early Retirement

It’s Time to Think Past FIRE

I have a confession to make. Ever since my first paycheck I have been thinking about retiring early.

I remember the conversation clearly with my dad as I was glowing from getting my first paycheck. He turned to me and said, ”You’re going to want to start saving for retirement. The sooner you do it the better you’ll be.”

Retirement has always felt like a Cloud 9 dream. Eventually I’ll have enough money and I will be able to sit on a beach, drink margaritas, and let the troubles of the world disappear as quickly as the waves hitting the sandy beach.

But recently things have changed. As the years tick on I’m starting to see that the beach life will only be a moment or two before I feel like there needs to be something more. Because beaches are only great because they are the exception, not the rule. Which means my FIRE dream is out of whack.

It’s time to rethink FIRE.

For most of us FIRE is an escape. It’s a means to an end for jobs we don’t like and transition to a life we’ve dreamed of. Or if nothing else, a life where we don’t have to answer to anyone else like a boss or manager. We read the tales of people saving up for FIRE on the internet and raise our hopes of a better life. It’s great.

But the one thing and nobody ever talks about is the day after FIRE. What then?

Sure they’ll be the celebratory night out and holiday to acknowledge the arrival of this big goal. Maybe a few weeks or months in a special location where we can relax and celebrate the end of what is likely a very long FIRE journey.

But what do you do after that?

Travel these days isn’t as much of a given as it used to be. It’s likely that you’ve watched enough Netflix this past year to know there is more to life than waiting for your latest season to launch.

So this begs the question what do you do after FIRE?

This isn’t meant to provide direction, more of an open-ended question for you to think about.

Let’s pretend right now that I’ve waved a magic wand and you are FIRE (yes I have a magic wand, no you can’t see it… but it’s totally real).

Poof! Magically your bank account is where it needs to be your income streams are bringing in enough money.

What are you going to do now?

Most of us are so focussed on FIRE that we don’t think about what happens afterwards. Yes there’s the ideal beach scenario, or a small cabin in the woods. Maybe just days filled with idle time. But idle time is the issue. What are you going to do to fill your time when you don’t have work to go to?

Because that’s the big question. What comes after FIRE?

FIRE isn’t just about freedom, it’s about how you’re going to spend the rest of your life once you don’t have to do the job you dislike. If you don’t have an answer to that don’t be afraid thinking about it now is better than thinking about it later.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought the past two years and I realize that it’s important to find things that I enjoy doing. The things that don’t matter if I get paid but do it because I enjoy it.

There is no right way to spend FIRE

I have a friend who worked hard and hit his FIRE goal. He spends his days going to scrap yards nearby, buying different pieces of scrap and turning them into passion repair projects.

When I asked him why he does it, he said “I spent my whole life working to be at a point where I could be a struggling artist without the struggle. This is great. I’m living my dream. It’s not anyone else’s but it’s mine and I love it.”

Now the thought of scavenging for things to fix, or turn into art, likely isn’t your post FIRE strategy. It isn’t mine. But my friend wakes up every day excited for what will come and what he gets to pursue. Right now he’s fixing up an old motorcycle and he loves the hunt.

That is what you should be thinking about. How will you spend your perfect day? There is no wrong answer, only the one that motivates you to move towards your FIRE goal.

As for me, I realize that my post FIRE life isn’t the dream I have in my head. Mostly because the last time I was on a beach I was done after 20 minutes, so was the margarita. I need to be busy. I need to create. So here’s what I’ve done to self correct my FIRE course.

Think about what you truly love doing

Take some time to write out the things you love to do. Not the things you like to do, but LOVE to do. For me it’s playing games, guitar, writing, solving puzzles, and being outdoors.

Next, start to find ways to put these things into your day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but a quick shot of dopamine from something you love doing will strengthen your drive to FIRE and serve as a nice daily reward along the way.

I used to delay my rewards, now I try to incorporate them as much as possible. I’m happier for it and actively look forward to every day because I know that there will be some little treat that I love.

Lastly, once a year take a day off and live it like it’s your first day of FIRE. This will help put your ideas to the test and see if they are truly what you want to do.

Once you do that FIRE will start to feel more real, and you might remove the barrier that is keeping you from achieving FIRE because you will start to know more about what.

Start FIRE now

The truth is you can start living your FIRE days now, in small increments. The thing I forget is that life is a journey, and I know it’s been written a thousand times before, but when you focus on a goal as large as FIRE you tend to forget that.

So take the moments in the day to find what you enjoy and do more of that. Whether it’s a walk in the woods, or spending some time with a friend. Explore new hobbies and old ones you’ve forgotten. Don’t wait for FIRE to do everything you’ve wanted.

Enjoy things now and it will make the journey more enjoyable. After I switched to enjoying the journey it’s made all of the difference in my happiness. Because after all, aren’t we all just wanting more happiness?

Andrew Daniels is the Co-Founder of Millennial Homeowner, a site dedicated to helping make homeownership easy. You can download their free household essentials list here. It has everything in it you will need for your next place.

Early Retirement

Interview with Chris Mamula: Lessons Learned About FIRE

Lessons Learned About FI/RE - back of backpacker viewing lakeToday we’re sitting down with Chris Mamula, the primary author of the book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence, to get his take on lessons learned about financial independence/retiring early. Chris retired at 41, and is a welcome part of the FIRE community. Let’s jump right in to the interview.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about FIRE?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is if something isn’t working, change it. Even if change is painful in the short term, doing nothing is more painful in the long run.

Einstein has been credited as defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. I agree. If you want a life that is different from most of the people around you, you have to choose a different path and have the courage to go down it.

Debt Elimination Personal Finance Product Reviews

Best Student Loan Refinance Companies & Services

The Best Student Loan Refinancing Options - graduation mortarboard, diploma, and piggy bankChances are, the idea of refinancing student loans may have crossed your mind once or twice. So if you’re looking into that, you’ll want to check out some of the best student loan refinance companies and services. Here are a few to consider.

(As always, we work hard to keep this information up-to-date, but since things can change in an instant be sure to check the individual websites to make sure you understand the exact terms and offers before applying. We strive to provide you with valuable information and resources. Opinions are from the author alone, not from any advertiser or partner. Many or all products featured here are from partners, and we earn from qualifying purchases/signups.)

Note that if you refinance federal student loans, you’ll give up benefits like public service forgiveness and economic hardship programs, so it may not be a good idea to do that.

With that said, here are some of the best student loan refinance companies and services!