Life After Financial Independence: How Life Changed After Retiring Early

It's been thirteen years since planting my financial independence flag in 2012. I want to share with you some thoughts on how life has been after financial independence. I originally wrote this post eight years after retiring early.

Before neutering my day job income, I feared whether I was doing the right thing financially. What I realized is that the fear of running out of money in early retirement is completely overblown because we are adaptable and resourceful.

Nobody here is too proud to work a minimum wage job if disaster strikes. Nobody here is too selfish not to help out a family member or friend in need. Surely, nobody here is too lazy not to hustle. You will find ways to make things work. Do not worry.

Here are three main points I want to share after achieving FIRE.

Life After Financial Independence: Lessons Learned

1) You change for the better.

There's this wonderful term called “F U Money” out there that's idealized by people who can't wait to have it. Who doesn't want to have enough money so they can tell their micromanager or high school bully to shove it where the sun doesn't shine? I know I did.

But the reality is that having enough money makes you more empathic towards other people's struggles. Your insecurities melt away once you've achieved your goals.

If you look at the Financial Samurai archives between 2009 – 2012, you'll notice a more irreverent tone with lots more comments on each post.

Now, despite the site being 10X larger, there's less comments on each post partly because less people are agitated by what I have to say. I've spent much more time listening to other people's perspectives and taking them into consideration when writing a post. I've also spent a lot more time responding to comments with less snark. You'd think the opposite would happen.

Having money makes you care more, not less.

2) You realize financial independence is just one stop. 

Life is like a juicy mystery novel. You don't want to die before reaching the last chapter because that's where you THINK the excitement and satisfaction lies. What a shame to never find out whodunnit.

The reality is the greatest excitement resides right in the middle where you're struggling to get ahead. It's just hard to see when you're in the mix of things.

The last chapter in volume I is rarely satisfying because you realize there's volume II to look forward to. You simply put your past behind and look forward to a new challenge. In my case, when I first wrote this post the next volume was starting a family and now it's doing everything possible to be a good father to my two kids.

Now that I've been a father for six years, I admit it is the hardest job I've ever had. The joys are amazing and so are the sorrows.

3) The greatest reward is helping other people. 

Once you achieve financial independence, making more money starts feeling like a game. It's fun to tinker with new income generating methods because there is no downside. But sooner or later you'll find the joy of making more money to be meaningless.

It's why there are plenty of unhappy rich people. They haven't fully tethered their wealth towards a cause they are passionate about. The best thing about retiring early is greater happiness for longer. It took me ten years of early retirement to realize this truth.

I want to help as many people achieve financial independence ASAP before and after I die. The internet is the best way to achieve this goal because access to my site is free and the content will live on forever. Everybody has something valuable to share.

Don't worry if you can't afford $50,000 a year in college tuition where only the wealthiest or smartest people with the most connections get to attend. Today is about giving access to everyone who wants to learn.

My desire to help people achieve financial independence is the main reason why I wrote a new personal finance book. Buy This, Not That is an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller and is the best book about building wealth and making better decisions you will read.

Buy This Not That International Bestseller

Words Of Thanks Keep Me Going

Every single comment or e-mail from a reader who says how an article I wrote helped them lead a better life gives me a “power up” to keep on going. It's easy to do nothing once you've taken care of yourself and your family. But I see the readers here as an extended family.

Here's a handwritten note I received that I'll cherish forever. I know financial independence is an inevitability for her and her wonderful family!

Financial Samurai Consulting Letter
After receiving this note, how can I not be motivated to continue writing? This note is the best reward I could ever receive.

Keep On Fighting For Financial Independence

Life after financial independence is great. The sacrifices you make today will be worth it. I have no regrets sharing a studio with another fella in my early 20s in order to save money. Yes, it was embarrassing bringing people over at times, but who cares.

I have no regrets waking up by 5 am to work on my side-hustles before work in order to one day break free. Yes, hearing the alarm go off when it's pitch black outside while you're in the middle of a lovely dream is painful, but you'll get used to it.

Yes, I started the modern-day FIRE movement in 2009. It's been a wonderful journey. But what I realize fourteen years later is that you don't need to FIRE to live a good life.

In fact, early retirement / FIRE is becoming obsolete because many have more flexibility to earn in ways that are more enjoyable. Thanks to the internet, nobody is stuck with just a day job they don't like. No college degree is necessary to make money online!

You will regret more of the things you don't do than the things you try. Once you find that wonderful purpose, you'll go on forever. Keep on fighting!

Recommendation To Build Wealth

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Is your retirement plan on track? Run your numbers for free to see how you stack up.

Negotiate A Severance To Retire Early

Never quit your job, get laid off instead with a severance package! If you plan to retire early because you've achieved financial independence, nothing feels better than leaving with money in your pocket.

My severance package paid for five years of living expenses after I retired in 2012. As a result, I felt more relaxed and free to do what I wanted.

In my latest edition of How To Engineer Your Layoff, you'll learn how to negotiate a severance to live the life that you want. Use the promo code ‘saveten‘ to save $10. The book is now in its 6th edition and updated for 2023 and beyond. 

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Life After Financial Independence is a FS original post.

About The Author

89 thoughts on “Life After Financial Independence: How Life Changed After Retiring Early”

  1. Your blog inspire me more and more each day. My husband and I decided we want FI when we got married at 27, the plan is to retire at 38 yrs old. If we cant completely retire at 38 years old, atleast we already have passive income and wont be afraid to lose our 9 to 5 job. The journey is not straight though, we dont have any idea how we can achieve it at first, we tried stocks, tried to acquire real estate but having a very little money to start, and no finance background, we saw very little movement in our net worth. But the compounding is really powerful, we just realized this year that it’s achievable to retire when we reached 38. But since it’s still 4 years ahead, my question now is how to enjoy your journey while waiting for your FI. I tend to be impatient and was thinking about it everyday.

  2. When calculating net worth are planning retirement, how do I value a $43,000 a year pension with a 50% survivorship and COLA? I see this as being of great value. If my company were not providing this I would be tempted to buy an annuity as part of my income stream.

    Could you reply to my e-mail I listed when making this comment please?

  3. I’ve recently discovered your site, and find your frank and personal discussions helpful. Thanks a ton.
    I’m a 52-year-old lawyer and have worked 6-7 days a week for almost 30 years, working myself to the point of some very lucrative years (just into 7 figures) in the past ten. But now the work is less rewarding, and frankly I’m less busy. That would have freaked me out in the past, BUT in the past five we have paid off our house and invested more than half of my income. We have like $4.5M invested and $6M net worth (Chicago, not SF, so a decent modest house doesn’t cost $5M!). (I also have a 529 holding $325K for my 11-year-old son, so I think he’ll be fine for college.)

    So I’m kind of calm about working less, and am thinking of just NOT working for a while instead of sweating about re-tooling myself. I love the idea of more time with my son while he enters the challenges of junior high and high school. Your site is calming, because it gives me the confidence to know that if you plan well, you CAN stop working and focus on living.

    I frankly don’t know any other lawyers who have quit this way, and I wonder why. I do think most get caught up and spend too much, so maybe nobody can afford it. Keep up the good work. Whether I can convince my wife it’s cool for me not to work is another question….

    1. Great to hear! Very honorable and impressive of you to work 6-7 days a week for almost 30 years! I could only last for about 13 years before I had to press the eject button. Please spend time reading all the older posts and going through the Retirement category etc.

      Focus on living! See: The Fear Of Running Out Of Retirement Is Overblown

      And for fun, see: How To Convince Your Wife To Work Longer So You Can Retire Earlier

      I’m sure she’ll enjoy the read!

      1. I have actually begun suggesting that my dear wife could go back to work (she’s been taking care of our son) in her science field. To be honest, she isn’t very receptive! No surprise. But it’s possible. I think it would soften the blow of having me around the house all the time. We’ve never lived like ALL DAY with each other all the time. It will be stressful for a while, guaranteed.

        Thanks again!

  4. Inspiring stuff Sam.

    I have zero regrets about quitting my job this year and pouring my heart and soul into my blog and other pursuits.


    My own mother just decided to walk away too from full-time work to work on a part-time gig. She’ll keep working on the side for the time being.

    Good luck in ’17!

  5. I have not yet reached financial independence, but I am sure it will make me a better person too – I guess you can really relax and do what you love after you don’t have to think about money anymore.

  6. Work stress may equal burn out. Before I moved to Northern California from New Orleans for a better job opportunity I was cranky, fatigued, and quite edgy. It did not make for a good home life (and forget about work life)…FI is the goal though I find the Joneses always creeping into my life a little at a time. So small goals- first pay off school debt then follow your aggressive mortgage payment strategy…hopefully that with continued savings will lead to FI in 10 years (not quite as young as you but still young). Thanks for the continued and regular posts- Its a joy to read.

  7. One of the best posts ever on Financial Samurai!
    I’m looking forward to reaching FI asap. I must admit I still call it FU Money (or FU Number) and I can’t wait to have it.

    Thank you for your amazing articles.

  8. Sam, longtime lurker here. I’ve always enjoyed your writing, especially your net worth by age posts as well as car posts but have only commented a few times. But this post spoke to me deeply so I had to comment.

    I totally agree with your points, especially #3 about helping. So much of our talent and energy is spent making money that when money has been met, if we let our ambition and talent rot, then it leads to depression. Instead, if we can redirect it to helping others, amazing things can happen.

    When I FIRED some years ago, it didn’t feel any different at first. Then, as I thought out the implications more of not needing to work for money, I realized years afterward that I had closed the book on Volume 1 of my life as well, and that Volume 2 could be the opportunity to really make a difference.

    So, encouraged by your posts on blogging, I finally started one in August of this year with the purpose of helping parents their children (and themselves) about money. Along the way, my goal is to give $1 million to charities and research that help solve problems I care about. (If curious, I write about it here:

    This is all to say that I agree with you wholeheartedly. Not only that, your advice sparked a big goal of mine that I hope will make a dent for good in the universe. When I think about others you’re inspiring to do the same, you will have created more good in this world than can be measured!


  9. The hand-written letter is straight from the heart. Point #5 speaks to the power of human connection that blogs admirably fill in the absence of face to face interactions.

    It is those little things that speak loudly to us in a world otherwise full of too much noise.

    Really enjoyed reading this post and the messages within.

  10. Fiscally Free

    I’m working toward becoming Fiscally Free (See what I did there?) for my family. Between work and my commute, I barely see my daughter during the week, and that is not OK.
    I also feel like the commute and the company I work for are not-so-slowly draining my life force.

  11. That is such a precious note! We’re very close to reaching financial independence and besides traveling and not worrying about an alarm clock, we have a few ideas in mind to help others in need. I think education will be a priority after early retirement. Great post!

  12. The Financista

    Great answer, and one that spoke to the question that’s been on my mind for a few weeks: how does it feel to have finally “made it’?

    It seems that it really does come down to helping others – and if we can begin with the end in mind, I think the journey to financial independence becomes not only more rewarding, but it becomes faster, too. I think of those companies that are overwhelmingly customer-focused and oriented, even if it means losing a few bucks occasionally for product returns, versus those companies that are clearly fly-by-night and in it to skin a few cats and leave. I know that there are companies I’m loyal to, and I’ll pay a premium to someone I believe is truly interested in helping customers. It’s that “1,000 true fans” – helping 1,000 people goes a long way.

    Speaking of, Sam, I can only echo the sentiments of your correspondent and say that the depth of content and wisdom you’ve shared here has been invaluable and inspiring.

  13. That is an incredibly sweet note.

    I want to achieve financial independence so I can focus on my business only and stop working FT for other folks. My business helps the LGBT community and brings me enormous personal satisfaction. I want to continue using my brain and my empathy to help others. Even when I don’t financially need to.

  14. Great inspiring post of what life can be like when youre financially free. I agree that helping others is something that goes a long ways whether youre financially free or not but I cant imagine the good that can be done once you have a lot more time on your hands.

    Cant wait to be financially free, spend more time with my loved ones and really put in more effort to just help others in need.

  15. Simple Money Man (SMM)

    Hi Sam,

    I have a long way to go before reaching FI…..but it doesn’t seem all that great once I’m there based on what you’re saying, hmmmm. Anyway, I think it is important to, along this journey, take time to stop and smell the roses (i.e., as you said “You will regret more of the things you don’t do”). I try to reflect every now and then the experiences that I have not yet pursued (some type of volunteering, traveling to a new place, or trying a new type of cuisine) and plan to undertake those as time and money allows.

    1. What’s great is being able to do what you want to do and not have to listen to anybody. The downside is that you will start to get bored if you don’t have a purpose. But I think everybody will eventually find their purpose if they look hard enough, whether it is with family or for a cause.

      The money is nice, but you’ll adapt to it quickly. Here’s one example where money helps:

      I used to feel bad ordering what I wanted to eat at a restaurant due to cost. I didn’t even want to order more than lemon water. Now I just order whatever looks great, regardless of cost. But I still look at the price. Recently, I’ve taken it a step further and order an extra entree to share with my dining partner if the entrees look amazing. We’ll just take the leftovers home. Money buys more choices. That’s a nice option to have.

      1. Anxiety About Losing Job

        OMG this read was sooo timely… . I just got FIRED TODAY from the company I worked at for the past 6 years. I was quite comfortable and grew psychologically dependent on the 100K salary, and now at 30, unmarried/ no kids, not sure what to do for a day job. Should I even have a day job?!?

        I work weekends as a real estate agent, this year about 235K in take home commissions; and the rental portfolio of 13 units nets around $75K/year. Plan on keeping both of these income streams and increasing the rentals with annual acquisition.

        I know I don’t NEED the day job. But I am just super worried that I will be bored, or be in a malaise, or even get up before noon everyday. What does one do 9 – 5 Mon thru Fri without a day job?

        Feeling anxious I want to prep a resume and get back in the job market… but is that just conventional wisdom shoving the daily grind down my throat? I worked so hard to achieve this foundation for FI, but suddenly losing my day job, this feels WEIRD.


        1. Sorry to hear about the loss, but if you are pulling in $300K/year as a single guy, life can’t be that bad! I’d enjoy your time off and see what life is like without a day job. I’m sure you can fill your time with other things you enjoy more than work.

          I’ve taken my time to look for sweet FT gigs before and they never pan out b/c I’m so, so picky now I’m not willing to sacrifice anything to go back to work.

          What’s your end goal? Maybe finding someone will bring about new purpose and happiness!

          Related: The Fear Of Running Out Of Money In Retirement Is Completely Overblown

          1. Anxiety About Losing Job

            I have always wanted to get my PhD and be an Economics Professor, but never pursued that career since its not financially rewarding. I think that this job loss just made my inner nerd twitch again….

            And you are right, life ain’t bad at 300k/year but it was even better at 400K. I will probably cut some expenses, like my second car (BMW i8) and possibly cable.

            So GRE here I come I guess.

  16. Good luck with your next challenges. Starting a family is always tough, but it’s much easier when you have more time. FI is a great goal to have. I don’t think anyone will ever make it regret that goal. Personally, I need to improve on #3. I’m helping some people though my site, but I need to do more locally.

  17. FIRECracker

    Wow, awesome fan note! Congrats on changing someone’s life and making it better.

    I absolutely agree with you that once you have F-U money, it’s much more rewarding to help others rather than to make more dough. It changes your entire outlook on life.

    Since becoming FI, I’m much happier, healthier, and have zero regrets. I’m also really glad you started this site, because having you as my inspiration was very helpful and encouraging. So thanks for that!

  18. PatientWealthBuilder

    Couldn’t agree more that the next chapter in the book is really exciting to think about. I think helping others is the real benefit though. Thinking about all the opportunities I have to even be able to achieve financial independence, when most people in other countries in the world don’t have that opportunity, makes me motivated more to help others. Great post – thanks for the thoughts.

  19. Ten Factorial Rocks

    Excellent post Sam. The lady who wrote that letter has beautiful penmanship, which is rare in today’s keyboard world. The contents of that letter showed her genuineness. I can imagine how great you must feel about this letter. If I feel so motivated already after reading positive comments on my articles, this kind of handwritten letter could keep me going for weeks! As to your article, this fits nicely with what I often say: Achieving FI is mandatory, but RE is optional

  20. It is interesting to read other people’s views on financial independence. It never really came to my mind that once I reach financial independence, I would stop working all together. I actually rather enjoy my corporate work and am happy to be do what I am doing until I learned all the ins and outs of running and managing a business. The best part is I am getting paid to learn how to run a business on a detailed level and a big picture vision, and at somebody else’s risk. The reason for me to seek financial independence is to provide enough for my family, and then I can start my own business without worrying about daily household operating expenses, lol.

  21. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    Great post as always. Your perspective on what really counts, is what keeps me coming back to FS.

    For us, FI means more freedom, more security & most of all, more options. I also see it as one step, as we transition from employee to investor. The final step is philanthropy through giving away our time and money.

    1. Hi Matt – As your site grows, there will be this awesome connection you will have with readers. We’re all growing in different ways, trying to do the best that we can. It’s fun to go along the journey together!

  22. What an awesome post. I’m so far from financial independence maybe that’s why it seems strange to me that once you get there you stop worrying. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be worried, or at least concerned that the money will run out.

  23. Sam, you are like a favorite Uncle we turn to for advice. Your experience and your integrity are all over your articles like a watermark on a photograph. Thank you for continually inspiring us!

  24. agreed, your tone in older articles was much more aggressive. the old articles did have very good content though… the content seems to be on a slight decline ever since that april fools joke about quitting FS. there have been a lot more “this is how my finances are doing this week” kind of articles, and not as much of the reflective / self improvement type of stuff i guess.

    this was definitely one of my favorite articles i have read recently. I thought it was very insightful, in sort of an elderly, reflecting back on life, kind of way. Which i am totally into, being in my mid 20’s.

    agreed, in a different wording, Life is about the journey- not the destination.

    1. Ah, to be in my mid 20s again. Just remember, if you’re not producing, you’re consuming. You will have the most energy you’ll ever have in your life right now. Utilize your energy to the maximum!

  25. “Today is about giving access to everyone who wants to learn.” This is everything to me. While I definitely am learning more or as much as my readers, I still think that is what keeps me blogging. The hope that people learn from my words…even if they’re mistakes not to make. Thanks for helping someone who’s only at the start of her journey understand the other side more clearly.

  26. Sam, thanks once again for sharing your experiences in early retirement. It’s reassuring to hear that our fear of outliving our money are overblown. A little resourcefulness does go a long way.

    I also liked your points about enjoying the journey. I hope this comment gives you another little “power up” because your wisdom has been very insightful (as always). Thanks again and have a great weekend.

  27. Graham @ Reverse The Crush

    Great post Sam!
    I like how you started off talking about being adaptable and resourceful because you can always get more practical.
    I’m not fully financial independent yet like you, nor have I been off work for as long, however, I’ve taken a mini-retirement for nearly a year now. I can certainly relate to some of the lessons you’ve shared here.
    You definitely change for the better and become almost more in tune with other people.
    And I agree 100% that money starts to pale in comparison to helping others. Though, on my end of things it’s time to get more practical. There’s no way to avoid the topic of money as it’s necessary to life.

    I think it’s incredible to receive a note like that. It really is the best motivation for writing! I feel the same way about comments.
    I worked in customer service for years within the financial industry and received plenty of compliments from clients. But it never made much of an impact on me. On the other hand, receiving a comment on my blog is one of my favourite parts about blogging. It’s making me realize how much I like people again. Before I was beginning to be closed off. I’m very appreciative for anyone who takes their own time to comment on my blog. It really is a major source of inspiration.

    I want to achieve FI so I can work remotely and have a more flexible schedule. Much like you, I want to be able to help others realize that other career options are out there. I just want to write and keep meeting other inspiring people online. I want to continue using my creativity on the blog, because it starts to leak out into other areas of my life. I need to work harder to fully reach FI. Thanks for the extra motivation!

    1. For sure Graham. A great comment, such as yours, is a fantastic motivator, no matter how large your site gets. It’s fun to hear other people’s stories.

      People can be painful, I know. But people can also be kind. So w/ FI, you can choose to hang out w/ the people that you truly like, and not b/c there is some type of ulterior motive.

      Having a creative outlet with a blog, and being able to attract people w/ similar ideology, no matter what they look like or where they come from is great.

  28. Maxoffshore

    Sam, it seems like you genuinely care for people. Not everyone is like that. And sad but true, many rich people are unhappy.

  29. Your First Million

    To me, reaching financial independence is just like getting through the front gate. Getting through the gate opens up your time so you can really focus on what is most important in your life whatever that is to you. Financial freedom is just the very beginning of the journey to true abundance. If you want to build serious wealth, financial freedom is the point where you no longer need to rely on a job… so you now can focus 100% of your efforts on exploding your wealth, instead of selling your hours for a paycheck.

  30. Wow, what a powerful note you shared Sam – that must be very motivating! For me, achieving FI is about providing peace and security for my immediate family. After that, we’ll see. If things work out right, I’d love to do non-profit work as well.

  31. Jack Catchem

    “You will regret more of the things you don’t do than the things you try.”

    So true, Sam. Over the course of the last decade I have regularly run into the same phenomenon. I’ve noticed I regret more of the people I didn’t arrest than the people I did. :)

    Personally, I desire to achieve financial independence for my family’s sake. I maximize my earning potential through the legal and tactical application of my mind and body. Should either be compromised, I need a new career!

    Achieving FI provides additional peace of mind that my risk seeking behavior was used to benefit them. Everyone wins.

    Combat deployments left me a little damaged. This life allows me to care for those I care about, but it can’t last forever. I strive for FI so I can continue to care for them even if I lose body or mind. I’ll also have more time to indulge in reading, writing, and violin-ing?

    1. Hah! Funny. I’m watching The Wire Season 4 now and it’s nice to see some good relationships form between police officers and the kids just trying to make money or stay straight.

  32. Cecilia-Argentina

    I am new to your site and absolutely loving ALL your posts. My main goal is also financial independence, and I want it so that I can live like a kid: worry-free. Thats where hapiness is to me.

    1. Welcome to my site! Where have you been all these years? :)

      I think you’ve described happiness quite appropriately: living like a kid. This is exactly what i JUST commented on above. I miss just being that care-free kid who rode his bike w/ friends on a quiet street. Our group would get bigger and bigger as we picked up other friends at their houses along the way. Bing bong, “Hi Mrs. Anderson, can Johnny come out to play?”

  33. Thanks for sharing your financial journey. It’s nice to know that there is still life to be lived after reaching our financial goals and ways to stay motivated. I would love to be able volunteer my time towards cause in retirement, especially around financial education. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Great post, just starting on the road to FI has changed my mind set. Less worried about material things, more concerned with hanging out with friends and family.

    I would go for a bike ride with a friend, having fun and staying in shape, over going shopping any day!

    I don’t want to be one of those rich guys driving around in his sports car ALL BY HIMSELF! What’s the point of having lots of money if you have no one to share it with??

    Keep up the great work!

    1. For sure man. Having someone to spend life with is so great. I wish I had a tighter group of friends to just shoot the shit and hang out w/ on the sofa. Everybody always seems so busy. Life gets in the way I guess!

      Maybe it’s just nostalgia growing up as a kid and calling up a friend to ask him to come over and play. I saw my buddy on the tennis court yesterday playing and asked him to come hang over on the deck after since it was sunny. “Nah, got lunch plans w/ the gf.” Aw schucks.

      New years resolution! Find more folks to do nothing w/.

      1. Romeo Jeremiah

        You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re going to transform into your busy friends once you start a family with children. I can’t wait to read that aspect of the blog. It’s going to be an interesting journey. :-)

  35. PhysicianOnFIRE

    I can answer the second question. Since achieving financial independence, life has become more uncertain.

    Not uncertain in a bad way, but I used to know I’d be working until sometime after my boys graduate high school. Now, I can (and presumably will) be retired before they even reach junior high.

    Now I have all these amazing plans and options, and am contemplating the best exit strategy from a career I’ve worked very hard to have. It’s a wonderful first world problem to have, but the fear of making the wrong decision does weigh on me a bit.


  36. I’m going to start blogging again on some of these topics, hopefully very soon, but I drop my military retirement paperwork in about a month. With accrued leave, etc., I’ll be done working next summer with my pay continuing through fall.

    We’ve decided where we’re going to settle and have saved enough to purchase a home and live on nothing but my retirement check and savings. This isn’t quite “F U money,” but it puts us in a good spot to take some risks, work to generate some other income streams, and so on. It won’t take too much additional income for us to live very comfortably.

    Good stuff! Enjoyed the post– as always, food for thought!

      1. Army!

        I’ll start posting at my blog again and maybe I’ll be able to glean something of value to you. I’ve been pretty deliberate about making sure I understand myself, my interests, abilities, etc., so I know what sorts of things I want to do, am willing to do, and will steer clear of completely. I’ve accumulated quite a few mentors too, who have been very helpful. The real key seems to be to put yourself in a financial situation where you don’t need to panic yourself into the wrong thing.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement Sam! Can you drive a manual? If so, let me know when you want to take it for a spin.

        (And you know that there is much, much more to life!)

  37. One word: family

    I was fine working crazy hours, saving crazy money in my early career.

    Now with 2 wee tykes, I want to be able to spend more time with them (would love to be a stay at home dad), as well as teach them everything about money and freedom my parents never taught me but had to learn slowly and painfully over the decades.

    It’s less about the actual dollars, than about your relationship with money and how you use it to your advantage.

  38. Those notes are so powerful when it comes to what we enjoy doing – especially in thankless jobs. My volunteering with juveniles in the juvenile justice system has been ongoing for half of my life – the last six years I’ve been incredibly involved.

    I’ve seen probably a thousand different kids and their families. And yet, I can still tell you every single kid who has ever hugged me, or written me a letter, or somehow hunted me down to “share the good news” of how I influenced them for the better. I don’t know their names, but I remember their words and their faces. And I can usually remember what essay topic I gave them.

    That’s what makes life worth it. It’s great you’ve found a purpose and calling in financial blogging. It’s also nice to feel wanted. Thanks for the story.

    1. I’d love to learn more about your experience and takeways volunteering w/ juveniles. Maybe a guest post perhaps? I got in trouble as a juvenile as well and experienced the whole system. Yikes. Helped set me straight b/c I could have easily fallen down the wrong path.

      1. I would certainly be interested in sharing my experiences in juvenile justice. I work with a pre-trial diversion program, so the kids get arraigned and them come into the program. Upon complete, the record is never filed with the state attorney, and thus no charge ever exists.

        I’ll e-mail you some ideas in a few days. I’m super busy right now as I sit for the Florida real estate exam tomorrow. My life has been on hold studying, so I’ve got some catch-up to do.

  39. Romeo Jeremiah

    I say that 100 comments within 24 hours of a post is pretty stellar. What did you average in the past? And certainly your readership hasn’t dropped off, right? Perhaps you’ve explained your position so well in your writings that there’s no need to comment. Or perhaps your ideas are too sensitive in nature that no one wants to imprint their online, lifetime identity to the same ideas. Anyway, you get the point. There are many reasons why your comments aren’t what they were. The search engines will take care of the other trailing entries.

    Financial Independence represents freedom for me. Freedom from worrying what an employer would say or do if it were found out that I wrote some of those controversial posts back in the day. Freedom to hop on a plane and go off for a few days without worrying about work email or utility bills pulling up. And freedom to pursue other ventures, as necessary, when I want, like spending months in Panama teaching English as a second language.

    I’m a few years away from that and more. It works out magically that I retire the same year my son graduates high school. Perhaps, then, I’ll revive the ole blog. Hell, maybe I’ll make it a travel blog.

    Keep up the good work. Been reading since 2011 and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

    1. Hi Romeo,

      I think I averaged maybe 35 comments (not written by me) in the past. But comments don’t scale, b/c if it did, the comment count would now average 350 a post on average :)

      Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself, what I miss, and what to look for. Therefore, I’m much more thorough and thoughtful now. Articles used to average 800 words, now it’s double.

      I’m excited for you to hit that pension mark and have that freedom within the next 5 years once your son goes to HS. Can’t believe he’s 14 already! Nuts!

  40. I am a longtime reader of this site and articles like this article is very inspiring and really make my day. I spent many years on Wall Street but burned out and had kids, and a switch went off where I didn’t want to head into the office on a Saturday morning but instead wanted to play with my son. I am really focused on gathering the courage to make a bold move with my career and want to build something that helps others achieve their dreams just like this site does. You are an inspiration Sam! Thanks and keep these posts coming. I am close to FI – would be there already if I didn’t like in San Fran Bay Area and had a little greater risk tolerance!

  41. While either at fi or close enough to be inconsequential I don’t want to retire early. However having grown up in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck the situation of Fi gives me a feeling of security that I feel is needed. There is no worrying about losing my job and not being able to support my family. That is priceless.

  42. Apathy Ends

    I have a lot of reasons but they mostly orbit around the idea of being free to make my own decisions and pursue my interests without needing a paycheck.

    Building my own business and passive income streams is right up there with FI for me as well. I don’t like working for other people, it’s only been 5 years and I am over it

  43. Your post is timely! I have been FI at 50 years old for 3 months now and love waking up every morning to choose how to spend my day. Family time has become more meaningful. However I have been feeling anxious about not having enough $$ that I’ve debated whether or not to monetize my time with another 9-5 job. I am glad to read that you think it’s overblown too (i.e., running out of $$).

    1. It’s normal to feel anxious about not having enough $$. Just remember that before you got to your definition of FI, you already made all your calculations. And if you want to earn some side income, you can if you look.

      The longer time passes after work, the less you will worry about money b/c you’re making what you have work. I suspect you’ll get antsy if you don’t find a fun activity to regularly do. Find your tribe! Mine is with tennis and blogging.

  44. Financial Panther

    Thanks for the sharing these thoughts Sam. I remember when I started getting interested in personal finance, your blog was the first one I came upon, even before MMM. While I don’t always agree with everything you say, your blog has taught me more than I ever thought I could learn from a blog. Really appreciate seeing your commitment to helping others.

  45. As a long time lurker and admirer of Sam and this site, this is a very inspiring article and reminds me of what has provided me with the greatest happiness in my life – helping others achieve their dreams. I am frustrated as someone who feels like I should have that FU money already, if I lived anywhere else than in the SF Bay Area an/or if rates returned to anywhere approximating reasonably historical averages. I wish I had the courage to quit my corporate tech gig (itself a downshift after years on Wall Street I had kids and realized I no longer wanted to work 100 hours per week and miss out on their lives). I have been trying to find something I can write passionately about on an informed basis and for which there would be a good sized audience and I will continue to focus on discovering that!

    1. Hi Gab, at least you downshifted right? I went straight to kinda Zero b/c I didn’t see any other options, and then had to work my way up. Probably teaching your kids good is one of the best rewards of all!

      Ever thought about just relocating? Almost anywhere in America except for Manhattan is cheaper than SF.

      1. Thanks for the note and I agree in theory I would be able to do that! My wife and I do love it here and she loves her job which keeps here. Your post on “The Fear Of Running Out Of Money In Retirement Is Overblown” was very helpful in demonstrating that even in the SF Bay Area (and excluding your tremendous passive income for comparison purposes), I really don’t need to do this. I think I want to remain employed in order to facilitate easier approval for new property purchases when the next real estate downturn occurs, with the risk being that like you said the unicorn IPO market materializes before that downturn can occur in any material sense….worst case, which is not that bad :), unlike you will have to look further afield to build a real estate portfolio capable of generating sufficient passive income streams.

  46. While I have not reached financial independence my financial burden has decreased substantially over the last 6 years from over 100K in personal debt to on my own path to FI. I can absolutely say things have changed especially over the last year as my personal debt was paid off. I agree with all 3 statements, I feel like over time I have become a better person.

    Nice meeting you Sam, hope the jet ski ride was enjoyed. Also funny note another blogger said Financial Samuari is here and I responded with how I wanted to meet him but not sure what he looks like. Her response was he looks very California and San Francisco, haha I wasn’t even sure how to respond but it made me smile. Enjoy the weekend.

    1. That’s a pretty appropriate description! It’s whatever you think California and San Francisco looks like. We all create our own image in our desired way of somebody else, or some other thing, hence I enjoy not ruining for everyone.

      I had a different image in mind of you compared to your avatar. I don’t think you are razor blade bald right?

      What a fun Sunday at the peer. Did you guys go paddle boarding? I hadn’t jet skied in years and it was such a blast. Almost got stuck in the seaweed look at the mega mansions off Coronado Island!

      1. What’s funny is I usually have my head shaved this is the first time in 3 years that I haven’t.

        We did go SUP which was fun more to say that we have done it to my surprise it is exercise also, just disguised very well.

        I was able to get a glimpse of California living and costs included but amazing none the less. Glad you enjoyed the final day.

  47. 1. I love this blog, and check it daily (multiple times a day like a lab rat hitting the reward button.)

    2. That person has the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. I’m ashamed of mine.

    1. Hah! Glad you enjoy the site Matt. It’s very fun for me as well. The only issue is having around 27,000 unread e-mails as a result! Good thing I’m getting good at forgetting in my older age.

  48. Sam, FI has provided so much more fulfillment in my life simply because I have the choice to focus on what I value whenever I choose. Currently, that means I’m spending the majority of my time with family. It also means that I can give back more to others too. Thanks for sharing your story with others and making an impact. That handwritten note is better than gold! Likewise, you are forging a path for other PF bloggers to contribute their own message. Thank for the encouragement. It was great meeting you in person at FinCon!

  49. I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability in this post, Sam. You have so many devoted readers because we all feel like we *really know you* even though most of us haven’t met you in person. That’s why you make such an impact with every article, IMO.

    My motivation to achieve FI is all about legacy. Sure, I want to live a great life in and make mark in every chapter of it, but I want my life to have an impact upon my children and their grand-children long after I am gone. Thoughts of changing my family tree – permanently – keep me going strong when I want to quit.

    1. Appreciate the note. The mind begins to change once children are in the picture that’s for sure. I’ve never thought about “changing my family tree.”

      But now, I’m curious about checking out for DNA and my family tree to see how far back my lineage goes.

      Will be fun!

  50. The Green Swan

    I want to achieve FIRE so that I can wake up each day and choose what I want to do, to spend more time with my family, and travel the world. That’s why I too wake up each morning when it’s pitch black out and work long hours. It won’t be this way forever! Good read while we head into the weekend.

  51. I am not financially independent yet, but I have been doing well in the past 7 years. I run my own small web design business from home, raise my kid and enjoy an almost ‘retired’ lifestyle (I work about 2 hours/day, earning enough for us to live well). same with my husband. It’s been a really great change for us all and being able to raise our kid ourselves is priceless.

  52. The ‘scoreboard’ of how someone’s life is going is usually money, but once that is handled, it is almost like the scoreboard changes to impact. So by helping people gain financial independence, they can move on to helping other people.

    1. Jack Catchem

      Your theory makes sense to me. Once humanity “wins” something enough, we are apt to change the rules of the game to keep it interesting!

      1. The only issue is 100 years ago some people thought we were quickly approaching that level of humanity winning (see John Maynard Keynes – Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren).

        Unfortunately ‘winning’ is a moving target. He predicted people would work less since they could live a comfortable life on just 20 hours a week. Instead consumption increased and people work more to feed their desire for consumption.

        Maybe there is a limit though? Millennials also seem to be wired a little bit differently in this regard.

        1. Jack Catchem

          It could be! This reminds me of an argument I’ve had with fellow cops. I say no matter how many guns I may want, I only NEED a long gun, handgun, and backup (tactical flexibility). I’m content with that and invest my money elsewhere. The vast majority of my peers and elders are still amassing armories despite only having two hands each. It’s hard to halt the endless pursuit of life, liberty,and property (like Jefferson’s alleged first draft spells out).

  53. What a perfect post to round out the week. I share a lot of your same sentiments. I think financial independence has made me a better person and also given me more perspectives on life. Having the opportunity to travel has been a big factor in opening my eyes to how different we all can be, yet the same in so many ways. It’s also helped me start more chapters in my life and allowed me to give back in a lot of different ways.

    I love that letter you received from one of your clients. So thorough, thoughtful and also some of the best penmanship I’ve seen. I have horribly ugly handwriting, so I’m always impressed by people who have the skills to write with perfectly curved and graceful lettering. I need to learn how to write like that.

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