For those unaware of the concept, F.I.R.E. stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early”. This is the beginning of my journey towards this goal and this blog will serve as a public commitment to the following:
Money is all too often a taboo subject that people avoid or hesitate to discuss. I want to pull back the curtain, and discuss every aspect of money and finances, open to public scrutiny. I will be posting income figures, expenses, savings rates, investment balances, and every other typically uncomfortable and taboo element of personal finance that usually gets ignored or shushed.
Saving, investing, and this journey as a whole will take a while. I am committing to bringing you along on with me every step of the way. I want to give updates often enough that there are rarely surprises. For me, this means a monthly update post, and a new post whenever major life changes or events occur.
I’ve been learning and reading about F.I.R.E. in several ways for nearly 18 months now, and the key takeaway that I have is that it’s scary doing it alone. Whether you are here to read along just for shiggles, or actively want to learn from the steps I take, and mistakes I make, I am also here to learn from you. I have so many things I want to do to foster consistent communication and education, not only for you, but for me as well. I expect it will be much more fun and feel much safer involving those around me in the process.
And with that out of the way, welcome to My Personal F.I.R.E. As of yet, I haven’t accomplished much. I’ve read several books on the topic of early retirement (or more specifically, listened to them on Audible). For those looking for a start, that’s what I’d recommend first. Here’s the list of books I’ve gone through so far:
- Quit Like a Millionaire – Kristy Shen, Bryce Leung, JL Collins
- The Simple Path to Wealth – JL Collins
- Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, Mr. Money Mustache
- The Wealthy Barber – David Chilton
- Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki
- Rich Dad Advisors: ABCs of Real Estate Investing – Ken McElroy
- Rich Dad’s Increase Your Financial IQ – Robert T. Kiyosaki
Please note that not all of these are equally riveting, or equally helpful, especially in the context of F.I.R.E. specifically. That being said, this is the material I’ve been working with so far, along with the r/FinancialIndependence subreddit.
Despite having read a lot of content, and wanting to achieve this goal as soon as possible, I’ve made the mistake of letting myself be paralyzed by this information. It’s a lot to take in, and I’ve been slow to get started. So far I haven’t really accomplished anything concrete. I’ve started my own company, Freefall Consulting (which has served more purposes than just F.I.R.E.), made a single investment (in Bitcoin, which has since lost over half of it’s value), and created several spreadsheets outlining and forecasting income, expenses, and investment values. None of these are actively bringing me closer to retirement yet.
It’s time to get started, and here’s where I’m starting from.
Current assets are split in 3 different currencies – US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Thai Baht.
Description Currency Amount Current USD Value Business Account, Cash USD $27,132.56 $27,132.56 Business Account, Cash CAD $29,782.28 $24,582.78 Bank Account, Cash USD $9,041.50 $9,041.50 Bank Account, Cash CAD $364.69 $301.02 Bank Account, Cash THB ฿12,503.66 $401.66 Cash on Hand THB ฿4,092.00 $131.40 Bitcoin BTC 0.03659 $1,341.80 401K, VTSAX Shares 30.166 $3,221.12
Total Assets (USD): $66,153.84
The only current debts are credit card balances. What is not currently listed due to the exact value being unknown is the tax liability for my company which will be due within the next month.
Description Currency Amount Current USD Value Visa Card USD $597.22 $597.22 Visa Card CAD $50.84 $41.97
Total Debts (USD): $664.79
My currently net worth clearly needs to be taken with a grain of salt as there are very clear, significant outstanding liabilities that will be due, thus decreasing the value. Either way, it’s a good starting point to look at.
Net Worth (USD): $65,489.05*
My business has been receiving income via contracts using client sourcing platforms. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the billing rate due to contractual obligations, but the platform automatically bills clients, and then stores payments for a managed payments account. This account has been configured to transfer all funds in the account on 1st of the month, if the current balance in the account is over $3,000 because of the $0.50 fee for every transfer. These funds are sent to the corporate account, and are considered revenue for the company. As such, there are other expenses that the business incurs that will inevitably use some of that sourced income. That being said it helps to have a number to work with, even if it is slightly off, so I’ve listed it as the income value for the month. Of relevant note is that when I return to California, the income amounts will change drastically as a result of my starting a new US-based job.
Monthly Income (USD): $4,560*
This is something we’ve only begun tracking to a significant degree within the past 10 days or so. They are also in Thai Baht (because we are in Thailand, and the app we started using to monitor expenses does not allow you to change the base currency). Further, our expenses will change significantly once we move back to California in about 5 weeks.
Description Amount Rent ฿16,000.00 Food ฿11,818.70 Other Housing ฿850.00 Vehicle ฿340.00 Lifestyle ฿623.64 Medical ฿1,200.00 Other ฿1,439.88
If I make educated guesses for each expenses category on how much of the month has passed, and which specific expenses are likely to recur again this month, my table looks a bit like this:
Description Amount Rent ฿16,000.00 Food ฿35,456.10 Other Housing ฿1,200.00 Vehicle ฿1,000.00 Lifestyle ฿623.64 Medical ฿3,000.00 Other ฿1,439.88
Lastly, since we will be moving in about 5 weeks, Fatima and I want to take a bit of a vacation and make the most of our time in Thailand. This vacation will likely happen in the month of June, and current expectations are that we will spend a combined ฿20,000.00.
Estimated Monthly Expenses (THB): ฿78,719.62*
Estimated Monthly Expenses (USD): $2,526.30*
Estimated Cash Flow*
Estimated Monthly Cashflow (USD): $2,033.70*
Estimated Long Term Monthly Expenses
Given the current level of our expenses, and the fact we are moving back to California, we can expect the following increases in expenses:
- Rent cost will likely change from ~$500.00 per month to ~$1,800.00 per month, an increase of ~$1,300.00
- Food expenses will likely change slightly from ~$1,130.00 per month to ~$1,250.00 per month, an increase of $120.00
- Vehicle expenses will change noticeable from ~$30.00 to ~$200.00, an increase of $170.00
- Lifestyle expenses will rise when I begin Skydiving again, from ~$20.00 per month currently to ~$500.00 per month, an increase of $480.00
There will likely be other expense increases, but those listed above increase our total by ~$2,070.00 per month.
Estimated Long Term Monthly Expenses (USD): ~$4,600
Estimated Long Term Yearly Expenses (USD): ~$55,200
Passive Income Generation
My plan is to heavily invest in index funds. In particular, I plan on investing more into Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX). The current planned stock-to-bond investment ration that I plan on is 100-0, and more specifically, over 95% being invested in index funds like the one above. As such, I’ve decided to use the VTSAX long-term average annual returns (which is 8.27%) as a guideline value for my estimates. Being conservative, if I keep $25,000.00 of my current net worth in reasonably liquid cash, and I set aside another $10,000.00 for the business tax liabilities, then I’m left with $30,489.05 for investment purposes. If I was to invest all of this money right away, and also account for the 401K funds currently invested with VTSAX (a total of $33,710.17), it would begin generating passive income of $232.32 every month.
Current investing and F.I.R.E. philosophy says that the Safe Withdrawal Rate (the rate at which you can safely withdraw funds from your investments without depleting them) is ~4%. This is what’s known as the 25/4% rule because you need an investment portfolio worth 25 times your yearly expenses to be able to withdraw 4% yearly (thus allowing it to replenish itself). I want to be a bit more conservative, and will be using a withdrawal rate of 3.70%.
I have a detailed spreadsheet with income and expense projections including her schooling and long term raises or income boosts. When plugging in the above withdrawal rate, and yearly expenses of $55,200, we will need a few thousand short of $1.5 million dollars to retire.
Estimated Long Term Yearly Expenses (USD): ~$55,200
Estimated Long Term Yearly Investment Return: 8.27%
Withdrawal Rate: 3.70%
Investments Value Required to F.I.R.E.: $1,491,891.89
Long Term Projected Retirement Date: December 2028
Firstly, if you got through that entire post, thank you for reading it. Secondly, I want to encourage you to engage with me. This blog is also being used to hold myself accountable and motivate me towards my F.I.R.E. goal, so if you have any questions about the topics discussed above, or about my own personal finance situation, please post a comment or send me an email, and I’d be happy to discuss it further with you.