My backstory is not important, but it may be interesting for some who can relate. As I approach my 50th year, I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of life and what my future goals are. Different from many in the FIRE community, I have a few limitations that life has thrown my way – a custody agreement, two kids who must remain in their current school district until graduation, a new spouse (frugal, thank God). I have spent years of my life floundering around without any real goals beyond the typical work until you retire. I just put my head down and worked diligently, building knowledge and a career and (later) raising my young kids.
I feel like I woke up in my late 40s. Even though my field of practice is financial planning, I was never as frugal as many of my clients. This all changed post divorce. I hate debt, and one thing that comes with a divorce is debt. I focused all my energy on paying it off. I was upside down in my house (it was 2012), so it took a few years to be able to downsize. I moved north to New Hampshire, where it was cheaper to live.
Along the way I met and married my current spouse. One thing about getting married in your 40s or 50s is that the people you meet often have assets and accomplishments. My spouse was debt free and came with a house and the desire to own a property in Maine, where we both liked to vacation. We traded her house for a vacation property.
I really became serious about spending and frugality when I discovered Dave Ramsey in August 2017. Once I started down the path of serious frugality and FI, we really focused on our goals and what is really important to us. We also realized the real estate market in the Northeast is crazy – there is very little inventory, and it is very expensive. We decided to keep our Maine property. It is relatively inexpensive to operate, 3 miles from the beach, a little over an hour from our house in New Hampshire, and we have put many of the improvements into it that it needed to make it work for us.
We paid off all our debt except our mortgages and 1 car loan by the end of 2018. (Another decision was to keep the 2 cars we purchased new in late 2016). We decided to focus on our mortgage. Since both mortgages have the same interest rate, we chose the one with the smaller balance to focus on. We hope to have that paid off in 3 years.
As all of this is going on, I continue in my job as a senior financial advisor, helping clients achieve their financial goals. I meet with some highly paid professionals who dislike their jobs or the stress associated with their jobs, but feel trapped by the high income until they are 65. I don’t want this to be me.
Everyone’s lifestyle is different. I have seen people retire on $2,500/month in income and $15,000/month. I have seen clients at both ends of the spectrum not able to live within their means. I don’t want to be one of them.
Then I discover the FIRE community in 2019. I immerse myself in it. It calls to me. While I have no desire to “retire”, as I love what I do, being financially independent appeals to me and for my clients. If I can help my clients with this, I can make a difference in the world. You don’t need to be 30 for the FIRE community to help you.
There is a ton of information on the web about this, but I haven’t seen any from the perspective of a practicing fee-only, passive investment proponent, financial planner and CPA. I thought I could add some value in this space, and I hope you agree.
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