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Any single, mid/late 30s people who are doing FIRE (and will achieve it soon)?
Old 02-09-2020, 10:57 PM   #1
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Any single, mid/late 30s people who are doing FIRE (and will achieve it soon)?

I came late in the game when it came to learning about financial independence. Like many people, it was ingrained in my mind that I had to work until I was 65+. Well, as of last year, I learned about the FIRE movement, and I have been trying to get my finances in order. But I'm feeling so discouraged that I won't be able to achieve FIRE for many, many years :/

One of the things I love to do is write books. It's my main side hustle. I see so many of my peers quitting their jobs and writing for a living, pretty much living financially free doing what they love. I want to do that, too. But a lot of them have spouses/partners who work, so technically, they have some cushion of extra income coming in on those lean months where the writing business my not pay off.
I've listened to a lot of podcasts and read blogs about people who achieved FIRE, but pretty much all of the success stories involved a married couple, so at least one person was working while the other one was doing a side hustle to reach FIRE faster.

I would like to hear more success stories from single people who are in their mid/late 30s who achieved FIRE by themselves, all alone. Is it possible? I mean, seriously. I want to know how many years I'm looking at to be able to retire early. I'm sure people will think single people have it easy, because it's just me I have to worry about, so it's less expensive, but really, it's not. I have bills, a mortgage, and expenses like gas, food, utilities, etc., too. And, no, I can't just live in my parents' basement, like one success story I read about.

I clip coupons, use rebate apps like ibotta, and utilize my credit cards wisely to take advantage of cash back options in order to get the lowest deal possible. I also take surveys and try to use every dollar I make toward saving. I also use apps like Acorns and SoFi to invest. I have 3 savings accounts, a Roth 401k, an HSA (I am investing with that, too). I'm divvying out my money in a bunch of different savings/investing places, and I don't see much movement. I feel like I'm going to be stuck on this hamster wheel of the 9-5 until I'm 65 and not be able to enjoy these years doing what I love to do without the stress.

I would love to achieve FIRE in 8 years, but I feel like even if I save 100% of my paycheck, that won't be possible (I can't anyway, as I need to use a good chunk of it for bills).

I happened upon this community because I literally Googled 'how to not be stressed on Sunday nights'. I'm really grateful that I found it, and I hope that I will be able to connect with other single, mid/late 30 year olds who are in this same situation, or are on their way to achieving FIRE in a short period of time.

Thank you so much!
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:32 PM   #2
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Welcome.

What you read on the internet is often a lie... trust me on this.

To achieve FIRE in a short time, there are only a few ways.
Win a big lottery.
Borrow $100,000 go Vegas and put it all on 1 number for 1 spin, and win.
Write a book series as successful as Harry Potter.
Marry a stupid but very rich person and divorce them.

Those are all the ways I know of right now.
However, what is more important is to enjoy life right now while still saving some for later, after all the world could end tomorrow
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:25 AM   #3
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I am curious to know what factors are determining your decision to retire very early. Is it an arbitrary deadline, something you want to achieve? If stress is the issue, can you restructure your life in a way that involves a new j*b activity? Why not create a more realistic plan and tamp down the impulse to get this done more or less immediately? Give us more info. Are you being pushed by negative factors or pulled by positive ones? Or, both?

-Bb
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:33 AM   #4
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I am curious to know what factors are determining your decision to retire very early. Is it an arbitrary deadline, something you want to achieve? If stress is the issue, can you restructure your life in a way that involves a new j*b activity? Why not create a more realistic plan and tamp down the impulse to get this done more or less immediately? Give us more info. Are you being pushed by negative factors or pulled by positive ones? Or, both?

-Bb
I feel like my life is going by too fast and I am not doing the things I love because the job takes up a good chunk of that time. So many of my peers seem to be enjoying life to the fullest doing what they’ve always loved to do, working for themselves without the stress of the day job. I love to create things, and I only get 1-2 hours a day to do that, (maybe on a good day) which is torturing.
I want this to be an arbitrary deadline to achieve FIRE at least by my 40s so I can still enjoy some of my younger years doing what I love instead of waiting until I am almost too old to do/enjoy them...
It is disheartening to hear that all the FIRE stories online is a lie. Is FIRE even real? Is it only the 18-20s people doing it? Am I really too late to this party? Will I have to remain on this hamster wheel for the next 30+ years?
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Old 02-10-2020, 04:57 AM   #5
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MarieL,
Thanks for this. One thing to keep in mind is that w*rking for yourself is rarely stress free. Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, most of the w*rk you will do in your life will be, at best, tolerable. It's the nature of the beast. Again, for most people.

Who are these peers who are doing so well? That isn't my sense of the demographic. A decidedly few influencers on social media but most are likely stuck in low numbers of followers and won't ever lift out of it. Perhaps you aren't seeing their stories. You are right that FIRE has become trendy lately; so it's being juiced by people good at marketing aspirations. It's good you joined this group...we are a motley one; but we generally have been at this a long time, worked hard and made decisions about FIRE that were carefully thought out. Patience is one of our major common characteristics. Also, we tend to see things pretty clearly and have learned how to sniff out the hype.

In my humble opinion, again unless you are extraordinarily lucky in life, FIRE is something of very high value and, as such, is not come by easily or quickly.

For me and my wife, having decided in our late thirties to achieve financial dependence, we developed a strategy for that goal, which required a certain amount of time and a great deal of commitment. We also decided not to sacrifice too much of today for a better tomorrow. In other words, in the words of the Buddha, "It is better to travel well than to arrive." Think about how you can do this: acquire more patience (along with a multi-year strategy) and make the journey to the goal something that you enjoy and love.

I hope this helps...it's a bit rambling.

-BB
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Old 02-10-2020, 06:11 AM   #6
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MarieL,
Thanks for this. One thing to keep in mind is that w*rking for yourself is rarely stress free. Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, most of the w*rk you will do in your life will be, at best, tolerable. It's the nature of the beast. Again, for most people.

Who are these peers who are doing so well? That isn't my sense of the demographic. A decidedly few influencers on social media but most are likely stuck in low numbers of followers and won't ever lift out of it. Perhaps you aren't seeing their stories. You are right that FIRE has become trendy lately; so it's being juiced by people good at marketing aspirations. It's good you joined this group...we are a motley one; but we generally have been at this a long time, worked hard and made decisions about FIRE that were carefully thought out. Patience is one of our major common characteristics. Also, we tend to see things pretty clearly and have learned how to sniff out the hype.

In my humble opinion, again unless you are extraordinarily lucky in life, FIRE is something of very high value and, as such, is not come by easily or quickly.

For me and my wife, having decided in our late thirties to achieve financial dependence, we developed a strategy for that goal, which required a certain amount of time and a great deal of commitment. We also decided not to sacrifice too much of today for a better tomorrow. In other words, in the words of the Buddha, "It is better to travel well than to arrive." Think about how you can do this: acquire more patience (along with a multi-year strategy) and make the journey to the goal something that you enjoy and love.

I hope this helps...it's a bit rambling.

-BB

Thank you! I do realize that working for yourself isn't stress-free, but I think it's only stressful if that is your only source of income and you're unsure about those lean months. I don't want to be in that situation. I want to be able to live financially independent from my investments and savings, and be able to do the '4% rule' and live off the interest of my investments. So if a lean month happens from my writing business, I'm not sweating it so much. This is ultimately what I am trying to achieve.

Admittedly, I don't know the whole story of my peers. Many of them who have been successful with writing are writing things like romance novels and science fiction/fantasy novels. Basically things that are pretty hot on Amazon and the other ebook stores. There are tons of stories out there about people who are making 5-6 figures and above writing books. But yes, many of them have a spouse who provides a second income, so they can spend all day writing tons of books. But that's also not fair to say they have it easy, because some also have kids, so it's definitely not easy.

I write both romance and fantasy novels, and I feel like I'm not able to spend much time on them as I want to be able to produce more content with my side hustle that will help me reach FIRE within my target years. I know patience is the key, and I'm definitely willing to wait. But I also want to make sure I'm doing all that I can do right now so that all that patience will pay off sooner rather than too late in my life (as ironic as that sounds).

I'm very glad I found this group. It's like I've been knocked back into reality of what really goes on behind the scenes of how to achieve FIRE that people aren't telling you. I knew it wasn't easy, but in a way, I feel disheartened that I'm not doing what I need to do to achieve my goal. I've read all the popular blogs out there religiously (Mr. Money Mustache, ChooseFI, Millennial Money, Facebook groups etc.), and pretty much all the blogs and podcasts that Google could find, which was got me so fired up and inspired to take control of my finances, because I thought this might be possible for me.

How long did it take you and your wife to achieve FI (or are you not there yet)? What sort of steps did you do (or are currently doing) to achieve it? If you've achieved FI, how long did it take you to do that?

Is it really impossible for a single, no-kids person like me to achieve FI? I just want to know if I'm really trying to achieve a hopeless dream.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:39 AM   #7
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I would love to achieve FIRE in 8 years, but I feel like even if I save 100% of my paycheck, that won't be possible (I can't anyway, as I need to use a good chunk of it for bills).
If you could save 100% of your paycheck, you could retire tomorrow....because that would mean that you don't need your income any longer!

I'm not just being facetious, though. Once you own a modest house in a LCOL area, and you have enough put aside for a bare-bones budget, you could retire. My dad lived basically on $1400 a month social security, and really didn't spend much of his savings. And this was in New York City! (In the suburbs, but still...)

So it depends at least as much on what you want to do and how you want to spend your retirement....figuratively and literally!

If you really just want to be free to spend it writing, you might not need very much at all, so it might be more within reach than you think!
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:45 AM   #8
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... So many of my peers seem to be enjoying life to the fullest doing what they’ve always loved to do, working for themselves without the stress of the day job.....
Do not believe what your peers write on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. People only post the good stuff. Nobody posts to say that they wrecked their car and now can't make the rent this month, or that they got fired or evicted or stood up on a date.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MarieL View Post
I came late in the game when it came to learning about financial independence. Like many people, it was ingrained in my mind that I had to work until I was 65+. Well, as of last year, I learned about the FIRE movement, and I have been trying to get my finances in order. But I'm feeling so discouraged that I won't be able to achieve FIRE for many, many years :/



One of the things I love to do is write books. It's my main side hustle. I see so many of my peers quitting their jobs and writing for a living, pretty much living financially free doing what they love. I want to do that, too. But a lot of them have spouses/partners who work, so technically, they have some cushion of extra income coming in on those lean months where the writing business my not pay off.

I've listened to a lot of podcasts and read blogs about people who achieved FIRE, but pretty much all of the success stories involved a married couple, so at least one person was working while the other one was doing a side hustle to reach FIRE faster.



I would like to hear more success stories from single people who are in their mid/late 30s who achieved FIRE by themselves, all alone. Is it possible? I mean, seriously. I want to know how many years I'm looking at to be able to retire early. I'm sure people will think single people have it easy, because it's just me I have to worry about, so it's less expensive, but really, it's not. I have bills, a mortgage, and expenses like gas, food, utilities, etc., too. And, no, I can't just live in my parents' basement, like one success story I read about.



I clip coupons, use rebate apps like ibotta, and utilize my credit cards wisely to take advantage of cash back options in order to get the lowest deal possible. I also take surveys and try to use every dollar I make toward saving. I also use apps like Acorns and SoFi to invest. I have 3 savings accounts, a Roth 401k, an HSA (I am investing with that, too). I'm divvying out my money in a bunch of different savings/investing places, and I don't see much movement. I feel like I'm going to be stuck on this hamster wheel of the 9-5 until I'm 65 and not be able to enjoy these years doing what I love to do without the stress.



I would love to achieve FIRE in 8 years, but I feel like even if I save 100% of my paycheck, that won't be possible (I can't anyway, as I need to use a good chunk of it for bills).



I happened upon this community because I literally Googled 'how to not be stressed on Sunday nights'. I'm really grateful that I found it, and I hope that I will be able to connect with other single, mid/late 30 year olds who are in this same situation, or are on their way to achieving FIRE in a short period of time.



Thank you so much!


So you want to know the secret to being able to retire early? The secret is.... there is no secret.
It basically comes down to two things... how much income do you need to live on, and how much of a nest egg (cash or investments of some sort), will you have to fund it?
I was fortunate that many years ago, I went to engineering school, and have always been frugal. That combination over 20 + years has put me in a position that I can probably retire the way I want to at around 55. I use a great free app called “personal capital” and I discovered that I am spending around 50k a year. So with 2.5 million by the time I am 55(which looks possible) at a withdraw rate of 4% (fairly easy to make that in profit on the nest egg every year), is 100k a year. And by that time I will have no debt at all. That is living expenses, plus a very large safety margin (still an engineer, we like margin).

The point is.... this is what works for me. And I needed 20+ years of saving and working to make that happen. My approach is fairly conservative, you do not have to be. You could decide to live on much less, or you will have to work more years.
There is no way to shortcut life. There is always a price to pay. Either time, or money, and sometimes both. There are rare YouTubers, sports stars, a few book authors, etc, that get away with punching out way early. But generally life does not happen that way.

So if you HAVE to work, at least pick something that is mostly enjoyable to you most of the time, pays a decent wage, and plan your future. There is nothing worthwhile in life that comes without a bit of stress. All of the friends that you mentioned have a “hobby” not a career.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:49 PM   #10
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Welcome.

What you read on the internet is often a lie... trust me on this.

To achieve FIRE in a short time, there are only a few ways.
Win a big lottery.
Borrow $100,000 go Vegas and put it all on 1 number for 1 spin, and win.
Write a book series as successful as Harry Potter.
Marry a stupid but very rich person and divorce them.
Nonsense. I had very little in assets after my divorce at age 33. By age 39, I was FI, mostly from employee stock options with a very successful tech company, combined with keeping a pretty frugal lifestyle even as my salary rose and bonuses came in. All I had to do was to exercise all of the stock options, and diversify.

But I didn't, and the bubble burst, and it was another 10 years before I actually FIRED.

I know a couple other guys who started their own company and FIREd early.
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Old 02-10-2020, 09:37 PM   #11
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I guess the "Stock options" scenario would be The Vegas (b) option


I was done with it at 38 but I did 20 yrs in the military. When people ask me how I was able to stop working at 38 I tell them: All I know how to do is eat stih and start early. Not a "fat fire" but I have always been "FI" with a ton of extra money on the side due to saving, saving, and SAVING!. Depends on what lifestyle / standard of living you find acceptable.


Other than that and getting the right degree so you can make a lot of bread right out of college and basically knowing you are going to RE and work specifically towards that end, it's extremely hard to do it as an "off the rack" worker-bee.

Those degrees would be, as show up here a lot, engineering. Business. Those Wall Street bond trader types, not people who are office managers and mid level managers for other businesses. They are "career people." There are probably a few others. Leaving out medicine and law here. The career timelines and type of people who go into that are not really "retire at 35" kind of people.
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MarieL View Post
I came late in the game when it came to learning about financial independence. Like many people, it was ingrained in my mind that I had to work until I was 65+. Well, as of last year, I learned about the FIRE movement, and I have been trying to get my finances in order. But I'm feeling so discouraged that I won't be able to achieve FIRE for many, many years :/

One of the things I love to do is write books. It's my main side hustle. I see so many of my peers quitting their jobs and writing for a living, pretty much living financially free doing what they love. I want to do that, too. But a lot of them have spouses/partners who work, so technically, they have some cushion of extra income coming in on those lean months where the writing business my not pay off.
I've listened to a lot of podcasts and read blogs about people who achieved FIRE, but pretty much all of the success stories involved a married couple, so at least one person was working while the other one was doing a side hustle to reach FIRE faster.

I would like to hear more success stories from single people who are in their mid/late 30s who achieved FIRE by themselves, all alone. Is it possible? I mean, seriously. I want to know how many years I'm looking at to be able to retire early. I'm sure people will think single people have it easy, because it's just me I have to worry about, so it's less expensive, but really, it's not. I have bills, a mortgage, and expenses like gas, food, utilities, etc., too. And, no, I can't just live in my parents' basement, like one success story I read about.

I clip coupons, use rebate apps like ibotta, and utilize my credit cards wisely to take advantage of cash back options in order to get the lowest deal possible. I also take surveys and try to use every dollar I make toward saving. I also use apps like Acorns and SoFi to invest. I have 3 savings accounts, a Roth 401k, an HSA (I am investing with that, too). I'm divvying out my money in a bunch of different savings/investing places, and I don't see much movement. I feel like I'm going to be stuck on this hamster wheel of the 9-5 until I'm 65 and not be able to enjoy these years doing what I love to do without the stress.

I would love to achieve FIRE in 8 years, but I feel like even if I save 100% of my paycheck, that won't be possible (I can't anyway, as I need to use a good chunk of it for bills).

I happened upon this community because I literally Googled 'how to not be stressed on Sunday nights'. I'm really grateful that I found it, and I hope that I will be able to connect with other single, mid/late 30 year olds who are in this same situation, or are on their way to achieving FIRE in a short period of time.

Thank you so much!
MarieL, I am single, no kids, 56, retired at 45, began looking at ER in my late 30s. I live in a small apartment in a well run co-op in a rather HCOL area (Long Island, NY) which I paid off at 35, 9 years after I bought the place. I worked full-time for 16 years before switching to part-time for 7 more years. My annual wage income never exceeded $75k. I am hardly extravagant. I bought 2 low-end cars in the last 28 years. My big financial break was my employer's company stock being worth $300k when I left in 2008. If I stayed there, it would be worth well over $1M now. Retiring during the near-depth of the 2008-09 recession helped me out a lot, giving me a nice boost as I entered ER which helps me today.

As my signature line says, "No kids, no debts."
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Old 02-10-2020, 11:27 PM   #13
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Without even knowing it, razztazz summarized me nearly to a T, lol.

I’m an engineer in my early thirties, recently married. If I had stayed single I could be FIREd in a few years. Now that we’re planning to start a family it’s been pushed out a few years, but FIRE at 45 is extremely achievable (read: our goal). Even with the ability to retire at 45 I doubt that we will just stop working, since we both enjoy our careers. It’s much more likely that we’ll consult, or stay at our jobs and take “nicer” vacations.

That path has been reasonably simple. I just “paid myself first” by depositing at least 15% in my 401k (plus employer match) each pay cycle ( have been maxing 401k/HSA for the last 5+ years), investing in taxable stocks /bonds, and living below our means. We drive newish American made cars, and I’ve owned my own house since I was 27 or 28.

We both paid for our undergrad educations entirely by ourselves (less grants/scholarships) through private / public loans.

I guess compounding interest really does work....
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Old 02-11-2020, 06:02 AM   #14
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I was married, but for much of the time DW did not work. When she was working, she never made more than 10% if what I did, so it was not much of a contribution to retirement. I RE'd at 57 after 34 years at a Megacorp, and we can spend all we want to at 2.5-3% WR plus a small pension.
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Old 02-11-2020, 06:32 AM   #15
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MarieL, I am single, no kids, 56, retired at 45, began looking at ER in my late 30s. I live in a small apartment in a well run co-op in a rather HCOL area (Long Island, NY) which I paid off at 35, 9 years after I bought the place. I worked full-time for 16 years before switching to part-time for 7 more years. My annual wage income never exceeded $75k. I am hardly extravagant. I bought 2 low-end cars in the last 28 years. My big financial break was my employer's company stock being worth $300k when I left in 2008. If I stayed there, it would be worth well over $1M now. Retiring during the near-depth of the 2008-09 recession helped me out a lot, giving me a nice boost as I entered ER which helps me today.

As my signature line says, "No kids, no debts."

Thank you for this. This is great, and congratulations on reaching FIRE! I currently work in the tech industry, and don't make more than $70k/yr, so I guess I am in a similar financial situation as you were. I'm glad to know that this is possible. I've bought 1 cheap car about 7 years ago, and I'm running it to the ground with my long commuting to work, and I'm hoping I don't have to buy another anytime soon. It already has about 220k miles on it. This tax season will help me out a lot with paying off pretty much all of my remaining debts except my mortgage.

I'm doing stocks, though I'm not as knowledgeable about them, other than everyone who has FIREd keeps saying to use Vanguard and put all your contributions to index/mutual funds like VTSAX. I use other investing apps like Acorns, SoFi, and my HSA, which I contribute to all Vanguard/VTSAX-equivalent stocks that are available at those places. I have a Roth 401k, which I am contributing 15% of my paycheck right now, but hope to increase that after this tax season

We had a financial advisor come to our workplace and talk to us about our HSAs, and he did mention that people were retiring early in their 30s/40s, but said so in a joking way like it was utterly ridiculous. Even people in the room were astounded. So I wanted to talk to him about which places to allocate my HSA contributions because I was planning on retiring by 45 or so, and he just looked at me funny like I was from another planet. Needless to say, I had to take his financial advice with a grain of salt after that. I thought financial advisors could help with this, but I've learned more about this stuff online than a financial advisor could tell me...

I'm glad to know there is still hope for someone like me!
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:06 AM   #16
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I want to know how many years I'm looking at to be able to retire early.
It might be easier to consider semi-retiring early (SRE). SRE would free up more time to pursue the activities you currently have trouble squeezing into a life mostly spent running frantically on the corporate hamster wheel. In SRE, you would still have some earned income, but possibly much less than during your working years. What might your SRE gig look like? Don't know - could be anything.

When I was your age, I regularly browsed a businesses-for-sale website just for fun. I never did purchase an established business as my get-out-of-corporate-jail card, but it was fun (and therapeutic) to dream.

Good luck!
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:08 AM   #17
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Marie; Once you've been reading this forum for a while or Bogleheads you'll realize that there is a pretty standard formula. Save up 25 times your current annual expenses and then you can retire. The higher your annual savings rate, the faster you'll get there. Invest those savings in low cost index funds allocated to your risk profile. If you can save 30% of your annual income you should see slow but steady progress. To the extent that you can regularly save more than 30% of your income you'll accelerate your progress. Have you calculated your annual expenses yet? That would be a very good first step to help you see the big picture. Once you know that number plug your info into firecalc and see what you come up with.
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Old 02-11-2020, 07:21 AM   #18
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... Save up 25 times your current annual expenses and then you can retire. ...
I think a lot of people here wouldn't recommend 25X for someone looking to retire before 40. You're looking at a potentially very long retirement. 30-33X would be safer, giving you a ~ 3 to 3.5% WR.

And it's not based on current annual expenses. It should be based on estimated retirement expenses. Medical insurance and expenses can be a biggie. Some spend more on hobbies and travel, while spending less on commuting and work clothes. Taxes have to be considered now that they aren't withheld from a paycheck.
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Old 02-11-2020, 08:49 AM   #19
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Is it really impossible for a single, no-kids person like me to achieve FI? I just want to know if I'm really trying to achieve a hopeless dream.
Being a single, no-kids person gives you a big financial advantage, I think.

I've never married, have no children, retired at the age of 48. I have friends who had kids later in life and now they joke that they'll be working until they're 85. I admit that I was lucky to have had a job that I enjoyed (for a while), and I always earned far more than I needed to live on. So I diligently socked away money in the company 401k, and in some other not-so-great investments though my bank. In hindsight, if I had paid more attention to my investments, I probably could have retired sooner. It sounds like you are on the right track though. Just follow the Bogleheads philosophy of investments, try to understand why you're investing in something as opposed to blindly following someone else's advice, and you should do ok.

In case you haven't found this already (you probably have):

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Getting_started
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:18 AM   #20
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I think a lot of people here wouldn't recommend 25X for someone looking to retire before 40. You're looking at a potentially very long retirement. 30-33X would be safer, giving you a ~ 3 to 3.5% WR.

And it's not based on current annual expenses. It should be based on estimated retirement expenses. Medical insurance and expenses can be a biggie. Some spend more on hobbies and travel, while spending less on commuting and work clothes. Taxes have to be considered now that they aren't withheld from a paycheck.

I don't disagree, but having a minimum goal would help to focus the OP and provide some encouragement as she progresses along that path.
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