21 December 2012

Lighting the FIRE

So one part of the reason I have this blog is to chronicle my journey towards FIRE--Financial Independence/Retiring Early. I've always had a goal of retiring by time I'm 40 since my mid-teen years. However, I will be the first to admit that my goal planning since that time has been lackluster at best, with only varying degrees of success. As a result, my plan (or lack thereof) has suffered a setback of almost 10 years.

One of my current two jobs was actually my first job. I got it during my senior year of high school. They were very gracious to me when I went out-of-state for my freshman year of college and kept me on staff to work during holidays. After freshman year, I returned home and started working it full-time, which I've been doing since 2006. All through college, I juggled school and work in a delicate balancing act that continues to this day. Yet, despite six years of full-time work, I don't have very much to show for it.

If I had read ERE six years earlier, I could be very close to financial independence at approximately last year's pay level. I very possibly could have even done it faster than he was able to due to some rather big advantages I've had available to me that will become known over time. Instead, I have several credit cards, a student loan (repayments finally starting today), and a car loan all calling my name once every four weeks. They're holdovers from when I was still under the impression that I could get a decent means of a quick payoff after graduation.

Thankfully, I ended up not following that path. I say thankfully because due to my field of study and interests when I entered college, I probably would've ended up in quite the bind many other people did: graduated, got a "good" job, then the tanking economy took their job. They're now stuck with middle-class expenses on decidedly underclass wages (or maybe none at all). So based on my past spending trends, I almost certainly have gone through an even bigger lifestyle inflation period than I did and possibly ended up in a similar situation. I dodged that bullet.

I am now working diligently to unravel the mess that I created for myself due to my lack of foresight and just general apathy. I hope to have everything paid off within a year, at which point I can get serious about building up my income-producing assets. While a bit short of Drake, I'd like to at least not owe 25 mil (in pennies) by time I turn 26, in just over 13 months. That's a goal that, barring any extreme circumstances, will be reached. It's a journey I'm inviting you all to join with me and I would encourage you to take for yourself, especially if you have a family depending on you. I've had a glimpse of the feeling of knowing that life is not critically dependent on going to work each and every single day and I won't stop until I've achieved that for myself.

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