There are so many ways to reach financial independence. You don’t need to make millions to FI, anybody can reach barista FIRE in a few years. Climbing up the stages of FI with a simple nine to five and reaching financial freedom relatively quickly is possible. If you work a steady job with good security and simply save until your nest-egg is sufficient to support your expenses, you can retire early or move on to work on projects you enjoy. From the barista FIRE to fat FIRE, there are so many ways to reach financial independence.
If you save about half your salary, even with only minimal rises, it will take roughly 15 years before you could safely live off your investments given that your current annual expenses equal your annual expenses in retirement.
Of course, that is not the only wait to reach financial freedom, there are endless ways to live, and just as many ways to become financially free.
The Steady way to financial independence
The first way to get there is the regular nine to five. The Steady Worker is content with minimal rises, as long as his salary is keeping up with inflation. He is good at his job but never volunteers for overtime or extra projects. Even if he does not work any more than necessary since, even without big rises and promotions, he knows that he can reach his goals in a reasonable timeframe.
With a high savings-rate, this is a safe way to reach financial freedom, since he is less dependent on job switches, bonuses, or commissions. He knows that if he keeps on doing what he is doing, he is going to reach his goals no matter what.
The fast lane
On the other side of the employee spectrum, there is the Top Performer. He has big goals and works hard to reach them. Working at a company only one or two years before switching to the competition is something he often does to get big salary bumps. He is always kissing the bosses behinds to get that big promotion and maximizing his bonuses every year.
This might get him where he wants to be faster but it does demand a lot of him. His health might suffer, his career satisfaction might take a hit, but at least his income is increasing rapidly.
Changing companies often
increase total compensation
Changing companies often is a career risk.
It might get harder to find a new job
Being a Top Performer
can pay more
Being a Top Performer can get
exhausting and lead to burnouts
Chasing the next promotion
Chasing the next promotion can
get you in positions you dislike
Moving up quickly
Moving up quickly can lead to costly
mistakes due to lack of experience
In addition, the higher stress and high life might give rise to lifestyle inflation. Making a lot of money is great but he cannot attain his goals faster if he does not keep up his savings rate.
Like everything in life, a good balance needs to be attained here. If he wines and dines to schmooze or gets that nice fancy car to impress his boss, he is just turning in circles.
Building your own path to freedom
Now, if you are not the kind to work for the man, there is always the entrepreneurial way. The Entrepreneur works in his own business, building his empire, and hoping to strike it rich along the way. There is always the slight chance you get bought out by Google or, better yet, become the next Google but the traditional journey usually consists of very low income in the early days, until the business takes off.
He usually puts in a lot of hours and only sees considerable income once his business becomes profitable. He is confident that this is a great way to accelerate his earnings but there are much more risks involved than being a salaried worker. If he wants to minimize his risks, he can become a consultant and continue a job he was already paid to do in the past or he can start a business in a related field. He can also buy an existing business to start off profitable but this investment adds financial risks.
Finding a middle ground
To meet right in the middle, the Side Hustler keeps his salaried job and starts a small business on the side. He might be a blogger, Uber driver, Airbnb super host, or a custom-made hand-knitted sock seller on eBay but every month he is able to increase his net income with his side hustle. Since he has the security of a fixed paycheck and can take the risks his business needs to grow and succeed.
His workday might not be ideal, boring at times, but at least he can thrive on projects he is passionate about at night and earn a good side income while doing it. Over time, his side hustle might grow so much that the income generated from it surpasses his salary. At this point, he can choose to stop working his day job and become a full-time Entrepreneur.
The Side Hustler will reach his goals quicker than the Steady Worker but it does involve more hours of work and can involve some financial risks. At the end of it all though, he is more likely to enjoy a Barista FIRE type of retirement, where one still holds some kind of laidback job once reaching financial independence, since he has always been a busy bee.
The slow and steady path to the good life
Then, there is the Minimalist Worker. He does not want to accumulate huge wealth or retire early. The Minimalist Worker is happy with his simple lifestyle and enjoys his leisure time. He works part-time or a seasonal job and only earns enough to maintain his lifestyle. Even if he does not have the option to stop working anytime soon, he still enjoys a life of leisure all through his working career. This is a great way to enjoy the Now rather than putting things off to years later.
Knowing when enough is enough
Another version of this lifestyle is the Glider. He has a high-paying job and works hard, early on in his career, until he has a sufficient cushion to glide until retirement while working part-time or a job he truly loves even if it does not pay as much.
Often referred as reaching Barista financial independence (Barista FI, or FIRE), the Glider has the safety of a good nest-egg, even if it is not enough to fully sustain his lifestyle, so he can relax and enjoy a less-demanding career until he finally reaches his goals.
Even if he stops contributing to his nest-egg, it will continue to grow since he is staying investing and not withdrawing anything just yet.
Finally, the Gaper works and enjoys taking multiple mini-retirements all through his career. He is working only for a few years or months, and then taking some time off for another few months or years before returning to full-time employment.
By using his savings to enjoy time off he is missing out on most of the compounding his wealth would have enjoyed otherwise. However, this small sacrifice allows him to enjoy life while he is young.
In addition, these gap years makes him enjoy his job even more and might even save him from burnouts. It can be difficult to find employment after a long-term leave in certain fields but the rewards can be life-changing.
Whichever way works for you is amazing! We all have our own path to financial independence and they all lead to similar outcomes. As long as you take the time to enjoy the journey and enjoy life. 🙂
Do you have another way to do it? Share it along.