The Initial Shock

So, you’re doing it, you’re finally deciding to leave the steady, but maybe draining job that you’ve been working in for countless years. It’s not an easy decision to leave. You might be afraid of how you’re going to afford this. You may be Financially Independent, but even if that is the case, it’s still so difficult to walk away from that steady paycheck and enter the strange world that others haven’t dared to go, and you want to RESET EARLY. Let’s face it, if you’re at this point and you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you aren’t really retiring in the traditional sense. You’re just going through the next life transition and your next goal is just not financially driven. What does one do with their lives as you make a decision on what comes after financial independence?

A bit about me: I hit financial independence (or at least a lean FI) at 30. I was lucky to experience so much in my 20s, like graduating with an engineering degree, participating in a rotational development program in big corporate America, and eventually landing what I thought was a dream job as an expat in Brazil. Even with accomplishing so many of those milestones, I was still lost along the way. I still questioned what was next in my first couple of years after college. Sadly, the next milestone that seemed accomplishable and fully within my control was retirement, but I was thinking this was something for people who were in their 60s. Little did I realize I’d make it to my financial goals when I was half that age. Now I’ve been back in the US for a year and COVID is what brought me back to the states. I landed another job that some might consider a dream job, but it wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be free and travel, but also with this it’s discovering what comes next and who I want to be, what will my life purpose be.

Some people tell me how awesome it is to be at 31 and making the decision of being able to retire early, the world is my oyster, I can do anything. But hearing the words “I CAN DO ANYTHING” sounds a bit dreadful. There are no constraints, I am happy to pick up my life and move it. Across the country, no problem. Internationally, I’d love to. But even that all comes with complications. If you don’t have a home base or somewhere or someone or something pulling you back to an area: Where do you choose? What do you do?

These are the questions I’m currently exploring. The fantastic situation that others may only dream of. But with that comes so many unknowns. What challenges will I face? Needing healthcare, needing to be responsible for things that the work or others helped me with, where does one live and how do they plan a nomadic lifestyle, if that’s what they choose.

Let’s start with some basics that most members of the F.I.R.E. community will already know: Have you saved enough money in order to live this lifestyle without having to return to work? This is a fairly simple calculate, assuming you know how much you spend a year. 25x your annual expenses. So if you spend $40k per year, you need a $1 million net worth. Do you already have 25x you annual expenses saved? AWESOME. Are you afraid you won’t be able to live on this for the rest of your life? Some of this fear can be dissolved. If you’re retiring in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you had a marketable skill in the past and if you needed to go back to a job or do a side hustle or part time work, you’ll probably be finding something that will make you money in the next couple decades to help fill in the gap that may exist.

The next complicated financial decision is how can you make this budget last? I never was strong at building and sticking to a budget. I am much better at the optimization route which is deciding what I want to do and then figuring out how to make it work with a balance between living my life to the fullest and doing the activities in life that interest me. It’s gotten me to where I am at this point, but will it get me through this next transition where I stop having income coming in?  Honestly, I’m not sure how I’m going to get through with budgeting. It will probably be a challenge and it may involve a combination of vanlife, monthly airbnb rentals, and being able to stay with awesome family and friends across the globe.

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