My dad died in August. He was one of the most respected civil engineers in Florida in the 80s and 90s; he was a master bridge player; he had a keen eye for stocks with great potential. (Although I thought he was crazy for being so high on Apple in the early 2000s – who would pay so much for an overpriced music player?!?!)
He should have died a multi-millionaire.
Instead, he checked out with $473 in his bank account, a shelf full of tar- and nicotine-stained books, and a $6000 funeral policy that did not cover the cost of the funeral.
Not to mention the IRS liens, unpaid alimony and child support, and untold hundreds of thousands (if not a cool million) donated to the casinos. He never put money in a retirement account.
I loved him, but sometimes loving him was like hugging a porcupine. I’ll be talking more about him in upcoming posts.
You Can’t FIRE at 30!
Ever since one of my former students asked me in 2013 if I had ever heard of Mr. Money Mustache (what?!?! No one can retire at thirty! Let me check that out that load of BS – forgetting that my great uncle had done it), I’ve been hooked on the idea of FIRE. As is too often the case, the execution hasn’t matched the ideal.
But with a third child on the way, and me in my early 40s and not wanting to spend the next twenty years banging away at a keyboard in a windowless office (at least it’s not a cubicle?), I am renewing my efforts to move more quickly to financial independence, and ultimately an early retirement.
My kids are 6, 3, and 1 month away from being born. I want to ride my bike with my kids to school. Volunteer in the classroom. Take long road trips throughout the US. Visit with family and friends around the world during school breaks. Putter and tinker. My wife loves her job and wants to keep doing it forever. I want the freedom.
I can tell you right now that we will never be as amazingly frugal as MMM or the Frugalwoods, so maybe no leanFIRE. It won’t be fatFIRE either, because we don’t spend THAT much. Maybe dad-bodFIRE is more applicable? A little paunchy around the middle but not too far out of shape? A bit like me. I like it.
We’re going to do it in five years
The recipe is simple, and well worn: We’re going to spend less, make more money, and invest more. What’s the general plan?
- Moving towards a simpler diet, eating lower down the food chain. Not that we’re giving up meat, but we’ll eat less of it. The Blue Zones research also indicates that such a diet is also associated with longer life.
- Reviewing spending month to month as a couple. I’ve been doing this on my own for awhile, but we haven’t done it together. Looking to see which spending was necessary and was worthy of our life energy, and which spending was bollocks.
- We’re also going to spend less time – on things that don’t matter. Simplifying parts of our life. Too much life detritus and other accumulation just drags us down.
- Actually getting my side hustles off the ground: the biggest one is data sales (selling publicly available data in an easily downloadable and analyzable form). As a full time data jockey I can tell you there are many times it would have been worth our while just to buy the data instead of me downloading and cleaning – if anyone were selling it. And yeah, I have been chewing on this for awhile.
- Tradelines! What the hell is a tradeline? In short, it’s your credit card. And you can contract with companies for them to sell your authorized user slots. I make between $100 and $250 per authorized user (depending on age of account and credit line). Shoutout to Ed at the Millionaire Educator for turning me on to this at FinCon 2018. If this sounds like a load of BS to you (I was skeptical at first, and Mrs. FireReadyAim was even more so) check out what the Wealthy Accountant has to say.
- This means maxing out my 457(b) again, and switching my wife’s contributions from a 403(b) to a 457(b) AND switching providers. Right now her fees are horrible – the relatively high fees of her fund options PLUS that 1% annuity fee. We found an outfit that offers fees in the 0.55% range, total, from TIAA-CREF. That’s not wonderful, but it’s the best we’ve got.
- Piling money in the 401(k) solo, checkbook control account. This will come as the side income comes pouring in (we hope, right?). With checkbook control we can invest in more than just stocks, bonds, ETFS, etc. We have already invested in private-issue stock in a friend’s startup, and we’d like to have money to invest in real estate once the market turns again (as it will).
In addition, I’ll talk about some DIY house hacks that we are using to lower our electric bill and increase indoor air quality. Painless ways we save on normal purchases. Our struggles with budgeting. In every post I hope to give something that you can use to improve your life. If nothing else, I hope my dry sense of humor will win you over. The plan is post 2-3 times per week.
So at any rate, we’re not perfect, but we’re striving. We don’t always do things in the right order at the right time – hence FIRE READY AIM – but we’re moving (mostly) forward. I hope you’ll join us.