Step 1: Start on your path to FIRE: Decide that you are going to be financially independent

The vast majority of the population will not reach financial independence. I wish they would, but they are not going to make the choices necessary to reach FI.

COLLIN HARNESS

Because Financial Independence takes carefully planning, sacrifice and hard work. It does not happen overnight. Most people are not going to have the discipline to reach FI or life is going to get in the way and throw them off track.

This is why you have to decide that you are going to be financially independent and then walk the walk. Have a plan and make those tough choices.

Why do you want to be financially independent?

You need to get real with yourself. Write down the reasons that you want to be free. And they need to be compelling. So compelling that when hard times hit your life you remember the reason for walking this path and stay the course.

Why do I want to be financially independent?

Rock bottom. Everyone has some type of rock bottom that happens in their life. A time when you feel like you being hit over and over. Mine happened several years after college.

My grandmother died, I lost my job and then my boyfriend broke up with me. Since we lived together and he was moving away I could no longer afford the rent payments on the condo. I was homeless and heartbroken and did not have a job.

How do you come back from something like that?

Slowly and one choice at a time.

You must be brutally honest with yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and love yourself despite all of your flaws.

And then have the desire and drive to change your life.

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It is always a good idea to meet new people. Even if you think you have enough friends and family in your life, you still need to meet new people. Grow that network. That is how you are going to find that next job or customer or best friend.

Everyday I went out and did something different. A new coffee shop, gym, volunteer group. What brought you where you are is not going to get you to where you want to go.

There are several lessons that I learned from that experience that directly apply to financial independence. And here they are:

  1. Meet new people
  2. Stretch your limitations
  3. Learn new things
  4. Be proactive

Mindset is everything when it comes to getting rich. You have to believe that it is possible for you to become rich. You have to block out all of the negative thoughts and energy that are preventing you from becoming rich.

For me this is directly related to my parents. My parents were obsessed with me getting a government job. Because they believed that was safe and reliable with benefits. Screw a high salary or entrepreneurship, the ultimate goal was a safe and secure job that would always be there for you. But I wanted more. Safety and security was not my dream. It was their dream. Going through life I would always ask myself do I do what I want to do or do I listen to my parents. And then finally one my life fell apart.

You should listen to your parents and respect everything they say. But that does not mean that you have to do everything they say. You can have the right to listen to what people have to say and then make your own decision.

Do not let the fear of other people stop you from becoming financially independent.

There will always be people that are skeptical of you. Don’t believe you. Do not share your vision. Are not willing to do the work.

Focus on your financial mission statement.

This is where YOU are going. They are going walking your path. They may be likeminded, walking a similar path, but we are each individuals.

What are your principles?

Principles are beliefs that govern one’s behaviors.

Define them.

It is hard to become financially independent when you make decisions based on emotions. One day the market is up and the next day it is down. Today you feel like investing tomorrow you feel like shopping.

Principals are set in stone. You change. Principals stay the same and stand the test of time. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

It is much better to make decisions based on your principles rather than your emotions in the market. You will remember where you want to go rather than where you are in the moment. Wealth is build over time by making smart decisions over and over. This is why people automate their investing. They make the decision once to invest based on their future goals and then they take their emotions out of the equation.

Ex of principles:

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated
  • Treat everyone with dignity
  • Respect the environment
  • Give to those less fortunate than yourself
  • Do not steal
  • Voting matters
  • Be optimistic

Define your principles however you want and then revisit them when making decisions. Does your decision meet the standards set by your principles?

Do your research

Before you decide to pursue financial independence do your research. It is not for everyone. So people will be miserable pursuing financial independence. It require time, planning and sacrifice.

Be proactive

This is one of the most important things I have had to learn. You have to make things happen. You cannot sit around and wait for things to happen to you.

Time in the market is vital to wealth creation. You need to start now and then you can work on growth and optimization. Just like practicing a sport or instrument you will get better over time. but if you sit around and wait for things to happen or for the perfect time to enter the market, it will never come and you will have missed out on the opportunities available.

You will get more satisfaction from experiences than stuff

Shopping for things is like a drug, it gives you a momentary high and then the pleasure of the item wears off. Even a really nice car loses its splendor after a while. But experiences are different. You have found memories of them. You look forward to sharing them with others. They teach you something. They stretch your ability to try new things.

I will never forget seeing Mt. Rushmore or visiting the Koalas in Australia.

Imagine having the financial freedom to book a flight whenever you want and go anywhere in the world. Many people have made this a reality using credit card points.

Credit cards are not evil. It is all about how you use them. There are also so many ways to travel for less and get more out of your travel experiences. All debt is not bad debt. But you need to understand the difference between the two so you do not end up in personal credit card debt. That is a trap is very difficult to get out of.

Keep educating yourself

Your are never finished learning. There is always a way to become better at your craft. Earn more money. Create something new. Learn something new. Learn more about yourself.

Education is going to be the key to reaching financial independence. There are so many different facets of FIRE to learn about and explore. Ways to improve the quality of your life. I will do my best to teach you as much as I know about FI topics.

The best way I have found to learn is through reading what others have learned and then connecting with likeminded people and hearing their stories.

You can have so many mentors online in person that will teach you how to succeed in this community.

Take control of your life

Financial independence is about breaking those chains. Not being tied to a job that you do not love. Or maybe you love your job, but you are burned out and you need a break.

This is the real reason that I started on my FI journey. I was tired of life happening to me. Tired of being a passive spectator in my own life. I wanted to have more fun, travel, freedom, choice. Make the choice to take responsibility for the choices you make and the way that your life looks.

It is a practice

Financial independence is a daily, lifetime practice. Even when have hit your FI number you are still going to have dreams and ambitions that you want to fulfill and these practices can help you achieve them.

I am still on my journey. My nest egg is slowly growing and it will be years before I hit my FI number. But I love my life. It has gotten so much better since I started implementing these exercises. I refuse to go back to being homeless and blaming my life circumstances on all the external things I could not control.

Now, I have given you a lot things to think about in this article. If you are still on the fence about financial independence or you want dive deeper into the community, let me give you some more resources to check out.

Here is a great article from Millenial Money to get you started on your FIRE journey:
THE FIRE MOVEMENT | FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE RETIRE EARLY!

Here is a beginner’s guide from ChooseFI:
Beginner’s Guide To Reaching Financial Independence

Here is a great Article from Playing With Fire:
How to reach Financial Independence


Here are the first action steps that I recommend you take on your financial independence retire early journey.

Action Steps:

  • Write down your financial mission statement. This is the reason that you are pursing financial independence. Make it as compelling as possible. Look at that reason each day to remind you what you are working toward.
  • Define your principles. Underneath your mission statement, write down your principles. Once you have determined your principles this will guide the decisions you make. Make your future decisions based on what you value rather than present emotions.
  • Start developing your financial independence mindset. Read about and connect with like minded people that are pursuing the same goals as you. Review the negative beliefs that have held you back. Start creating new truths about where you want to go.

I recommend that you take these steps and start on your journey. I started more than 4 years ago and my life has dramatically changed for the better.

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Once you have completed the action steps you are ready for
Step 2: Determining where you are right now

In the next step we go over getting out of personal debt, your emergency fund and tracking your net worth. You will begin to see your money grow. You will establish the tangible foundation for a lifetime of growing wealth.

Published by Collin Harness

Obsessed with creating value and helping people achieve financial independence.

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