Financial independence can be defined as having sufficient money (personal wealth) to live without having to work actively to cover necessities. For example, if you're making $2,000 on your investments and your living costs are only $1,500 a month, then you're financially independent. In other words, financial independence is the ultimate prize.
Redditors of all ages are more than happy to share their tips for how they made it to this point, which makes this a super-valuable resource for those who are curious and maybe a bit ambitious. Working towards financial independence is a daily task that can sometimes feel discouraging or downright stressful, depending on who you ask.
So, what's the driving force for Redditors who have found financial independence? We've collected their thoughts here for your inspirational pleasure:
1. Inspiration: Buy Time
For nope-nobody-ever, being financially independent allowed him to use money as a tool to buy time.
Money allowed him to do what he wanted whenever he wanted to do it. You can do this too by using money to buy convenience: if public transit is super slow in your city, you might save two hours in transit every day by buying a (reasonably priced) car. Or you could buy your own washer/dryer and save the two or more hours of doing laundry at the laundromat, which would open up your schedule to spend that time however you want.
He was also quick to point out that "For me, and probably most of my contemporaries, the FI [financial independence] thing wasn't ever a thing. We cared more about enjoying our lives in the moment. I happened to settle into a line of work that I liked without feeling the need to spend a ton on living expenses."
If you keep in mind one point from that quote, it should be that nope-nobody-ever didn't feel the need spend much on living expenses, instead prioritizing his savings. We can assume any desire to live in the moment was outweighed by his motivation to save for the future and enjoy his life.
By making wise choices and cutting unnecessary spending, you can find your own way to enjoy going at your pace, saving and using your money wisely rather than having the pace set by a boss or business owner.
2. Inspiration: Exit the Rat Race
A desire to retire early and leave the 9 to 5 behind forever was the inspiration BillyBetty needed to make a few changes in their lives.
BillyBetty are a couple in their mid 40's and have been modest in their spending over their working lives. Both worked jobs well into the six figures and kept their expenses at a level normal for people working for $60,000 salaries. They had modest cars and a small townhouse.
BillyBettt explains, "Our main driving force was the desire for freedom from the work schedule, we both have itchy feet and love being on the road experiencing new things. So we retired early and within six months had sold almost everything and were getting on a plane to Taiwan with a couple backpacks."
They left home two years ago and are now working their way through their third continent.
3. Inspiration: Become Your Own Person
A 49-year-old Redditor, ktappe, saw financial independence as an opportunity to build a better life for his family than the life his father had built for him as a child:
"I have always been a natural saver. When I was in grade school, I'd keep all my allowance in a little safe (complete with combination lock) in my room and always know exactly how much was in there. Nobody taught me any of this; I came up with it by myself because it just seemed natural. My dad was actually a spendthrift so we never had much money in the household, though we never hurt for food or clothes. He served as an example of how not to be, but I strongly suspect my penchant for savings is inherent and I'd have been like this no matter what".
4. Inspiration: Start an Emergency Fund
Now 58 years old, mohrme's journey to financial independence started with an emergency fund. He started saving with a "never again" emergency fund after an unexpected bill arrived on his doorstep and he had a major struggle to find the funds to cover it. After this stressful incident, the morhrme started a "never again" fund that grew into a retirement fund. His (initially) modest savings eventually grew into a "this is going to be a great retirement" fund. A few years later, it became a "retirement can happen now" fund.
Interesting, mohrme ended up retiring sooner than he had planned because his work became less and less enjoyable over time.
5. Inspiration: Retire Young
This advice comes from TotoroTomato, who is well on her way to financial independence in her early 30's!
"I think I was 29 [when] someone on the PF subreddit linked to MMM's shockingly simple math. I marathon read about half of all of his post history and then ran out if the bedroom with a feverish, crazy look (I am told) and yelled at my husband that we can retire in our 30's! It took a while for me to convince my husband on the math, particularly as he grew up poor and is concerned about ever not having enough, but he quickly got as into the dream as I did."
Although it took some serious number crunching, the two realised that they were already saving close to 50% of their income, and if they continued to do so, would be able to retire 20 years earlier than expected. Since then, they have seen increases in their salaries and are now saving 75%. They are looking to retire in a few short months and swing the work-life balance back towards life.
These are just five great examples of regular, every day stories from people who were able to achieve financial independence. Becoming financially independent will take some budgeting and spending cuts, and you will feel some growing pains along the way; but, if you ever need more inspiration or a bit of a push when things get tough, you can see more of their stories and some really insightful replies on the Reddit thread referenced in this article.
No matter what your financial situation is today, there are so many opportunities to move towards a more financially independent lifestyle. Start spending less and saving more, and you will be well on your way to financial independence in no time!