There are several ways of achieving financial independence but today I want to go over my approach, which is the FIT FIRE Strategy.
In my opinion, the FIT FIRE Strategy is the easiest and most direct way of achieving financial independence and early retirement.
Before I go into the categories I would like to say that I find this strategy to be the easiest path to FIRE, but I know it’s not for everyone.
However, I believe this strategy can help simplify the process and put your mind at ease. Achieving financial independence shouldn’t be hard; it just takes the right strategy and patience.
I hope I can help with the strategy part.
So here is my FIT FIRE Strategy for pursuing financial independence:
FIT FIRE Strategy (Frugality)
The first part of my FIT FIRE Strategy is to embrace Frugality.
Frugality is an important part for those looking to achieve financial independence.
Now, being frugal can mean different things for different people.
For some people, being frugal means not adding guac when they go to Chipotle. While for others being frugal means not going to Chipotle at all and making their burrito at home.
There is no level of frugality that will be appropriate for everyone. With that being said, I believe finding your version of frugality is the best way to begin your FIRE journey.
Why Is Frugality The First Step Towards FIRE?
By developing a frugal mindset you won’t need as much money to support your lifestyle. This results in less money you have to accumulate to reach your Financial Independence (FI) Number.
So by lowering your expenses, you can get to FIRE quicker, which is extremely motivating to start the journey.
Secondly, a frugal mindset helps you feel satisfied with life’s simple pleasures. Happiness will ultimately come from achievements, experiences, or time spent with family instead of from purchasing items with a high price tag.
This leads to a more fulfilled life even with fewer material things.
Lastly, cutting expenses is easier for most to implement right away. By embracing frugality you can start seeing results quickly.
You can significantly lower your electric bill for years to come by simply switching the light bulbs around your house to LED bulbs.
A funny thing also happens by cutting expenses which I like to call Frugal FIRE Math.
What Is Frugal FIRE Math?
Frugal FIRE Math says that for every $1 you cut from your recurring expenses you save yourself from accumulating $25 in your investments. This is because most of us plan to use the 4% rule for early retirement.
Another way to think about it is:
4% of $25 = $1
Therefore, if you don’t need that extra dollar every year, then you will no longer need the $25 in your investment account.
It can be exciting to see how your Financial Independence (FI) date grows closer with the more expenses you can cut.
Eventually, you will reach a point when cutting more expenses begins to hurt or feel like deprivation. There may simply be no more expenses to cut, so you will have to focus on the next part of the FIT FIRE Strategy.
FIT FIRE Strategy (Increase Your Income)
Increasing your income is the next logical step, that’s why it’s the I in the FIT FIRE Strategy.
This step can be more challenging and that’s why I recommended for most start by embracing frugality.
However, what makes this interesting is that there are so many ways to achieve this step. There is also no limit to how much money you can earn.
The hard part about this step is that there are people everywhere telling you how to make more money. So you need to do your research and challenge yourself into finding proven ways of increasing your income.
To help you stay away from scams, I would recommend focusing on slowly earning more.
If someone is advertising that you can make money quickly and easily, then you should probably stay away. This step will not happen overnight and will take dedication.
Here are some examples with valuable resources:
- Real Estate (Bigger Pockets)
- How To Save $1,000 a Month: 10 Actionable Steps
- Build A Business
- Start A Website (Easiest & Fastest Hosting)
- Side Hustles (Even weird side hustles would work)
- Create an Ebook
- Getting A Degree With A High Return On Investment (Investopedia)
Even though it’s hard, this is a crucial step in the FIT FIRE Strategy and one that you should not overlook. I am personally doing consulting work as my side hustle.
All the extra income goes towards further paying down my student loan debt.
Unlike frugality, you don’t have to stop once you reach a certain amount. That’s the beauty of this step, there is unlimited potential.
This next part should be done WHILE you are embracing frugality and increasing your income.
FIT FIRE Strategy: (Total Stock Market)
Investing in the Total Stock Market is the final step in the FIT FIRE Strategy.
I will admit the T standing for the Total Stock Market was not my idea. It came from Nick over at FireTheFamily. He and I had a discussion around key concepts in the FIRE community which led me to find his B.E.S.T Method for Financial Independence.
It’s a fantastic concept and I highly recommend you take a look at it as well.
The reason why I came up with the FIT FIRE Strategy is that this is exactly how I’ve been pursuing financial independence.
I was never good at budgeting so I decided to Optimize My Finances differently:
- Embrace frugality to lower my recurring expenses
- Pay yourself first using payroll deductions and automatic transfers
- Increase income
- Continuously invest in the total stock market
You can invest in the total stock market in a variety of ways including the FIRE community’s favorite index fund VTSAX or the ETF version VTI.
However, by no means are those the only options.
You can complete this step as long as you are investing regularly in a low fee, passive index fund, that tracks the broad stock market or the S&P 500.
Check Out The Best Order For Funding Your Retirement Accounts
This is what has worked for me and I’ve found the FIT FIRE Strategy to be the simplest way of reaching financial independence and early retirement.
Once you start approaching your FI Number you can begin strategizing your early retirement with tools like the Roth Conversion Ladder and my Roth Conversion Ladder Spreadsheet.
Until then sit back, relax, and enjoy the FIRE journey!
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This information is my opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.