FIRE By 50… Starting at Age 40

Can it be done?

I had never heard of FI or FIRE until just before I turned 40 years old. At that point, I didn’t consider it a possibility for me and my family. I was turning FORTY. I was a stay-at-home mom. We have 4 children. We love to travel. Plus, my husband and I had recently chosen to move to an area with an esteemed school district and elevated home prices to match.

FIRE was not in our cards.

However, hearing about this movement and the different paths people chose to reach financial independence piqued my interest in a way that money and finances never had in the past. Money was simply a means to gain possessions, feed our family, and to pay for vacations. I had never considered money as a path to freedom….

But once my eyes were awakened to this idea, my brain couldn’t shut off. I made a list of books to read and devoured them quickly, often calling my husband mid-day, excitedly sharing new tidbits or strategies I had learned. I started binging podcast episodes and blogs during every free moment I had. I spent hours and hours learning. There seemed to be no end to the ideas and creative ways to completely change my life through better money management.

When it finally set in that maybe we could forge our own path to financial independence despite the obstacles I saw in our way, I scribbled down a list of requirements to get us to FI(RE) at 50. With that list staring me in the face, I was again inclined to say, “This isn’t in our cards.” But something stronger was tugging hard at me. It was an adorable toddler with bright blue eyes and blonde hair who was born with an innate spirit of adventure and risk-taking. As he tugged on my arm to lift him in my lap, I looked at that list in a whole new light. The fire in my belly surged and the smile on my face widened. I looked my baby boy in the eye and announced, “We’re going for it!”

Goals to reach FI by 50…

  1. Track spending every month and maintain an annual and monthly budget.
  2. Practice frugality consistently to decrease expenses and increase savings rate to at least 25%.
  3. Pay off debt (car loan) and don’t take on any new debt (outside of mortgage).
  4. Move savings/emergency fund to high yield savings account.
  5. Invest additional savings in Index Funds.
  6. Take part-time work for extra cash (me).
  7. Sell primary residence for profit and set aside funds for real estate investing.
  8. Buy new home with very low interest rate and in low tax rate neighborhood in same school district.
  9. Purchase 1-2 cash-flowing rental properties per year for the next ten years.
  10. Use equity or do cash-out refi of a few investment properties to fund college, technical education, or business start-up for each child.
  11. Continue to decrease expenses as first two children graduate, then sell/downgrade home and purchase one with cash or practice geographic arbitrage.
  12. Wes retires, and we live off of rental property income and investment dividends…

FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE!

As of today, September 11th of 2020, almost two years into our journey, we’ve accomplished the first 8 goals and started on #9. We’re in the process of purchasing our first long-term rental property. I never thought we’d be this far along in such a short time, but I also recognize that the last several goals will be the hardest, especially finding ways to fund multiple rental properties and learning how best to manage them. But we’ve made it this far, so there’s no turning back now. I hope this blog and my readers can help to keep me accountable. Please share what’s worked for you.

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Lao Tzu

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