Although I was really “gung-ho” last month, focusing a large amount of effort on achieving financial independence is well…exhausting. I am finding it difficult to keep up with:
- tracking and lowering our monthly spending
- paying off debt at an accelerated pace
- attempting to increase income via side hustles (and tracking that too!)
“Lowering monthly spending” is at the top of this list, and for good reason. This NEEDS to happen for us to make any gains. Focus on lowering expenses is the number one way that everyone can get closer to financial independence…especially recurring monthly expenses.
Today I was listening to an old episode of one of my new favorite podcasts, ChooseFI. In episode 4 – Get off the Hamster Wheel, host Jonathan talks about how he paid off 168k of student loan debt in 3 years by following the principles of FI. During this time, he didn’t have any side hustles, but he did drastically increase his income and reduce his monthly expenses to about $30,000 per year. This was about half of what he was spending before he began paying off the debt. He also talks about how difficult it was to focus on constant, strict budgeting every day…for 3 years straight! I’m feeling his pain only after one month.
Having great tools like YNAB and Excel/Google Sheets are helpful to track how much we are widening the gap between what we make and what we spend. I think just coming to the realization that these tools will make it easier, but not EASY, is beneficial for my mindset. FI isn’t going to happen quickly or easily for me. I have work to do tonight and every night to get even one small step closer to living a life of freedom.
I really do want to get off that hamster wheel. The desire is strong! I think perhaps one thing I need to do is set aside time in my calendar on a regular basis to conduct activities related to achieving FIRE. Stick to that schedule just as I would stick to my eating schedule. Heaven knows I have no problem eating at regular intervals. Achieving FIRE requires the same kind of urgency! For those of you out there working towards FIRE over a longer period of time, I’d love to hear more about things you’ve done to maintain focus. Please tell me in the comments!
Off to do some account reconciliation and spreadsheet updates. Sigh.