Getting the FIRE Journey Started: Anna's Story
A year from now, you will wish you had started.
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“Is this what it’s going to be like for the next 40+ years”? That was the thought that ran through my head back in 2006. Before I started my first real job, I did a trial run to get to work. The commute was an hour long. When I first took that early train, I was surprised how different the energy (or lack thereof) was compared to the weekend trains. I squeezed into one of the last remaining seats, the middle spot of a three-person seat. Everyone seemed to be in their 30s-50s, sleeping, reading newspapers or zoning out. I guess this was adulthood.
Fast forward 11 years later: 3 housing moves, 3 company changes, 1 marriage, a ton of traveling and I found myself back on the same train line, asking myself a similar question. “How long can I do this for?” It wasn’t just the commute (now just shy of 2 hours) that bothered me; it was the idea of not having the freedom to choose what I did with my day. The job I have now is the best one I have had so far in my career, but I don’t want to devote 30 more years to it.
So far I have followed the traditional route. I graduated with a degree in Accountancy and landed a job straight out of college. I spent my 20s moving up at work, paying down student loans, buying a house, traveling and saving minimally for retirement. My husband and I always joked about retiring early but we never had a plan for it. Our plan was basically work hard, play harder and hope for the best. We were making more money but increasing our expenses along with it. It felt like the natural thing to do.
It wasn’t until I was 32 that I stumbled onto the Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE) concept. As I researched posts and listened to podcasts from the FIRE community, I realized all these people were actually on their way to early retirement or had already achieved it! Why didn’t anyone tell me about this option?!? I was very intrigued and put a projection together. (I am an accountant after all and use Excel whenever I can.) And low and behold, with some serious investing in the next few years I calculated that we could retire in our 40s! And that’s how my love affair with FI began.
Financial independence has a different meaning for each person. For me, it means not being dependent on a 9-5 full-time job. There are two key benefits that it provides that can be life changing: it carves out mental space that affords you to focus on the things that matter the most and it gives you the freedom to spend time however you want to, whether with your kids, parents, friends or try new things that life has to offer.
My goal here is to share what I have learned so far in hopes that it helps someone else in their FI journey.