I Am Not The Greatest at Anything, But Achieving FIRE Anyway (Live Your Own Financial Independence)

I am not the greatest at anything, but I will give things my best shot! I will try to learn and be patient. And what a relief it is to know I do not need to be the greatest at anything to live a truly extraordinary life! I am not the greatest writer, artist, etc., etc. But I can get up each day and make a choice. We can choose to have the best attitude possible, try hard, work, play, enjoy what we are doing, take responsibility for our actions and feelings, create something, be respectful and loving, make an effort to add value. Isn’t this all we can do? All the rest is background noise that at the end of the day doesn’t really matter. Here are a few things that require no talent but make an extraordinary difference in life:
  1. Work ethic. Trying and putting in the effort I have found always pays off.

  2. Attitude. Having a strong and healthy attitude has always opened doors for me.

  3. Being trainable at work. Allowing myself to listen to mentors and learn how to do my job well.

  4. Passion. Having passion for my efforts has always shown through.

None of these things have required any kind of talent or raw gifts on my part. Anyone can do these things anytime. One thing I can do pretty well is draw and paint. This has always been a practice of mine and something I quite enjoy, but the point here is to talk about how even if we are mediocre at a lot of things, we still have a chance to become financially independent. Don’t take my word for it, Warren Buffett feels the same way and here are a few quotes for thought:

“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” “It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.” “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.”
  RELATED: http://oracle.davidkanter.com/2018/08/17/kickstart-your-dreams-into-reality/  
Here is another favorite quote of mine from Shakespeare while we are on cool quotes:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”

We will play many parts and all can find our unique methods and lifestyle to financial independence. We study many different people from all backgrounds that have achieved financial independence (FI). Just as there is diversity in all things, there are thousands of ways to live your own version of FI or FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) that is unique to you. It is our mission, if we so choose, to take all the knowledge and inspiration and apply it to our own story.  

90 Years

My 90 year old grandfather is very close to me and he has always been there during the ups and downs of growing up. But this is not a Hallmark “Greatest Grandpa In the World” card, I bring him up to illustrate a point. He is original FIRE and has been financially independent for 40 years. This was not the result of some inheritance or stroke of luck. It was through the principles that we call FIRE today and that are talked about in all the great and inspirational blogs. It was knowing when he had saved and invested enough to live comfortably off the principle, probably using the 4% rule before it was called that 40 years ago, which would have been about 1979. It was about reducing liabilities and enhancing assets. It was about learning to fix and make things with our own hands. I could write a detailed post on his life and I will someday, but this is about ways to find your own way.  

We are born

As far as I can tell, we have absolutely no control over the family we are born into, the economic status, the country, etc. We just are. Many of us, like me, are very lucky to have been born into loving families with some stability. We are also lucky if we are born into one of the many great modern countries like the US. But think about the circumstances of our life and how the very beginning is a pure act of luck.  

A chance to choose

Something that I love about the FIRE movement and personal finance in general is that it is our time to evolve and choose consciously. It is our window of time to shape and sculpt the trajectory of our life. We certainly do not control everything that happens to us, but we can begin to bend the movement. Around high school we begin to have a feeling of making a few choices. The more and more Jerry and I encourage each other, our friends and The Money Viking tribe to push our own boundaries of building a life of True Wealth, the stronger we all become.  

Life doesn’t magically become a Ball and pumpkins do not become chariots

One thing you realize quickly when entering the FIRE community, is that these are people making their own way. We (including Money Vikings) are not waiting around for a magical fairy to grant all our wishes. That is the stuff of fantasy and fun, which has its place in our psyche. But if we truly want to win at FI, we have to take action each and every day to make it happen. Here are some ways and themes anyone can use to create their own lifestyle of FIRE.  

There are different “brands” of FIRE and different ways people approach the challenge of making their own way and as we put it “Conquering Financial Freedom”:

a. Frugal Living

Some in the personal finance and FI community focus on the defensive (or shields I call them) side of things. This is defending your precious resources from the ravages of consumerism, easy and deceptive credit and overall lame wastefulness that is all through our culture and modern way of living. This would be focusing your efforts on every single way one could live extreme frugality. Not owning a car, making all meals at home, only shopping at Thrift Stores and garage sales, etc.

b. Owning dividend stocks

Another great way we are building wealth is by owning quality stocks that spin off a dividend. There is a whole exciting world out there of investors that focus on dividends. I really enjoy reading the Dividend Diplomats. Building a balanced portfolio of dividend producing stocks is a good way to create income over time, and when focused more on the dividends, one is less inclined to care what the market is doing each day.

c. Making things

Some people pursue a kind of “maker” FI. They are handy folks who build their own home, fix all their own stuff, make things and sell them. These folks are willing to put in the sweat equity and physical labor to not have to depend on many others.

d. Real estate

Real estate management and investing is another general investment area that folks deploy to achieve FIRE. For more on our adventures in real estate: http://oracle.davidkanter.com/2018/06/26/rental-property-from-the-80s-blood-sweat-and-tears-literally/

e. Passive income

Setting up passive income machines is another way folks make a living and work outside the traditional cubicle confines.

f. Saving

Some FIRE folks go to great lengths to save at extremely high rates. If a person can save 20, 30, 40% or more then the critical mass of investments grows quickly. The compounding  effect can take hold sooner!

g. The math & numbers

Financial security pretty much comes down to math, actually basic math. Some folks love to dive into the numbers with precise spreadsheets and calculations.

h. Family & simplifying life

Some folks working towards FIRE focus on the family aspect and the goal of living a pared down simplified life. Notice I did not say simple.

i. Options Trading as income enhancement strategy

Did you know you could convert a non-dividend paying stock into a dividend paying one with a covered call strategy?

Choose your own adventure

Whatever path you choose, remember there are many ways to be great at financial independence and personal finance. Make your own brand of FIRE given your particular interests and desired lifestyle. There are so many ways to improve your personal finances in the US, find the unique ways that work for you and align with your highest priorities!

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