I was on the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) path well before it became an internet movement. I’m a numbers geek at heart. I tracked my spending in Excel since I was twelve. I loved–and still love–the sense of control of knowing how every penny I earned was spent or saved. I started investing not long afterwards–and made countless, costly mistakes 😖 but learned from (most of) them.
At fourteen, Freedom 55 sounded nice so I decided Freedom 45 would be even better. I didn’t have a clear cut plan on how to achieve Freedom 45, but it was always in the back of my mind as I lived my life. I finished high school, went to uni, wandered aimlessly around Europe, and finally came home to start my first “adult” job. I spent money a tad recklessly but always knew to not spend more than I made (thanks, Mom!). My aversion to debt continues to this day. I’m lazy so I put my finances on autopilot with automatic bill payments and automatic investment purchases.
In 2012, I decided to make an annual budget and track my net worth because I thought I should have a plan for Freedom 45. I wasn’t strict on sticking with my budget; it was more to help me determine how much I would need for retirement. I continued to track my net worth on a quarterly basis, even during my stint with major depressive disorder. Some years were better than others but seeing my progress (or lack thereof) helped me tweak my spending habits when needed.
Last year, once I started coming out of the anti-depressant-induced haze, I met with a financial advisor. Although I neglected my finances for 2+ years, by some miracle Freedom 45 is still on track. Even Freedom 40 is doable. In fact, I could retire right now…provided I get control of my luxury handbag obsession (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I was planning to go to Paris this April to pick up a Hermès 🙈; only the recent yellow vest protests put a damper on my plans). It’s freeing to know I could walk away from the day job whenever I want.