Quit your job and do something you love

When I created this site my goal was simple: to retire by age 35 and to document the 7 year journey. During these past 15 months I’ve gone through many life changes. We downsized to a smaller house, brought a 3rd baby girl into existence, and I quit drinking soda (this was huge for me) and eating french fries just to name a few.

As a family we went through even more financial changes. This site ended up becoming profitable (see below for details). We started generating passive income through our rental property. We began peer-to-peer investing through Prosper. We also started investing through Betterment. We moved the bulk of our investments to Vanguard (VTSAX). And we started tracking our finances down to the penny using YNAB.

A year ago we were doing most of our shopping in bulk at big box stores. Now we’re buying mainly organic (whenever possible) and gluten-free products locally.

And a year ago I was a penny pinching ass (I’m still conscious about my spending, but I’m far more laid back now). Optimizing our finances has opened new pockets of money for us to spend every month, so while our savings rate hasn’t dropped, our disposable income has increased.

My new goal for the future (and the future of this site) is to discuss financial independence to help us leave our full-time jobs and either become self-employed or work jobs that leave us feeling fulfilled. Getting locked into unfulfilling careers for decades can make the rest of life seem bleak, so why the hell should we let ourselves fall prey to this lifestyle?

Being unsatisfied at work typically leads to creating fulfillment in other ways. Shopping. Alcohol. Nice cars. The ability to purchase these things may make your career seem worth it, but they’re just band-aids that cover your problems instead of fixing them.

To find happiness and achieve success — however you define it — you may have to get off the treadmill and leave your job.

What does it take to leave your job?

As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t quit your job until you’ve satisfied at least one of three conditions:

  1. You have secured another job that will cover all of your normal monthly expenses (lateral moving).
  2. Your passive income has outpaced your monthly spending.
  3. You have 100 times your monthly spending saved/invested.

Without making enough to cover your monthly expenses a new job will soon become another stressor in your life. It may feel like a nice change of pace, and you may feel happier doing the work that you’re doing, but the fact that you aren’t earning enough will start to eat at your financial house sooner than later. And you may start panicking when the money starts running out and the bills keep rolling in.

Option #2 is the best possible situation, but it takes the most money, and usually the most time. If you can swing it, props to you.

I would almost always recommend option #3 whenever possible. Although similar to the Rule of 300, this plan assumes that at least some portion of your income is going to be generated either by self-employment, or working in a career field that you’re passionate about.

Given a 5% rate of return (8% market returns MINUS 3% annual inflation) your money will last for 10 years without supplementation of income. That’s 10 YEARS to start generating income or to turn your passion into a money maker.

Small businesses and sole proprietorships fail constantly. One of the main reasons behind this is because the business owners rely on their business income to pay for their lifestyles. When you have 100x of your typical monthly spending saved, you’re less dependent on the money that your business is generating, which gives you the freedom to grow without simultaneously having to stress out about paying your mortgage.

My plan for the next two years is to bring my savings up to 100x our monthly spending level. That will give us a solid 10 years to get our shit together. It will give us the independence to leave our current jobs and to explore our options for self-employment.

For those who are less entrepreneurial, I would recommend figuring out what your passions are and once you have 100x times your income saved, try to find a career in this field. Working for other people isn’t always terrible. Personally, I love being my own boss, but it’s not for everyone.

I stated in a previous post that I would disclose the income that this site generates. I don’t know if I’m going to do this monthly or not (if you would rather me not post this stuff, feel free to let me know).

February earnings breakdown for this site:

  • Google Adsense (I use it sparingly, mostly on old posts and search engine favorites): $253.51
  • FlexOffers (Credit Sesame and Personal Capital): $155.65
  • Republic Wireless referrals: $57.00
  • Impact Radius (Betterment): $80.00
  • You Need A Budget: $84.00
  • Bluehost: $270.00
  • Amazon: $9.56
  • Total: $909.72

I actually had no idea I made THAT much until just now. As you can tell by looking around, I hardly advertise on this site. Most personal finance sites that you’ll visit are filled with ads. They litter the sidebars. Sometimes they’re smooshed into the articles, and they detract from the value of the sites themselves.

My goal is to provide you with the best possible reading experience while occasionally mentioning products that I personally use and love that I think you’ll love as well.

Writing is something that I’m passionate about, and it’s become both a habit for me AND a source of income. This should be proof that it’s possible to earn money doing something you love. Crafting, traveling, cooking, eating, writing, photography, design (graphic, interior, etc) — among other things — can all be considered “hobbies”, but can also generate a decent income — especially if you have the ability to dedicate more time to them.

Finding happiness

During the fall of 2013 Mrs. M and I attended a workshop in Ecuador which covered the basic topics of Happiness, Freedom and Wealth. One of the presenters (who also happened to be the host), Cheryl Reed, led a class on happiness. Specifically, it was about discovering what you are most passionate about.

She gave us a test and the instructions were simple: make a list of 10 things that bring you happiness (your passions). Then, compare each list item against the others to determine what your personal top 5 passions are. These are the things that would be essential for you to lead an ideal, happy life.

Mrs. M and I filled out our own personal lists of our passions and without peeking at each other’s papers this is what we came up with:

Johnny’s top 5 passions:

  1. Being with my family
  2. Laughing
  3. Building and maintaining friendships
  4. Educating our children
  5. Financial Independence

Mrs. M’s top 5 passions:

  1. Spending quality time with my family
  2. Catching up with my mom
  3. Reconnecting with my best friend
  4. Being well-rested
  5. Making memories

What we discovered through this exercise:

The first thing that I realized was that I have an excellent spouse. Well, I obviously already knew that, but it’s refreshing to see proof that we have similar passions and that our minds are in the same place.

I also realized that everything on our lists — short of financial independence — is FREE. It doesn’t cost anything to have a great time with family or friends. Laughing is free. Making memories can be accomplished anywhere, anytime and at little to no cost.

It also gave us a good perspective on the future life that we’d like to lead.

Since we took this test almost six months ago we’ve refocused our lives around creating happiness. We’ve become more social and have been building and maintaining existing relationships. We’ve been traveling to see our families more and calling them over Skype whenever we can. We’ve been coloring, building and dancing with our kids. And we’ve been hosting a game night every couple of weeks at our house.

We realized that we don’t need to be financially independent to complete any of these things. We don’t even need to have money at all to find happiness. Happiness is obtainable, and the answer to your own personal happiness is probably sitting right in front of you.

We also realized that we are extremely happy in life. We have a great family. We have legitimate, obtainable goals. We work our asses off to be the best people, friends and relatives that we can be. We try to help other people, and we’re teaching our kids to behave and to eat well. We travel. We laugh. A LOT. We are happy without even trying. But after realizing what our passions were it made complete sense why we had felt so fulfilled all along.

As for the well-rested part. That may not happen in the near future, especially with three kids running around the house, but it gives us something to look forward to in our eventual early retirement.

Find out what you’re most passionate about.

You should take a few minutes and take this test too. The exact instructions for the Passion Test can be found HERE.

After you know what you’re truly passionate about, ask yourself if you’re devoting as much time as you could to each of your items. If your #1 passion is doing puzzles, then ask yourself if you’re doing puzzles enough. If it’s something that’s unobtainable, ask yourself “why”.

Could you devote more time or energy to your passions? Do you have to set money aside or take vacation days to live your passions? Could you change your lifestyle so that you were able to base your life AROUND your passions (and not the other way around)?

If you start acting on your passions, you’ll find that you’ll live a happier, healthier, and more financially satisfying life without even trying.

What are you passionate about? I want to know. Leave it in the comment section below.

The Rule of 300

There are countless articles and calculators that will attempt to give you the best possible retirement advice and a projection of how long your money will last. But if you’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to figure out how much you’ll need to retire, then read on.

Pretty much every retirement calculator on the Internet is useless because the only two numbers that you need to look at are the amount of money that you spend during an average month — and the number 300.

After you figure out how much money you typically spend each month (You should already know this!) OR estimate the amount that you’ll need every month in retirement, multiply that number by 300. This is the amount of money you need in order to retire.

It’s that simple.

I made the table below so you could easily figure out the rough amount you’ll need in order to retire without even having to whip out your calculator. This applies equally to retirees of all ages ranging from 25 to 70+.

The Rule of 300

Monthly spending Amount needed to retire
$0 $0
$100 $30,000
$300 $90,000
$500 $150,000
$1000 $300,000
$2,500 $750,000
$5,000 $1,500,000
$7,500 $2,250,000
$10,000 $3,000,000

Where does your spending fall on this table?

Inherently, if you don’t spend ANY money in a normal month then you don’t need any money to retire. And conversely if you spend into the 5-digit range every month you’re going to need at least $3M to sustain your living habits.

This leave us with a necessary portfolio balance of $0-$3M. The amount you need in order to retire is completely up to you, and is dictated solely by your spending. The younger you are the more time you’ll have to reduce your lifestyle expenses, and optimize your current lifestyle to make 300x easier to accomplish.

How does this math work?

The formula for The Rule of 300 is very simple. It’s basically the 4% safe-withdrawal rate in reverse.

If you’re unaware of this term, The 4% Rule is a generally accepted estimation that allows you to withdraw 4% of your investment balance every year (adjusting annually for inflation). So, if you have $3M invested, you could take out $120,000 during the first year — in other words $10,000 per month.

Let’s do this equation out in long-form. First, we will start with a more modest family that spends $2,500 per month. To account for the family’s annual spending we need to multiply this number by 12 which equals $30,000. Now, to make sure they have enough to retire we need to multiply this value by 25 which brings us up to $750,000.

Now, they are able to withdraw 4% of this $750,000 portfolio in their first year which is $30,000. They can then divvy this money up by month. $2,500 per month (notice that this is the same amount we started with).

As time goes on the portfolio balance will continue to increase as the markets increase. And when utilizing the 4% Rule your portfolio balance should never bottom out. Ever.  So this means that if you had 300 times your monthly spending at age 20 it would last forever. It would work equally as well for someone retiring in their 40s, 50s or 60s.

Here is a calculation that shows the 4% rule in action:

We assume a 5% rate of return every year. Actually, we assume an 8% rate of return, but we remove 3% to adjust for inflation. This means that we can look at the cost of things in 20, 50 or 100 years in terms of today’s money. The graph above shows that the 4% rule will allow you to withdraw money comfortably for at least 100 years.

The 4% Rule could fail in turbulent economic conditions. But also take into account that as the economy grinds to a halt prices on goods will stagnate or drop. This allows you to effectively live on less while maintaining a withdrawal rate equal to your spending.

This simple math should give you a pretty good idea about how easy it can be to retire early. Generally, people are going to tell you they need millions of dollars to retire. But, you don’t need over $1M until you hit $3,333 per month in spending.

These calculations aren’t going to allow you to upgrade your lifestyle financially after you retire. They assume that you’re going to continue living a modest (or at least an equivalent) lifestyle for the rest of your life. These calculations also don’t take into account that you still have YEARS that you could earn more money (and probably will). A part-time job can offset the necessity of saving 300 times your monthly spending by a lot.

 

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, so if you’d like more information about the 4% Rule, otherwise known as the “Safe-withdrawal rate”. Visit these fine sites:

jlcollinsnh – Stocks — Part XIII: Withdrawal rates, how much can I spend anyway???

MMM – The 4% Rule: The Easy Answer to “How Much Do I Need for Retirement?”

Investopedia – Four Percent Rule Definiton

Withdrawal calculator via BankRate: Savings Withdrawal Calculator

Six ways to increase productivity and get shit done.

I used to give in to being a lazy sack of shit. I would spend afternoons doing nothing. I would sit on the couch in sweatpants eating ice cream while participating in the the laziest type of marathon ever: the Netflix marathon. I called this “relaxation time”. I was an unproductive human being, and didn’t realize how much I was losing by parking my ass on the couch everyday.

Mornings used to be impossibly hard for me. I was, in general, a fairly useless employee until my 3rd cup of coffee. And weekend mornings were spent in a haze — in front of a television (again, in sweatpants), usually until lunch time.

My periods of actual productivity were met with much resistance. The temptation to use the Internet as a procrastination tool was too great. In most cases the Internet won the battle, and I would leave work for the day without having accomplished anything. Just to go home to use the Internet more.

This is the cycle of the lazy and unproductive. This was how the old me spent nearly every single day.

It may not seem like there’s a problem with this lifestyle. Your employer is still paying you. You get to watch all the TV shows you want. You get to wear sweatpants EVERYDAY. But what are you sacrificing by being so unproductive? Money? Time? Friends? Relationships? Other stuff?

I had a personal A-HA! moment a few years ago. I realized that there was more to life than work and television. I developed a personal mantra, and with a supportive spouse who also encourages productivity, we have transformed our family life into an unstoppable force of relentless productivity.

Before we started caring about being productive, we focused on filling our time with shopping, the Internet, television, and eating out.

After applying our core concepts of productivity, we shifted our priorities to money generation, using the Internet for a purpose, furthering our education and cooking.

Here are some of the basic principles that have helped us achieve a better, more productive life at home and in the office.

Stop checking email every 5 minutes.

For months I was getting about 200 emails per day between my various email accounts (personal, work, other work, and Johnny Moneyseed). 200 friggin’ emails a day!

For a while I was opening every single email. Whether I was reading the content or not wasn’t the issue. It was the fact that I was allowing myself to be constantly distracted every time my phone buzzed to tell me that I had a new message. I just wanted to clear my inbox of new messages so Google would tell me this:

Yeah, I was one of those people that had to have a cleared inbox. I still am, but I go about it in a completely different way now.

The first thing that I did to reduce the volume of email that I receive in a day was unsubscribing to every company email list that was sending me garbage advertisements. Instead of doing this all at once, I waited until companies would email me, then I would click the ‘unsubscribe’ button on the bottom of the email. I’m sure my name is still on a few automailers, but they don’t send me anything, so they aren’t doing any harm.

The next step was to eliminate automatically generated messages from hitting my inbox. As a website owner/administrator I get a ton of these messages. Every time someone signs up to receive my articles by email I get an email. Every time WordPress does anything I get an email. But I need some of these emails, I just don’t want to see them unless I have a specific reason to (I almost never have a reason to).

To get rid of these emails from my inbox I created filters in the settings menu of Gmail. By adding specific words that each of these automatic emails contain, I was able to create rules that would mark these emails as “read”, and auto archive them for me. They’re safe if I need to see them, but hopefully I won’t ever have to do that.

The final step I took to reduce email distractions was to only check email once per day instead of whenever I got an email, or whenever I was bored. I set a time to check my messages (9am for work, 4pm for personal) and I use a predetermined amount of time to respond to each one (roughly 15 minutes, tops). I also let people know that I only check my emails once a day, and if they need to get in touch with me for a serious matter they can contact me by phone.

If you follow this approach you’ll notice that you’ll spend less time every day dealing with email.

Stop living other people’s lives through Facebook.

I’m a fan of social media. I always have been. It’s a great way to keep up with your friends and family. It’s a great way to share pictures of your kids for those people that you hardly ever see. But it has major pitfalls as well. Your productivity being #1 on the list.

Spending a few minutes here and there checking your news feed, and posting status updates turns into hours wasted away in front of a computer or smartphone. It stifles productivity. It’s just another distraction that takes you away from the reality that is your life. You can’t get shit done when you have to let the world know what you’re doing every 5 minutes (followed by refreshing the screen repeatedly to see how many times people liked your status update).

Most of us aren’t social media managers, so there is no reason to be spending hours of our daily lives reading about what our friends or acquaintances are doing with their lives. Do you really care that everyone is watching the Olympics right now?

If something actually important happens in real life, you’ll hear about it through other means. Whether a new law is being passed, or a major storm is headed up the coast to bury you in snow, you’ll find out about it by interacting with people in real life. If no one bothers to bring it up in conversation, it probably isn’t that important.

Unless you deal with Facebook marketing (ie, you manage a company Facebook page, you work FOR Facebook, etc) then you should follow my approach: Only log into Facebook ONCE per week. Set a time limit on your activity, preferably 15 minutes. This is enough time to digest anything of near importance and to “catch up” with people whose lives you’re interested in.

After saying all of that, don’t forget to share this post on Facebook!

Stop staring at statistics and price charts.

When I started investing a few years ago, I was obsessed with Google Finance. I plugged in all of my investments, and watched the market nearly every day. I could generally tell you why the market was up or down on any given day. But, in retrospect, this was completely irrational and wasteful behavior.

Watching the stock market move up and down doesn’t help you accomplish anything. Unless you’re a market analyst, or a hedge fund manager, there’s no reason to concern yourself with the daily dealings in the stock market.

If you’re brand new to investing you SHOULD take a few weeks — maybe a month — and watch how the market moves. Read the news about why the market is doing what it’s doing. It will allow you to feel comfortable, and make you somewhat knowledgeable about your money. But after that, stop looking at market charts!

Investors aren’t the only people who waste time checking pointless statistics charts and graphs either.

There are also a fair amount of website owners and bloggers out there that are obsessed with their statistics dashboards. They’ll keep a Google Analytics window open and watch how many active visitors are on the site. They’ll stare at how many page views they’ve gotten since they posted their last post, while hitting refresh every 5-10 minutes.

While it’s great that you have the ability to watch your website grow, it isn’t necessary to know exactly how many views your site has gotten in the past hour.

I’m sure there are 100 other jobs where statistics watching may occur, and just like the examples above, you’re probably wasting a shit-load of time by watching these numbers. The same advice applies, ignore the flashing charts.

Summarize your statistics checking by viewing your statistics-of-choice once per week. You’ll still be able to figure out how well your stocks or your website are doing. Take about 15 minutes (if necessary) to complete this task.

Don’t just plan. Be actionable.

How many times have you gotten home from work and pulled my “sweatpants and ice cream” routine? How many times THIS WEEK have you done this?

While it’s okay to have an “I don’t feel like doing anything today” kind of day once in a while, if this is your post-work routine you’re wasting the part of day where you’re allowed to do whatever you want. No boss. No co-workers. No Jeff from HR (man that guy is a douche).

Sitting in front of the TV every day after work is a failure to live. It provides a sense of false relaxation. It can be damaging to your mind, your health, your self-esteem and your wallet.

To stop myself from being a lazy, unproductive waste of space at home my wife and I started keeping a Black Book. In our book is a plan of everything that needs to get done in our lives. It has everything from fixing the house to doing homework to publishing blog posts. Everything we do is scheduled in some way. And we hold ourselves accountable to our schedule.

The Black Book is a very powerful creature. If used properly and taken seriously it has the potential to motivate the shit out of you. Ours is the lifeblood of our family’s Action Plan. It IS the Action Plan. If you don’t have one, get one. Don’t just write goals on a napkin. Write out the stuff you want to accomplish every day and be actionable. Complete your goals or they’ll be as worthless as the paper they’re written on.

Stop eating like shit.

Science has proven over the years that most food is pretty terrible for you. Our choices of food, or lack of food are the main reason that we either have energy or don’t have energy throughout the day.

Foods that are good for you have gotten a pretty bad wrap in the past 50 years. This is mainly because processed foods and added sugars are so fucking addictive and delicious. But generally this stuff is poison.  Our wallets are shrinking and our waste lines are expanding because of our love of Fast Food. We’re slowing killing ourselves a fist full of french fries at a time.

Improving your diet can have a serious and positive impact on your emotions, your energy levels and your productivity (and your wallet).

More water + more protein + less gluten + less sugar = More energy. Higher productivity. More money.

Over the past 4 years I’ve drastically changed my diet, and it’s made me feel incredible. I stopped drinking energy drinks and soda. I stopped eating french fries and I have a low-gluten diet. The only beverages that I normally consume are water and coffee (with almond milk). And I rarely drink alcohol.

Automate your finances.

It used to be a point of pride for me to move my finances around. Paying bills put a swagger in my step.

It took me a while to realize that automation is king. It reduces error. It eliminates the necessity of me logging in to 30 accounts every month to make sure that I schedule a payment. While I wasn’t logging in to my accounts on a daily basis, I would spend a couple of hours every month making sure my transactions were all set up AND I would spend a few more hours making sure all of the payments actually went through.

That was until I set literally every recurring payment that I have to make on autopilot. Every credit card gets paid in full on their due dates. Every mortgage payment gets made on the day they’re due. And I don’t have to lift a finger. Now I have an even bigger swagger in my step, because I gained back more of my time every month.

I still check Mint twice a month — on the 1st and 15th — to make sure all of my bills did in fact get paid properly. This takes far less time, energy and brain power than our previous hands-on approach to our finances.

Whatever you do..

Don’t sit on your ass everyday. Find a side hustle to make some extra money. If you have nothing better to do than watch TV or YouTube videos all night, sign up for night classes. Even if you feel like the laziest, most unproductive person in the world there is hope for you. I WAS YOU. And now I’m publishing an article about “how to be more productive”. Think about that for a second.

There’s more than one path to a First Class life

Your life and my life are completely different. Even though we’re both living (or striving to live) the First Class lifestyle powered by frugality and optimization, it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going about it the same way.

It also doesn’t mean that our definition of First Class is exactly the same either. You may require certain things in your ideal life that I might find to be ridiculous. I’d be surprised if you didn’t feel the same way about the way that I choose to live.

You don’t need to cut your own hair, be an extreme couponer or ride a bike to work in the snow. I do NONE of these things, yet maintain a nearly 70% income savings rate.

**This isn’t the type of First Class that I’m talking about! If you’re unfamiliar with my definition, read this article before proceeding.

But there are core concepts that define our collective movement. We have a shared ethos, and values, and our bond in creating a self-sustaining life separates us from the average Middle Class consumer. We abhor waste. We strive for personal betterment on a consistent basis.

We’re choosing to live a lifestyle that differs from the norm. It goes against the general nature of the American Dream and from an outsider’s standpoint we don’t seem to have the essence — or stench — of wealth found in members of the Old Rich. To us, moving up in the world doesn’t imply moving in to a bigger office or a house with 2,500+ square feet of living space.

This is for good reason, as we didn’t have trust funds or Million dollar salaries to support us into our independence. Standard Middle Class jobs and Middle Class paychecks alone with allow us to craft lives full of endless wealth and bounty.

When I see regular Middle Class citizens, who earn far more than their international peers, complaining about their financial situation, it doesn’t really make sense to me. The math doesn’t add up. Our American brethren should be prospering with the blossoming economy, not complaining about a subtle new tax or Federal politics in general.

We live in an era where everyday items like cell phones, transportation and clothing are extremely affordable, but most people are too blinded by their bad habits to realize how inexpensive a luxurious First Class lifestyle can be. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own bad habits, but we’re more aware of our deficiencies and blunders — and we try to prevent them whenever we realize our faults.

We look like the average Middle Class family, too. Take my family for example. We’re attached to the grid, and are seldom without portable electronic devices (phones, Kindles, etc). We dress well, and our kids are well-kempt and well-mannered. You wouldn’t be able to pick our family out of a lineup for being the most frugal based on appearance.

Not until you look at our six-figure investment accounts, and our steadily building passive income stream, would you realize that “shit, these aren’t normal people”. Especially, because we’re part of the ‘lazy’, ‘self-righteous’, ‘entitled’ Millennial generation that grew up on the Internet, microwave dinners and handouts.**

We choose to reject the modern conveniences that so many take for granted, because we are trying to build a self-sustaining life. Every financial move we make favors our future instead of the present day. This is apparent by the way we shop for groceries, our plans for renovation and remodeling of our properties, even in our interest in carbon-neutral/eco-friendly technologies.

Instead of listening to people complain about health care laws, I surround myself with like-minded people who enjoy talking about investing, finances, and functional minimalism. J. Money (a blogger friend of mine) and I were discussing ways that we had been applying minimalist principles within our households. He told me that he reduced his wardrobe down to almost nothing.

This kind of shit really inspires me. And it was something that I never really thought about. My dress shirts took up half the closet. I used an entire 5 foot tall dresser to house my t-shirts, socks, underwear, jeans, etc. I had a second closet where I kept work-related clothing items as well. I took ALL of my clothes out and created a perfect, minimal wardrobe and donated the rest. I reduced drawer space by over 50%. And as an added bonus, it now takes me less time to pick out an outfit.

Your quest for independence and sustainability doesn’t necessarily have to align with my values. Just realize that all of the expensive conveniences in life add time to the end of your working career. And spending habits don’t just magically disappear after your working career is over. If you have a shopping problem, an eating-out problem, or an obsession with leaving every light in your house on all-day-every-day, you’ll face a constant stream of expenses throughout the rest of your life.

To save money, you’ll have to take on “cut-backs”, or lifestyle reductions — austerity measures that you aren’t used to. I equate this to a Sumo wrestler, who normally maintains a daily caloric intake of nearly 5,000 calories per day trying the SlimFast diet. Their body will reject the change, and more than likely they will submit to their old habits.

Instead of an eventual financial failure caused by 180-degree lifestyle change, we can ease into the First Class life through a slow process of adaptation. We can challenge ourselves with voluntary hardships to test our limits. We can slowly reduce the amount of money we spend every month on our Chipotle burrito addictions. We can pinpoint our financial failures over time through budgeting, which we can then correct and learn from our mistakes — because everyone will have a budget snafu at some point or another.

One thing that sets us apart from the Middle Class is our ability to save and invest in our futures. We realize that saving 20% or less of our income just isn’t going to cut it in the long run. While we’re fully funding our 401k’s, as well as our IRAs, the general public looks at this type of behavior as overkill and excessive. Obviously, we know better than to listen to the mainstream media for financial advice, and to ignore complaints from over privileged Middle Classmen.

If you haven’t started investing yet, you should check out Betterment to start a Roth or Traditional IRA today. Through Betterment you can start investing with as little as $5.

In the end, the strategy that takes you to financial independence will be different than mine. But it’s the similarities that we share that make our choice to leave the Middle Class such a powerful thing.

**All of these words and more have been used to describe Millennials.