While taking our personal finance onto another level, a few small changes led to larger transformations that both simplified and elevated our lives.
Transformation #1: The Personal Finance Ninja
I’d like to credit this term to Stephanie, from poorerthanyou.com. Becoming a personal finance ninja is exactly how I would describe our transformation. We became more financially literate and developed knowledge and skills that extended beyond basic budgeting and saving money. We learned about the time value of money, various types of investment vehicles and which strategies aligned best with our risk levels and goals. Before long, we learned enough to swiftly create a financial plan for us to reach all our financial goals without needing to commit to decades of mandatory work.
We even helped our parents build their wealth by allocating their hard-earned cash in more appropriate investment vehicles.
Transformation #2: The value-ist
Many people take a long time to realize what is important to them and begin to cut expenses that they realize do not provide them much value. A reason for people to make this shift is due to financial hardship.
I just worked with a 76-year-old patient who was, unfortunately, struggling to pay her bills and realized that she only uses 6 channels on cable and has been paying expensive cable bills for over a decade.
When you have financial goals to meet, you won’t wait until you’re struggling to cut your cable, switch cell-phone providers, refinance your loans, look for alternatives to car insurance.
Transformation #3: The Tax Eliminator
You can’t actually eliminate your taxes, but you sure as heck can defer them. As you become more financially literate, you learn how to optimize your taxes and reduce your tax liability.
One of the first things we did to minimize our tax liability was to put more of our hard-earned dollars in tax-advantaged accounts. In 2018, the year we made almost $20,000 more between the two of us, but our taxable income was actually $4,000 less than the year prior. Not only did we make more money in 2018, but we also kept more of it.
Transformation #4: The Aspiring Minimalist
I first heard this term on the ChooseFI podcast and know that Brad (one of the ChooseFI hosts) understands the struggles of an aspiring minimalist as he may have been the one who coined this term.
The concept goes back to getting rid of services and subscriptions that you no longer find great value in, but it can also apply to the things you have in your home.
Look around you, label those things with dollars. How much did everything cost, how much of it is collecting dust? How much of it would you sell right now if you had the option?
Minimalism is something that is attractive to me. Learning how to detach from things feels pretty freeing. Here’s a great book on minimalism that walks you through the life of someone going through the process.
I couldn’t get enough of learning about minimalism and needed more content. This was a great addition to my learning. It will be an enjoyable read to guide you towards living a more simple, yet enriching life. Applying principles of minimalism have already given me the benefits of a clearer mind, improved productivity and a sense of liberation.
Transformation #5: The Carefree Couple
It’s really nice that my wife and I hopped on the FI train at the same time. We’re carefree at heart, so it wasn’t much of a transformation, but it really put us at ease knowing that we’ll be okay.
We know that life isn’t about money, it’s about the connections you make with the people you care about and the impact you make to those who matter to you.
Transformation #6: The Somewhat Satisfied Employee
Satisfied employee almost sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s somewhat true. My work-life balance has improved mostly because I realized that I am not “stuck”. It was enough for me to change my perspective and began doing something about my situation rather than complain about my job or the low earning ceiling of my profession. Complaining less allowed me to find more value in what do on a daily basis. Even more importantly, I am enjoying more of what life has to offer by spending more time with my siblings, writing more, exercising, and of course, laughing with my wife.
Transformation #7: The Master of Delayed Gratification
Working towards financial independence can take a good 5, 10, or 15 + years depending on your strategy. If you think about it, everyone is working towards financial independence if they are planning on retiring at some point. The question is, do you want to do so at 65 or sooner?
Being focused for a long period of time taps the concept of delayed gratification. With it, you can develop the habit of working hard without needing to see any immediate rewards. This practice won’t only help you reach FI, but can keep you motivated in the gym or be more consistent with your diet to achieve your body composition goal.
For me, I was already kind of a master of delayed gratification. What else do you call 7 years of schooling and unpaid internships? After hitting FI, maybe I’ll level up.
Transformation #8: The Multi-income Machine
Aside from learning ways on how to cut your expenses, you will likely find ways to increase your income. This is especially the case if your earning potential is limited in your current position.
You will find that side-hustles are not a new thing for people with financial goals. And financial independence is one heck of a goal. Keep in mind that your side-hustle can be something that will fill you with purpose and give you something to retire to while helping you on the way there.
Transformation #9: The DIY guy or gal
In an attempt to increase the gap between income and expenses, you also learn ways of how to do more DIY around the house. In this time, I learned how to shop for my own car parts to lower my car maintenance costs, I learned how to break open cell phones and replace their batteries, I learned how to create my own whiteboard to brainstorm whenever I get an awesome idea. Lastly, I learned how to install flooring in a property I just bought.
Overall, creating a financial plan for us to become financially independent in our late 30’s simplified our life and made us happier with our present situation. Our new outlook on life has transformed us into better versions of ourselves.
Related: Here is a deeper dive of our outlook before and after discovering Financial Independence. I call it our Pre-Fi Fog.
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Art is the founder of Flexcents, a blog created in 2018 to help others reach their fitness and financial goals through sharing insights as a physical therapist, personal finance nerd, and self-directed investor.