Personal Development

5 Ways My Life Changed When I Reached Financial Independence

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Personal Development
28 Articles Written

It’s true. I started investing because of my “financial blueprint” growing up. That blueprint is: “What if X happens and I have nothing to fall back on?!” Luckily, reaching financial independence (FI) wasn’t too lofty of a goal, as it turns out. My lifestyle didn’t need much trimming to set a real, attainable goal and use real estate to reach it.  The biggest thing investing has done for me was give me peace of mind—and it has been in more ways than one.

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5 Ways My Life Changed When I Reached Financial Independence

1. Worst case scenarios are no longer worst case scenarios.

About to lose a job or need to switch careers? Who cares? Being FI means annual spending is covered by the investments’ cash flow each month. I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving my job for quite some time and starting a new chapter in life. One of my “worst case scenarios” would be losing said job and not being able to find another one without significant retraining.

Does it still worry me? Yes, but less so as I continue to invest. Is it the worst case scenario anymore? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s such a small worry that I think I might quit this summer and take a few months off before I start looking for part-time employment.

perseverance

2. I’m not consumed by work stress.

This is a variation on a theme, but after my day job, I teach dance and violin lessons. My husband and I also host a church group at our home once a week and frequent another outside our home. That’s a busy lifestyle, even if lovingly so. The good thing is that suddenly I’m not concerned about what my career trajectory will be in five or ten years and what I need to do now in order to get there. I’ve been able to pursue my hobbies and spend time with loved ones on a regular basis with the full-time job, but I’ve noticed a significant decrease in stress because I no longer need to “play the game” in any way, shape, or form.

Related: Dave Ramsey is Wrong: You DON’T Need to Be Debt-Free to Hit Financial Freedom

3. My priorities straightened out.

Priorities. Being financially secure is a priority for almost everyone. So once that’s taken care of (at least on a survivable level, not an extravagant “anything you could ever dream of” level), life doesn’t seem so cloudy. I can stop and smell the roses. I have a much weaker connection to the physical things I own as a result of plugging into Mr. Money Mustache and The Minimalists.

I’m not as “frugal” or “minimalist” as they are, but they have some lifestyle values that greatly align with my own. I am unplugging, slowing down, and being with the people around me much more as a result of not being so stressed out. I’m not secretly running through tomorrow’s meeting while someone is telling me about their day, which allows me to be more genuine.

4. I have the luxury of being picky.

This is possibly the best and worst part of being FI. Suddenly jobs that require 50+ hours minimum each week and 90 percent travel aren’t as appetizing. Being the single point of failure or the person EVERYONE relies on at a job seems like too much hassle. Is this being lazy? Maybe to some. To me, it’s being intentional. So now I’m considering part-time employment as my next step to contribute to society, have a sense of community and purpose outside the house, etc. But not right away. Instead, I plan to see if I can fulfill that in other ways.

productive-2017

Related: Behind on the Path to Financial Freedom? Here’s the Good News You NEED to Hear

5. I gained the freedom to try.

The freedom to try new things or nothing. To sit outside in the sun with my dog. To do those things I’d always promised myself but never quite prioritized. And maybe the biggest obstacle of all for some—to find out who I am when a job doesn’t define me.

Peace of mind comes in many ways. I got more than I bargained for when I started investing in real estate—and even more than that when I reached FI.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

Where are you on your journey to financial independence? Or if you’ve already reached it, how has your life changed?

Let me know your experiences with a comment!

A longtime writer and consumer of all things related to the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement, Sarah went from working 50+ hours a week to less than 20 thanks to her real estate investment portfolio and side passion projects. Investing since 2015, she reached financial independence in 2016 and was able to retire in 2017. Articles about her journey and information about her current projects have been published in LinkedIn, BiggerPockets, Kiplinger, and many other financial news sources. Prior to the FIRE movement, Sarah worked as a Program and Acquisitions Manager on various projects and started a successful, world-renowned non-profit organization. Today, she uses these skills as a real estate consultant to help others reach their FIRE-related goals on a regular basis.

    Glenn Mayo from Fort Worth, Texas
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sarah, I’d love to know what your path to financial independence looked like, and how you achieved it through real estate. Can you tell us your story?
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Al’s comment is completely correct! That podcast explains pretty much everything I did up through that point.
    Allison Leung from Denver, CO
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    However, if you wanted to write it up for the blog, I’m sure our readers would love to see it (not all of them listen to the podcast). Just saying. 😉
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    That’s a great point! Looks like I have some more material over the next several weeks. 😀
    Al Casino
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sarah was a guest on podcast 183
    Derek Caffe Real Estate Agent from Austell, GA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hello Sarah, thanks for the article. I’m not totally to a point of financial independence yet, but well on my way. After purchasing my first duplex in April 2015 it greatly reduced my cost of living as live in one unit and rent out the other. Then I purchased a second duplex in February 2016 which I have one unit renovated and rented and I’m finishing up renovations on the second unit now. I’m also a medically retired Army veteran receiving a small pension. I understand how you feel as I worked for several years as a mailman with the Postal Service before resigning in March 2016 for some of the same reasons you mentioned above. I’m now looking for employment more in line with where I am in life right now. Afterwards I’ll continue to invest in multifamily properties until I max out my mortgages. Then I plan to continue investing with alternative financing using the rents and equity in my first couple properties. I’m 33 today and plan to reach financial independence between 35 and 37 if not sooner. Stories like yours motivate me to reach my financial independence goal.
    Alice Lawrence Investor from Brooklyn, New York
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Goodluck! ??
    Paul B. from Omaha, Nebraska
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    That’s very exciting and inspiring, Derek. Do you have a blog or anything that people like myself can use to follow along your journey?
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    House hacking is the best! I wish I’d done that at the beginning of my career when I was living with housemates, even. Do you plan to continue househacking through different duplexes or stay in the one you have now?
    Ross W Stryker
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sarah – you might want to look up Aviator Freedom Alliance that Ralph Marshall is starting / first meeting in April – this will be a mastermind type meeting for those with a background in aviation to help each other reach their financial freedom point via primarily real estate investing. Ralph has military and commercial aviation in his background / but has also done very well with real estate – I am looking forward to that meeting in Philadelphia
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi, Ross. Thank you for the tip! I’m actually not an aviator of any sort. Would these meetings still welcome me?
    Ross W Stryker
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sorry – saw the gear – tell them you are a real estate investor / get in touch with Ralph / and tell him you regularly fly on a plane! seriously, i am sure you would feel welcomed into the group if you could put up with the aviation chatter. Also, there might be folks with capital to invest if you can put them in touch with deal flow?? Money without deal flow is not much good ross
    Bill R. from Henderson, Nevada
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article. It proves that money/wealth does not buy happiness but money/wealth does offer one opportunities/options.
    Bill R. from Henderson, Nevada
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article. It proves that money/wealth does not buy happiness but money/wealth does offer one opportunities/options.
    Billie Miller Real Estate Agent from Denver, Colorado
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Fantastic article. I love number 4. Particularly the part about being intentional, not lazy. We aren’t FI yet, but whenever we try and explain to friends/family/whoever that we want to be FI we get funny looks. It seems that the societal norm is that you’re only contributing to society if you are trading your time for money via W2 employment. I think responding to this by saying you are more intentional with your time is great.
    Courtney Sorrell Rental Property Investor from Grand Rapids, MI
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sarah, this is great! I’m still at the wannabe FI level but investing certainly makes me look at my day job differently. It’s almost like skimming right above the surface, observing and making decisions from a new vantage point. I’m taking baby steps towards identifying differently and am excited to define myself on my own terms like you are. Sounds like you’re on a great path and giving the rest of us plenty to look forward to!
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I don’t know if you’ve ever been on Reddit, but there’s an FI subreddit that talks about all these people working toward/achieving FI and their experiences. You might like it! There are so many people who have been able to leverage their current position into a part time/flex schedule because of their FI status. Highly recommend. 🙂
    Paul B. from Omaha, Nebraska
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great post, Sarah. I just re-listened to your episode on the BP podcast. Am I correctly remembering that it only took about seven properties for you to achieve financial independence? Would you be willing to share more about the financials of those purchases (total value of real estate, total money put down, total profit each month, etc)?
    Sarah P. Rental Property Investor from East Coast
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hi, Paul! Yes, that’s correct. And I’d be happy to share that. In fact, I’m starting a blog series outlining my experience in each property. How I found it, how I financed it, my personal experience landlording, etc. 🙂
    Paul B. from Omaha, Nebraska
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Excellent, Sarah. I just received an email alert that your first article was posted, and I’m about to dive in. 😀
    Casey Murray Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great article, Sarah. Really enjoyed your podcast also.
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    What most people don’t realize about financial Independence is you don’t stop working. You make your time yours and yours alone. You have enough money so you do not ever have to be an employee ever again. You prize time over money and develop new dreams that make you happy. This is such a far departure from being an employee where money is everything. You begin to seek your own maximum potential and find out that you are motivated , smart and enjoy life to the fullest. Very few ever achieve multimillionaire status, for the few it is a utopia that others dream of.
    Kirk
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Sarah, Enjoyable article to read. You’ve escaped the “corporate crap” and your on FIRE, a very enviable place to be and I admire you for making the change. Investing in Real estate truly is an avenue for reaching FIRE and you’ve proven it works! The five ways you brought up in this article helps reinforce my goal to be on FIRE myself (in 2023 or sooner!)