Personal Finance

5 Roadblocks on the Path Toward Financial Freedom

Expertise: Personal Finance, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties
47 Articles Written
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Welcome to America! Land of the free. Or are we?

What is freedom anyway? The average American’s definition seems to be working five days per week, 50 weeks per year, 40 years of their life. Many are going through the motions, waiting for the weekend or for that vacation once a year.

I don’t think I am being a radicalist when I say that we are not actually free. We are trapped in a metaphorical prison called a “job.” Without it, most Americans would not have the means to survive.

If you call that freedom, then I have no choice but to disagree.

In America, freedom is not given like many people think. It is earned—earned by those who know how to handle money. It’s earned by those who know how to spend less than they make and invest that difference such that it produces a return at the same level or more than their expenses.

There’s only problem. Most people do not know how to do this!

In this article, I am going to explain five things that are a part of almost everyone’s life that have a large negative impact on your financial situation. If you are striving to be on the fast track toward financial independence, these things are just going to slow you down.

Before you think I am a heartless son of a gun, let me preface everything by saying that I am not suggesting you get rid of these things. I am saying that they are slowing you down toward hitting your financial independence goal. You will be much better off avoiding them until your passive income can satisfy the cost.

Here are the five things.

5 Barriers Between You & Financial Freedom

1. Your House

I am a real estate guy. You might be surprised that I am saying your primary residence is likely slowing you down rather than expediting your financial independence.

But it’s true. Whether you have a mortgage or are paying rent, the average American spends about 33 percent of their income on housing.

If you are paying a mortgage, sure, some of that goes to loan paydown, and your house will likely appreciate over time. However, you still have to deal with maintenance, repairs, insurance, taxes, and all of that good stuff.

In the end, how much do you think you are actually netting? I would argue much less than you think.

So what do you do? How do you get rid of your housing expense?

Well, I have not paid a cent toward rent or my mortgage in over two years. How is that possible?! House hacking!

House hacking works like this. You purchase a property, live in part of it, and rent the other parts out. That way the rent from your tenants is paying your mortgage and you live for free.

Do this for a few years and you will see hundreds of thousands of dollars being added to your net worth through rent savings, cash flow, loan paydown, and appreciation on your property. House hacking is the most significant thing you can do that will put you on the super fast track toward financial independence.

financial-freedom-habits

2. Your Car

The automobile has without a doubt changed the world. Some say for the better; I say for the worse.

Sure, cars allow us to get to places we may not be able to go otherwise. However, humans have taken advantage of this.

We drive everywhere we go: work, school, grocery store, etc. You name it. We drive there.

The fastest and most radical way to achieve financial independence is to completely ditch your car or turn it into an asset by renting it out on a site called Turo. I did this for a year and made over $10,000 on my car in that year. Not bad considering that most Americans spend 17 percent of their income on transportation!

However, I understand that this may not be feasible for everyone. In fact, it is not even feasible for me anymore.

I have a car, though I seldom drive it. It is not my main source of transportation. I bike to work. I bike to the grocery store. The only time I use it is if I am going to the mountains or have an errand to run that requires transporting something heavy or awkward.

I am not currently on the fastest possible track toward financial independence in the car department, because I am still paying for insurance and gas. However, I am at least in the left lane, passing those who use their car as a primary source of transportation.

Not only is a car damaging to your bank account, but it is also damaging to your health and the environment. I do not want to go too far down the rabbit hole here as to why your car sucks, but if you want my recommendation, here it is.

Go one year without owning a car. Either rent it out or get rid of it altogether. I can almost guarantee that you will find yourself healthier, wealthier, and wiser.

Related: Retired at 31, This Couple Will Show You How to ‘Quit Like a Millionaire’

3. Education

Education might be a tough one to swallow. It sure is for me. I graduated with close to $100,000 in debt for a bachelor’s degree.

Granted, an education is known as an investment in yourself. Pay hundreds of thousands of dollars up front to make more money in the next 40 years.

Makes sense, right? For some, maybe. For those seeking early retirement, no.

If your goal is to achieve financial independence and retire early through real estate investing, a higher education will likely set you back. Why? You do not need a formal education to invest in real estate.

Instead, you can listen to every episode of the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast, watch several upcoming webinars, and continue reading blog articles like this one. You will essentially earn an MBA in real estate investing for free in a few months!

Pro tip: Read books—like those available in the BiggerPockets Bookstore—if you want a premium experience for well under $1,000.

Education Exceptions

There are two uncommon scenarios in which obtaining a formal education makes sense. The first is if you can obtain a free education. The second is if you are truly passionate about the work done in a field where an education is needed (such as a doctor, lawyer, etc.).

My only qualm here is that most (not all) people who go to school for these higher paying professions aren’t doing so because they genuinely like the work. They are doing it for the larger paycheck.

If that’s your motivation, you’re doing it wrong.

My recommendation? If your goal is early retirement, ditch the idea that you NEED a formal education. Take that money and use it to invest in real estate or start a business instead.

I bet you will lose less money and learn more. And if you stick with it, your investment will likely pay you many multiples of what your educational investment would have.

If you do fall in the boat where your life work is truly dependent on getting an education, go to a school that will provide you with the highest paying salary at the lowest possible cost.

Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, authors of Quit Like a Millionaire, had a formula they used when deciding which school to go to. Here’s how it works.

Take the average annual salary of your profession and divide that by the annual tuition cost of your school. The resulting percentage represents each dollar you make per dollar spent on education. Written out the formula looks like this:

Average Salary / Annual Tuition Cost

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Obviously, the higher the number, the better off you are going to that school.

Related: House Hack No. 2: Guess How Much I’ve Added to My Net Worth?!

4. Pets

Pets are another one. Do you know what cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, peacocks, bunnies, and snakes all have in common? People usually pay for them and then pay to maintain them.

What many people may not realize is that these cute animals are setting them years behind in terms of retiring early. The true cost of owning a pet can cost up to $1,000 per year on average.

If it is a bad year and your pet needs a surgery, it can be much higher than this. Don’t believe me? Check out this article from Money Under 30 on the true cost of pet ownership.

This does not even include the valuable time that you spend walking your dog every day, taking him or her to the vet, or additional fees if you want to travel with your dog or hire a petsitter.

I understand that your cat or dog may fill a void that no human could ever fill. However, it also leaves a large hole in your pocket.

Don’t get me wrong. I love animals of all species (except snakes—I don’t like snakes). But they should be considered a luxury and not a necessity.

My recommendation is to hold back on obtaining a pet until AFTER you have achieved financial independence. Until then, love everyone else’s pets.

Once you have reached financial independence, introduce the luxury of owning pets into your life.

And this brings me to my last point. Kids.

low stress landlord, rental property, real estate

5. Kids

According to the Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child is on average $14,000 per year or $233,610 over the course of 17 years.

Ahem, excuse me?! $14,000 per year?! That’s more than what many people pay for rent!

I completely understand that for some people the whole reason for achieving financial independence or living in general is for their kids. If you are reading this article and already have a child, I am not suggesting you get rid of them.

However, if you are reading this and you are thinking about having a child, I caution you that they will be a huge step backward in terms of achieving financial independence. This is from both a money and time perspective.

Besides, don’t you think that your child (or future child) deserves to have their parents around all the time? It would be much more ideal than just a few waking hours each week.

My recommendation? Just like pets, I think you’d be better off to achieve financial independence before having kids.

Once your passive income exceeds the cost of having a child, then by all means, have away! Until then, keep on pushing!

The Bottom Line

I know this article may agitate a few people. Many of these financial mistakes may have occurred in the past and cannot be undone.

For example, you will have trouble undoing your education or ridding yourself of your kids or your pet. I am not even suggesting anyone do this.

Instead, I want people who have not yet made these decisions to rethink them and be mindful that they WILL set them back in terms of achieving financial independence. If you really cannot wait, then do something to expedite your journey toward financial independence—side hustles, save more, etc.

If you really, REALLY cannot wait, then do it. But I don’t want to hear any excuses as to why you are not financially independent yet.

Cheers!

hard-money-lenders

Do you agree or disagree with these five barriers? Have any negatively impacted your financial journey? How are you course-correcting?

Let’s talk in the comment section below!

Craig Curelop, aka thefiguy is an aggressive pursuer of financial independence. Starting with a net worth of negative $30K in 2016, he has aggressively saved and invested to become financially independent in 2019. From sleeping on the couch and renting out his car, he was able to invest in two house hacks in Denver and a BRRRR in Jacksonville. He plans to continue to investing in both Denver and Jacksonville for the years to come. Craig's story has caught the attention of several media outlets, including the Denver Post, BBC, and many other real estate/personal finance podcasts. He hopes to inspire the masses to grab hold of their finances and achieve financial independence. Follow his story on Instagram @thefiguy!

    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied 2 months ago
    Some valid points raised. As previously, I disagree with the house hacking thing. Its cool if you're young w/o a family, for maybe a year max. After that, who wants to live next door to their tenants? Who wants 24-sev in their biz? I thought RE was supposed to have, at a minimum, a semi-passive component. If you're living IN your business, you're majorly exposed. No thanks! I got to where I am - 38 years old and working part-time, without having to house hack. Here's a snapshot of my quality of life: For 2 years I had 3-day weekends 52 weeks out of the year. Because I changed jobs, these days I dont have that. However, I am still home before 4pm on 4 of 5 days of the week. I set my own schedule. My quality of life is awesome. Without ever house hacking! I say, instead get some assets (RE) that help PAY for your living quarters. Maybe it doesn't cover the whole mortgage, but similar to house hacking, it can offset the bill. Next = Pets! Ahh!! I agree with you here. How about we JUST TODAY put down a deposit on a dog. All in all, the purchase will only cost us $150 (compared to $500-2000 some pay for "purebreds"). But yes, all those things you mentioned are going to be true! Recurring expenses. I guess I'll have to pick up another property to offset those costs too! Kids - i CANNOT believe you put this one on the list. This is your family. Although true, they are costly, they also bring such happiness. I don't feel they should be listed as a barrier. Hey Craig, do you ever do ANYTHING fun in life? Thanks!
    Jared Wonders from Charlotte, NC
    Replied 2 months ago
    I agree with a few points in this article. Honestly if I had to go back my wife and I would both agree house hacking instead of living in a one bedroom apartment would have been a better option. Also I completely agree that cars can be a huge deterrent in the pursuit of FI as probably the biggest depreciating liability one can possess especially if bought new. I respectfully disagree on the last three suggestions from this author. Yes, education can be incredibly expensive, however, if you are SMART in your pursuit (I.e. public college, scholarships, TA/RA, military, etc.) to avoid or significantly decrease student loan burden education can be a powerful lever in the pursuit of FI. I would not be where I am today without it. I also find it very hard to fathom that one pet be it dog, cat, etc. is a “barrier” to FI. We have two dogs and it costs maybe 40 dollars per month to feed them and I will argue the socialization, exercise, and just general commradary way outweighs the cost. The last point regarding kids, again, is a good point, however it’s important to remember that us in the FI community think differently than the general population. My wife and I are looking forward to having kids and I can guarantee we will not be purchasing the newest crib or toy. Our kid will definitely be loved but we plan on being different in the sense that I will be asking our neighbors that have recently had kids for possible hand me downs, cribs, toys, advice for childcare, etc. In summary, the points made by the author I understand if not thought out appropriately but as I said we in the FI community think differently and regarding the last two points what’s the point if you don’t enjoy the journey?
    Derek Buehler Contractor from Clarksville, Tennessee
    Replied 2 months ago
    This is purely clickbait to drive traffic to BiggerPockets. The vast majority of the US does not have adequate public transportation and millions of people need a vehicle to get to their place of business each day. Why not advocate for purchasing used and eliminating a car payment? Pets and kids?! Come on!! A thousand dollars a year on a pet won’t break the majority of people with the self-discipline to get to FI. People need to procreate. Have you looked at the economic struggles Japan is facing with their massive elderly population and low birth rate? For such a successful track record, I’d expect better than a clickbaity article shaming people for enjoying more than the bare minimum in life.
    Kimberly Green-Goldsborough
    Replied 2 months ago
    Bingo! I think you hit the nail on the head with this list. I’m guilty on all 5 counts but I wouldn’t forgo any of the 5 decisions. My course correction comes down to ensuring my ‘costly kids’ (and anybody who will listen) make their decisions fully informed of the consequences, but more importantly informed of the options.
    David Krulac from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Replied 2 months ago
    Craig, so your saying don't have a house, don't have a car, don't go to college, don't have pets and don't have kids. I didn't have either kids or pets until I got married, and can agree with the expenses of both. We have had pets that are diabetic, insulin twice a day, failing kidneys, saline injections, and other costs ailments and restrictive diets. One of the kids is working on a second masters, so you don't have to tell me about college expenses. However, despite having all 5 road blocks somehow, i still managed to buy and sell over 965 properties for my personal inventory. When I bought my first property and was single I did do the house hack thing (see Bigger Pockets Podcast #82 for that story). But after that very first property, I tired of the roommates and lack of privacy, so I never had any roommates except the wife and family, and I don't consider that house hacking. David Krulac
    Grace Thorstad
    Replied 2 months ago
    Thanks for the concise writing, I'm definitely looking into ways I can rely on my car less and this post refreshed that idea once again. I think we can all agree that kids and pets are a known and worthwhile sacrifice; nobody who has children went into it without realizing it would be a huge burden, but most worthwhile things in life are - including real-estate investing in support of early retirement or financial independence!
    Andrew Jurinka Rental Property Investor from Portland, OR
    Replied 2 months ago
    I love Craig for going for it and cutting expense to the bone!
    Tom Mattinson Investor from Amherst, NOVA SCOTIA
    Replied 2 months ago
    I see these kinds of posts very often when people talk about retirement. If you have a singular obsession to retire then start to live. This article is for you. I got into real estate less then 2 years ago at a time in my life where there was no big changes I could make to save more money. I have a house, car, 5 kids, my education does not pay bills (theology), but no pets. I have never house hacked. What most people seem to forget is that investors are just people. They come from all walks of life and for a vast amount of reasons. You can't paint a realistic picture with one brush. You need to accept that where you see roadblocks others will see doors. That being said I think some people may find your post useful. For anyone reading this that this article convinces you not to have kids; you likely should not have them. Know what you want. Do your research. Don't stand in the box.
    Daniel Pearson Flipper/Rehabber from Eagle Mountain, UT
    Replied 2 months ago
    Author clearly doesn't have kids and I would argue has almost no idea how much they actually cost. I have a 1 year old and a second on the way and I would put my expenses at maybe a hundred dollars max every month for my child. If your child costs $14,000/ year, you have no business being a parent and you're likely raising one horribly entitled, spoiled child. The other points were okay. I personally wouldn't take this guy's advice though, except on schooling.
    John Zulaski from Arlington Heights, Illinois
    Replied 2 months ago
    Good food for thought from Craig. Definitely other ways to reduce the cash burn from housing and auto expenses. Moving to a more modest home, moving to a different city, moving to a location where you don't need a car.... for instance. Buying a modest used car with cash. Any others?
    Hans Brandt
    Replied 2 months ago
    Well I created an account just to reply to your post which I feel is vastly underappreciated. I took radical steps back in september to iliminate my housing payments. I have seen my wealth grow more quickly than ever in these last 10 months and I also learned more than ever and had more fun than ever. People who who think that you have less fun or in any way a less significant life by giving up big expenses could learn alot that would open their mind. Nothing is like first hand experience . Thanks for the article.
    Joseph Copeland Rental Property Investor from Freeport, FL
    Replied 2 months ago
    I have read alot of good articles on BP and this is not one of them. I would also go to say that without reading this article most people could identify each one of these as potential set backs in financial freedom. Setbacks which most people will decide are fully worth the setback caused. I am someone who preaches to everyone I know about the advantages of sacrifice to obtain goals and become financially free, however to think someone would put it before having a family and the joy which comes with being a parent is sad. The time saved by not having a kid and putting off that joy in life to obtain financial freedom can be mitigated from creating wealth elsewhere or rolling your sleeves up and being more efficient with money. I really hope anyone (especially the young and new investors) will look past this advice. I have been financially free for sometime with 35 doors and did not need to get there by foregoing this type of happiness and I hope others understand they can as well.
    Mark S. Rental Property Investor from Richmond, KY
    Replied 2 months ago
    Pretty ridiculous article. 1.) Housing: Keep costs reasonably low (maybe shoot for 20% instead of 33%) without necessarily having to house hack. Don’t need a McMansion, but okay to have a reasonable home. 2.) Car: Depends on where you live. Don’t lease (for personal use), buy and maintain until you run it into the ground, and buy reliable pre-owned vehicle (if you live in an area where you need one). 3.) Education: important within reason but consider trade school. Don’t pay $100K for a degree in art history. 4.) Pets: if you can’t afford $1K/year for a pet, you have bigger problems in your life. If pets make you happy, have a pet. Adopt/rescue to save a pet that needs you vs a breeder and paying multiples more. 5.) Kids: something to seriously consider if you don’t yet have kids, but again a personal choice. How about all the other dumb things people do with their money that can more than make up for some of the usual big ticket expenses, like: 1.) Cell Phone: get a reasonable phone but stop upgrading to the latest and greatest and having a monthly cell phone payment for the rest of your life like a donkey. Negotiate your monthly cell phone bill and get on a shared plan. 2.) TV: stop paying for cable/satellite TV. This savings alone can more than make up for the cost of having a pet. 3.) Dining Out: put some strict rules in place here and learn to either go occasionally, how to find deals on Groupon, and how to skip the expensive drinks and order water. 4.) Vacations: Keep these expenses reasonable and don’t overspend. 5.) Gifts: set expectations on gifts with friends/family, maybe do a grab, or set spending limit, etc. I think these 5 items are REASONABLE, while some of the original ones are a bit RIDICULOUS, especially having a pet.
    Susan Maneck Investor from Jackson, Mississippi
    Replied 2 months ago
    House-hacking is for the young, but some of us stayed young for a long, long time. House-hacking your way through college is one of the best ways to avoid huge student loan debt. I did that during graduate school. Still, I have to admit I don't really understand this FIRE business. Yes, thanks to real estate investing working is now optional for me and that feels *great*. But I never regarded my job as a prison. When you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up how, many answer "I want to make as much money as I can as quickly as I can so I don't have to work"? No, our work, our families, our children. maybe even our pets give meaning to our lives. And don't most of us have cars because it gives us freedom and independence? And mind you had bicycles and motor scooters until I was 24. Daniel Pearson, you got to be kidding as to how much kids cost. When my son was a baby I spent over a hundred a month on diapers and formula alone and that was thirty years ago. ! I'm guessing you have stay-at-homd wife. If so you should include as 'cost' what your wife would otherwise be earning. I spent $300-$500 on day care. That's not what you spend on to make your child spoiled and entitled, it is what you spend so CPS doesn't take him away! The one expense that was perhaps optional was sending him to private prep school, but it was because of that I didn't spend a dime on his college education. Yes, a child is likely to cost $14,000 and your stay-at-home wife is worth at least that much. Just ask her.
    Tim Toussaint Rental Property Investor from Colorado Springs, CO
    Replied 2 months ago
    Absolutely not a good article. There are many exceptional ones, and this one is not it. The only valid suggestion for most people is the house hacking. The other ones are mainly nonsense for most people. Looking forward to the next article that actually adds value.
    Kazuko McCracken
    Replied 2 months ago
    I think you are pretty brave to write this article! What you are saying is all true, you just need a very focused and strong determination to execute it no matter what others say. I can’t and didn’t or won’t do it, but it’s me and that’s maybe the reason I’m not retired yet.
    Chad McLeod
    Replied 2 months ago
    Not much to add that hasn't already been said, but I think it's important to remember geography plays a huge part in expenses. Only $14K per year for a kid?? Sign me up! My son's daycare alone is $14K a year, and he goes to the 2nd cheapest daycare we looked at (the cheapest was filthy and the staff was very inexperienced). My son is definitely not spoiled or entitled in the least. One more thing to add... when they talk about the total cost of having a kid they usually use housing as one of the expenses, which is silly because you're paying that rent/mortgage whether a kid is in the house or not. Still very expensive, but not as bad as the numbers indicate, IMO.
    Tim Batten from Hyattsville, MD
    Replied 2 months ago
    This article was okay until “Kids”. I recommend BP all of the time to people and then I read articles like this and question my recommendations. A more appropriate title might be “5 Expensive Things”. Regardless of the title, if the purpose is to advise others on how to achieve FI, please dig a little deeper and apply reason.
    Craig Bliss
    Replied 2 months ago
    Craig - thanks for posting your ideas about financial independence. At the same one, I’m sorry to hear you feel that the only path to happiness is through FI. Give living life a chance, there is so much more than just achieving FI. Don’t get me wrong - having finances in order is definitely a plus (a huge one), I just don’t see it as the only thing. For example, are you familiar with Mother Theresa? Good luck with your pursuits!
    Emily Duarte from Phoenix, AZ
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I started your article ready to applaud your effort and ended up giving you a giant eye roll for being so culturally out of touch with the audience you are attempting to reach. The mere insinuation that having a pet or (god forbid) a child it a "financial mistake" capable of ruining your financial future is so ridiculous at its base notion that its almost irresponsible for Bigger Pockets to publish this. Housing costs, car costs, education costs...you have me all on board as a message to the general consumer. But the ONLY path to financial independence in the path listed by the author?? Guaranteed this is a life very few of the BP readers want nor choose to pursue AND even violating all these "5 mistakes" listed can still set you on the road to financial freedom under your own terms. Sincerely....blissfully happy mom of 3 under 8 and 2 crazy dogs. Owner of 17 rental homes, 4 businesses, selling $60m of real estate per year and apologetically pursuing my version of financial freedom.
    Nicholas Misch from Broadview Heights, OH
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Right on!
    Kevin McLaughlin from Houston, Texas
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Sigh. 1 - House-hacking - We will be empty-nesters soon and the only people we want in our house are our kids and someday (hopefully not too soon!), grandkids. I'd rather pay it on my own than deal with live-in tenants at this point in life. 2 - Cars. Come on down to Houston and try bicycling to work. If the crazy drivers don’t take you out, heat stroke will. And you cost of soap, shampoo and deodorant will be more than the cost of the car! As other comments have noted, the car argument doesn’t work in most of the USA. The last new car I bought was a 1988 4-Runner that cost me $16,500. I drove it 16 years and put a couple hundred thousand miles on it. One a/c repair, one clutch and other than that general maintenance. When you buy a car, go with something reliable, drive it into the ground and donate it. 4 - Pets. Even the article you linked to doesn’t support your $1,000 per year. The article cites one-time costs of $565 (dog) or $365 (cat) and annual costs of $695 and $705 respectively. But the annual costs include pet insurance of $225 / $175. How many people actually but pet insurance? Not me. So, based on the article, I’m down to $475 for my dog. I have maintenance meds and a higher food cost since our dog is bigger, but I’m probably still under $600 or around $50 per month.
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied about 2 months ago
    One thing a college education is supposed to do is help you think analytically. "Salary divided by tuition" doesn't give you the "cost per dollar of earnings" unless you only work your chosen field for the same number of years as you spent in higher education. I've met very few poor lawyers or doctors. A very high percentage of the people I know who are broke & struggling don't have a college degree. It isn't just about the jobs you can get with the "piece of paper", it's also about what you learned along the way.
    Tyler Flake Investor from Mapleton, Utah
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Wait until you have financial independence before having kids. I strongly disagree. That is a high financial bar and very subjective. Who knows when you will really be there, and remember there is a biological window for having kids and there are good reasons it is while we are younger! Anyway I don't think kids need you around all the time (besides babies), I think school and other time away from parents is necessary. Also its good for them to see you working your way to success and not just "retired". I get the argument that strictly financially speaking it might be better, but I don't think it is very logical for someone who actually wants kids.
    Benjamin Papet
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Love it, great article!
    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Thanks @Tyler Flake, @Jared Wonders, @Derek Buehler, and @Mark S. and many others for your comments. The pure theoreticism, extremist, and frank black and white approach in this article is a turnoff for newbie investors. #ItDoesntHaveToBeThatWay
    Pam Krull Flipper/Rehabber from Ocala, FL
    Replied about 2 months ago
    #4 - No Pets? Bah Humbug. Who is going to listen to me as I lament my latest offer rejection? Who will share my frustrations when the buyer for my flip buys a new boat right before closing, and now doesn't qualify for financing? Who will be there to dry my tears when tenants skip out and leave my property in a shambles? But seriously, my dog makes me smile, lifts my spirits, and reminds me that life is what happens while I am busy making my dreams come true. And the time spent walking the dog, it's actually a healthy bonus. It's great exercise, it gets me moving, gets me outdoors and connected to nature, which in turn helps me to plan my business with more clarity and focus. Are they expensive? They can be. I've spent thousands on a single dog with health issues. Was it worth it? Yes. Every penny. 18 wonderful years of companionship, filled with hours spent hiking, swimming, playing frisbee & ball. I would have paid twice the price. In my opinion my ROI is incalculable. #5 - No Kids? I don't have kids, so I can't speak on that one. However, I am eternally grateful my mother felt about her children the way I feel about my dog. :)
    Taylor Epskamp
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I'm with you Craig. I've read a lot of FI books/MMM articles now and I think this does a pretty good job of highlighting the big expenses most will encounter. Since a lot of readers on this site are more tuned into real estate, they might need a bit more detail or time to actually consider these major lifestyle changes. For example, MMM dedicated an entire article outlining his reasoning on pets and still got a lot of angry reactions in the comment section. Thanks for the solid book recommendation. I think it would interesting to read more about the costs of home ownership. In "Quit Like a Millionaire" Kristy calculates that the average homeowner receives zero return from their home. Is this accurate? Specifically, I'm interested in the true cost of living in a home and not implementing any investment strategies (ie house hacking or living and then renting) over the average 9 year ownership period that Kristy describes.
    Charles Conroy
    Replied about 2 months ago
    If your only goal in life is early wealth and retirement then it all makes sense. BUT I would never trade my wife, kids, and dog for that EVER! They are all a pain in my ass but I love them dearly. You can set yourself up along the lines of this independence without going to far into the rabbit hole of living without so much.
    Nicholas Misch from Broadview Heights, OH
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Kids = Financial Mistake? I will reach my kind of financial independence some day but my kids were NEVER a financial mistake. I live for them and would spend every penny on them if they needed me to. Oh, and don't let me forget to throw my 3 kids into their 3 kid bike seat with attached little tykes wagon so we can haul all of our groceries home. Get out of here with this mess. I will create the best life now while ensuring the best life later. To each his own, but I for one intend to have what I want at every stage of life. Why don't many people talk about that as a real possibility, because it is!
    Joe M. from Erie, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Like I said in a post, more and more click bait type of articles. Wish BP would go back to putting out helpful articles and not this just for clicks
    Elliot Marszalek from Stevens, Pa
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I feel like most of these comments are people misunderstanding the point of the article. He isn't saying this is the only way to financial freedom. Many people go about their lives with all 5 of these "financial burdens" and might not even realize what the costs are and that's what he's trying to shed light on. The fantastic thing about personal finance is it's PERSONAL and you can evaluate for your own situation when and what financial burdens you want to take on. Yes kids, pets, cars, are all financial burdens no matter how much you love them. Maybe some of the wording makes it seem harsh, but it's all with good intentions. The whole goal of financial independence is to live your life with the freedom to do what makes you happy and live your best life rather than spending all your time working and missing out on some of the best years. If you have kids or pets or whatever you'll most likely take a little longer to get there, but as long as you're doing what makes you happy then you are already living the goal. So just keep doing you and work at a pace you're comfortable with to hit FI, but be aware of the decisions you're making and keep them aligned with your personal goal and purpose for your life. Craig, I just recently listened to your episode on the Money Podcast and I loved your story and your willingness to get through "the grind" so you'll be Set For Life later on. I'm sorry so many people are being critical about the article because I felt you did a fine job outlining some struggles people can and will have financially. Keep it up, and know there are readers out there who appreciate your contributions.
    Drew Kessler from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
    Replied about 2 months ago
    I should introduce you to a buddy of mine. He too lives an unfulfilling life of misery...I mean freedom.
    Drew Kessler from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
    Replied about 2 months ago
    “If you are reading this article and already have a child, I am not suggesting you get rid of them.“ Lololol this article cracks me up.
    Alex Wald Rental Property Investor from Denver, CO
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Craig -- I think this needs to be broken out into two categories. Car/home -- I'm with you. You can bike to work, house hack or otherwise live cheaply to save money without sacrificing happiness. I recommend listening to money show episode 35 to learn more about how to do that https://www.biggerpockets.com/blog/biggerpockets-money-podcast-35hacking-life-live-almostfree-craig-curelop. I think you will pick up on some valuable tips. As for kids/pets/education -- I think you are just taking high-dollar consumption choices and evaluating them as investments. The problem is that kids/pets/education all bring people happiness in a way that likely justifies the cost (although this is subjective and depends on the person). Yeah they're high dollar amounts, but they're worth it. E.g. -- The point of education is not to get a job that makes you money. The point is to put yourself in an environment where you are forced to think deeply about the world from scientific and human levels. For people in the FI space, higher education does not make that much sense FINANCIALLY. But think about the wisdom & critical thinking training you lose out on by NOT going to college. That's VERY VERY risky. In my opinion, wayyyy riskier in the scope of your life than the ~$40k average student debt. And there is no better time to get that education than as early as possible, right after high school. Kids -- People can do whatever they want. let's implement one child policy for all I care. Pets -- I think the companionship of my cat, whom you also love, has made my life 5-7% better. Admittedly subjective, but unquestionably it has made my life better. I think it unlikely that many people could spend or invest that money in a way that would make their lives unequivocally better. Does not apply to everyone, but I would be willing to bet a large majority of people can benefit from pet companionship.
    Tyler Bobo
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Owning your own house may be a bad choice for a minority, but for the majority of people it's the biggest wealth builder in their lives, their entire life. Cars car be a trap if you're trying to keep up with the Jones's but if you buy quality older vehicles and maintain them it's super cheap. I've never bought a car with credit and cannot get by where I live without a car, tens of thousands of miles a year (many Americans commute to work and don't have a public transportation option.) You can get away with very little vehicle costs if you care to. College is a rip off though for most people. Most kids go because they're told they'll fail at life if they don't, or have no better plan. If you don't know why you're going to college you shouldn't. Pets aren't expensive, but yeah, too many people have them that are broke. If you can't feed yourself or your kids don't buy pets. (or "rescue" them) And if you can't feed your kids, quit making them..
    Mary White Rental Property Investor from Klamath Falls, OR
    Replied about 2 months ago
    Thanks for your opinions, but I disagree with all of it. Good for you getting discussions going though. 1. We own a modest home that we can pull $100,000 equity out of every 1-2 years to fund more real estate. We bought it with 3% down in 2011, making it a major investment win. My rentals cover the cost of my mortgage without me living near or with those outside of my family. My productivity would be greatly decreased if I had to house hack. 2. Car payments suck, but we have three kids and live in a rural area, so it's not an option at all. I drove my last SUV for 15 years and plan to drive my Expedition just as long. It saves us a lot to drive and not fly in our very comfortable car. That being said, I agree with getting rid of car loans. Those can suck your finances dry. 3. Working for an education is invaluable whether its formal or not. I earned a multiple full ride scholarships through years of very hard work and worked through college to afford living abroad. It's one of the things I'm the most proud of in my life and I encourage everyone to work towards self improvement. The benefits are significant and have launched me into years of successful self-employment. Now taking out $100,000 in loans is ill-advised. Who does that? 4. Kids are the biggest blessing of my life. If I didn't have them or had waited to have them, my life would be seriously diminished. There are lots of ways to reduced the costs of having and raising kids. National averages are just not to be believed for the average person. For example, we don't pay for expensive private schools, but homeschool and their education is top-notch. 5. Pets add to quality of life including "wasting" time walking them. How can you advocate for public transportation but not push for getting a dog to increase your fitness level? We don't spend out of line with our dogs' quality of life. There will be no cancer surgeries or life extensions for our dogs. They can live out the natural courses of their lives while adding fun, adventure and exercise to our lives. Best of luck in your investment and life journey. To each his own my friend.
    Jeffrey Bower
    Replied about 2 months ago
    "The fastest and most radical way to achieve financial independence is to completely ditch your car or turn it into an asset by renting it out on a site called Turo." My car is almost paid off but I don't know if anyone would rent an old Honda.