I have a confession to make. Mr. Adventure Rich and I do not have our Financial Independence number (the amount of money invested and/or coming in via passive income to sustain our lifestyle) nailed down.
What’s more? We don’t know (gasp!) our Financial Independence date!
I know, I know, what is a good little Financial Independence blogger like me doing by admitting that I don’t have our FI number or date dialed in, tattooed to our wrists, etched in each doorway throughout our house, and sung to our son as he drifts off to sleep each night?!?
Yep, I admit it… no FI number and no FI date.
And that is okay.
Why We Don’t Have a FI Number or Date
We have one child at the moment. We do not know if, when, or how many more children we may or may not end up with.
Now, I am NOT saying that kids derail FI plans. However, our FI plan will fluctuate depending on what type of school AR Jr. attends, if/where he attend college, and what his interests develop into. Multiply these same factors by any other kiddos that join our crazy clan and we are talking about a bit of potential variability on the horizon.
Mr. Adventure Rich and I both work full time. But we both know that many circumstances, both within and outside of our control, could change that at any moment. A market downturn could lead to layoffs, a change in management could create an unhealthy work set up, the discovery of a lower paying but higher satisfaction job could prompt a career shift, the list goes on.
I do not want to calculate an FI date that relies on our current household income. Sure, we could always change the date, but if I set a date based on my current high income, I can almost guarantee I would feel “tied” to my job in order to meet our goal. I like my job and I do not want to put this pressure on it!
Streams of Income
Currently, our primary mode of investment is low-cost index fund investing in our retirement accounts and HSA. Our income is generated from our full-time, W2 careers.
But Mr. Adventure Rich and I would like to explore other options. Real estate? Small business? Other entrepreneurship? Each of these streams of income could be great opportunities, but they come with risks. I want to make sure I have the mental and financial flexibility to take risks and try to create additional streams of income if opportunities arise.
Mr. Adventure Rich and I are incredibly fortunate to live in a good area with our health intact. But life has a tendency to surprise people. We do not know if we will be able to stick to our plan of paying off our mortgage, remaining healthy, and living and working in our current location. We certainly hope and work to ensure that this is the case. But again, life happens and we need to be flexible for what is thrown at us.
Bottom Line: We want to be flexible with life, jobs, income, and kids. For us, that means we are intentionally forging ahead toward our goal of becoming financially independent without setting a date or number at this time.
Is it OK Not to Set an FI Date/Number?
For us, yes. By not setting an FI date and number, this allows me to do the following:
Enjoy my Job
If I tied our FI date and number to our current salaries, I think I would risk becoming bitter and feeling “chained” to my job. Mr. Adventure Rich and I would not feel like I have the flexibility to make a change if we wanted to (better opportunity or a passion job that pays less). I like my job and I’d like to keep it as “stress/pressure” free as possible.
Make a Change
Mr. Adventure Rich and I in no way have life figured out! We like our jobs, but what if another job or career came along? We think we know how many kids we may want to have, but that is not set in stone. We plan to live in our current home for as long as practical, but we may not feel the same way in 10 years.
We will figure things out as we go and that is great! But I do not want to turn down the perfect opportunity for change because I feel beholden to an FI date or number that is contingent on a static life.
Adapt to the “What Ifs”
By not setting a specific date and number, I am allowing myself to be flexible with the plethora of “what ifs”. What if we decide to significantly support our parents in their old age? What if we decide to have more children or adopt? What if a member of our family requires significant medical support? What if we want to start our own business or invest in real estate? What if…?
The Dangers of Not Setting an FI Date or Number
So, the dangers of not setting an FI date or number? There are definitely a few. My big concern with not having an FI date/number is the temptation to lose focus or divert money to short-term wins vs. the long-term goal of financial independence. It is a real danger and one that takes discipline and thought to combat, which leads me to…
How do we stay on target with our an FI number or date?
How do we on target towards our goal of financial independence without a set FI date or number?!?
Our Financial Independence Mission Statement
Inspired by Tanja’s post over at Our Next Life (yes, you should go follow this blog IMMEDIATELY!), Mr. Adventure Rich and I sat down to write the Adventure Rich Financial Independence Mission Statement.
“The Adventure Rich family strives to live a rich and beautiful life full of adventure, simplicity, and intention while aiming for some form of financial independence by building wealth through index investing and other income streams in order to be able to generously give of our time, energy and resources for the good of our community, our family, and each other, relying on God to strengthen and direct our actions each step of the way.”
This mission statement is a great reminder, helping us focus and align our current actions towards our financial independence goals. You can check out the process for formulating our mission statement here.
Net Worth Tracking
Another key for our family is Net Worth tracking. We have tracked our Net Worth since January 2015 and it has been an incredible aid as we work to save and invest. Tracking Net Worth gives us a goal (make the number go up each month!) when we do not have other specific/near-term goals (FI Number, Debt Payoff, etc).
Following the Journey of others on the FI Path
Yep, you guessed it, follow those you want to emulate. I have greatly benefited from following many, many (many, many, many…) blogs written by people living the financially independent life, those nearing their goal, those transitioning into early retirement, and those on the arduous road towards FI.
What amazes me is that people from all walks are pursuing FI. Cities or small towns, big families or no kids, entrepreneurs and W2 employees… I think you may be hard-pressed to find someone you cannot relate to in some way.
By following the journey of others, I am inspired to hold the course and amazed by the new ideas and strategies uncovered by someone in the community. It has also helped to become an active part of this community, connecting with others for support and encouragement. The Rockstar Finance Directory is an excellent resource for finding personal finance and FIRE bloggers.
Listening to others on the FI Path
I can only read so much in one day or week, right? So, I also have a few great financial independence/early retirement podcasts I recommend as additional sources of inspiration!
(psst- read our reviews of these podcasts + others here)
So… What’s the verdict? Are we terrible FIRE bloggers for not having an FI number or date?!? Do you have an FI number or date? Why or why not?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich