My Story

Financial Independence Breezy - Tech to TreesMy name is Breezy.

Yup, like the wind, or even “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Girl,” if I’m lucky. Oh – and don’t forget “Breezy like Sunday morning” for a play on Lionel Richie’s words. (Got anything else? These always crack me up, so share it in the comments below!)

I just graduated college in 2016, and I’ve always lived a fairly frugal lifestyle, but I really took a strong interest in the financial world during and following the 2008-09 financial crisis. I’m also mildly obsessed with Financial Independence, and how the real idea behind “FI” actually has nothing to do with money – it’s all about happiness! I won’t get ahead of myself here though, but read the other articles to see what I mean.

 

Work. Work. Work.

I currently work in the tech world, more specifically, I work at a software company where I get paid $53,000 per year to do marketing. I absolutely love my job – it’s different every day, my coworkers are awesome, and the company is always growing – but I also know that I don’t want to be forced to work until I’m 65 (but hey, if I choose to do that, at least I know I had the freedom to choose!).

Here’s the thing: if you hate your job, financial independence is for you. If you love your job, financial independence is for you. It’s that magic word independence. It implies that you’re able to choose what’s best for you. I’m going to help you get there.

 

99% of people cringe if you ask them their salary. Here are all my actual finances.

Part of the reason I started this website was to show people that it doesn’t matter how much money you make; what matters is what you do with that money. So, to be completely transparent, I’m going to show you my finances, but first let me explain a few things:

  1. I just finished paying off all my student debt (woohoo!), which means that I’ll probably increase my 401k contributions over the year and try my best to max it out at the $18,000 limit.
  2. I also live in a city, so my rent is high. Until I purchase a place of my own, I’ll probably continue to pay my high rent because I get to walk to work and I live next to the beach, which is ideal for me. (See – I’m not depriving myself.)

 

Here’s the breakdown of my Yearly Finances for 2017:Financial Independence Monkey

Salary: $53,000 (pre-tax)

Rent: $11,700

Bills: ~$4,150 (car insurance, health insurance, electric, cable, gas)

Groceries: ~$2,100

401k Contributions: $10,600 (20%)

Roth IRA Contributions: $5,500 (maximum contribution)

Play Money: ~$6,000

 (This is how I feel everytime I see this list)             

What’s Play Money?

It’s the money that keeps you sane. Yes, it’s technically money you could’ve saved, but you also want to have a little fun, so screw it.

 

What that means specifically for me:

Financial Independece - TravelingWell, I love to travel, I enjoy some dinners and drinks out, and I need the basic necessities for clothes here and there. The nitty gritty: I travel for almost every weekend in the summer and also take an additional 15+ days off work every year traveling. I’m fresh out of college and usually it’s hard to catch up with friends without meeting them out for dinner or drinks, plus I love trying new restaurants and becoming regulars at the best ones.

Luckily for me, I’m not a big shopper. I just don’t get the same joy out of being in a store that some people get – in fact, I really don’t like shopping at all. So, when I need a new vest, some pants, or running shoes, I get what I want and I get it over with quickly (p.s. “last year’s” running shoes can seriously pay off!).

 

Whoever said “money doesn’t grow on trees” clearly never planted the seeds.

Alright, so not literally, but pretty damn close. That’s what this website is about. Yes, I’m a pretty frugal person – I pack my lunches for work and I find deals where I can, but I’m not one of those people who is awesome at saving every penny. To be honest, I’m not really looking to do that either, especially not in the long term. But the crazy thing about money these days is that you don’t need to go to extreme lengths to save every penny, or even a super high salary to make a lot of money because it’s not about making money it’s about making your money work for you.

Let me repeat that – it’s not about making money, it’s about making your money work for you.

By understanding exactly how much money you spend (or will want to spend) on a yearly basis, you’ll be able to calculate an exact number that you need to save. On your way to achieving that amount, your money will work for you. What do I mean? Your money will continue to earn more money than you’re even putting into the bank, because you’ll be able to invest your money, so by the time you go back to add more money, your total savings will be higher than the last time you looked at it. What’s that mean for you? You’re that much closer to that goal amount that you set, and you start to get there even faster and faster as time goes on. Then, once you make it to your final goal, your money works for you for the rest of your life. The money you earned will pay you every year. It will pay you enough to cover all your costs and give you Play Money. And at that point you get to decide – do you want to work or not?

Let’s recap what I just said, that was a lot for one paragraph:

  1. Calculate how much you spend (or will want to spend) each year.
  2. Use that number to figure out how much you’ll need to save using this financial independence calculator. [This can also be used to find how much you spend in 1 year.]
  3. Figure out your plan for saving & invest your money. Read this blog to see where to invest.
  4. Watch your money continue to grow on its own & each time you invest. [Don’t forget, the market swings up and down, but you’re in it for the long term, so these shouldn’t be a big worry!]
  5. Achieve Financial Independence (FI) and decide how you want to live your life.

 

What do you really want to do with your life?

Once you reach FI, your opportunities are endless! Maybe you want to….

Quit your job (or take a break):

  • Travel the world – try new foods and experience new cultures as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.
  • Visit your friends and family you haven’t see in a while – time flies by and none of us are getting younger. These people are important in your life.
  • Spend time doing charity work that you’re passionate about – spend time abroad in a third world country, or volunteer at the food bank down the street. Helping other makes us all feel better.
  • Work on that dream project you’ve always had in the back of your head – you finally have the time.
  • Raise your own family – spend those precious years with your kids (or your dogs!)

Stay in your job (or move to a different one):

  • Take a pay cut to work in the position you’ve always wanted to – your passive income from savings will make up the difference.
  • Negotiate a better working situation – FI is a feeling of empowerment. Use this opportunity to negotiate more time off, the ability to work from home, or even to take some of the tasks you don’t enjoy doing off your plate. You can now take more risks.
  • Feel happy waking up for work – you now know that going is a choice, it’s crazy how much that can have an impact on your job satisfaction.

 

In the end, it’s all about freedom.

Financial Independence gives you freedom. Freedom from the stress that money can bring. Freedom to move anywhere and do anything you want. Freedom of choice.

Tech = my current job life

Trees = my freedom since my money tree is working for me 

 

Now let’s get this Tech to Trees journey started!

- Breezy