Reaching Financial Independence (FI) on a Low(er) Income
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I apologize this post will probably bit a lot longer than most of my posts, because I really want to give as much content as I can and links to excellent resources to help others optimize their FI journey. I understand that all the information in this post may not be applicable to all, and I do not do everything listed in this post, but the goal of this post is to be a “database” of a how to get started with some low income optimizing.
The two broad category ways of reaching FI for any income is cutting expenses and increasing incoming. There are arguments for both, but again on any income, to optimize doing both of these things will help anyone reach FI sooner.
Get Out of the Red – To get started you have to track your expenses and make sure you can pay your monthly bills. Your first absolute goal is to cut anything not essential or make drastic changes to be able to pay your bills. This may include moving, getting a roommate, lifestyle changes etc. whitneyhansen.com has a Facebook group, live videos, and other great resources for budgeting and tracking expenses.
Get Rid of Luxuries – This part kind of sucks but you need to scrutinize your spending. Get on a budget that works for you and see where you cut out expenses from the “four biggies” Transportation, Deb, Housing, Food. littlebrotherlifecoach.com/2017/05/08/back-to-the-basics/
Cut the Cord – Cancel cable subscriptions, streaming subscriptions, anything with a monthly payment that you are willing to find a cheaper alternative for or do without. Also look for a cheaper cell phone plan better suited to meet your needs. Check out articles for Google Fi, Republic Wireless, Ting, and other less expensive providers. www.1500days.com/17-89-phone-bill-ting/
Negotiate interest rates and premiums. Look for better deals on insurance, look into refinancing your housing, insurance, and other monthly premium costs.
If you’re eligible look into government assistance for grocery assistance, medical, transportation, and other high-end costs that you might be eligible. Every little bit helps.
Buy used – Check Goodwill and other thrift stores for clothing and home goods (and anything else). Find freebies, used buy and sell groups like Facebook and Craigslist and other sites. frugalwoods.com are a GREAT resource of finding used treasures.
Ask questions and talk to people. Find FI groups, podcasts, locals and other accountability errors to help keep you on track.
Exchange services for services. Find apps that offer your skills in exchange for services you need. Try sites like Upwork and Fiverr for some freelance work as well.
Break bad habits – Practice handling your money better and stretching every dollar. Consider giving up your vices that eat away your money like lotto, smoking, the latte or other guilty pleasures. Find cheaper or free alternatives to reward yourself.
Get an emergency fund – the amount is arguable. Some say 3-6 months before debt and some say after. Save as much as you are comfortable with and can replace when things go awry. I personally use Dave Ramsey’s $1000 emergency fund and find it comfortable for my situation.
Find cash alternatives – optimize your dollars using things like gift cards, rewards points, or Swagbucks. littlebrotherlifecoach.com/2016/12/11/swagbucks. I answer online surveys and watch videos to earn gift cards that I can replace cash expenses with.
Retirement Money as fun(d) money – I enjoy investing and am learning the pros and cons of ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds). I use my “fun money” to invest in retirement and use my goal of the Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) to work towards my goal. I only recommend this if you enjoy learning about investing/trading and feel comfortable with investing/trading. Credit to slowysippingcoffee.com for the Fully Funded Lifestyle Change term.
Sell, Sell, Sell! Your house is on fire! You have too much crap. But really, selling stuff around the house helps with the de-cluttering and promotes a minimalist lifestyle that works with your goals towards FI or FFLC. If you’re extreme you “flip” things by selling them at higher prices such as things for Ebay or Amazon or even houses.
Catch side hustle syndrome – work a part-time job or use your skills to earn that extra income. The tried and true Dave Ramsey side hustles are delivering pizza, babysitting, and dog walking. Google side hustles and get millions of results. There are so many bloggers with great side hustle ideas I can’t post them all. Try searching your favorite bloggers website to see what they suggest.
Get that OT baby! My work is killing me on overtime right now. I’m hitting mandatory 50 hour works week. This helping me build the emergency fund, pay down debt, and get that retirement fun(d) money. Take overtime as your health/time allows.
Job/Career change – Get scared, get mad and take the plunge. If you hate your job and don’t make enough money, be bold and research. Look at the next step toward the career change. esimoney.com is a priceless tool with career hacking skills from a new career to current.
Investing/Real Estate/House hacking – investing will increase your income over the long haul. That compound really works when get in to the “grit years of FI.” Start early even with a little, but pay that debt so you can invest more earlier. Many in the FI community pay mortgages or make extra money renting out rooms or buying a house and renting half, using the cash flow to pay for the property. Also, I mentioned some even “flip house.” I don’t recommend this if you don’t like real estate or construction/rehashing houses. I personally don’t like either. If you’re interested in these topics I recommend choosefi.com , the podcast, and/or the Facebook group.
Put your tax refund to use – it only comes once a year, but if your income is low and your credits come in, use that for your emergency fund, debt repayment, or invest it. Don’t spend it on things you don’t need! For tax help and optimization check out http://wealthyaccountant.com/
I only added a few of the resources I have come across and added them to this article. These are just some of the great posts and there are MANY more available with AMAZING content as well.
Here are some quotes/inspirational affirmations to help you along in your path to Lower Income FI.
“Luxury is expensive, slight discomfort is cheap.” – Mr. Money Mustache
“Does this item bring me value & joy?” – The Minimalists
Is there an equal but less expensive alternative?
“Super Frugality & Being a Frugal weirdo” – The Frugalwoods