Reaching the Summit of Financial Independence

Saving enough money to reach financial independence is a daunting goal.  It took us about ten years to reach the goal, and we were laser-focused on reaching financial independence our entire working careers.  Complete financial independence that allows a comfortable early retirement is a great goal, and it comes with many side benefits along the way that aren’t always obvious.

Let’s look at a hypothetical household yearning for financial independence.  They are just starting out on their wealth building journey.  From their perspective, they are at the base of a towering mountain staring up at the fog-shrouded peaks.    They can’t see the snow capped summit from their lowly vantage point.  The path in front of them is well worn and clearly marked, but looking up the steep slopes they notice the trail snakes around the mountain and out of sight.  They know roughly where the end point is (up!) but not where the exact path will take them on their odyssey to the top.

We’ll call this hypothetical household the Smith family.  They live next door to the Jones family, but the Smiths don’t really care to keep up with their spendy neighbors (the Joneses).  The Smiths know what they need for financial independence – $40,000 per year to pay for their modest lifestyle plus a few extras (like hiking up mountains).  They know about the “4% rule” that says they can spend 4% of their investment portfolio each year without running a significant risk of depleting their investments.  Doing some quick math, the Smiths quickly determine that 4% of a million dollars will yield them $40,000 per year in early retirement.  Now the Smiths have a financial independence goal.  Obtain a $1,000,000 investment portfolio.  Once they hit their magic number, they will be financially independent and can retire to a life of leisure (or whatever they want to do)!

Even though financial independence is wonderful goal, it takes many years to achieve.  But the Smiths are in luck!  They can enjoy the power and freedom of their wealth all along their journey.  I’ll highlight a few stops along the route to the summit of the financial independence mountain.

$10,000 savings (1% of goal)

The Smiths enjoyed a leisurely walk along the relatively flat section of trail at the base of the mountain when they decided to stop for a snack in a flowery meadow.  The views from the meadow are pretty much the same as at the trailhead, although now they can look back at where they started and see they have made some progress toward the top.  After buckling down and saving $10,000, they have built up enough wealth to fund three months of living expenses if they quit working tomorrow.  Living paycheck to paycheck is something that other people do (their neighbors the Joneses?).  However, they still desperately need their jobs because they are very focused on reaching financial independence.  Some refer to a few months of living expenses in the bank as an emergency fund.  With $10,000, the Smiths can handle most emergencies that life throws in their way.  But those funds are the foundation of their financial independence and are destined to do much more than bail out the Smiths in an emergency.


$50,000 savings (5% of goal)

The trail remains mostly flat but they maintain the pace and make a lot of progress on the hike to the top.  Once they save $50,000, they have the financial security that most others their age don’t have.  $50,000 is enough to fund over one year of their living expenses if they both lost their jobs tomorrow (as unlikely as two people simultaneously losing their jobs might be).  It’s also enough money to allow the Smiths to take a year off and travel around the world (if they wanted to deplete their entire nest egg!).  $50,000 could be a 20% down payment on a $250,000 house.  Ease of access to the $50,000 depends on where the money was saved, with a taxable account and Roth IRA’s providing easier access than 401k’s and traditional IRA’s.  In any event, with $50,000 in investments, the Smiths have a lot of control over their finances and flexibility in their lives.


$100,000 savings (10% of goal)

At this point in their journey, the Smiths are well on their way to reaching the eventual goal of a million dollars.  With $100,000 saved, they can fund two and a half years of their living expenses.  The trail ahead of them appears to be steeper, but the Smiths are finding each successive $10,000 saved a little bit easier.  They are able to look back on the trail below them and clearly see a lot of progress on their journey so far.  Even though they hit six figures in their investment portfolio, they have a lot of climbing before they reach the summit.

At this level of assets, they don’t have to worry about unexpected major medical bills or major house repairs.  They can comfortably slash their insurance expenses by increasing deductibles and dropping unnecessary comprehensive and collision insurance.  When they have $100,000 in the bank, repairing or replacing one of their cars isn’t a big deal in the event of a catastrophe.  Though not “rich”, the Smiths are able to enjoy their wealth by having the flexibility to cover unexpected expenses without going into debt.


$250,000 savings (25% of goal)

Saving a quarter of a million dollars is no easy feat, and the Smiths are proud of their ascent to this lofty perch on the mountain of financial independence.  $250,000 represents over six years of living expenses.  It’s also enough to buy ten mid-size sedans or four luxury cars.  But the Smiths remain happy with their modest but reliable cars and the security that a quarter million dollars brings.  At this point in their journey, it is hard to imagine a scenario where they would ever suffer real financial distress.  $250,000 can last a long time if one of the Smiths decides to take time off from full time work to pursue a business venture or start a family.  They are only a quarter of the way to their goal, but the amount they have saved is still substantial.


$500,000 savings (50% of goal)

The Smiths are half way up the mountain.  The summit is within reach, although still obscured from sight by the clouds.  On most ventures up the side of a mountain, it gets increasingly harder to continue as the pitch of the trail steepens and fatigue sets in.  As they continue climbing, the Smiths have to suppress their smug smiles because they are enjoying the beautiful sights along their path just a little bit too much.  Who wouldn’t be happy experiencing the power and natural beauty of relentless compound returns?

At a 7% rate of return, a half million dollar portfolio will generate $35,000 per year.   The portfolio will continue to grow over time.  Their journey toward financial independence will get easier each year as their investment returns dwarf the new contributions to their investments.  In fact, the Smiths could stop contributing to their investment portfolio completely, and the value of their investments would double in another decade (at a 7% rate of return).  It’s as if the Smiths have some hard working sherpas helping them up the mountain!  Or at least carrying their backpacks.

At this point in their journey, the Smiths should have no financial fears.  Their biggest worry is “can I really make it to the top?” but it’s really just a matter of time.  As long as they can remain healthy and alive, their journey to financial independence is no longer questionable since the compounding investment returns will push them to the goal (eventually).


$750,000 savings (75% of goal)

Three quarters of the way on their journey, the Smiths have the summit in sight.  The reality of reaching the top sets in and the Smiths only remaining concerns are “should I cut back to part time now or switch to a more exciting but lower paid career?”, “what will I do all day once I’m financially independent?”, and “how do I access my retirement accounts in early retirement?”.  Those are all very important questions that have to be answered before cresting the last hill to the summit.

What a spectacular view from these heights!  The Smiths can barely see the meadow where they stopped for a snack when they had $10,000.  The excitement they experienced when they broke into six figure territory is nothing compared to the exhilaration that comes from being so close to their financial independence goal.

Since they are almost financially independent, the Smiths now have what is known as “F-you” money.  That stands for “forget you”, by the way.   They can say “forget you” (or other choice phrases) to the boss if their work situation becomes unbearable.  Finding another job isn’t impossible (if another job is even required!).  As you near financial independence, you gain the ability to name your employment terms.

Beautiful view from the top

$1,000,000 savings (100% of goal)

The euphoria of reaching the summit is unbelievable.  Now that they reached financial independence and they are at the peak of the mountain with their whole life ahead of them, what will they do?  The story could end a million different ways.  Maybe they keep the backpack on their shoulders and set off on a trip around the world.  Or they might return to the hobbies that they used to enjoy before work got in the way.  Perhaps they want to devote their time to starting (or growing) a family.  They might step up their volunteering and community involvement.  Their post-career life is a tabula rasa, a blank slate.

One thing is certain.  From the top of the mountain, they can see the entire world spread out before them.  Anything is possible.  The Smiths have the financial resources to provide for themselves indefinitely and their futures are only constrained by their own creativity.



Where are you on the mountain? Does the climbing get easier or harder as you go up?  Are you enjoying the view while on your journey?


Want to see exactly where you are on the path to financial independence?  Keep track of all your investments in one place with Personal Capital.

Root of Good Recommends:
  • Personal Capital* - It's the best FREE way to track your spending, income, and entire investment portfolio all in one place. Did I mention it's FREE?
  • Free Travel* - We score $10,000 worth of free travel every year from credit card sign up bonuses. Get your free travel, too.
  • Save more on travel with Airbnb and take $40 off your first stay*. We usually get apartments with 2-3 bedrooms plus a kitchen and living room for less than the price of 1 hotel room. Save even more with weekly and monthly discounts.
  • Use a shopping portal like Ebates* and save more on everything you buy online. Get a $10 bonus* when you sign up now.
  • Google Fi* - Use the link and save $20 on unlimited calls and texts for US cell service plus 200+ countries of free international coverage. Only $20 per month plus $10 per GB data.
* Affiliate links. If you click on a link and do business with these companies, we may earn a small commission.


  1. Great post, Justin! We are still near the bottom of the mountain, but we are actually finding it easier than it was when we started last year. We still have a ton of debt to pay off, but the numbers are swinging in the right direction, and with each passing month, our life of frugality becomes more enjoyable, knowing that we are indeed on our way to meeting our goal of FI. 🙂

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed following the Smith’s journey in this post! I am about halfway up the mountain currently. The road ahead seems daunting, but I am absolutely looking forward to the next milestone. 75% of the way will be a LOT of fun!

  3. Interesting scenario – one that I wonder how many people will actually achieve? The baseline of needing $40K in retirement sounds pretty doable – especially once kids have left the nest, and probably even earlier. $10,000 is a reasonable amount most middle-income families could afford to save in a year practising a modest lifestyle and suppose…. 2 kids. Okay that goes into 1 million 100 times…..hmm. Wait, that does not take into account interest/investment income made on these savings. Okay, I don’t have a compounding chart nearby, but I have a feeling it might take our couple 25-30 years at 10K in savings per year to save that much, almost the same amount of time as many average working careers! Now I know you are going to say “yeah but look at all the ways they can save MORE money – ie. change insurance coverage, eat out less often, etc” and I agree. However, what if they already do all those things – Their $40K in yearly needs is met AFTER scrimping and saving and being frugal (and leaving $10K in savings…..). I do not think they will be retiring particularly early – maybe 60ish, who knows? Don’t get me wrong – I believe in a frugal/simple lifestyle with as little impact on the planet as possible, and saving is a big part of what we do for our finances, but I have no rose-coloured illusions about arriving at a million dollar nest egg much earlier than at the time most people end up retiring………

    1. $10,000 invested each year earning 7% real return will net a $1,000,000 investment portfolio in 30 years. A couple fresh out of college that starts saving $10k/yr at age 25 would have the million bucks (in today’s dollars) at age 55. Still pretty early! And most people increase their earnings over the course of their careers. So if they start out making $30k each, then they will probably end up earning much more than that. If they bank the raises and don’t suffer from lifestyle inflation, they could save much more each year.

      True, it might take the average person multiple decades. In the story of the Smith’s journey, I intentionally left out ages and time spans. Each person’s journey is their own, and they must take it at the pace that suits them. But the point I wanted to illustrate was the advantages of financial security all along the path to financial independence. With each successive milestone, you get more security, more flexibility, and can afford to make smarter money choices.

      1. I loved your original post, and I am around the 25% point when the path is starting to get steeper, but the dividend income is starting to take some of the load (maybe a Sherpa starting to take some of the things in my backpack!).

        I really wanted to comment on your reply, because I think the really important point here is to bank raises when they come. Both my wife and I have had a small raise, but we have immediately put that to overpaying our mortgage even more than previously. This will pay off the mortgage around 10 months earlier, which in turn will allow those 10 mortgage payments saved to be saved to boost the climb to the summit. It would probably have been better to add the raises to our investing savings, but I do think being mortgage free is a key step in the climb to the Financial Independence summit.

        If you don’t object I would like to do a post on my blog which is a summarised version of yours, and link to your site. I will also add you to my blogroll.

        Good Luck in your journey

        1. Hey FI UK! Sounds like you are well on your way! Banking raises definitely helps amp up the retirement savings. And you don’t really “sacrifice” anything since a raise is new money you didn’t have before.

          Sure, feel free to relay the story of the trek to the summit of FI! Glad you appreciated the story!

  4. We are at the very bottom with a little over 10k saved up. We see our mountain. We know how to get up there. We’re just waiting to get secure to take the next step.

  5. Good post! I wonder what happened to the Joneses? Truthfully, l just happened to meet an old man l assumed was on the mountain (an older coworker). He mentioned this new retirement 401k thing and said to do it. So, l did. My view is pretty good now. I am happy to say l passed the wisdom down to all my coworkers. Some listened, some did not.

        1. I started (almost) from scratch last September, so tiny steps are good. I guess I came of age at the same time as the internet, so I had some basic html/web stuff in college. Which helps debug html screw ups at least!

  6. Fantastic post, Justin. I’m about 25% there myself ($200,000 of $750,000), and this is exciting! I’m an avid hiker/climber myself, so once I reach my goal, the first priority is to literally summit a mountain (maybe Rainier or Denali!)

  7. Very nice. I take the house value out of the calculation because it doesn’t create income. And I break it down to retirement/college accounts that I can’t touch w/o penalty and taxable accounts, which are my “retire early” accounts.

    Overall we’re pretty psyched with our position. We prioritized retirement/college (since our health and careers are not predictable 20-30 years down the road) and saving up for a house (to get a solid foundation), piling up most of our money in those accounts.

    But from an early retirement perspective, those accounts only have about 10% of what we want to retire early. But with the rest of the stuff pretty much taken care of we can focus more money on the early retirement stuff with our relatively-predictable income.

  8. I think I’m at the top of the mountain also, but still ‘hiking a little further on the trail’ just to be sure. I started out maximizing my 401k at 9,500 in 1997 (much better now the limit is 17,500) which has been my main ‘sherpa’. What you failed to mention were any tumbles during the steep final part of the climb, or maybe you sheltered better than I did during 2008/09? Thanks for the well written post.

    1. We just kept piling in the money during 2008-2009. Those new investments did very well. The pre-2008 investments have recovered nicely as well. Sometimes you have to follow the trail down into the valley before you can continue to the summit on the other side.

  9. Good stuff, my fiance and I are at about $30k total in retirement accounts right now, with $68k remaining of my student loans. So I guess with the mountain analogy I am climbing higher with an overloaded heavy pack trying to pull me down. I’ll be maxing out the 401k this year, and hopefully get rid of the loans in 2-3 years.

  10. Interesting post…very MMMesque! I think we’re definitely like the Smith family, but we probably have to make a determination as to what amount will allow us to live a modest lifestyle. A million dollars in NYC might not allow for a modest lifestyle because of the cost of housing.

      1. You’re right. I know many people who leave after they retire. The reason I don’t leave to a lower cost of living area is because of family and friends. In retirement, if my family/friends are still all here, it would make it tough to leave them also.

  11. I’m almost at the 50% mark. At 400k it started feeling like real money, that’s when I really noticed the difference of thousands of dollars in gains compounding month after month.

    My main message to folks starting out is to just start saving, add to it with every paycheck, and don’t ever touch the stash. I remember that my first deposit was something like $25, I truly doubted I’d ever be able to save enough to retire on. Keep climbing, everyone!

    1. I don’t remember the first investment I ever made, but I did recently find the records of where I started my first vanguard investment for $3000. I figured it would take forever to get to financial independence. Well, here I am!

    1. Although I feel I have a never ending persistance to reach the summit, it can get monotonous and seemingly pointless along the way (ie you don’t get to fully utilize your stash until the end). Anyway, one thought that has given me perspective is how much different our family is than the Joneses. A huge portion of society literally couldn’t go a few weeks let alone months without a source of income. What gives me comfort is knowing g that we could suffer an economic depression for decades and still win the game. When you are focused on skill acquisition and expense efficiency it is really hard not to win in the end. The only thing that might slow or speed us up is the weather on the mountain.

      1. That’s sort of the message I was trying to convey in this post. Financial “emergencies” become mostly irrelevant after the first few stops near the base of the mountain. Yeah, you might lose a job or suffer a career setback somewhere along the way, or we might suffer a major stock market crash a la 2008-2009. But that’s just the fickle weather changing unpredictably. The climbing may be a little harder, but as long as you keep going up, you’ll reach the top eventually.

  12. My wife & I will summit this year (barring a severe market downturn.) It feels good, but we’re going to continue to save even longer because we want a higher standard of living than $40K/year. I turn 50 this year, and have yet to determine when I really want to retire, but it’s nice to know I have options.

  13. I’m almost at the $50,000 mark. It can seem daunting at times, but I just keep my head down and piling money into those accounts, haha. This post was really a good read–thank you 🙂 I am so excited to meet you at the top of the mountain 🙂 🙂

    1. That’s the way to do it. You are still near the bottom of the mountain, and that’s actually the hardest part. It can be challenging to keep up the pace when you still have almost the entire mountain towering ahead of you.

  14. hmm, I am at the top of the mountain. The hundreds of simulations and hours of spreadsheet review seemed to indicate that I was, but I didn’t even really believe it until my financial advisor told me on Jan 6 “you’re there!”. And now I am experiencing mental vertigo. I am 49 and grew up in an environment of “you never stop working hard or you are a slacker”, so the thought of leaving my job (which I will be doing this year) makes my heart race with fear AND excitement. It can’t come soon enough and I’m terrified I am making a mistake. Most people I think will scoff at me for that. But I am still in the doubting phase (especially with this month’s stock market gyrations).

    I appreciate this post because perhaps it will help me “enjoy the view”.

  15. We’re at about $250k in liquid assets, but we can throw a paid off home in there, too. We’re, maybe, approaching the half way mark of the mountain? Tough to say at this point. Great metaphor: now, back to the climb!

  16. Justin, you describe our desire and our plan perfectly, thought we are still at stage 1. We’ve been working to get out of debt and pay off our mortgage, but hopefully that will all happen this year. After that, we’ll be racing to the summit!

    1. Hey, hard core debt repayment is sort of like hard core savings since you are forgoing consumption by not spending all that you make. Just divert the debt payments to savings and boom – you’ll be on the way to the summit!

  17. I really think it would be interesting if you did an article detailing the average experience of the Joneses. You could analyze data from the triannual fed survey of household net worth and see what their financial journey looks like at different stages in life. If I remember correctly, the networth (including house) of the average household pretty much tracked the equity accrued from paying off a 50 year mortgage.

    1. Interesting idea. You’ve probably nailed the Joneses right there – their house appreciates in value over time and (maybe) they don’t cash out refi all the appreciation. They work 40 years and “retire” to a paid off house and SS at 67-ish (probably because they can’t work any longer).

  18. What a fantastically motivating post! It’s all too easy as you say to focus on that “far off goal” and feel that very little is happening between now and then.

    However much like regular weigh-ins to keep you motivated when losing weight, these “stepping stones” are fantastic reminders that every step of the journey has new benefits and value.

    Personally I’m pretty early on in the walk, but having virtually paid off all my consumer debt I shall be in a position to start saving aggressively in the next couple of months. Now that’s when things start to get exciting pretty quickly 🙂

  19. Such a motivational article! It puts things back into perspective for me as I set our financial goals for the year. We have just started the climb. We’re going to be maxing out our retirement accounts this year and then, I’m, also, starting a taxable account. I wonder if we should set the goal of investing as much as we spend every year?
    Do the savings include retirement accounts and a taxable account?

    1. I always looked at my retirement accounts and taxable investment accounts as “savings”. Different rules to access each pot of money, and one will be spent before the other. But they both get you to financial independence.

  20. Just catching up on some of your posts Justin… I like this one! Sometimes a strong metaphor is much better motivation for people to take action on their goals than a long post with the technical details, and this fits the bill perfectly. Cheers!

  21. What a timely post for me to come across. Shall I call you Justin Time ?! 🙂 It’s a great anology…filled with hope. As much as the saying goes…”it’s the jouney-not the destination”…it’s nice to have such a lofty goal. Good work here, good Sir!

  22. Justin,
    Just had to drop you line and let you know the time you spent on this “Mountain”  metaphor was well spent. It’s  very inspiring. I read it 5 times. It describes my experience.
    I am 46 and am close to having F-you money saved. It can be achieved especially if you start when you are young.  Where most people go wrong is  calculating their retirement savings at age 65. The fact is that once you turn 50 you are vulnerable. You want to be financially independent at this point (I.e. no mortgage, no debt, money in the bank) The chances of finding a new job at the same salary are much lower when you hit 50 (and believe it or not, you will be 50 one day.) Being 50 and dependent on a job really sucks young people. To get to the top of this mountain, 1) Don’t live within your means. Live way, way, way, way below your means. 2) as most of you found out, a primary residents is a horrible investment. Houses typically go up with inflation, buy a cheap place to live and pay it off ASAP. 3) dollar cost average 15% of your income in the stock market. Do this and you will get to the top too. 

    1. This is so true about setting yourself up at 50 years old or younger. All bets are off in this day and age when it comes to job security and longevity. Great post…

    2. Brad, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I don’t often see the incremental benefits of growing your wealth discussed on financial blogs. But it’s definitely liberating to have a quarter or a half of what you ultimately need for financial independence.

      Those tips you gave are great, too! Aim for retirement at age 50, because you never know what’s going to happen, don’t waste money on housing – buy what you need, and contribute at least 15% to investments in the market. Sound advice.

    3. Hi Brad,

      I totally agree with you on the job reality at 50. I believe that you should be in your 50s and should be enjoying the “awesome” view at the top of the “mountain”.


  23. Just dropped by to check for any new posts. Had a chance to read the other posts more closely and noticed that
    Nick @ Step Away from the Mall said:
    “I take the house value out of the calculation because it doesn’t create income”
    While this is true if you have a mortgage, I would beg to differ in the case of a paid off house. In fact, I would say a paid off house is the linchpin upon which financial independence is based. And it does create income.
    One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, once said:
    “A penny saved is a penny earned. “
    But you see, old Ben didn’t have to pay income tax.
    This saying should be updated to:
    “A penny saved is a penny earned, tax free!!!!”
    To explain:
    I paid $160,000 for my house. It’s paid off. It will rent for about $1,300 a month.
    It cost me about $200.00 dollars a month to stay here. I don’t worry about a landlord upping my rent each year. I don’t worry about getting foreclosed on. If I find the property tax unreasonable, I have the recourse to protest it.
    So 1300 – 200 = 1100 a month I no longer have to cough up.
    So by making that $160,000 investment. I get a return of $13,200 a year.
    But it gets better. To make that in the market. I would have to make about $15,529.41 because I’m not SAVING money. I have to MAKE money. Which means I have to pay taxes.
    15529.41 – 15% capital gains = $13,200
    Which works out to 9.7% return on $160,000.
    I’m also protected from inflation because my house value should reliably track with it.
    If Russia invades the Crimea: 9.7 % return.
    If the stock market goes to 0: 9.7 % return.
    Some say you get a tax deduction from keeping a mortgage. But if you lose your job, what’s the tax deduction on 0 income?
    Some say you make more money investing the 160000 in the stock market. But if the stock market went to 0, you have no money AND nowhere to lay your head.
    I’ll take a guaranteed 9 percent return any day. Financial independence is mostly about managing risk and this is a great way to minimize risk.

    1. Those are great points, Brad. Along with Nick, I don’t use my house’s value to forecast future portfolio returns that can be withdrawn. But I view the value of a house like you do. It’s a rent free place to live. I treat the house as an expense reduction. Instead of rent (which would be roughly the same as your $1300 figure on our almost $160,000 house), we only pay taxes, insurance, and maintenance/replacement expenses. Taxes, insurance and maintenance still add up to a few hundred dollars per month, but that’s still $1000 less than what the rent would be.

      In our case, we save around $1000 per month by owning instead of renting and lose out on investment returns on the $150,000 value of our house. That works out to an 8% opportunity cost ($12000 / $150,000). That’s about what I expect long term out of my investments, so it’s a good trade off. Our house should also go up in value roughly at the rate of inflation, perhaps +1%. And as you point out, by owning, our housing costs are mostly inflation proof and free of volatility.

      There’s also the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will at least have a place to live should your portfolio suffer steep losses.

    1. That first 10% is the hardest. You can’t see a lot of progress at first, and your investment returns don’t add a lot to your NW growth at the very beginning. But once you get to 10%, you’ll be well on your way!

    2. Just some words of encouragement. If you are young this advice is appropriate. If you are 50. Then stop reading now. With compounding , all of the reward comes on the back end. I started investing at 24. When I was 30, I had managed to save $10,000. When I was 38, I had $100,000. I was saving only 10% of my income. I then started saving 15% percent of my income. It was a few years before the housing debacal. I kept investing. Kept investing. Kept investing. At 45, I opened a Roth Ira to go with my 401k. I’m 49 now and have 500000 in my 401k and Roth. So what took me almost 15 years to save increased 5 x from 38 to 49. This last year, my stock account increased 24000 without any contributions. That’s equal to the contributions I used to put in from my paycheck. The dividends that I reinvest are about 9000 a year. It’s like a wind pushing you forward. When I’m 60, I should have a million without putting another dime in. If only I started putting 15 percent at 24.

  24. Really nice metaphor for the journey of FIRE. Thanks a lot! I´m enjoying the view quite a bit, and it´s getting easier to keep doing it, the only “new” fear is vertigo, as we go up and climbing. Any thoughts on that, Justin? I´d say I´ve climbed 1/3 of the mountain so far . . . all the best and keep writing this way!

    1. Only advice is to get used to the heights because if you keep saving and investing you’ll only get wealthier. You might have to descend the mountain a bit as you follow the trail, only to climb higher later in the journey (if the stock market crashes). Just keep plodding forward 🙂

  25. A beautifully written analogy! It’s an exciting journey from the bottom that only builds as you get closer to the top. Then once you reach the top, the trip down the mountain is a breeze where you get to reflect on your memories of the whole thing. Once you’re back to the car, time for a good meal, and then – what’s next!?!

    1. I think what’s next is whatever you want to do! Some keep climbing other mountains while others enjoy the view from the heights they are comfortable with.

  26. Hi ROG,

    You are right to point out that age plays little factor in the ascension to the mountain top. I believe that the most important factor is the sheer determination in pressing on climbing the mountain when the going gets tougher on the way up.

    Keep trying (consistent saving and
    investing) and one will eventually reach the top of the mountain. Enjoy the moment in the ascension up the mountain. One will slowly start to enjoy the benefits of financial independance!


  27. Hey Justin, Just dropped by to say I finally reached the summit! I’m looking down from the top at this very moment and see some of the other posters not far behind. It sure is foggy up here!
    I now have a paid off house and $1,000,000 in invested assets which should generate about $40,000 a year in passive income.
    I’ve been 100% stocks my whole career but recently shifted to 25%-Cash, 25%-Bonds and 50% stocks right before the downturn in January. I’m now playing with the houses money when it comes to my stock portfolio. When you get up, you get out. I’m now officially in wealth preservation mode.
    When I first posted to your site, which unbelievably, has been about 4 years ago, I was 46 and my net worth was about 550,000.
    Who could believe at that time the stock market would go on such a wild ride!
    SP 500 Returns Including Dividend Reinvestment:
    2013 29.60% – (There’s got to be some guy out there that said, “That’s it, I’m going all into bonds!” in 2012. Poor guy. He must feel horrible now.) Its time IN the market not TIMING the market that works.
    2014 11.39%
    2015 −0.73%
    2016 9.54%
    2017 19.42%
    At this rate of growth, $550,000 becomes a million dollars in four years.
    I’d like to guide others up the mountain with these tips:
    • My career has spanned 28 years.
    • My average income has been 60,000 a year. I’m not a lawyer or doctor, just had an average income.
    • It took me 28 years to achieve this goal. That’s because I made so many mistakes. I’m certain anybody can do it in 20 years. 15 years is very possible. 10 years if you went crazy. If they know what to do:
    1) Don’t swing for the fences. Average aint so bad. Invest in a Total Stock market fund.
    2) Max out your 401k and Roth IRA.
    3) Save outside your 401k and Roth. They do you no good until you can access them at 59.5.
    4) Pay your house off early.
    5) One habit can change your finances big time in the future. Example: If you start working at 20 and never have a car payment and invest the payment. You will have a million at 50.
    6) Read – One nugget of knowledge can change your life. I read a book about finance when I was 26. It had a chapter about index funds. I knew at that point where to put my money. Read, read, and read.
    7) Invest, NO MATTER WHAT. From 2000 to 2010, a lump sum invested lost money. The media called it “The Lost Decade”. Yet, money that was dollar cost averaged during that time grew exponentially.
    8) Greece, Greece, Greece. Don’t listen to the news. If I heard how Greece was going to bring down the entire world economy again, I was going to be sick. Now, nobody talks about Greece.
    9) For every summer, there is a winter, be prepared for the winter. We have had a huge run-up in stock prices during the last decade. Historically this is followed by a decade of bad news. Investing during the bad times is where the money is made. Stay the course.

  28. So I picked up a few small things along the years. I have already worked for 15 years now and nowhere near I want to be. I have no idea really, but bingeing through several blogs now yours which has tangible steps I realise I haven’t actually contributed to my investments in over 7 years I have been withdrawing to purchase rental properties. Now that said buying properties was part of my strategy. Those rental properties are cash flowing and part of inheritance for my kids.
    Now that I look at life (based off of one of your blogs 0 to mil in 10) I don’t know where I could come up with an average of $50,000 or more a year to contribute to investing. I do save but that is small nothing significant $2000 a month at most.
    So question how do I get to have that type of cash flow to put towards investments?


    1. Hi Cathy,

      My view is as follows:

      – It does not matter how much you can save and channel the fund towards the investments. As long as there is a positive cash flow in term of the savings, I opine that this is sufficient enough as per my perspective.

      – You mention about the type of cash flow (which I presumed to be the figure mentioned by Justin as per his example). I can sense that there is some form of comparison component on your part. I suggest that you eliminate such component from your assessment. Everyone’s circumstance is different and hence it beats morale and confidence along the way. You have done a marvellous record in able to save $2,000 per month. I think that you maintain such saving rate and raise the amount (if possible) and channel it to the investment portfolio.

      – Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on ownself and aim to achieve better than last month’s record. I am of view that this is much more productive and achievable if you really want to include comparison as part of your assessment.

      I wish you achieve FIRE soonest possible.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.