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One Thing...If you’re reading this article, you’re probably someone interested in or already on the way to the world of financial independence.  Regardless of why you’re here, I think we all know some of the basics of reaching that goal:

  • Get out of debt ASAP – This is the #1 step that needs to be done… and this refers to bad debt like credit cards, car payments, etc.  This does not necessarily mean good debt like mortgages on rental property that serve as assets helping to provide you with cash flow.
  • Spend less – It’s wonderful to live like royalty, but if you don’t make a fortune, you’re never going to be able to quit working.  By living at or below your means, you’ll begin to leave yourself a lot more room for the next step…
  • Save more – Make life simple by putting automatic transfers in place so it becomes an out-of-sight out-of-mind process.  The best part is that the more you are saving, the less you are spending and actually need to live off of!

And then there are other things you can be doing to help make your financial independence or early retirement happen even sooner:

  • Good investments401(k)/403(b) plans and IRAs such as Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs give you an opportunity to grow your money at a much better pace than a savings account or money market.  Bear in mind though that this also brings a lot more risk than a savings account.  These investments are not guaranteed.
  • Buying assets such as rental properties can provide an opportunity for a lifetime of cash flow.  Buying real estate seems to carry a negative connotation for a lot of people, but with some solid learning, rental properties provide a great avenue toward financial independence.  Another great asset can be dividend stocks – instead of relying on the appreciation of a stock, you let the company pay you a small amount of money on a regular basis (usually quarterly).
  • Starting a business, particularly one that you grow with the intention of being able to step out of it after a number of years, can be a fantastic way to build wealth.
  • Royalties or licensing such as books, inventions, etc. can provide an ongoing stream of income.  I published a technical book around a decade ago and another about a year ago and I will tell you from experience that book publishing has become much easier.  However, that alone makes it a tougher industry to make good money because anyone can easily become an author and publish their book thus flooding the book market with competition.

But, more than anything, I’ve really been thinking and I realized that the most important thing, the one thing that you need to do, is exactly that… one thing.  One thing every single day.

If you have the determination and do just one thing every day, you’re going to make it – you’re going to find your way to financial independence.

I don’t care what that thing is, but as long as it’s related to your goal of financial independence, this is how you avoid complacency and make things happen.

Everyone knows the importance of setting goals, but if you don’t do anything with them, you go nowhere.  You need to keep your mind focused and make sure that you are taking a step forward every day.

Here are some examples:

  • Revisit every regular bill you get (just do one a day if you want) and figure out if it’s possible to cut it back somehow.
    • Are you paying too much for cable – should you cut it out completely and go to an antenna and/or streaming?
    • Can you get your electric or gas bills cheaper if you’re in a place that allows other suppliers to handle it?  If you don’t know, find out!!
    • When’s the last time that you checked if you’re car or house insurance is the best rate you can get?  Should you raise your deductible?

 

 

  • Have you thought about real estate investing, but haven’t done anything about it?

    • Check out BiggerPockets – the amount of free knowledge on this site is unbelievable!  Forums, podcasts, webinars – all are excellent!!
    • Start driving around and just learn what’s out there.  Learn a neighborhood inside and out.  Research properties that are for sale, and learn if they’re overpriced or could be a good investment.  Do the calculations manually or use the calculator on BiggerPockets to figure out what your cash flow would be for a property.
    • Get a real estate agent (preferably ones who owns real estate themselves) and get yourself on their MLS email with some specifics of what you’re looking for (single family, duplex, what area(s), minimum/maximum price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.).  You’ll then automatically get an email when a property fits your description comes up.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy anything, but it gets your mind going and you start to become more familiar with asking prices and more.  And who knows… maybe you’ll find the property you want!!

 

  • Do you own a house?  Have you refinanced it in the past few years?  If not, do it!
    • I found that my credit union offered a refi rate that was so much less than the big banks.  I’m kicking myself for not going thinking of them from the time I bought the house.  We bought our house with a 30-year loan, did a refi a few years later and dropped it to a 20-year with the same payment, and then a couple of years later, did yet ANOTHER refi (with our credit union) and dropped it to a 15-year loan STILL with the same payment.  Yes, I could have saved even more money by only doing one refi (because of the rolled-in closing costs), but the rate drops actually made it worthwhile.

 

  • Look at your bank and figure out some options to make a couple more dollars.
    • Do you have some savings earning pennies every month?  Take a look at online savings banks – at the time of this writing, some of them are paying 1%.  Ok, it’s not a fantastic return, but it’s still probably 100x more than you’re getting at your bank or credit union.

I’m just scratching the surface and I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas you can come up with, but the point is that if you simply do one thing every day toward your financial future, you WILL come out ahead.  And I’m going to bet that you will come out FAR ahead!

This has almost become a game in my life – I love figuring out ways to keep progressing forward.  I look back, even just at this past year, and realize just how far we’ve come.  And we’re just getting started!

So stop sitting on your butt and push yourself to do just one thing every day… you won’t regret it!!!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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Just One Thing…
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10 thoughts on “Just One Thing…

  • April 19, 2016 at 2:59 pm
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    So much solid advice here! I would add one wrinkle, which is to question whether “good debt” is actually good. Paying off a mortgage is a *guaranteed* return of whatever the interest rate is, whereas nothing in guaranteed in any other kind of investing. Plus, being entirely debt free means you can live on next to nothing if things ever get bad. Like if the economy tanks and your investments go south, your tenant can’t pay rent to cover your rental property mortgage, etc. Being fully debt free means you’ll never be forced to sell off assets when the market is at a low point, which is a great feeling. 🙂

    Reply
    • April 19, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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      That’s a good point – being completely debt free should be the end game for most people, but my biggest concern is that the consumer debt needs to be the main focus regardless before you can really progress forward toward financial independence. I’m thinking we can agree that there is definitely a difference between consumer debt and debt used for rental investments producing cash-flow. If I lose my job right now, paying the mortgage on my home is going to be a major problem. That’s not necessarily going to be an issue on the properties where my tenants are paying the mortgages and helping to fund an account for when they leave. But that’s definitely a comfort level of whether you’re good with sitting on debt that for something like that.

      I’m picturing you cringing right now as you’re reading this!. 🙂 But I do love that we get to periodically disagree on this – it makes for some good discussion!! You guys are great and I love when you stop by!!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • April 20, 2016 at 7:42 pm
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    Jim:

    Great list of action items.

    For me, I actually have “two” things – (1) increasing my exposure to real estate and (2) moving my equity exposure away from expensive growth funds into dividend stocks.

    And since I’m not happy unless I’m busy, my third thing is creating new income streams.

    Just keep moving forward.

    Reply
    • April 20, 2016 at 8:50 pm
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      Sounds like we’re both looking at the same things! 🙂 And absolutely – just keep moving forward!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • May 29, 2016 at 11:43 pm
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    Great points Jim. I agree completely with your mindset, if you just have the desire to be FI, everything will fall into place, no matter how you save money, or how you invest, you are a huge step towards your goal.

    Tristan

    Reply
  • April 4, 2018 at 10:49 am
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    Another thought provocation – thanks! 😉
    Debt free on a rental property, and the current rental income cash flow pays for ~66% of my retirement house. this article puts me back to deciding to sell the rental to be debt free, including mortgage, and to take ~$90K of proceeds from the sale to increase the bucket #2 funds.
    The positive cash flow is nice, but add in out of state landlord issues…it seems a break even situation thus far.
    Thanks for the ear and read gang.

    Reply
    • April 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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      Such a tough decision. It’d be fantastic to wipe the debt and be done with all the headaches, but the on the flip-side you lose an asset. It might be seem break-even right now, but is that still the case when you include the other money benefits that the rental property brings in (like appreciation, tax benefits, and amortization)?

      We’re in a similar situation with one of our properties and we’re not sure if we’re going to sell it or not. Pros and cons to both strategies.

      Good luck on deciding the direction to go on yours!!

      — Jim

      Reply
  • April 4, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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    Thank you Jim for the additional link (other money benefits), relevant to this decision.

    Reply

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