What This Wonderful Journey Is Really About

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I recently got back from spending a few days with my dad and family in RI. We shared meals, drank coffee, had great conversations, sat outside to enjoy the nice weather and watched the neighbors literally burn thousands of dollars in fireworks on the 4th of July. We never had to leave the premises to watch them and just sat in the backyard and drank wine while the beautiful show continued in the sky. I cherish the quality time we spent together.

It was a very relaxing five-day break and I wish I could have stayed longer. I’ll even rephrase that: I hated the fact that I didn’t have the last-minute freedom to stay for as long as I wanted to or until my family got tired of seeing me, without making phone calls and shifting commitments around. Furthermore, I already had committed to showing up to work the next day and scheduled the rest of the week with the fact that I was going to be back in Pennsylvania on July 5th.

Those feelings of frustration reminded me of why we are doing this. Why do we save and invest most of our hard-earned money instead of spending it on a lavish lifestyle that can consist of: first class travel, luxury vehicles, fine dining, luxurious vacations and homes big enough for Pushok to be out of site? (Talking about Pushok, why is he all over me lately? What did I do to deserve such punishment? He must be missing Mrs. Enchumbao.) Back to our topic: why do we choose to live a lifestyle which some might judge us (not that I care) for “accumulating money” and living in “deprivation”? Why not enjoy it now? Since after you die “you can’t take it with you.”

The truth is that our journey has never been about accumulating money for the sake of it. It goes way beyond that and the people that think in these terms totally miss the point. They don’t and might never understand why we’re on this path. This journey is about breaking the chains of debt slavery so that we can wake up in the morning with the option to decline the prescribed lifestyle that has already been set for us. It’s about making the cubicle environment a choice, not a must.  It’s about having the freedom to be yourself. It’s about having all kinds of options.

And most importantly, this journey is about living a breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, impressive and truly happy life without the need to impress others but ourselves. Stop salivating over it. To get there you first need to buy the biggest luxury item on Earth: Time! Having full control of it’s key to enjoying this journey to the fullest.

There are things in life that you’ll never be able to fully control such as family issues, death, sickness, psychopaths who go on shooting sprees (sad human state), and weather catastrophes but for everything else, there’s financial freedom! When you have financial freedom and problems show up, you can pull out your wallet and problem solved. It’s an awesome state of mind. To live such a lifestyle, we are looking to achieve financial independence with a portfolio built to last.

I’ve always said that financial independence has different meanings to everyone, different strokes for different folks, I guess. I’ve even used the term interchangeably with financial freedom. That was my view until I read an article by J.D. Roth about the Six Stages of Financial Freedom. J.D. is financially independent but his life was a disaster 12 years ago, according to him. He carried over $35,000 in consumer debt and was living paycheck to paycheck. I carried over $53,000 so I win with the most debt. Yay…, not proud to win such a competition!!! Imagine if we had a Debt Award show in the U.S.? We’d have way too many contestants showing up on borrowed money. And the Most Likely To Borrow Award goes to…

In the article J.D. explains the different stages of financial freedom and also presents us with the following useful chart:

financial freedom

Check out J.D.Roth’s blog: Money Boss. It’s an empowering personal finance blog that gets very deep into the subject of finances and puts you in charge of your life, money and happiness!

J.D. Roth labels independence as one of the final stages of financial freedom, followed by abundance. In our search for financial independence, we’ve been going through this financial freedom process, stage by stage all along, without a clear road map but a desire to change what wasn’t working for us. We put our vision into the kind of lifestyle that makes us feel good day in, day out–one that is well-lived and drenched in true happiness. To accomplish this, we committed ourselves to living without debt and cutting any wasteful spending. Everything else started to fall into place thereafter. I hope that those of you who are just starting the journey to financial freedom find the chart useful. It’s a powerful guide that teaches you the fundamentals of financial freedom.

At the end of the day, financial freedom is about having options. The more stages you fulfill, the more and greater options you’ll have. We are on Stage 4. We have reached financial security and we’ve been working on the FI path since we started blogging. Financial independence is just around the corner for us! We’re not held back by debt and we have more options than ever before! It’s an exciting adventure.

If you haven’t noticed via the Instagram account, Mrs. Enchumbao is back in the Motherland of Belarus and Lithuania, after an 18-year absence. She’s been sharing great shots from there and I can’t wait to hear more about her experience. I took that trip to RI to spend the 4th of July while she was gone. It was a great opportunity to see my dad since he’s visiting The States and has prolonged his stay. Thinking back about my trip, if Mrs. Enchumbao and I were to come back to our routines and felt the desire to quit our jobs and live off of our investments, we could choose from the following options:

  • We could sell the rental property, invest that money into our portfolio of stocks and bonds and live off of our Freedom Fund. Our Freedom Fund would currently provide a safe withdrawal rate of $29,000 a year.
  • We could move to one apartment of the rental property and rent the other apartment to pay for our home expenses. Then we’d have $26,000 a year to spend on food, transportation, travel and other discretionary expenses. However, we want to live abroad so we wouldn’t pursue this option.
  • We could take some money off the market, start a business and move elsewhere. That could help us achieve independence and abundance, if we so desire. We could do this in an area that has pleasant weather all year round.
  • And last but not least, Mrs. Enchumbao can come up with more great ideas when she gets back. Going back to work after such a long European vacation will be a shock to her system. If I mention any quit now ideas, she might not show up to work again! 🙂 Besides, she’s never short on ideas. I’m sure she can brainstorm solutions I haven’t even thought of.

These were quick ideas and we can even get more elaborate. Nowhere in our options you saw that we have to hold a job to pay off debt obligations. I’ve been there, and done with that! The stage of Solvency is long gone. The only question that I have now is when is my wife coming back??? I’m missing that abundant love. 🙂 One more week to go! ¡Cómo extraño mi media mitad!

I’m sure your financial freedom journey looks different from ours. It’s important that you visualize the life you want to live, paint your journey, know where you stand and at what stage you want to stop and say: “I have enough.” I have options. This is what I want out of life. The rest is irrelevant nonsense. I can stop accumulating at this point and cash in on my options. I call the shots and have control of my financial destiny.

In what stage are you on the Road to Financial Freedom? We’d love to hear from you.

Please like & share:
Our Freedom Fund: Creating a Portfolio That's Built to Last
August 2016 Freedom Fund Update: 6.3% in Market Gains

Mr. Enchumbao

I work for a large investment management company helping people save for traditional retirement. During my spare time, I write about our FIRE journey here, at Enchumbao. My journey to FI began in 2012. I was in a lot of debt back then, but I turned things around and became debt free a few years later. My wife and I reached financial independence in 2017 and are preparing to retire soon.

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6 Responses

  1. LM says:

    We are in “Agency” and love it! Nothing like waking up in the morning and knowing you don’t owe anyone anything, and that all moneys that used to go to payments now go to a mutual fund, which in turn SENDS YOU interest 🙂

  2. You have made some awesome progress. Independence is great and the idea of abundance sounds nice too! I see you have traveled a good bit, is there a particular place you plan to live abroad?

    • Thanks Mr. CK!
      Mrs. Enchumbao is the bigger traveler as she just got back from a 20-day trip to Belarus. I’m just getting started. 🙂 We’re planning to live in Punta Cana and make the DR our base during our first years of early retirement but we’re keeping things flexible so that we can change plans if we feel the need to. It’s not like we need to rush and move to a more permanent place right away so we’re also playing with the idea of traveling the world during our first year of ER, staying in one continent months at a time. This might include doing the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Oh the woes of not having enough time, even when you are making good money. Time is such a precious commodity and not worth giving it up for a 9-5 for 50 years of your life. I think your mindset is what makes people eligible for FI. Not everyone wants to live within their means and sacrifice to accumulate money and then live life in their own terms. But the few that do get the point that it’s not the material possessions, it’s the memories built away from the paycheck that really count.

  4. Yes indeed. The few that get it and get to enjoy life outside of the cubicle build lifetime memories.

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