Five (More) Things You Can do to Reach Financial Independence

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In a previous article, I touched on five areas that anybody can do to increase their chances of reaching Financial Independence. The post was my take on the amazing episode of the Choose FI Podcast discussing the Pillars of FI.

In part one I discussed the first five areas of your finances you need to optimize.

1. Investing In Low-Cost Index Funds

2. Low-Cost Housing

3. Don’t Buy New Cars

4. Reduce Grocery Bill

5. Optimize tax

Today, I am expanding on 5 more areas of your personal finances you need to take control of if you want to achieve Financial Independence.

  1. College Hacking
  2. Travel Hacking
  3. Increase Your Savings Rate
  4. Cutting the cord
  5. Picking up a side hustle

1. College Hacking

I have written about many case studies of people who have achieved financial independence. I find it to be both inspiring and instructive to detail how real people have achieved financial independence despite challenging circumstances.

One thing I have found is that the people who have reached financial independence the quickest were the people who avoided crushing student loan debt.

Sad as it is to say, graduating from college with a net worth of $0 will put you miles ahead of the game compared to most people.

  • 7 out of 10 college students graduate with student loan debt
  • The average student loan balance is more than $37,000
  • Total student debt is more than $1.5 Trillion
  • The delinquency rate (meaning 90 days late on payments) is at 11%

What is College Hacking?

Enter the idea of “College Hacking”. Which is an internet slang way of saying, obtaining your college degree for as little money as possible. Here are some tips to consider when putting together a college “hack” either for yourself or for your child.

AP & CLEP Courses

Most colleges and universities base their tuition off the number of courses you take. The fewer courses you need to pay to obtain a degree, the less tuition you will wind up paying.

That is where AP and CLEP courses come into play. These courses and exams provide high school students with the opportunity to obtain college credits while still in high school. There is usually a fee to complete these courses but many of them are subsidized and are much less expensive than paying for college credit in college.

State Schools VS Private Schools

According to College Data dot com the total cost of attending a Private College instead of a Private College are significant.

  • The average cost for one year at a State College is $25,290
  • The average cost for one year at a Private College is $50,900

These costs include tuition, room and board, textbooks and personal expenses.

It costs twice as much to attend a Private College. The question you need to ask yourself are you getting twice the benefit from attending a Private College?

Scholarships

If you are willing to put in the work and get creative there is a lot of scholarship money out there to be had. In fact, there is close to $3 billion in unused federal grants the students are leaving on the table.

In this story, I explain how one young couple was able to leverage their jobs at a golf course into a full ride at Perdue University. There is a lot of scholarship money out there if you are willing to put in the time to find it.

2. Travel Hacking

Travel has a bit of a paradoxical relationship with the concept of Financial Independence. It is both a deeply rewarding experience and very expensive.

What is a frugal person to do?

One option would be to not travel. Which personally is not palatable for me. I am as frugal as the next guy, but what’s the point in hoarding tons of cash if you never leave your house?

Another option would be to travel and not care about the costs. This is what many people do and as a result travel costs eat away at their savings rate.

A third option is to travel as much as you want for as cheap as you possibly can.

There are endless ways you can find ways to travel for less money, but I want to discuss two concepts that everyone can take advantage of.

Travel Rewards

You can collect credit card points that amount to free flights and free hotel stays. You would be shocked to learn how simple it is to earn massive amounts of points in a short amount of time.

Imagine taking a trip where the flight and/or the hotel are free. That is the objective of travel reward points.

This Podcast covers the concept of travel rewards in far greater detail than I ever could. It is worth a listen.

Working Customer Service

Remember one thing: Everything is negotiable.

If you know how to really work customer service, particularly with airlines and hotels you can enjoy significant discounts and upgrades on flights and hotels.

In this story, I detailed how my I was able to have a 4-night trip to New York City for $308.82 by milking everything I could from customer service.

3. Increasing Your Savings Rate

The most important number on your path to financial independence is your savings rate. What percentage of your take-home pay are you investing? The answer to that will determine your timeline to Financial Independence

Anyone in the Financial Independence community will be familiar with the chart below developed by Mr. Money Moustache.

In the left column, you have your savings rate, the percentage of your take-home pay you are investing.

In the right-hand column, you have “years until retirement”. This is showing you how many years it will take, given your savings rate before your passive income can cover your living expenses. This is the moment you have achieved “Financial Independence” AKA “FI”. This is the point where some people choose to retire early and have achieved “FIRE” (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

Source: Mr. Money Moustache

This chart makes things simple. If you want to retire in the next 10 years you need to save about 65% of your income. If you don’t mind working for another 43 years, you only need to save 15% of your income.

What I love about your savings rate is it does not care how much money you make, only how much money you save. There are plenty of lower income individuals who managed to achieve Financial Independence, and many high-income earners still living paycheck to paycheck.

4. Cutting the Cord (Including Netflix)

One very simple way to increase your savings rate is to cancel your cable and Netflix subscriptions and redirect that money to savings and investing. That is what I have done and managed to save myself over $100 per month in the process.

Does that mean I can't watch Game of Thrones or any of my favorite Netflix shows?

Nope.

There are tons of Andriod boxes that allow you to stream every television show and movie you can think of. Be sure to check if they are legal in your county, but if so, it is a great option to cut out an expensive recurring monthly bill without giving up any of your favorite TV shows or movies.

Happy Binging.

5. Picking Up A Side Hustle

The quickest way to increase your savings rate is to maintain your current spending’s while bringing in more money every month. By definition that will increase your savings rate.

If you can get a promotion at work or successfully ask your boss for a raise then that’s great.

If not, an easy way to earn more money is to pick up a side hustle.

There are two kinds of side hustles you might consider.

  1. A part-time job
  2. A passion project

A part-time job would be something you may not enjoy but will bring in a predictable amount of additional income. This would be something like driving for Uber or Lyft.

A passion project is something you are passionate about but may not make you any money at all. Making of a Millionaire is a passion project for me. It has been growing steadily over time but given the amount of time I have put into it, this is more of a labor of love than anything else for me.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions