My Financial Independence Story

I spent seven years in a career in human resources. Human resources is a fine field, but it turns out it just wasn’t for me. It absolutely killed my soul, but I persevered through it anyway, because I was very good at it, and I kept getting promoted.

I got to a point where I was in full blown extreme burnout. I would open Microsoft Outlook for the day and be unable to click on an email to read it. I would receive voicemails and not even listen to them, let alone return the phone call. Doing the work over time became intensely mentally painful. I simply couldn’t bring myself to do the most simple tasks. Whole weeks would go by without me accomplishing a single thing. I was psychologically paralyzed.

At the same time, I could not think of a career to pivot to. I was terrified of jumping from one fire into another. I became very disillusioned with the world of work in general. I decided it would be easier to just save some money and quit. But I didn’t know how much money I needed.

I started to google around the internet and came across the concept of Early Retirement Extreme. I absolutely devoured the entire blog and decided that I was going to do it – I was going to retire. Within five years. Flat. Out. Retire. I was 27.

The math and strategies for this are actually pretty straightforward. And this was the path I chose, and began to pursue relentlessly.

I cut my expenses as deeply as I could stand it. I sold my 2007 Toyota Prius (only 3 years old at the time). I dumped my stupid cell phone plan, even paying an early termination fee and selling the phone it came with. I stopped nearly all restaurant and liquor expenditures, primarily relying upon mystery shopping to fund them. I began commuting 65 minutes each way via bus, which included one transfer. I barely bought anything, at all, ever. I even cut my very long hair myself – avoiding the $15 trip to Great Clips. I evaluated every stupid little expenditure I could, and eventually got to a point where I was saving roughly 80% of my income. I got to a point where I was spending approximately $1200 per month to live.

I had planned to do this extreme saving for three years. However, in the end, I wasn’t able to, because while I was working there, my job was transferred out of state and I chose not to go with it. I was only able to save this aggressively for approximately 18 months. After it all was said and done, I had a $500 per month gap between my expenses and the withdrawals my savings would be able to support. I met a friend who trained me to be an independent contractor online for a niche business to make up this short fall. I was able to eventually make that $500 per month. Sometimes I made more. Sometimes I made a lot more. So I was officially semi-retired just before I turned 30.

As it stands now – with the net worth I have and the savings I have, some people would consider me financially independent. I do not currently have a withdrawal rate since I have income that I pay all of my bills with, but I estimate my annual expenses to be roughly 5% of my net worth.

My eventual goal is to increase my net worth enough so that my annual expenses become 4% of my net worth, and later on, 3% of my net worth. Feel free to follow along as I tackle this goal, amongst all of my others… 🙂

Thanks for reading!
With appreciation,
Kasia