My Progress Towards FIRE (mid-2017)

I’ve only been writing on this blog for a few months now, and I haven’t given many details on my own situation to date.

I had wanted to document my progress towards FIRE (aka: Financial Independence, Early Retirement) as well as provide information on basic personal finance for my readers. However I haven’t known where best to start on telling you all about who I am.

I’ve always done a lot of writing for myself, but this is my first time writing for an audience, and I do admit, it can be a bit awkward! How do I share things I’ve learned without sounding preachy? How do I talk about myself without being boring or seeming conceited? Am I choosing the right topics that people are anxious to hear about? I’m sure this will be a learning process for me, and as always, I welcome any feedback.

So here goes; a little bit more on how I got to this point in my life.

I graduated from engineering school with a Computer Science degree in hand in 2014. I already had some experience developing software at a few companies before finishing school, and had dedicated myself to making my resume look as impressive as possible, in order to land the best job. I had an entrepreneurial spirit, with a few projects I’d done at school that I hoped to turn into companies one day.  However, the path I was on led me to taking a job after graduation.  Within the month I started my first full time job making $80k a year.

And it was…..terrible. I couldn’t stand the company I was working for. The people were nice, but the management was oblivious. The software was not only garbage built on unrecognizable, outdated tech, it was in the health insurance space fraught with regulation and it was dull.

I figured I ended up there by mistake, and quickly switched over to another software company.

I still think that I made a good choice in leaving for the new job, but I ended up just as miserable at employer #2. I may have had too high expectations for this new job. I had just come from a really bad experience and hadn’t gotten over the shock yet. I was rather desperate to be shown that hating your job wasn’t “normal” and that other companies got it better.

The new job was at a small office that was part of a decent-sized startup.  It was very flexible there, but it meant that most of my co-workers never came into work.  As soon as I started, I spent most of my time almost completely alone, and I quickly became bored, lonely, and depressed. I was largely ignored by the companies leaders, and there wasn’t a path for advancement for me.  I had conflicts with certain teammates for which there were no resolutions, and I was positioned squarely at the bottom of the ladder so that others could climb above me. I became resentful.

I am leaving out a lot of details for obvious reasons, but I really tried to make job #2 work for a long time. Of course, there were both good and bad aspects to this job. I ended up learning a lot and added a successful startup to my resume.  Incidentally, it was working there that caused me to discover the FIRE community.

After realizing job #2 was not what I’d hoped, I became very dispirited.  I remember clearly on a bad day, after only having been there about a month, I realized I would have to work like this for years and years. Fresh out of college, I felt burnt-out.  I was already dreading every day for the rest of my life.  It was on that day, sitting alone in my office, that I typed into the google searchbar, “how to retire early.”

Thinking I’d see articles on gurus and geniuses, entrepreneurs selling their independent startups in their early twenties, I was surprised to find that the first result was Mr. Money Mustache.  I’d never heard of him, or FIRE before that day, but from that point on, I’ve been a devout mustachian ever since. This is my ticket out, I realized.

After a few years I ended up leaving that job when I was told plain as day that there were no possibilities for salary or career advancement in the near future. In a high-demand field like tech, it just came to the point where I was ready to take my talents elsewhere.

I hadn’t given up on finding a job I’d really enjoy; I generally liked the work itself, it was more the work environments that were giving me trouble. I moved onto job #3 openminded (albeit a bit burnt out after several years at job #2), but also full-into the path towards Financial Independence (and early retirement).

In the time between job #2 and job #3 I had,

  • paid off $30,000 in student loans within 15-months of graduating (something I would have dragged out over years had I not found Mr. Money Mustache)
  • moved apartments 3 times (due to the crazy housing market where I lived, which caused a bit of stress, but I ended up in a decent place where I’m comfortable and living within my means)
  • started tracking my finances with Mint and Personal Capital
  • focused on cutting down my spending as much as possible
  • setup 401k contributions with matching
  • opened a Vanguard personal investment account (and proceeded to put 80% of my liquid assets there)
  • opened an Ally savings account (because after doing some research their 1.05% rate was the best return I could get on any money I didn’t want in the market)
  • downloaded the Robinhood app and put a couple thousand dollars in there to play around and learn about the market (I don’t advise this as a path to financial freedom, but I do find it interesting. I’ve doubled my original $2000 after a year, but I believe that’s mostly due to the current bull market.  It’s fun finding and researching companies, then buying when you know the price is low, and selling when it’s high.  I’ve come a long way from financial illiteracy).
  • read about personal finance every day, and had read books on investing, salary negotiation, and navigating the workplace

To date, I went from starting out with a negative networth due to student loans, to over $200,000 to my name.  I’m on track to grow that over another $100,000 within the next year (also depending on how the market behaves).

Some days, I wish those first full-time job experiences had been better.  I wish I’d been better appreciated, or even just better treated.  Other days I’m almost thankful they’d been tough, because I may have never typed that desperate search into google.  I don’t know what my life would look like now. Would I only have $1000 in the bank like most Americans? Would I still be paying student loans? It’s possible.

“Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

I hope to learn more about you as you learn about me 🙂 What’s your story? Please share in the comment section below.

Until next time,


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