Recently there has been increased interest in and talk of financial independence at an early age. Those unfamiliar with the specifics may assume that it is another ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. In some ways, it’s understandable why people may naturally jump to this conclusion. Key phrases like, “retire at 35,” or “never have to work again,” fit in the category of being too good to be true.
Yet, for those who have read more about the early retirement / financial independence group of people, it is far from a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme. In fact, the fundamental ways by which people achieve financial independence require a lot of hard work and extreme dedication: reduce spending drastically and invest aggressively. There may be other supplemental principles, like focusing on cash flow instead of a lump sum, but the two core ideas remain. Financial independence requires both spending less and investing more.
If you are looking to achieve financial independence (at any age), it will require you to be aggressive with your investments. Until recently, I did not take this seriously enough. I was saving extra money, but too afraid to put it at risk. It wasn’t until I learned of the necessity of investing that I took action. If you find yourself wanting to achieve financial independence sooner rather than later and are trying to motivate yourself to invest more money, here are some simple steps to take to increase your investments.
Consider the Risk
If you are like me, a quick glance at the economy will cause you to doubt the likely return on investing at this stage. Investing in the stock market seems as uncertain as a lottery ticket when you consider the recent recession, the instability of foreign markets, and future legislation (to just name a few). The current climate may challenge your commitment to achieve financial independence, but if you want to reach a point in your life where you are not forced to work in order to survive, you have to invest aggressively.
This is not to suggest that you ignore the risk of investing altogether. Instead, take note of the risk and prepare yourself psychologically for the worst-case scenario (losing it all), but understand the improbability of this happening. Remind yourself that it is a bigger risk not to invest because it is certain that you will be unable to afford the future cost of living.
Set Tangible Goals
After you have considered the risk and reminded yourself of the necessity of investing, it is time to put a plan in place. I recently updated my financial goals on my blog to include investing goals. I made sure that I had concrete goals to shoot for too. For example, after contributing 10% of our income to our employer’s retirement funds and maxing out our Roth IRA’s, I set another goal of investing $800 per month in a taxable brokerage account. It was large enough to challenge me and also specific enough that will allow me to assess whether I accomplished my goal.
If there is one thing that I have learned about investing in the past two years, it’s that I am much more consistent if I have a plan in place. Setting vague aspirations that you will invest more over the next year is like trying to lose weight without any specific exercise or dietary restrictions. It’s just not going to work. If you are serious about investing in your future, you need to come up with a plan that will bring you to financial independence.
Last, but certainly not least, give yourself some motivation for achieving your goals. While the hope of not “having to work” may be a pretty large reward, odds are that it is years or decades away from happening. Give yourself a nice incentive for established ‘mile-markers’ along the way. Make them large enough to provide extra motivation, but not large enough to compromise your achievement.
Accomplishing financial independence and success with investing is all about taking action today. The difference between those who are able to retire early and those who are not, is not the income of those individuals, but their commitment to the two basic principles: reduce your spending and invest aggressively. It takes a lot of hard work, but I think it is worth it.
Do you have any tricks to get yourself to invest more money?
This post was written by Corey, a staff writer from 20’s Finances.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.