If you’ve been paying any attention to the “new” generation of financial advice, you will have already heard about the FI/RE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement, simple living, and the “shockingly simple math” behind financial independence. Not long after I discovered minimalism, the frugality/financial independence movement found its way onto my radar — primarily through the Mr. Money Mustache website. These all hold a real draw for me, and I think Mr. Money Mustache has quite a bit to teach us about money management and the realistic ability for most of us to retire if we take the right kinds of steps in spending, saving, and investing.
There are tons and tons of resources out there for anyone who wants to go down this rabbit hole. Probably the most comprehensive place to start is the Financial Independence subreddit here: https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/wiki/faq.
There are good and helpful tools here — in fact, I currently use YNAB as my budgeting tool, and I love it. But here’s the reality: the rules of financial independence, for most of us, boils down to one principle. Simply put, stop buying things you don’t need, and save your money. There are no tricks. There are no shortcuts. Retiring early, financial independence, and even (really) financial health comes down to self-discipline. Everyone has curveballs, to be sure. No one can predict medical emergencies, or uncontrollable emergencies. But everyone has those.
The trick is to work through it anyway, and to NOT BUY THINGS YOU DON’T NEED. And in this culture, that might be one of the most difficult things any of us can do.