Financially Independent

Interview: Financial Independence Through Dividends and Thrift

Posted by 26 January, 2009 (13) Comment


This is an interview with William Spetrino. He is financially independent through through investing in dividends, being smart with his money, and doing right by others. You can read more about him on his Squidoo page or his blog.

Question: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Answer: In college I was an accountant who graduated at the bottom of my class. In finance we learned the efficient market theory which meant throwing darts was as important as analyzing stocks. In 1987 I was first introduced to Warren Buffett and tried to read as much as I could. In the absence of the internet gathering information was not easy. What you are able to learn now in a month it took me over 10 years to learn. In 1988 I started with sports memorabilia but the problem is most of profits went to pay for living expenses. DON’T quit your job until you have at least 1 year of living expenses. In 1993 I finally got started with 7000 dollars and it all took off from there and was a slow steady grind until 1998 when I realized the internet’s vast amount of information was able to speed up my learning process.

Question: You have stated you are financially independent. What does that mean to you?

Answer: Financial Independence is knowing that your annual dividend income EXCEEDS your total living expenses. More importantly if you build your dividend machine “properly” the income should double every 6-10 years which should more than keep pace with inflation

Question: I really like the idea of living off of dividends. What got you interested in dividend paying stocks? Also, why dividend paying stocks? Why not real estate or some other avenue that offers cash flow while preserving the capital asset?

Answer: In 1993 I bought the stock that is now Altria when it had its dividend yield of 5.75% and a low PE. That original investment 15 years ago with reinvested dividends will pay me about 60% in 2009 of the original amount invested. That got my attention. And then if you go on my squidoo lens you will see Jeremy Siegel’s study of the top performing stocks with reinvested dividends. Let me just add I bought Altria more than 10 years before I read his study, but reading it made see the power of it. Siegel also said that 97% of the Dow’s gain since 1900 was because of reinvested dividends and 3% was ‘appreciation”. That made a lot of sense to me. Real estate is something that is capital intensive, you need to involve attorneys, contractors and was the way I thought wealth was to be developed in the 80s and early 90’s. But as time went on I realized that buying stakes in companies like Altria, Coca Cola, Johnson and Johnson when they are PRICED RIGHT is the easiest way to financial independence.

Question: We’ve spoken on the phone a few times and stressed the power of networking. Can you share you experiences in networking and how that has gotten you where you are today?

Answer: Networking is summarized in my book Consume Consume and Consume More which has been sold in over 15 countries and is now starting its second printing. Check out the reviews Whats ironic is the 2 people who have helped me along the way were people I tried to sell an insurance policy to. Thankfully BOTH of them remembered my words. If you ever need ANYTHING at all. Please call me. Both people who are opposite as can be helped provide two separate income streams which provided me the finances to build my dividend machine. Listen closely to this story. When I used to tell one of my old mentors that I was more interested in helping others than selling he asked me if I believed in our product and I said sure. He said then well if you aren’t sharing the product WHO are YOU helping? That made me realize that waiters, construction workers and everyone I came in contact with was fair game. However I do it differently. Most people try and “push” one thing. I build a network of “generous”, positive , competent people and then I expose products to them. THEY will decide what they want. Remember No one loves to be “sold” but everyone LOVES to buy.

Question: I know that you are not a broker and can’t offer financial advice, but are there any dividend paying stocks you would suggest people investigate?

Answer: Unlike a broker who has a vested interest in what and how often you buy I will recommend companies that you understand. Pepsi Coca Cola McDonalds Altria Proctor and Gamble etc. The KEY is what PRICE you get the stocks at. In my book which can be ordered at gives the EXACT formula and filters to tell you WHEN and WHAT to buy.

Question: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Answer: My book will teach you how to start with NOTHING and achieve financial independence by following each step that is SIMPLY stated. The book is less than 50 pages but is full with MEAT which took me 20 years and over 1000 articles and books worth of reading to amass. There is a case study from almost 4 years ago where I analyzed 5 stocks and the 2 stocks I “recommended” are BOTH up even though the stock market is down drastically in that time span. My blog is at Feel free to submit questions an we can see how many we can get to. Peace.

Contact Information:

William Spetrino


Squidoo Lens:


His Forum:

Photo by: Epicharmus

Other Posts:

10 Ways to Become Financially Independent
What Would Happen if More People Were Financially Independent?
10 Reasons Why I Want You to Be Financially Independent
Will Your Ambition Beat You?
What’s the Best Financial Decision You’ve Made?

Categories : Entrepreneur,Financially Independent Tags : , ,

10 Ways to Become Financially Independent

Posted by 30 October, 2008 (9) Comment


This is part 1 of a series on 10 Ways to Become Financially Independent.

A lot of people talk about being rich, but I think they should be talking about being financially independent. I’ve outlined why I think you should be financially independent and its benefits in a previous article (link). I’ve also speculated what I think the US would be like if more people were financially independent (link). A lot of “rich” (I’m defining a rich person as a person with a high income not necessarily a high net worth) people often have to work very long hours to sustain their high spending or “rich” lifestyle. If they lose their jobs, these high spending individuals would more often than not have a difficult time keeping up with their bills without their high incomes unless they saved a substantial amount of money which is not usually the case as shown in the book The Millionaire Next door. The Millionaire Next door authors have spent their careers studying the wealthy and found that millionaires are typically people who spend much less than their income and usually are self-employed although not exclusively.

There are a lot of ways to become financially independent. I am not there YET so perhaps you should stop reading. However, I am very interested in becoming financially independent so maybe we can help each other along the way.

Sound like a plan Stan?

There are many ways to becoming financially independent. I don’t think most people become financially independent through any single method. I’m sure it’s an iterative process that usually takes many years, at least 10 (I threw that number out there), to complete.



1. Win the Lottery

I don’t believe in the lottery. The people that play the lottery are the same people that if they won, they would probably spend it all (my personal opinion and I have a lot of family members and friends that play the lottery). I would like to be proven otherwise, but that seems to be my perception. You need to respect money and the time (your life) that you spend to earn it. I’m still digging through books to find the books that are most beneficial in advice towards financial independence. Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin had probably the most significant impact on me thus far. If you haven’t read it, you should. In the spirit of respecting money and the life you spend to make money, I would suggest you borrow the book from the library. If you really feel that you’d like to support me towards financial independence, it won’t make me cry if you buy the book through my Amazon store. Another companion book I would suggest is Getting a Life: Real Lives Transformed by Your Money or Your Life by Jacquelyn Blix and David Heitmiller.

The biggest factor to becoming financially independent is to play great defense, lower your expenses and curb your spending. Great defenses win championships, right? Well, if you want to have a championship team, you need a great defense. An offense, your ability to produce income, in my opinion, is more difficult to control, but we will explore those options in future posts.

There are a lot of books about lowering your expenses, but I’m only going to mention two of the more popular books.

  1. Your Money or Your LifeYour Money or Your Life is a great resource. Keep in mind that some of the information is dated and perhaps too progressive (baby steps) for your taste, but lowering your expenses is the most powerful part of your goal towards financial independence. There is an online study group as well as local meetings (depending on your location) that you can join to help your through your journey.
  2. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey – He has a great following and is very popular. I have personally never read his books, but I am familiar with his concepts. There are many Dave Ramsey study groups. I’ve seen many Dave Ramsey classes offered through various churches and I’m sure other companies and organizations offer them as well.

I don’t by any means want you to not eat or not have fun in life, but you should at least know where your money is going. If you are already on a budget, but are feeling deprived, Liz Weston @ MSN shows how you can “Live Well Without Busting Your Budget“. One extreme example of people that are cutting their spending is Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme. They cut their expenses in half by moving in an RV. I’ve also interviewed a couple that has been living in their RV for about a year (link).

Here are some other great blog posts and resources for cutting your spending or reducing your debt which can also reduce your spending:


  1. 40 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Required Spending by Trent at the Simple Dollar – Here are some highlights from his post:


    Cancel club memberships Look at things like a health club, a country club, and so on. How often do you really use these services? If you’re using a gym membership less than once a week or a country club membership less than once a month, you’re likely throwing away money.

    Reduce or eliminate your cable bill For many people, this advice is beyond the pale, but it’s worth looking at. Perhaps you could trim back on your premium channel selection and just go with basic cable, or perhaps you could even eliminate your cable bill entirely – it will also help with electricity costs because you won’t be watching television as much and you’ll suddenly find you have much more free time.

    Look for inexpensive entertainment options Do you utilize the local library? Do you attend local community events like municipal band concerts and so on? Are you aware of local volunteer groups and organizations? Your community often offers many options for inexpensive or free entertainment of all kinds – you don’t have to have a big entertainment budget each month.

    Strongly reduce or eliminate travel We live very far from our extended families, so we are aware of the costs of travel. We’ve found that by being selective about what we travel to – and also open to inviting people to visiting us – we significantly cut down on travel expenses.

    Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions If you get a magazine or newspaper in the mail but simply don’t read it, cancel that subscription when it comes up for renewal, no matter how much you “like” the magazine. An unread subscription is nothing more than expensive clutter.

    Look at and consider reducing/eliminating other regular paid services Look at services like Netflix – are you really getting $19.95 a month out of these services? If not, just drop the service and look for other options, like a local rental store. What about satellite radio? If you use that but find yourself not using it or just sticking with the same things you listen to on regular radio (like NPR or top forty), then cancel the service.


    My favorite room in the house is the kitchen, but for many people it just seems more convenient to eat out, even though it’s incredibly expensive and not as much of a time saver as you might think. Consider these options.

    Cook (and pack) your own meals at home When you cook at home, make plenty so that you can freeze some of it for future meals and, even better, take some of it as leftovers to work, drastically reducing the cost of the typical workplace lunch. Some people may shy away from leftovers, but there are some secrets to making any leftovers as good as the original.

    Reduce or eliminate eating out or getting take-out Take-out and dining out can be a huge time saver for a busy family, but the expense can be tremendous – and it often doesn’t save much time, either. Instead, look at other options for dining at home: prepare lots of meals at once and freeze them for easy cooking later, focus on simple recipes, and choose recipes that utilize the fresh produce in season in your area.


    Eliminate services (housecleaning, landscaping, etc.) If you hire out household services to others, consider trimming back or eliminating them. Instead, put aside some time each week to do them yourself – not only will you save money, but you’ll find that many activities can get the whole family involved (like housecleaning).

    Reduce or eliminate consumable habits (smoking, alcohol, etc.) Any consumable habit, whether it be smoking or excessive drinking, can be a constant drain on a budget without any real benefit. Give the habit a kick in the pants and your wallet will breathe a serious sigh of relief.

    Move to a less expensive area Many people leave this option out when looking at trimming their budget, but if you can find work in another area, it may be worth considering. Look around at other areas of the country where you can find employment, see what your salary would be there, and look at the housing costs. Quite often, you’ll find yourself significantly ahead by looking at areas like Minneapolis rather than areas like San Francisco, even at a significantly lower salary.

  2. 10 Ways to Cut Spending by Kristine McKinley at Ms. Financial SavvyHere are some highlights from his post:

    Consider dropping your home telephone line. Your cell phone is probably all you really need, and most likely it has free long distance. You could save $30 or more per month by dropping your “land line”.

    Cut back on trips to Starbucks or other premium coffee shops. Often called the “latte factor“, spending several dollars per day on luxuries like premium coffee can really add up. For example, if you spend $4 for a cappuccino five times a week for 50 weeks out of the year (you�re on vacation the other two weeks), you would spend $1,000 in a year. Try treating your trip to Starbucks as a treat instead of a habit.You’ll save money and probably lose weight too!

    Pay your mortgage payment bi-weekly instead of monthly. You’ll pay less interest and pay off your mortgage faster.

    Carry cash instead of credit cards. Psychologically it’s harder to spend cash than it is to use the credit card.You’ll spend less and save on interest charges.

  3. 8 Ways to Cut Back Without Sacrificing by Kimberly Palmer at US NewsHere are some highlights from his post:
  4. Host movie night. Going to the movies, especially if you’re a popcorn fan, can easily cost $40 for two people. Instead, suggests Faye Griffiths-Smith, community leader for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, rent a movie and invite friends over to watch.

    Learn to cook. Not only does eating at restaurants add up, but so too does buying lunch. If you cook dinner at home, you can bring in leftovers to work the next day or take a few minutes to pack a sandwich. If mornings are always rushed, then try packing it at night before bed, suggests Jean Austin, family and consumer science educator for the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service. And when you shop for your ingredients, make sure you have a snack first. Going to the grocery store hungry often leads to impulse buys, Austin warns.

    Drink at home. Whether your beverage of choice is green tea, espresso, or beer, it’s much cheaper when consumed in the comfort of your own kitchen. Going to a bar with friends can easily cost $50, McDonnell says. Instead, pick up a six-pack and hang out at a friend’s house. The social interaction will cheer you up without the hefty bar tab.

    Decide what you really want. Most people can cut 10 percent of their spending within 10 minutes, says Ramit Sethi, author of the I Will Teach You to Be Rich blog. Just write down your major spending categories, such as food and loan payments, and then guess what percentage is going to each category. Make a second list with what you want the percentages to be, and then make a third list describing what they actually are. If the reality doesn’t match up with your ideal, then adjust your spending.

  5. How We Became Debt Free in One Year by Rachel and Doug at Small NotebookHere are some highlights from his post:
  6. We rented an apartment instead of buying a house. We still live in an apartment, but it’s because we want to, and it’s been a good decision financially for us.

    We furnished our apartment with second-hand furniture instead of buying new.

    Our income tax refund was sent to pay the debt.

  7. 101 Ways to Reduce Spending and Keep More of Your Money by Blunt MoneyHere are some highlights from his post:
  8. Transportation

    New cars – Don’t buy new cars in first place. Really, don’t! Buying a new car is like throwing 20% of your money out the window as you drive off the lot. Not to mention that new cars are often financed, and the insurance rates & tags are higher. Buy a used car instead. Get it detailed & spray in some new car scent if you want the same effect. (Although what makes your car smell new are mostly volatile organic compounds.) If you decide to buy a new car anyway, research the heck out of it first using sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. Call your insurance company before buying to make sure that it’s not a model that will cause your rates to skyrocket. Know your bottom line before going in, and exactly what you are and are not willing to compromise on. Set up competition between dealers. Be prepared to spend a lot of time at the chosen dealer and then walk out. (Leave your kids at home, bring a snack, and don’t buy a car on your first visit to the dealer.) If you are financing, get your financing first, elsewhere. Refuse to talk “payments”or trades — talk only the total price of the car, tax & fees included. Avoid extended warranties and other extras.

    Used cars – First, there is nothing wrong with a used car. They’re great, in fact! And you can save tens of thousands of dollars by driving them instead of new cars. Many of the tips listed under the New Cars section apply to buying used cars from a dealer as well. The biggest difference when buying a used car is that you may get a better deal by going through a private party or auction. Just bring someone with you who is knowledgeable about cars, and have the car checked out by a trusted mechanic before purchasing. Also, it’s usually easier (or at least faster) to negotiate with individuals. If you’re buying at auction, you’ll likely need literal cash in hand to do the deal, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to thoroughly inspect the car (or even to turn it on). So be prepared for some additional expenses with those. Still, the deal you can get at an auction might make that worthwhile. For auctions, set a maximum price that you’ll pay and quit bidding the moment the auction goes over that price. There will be other cars. LOTS of other cars.

    Food and Drink

    Coffee – Kick the habit, or make your own & bring it with you. With luck you might even be able to convince your office to use a brand that people like, and get your fix at work. If you do buy your coffee at a coffee shop (Starbucks, anyone?) bring your own cup for a possible discount. You can also get Starbucks gift cards at a discount at Costco right now. (Approx. $80 for $100 in gift cards.) Nothing says you can’t use a gift card for yourself.

    Processed foods – Eliminate as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Both your body and your bottom line will thank you. If you do buy processed foods, consider store brands. They are often made by national brands, but sold for a fraction of the price. Most stores offer a money-back guarantee on their brands, so you really have nothing to lose if you’re dissatisfied. Stock up when processed foods go on sale as well, since one advantage of processed foods is that they often have enough preservatives in them to last a long time.


    TV services – You can now watch many TV shows online for free on sites like CBS, NBC, Hulu, etc., so you may want to consider eliminating your cable or satellite altogether. But if you’d rather keep them, make it a habit to call up regularly and ask for discounts. Figure out exactly what you want first, and then ask what the cheapest way to get it is. (Just be sure you’re not getting a promotional offer that will quickly expire.)

    Parties – It’s tacky to invite people to a party and assign things for them to bring or charge a cover charge. But it’s NOT tacky to have a potluck, or to only serve snacks. Better to have the party you can actually afford, than to “host” a fancier one and expect others to pay for it. Remember that a “party” can be as simple as game night with chips & salsa. The point is to have fun with your friends and family.

    Health and Beauty

    Dry cleaning – I’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the years by doing one simple thing: I refuse to buy things that say “dry clean only”. Not only does this save me money and time, it helps the environment too. If you do have clothes that require dry cleaning, remember that they don’t need to be dry cleaned each time you wear them. Get yourself a clothes brush to brush them out after wearing and hang them up to wear. Only get them cleaned when they really need it.

    Massages – Inexpensive massages are available from massage schools and places like Massage Envy. You can also learn to give massages yourself for just the cost of some oils.

    Prescriptions – All prescription prices are not created equal. Especially if you have a recurring prescription, call around to different pharmacies to see what they charge. You can also take advantage of pharmacy coupons. And did you know that Costco offers prescriptions? Drug companies provide free drugs to those who qualify. Generics are another money-saving option, as is asking your doctor for samples if it’s unlikely you’ll be on a drug for a long time or if you’re not sure how effective the drug might be.

    Flowers – Flowers from farmers markets, the grocery store, Costco, or even your own yard can be much cheaper than flowers from a florist. Spend a few minutes learning how to arrange flowers, pick up a vase at a thrift store or garage sale and you can have beautiful arrangements at very little cost.


    Cleaning supplies – The only cleaning supplies we use in our house are now vinegar, baking soda, and Barkeeper’s friend. These products work wonders on our house, save big bucks, and are better for the environment.

    Electricity – Some simple ways to save on electricity include turning off the lights, unplugging items that produce phantom loads (usually anything with a “brick” that plugs in), caulking or weather stripping to seal leaks, adding insulation, switching to CFLs, etc. See the U.S. Department of Energy’s site for additional ideas.


    Clothes – Resale stores and EBay are great places to buy inexpensive children’s clothes. Talk to friends and relatives with kids of various ages to arrange a hand-me-down type circle. Some children’s clothes get so little wear that they’re just like new, and you can get them for free this way. On the other hand, sometimes kids can be really hard on their clothes. In that case, consider joining Sears’ KidVantage® Club, which replaces kids clothing & shoes for free if they wear out before your child outgrows them.

    Toys – Kids generally have more toys than they know what to do with, and after awhile they become just so much clutter. To avoid buying still more toys, begin putting away some of their toys temporarily. The remaining toys will be more appealing since they will stand out more, and you can rotate them for the ones you put back at regular intervals. That way they’ll always have something “new” without the extra expenses. Garage sales are good places to find used toys as well. (Just be sure that they are not on a recall list.)

Are you interested in being Financially Independent? If so, why?

What are you doing to curb your spending? We recently sold a house and were able to pay off a car and a few smaller student loans (link).

Photos by M_Eriksson, Midweekpost, and Jeff Keen

Categories : Financially Independent Tags : ,

What Would Happen if More People Were Financially Independent?

Posted by 23 October, 2008 (0) Comment


I previously wrote about 10 Reasons Why I Want You to Be Financially Independent. I gave my 10 reasons, but I also asked what would happen if more people were financially independent. There were a few areas in our lives that I thought might change.

1. Would the US be happier?

2. Would there be a shift towards people studying the arts?

3. What would the stock market be like?

4. Would professional sports be as popular as they are today? Do people need this distraction if they are no longer going to jobs that they may not enjoy?

5. What about movie stars/celebrities? Would they be as popular as they are today?

6. Would we see a huge spike or slow-down in innovation?

7. What about professions such as psychology? How would it affect them?

8. If more Americans were financially independent, would we produce as much waste as we do? If we have more time, there is potentially less hustle and bustle and perhaps people would be able to fix household items that break instead of tossing it and going to Walmart to buy another.

I don’t know the answers, but I have my opinions. Before proceeding, I wanted to highlight what other people thought and discuss.


Susan Schwartz:

Interesting scenario.

1. Would the US be happier?

Probably not. We might be more at risk if the rest of the world remained financially insecure. The level of resentment is already high, and I think it would get worse. But we’d probably be, by and large, more relaxed. I suspect, however, that some people would lose their money and some people would grow more. Because money is such a source of marital strife, there might be fewer divorces, less gold-digging by either gender, and less vicious divorces…maybe.

2. Would there be a shift towards people studying the arts?

I would love to see that. I read the list of majors students are taking these days, and I’ve asked “do you like it?” “It’s very useful and stimulating. It’s challenging.” BUT DO YOU LIKE IT?
It’ll let them make middle management and justify the horrific expense of college and grad school. They don’t have to like it; they have to do it. Actually, they don’t; but it’s a risk most people don’t want to run, and I can’t say as I blame them.

3. What would the stock market be like?

It’s still global? Still crazy. People are -interested- in it. The numbers that we’ve been tossing about — worst week, biggest loss, biggest gain, longest drop, biggest percentage drop — these are like BASEBALL statistics. Some people with more money than they and their families and their family foundation will ever spend invest professionally because they’re fascinated.

4. Would professional sports be as popular as they are today? Do people need this distraction if they are no longer going to jobs that they may not enjoy?

There might be even more sports, as people had more time to devote to participating in or observing -real- excellence. The migrations to trading camps would become hordes.

5. What about movie stars/celebrities? Would they be as popular as they are today?

What I said earlier about the pursuit of excellence, especially if more people studied the arts. But I think it’s human nature to look for people who seem more interesting and somehow more glittery.

6. Would we see a huge spike or slow-down in innovation?

With no need for desperate growth…I think at first we’d see a slowdown followed by growth as people got to work on what REALLY interested them, as opposed to what generated bottom-line results.

7. What about professions such as psychology? How would it affect them?

I think more people would study themselves; fewer would come in complaining of anxiety from external causes.

8. If more Americans were financially independent, would we produce as much waste as we do? If we have more time, there is potentially less hustle and bustle and perhaps people would be able to fix household items that break instead of tossing it and going to Walmart to buy another.

I think I’d have too many projects. This is a nice thought, but I don’t expect it.


Les DeGroff:

That said, I think it is an interest question, and topic to consider because unless we blow it big time, we will have a future where such a thing is possible, along with greatly extended life spans.
Several of your sub-queries, hinge around how such a self sufficiency is enabled from the current economies…it might be technologies deflating living resource prices making in cheaper to live…in a speculative science fiction example, biotechnology creating house-trees and permaculture for the urbs. It might also be a political/economic restructuring either by a negative income tax or a requirement that money creation go through citizens rather than banks and current capital holders. Also from the science fiction space, might be a virtualization addiction where large portions of population drop out of competing and lower their consumption to basic rations plus being “jacked in”. The mythical depictions of nanotech with reproductive and anything producing machines would be another path to deflation.
Before I get to bullet points, one of the largest issues in self sufficiency may be land resources vs demographics. If populations continue to rise and the life extension I expect occurs, the key resource shortage may be real estate.
People in the US would probably not be significantly happier in aggregate. There are fuzzy social paradigms, “conservation of worry”, “retention of stress” and such that find when one level of concern is resolved, others substitute. There are also the perennial, non economic issues of dominance, love, competition. This hits 7, unless humanity is transformed, therapists and related frauds would still be present.
Items 2, 4 and 5, I think are all related. With in the population, there are groups that are actively doing, in the arts, sports, …. there are other large groups that are more passive consumers of entertainment and art.
The financial markets, even after we get through this crisis are not prepared for the changes that an enabled population would require, thus radical changes… in banking, industry, creation of wealth.
Innovations IMO would be a harder call, if one looks at such a transition as the thinkers about a technology singularity do, there would be a great increase and then we do not know. IMO, there are pressures in both directions, innovation including in the arts, and in look and feel would increase in and for a leisure society, but a long life (hundreds of years typical healthy lifespan) world might also become quite conservative.
As for waste, it depends on enabling technology and perhaps the level of luxuries that are considered basic in the new world.
Two more critical factors, are of course energy consumption and sourcing and the costs of health care (and life extension). 🙂 I would be half as frantic about getting on with being employed for the remaining decades of my working life if I thought I could afford double digit inflation in medical services. OTOH, my own artificial intelligence automatic doctor and pull pusher would reduce those concerns.


Chris Miles:

Interesting questions to ponder. I would ask, “Is financial freedom merely HAVING the resources or BEING financially free by being non-attached and therefore make money more easily. From my personal experience as well as seeing many become “financially independent”, most thought it was a state of HAVING and now no longer have it. By HAVING more money, it amplifies the perspective of the person. Money does not change the person, it only amplifies who they really are. If someone was stingy before getting money, they will be stingy after receiving it. If someone spent their money to serve others while living paycheck to paycheck, they will continue doing the same. The only ones that think they will change are those who have never been financially independent.
Furthermore, how would these people become “financially independent?” Did they get lucky in the stock market or real estate? Unless someone has learned how to serve and solve problems that creates a need in the marketplace, their financial freedom won’t last. If one becomes financially free by merely throwing money at some investment, they will likely lose it at some point.
To answer the above questions, if people became financially free by brainlessly living on income generated by some investment, all of the above problems will be amplified. More money will be wasted leading to greater debt. Sports professionals and entertainers will be paid more because they will spend it frivolously. Stock and real estate markets would be more volatile and psychologists would be busier than ever. Money has never solved problems nor created problems. Money is only a tool that brings out people’s true colors.



Shawn Carter:

1. Of course. Having wealth and being dependent on the government/relatives is a world of difference.
2. Maybe. People are always studying the arts: bill boards, web, Mtv, etc.
3. No difference. Stock market is based on psychology, which remains the same regardless of wealth. In fact, people would be more fearful and more conservative.
4. Popular sports probably would be more popular, since you could affford 120 channels and tickets to the game at anytime.
5. Movie stars would likely not be as popular, but people love gossip regardless of wealth.
6. I think you would have a spike in innovation due to the smart money being smarter… ie. you don’t get wealthy without using your brain to invest wisely.
7. Better paid psychologists. Maybe less, since wealth tends to get rid of other vices, since you have to be stable to remain wealthy.
8. Probably more waste. There might be more conservation programs and recycling.


Jim Parker:

Current US Tax law promotes debt & spending: can write-off the property taxes & interest on the mortgage, can take-out a second mortgage and take another write-off, if you have credit card debt can roll that into your second mortgage and write that off too.
Why bother saving when your interest, capital gains & dividend payments are taxed, oftentimes at ordinary income tax rates.


Coby Neill:

It would be heaven on earth.
Peace, creativity and joy would dominate.


Rob Schmansky:

Reduce the tax burden and create a situation where your govt is financially independent and you’d see a lot of positive answers to your questions.


Sam Brannon:

a – its completely possible
b – under the current societal structures, somebody would always be working to change that. to achieve it and maintain it would take a new level of awareness/consciousness
c – if we could figure out a way to maintain it, creativity would be unleashed across all arts and sciences… it would truly unlock the collective human imagination.


Lots of great answers. I’m going to give it a whirl.

1. Would the US be happier?

My opinion is that the US would be happier. We would no longer have to burden ourselves with working at a job we don’t necessarily enjoy (if that happens to be the position of the person). Our relationships would have less strain since we aren’t worrying about money. I’m not sure about you, but I spend quite a bit of my mental capacity thinking about making money. Without worrying or thinking about money for many hours out of the day, I would be able to “laser focus” on making me and the people around me happy.

2. Would there be a shift towards people studying the arts?

I don’t think there would be a major shift towards the arts. I think most people in general end up where they would like to be. I think that a lot of people that majored in something for the purpose of making money (i.e. Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer) will eventually find their way towards their calling in life regardless of their financial independence status.

3. What would the stock market be like?

I think you would see the stock market become more turbulent. As stated before, the stock market is global. I think you would actually see it become more turbulent once the majority of trading is done by less stable (my perception) countries with a lot more people (assuming that Americans are not trading as often due to their financial independence).

4. Would professional sports be as popular as they are today? Do people need this distraction if they are no longer going to jobs that they may not enjoy?

I think people will enjoy sports whether they are financially independent or not. For a lot of people, it’s part of their culture (Hook’em Horns!).

5. What about movie stars/celebrities? Would they be as popular as they are today?

I do think they would remain popular, but perhaps not to the same degree. If more people are financially independent, they will most likely be very conscious about money spent and thus will not be as tempted to dress like movie stars.

6. Would we see a huge spike or slow-down in innovation?

I think we would actually see a spike in innovation. Some people are born innovators and I don’t think you can take that out of people.

7. What about professions such as psychology? How would it affect them?

I think people would have more time to fix their own problems and the profession will decrease in usefulness.

8. If more Americans were financially independent, would we produce as much waste as we do?

I think financially independent people tend to be frugal. Frugal people tend to be very conscious of waste thus I think less waste would be created.


What are your thoughts?

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10 Reasons Why I Want You to Be Financially Independent

Posted by 13 October, 2008 (5) Comment


I’ve wanted to be financially independent starting about 2-3 years ago.

I’ve been out of school and in the work force for 6 years. The first few years out of school, I think I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help the world. I started out at a fuel cell company because I thought fuel cells would be beneficial in helping wane the US off of oil. Now I work in a lab playing with carbon nanotubes which have their own set of “green” possibilities not limited to being the best material for electrical conductivity. Working on the cutting edge of technology is very cool, but both scenarios have me working until I’m 65 or longer and that doesn’t sit well with me.

My idea of financial independence is a situation where one is in a financial position to work or not and still enjoy the necessities of life plus a few luxuries without relying on government assistance.

I want you to be financially independent. Heck, I want to be financially independent as well, but we’re focusing on you, not me.

Can you imagine what the US would be like if more people were financially independent?

Some questions I’d like you to ponder:

1. Would the US be happier?

2. Would there be a shift towards people studying the arts?

3. What would the stock market be like?

4. Would professional sports be as popular as they are today? Do people need this distraction if they are no longer going to jobs that they may not enjoy?

5. What about movie stars/celebrities? Would they be as popular as they are today?

6. Would we see a huge spike or slow-down in innovation?

7. What about professions such as psychology? How would it affect them?

8. If more Americans were financially independent, would we produce as much waste as we do? If we have more time, there is potentially less hustle and bustle and perhaps people would be able to fix household items that break instead of tossing it and going to Walmart to buy another.

I want you to be financially independent, and here’s why:

1. Stay in your relationship

Relationships are important. Life and business is all about relationships. One of the most important relationships you can have is with your wife, husband, or significant other. It is disputed whether financial issues are the major cause of divorce (see artcle by Liz @ MSN Money), but not worrying about money, I’m certain, would have a positive impact on your relationships. I’m not sure about you, but in my opinion, during a divorce, the only person that really wins is the attorney. In addition to not having disputes over finances, if you are financially independent, you don’t need to work. If you don’t need to work, you have a lot more time to spend on developing and nurturing those relationships. I know I would love to spend more time with my wife, family, and friends because time is our most precious commodity. You can never get it back unless you are Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. It’s these strong bonds that I believe to be one of the most important ingredients to a “good” life and being happy.

2. Volunteer

If you are financially independent and not working, you need to be doing something productive. Why not volunteer for a local organization or habitat for humanity. Here is a list of possible reasons you may want to volunteer per Susan J. Ellis of Energize, Inc (find the original post here)

  • to feel needed
  • to share a skill
  • to get to know a community
  • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
  • to gain leadership skills
  • to act out a fantasy
  • to do your civic duty
  • because of pressure from a friend or relative
  • satisfaction from accomplishment
  • to keep busy
  • for recognition
  • to repay a debt
  • to donate your professional skills
  • because there is no one else to do it
  • to have an impact
  • to learn something new
  • for freedom of schedule
  • to help a friend or relative
  • for escape
  • to become an “insider”
  • guilt
  • to be challenged
  • to be a watchdog
  • to feel proud
  • to make new friends
  • to explore a career
  • to help someone
  • as therapy
  • to do something different from your job
  • for fun!
  • for religious reasons
  • to earn academic credit
  • to keep skills alive
  • because an agency is geographically close
  • to have an excuse to do what you love
  • to be able to criticize
  • to assure progress
  • to feel good
  • to be part of a team
  • to gain status
  • because you were asked
  • to test yourself
  • to build your resume
  • to be an agent of change
  • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
  • to stand up and be counted

3. Increased Mental Health

If you aren’t worrying about money, you probably aren’t as stressed out. Stress kills. Have you ever snapped at your kids or significant other after a long day at work? Gone. Traffic to work and the mental strain that is puts you through. Gone. All of that sounds pretty sweet to me. I try VERY hard to make sure I don’t bring work or traffic stress home, but sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. I’m not trying to say that if you are financially independent stress will permanently go away, but I’m sure your stress level will decrease significantly.

4. Increased Physical Health


You aren’t in the office 40 plus hours per week. You aren’t in the car for upto 8 hours per week (16 hours if you live in Los Angeles). That’s a lot of time that is now available to you to take care of you and your body. There are a ton of benefits that you would see in your physical health without worrying about money. Without a job, you would be able to dedicate more of your time to working out.

5. Time with Friends and Family


I often feel badly that I don’t spend time with my little brother or that I don’t make it down to Austin to hang out with old friends. There is no good excuse, but unfortunately there are only some many hours in a day.

I hope this is never a scenario that anyone has to go through, but if you are financially independent and a family member falls ill, you would be more able to help out. I know quite a few people who tend to their friends or family at the detriment of their own financial well being. Financial independence would put you in a position to help if needed.

6. Foreclosures

I feel greed fueled a lot of the foreclosures we are seeing today. If you were financially independent, you more than likely wouldn’t have a mortgage much less have the need to borrow 106% to purchase a house.

7. Happiness


I truly hope that you enjoy what you do 8+ hours per day and 40+ hours per week. The unfortunate situation is that most people do not like their jobs. Financial independence could put an end to your ball and chain routine and enable you to find something that will make you happy. Life is way too short so you should focus on being happy during the time you are here.

8. Pass the Knowledge of Financial Independence to Family and Friends

Pay it Forward. You could help your friends and family achieve financial independence. This would not only help them financially, mentally, etc, but you’d be able to spend more time with them since they are no longer working the long hours required by their jobs.

Teaching your kids to be financially independent will give them the flexibility to choose the major they desire as opposed to choosing the major that pays well in order to pay back student loans (I’m not speaking from experience 🙂 ).

9. Hobbies

It’s tough to keep up with any hobbies. My wife and I have a tough time keeping up with hobbies and we don’t have any kids so I can only imagine how hectic it gets with a full house. Well, if you just added 40+ hours to your week, you’ll have time for some hobbies. You could finally learn how to paint, write the great American novel, or take up yoga. I’ve always wanted to take up some sort of martial arts. I think that the discipline would be good for me, but it would also help me stay flexible, meet other people with similar interests, and I’m sure I would become stronger.

10. Education

You should go back to school. Because you would have 40+ hours of extra time every week, you could go get that art history degree! I know I would like to learn a foreign language or take a carpentry class.

Do you want to be financially independent? If so, let me know how I can help. If we are able to gather a lot of support for this goal, perhaps we can all help each other achieve it. Are you already financially independent? If so, send me an e-mail and I’d love to interview you about your adventure.

happinessisbetter [at] (sorry, spam likes me 🙂 )

Photos by Tigr, Joe Shlabotnik, kiskisbreeze, Hamed Masoumi


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Do You Like Money as Much as I Do?

I Conquered the iPhone

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Categories : Financially Independent Tags : , , , ,

Will Your Ambition Beat You?

Posted by 25 September, 2008 (4) Comment


I recently read an article by Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme entitled Quo Vadis? He briefly mentioned issues with retiring early and the lack of social opportunities. Jacob discusses that a lot of the people who are able to achieve financial independence are really ambitious and will continue onto the next project instead of “enjoying retirement”.

Financial independence, in my opinion, is a state at which one has the option for paid employment or not and still has the ability to meet his or her financial obligations excluding welfare recipients. That being said…

If you had the opportunity to retire early and be financially independent, would your ambition beat you? Would you continue working and starting yet another business or career to continue challenging yourself and feeding your desire to succeed? This is a topic my wife and I have spoken about. She contends that even if we were able to “retire”, that I would try to start some business or start a new career. I’m not going to disagree. For example, as a little kid at a skating party, instead of having fun with the other kids I would skate as fast as I could around the roller ring to make sure I did the most laps. I look forward to the opportunity to be in such a position, but I have a lot of work to do before that is a reality.

If you are the ambitious type and are lucky enough to be financially independent, or maybe just looking for something to do, here are a few suggested possible outlets outside of starting a business or career.


1. Help Others Reach Financial Independence

If I were financially independent, this is one of the areas I would target. I would want to help other people achieve the same goal. You would not only be helping other people, but it would most likely make you feel good.


2. Volunteer

There is a tremendous need for volunteers around the US and the world. You could fulfill your ambition by taking on any number of understaffed volunteer projects that would surely challenge your ability to succeed. A lot of people volunteer their time to very noteworthy causes, but I think there is another level of success that one can achieve if they are not worrying about money and financial obligations.

If you are interested in volunteering, here are a list of websites that may be of interest:

Transition Abroad

Volunteer Connection

International or Overseas Volunteer Opportunities

Directory of Volunteer Centers

By the numbers, it appears as if people in the US are volunteering less and less (Bureau of Labor Statistics) so whether you are financially free or not, volunteering is certainly a good thing to do.


3. Become Part-Time Teacher

I’ve never taught, but have always heard that teaching can be very fulfilling. I know when I was in school, I had some good teachers and some not so good teachers. Teaching is not known for being a high income or flashy profession. I contend that it would be much easier to become a good teacher if you are not worried about making financial ends meet.

If you were not exchanging your time for money and you were set financially, what would you do with your life?

Photo by Greencolander

Photo by Wandering Angel

Photo by WWFCanada’s

Photo by Striatic

Financial Independence (FI) Articles Around the Web:

FI Articles by Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme

FI Article by Nathalie at Billionairewoman

FI Articles by Trent at The Simple Dollar

FI Article by J.D. at Get Rich Slowly

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