Financial Freedom! Time to focus on it!

The original intention of my blog here was to talk about how to achieve and maintain financial freedom.    Many have found my blog because of my loud and proud bullish long stance on MoviePass and HMNY.  I have spent a ton of time on that particular topic and stock because I believe it offers a unique potentially once in a lifetime opportunity to quickly obtain a significant amount of wealth in a relatively short timeframe.  I continue to believe that is the case, but it is a risky bet, and it certainly is not a sure thing for achieving or maintaining financial freedom.

Financial Freedom means different things to different people.  To me it is not about flying around in a private jet, buying expensive luxury cars, diamonds, and other crazy things.   In fact, I don’t actually care about that stuff all that much, and most of that stuff buys more problems and headaches than it does happiness.  I will take you through my journey on a lot of the crazy things I bought over the years, and how I realized a lot of them were silly mistakes, that really just caused headaches.    Anyway, for me financial freedom is living a very comfortable life that includes a nice home, 2-3 nice enough cars, great vacations, a few nice toys,  and enough money that I can go out to dinner when I want, and drink a nice bottle of wine when I feel like it.

Most important to me,  I want to have my lifestyle without having to go to work every day for somebody else.   I like to get up whenever I want, got to bed when I feel like it, do whatever I want every day.  I am not lazy, in fact, I am far from it.  I love working,  I work on all kinds of things, investing, household projects, maintaining my toys, volunteering, etc.  However, I want to avoid working in a corporate office staring at a computer all day, or in meetings or doing stressful work for somebody else.   I want to avoid stressed out angy bosses, passive-aggressive – or just plain aggressive co-workers, that horrible smell of the office every single day – really I just want to avoid all of it, including the commute – no especially the commute to it every single damn day!  You know the drill, most people don’t really want to commute to a stressful job every day, and most people frankly hate their job, they go there because they have to, they need the money, they are likely in debt, have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and no line of sight to ever get out of the rat race.

The stats on job satisfaction in the US are nothing less than alarming,  In the most recent Gallup poll on the state of the American workplace, the stats show Americans are restless and would love to move on to something else.   Heres a few stats:

  • Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work — meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum.
  • 16 percent are “actively disengaged” — they resent their jobs
  • Only 33% of employees are engaged in their job

There are thousands of articles, studies, polls that all point to the same conclusion.  The vast majority of America’s 100 Million workers hate their jobs,  they are stressed out, working more hours, and feeling like they are falling behind.  They wish they could do something else and would quit given the chance.   It is a sad state of affairs, and I am here to tell you, there is a way out of all of this.   It is called financial freedom, and it is wonderful.

There are a lot of different views on what it takes to achieve financial freedom, how much money you need, what level of lifestyle makes sense for you.  I have found that there are roughly  3 tiers of financial freedom that people generally accept, or desire.  In no particular order here are the tiers as I see them.

  • Living like a poor person, but realizing you are not poor.  
  • Living well – but not like a Rock Star
  • Living like a Rock Star

Living like a poor person is well covered by blogs like Mr. Money Mustache – this guy made a name for himself by living super frugal, and by his estimation, and compared to the world’s population, he does live very well.   He does all kinds of hardcore cost-saving measures, he drives older cars, rides his bike everywhere, pushes his own lawn mower, etc etc.   He budgets like a badass, and he has a big following.  He is inspirational, but truth be told, I could never live like this guy, it is just too hardcore for me.

Early Retirement Extreme is another great blog that does an inspiring job of making it while living on less.  This guy has a super popular post on how he and his wife live on $14K a year.  Great stuff, and lots of great advice here.  But again, I just can’t live like that.  Hell, the property tax on my home alone is around $6500 a year, so $14K a year, that is just not going to cut it for my plans.  But it can be done, people are doing it, and many of them are happy.  They are a lot happier than they were working their miserable jobs!

Living like a Rock Star – looks awesome, I am not talking about the fame or talent part, just the money part.  Unfortunately, though I think Notorious B.I.G. had it right – it really is- Mo Money Mo Problems.   Rockstar rich to me is defined by people who have enough money to own their own private jet.   I developed this view listening to Buffet, – Warren, not Jimmy.  Warren has often said that in America, the basic income can buy a life very similar to how he lives his life.  The big exception is that he can fly on a private jet, where ordinary Americans fly coach.   But in terms of everyday living, Buffet makes a good case, that the average American has access to the same things Buffet enjoys as part of his normal lifestyle.

People with Rock Star level money are simply not any happier than people who live well on an acceptable budget and stick with it.  You don’t need to look any further than the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, that money and fame are no recipe for happiness.

I have learned that lesson in my life in spades, I worked around many very miserable multimillionaires while at Microsoft.   These were people who seemed to have it all, fancy houses, cars, nice families, “great jobs” and they were miserable.   They hated their jobs, or their spouses, or they were jealous of the guy or gal who was promoted ahead of them.  They were addicted to work, to the next big bonus or stock grant.  They were resentful, stressed out, and could never turn off the work.  They looked like they had it all, but none of it was under control.

So – don’t go for Rock Start level money.  A-it is unlikely you will ever achieve it anyway.  B- If you do ever get there, the chances are you will be miserable getting there, and when you arrive, you will realize, it was so not worth it!

Live well – not like a Rock Star  – This I think is the optimal lifestyle in which to live.   You want a nice home, in a nice and safe neighborhood.  If you have kids, you want them to have a good school to go to and to be able to help them get through college.  You want a decent car that is not embarrassing to drive.  You want to be able to go out to a decent meal and have a good bottle of wine once in a while.   You probably want a vacation or two each year,  and maybe a toy for a hobby.   You aren’t going to go all crazy buying stuff you don’t need.  But you also aren’t going to try and scrimp by living just above the poverty line in some clever way either.     This is where I want to help you get!

I have done it!   I achieved  “live well” financial freedom about 5 years ago.  Actually probably earlier than that, but I stopped being a corporate slave 5 years ago, and it has been nothing less than fantastic!

So with this blog, along with my posts on MoviePass, and a maybe a few other things.  I am now going to move to focus a bit more on how I think anybody can get to financial freedom, the steps I took, and how I maintain that freedom.

Now there is no beating around the bush here, it does take a serious stack of cash to get to financial freedom, and getting damn good income is a very important – actually essential- part of that plan.   I will be referring some to my book I am writing about my experiences at Microsoft as they relate directly to my experiences on how I generated enough income to get to financial freedom.   Listen, I am not that sharpest knife in the drawer, (you can see that when reading my posts – the bad grammar, spelling errors, etc) I am not the best looking guy you ever met either!  But one thing I figured out, was how to make money, and how to do it inside a big company.  How to climb the ladder, and how to squeeze every damn dime you can out of your working years.  My goal was to get as much as I could as fast as I could, so I could start enjoying my life on my terms.  I will step you through all that stuff.

The next step is keeping the money you have, and having that money work for you.  We will spend a lot of time on that.  I will tell you about the mistakes I made and saw others make, and try and help you avoid making the same mistakes.  I will also try and give some solid advice on how to keep your money train on the tracks.  And no – it’s NOT investing it ALL in Moviepass!!  🙂

I am also going to share my learning on what has made me truly happy in life, vs. things I thought would make me happy.   That has been a learning experience, and my view has evolved a lot over the years.  I don’t expect my views to align with everyone else, but I hope that some of the learning will be useful for some of the people who read this.

Now – I am going to bring this back to HMNY and MoviePass to close with.  I continue to believe a modest investment in HMNY could provide a young person with the rocket fuel they need to achieve financial independence early in life.   It is my sincerest wish that it works out that way.  Should the company fail, and not deliver the returns I expect, I still think there will be a valuable lesson for any investor here.  HMNY is one of the most complex, interesting, stock stories of this generation.  Everything they have done has been totally different than just about any company before them.

From the innovative business model to the completely unconventional way in which the company has raised capital, to the bizarre and interesting leaders, and the crazy intersection of technology, media, subscription and cinema businesses.  If you invest in this company, and really study and understand what you are invested in, you will have more education than any MBA could provide.   And it is that learning, and that experience, that will eventually help you achieve your own financial freedom, and set you on a path of what I hope will be a life of happiness.

Thanks for reading – and please come back as we tick through the topics together!