Before I blow out the candles for my 35th birthday, I will be a millionaire. After blowing out my birthday candles [and likely receiving my birthday sex, thanks future wife!] on my 35th birthday, I’m going to quit my job, if I haven’t already. By Wednesday November 14th 2025, I will be Financially Independent. Maybe I’ll climb a mountain, take a two week backpacking hike, vagabond around Europe, or go scuba diving. A part of me has always wanted to go skydiving too, even though I can make myself nervous by closing my eyes and picturing myself on the edge of an airplane, looking down at clouds and far away land, about to jump. Luckily I’ve got a lot of time to do what I enjoy! If you haven’t read my post on Financial Independence, I recommend you do that now so the following makes a bit more sense.
My Current State:
About four months ago I began tracking all of my expenses in an Excel file. Before that I was always thinking about how I was going to spend my life. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet – but I KNEW I didn’t want to be stuck in an office job until I retired at 65. Around that time I discovered the website Early Retirement Extreme and I was hooked by the real possibility of not having to work yet still having money [one of my possibilities was living in an isolated ecovillage, but so many unique experiences can be had with a little bit of money]. Now most of my financial research involves how to make more money to become financially independent quicker, and saving money in out of the box ways.
You can download the Excel file that I use here [right-click, save link as]. For a resource on tracking expenditures, see SkillsFIRE . That spreadsheet is an improved (albeit slightly more complicated for Excel beginners) version of the one mine is based off of.
Currently, my savings are just over $12,500, and rising fast. My savings rate hovers between 65-75%, lining me up for retirement earlier than my goal. I’ve just started down this path though, and I’ve got a lot ahead of me that I could hardly begin to predict. I’ll probably end up travelling the world, trying to make it as a freelancer, and maybe even have a child (or three) along the way! I will have to be determined to stick to my goals.
My Projected State:
My goals are not concrete yet, as my life will change by leaps and bounds by the time I am 35. These are my best current estimations. Luckily my calculations include considerable safety margins. It’s all about the safety margin. My original goal was about $20,000 annual income at 4% SWR, but to be extra conservative (and still retire by 35… this is why I am confident I will retire before 35) I’ve changed my goal:
Goal: $30,000 Annual Income at 3% SWR
This is my earnest goal. But if you shoot high and miss in this case, you’ll probably still end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars, which may just be enough anyways. I could end up needing much less annual income – $30,000 might lead to an extravagant lifestyle. The 3% SWR is very safe, I’ve seen people use up to 5-7%!
Required Savings: $1,000,000 ($1,000,000 x 3% = $30,000)
I am currently 21, about 2 months shy of 22, so I have 13 years and 2 months to save $1,000,000.
I’m currently saving about $30,000 per year but I expect this to increase immediately after graduation (I’m an underpaid intern). I’m going to be using savings of $35,000 per year increasing at 5% annually (due to raises, and additional income sources) in the following projection. I am also using 10% interest on my savings, which is the historical average for my current investment portfolio, and I’m actually looking to get greater than 10% gains on my cash with real estate investing.
There is an amazing retirement calculator, FIRECalc that I used to simulate my retirement. This calculator has historic market data from 1871! It will simulate your retirement period from every starting point and you can see on average how many times it would have been successful (as in not running out of money, but you can actually set much more criteria). The calculator has tons of options available to customize and experiment to your heart’s desire. I expect you to all fiddle with this for quite awhile.
I simulated a retirement journey with these settings:
- Spending: $30,000
- Portfolio: $950,000 (YES, less than my goal! I love my safety margins.)
- Years: 70 (I expect to live to be 105, if not older. What can I say? I’m optimistic)
Leaving the other settings the same (simulates a couch potato style investment of 75% stock index, 25% bonds and adjusts my spending for inflation), I clicked submit and watched it simulate my financial future.
See that beautiful picture? Not a single one of those 71 (!!!) simulations of 70 year periods went underneath that red line. The lowest my portfolio ever reached was $915,058 with an average of $14,108,983 at the end of the 70 years. The highest portfolio balance was a staggering $38,542,813, but I am still happy with me $1,000,000. My simulation has a 100% success rate, even at $100,000 less than the 1.09 million I’m projected to have in 13 years. I like my odds. Now, I better start thinking about a great purpose for all of my money after I die at 105..
I am looking forward to what the coming years bring!