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There are so many different subsets of financial independence or FI nowadays that it’s hard to keep track. Well, here’s another one you can add to your financial dictionary. I call it Cash Flow FI and it’s my personal approach to financial independence.
Cash Flow FI Defined
Cash Flow FI is the point where your side hustles and passive income can sustain your current lifestyle while allowing for reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility.
Let’s break this down a bit further. The first difference between Cash Flow FI and the more traditional types of FI is the inclusion of side hustles as a viable income source. Many other FI tribes count only truly “passive” income. I disagree (more on this later).
The second part of the definition is equally crucial. You have not yet achieved Cash Flow FI until you have achieved reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility.
What does this mean exactly?
To me, reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility means that you do what you want when you want… well for the most part anyway, hence the “reasonable”.
If I’m having a low-earning month and I’m forced to pick up a few hours of freelance work (Uber, TaskRabbit, Fiverr, etc.) to make ends meet… so be it! This fractional portion of my week still grants me generous autonomy in my lifestyle.
The most important thing to me is my time. Argue with me all you want about Cash Flow FI not being considered “real” financial independence. But if I can pursue my dreams and passions with minimal concerns about money, isn’t that what we’re all after?
Taking Back My Time
In my recent guest post on Fiery Millennials, I discussed the many pitfalls of the nine-to-five lifestyle. One of the points that cut me deepest is my time inflexibility.
For those of you with nine-to-five jobs that allow you to live your ideal lifestyle, I am so jealous. Unfortunately, most nine-to-fivers (including myself) are stuck inside sitting at an unfulfilling desk job all day.
I want to spend time with family and friends, enjoy the nice weather, travel the world, and so much more. Many of these goals are unachievable in a typical nine-to-five role.
Cash Flow FI will change all of this. I can leverage my income streams to take back my time and focus on the things that truly matter to me.
Time is one of the only truly “depletable” resources. You can make more money, grow more food, buy more clothing, but no matter what you do… you can never regain lost time.
A Frugal Foundation
None of these dreams about Cash Flow FI are possible without a frugal foundation. If my lifestyle inflated to match my W2 income, I would be forced to remain in my nine-to-five.
Luckily, as a young 20-something, my lifestyle only costs ~$12,000 to sustain annually(while healthcare is covered). This inexpensive lifestyle is CRUCIAL for taking chances and capitalizing on new opportunities.
Saving up $25,000 would grant me approximately two years of financial runway to try my hand at entrepreneurial ventures. I know that with my focus and determination, I could at least earn some kind of income during that two-year period.
Speaking of real estate, I recently stumbled across a cool company called Roofstock that actually specializes in finding single-family rentals properties for investors (like you and me!). I met a representative from their company at FinCon and I highly recommend checking them out.
This financial runway I referenced (well-explained in Scott Trench’s book – Set for Life) is so important yet wildly unrecognized. The longer my financial runway, the more time I have to build my businesses. Unless I’m doing everything completely wrong, these ventures should grow and I can slowly upgrade from the “bare bones” lifestyle.
I am so eager to achieve Cash Flow FI. I refuse to wait to accumulate the sacred nest egg in order to pursue my passions. I still enjoy my days as much as possible, but the inflexibility of time threatens my daily goals.
As many of you may have read before, I am hoping to leave my W2 employment within the next year to pursue my passions. I’m not insane. I’m not special. Anybody can do this!
Motivation, grit, and a frugal foundation make financial independence obtainable for anyone. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Are you ready to recapture your time and take control of your life? I sure am.
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