Financial independence: How much money do you need to “retire”?

This post is a brief introduction to financial independence, bits, and bobs about my journey, and one of the best tools I’ve come across.

A few months ago I spend two weeks with family and the topic of “traditional” retirement came up.

My mind went haywire and I spent the months that followed, reading, attending seminars, and talking to people.

Traditional retirement

Traditional retirement is usually thought of like this: The government will pay you a pension when you are X (whatever the future retirement age is) years old.

When discussing the topic of retirement and future financial security with friends and family I also received tons of comments along the lines of …”You might get lucky and inherit.”“The whole system is going to change completely.” and “You need A LOT less when you are older.”

Comments such as the above made me uneasy.

The future

All we will ever have is the now, and the future can sometimes be hard to picture. One thing is certain though and that is: How we are living our lives today, will shape our experience of life, 5, 10, and 20 years from now.

My issue with the above statements is that by telling ourselves such things we are not taking responsibility for our lives.

We are not acting from a place of knowledge and power and merely hand our responsibility over to something (the government) or someone else (family).

Handing it all over, just like that, is what I find scary and incredibly risky.

The FIRE movement

Fire = Financial Independence Retire Early.

The goal of this movement is to, as its name implies, gain financial independence and retire early although it’s not black and white. It’s ultimately about having freedom now and in the years to come.

Oliver from Frugalisten recently wrote a fabulous post about the spectrum of FIRE that I highly recommend checking out. It’s in German so just translate it using your browser. πŸ™‚

It’s a movement that has sprung up online and there are tons of blogs, podcasts, and groups about the topic.

What people who are part of the FIRE movement have in common is that they take responsibility for their (financial) PRESENT and FUTURE by saving and investing NOW.

The minute I stumbled upon this movement I knew I had found my people.

How much money do you need for the rest of your life?

Since stumbling upon the FIRE movement I’ve been reading books about financial independence like there is no tomorrow.

One book that stuck out to me is “Financial Freedom” by Grant Sabatier. It’s a book that completely changed my outlook on life and I highly encourage you to read it. (I bought the ebook for less than 5 Euros.)

Calculate your financial independence number

In his book Grant shares tons of amazing tools, one of them being his Financial Independence Number Calculator. I punched in my data, discovered my number, and was absolutely blown away.

Running the numbers makes it all so much more tangible, and most importantly, achievable.

I had a conversation with a friend recently and he said: “If I would have 600k right NOW I would be fine TILL retirement.” I called BS on that one and sent him a link to the calculator.

With 600k right NOW he’d never need to work a day in his life ever again nor would he be dependent on a pension he may never end up getting. How amazing is that?

So, what’s your financial independence number and how can you make it work? You don’t need to share it in the comments (it’s very personal after all). Play around with the numbers and see what you can come up with.

PS: I was very hesitant to post about this. Talking about financial independence and taking responsibility is something that can be met with A LOT of resistance. All I can say to you is this: I FEEL YOU. Step out of your comfort zone, set up a budget, (start) tracking your expenses, set up a financial statement, and DIG DEEP.

I decided to post it anyway in the hopes that it’s useful to those of you who are open to it and willing to dig a little deeper. To anyone who is already on the path: KUDOS to you – you freaking rock!

Much love,

Nina

Update: This post was published in November and has been updated on 2nd December. I tried to make it a little bit shorter and easier to read.

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14 Comments

  1. Leaf β€œ Jesse’ McCrum
    November 24, 2020 / 2:59 PM

    Dearest financial ninja, I’m so Glad you posted again your adventures bring me joy. Warmest regards

    • Nina
      Author
      November 27, 2020 / 9:00 AM

      Much love from Berlin! πŸ™‚

  2. Karina
    November 24, 2020 / 3:10 PM

    Great post, Nina! Posts about personal finance is very welcome in my opinion. I think it goes hand in hand with being minimalist and living a simple life, it’s a very liberating feeling to be in control of it. Right now I follow Dave Ramsey’s baby steps advice about to first become completely debt free. My debt wasn’t huge, but it’s been weighing me down anyway. One payment left in less than a month, and then I will be free. I can’t wait to free up my income to put aside more to the future. The calculator you linked to was very eye opening. I will put Grant Sabatier’s book on my to read-list, thanks for the tip!

    • Nina
      Author
      November 27, 2020 / 9:03 AM

      Hey Karina, I am so excited to hear that you are tackling your debt! Amazing that you’ll be free of it in less than a month! Although it might have not been a lot, if it’s weighting you down and costing you both money and energy then it was totally worth tackling! πŸ™‚ His blog is also lovely with great tools! πŸ™‚

  3. Gracie
    November 24, 2020 / 3:16 PM

    Thank you for posting Ninja. I miss your YouTube channel 😊

    • Nina
      Author
      November 27, 2020 / 9:04 AM

      Hey Gracie,

      thank you for stopping by! πŸ™‚ I’ve been thinking of filming again but every time I think about it, I feel
      a little uneasy and it doesn’t quite resonate with me. Nothing in particular happened, I think I just needed a break! πŸ™‚

      • Gracie
        November 29, 2020 / 4:39 PM

        Hi Nina, I hope you change your mind sometime in the future πŸ˜‚
        Best wishes for 2021!
        Gracie

        • Nina
          Author
          January 23, 2021 / 10:40 AM

          Hey Gracie,

          we’ll see! Right now I am heavily focused on my yoga practice
          and a few personal changes that I am committed to.

          Best wishes to you as well!! πŸ™‚

  4. Tracy
    November 24, 2020 / 8:50 PM

    I reached financial independence at age 52. I started saving in my 20’s. I was able to stay home with my children for a period of about 7 years. I returned to full time employment, plus picked up a side gig to pack away $$$. My advice is to start young, work hard and follow Nina’s excellent tips on budgeting and tracking your spending! This isn’t rocket science, but does take fortitude and diligence.

    • Nina
      Author
      November 27, 2020 / 9:07 AM

      Hey Tracy,

      It’s incredible that you reached financial independence at age 52 and stayed at home with your children for 7 years! The earlier one starts, the better, that’s for sure! I totally see that now – it’s not impossible but definitely takes lots of determination and planning! Thank you so much for sharing bits of your journey – I find that really inspiring! πŸ™‚

  5. Lara
    December 14, 2020 / 10:27 PM

    Hi Nina,
    Iβ€˜ve been trying to reduce my work from 100% to 80 or 60% for a while. I was able to get it a year ago, itβ€˜s really nice to have some extra time to myself. Although my initial goal was to reduce to 60% until retirement I stumbled upon the FIRE thought and started changing my plan about two years ago.
    Me and my partner calculated how much we need and currently itβ€˜s about 600’000.- USD each (current exchange rate).
    To get that number down and get faster to our goal Iβ€˜ve been trying to reduce my expenses. We moved into a smaller apparent, which saves us 1000.- a month, I cancelled subscriptions, we take most of our lunches, only go out for dinner on special occasions, and stopped taking away food. Itβ€˜s interesting to see how fast you get used to the new normal. Also I buy most things second hand. I was a big fashion lover and now I saved so much – itβ€˜s mind blowing! Your monthly expenses overviews actually motivated me so much. I’ve never seen anyone else before that spends so little. And so I thought it must be possible for me as well. Interestingly I am happier than before and super motivated to find more ways to save and learn more about how to get there faster. All the best and looking forward to reading from you soon!

    • Nina
      Author
      January 23, 2021 / 10:43 AM

      Hey Lara,

      I am blown away by your journey! It’s incredible how much you are saving now just because you moved into a smaller apartment – amazing! I am thrilled to hear that a shift has taken place and that you seem to not only enjoy but love the journey!

      I feel you on having been a fashion lover! It’s truly mind-blowing how much one can save in just this one area!

      Thank you so much!

      Congratulations to you for kicking off your journey!!!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  6. L
    December 25, 2020 / 10:26 PM

    I’ve been reading your website a lot to prepare myself for a no-buy period this year, and it’s been really helpful. Would look forward to your FIRE posts as well.

    • Nina
      Author
      January 23, 2021 / 10:44 AM

      Hey L,

      great to hear from you!

      Awesome, that you are planning a no-buy period this year! Have you decided on a period yet? Is it going to be the whole year, half the year, a certain number of months? I am so excited for you!

      I am still at the very very beginning of FIRE, baby steps, I’ll share more in the coming months! πŸ˜€

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