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Received an Update on One of my Most Influential Clients and it Kind of Bummed Me Out

I received an email today that took me back for a moment.  Almost exactly 2 years I wrote, “My 85 Year Old Client Has Provided More Inspiration Than She’ll Ever Know” wherein I highlighted an interaction with an elderly client.  I was taken back as it is always a moment of fear that a client may have passed away when I am contacted by their family.  Especially when they were of an advanced age when I met them to prepare their estate plan.  But, I digress.

She wasn’t influential because of her net worth or connections, but rather a single sentence.  My client told me it was her goal to be retired as long as she worked.  It was at that exact moment that I started really questioning the early financial independence movement that has taken some real speed since I wrote that post a few years back.

While my net worth has increased since writing that post, I have done almost nothing to really push towards financial independence.  Actually, it is easy for me to argue that while I have increased my net worth and increased my dividend investment fund I am much further from financial independence and that kind of bums me out.  Since writing that post,

  • I bought a new house with its increased debt, up-keep, taxes, etc.
  • While the balance is lower, my law school loans still are a monthly bill that aren’t going anywhere for a decade
  • My dividend income stream has increased, but it is still so distant from being able to even support our food bill monthly nevertheless financial freedom.

Dividend income by month - Sept 2014

So, while I am very excited to hear that my client is doing well, it is a reminder that I am no closer than I was years ago from this very formidable goal.



  1. I don’t think that increasing your net worth is something to sneeze at. You could always downsize your expenses and that increased net worth would presumably support some percentage of financial independence, right?

    While there might be a short term pain with buying a house, isn’t there a time when the mortgage is paid off that it increases your financial independence? You could rent forever, but hopefully when you own the home outright, the taxes and maintenance will be minimal reducing your financial nut significantly.

    • I am not sneezing at the net worth update it just feels like I am accepting the American hamster wheel and it bummed me out temporarily.

      Absolutely could downsize in terms of both fixed and variable expenses, but inertia is a powerful force.

  2. I wouldn’t be too discouraged her MJTM. Your family is healthy, you’ve made progress financially, and while that dividend stream isn’t massive, a few more years of consistent investing and it will start to compound on its own. By the looks of it, you’re getting close to hitting an average of $100 per month of dividends (smoothing out the quarterly swings). Next stop is $150, than $200, and so forth. Each month that passes is another month in the right direction. So if now it isn’t the groceries, it might be the cell phone!

    Keep your head up and fight on!

    • Thanks! I wasn’t thinking about becoming a cutter or anything lol just got bummed out temporarily. Smile is back!

  3. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I find that chart difficult to read. I’d go with a line chart and keep everything else on the chart the same.

    I’d graph 3-month moving averages to smooth out the curves. So instead of showing a month with a big spike, you’d have the 3-month average for July, August, and September of 2014 coming to around $95. If you look at the same numbers for 2012, it comes to around $37. The same months for 2013 are around $80. Seeing the monthly average for September go from $37, to $80, to $93 should be encouraging.

  4. Hey!
    You bought a house, so you have a nice place to live for you and your family. Plus slowly you build your equity, so one day you will own your house with no payments due.

    You have your loan but you got a good education. I hope you enjoy your job.
    If you don’t, try to explore other career paths for your degree, so you would enjoy that you are doing.

    Your dividends income slowly growing, so it’s another example that you are going toward freedom.

    Just enjoy your living in today and make every day count!

    • Absolutely love my job, and most that know me generally would say I am a happy guy. I just got bummed for a second there.

  5. You’re still young. You have kids. You have a house. You probably shouldn’t be at a point yet where you can see passive income closing in on the goal of supporting you.

    Consider, though, the amazingly advantageous position you already have:

    You’re busily paying down the mortgage. If you’re smart about it (as you surely will be), by the time you’re ready to retire, you’ll have the house paid off or nearly paid off. Also, with the urchins out of the house, you may move into a smaller place — even if you move into NYC, spending all you net on sale of the house, upkeep will be lower and you will not have a mortgage. Once you’ve paid off the mortgage, the house itself represents an investment that returns a monthly dividend: the value of that dividend = the amount you were paying on a mortgage or that you would have to pay on rent if you decided to move to an apartment.

    The law-school loan feels like dead weight, but it’s not: Law school made it possible for you to earn enough to afford a mortgage and a law-school loan. Once it’s paid off, that cash can go direct to investments.

    You’re not trying to live on dividends right now; right now you should be reinvesting dividends. Over time, that steady reinvestment will build enough wealth to support you and The Wife — especially if you do things like rolling the amount of the law-school loan payments into investments, once the loan principal is paid off.


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