Financial independence is the concept that if you save up enough money, usually 25 times your annual spending (300 times your monthly spending) and you should be good (about a 97% chance of success) to live off your investments (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) indefinitely. I'm working toward that goal, not so that I can quit working, but so that I can pursue the most meaningful work I am skilled at, regardless of the pay or security. Quick tangent, when you read about needing to have 10-11 times your expenses saved at retirement that estimate is based on you spending 70-80% of what you did preretirement and collecting social security, and retiring in your mid to late 60s.
With 800,000 direct government workers, and a large number of contractors out of work, and not receiving a pay check on January 11th, the stories in the news are starting to pile up of people not able to pay their bills, from missing one pay check. It makes me sad. I can also related because in 2010, I went pretty low financially. Fortunately my family more or less bailed me out, or rather threw me a life vest so I stayed afloat. Even considering my frugality since then, if my startup went under and I was not paid any more, I would only last a few months before I would have to start selling stocks and withdrawing from my retirement funds, especially considering I've been spending a lot more money living here in Colorado than I did in Iowa or Kansas.
In short, now is the time to think about your financial future. Layoffs happen all the time, SpaceX just announced they are laying off 10% of the company despite continually growing, General Motors is laying off thousands of people despite large sales numbers the last few years. The economy is really good now, so it's not a bad time to be laid off, but then again, there is never a good time. Suicides are guaranteed to increase due to these things like layoffs and the government shutdown. They won't be in the news because they happen one at a time, and there are often other contributing factors, like a broken relationship, but money often plays a role. Point being, for my peer readers around 30 years old, now is a great time to put a little money away for a rainy day. What if this shutdown plunges us into a recession, and you get laid off? Interest rates are a quarter point away from being a very inverted yield curve, which signals recession.
As a disclaimer, I realize that I'm a single 32 year old white male who works in technology and makes more money than most, and saving some money is easier for me than a 35 year old single mother who is a high school teacher. In other words, if you are saving say 10% of your income in a retirement account, and then living pay check to pay check, you're actually saving somewhat more money than most, and technically, "saving" money in social security with every pay check too. In other words, saving $1,000 in a savings account can go a long way, yet I understand for many people how difficult that actually is. My favorite charity, Give Directly, gives people in Kenya $22 a month, and it changes their lives. Many of those people will never have $1,000.
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