The other day I learned that someone I got sober with several years ago died from an overdose. Though I hadn’t talked to him in years, this came out of the blue and hit me hard. I know the statistic ‘they’ say that nine in ten people won’t stay sober, but damn.
It’s made me think a lot about my sobriety and my journey to financial independence. Why me? Why was I able to stay sober? Why was I able to retire early?
What I can tell you is what I did to get here. The short answer is I didn’t drink, I spent less than I earned, and I invested my money.
The longer answer is that one lead to the other. When I got into recovery people told me the only thing I needed to change was everything. I guess I was ready to listen because I did change everything in my life at that time. Getting sober provided me the tools to see my life as a gift. It also allowed me to prioritize my wellbeing (including financial security) above everything else.
It was those changes that lead me to a relationship with my now husband Jeff, we met in AA and both of us were willing partners in changing our lives. When we began dating it was during the Great Recession and like everyone we needed to know how to save money. A chance moment of Dave Ramsey playing on the AM radio lead to more research on budgeting and investing.
This research also lead us to the FIRE movement. We dove in head first. Trying to absorb all the blogs available at that time… starting with Mr. Money Mustache. For some reason the FIRE principles just stuck – spending less than we made and investing the rest in index funds. Just like following a program of recovery, it was simple, but not easy.
I know what it’s like to feel desperate and come out on the other side. I know that if you put in the hard work things can get better. I can’t make anyone get sober or start budgeting just by writing this blog post but I can share my experience to give you hope. I wasn’t given the tools as a child to be financially fit as an adult but I worked hard and listened to the suggestions of those who went before me. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. My process was simple budget; invest; and repeat; but it wasn’t easy.
Now that I’m on the other side of all of that hard work I can really be grateful for the resources and help that were available those many years ago. Keep it simple and keep going. You are not alone.