selfie black and white ERIC KIM crimson red

How I Achieved Financial Independence and Retired Early (FIRE)

Since 2017 I considered myself retired. And also since then, I achieved financial independence. How did I do that? My thoughts and experience:


Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE)
How I Achieved Financial Independence and Retired Early (FIRE)

What is ‘financial independence’?

Fire flame candle

The first practical thought — what is ‘financial independence’? Simply put to me:

Being able to pay your rent and not worry about it.

Honestly at this point, food is practically free. Coffee and water is practically free. Now with COVID, there ain’t even that many places we can go anyways. Traveling seems hugely restricted, and so many of us will continue to live more home-bound lifestyles, or going on small local trips.

So then the #1 priority is just being able to pay rent. A big hack:

Just live somewhere where rent is practically free, uber-cheap, or living with family.

In California, ‘additional back home’ units are all the rage (you build a mini house in the back of your home property). Or nowadays a lot of millennials (who work on the internet) are moving to more remote locations where rent is a lot cheaper (for example, living in Mexico City, or other places in the states where the cost of living is cheaper like Denver, Providence, etc).


There is so much that can be bought for cheap or you can do without. You can do without a smartphone plan (just get a Google voice number, and use free wifi), even iPhone’s are getting soooo cheap, and Google Pixel phones are also very cheap, and you can buy used cars for very cheap (just get a used one on Craigslist with a manual transmission). The only tools I’ve found as truly necessary are a laptop (buy a high-end refurbished MacBook Pro laptop) and a digital RICOH GR III camera.

How I did it

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To be frank, it seems like a lot of philosophical reflection. The big thing– embracing an ascetic lifestyle … a spartan one. Getting rid of all my shit (purge) and starting new again. And then after all that… I realized — I don’t really need much. So as cheesy as it may seem, financial independence is a liberation of the mind. It is knowing that you will never run out of money, and you can always adapt. And also knowing that living an ascetic lifestyle is a *superior* lifestyle (better to be a spartan-stoic than to be a soft athenian or Persian). Even Nietzsche predicted (correctly) that the elite of the future would be the new elite ascetics (minimalism as the first modest step towards building a new societal hierarchy, of people with fewer things, but more freedom, power, and money).

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Retire … ‘early’?

What does it mean to ‘retire early’? Well, certainly before the generic age of 65-70 years old.

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But how early is early? I say, as early as humanly possible. Better to be insanely aggressive to retire early, than to put it off until … never.

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Solo entrepreneurship, sole proprietorship is the way

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A big entrepreneurial thought:

Avoid the notion of ‘startups’, and rather go back to the old school notion of ‘becoming self-employed‘.

That means in America, filing your taxes as ‘sole proprietorship‘ (you are the solo owner, and the solo full-stack solution to your own self owned business). It is the most simple business, and the most secure. And the most robust to ups and downs in the economy. Because as long as you can feed yourself (practically free) and pay rent, you’re good.

Become the GOAT

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Then how do you motivate yourself? I say have the lust to become the goat (greatest of all time). A simple first step for me was becoming #1 on Google for street photography, then to become #1 on Google for Photography Entrepreneurship, and also #1 for Photography Philosophy.

So becoming #1 on Google for anything, for any niche seems to be the best way to make it, channeling photography blogging to your benefit.

Money is human

Bitcoin earring

A big thing I learned as well about money:

Money is about humans, bringing humans together, and bringing joy and delight to human beings.

The more we can think about benefiting our fellow humans and the less we concern ourselves with the underlying technology about money, the better. Think more about the sociology of money (with society and humans), than the money (paper currency, fiat currency).

Liberate yourself

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Probably the biggest benefit to watching MATRIX is knowing that the matrix is just a metaphor for modern society. It is less about technology, more about the socialization that happens that make us obedient ‘sheeple’, and obedient blind-consumer-mad shoppers.

Then what?

Then it seems the end of all this is just pursuing philosophy (pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge, for fun, and also for sharing your insights with others). Philosophy as the speculation of knowledge, wisdom, ideas, aesthetics, art, and living as a human being on planet earth.

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seneca smile wake up

Then it seems another great thing to do:

Have kids

Modern society is anti-kids. Why? Because kids (children) are seen as an impediment to our individualistic desires and happiness to ‘travel the world’ and to ‘live freely’ and to eat at fancy restaurants, and use disposable income on luxury goods, experiences, etc.

In fact, the joy of having Seneca is probably a trillion times better than I could have ever imagined. The joy I get from this little guy is 100000x more joyful, fun and interesting than any other experience I’ve had in my life (and I have done it all).

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It seems the deepest human desire is the desire to procreate. To essentially ‘clone’ yourself and to continue your genetic chain.

touch seneca toe Cindy

The will to create art

Do become

Then another thing — it seems to devote ourselves (once you no longer need to concern yourself with money) is to just focus on your art. Financial independence and retiring early as a means to focus on your artistic creation.

The double whammy in life:

Have kids, and create art.

To propagate yourself via your children (how you raise them, train them, educate them) and to propagate yourself via your artwork (your photos, your thoughts, videos, vlogs, blog posts, etc).