Do you have the patience needed to reach financial independence?

Do You Have the Patience Needed to Reach Financial Independence?

If you don’t know this about me yet, let me just tell you that I am NOT a patient person. I have zero patience. When I decided I wanted to have a baby, I wanted her to arrive yesterday!* When I apply for something or have to wait for results, the world ENDS until I find out. If none of this sounds like you, GOOD NEWS! You are already one giant step ahead of me on your journey to financial independence!

Patience is Needed on any Financial Journey

I, myself, am famous** for saying: “Financial Independence is not a marathon. It’s more like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk.” We all know the power of compounding and the numbers behind how easy it is to become a millionaire when time is on your side, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to remember.

Time is a huge component in any financial journey… time to save the money and time for the money to grow into more money. But you can imagine (based on my aforementioned impatience) that when I made a plan for financial independence, I wanted to reach it yesterday! (So much so that I didn’t actually calculate real numbers needed until nearly a year later because even $500,000 seemed so out of reach.)

If you have patience, you’re good at not pulling out of the market when it tanks. You’re also good at waiting and not buying things on impulse. Patience helps you make so many good financial choices!

How to Handle Slow Times

Even with market tailwinds, I feel like we’re clawing our way to $500,000 and I’m losing patience. In these times, I have to remind myself of a few important things:

  1. Don’t Make Drastic Changes –

    When I feel like I’m clawing my way toward a goal and progress is slow, I get frustrated. Maybe it’s my lack of patience, but I also like change. I like figuring out what the new normal is going to be and moving forward from there. When nothing is changing and progress forward is slow, I need to remember that I’ve set us up for a good outcome. If I make drastic changes, I will derail that progress.

  2. Celebrate Little Wins –

    It’s no secret that I love celebrating. I celebrate lots and lots of things. Being able to celebrate makes me feel like I’m still moving in the right direction. And when progress is slow, having more metrics to celebrate means you can help make it feel like progress is going faster.

  3. Look at How Far You’ve Come –

    In just a year and a half, we have managed to more than DOUBLE our investments! Progress feels slow right now because we’re working on building up enough reserves to fully live on the previous month’s income. Once we manage to get to that point, progress will start pressing forward even more quickly! We really have come so far (and so have you!). When I take the time to look at our progress, I’m motivated to keep moving forward!

  4. Keep Your Eye on Your Future –

    Remember what I always say?: Future you is still you! And she will be darn mad at you if you derail yourself now because you’re frustrated and impatient! Actually reaching your goal will feel SO GREAT, so don’t rob yourself of being able to feel that as soon as possible. Times will be slow. Markets will tank. Savings will stall. Financial set-backs will happen. But if you keep moving forward, you’ll get there.


    What do you do to help yourself move forward when progress feels slow?

*Maybe why she was born 2 weeks before finals during graduate school…

**Rockstar Finance famous


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  1. This is exactly why I love my debt-payoff spreadsheet! I’m working my way out of almost $100,000 of debt. At first glance it’s like “Well, why not make it a million dollars? I’ll never be able to pay off that amount!” But by breaking it up into chunks (even if it is the minimum monthly payments for now while I’m focusing on building up emergency savings first), it’s easier to tackle it piece-by-piece. It’s actually fun for me to enter in monthly payments now because I can actually see in real-time how the number goes down.

  2. I stop looking at Zillow for houses in places we want to move to… I write a post about how I want FIRE to hurry up. Then I write a post about being grateful for where I am and trying to be more in the moment. Then I look for jobs in “not-Houston”.

    I’m not super patient either if you couldn’t tell. 🙂 I find it’s very much like a sprint and then rest on a slow moving sidewalk. BUT, fortunately for all of us in the PF community – our sidewalk will end WAY before we’re 65.

    So hurrah’s all around! We’re doing it!!! It’s just SO damn S….L….O….W…. feeling sometimes.

  3. fierymillennials

    I really enjoy making my life more complicated than it has to be. This includes my journey to FI. I could have just coasted on my normal investments, but where’s the fun in that? So I bought a house that will help me towards FI, yes… But also includes a LOT of projects to help distract me from how long it’s taking to just retire already!!!

    • MaggieBanks

      That’s exactly the kind of thing I like to do too… fortunately/unfortunately, Mr. T is way more sensible. If the choice was entirely mine, he’d have quit a year ago!

  4. Milestones help a great deal. I kept a spreadsheet and marked the dates when we reached big, round numbers. I also kept track of the months between those dates and noted that they were accelerating rapidly. If it took 4 years to get to one mark, it was 2 years to the next and 1 year to the next. Years became months very quickly!

  5. Ironically my planned post for Friday ventures a bit into this area. For now let me say I agree with you about setting short term goals and celebrating to keep motivated. I also tend to focus elsewhere if I’m really impatient while putting that area on auto pilot, but that won’t help you since you blog about the topic.

    • MaggieBanks

      Focusing elsewhere is helpful… I have been a lot more disconnected from the blog and PF community lately than usual.

  6. Ha, our baby’s arrival is likely going to be part of my grad school finals too!

    We were sprinting as I learned about FIRE finance.. but now we are on that moving sidewalk. Especially since we are index investing, everything is on super auto pilot… I’m struggling with the no-progress feeling now and am appreciating the suggestions in the comments.

    • MaggieBanks

      Everything is on auto-pilot and we are still making progress forward. But we can all learn from each other – find more steps, celebrate more things! 🙂

  7. I agree that progress towards financial independence feels like a 100-mile ultra marathon. Like others have mentioned, I break down my larger goal into much more manageable subgoals. For example, after getting out of debt, I created net worth goals that looked a little like this:

    1. Save up 3 to 6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund.
    2. Attain a net worth of $100,000
    3. Attain a net worth of $250,000

    At each net worth goal I have a series of rewards such as taking an extra week of vacation, finally buying my wife a wedding band, or purchasing a new toy such as a standup paddleboard.

    It’s a long process and I think it is easy to get distracted or feel defeated without many subgoals that can be achieved every few months or so.

    • MaggieBanks

      Steps are a great way to celebrate progress along the way… I’m adding more so we can celebrate more. 🙂

  8. I find myself rarely looking at numbers anymore (maybe once a month). Everything is pretty much on autopilot and we’re just coasting.

    I’ve also been taking a break from PF blogs and instead have been reading about other topics. I think having different interests to take your mind off the numbers is a good thing. The habits are important and the numbers will catch up in time.

    • MaggieBanks

      I Just need to remember that… when I don’t have time to check numbers or read PF blogs, I’m working too much and then I want the numbers to be higher. 🙂

  9. Oh I hear you. This is one of the reasons that I am glad I discovered FIRE as late as I did, and that I only have to make it through a little less than four years now (at least that is what I tell myself to make myself feel better about all that time I spent without compounding working by my side).

    I’m all about the little milestones. I have _so_ many ways I track my progress. A non-exhaustive list includes:

    1. Number of Mondays left to work
    2. Number of days left to work not including holidays and weekends
    3. Various arbitrary round numbers
    4. My FIRE calendar (imagine that your entire FIRE journey is mapped to one calendar year. figure out where you are in the calendar (e.g. say you are at June 28th), celebrate every time you reach a national holiday (e.g. your next celebration would be when you get to July 4th).

    Hmmmm, this could be post I should write.

  10. I look at my net worth spreadsheet. Progress might be slow, but it is mighty. Looking at the changes from month to month helps put things in perspective.

    • MaggieBanks

      Slow and mighty progress is very helpful. Yes, looking at progress over time is super motivating!

  11. Sigh i hear ya. I feel like I got started so late and there are some days where I feel like everything is moving at a snail’s pace, but it’s my daily decisions that really make a difference, built up on day at a (painfully slow) fricken day. 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      This post was for me to remember because I’m in a painfully slow jag it feels like right now. Time moves fast and slow… I will love myself later, but right now, it feels like walking through Jello!

  12. Little victories add up. Once you get momentum, it changes everything.
    Wish I had started sooner!

    • MaggieBanks

      Agreed! But focusing on the woulda coulda shouldas won’t help forward progress.

  13. I’m a naturally impatient person. I like to say it’s part of my charm, but it does get in the way at times. Concerning our financial journey, it was important for us to take baby steps. Mr. Picky Pincher and I are both very impatient people, but when it comes to money we hate to do anything rash. We slowly cut things out of our budget and adjusted as needed. The first few months were full of little wins like shaving $5 off our internet bill. Woop woop!

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s hard to remember sometimes that those little things will someday equal great things.

  14. I get a little impulsive from time to time, especially recently. Like how do I FIRE in 9 months, you know skip the 3 year thing, I mean take 3 years off and then work another 3 years, but wait that’s 6 years and that’s not the plan I say to myself, why are you changing something that appears to be looking pretty good instead of taking the right now version. So many conversations and thoughts in my head, that’s normal right;)

    My only advice is do like I do and tire yourself out through logical thought, spreadsheets, and reading on the subject. Wait, maybe that’s not very good advice.

    • MaggieBanks

      Oh, but that’s exactly what I do when I get all crazy… come back to my spreadsheets and remind myself derailing would be a terrible idea!

  15. I don’t know why, but saving money has always been harder and less motivating to me than paying down debt. Maybe if I flipped it around and looked at it with how much we have left to save versus how much we have saved, I would be more motivated.

    I also try not to think about it as much when there’s not much that I can do about it. I could sit and pour over my spreadsheets all day, but I know that’s not going to put me closer to my goal after so much thought. I know that I need to take action and work to put more money in there.

    Just realize that how far you are and how much better off you are then where you were in the past I guess!

    • MaggieBanks

      I actually did research into this a few years ago because yes, paying down debt is way more motivating than saving money!

  16. I have a spreadsheet of my net worth going back to 2007 (I tracked it before that but can’t find the one from 2003-2007). I remember very well those months and years where it seemed like my net worth wasn’t budging at all. In fact, in my very first 401k, where I made about $22k a year at the job and saved 10% or so of my income, after an entire year I only had $2,000. “How on earth is this supposed to turn into a million dollars???” I remember thinking. But now, 16 years later, I can see how it works. It’s fun to go back and see that slow and steady climb in the early days and years!

    • MaggieBanks

      Ten years of data is awesome! I love getting to add a new data point each month. I’m sure looking back will be similar for me… but it still feels slow right now!

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