Reaching For FI on a Median Salary

It should be noted that I wrote a similar article for Choose FI a few months ago, which focused more on the backstory of your dear old pal the Captain. This article, while titled somewhat homogeneously,  is directed more toward you, dear reader, in an attempt to quench your thirst for all things FI.

For a blog that is, at least in theory, supposed to be somewhat based around finances (hence the last roughly 30% of the title letters), I haven’t really gotten too much into my financial situation.

This is for a couple of reasons. First of all, people get weird around money, and as I’m not exactly anonymous with all of my pictures and stories, I don’t want to spread that stuff open for the world to see.

Second of all, there are plenty of blogs out there (like this one and this one) that get really deep and specific about their spending, saving, income, and all of that. In other words, there’s lots of opportunity for financial voyeurism.

Third of all, and perhaps most important, Mrs. DIY would probably kill me with a pillow in my sleep.

Then What’s the Point of All of This?

The point of this blog, aggressive headline guy, isn’t to highlight my particular path, but to showcase skills and mindset tricks that anyone can use to accelerate their journey to FI.

What I want to do in this article is to show all of you out there that you don’t have to be a software engineer pulling in big bucks to successfully navigate the financial and lifestyle challenges you’ll face along the way.

(Sigh) Ok, Let’s See What You Got

As some of you may know, I work as an electrician for a local university as my day job. It’s a cushy, clean, ridiculously beaurocratic job that is unfulfilling in every way, but it pays the bills and I’m not destroying my body.

As anyone who works for a state knows, you don’t get rich working there. Unless, of course, you have chosen to walk the path of FI. In which case you get to sit back and watch your savings grow due to your spectacularly superior lifestyle choices while those around you languish in the land of the Walking Dead Consumer. Not that I’m judging, but they’re stupid.

I’m sorry, that was harsh. I didn’t mean that, mister and misses WDC.

The median salary in the US in 2016, according to this article from Business Insider, was $59,039, which happens to be almost exactly what the university paid me. Actually, they paid me around $1000 less than that, but close enough.

The reason I am allowed to give you this little tidbit without suffering painful consequences from Mrs. DIY is, as a state employee, my taxable income is published online every year.

Speaking of the Mrs., she is currently holding down three jobs, including two (very) part-time gigs and a serious side hustle. I also, as you may know from some of my more ludicrous twitter posts, spend a hefty amount of time rocking the side hustle.

I Thought You Said You Had a Median Income

I do, almost exactly, and therein lies my point. For those of us in the median income bracket, if you will, we need to come up with some creative ways to try to bump up our finances just like we are creatively slating our expenses.

I’m certainly not saying it’s impossible to reach FI strictly on $50k per year, but if you want to make the famous Shockingly Simple Math work out a little bit more in your favor, it helps to work the hustle.

There are a lot of options out there for bumping up those magic numbers, and if you have decided to work a skilled trades job those options are little golden apples hovering in front of you. All you have to do is gently pluck them from the air and reap the benefits.

As a little side note, every time I meet someone new, and I mean every time, and they discover my profession, they will start telling me of all of the work they need done at their house, and the end of the conversation is usually just them throwing money at me.

People are so desperate for this kind of work, and there are just not enough tradespeople to do it.

That Ain’t Me, Babe

Ok, so maybe you don’t have a lucrative trade that everyone is trying to throw cash at, but you’re still hoping to do a little better for yourself with a side job. There are some great resources out there!

Take Side Hustle Nation, who I found out about through an interview on the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast. They have a fantastic article detailing a ton of side hustle ideas.

There’s also this article, and this one, and this one, and… I think you’re getting the point.

So yes, you could definitely say that you can’t do it because you’re not making enough money, and you could say that everyone out there rocking the FI journey is making way more money than you, and you could say all kinds of whiney pants foolishness. If that’s your mindset and you’re sticking to it, so be it. Just know that if you are unwilling to change, don’t expect your circumstances to change. Simple as that.

Final Note: you can cut your expenses down to a bare minimum, and no lower, but you can always find ways to make more money.

6 thoughts on “Reaching For FI on a Median Salary

  1. If you have a trade, you’ll always have work. And be able to live for less as you don’t need to pay someone to do the trade work in your own home. Hubby has a trade and it makes such a difference to our finances in terms of DIY. Also trade minds are used to overcoming problems and can find solutions (cheaply).

    You can definitely FIRE on a median income, indeed our individual incomes are both well below the median US income, as in significantly below. But you cut your cloth accordingly. No big house or expensive truck for us. We will FIRE in less than 2 years and be under 55 when we do. It could have been sooner but we didn’t jump on the band wagon of side hustles, lesson learnt!


    1. Thanks for the comment, and congratulations on being so close to FI!
      Yes, so. many benefits to being capable of fixing and installing things on our own homes, plus the incredible feelings that come with accomplishing really useful tasks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad that you’ve also had hesitation to publish too much personal information because it could leave you vulnerable to the world. I would really like to, but my wife would also probably kill me. Keep up the good work! I feel like we’re in similar situations!


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