When financial independence is a priority, it is very helpful to develop an idea of how much money one needs to support a particular expense. Consider a daily $1 cup of coffee. That is $360 a year. With the canonical 4% withdrawal rate, one would need to save and invest $360/0.04 = $9000 to support the $1 cup of coffee/day lifestyle.

Why pay that much when you can make a better coffee yourself?

What about food expenses? These can range from less than $50/month per person to more than $500/month per person.

Required savings for $50/month:

$50/month = $600/year food expenses. This needs $600/0.04 = $15000 in savings. Whereas $500/month = $6000/year needs $150000 in savings. That’s a lot!

Aiming for the lower figure of $15000 is doable in a foreseeable number of years. After saving $15000 one NEVER needs to worry about food again. One is financially independent of the food expenses.

My suggestion is to tackle recurrent expenses in this way one by one. How much does it take to become financially independent of food, housing, clothing, transport, health costs, internet, movies, cable, …

This results in a set of smaller goals to work towards. It will also create a certain discipline. More importantly, it will make one reevaluate whether the expense is really worth it. For instance, is a daily cup of $4 coffee really something one would want to save $36000 to support or is a 25c homemade cup of coffee good enough?

A 25c/day coffee addiction costs a mere $900 for a lifetime “subscription”.

Originally posted 2007-12-05 00:47:00.