What Is Your Rat Race Freedom Number?

I participated in a 90 minute Google Hangout with Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation last night.  I am in a small group of people who are participating in Nick’s 2nd “Plan, Launch, Hustle” Challenge and have just completed the very first week.  During the week, Nick has been guiding us through a series of tasks intended to help in identifying a good potential side hustle (AKA side business) that suits our skills and interests.  Last night we shared what we came up with in our work this week and got ideas and feedback from each other.  I learned quite a few things and discovered some interesting paths that I’m excited to explore. 

I’m so glad I decided to take the time to do this Challenge.  The diversity of backgrounds, talents, and end goals of each participant creates an environment where ideas can be presented that the individual may not have considered outside of the group.  I feel re-energized with new ideas and re-focused on my goals after the time spent with these folks last night.

Nick, with ever perfect timing, also sent an email to his subscriber list yesterday (which I am on) about defining your Freedom Number.  A Freedom Number would be defined differently by each individual, based on where they are in life.  People planning or nearing retirement commonly relate their Freedom Number to the amount they need, above and beyond Social Security, to live comfortably in their retirement years.  For most of the people in Nick’s audience though, this is a “Rat Race Freedom Number”.  To quote Nick, “Your Rat Race Freedom Number is the amount you need to be earning from your side hustle to cover your fixed monthly expenses. Once you can do that consistently, you’re free to quit your job.”

As I looked through how I should calculate my Freedom Number, I realized it was going to be a little higher than I would have expected.  I have always said the abundance I want to manifest in my life is a richness of experiences, not things.  But let’s get real here, you need a good chunk of money for experiences too.  Especially with the life I plan to be living in less than 10 months. (eeek!)   Traveling full time involves plenty of expenses and you absolutely must have a nest egg in case something happens to your vehicle/home.

If I wanted to live on the edge I could manage on $1100 a month.  There would be no wiggle room on expenses, no saving, and no emergency fund.  I would be very limited in what I could do and where I could travel.  With $2000 a month, a number I am completely comfortable with, I could save a small amount and have some flexibility in my budget.  I would still need to be conservative in my spending, but it would be easier to manage.

Since I’ve known those numbers for a while, I decided to expand on them a little.  After some thought and research, I decided $2000 is my low ball “I can make on this’ Freedom Number, $3000 is my ‘easy living’ number, and $4000 is my ‘dream’ number.  Do I need three levels of Freedom Numbers?  Yes, I believe I do.  Knowing the math and what I can achieve with each level of freedom will keep me focused on my goals and driven to do a little better.

I know it seems a bit high for me since I am always saying how little I need, but it makes sense after researching current full-time travelers and their budgets.  I found most spend between 3k and 4k a month to live very comfortably.   Some of their expenses are not in line with how I plan to travel (I have no need for satellite TV) and those expenses I would benefit from (I plan to use free WiFI as often as I can until I can afford a good mobile internet plan) can be worked around for a while if needed.  For the most part their expenses seemed reasonable and fell within the realm of how I would like to live on the road.  I can easily do it on $2000, but $3000 would be very comfortable.

I have this passion project though.  An extra $500 – $800 a month would fund the endeavor beautifully.  Since I would really like to see that dream come to fruition, $4000 is the dream number!  $4000 seems pretty lofty for a minimalist I guess, but just wait until you see what I have planned if when I reach this goal.  It’s good stuff.

Will I drop all my plans if I don’t reach a specific number by the time I plan to leave?  HECK NO!  As long as I have my vehicle/home, I will figure it all out on the $1500 a month I know I will be able to count on when I leave.  Any more than that is just a bonus.  And don’t think for a minute I won’t get to that $4000 goal eventually.  I’ll get there.  Just you watch.

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