It was the winter of 2003, just before Christmas, and the decorations were out in full force along the Magnificent Mile. All of the stores displayed the top gift items of the season in their impressively decorated front windows. Street musicians and carollers filled the air with festive tunes. I was still a young man, fresh out of college, only 18 months into my career. Each weekday I exited the subway and walked down the iconic Michigan Avenueto my cubicle on the 19th floor of the John Hancock building, where I had gotten a job working for the 3rd largest insurance brokerage in the city. And I was about to be laid off.
I’ve spent the last 8 years living in Silicon Valley. It’s a sprawling urban area with beautiful year-round weather consisting of about 10 cities that feel like one big suburb. It sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and dotted with palm trees. Add in a bunch of tech companies, clogged highways, and houses starting at $1MM, and you’ll have a general idea of the place if you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting.
There are plenty of milestones to pass on the long journey towards the goal of Financial Independence. I see milestone posts on FIRE forums all the time. Having a zero net worth is a big one for many, since it seems nearly everyone starts below zero thanks to the skyrocketing price of a college education.
I have a hard time remembering exactly what my answer to this question was when I was a kid. I’m sure a frequently repeated answer was professional basketball player. When I was young, my dad was a high school basketball coach so we watched and played A LOT of basketball. Unfortunately, my growth spurt stopped at 5’11”, my jump shot never quite developed as much as I’d hoped, and since I’m not quite as quick as Isiah Thomas, the NBA ceased to be an option.