The Why of FI

Everyone has their own reason for wanting to reach Financial Independence (FI). For me, FI is the difference between staying in a bad situation, and knowing that I have the resources to get myself out of it, even if it costs me my job.

Like most FSOs, I’ve been in posts where things were less than optimal. A bad boss making you want to call in sick just to avoid them. A traffic nightmare each way on your commute. Being overworked or underutilized in your position. One too many foodborne illnesses. The post just being a bad match.

It’s not going to be the same for everyone – to borrow from John Milton,
“The mind is a universe and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Your perfect post could be my perfect disaster, but the principles of FI, and the path to it, still hold.

My own path started helping out a friend, someone who wanted technical assistance getting an IRA established. I’d always had an IRA, as they were pretty easy to set up with my bank, and (of course) contributed to the TSP (more on that later). As we talked, it became apparent that more than the technicalities of an IRA were at issue. He wanted to get out of debt, and didn’t know where to start.

Trying not to meddle in his finances too much, I looked online for good resources. A friend suggested a book that I’d never heard of, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. Not being the sort to give a book without reading it first, I devoured ‘his’ copy in a couple days before diving into the concepts behind FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early.

In FIRE, the basic idea is that you build up your assets, primarily in low-fee index funds, until the profits on that account can cover your monthly needs without dipping into the principal. Once that occurs, you’re home free, and can retire, early.

Now, you’ll notice that this is the FS path to FI, not FIRE. I like my job (now). I intend to continue in it until I can retire with a full pension at 50 (another article on that to come). But I love the idea that if I ever am in a place where I don’t like my job, that I won’t feel as stuck as I did before. Your Money Or Your Life opened my eyes to the opportunities that were out there with a few simple life hacks, and taking advantage of the wonderful benefits of being in the Foreign Service.

I did eventually give my friend his book, but not before I’d started diving into the world of Financial Independence. For those new to the concept, I highly recommend Mr. Money Mustache and ChooseFI. The latter have a great podcast that I’m in the middle of bingeing. I’m halfway through their back episodes, and I really appreciate the community that they’re building.

So that’s it, my Why of FI. A path for the times when there doesn’t seem to be one. As I get more into the details of FI in future posts, we’ll cover more technical details, but for now, I wish you all the best on your journey.

Welcome to FS Path to FI

Hello, and welcome to my new site, the Foreign Service Path to Financial Independence, or FS Path To FI for short. I’m a Foreign Service Officer on the path to Financial Independence myself, and I’d like to share my journey with you, and hopefully help you take advantage of the array of benefits that the Foreign Service life provides for those on the FI path

Acronyms!

You wouldn’t believe I worked as a Foreign Service Officer if I didn’t use acronyms, right? Let me define a few at the get-go, more later. If it comes to the point where I need a glossary, I’ll know that I’ve truly succeeded in life.

FI: Financial Independence There are a lot of definitions out there, and everyone’s personal definition will vary. Essentially, you have enough money coming in, be it from pensions, investment vehicles, side hustles, real estate, black market dealings, or all of the above, that you could support your lifestyle without your job. FI does not mean you have to quit your job, it just means you could if your job pissed you off enough. It’s the FS, you know that could happen

FS: Foreign Service In this case, I’m talking about the Foreign Service branches of the U.S. Government. A lot of what I’m talking about may be relevant to other U.S. branches, but there are some things that are unique to the FS. You’re more than welcome to take advantage of this site if you’re not FS, but YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

FSO: Foreign Service Officer This is anyone working in the Foreign Service directly. Being an FSO generally means that you are hired on a permanent basis with the U.S. Government in a branch that has FSOs. There are other hiring mechanisms, but I’m not as familiar with the benefits available to them… yet…

About Me

I’m going to keep this vague as, while I love my job (now), the mere fact that I’m writing a blog about how to make sure that I don’t need my job to survive could reflect poorly on my annual evaluations. Suffice it to say that I’ve been an FSO for just shy of a decade, that I currently live overseas, and that I want to share my journey towards FI with you, in the hope that I can share some tips and tricks that may prove useful to you as well.