Cash Flow FI

Cash Flow FI Fly to FI
Cody Berman
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There are so many different subsets of financial independence or FI nowadays that it’s hard to keep track. Well, here’s another one you can add to your financial dictionary. I call it Cash Flow FI and it’s my personal approach to financial independence.

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Cash Flow FI Defined

Cash Flow FI is the point where your side hustles and passive income can sustain your current lifestyle while allowing for reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility.

Let’s break this down a bit further. The first difference between Cash Flow FI and the more traditional types of FI is the inclusion of side hustles as a viable income source. Many other FI tribes count only truly “passive” income. I disagree (more on this later).

The second part of the definition is equally crucial. You have not yet achieved Cash Flow FI until you have achieved reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility.

What does this mean exactly?

To me, reasonable daily autonomy and time flexibility means that you do what you want when you want… well for the most part anyway, hence the “reasonable”.

If I’m having a low-earning month and I’m forced to pick up a few hours of freelance work (Uber, TaskRabbit, Fiverr, etc.) to make ends meet… so be it! This fractional portion of my week still grants me generous autonomy in my lifestyle.

The most important thing to me is my time. Argue with me all you want about Cash Flow FI not being considered “real” financial independence. But if I can pursue my dreams and passions with minimal concerns about money, isn’t that what we’re all after?

Taking Back My Time

In my recent guest post on Fiery Millennials, I discussed the many pitfalls of the nine-to-five lifestyle. One of the points that cut me deepest is my time inflexibility.

For those of you with nine-to-five jobs that allow you to live your ideal lifestyle, I am so jealous. Unfortunately, most nine-to-fivers (including myself) are stuck inside sitting at an unfulfilling desk job all day.

I want to spend time with family and friends, enjoy the nice weather, travel the world, and so much more. Many of these goals are unachievable in a typical nine-to-five role.

Cash Flow FI will change all of this. I can leverage my income streams to take back my time and focus on the things that truly matter to me.

Time is one of the only truly “depletable” resources. You can make more money, grow more food, buy more clothing, but no matter what you do… you can never regain lost time.

A Frugal Foundation

None of these dreams about Cash Flow FI are possible without a frugal foundation. If my lifestyle inflated to match my W2 income, I would be forced to remain in my nine-to-five.

Luckily, as a young 20-something, my lifestyle only costs ~$12,000 to sustain annually(while healthcare is covered). This inexpensive lifestyle is CRUCIAL for taking chances and capitalizing on new opportunities.

Saving up $25,000 would grant me approximately two years of financial runway to try my hand at entrepreneurial ventures. I know that with my focus and determination, I could at least earn some kind of income during that two-year period.

Since I already have my disc golf company, this blog, a soon-to-be-acquired real estate property, and some other ventures in the pipeline, I’m bound to succeed with at least one of them! … I hope :).

Speaking of real estate, I recently stumbled across a cool company called Roofstock that actually specializes in finding single-family rentals properties for investors (like you and me!). I met a representative from their company at FinCon and I highly recommend checking them out.

This financial runway I referenced (well-explained in Scott Trench’s book – Set for Life) is so important yet wildly unrecognized. The longer my financial runway, the more time I have to build my businesses. Unless I’m doing everything completely wrong, these ventures should grow and I can slowly upgrade from the “bare bones” lifestyle.

Looking Forward

I am so eager to achieve Cash Flow FI. I refuse to wait to accumulate the sacred nest egg in order to pursue my passions. I still enjoy my days as much as possible, but the inflexibility of time threatens my daily goals.

As many of you may have read before, I am hoping to leave my W2 employment within the next year to pursue my passions. I’m not insane. I’m not special. Anybody can do this!

Motivation, grit, and a frugal foundation make financial independence obtainable for anyone. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Are you ready to recapture your time and take control of your life? I sure am.

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Note: I am not a financial advisor or fiduciary. All the information presented in this article reflects my opinion. I am not liable for any financial losses incurred related to this content. My content is always written with the readers’ best interests in mind. I believe that my content is helpful and well-researched, but it is not professional financial advice. For more information, read our Privacy Policy.

13 thoughts on “Cash Flow FI

  1. Time truly is the most valuable resource we have (or don’t have). I’m glad to hear you’ve got a goal and it’s centered around what you value most in life. Go get it!

    1. Thanks for reading, Joel! Glad to hear that you agree. I definitely value time more than any other asset so I’m structuring my life to capture as much as possible.

  2. Cash Flow FI baby! Cody, I love how you have your mind set on something and just do it. Start a blog, done. Start a disc golf company, done. Real estate, getting there. Leaving w-2 work, almost there. Check, check, check.

    That type of mindset is such a rare thing to come by but those that have it are massively successful in whatever they choose to pursue. I believe you will be on the same path if you keep your fire and passion!

    Go get some good FU money, don’t wait to hit your FI number, and go live the life you want. So inspiring from someone as young as you! When I grow up I need to be more like this.

    1. Thanks Cooper! Your comments always make me feel like a superstar lol. I’m just a guy with a plan trying to live an optimized life.

      I really appreciate all the compliments and I hope I am able to achieve my goals for the next year. I know my choices aren’t for anyone, but designating any goal and going after it with all you got is huge for personal development.

      Thanks again for reading!

  3. Although I have a fat Fire level of investments I haven’t touched them in my three years of early retirement because I am also cash flow FI. My one day a week side hustles pay 100% of our family expenses and allow me lots of time flexibility. I’m not sure I’d feel secure if I needed the side hustle income to live on or not.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Steve. Congratulations on your early retirement and it’s awesome to hear you have Fat FIRE status! Definitely a place I hope to be in the coming years.

      It definitely all comes down to personal choices… I guess that’s why it’s called personal finance. I am willing to take huge risks primarily due to my age and freedom to fail. Plus, if I fail miserably in all my side hustles, at least I’ll fail doing something I love!

      Keep doing what you do and crushing your life goals!

  4. $12K a year…. what in the world? Oh you’re definitely going to quit the 9-5 very soon at that savings rate. Wow! I’m definitely getting on board with the cashflow FI lifestyle. Cheers man!

    1. Haha thanks man! Discovering FI in college before I had any real expenses was HUGE! No lifestyle creep for me. I’ll definitely slowly start to upgrade from the bare bones lifestyle once my side hustles start to pick up. Cheers!

  5. Awesome article Cody, I passed over this one somehow. Glad I made my way back to it, as you know this is directly in line with my families thinking! Ours isn’t exactly cash flow, it’s my job, but at 4 hours per day it feels very similar. Although man I would love to be by your definition Cash Flow FI, so that’s pretty interesting. We are still spending like 35k/year for the 3 of us so not terrible but not 12k 🙂 I’ll have to keep the wheels spinning on how to achieve this version of FI and also in a long term way. I know you aren’t concerned because as we know we will end up making money via hobbies long term, but I think about things like YouTube/Affiliate Link articles etc and just how much tech and media will change in the next 20 years and if we will even generate income at all without a major overhaul of our content. However I assume real estate will always be in demand 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, Brad! I’m glad you stumbled your way back onto this article. I’ll admit, I definitely have a spending advantage since I don’t have a wife or kid… $35k is still awesome. I totally agree that we never know what will happen in 20 years from now. That’s why I like to diversify my income streams (e.g. disc golf company, blog, real estate, freelancing, my next crazy idea). Anyway, thanks again for stopping by and enjoy your travels!

  6. It seems like we’re in the same boat! I hadn’t hears it called Cash Flow FI but I like it, I’ve got a couple of projects I really enjoy working on and they provide me all the income I need, allow me the flexibility I like plus they’re super fun! Meanwhile I can build the nest egg at the same time. Win win!

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