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Dubai Meetup 26: How to Plan for Financial Independence and Early Retirement - by Sebastien Aguilar


On the 9th of June, Sebastien, founder of SimplyFI (the UAE Chapter of the Bogleheads® and ChooseFI), presented to the group on How to Plan for Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

After the introduction and a few definitions (what does Financial Independence mean to you?), Sebastien invited the attendees to discuss in groups about why they would want to become Financially Independent (FI), why they would not want and what would be the potential obstacles on the way. These group discussions generated a lot of enthusiasm among the (more than a hundred!) attendees. (The outcome of the discussions are shown on the slides available at the bottom of the post).

Being FI indeed brings a lot of freedom and options, for example:

- Choose to use your time as you see fit

- Focus on what really matters: life, family, friends

- Make a difference (by working on something where money is not the end goal)

- Realize more of your dreams

It also raises a lot of questions, such as:

- What would I do if I didn't have to work?

- Will I lose my identity (if connected to work)?

- Will I have the courage to do something different, to go against the herd?

- How to balance enjoying life today and saving for FI in the future?

For Sebastien, reaching FI opens up a lot of options. You can choose to follow your passions, travel the world, spend time more consciously with your loved ones and yourself, volunteer for a cause or start a business. All of these without worrying about income.

If you love your job, you can choose to continue working as well! FI makes you independent to a certain level from your employer and hence gives you more confidence, often leading to better performance and fulfillment at work.

Sebastien then presented many examples of people who have achieved FI around the world. Many of them are famous writers and bloggers who share their journey and experiences.

But there are also FI people around us, and in particular in the SimplyFI group! Sebastien presented a few examples, including Tom, Dan & Sophie, Heidi, David Cox (from iretiredyoung.net) and Cynthia. Most of them were in the room and a couple of them actually revealed themselves! (See video recording at the bottom of the post)

Each of them are at various stages of their journey to FI and they all have different circumstances: Cynthia and Heidi are single women FI in their mid-thirties, Heidi being Southeast Asian. David Cox reached FI and retired at 47 with 2 kids that went through school and university. All of them hold either low cost index funds or real estate or a combination of both.

This was a powerful way to show the attendees that this is something real people "like you and I" are doing. The only difference between us and people already at FI is that they are a few year ahead. In general they are all humble, hard working, and not necessarily good with numbers.

Sebastien then explained how to estimate the time needed to reach FI. The attendees were invited to make their own calculations to estimate their "FI number" and "FI date" using the "4% rule of thumb".

And in the last part of the presentation, Sebastien presented the milestones of FI: a way to track, recognize and celebrate progress on the way to FI. Knowing where we are on this journey often helps us stay motivated :-)

Here is the recording of the event:


And here are the slides of the presentation.

At the end of the presentation, Sebastien gave a few recommendations for those looking to pursue FI and mentioned that he is available to speak or present to other groups and help people 1-on-1.

Special thanks to the guest speakers David Cox and Heidi for sharing their story as well!

Until next time!

The SimplyFI Team.


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