Build Your 2018 Financial Independence Action Plan

About 40% of Americans make a New Year's resolution, and about 90% of those break them.

Following their suggestion, I decided to have an action plan for 2018 and, hopefully, stick with my resolutions.

Track my spending for a year

Thanks to RPF Episode 506 for crystallizing this idea for me. We all know that FI is based on developing better spending habits, not just your income or savings.

So, I plan on using some basic budget categories and an excel spreadsheet I found on It has salary, dividends, interest, and reimbursements as income categories. For expense categories it has food, mortgage, gas, laundry, car loan, utilities, clothing, medical/dental, house repairs, and taxes. I added college, dining out, entertainment, vacations, cleaners, ATM withdrawals, and donations to cover all my bases.

My plan is to fill it out monthly by looking at my checkbooks and credit card bills. I know there are some expenses I'm missing, so I'll update my spreadsheet as needed. I'm anxious to see if my spending matches my expectations.

Lose 10 pounds

This has been a goal of mine for a while, and it embodies several things: An active lifestyle, working out, eating less, and eating better.

I have been holding steady through the holidays and right now am injury free, so I hope this one might be easy…one can dream. My downfall is dinner, but my wife has been talking about changing what we cook and eat. Water will be my salvation, during the day.

I also plan on amping up my workouts. Here is to hoping this one is pretty easy.

Keep using travel rewards

I just started with this pillar—it's pretty easy if you track a few things. I have some travel plans in my future and want to keep costs down.

We have gotten two Chase Sapphire Preferred cards—one for me and one for my wife. With our expenses we currently have, it's easy to hit the required spending limits to earn additional rewards.

Typically, my wife and I are not great planners, so the redemptions might not be optimal. Oh Well. That is something we have to work on. Luckily, everyone on ChooseFI is so supportive I really don't think I need to go far for help.

Actively give back

I know there are lots of ways to give back, so I want to start actually do it. In my area, there are plenty of people who could use the help. I want it to be more hands on than hands off. Maybe scouting, maybe volunteering at the hospital, I don’t know quite yet.

This might be a difficult resolution since I have a busy work schedule and love to play soccer and ski. I've done the coaching thing for over twenty years, and I don’t want to give up my slope time.

It's really inspiring to read and hear from FI people when they talk about what to do with their independence and free time. If anyone can offer a suggestion here drop me a line!

Knowing the kind of folks who listen to ChooseFI, I bet lots of you are thinking about your 2018 action plan. Let me know what yours is and we can march down the road less traveled together.

My personal background

I think of myself as “Accidental FI”—essentially the opposite of second generation FI. Jonathan and Brad call them selves the First Generation FI, they refer to the folks who follow them as Second Generation FI. My children and I don’t really fit that mold, but as ChooseFI emphasizes there is no one size fits all.

Just a bit of background on my personal life. I have a wonderful wife, three adult children.

I served in the Marine Corp from 1982 to 1988 on active duty, then in the reserves until about 1997. My calling is as a System Engineer/System Architect, and I have worked for two companies since leaving the military. I'm a degenerate skier/snowboarder and have never met a hill I didn’t like. I also have a “sorta’ side hustle” on eBay selling all the extra stuff in my and my mothers house.

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13 thoughts on “Build Your 2018 Financial Independence Action Plan”

  1. Always good to put your goals out there! Looking forward to hearing how it goes. (BTW: second generation FIRE is not the followers of Choose FI, its our little kiddies! 🙂

  2. Always good to put your goals out there! Looking forward to hearing how it goes. (BTW: second generation FIRE is not the followers of Choose FI, its our little kiddies! 🙂 )

    • I think I’ll strugggle with the loose 10. I think my parents and their peers did alot with FI concepts making me 2nd Gen, and my kids third!! The current FI RE community is standing on the shoulders of some less well know giants that I think we could acknowledge some how with a name . . .Maybe I should write a blog about that :-). Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thanks for sharing a great post. Your parents applied the FI concepts long before it was a thing, from what it sounds like. Now there are names for it and we get to really expand on it and share our experiences too. Good idea for a follow up blog post!

    • I think the tools such as Roths/401Ks/advance tax planning are very different (and very powerful too). The internet has shaped the FIRE community, everything is so accessible to those who are interested and willing to do some reading.

  4. I have not gotten the best redemptions for travel hacking, I’ve figured just playing the game is a pretty big step. Yes we’ve gotten a few domestic flights for free, yes we’ve stayed in hotels for free on our planned vacations. But no we didn’t look at optimizing the points earning and using them for maximum value. In the next year we hope to get a free trip to Europe, I’m not sure if we started planning early enough to fully optimize, but it’s better than normal!

    • I am where you are . . . hoping to get better at the travel hacking. Right now its free rooms on vacations and building up miles; business travel helps me out a bit too. Mrs. Accidental FI and I need to sit down and plan a trip a year in advance I guess. You have to keep us posted on how your planning goes for your European vacation!

  5. Great first post, Accidental FI !!!

    Since we work together and have similar FI interests, I am going to be your accountability partner. Plan to get asked how it’s going on your action plan frequently at work. Hmmm, perhaps I should share my FI pillar goals with you for similar accountability.

    As far as travel rewards redemption, recommend joining the Travel Miles 101 FB group which is very active and has lots of tips on redemption.

    Interestingly, I didn’t see a plan for posting additional articles here in your action plan. Keep posting and share how you are doing on your plan and encourage others with their plans.

    Here’s to a successful 2018 !!!

    • Thank you for volunteering to keep me on track.
      I am ready to start redeeming as I am almost finished getting my bonus miles on my third card and have started two more posts . . . can’t wait to see how this goes.

  6. Hey Accidental FI, thanks for serving our country. I love that part of your goals include giving back! I am skier too and put it on hold while I was paying off debt. Cass in Canada commented on my post and told me she (or he, idk) is a race coach as a side hustle. If you’re a good skier/snowboarder, teaching might be a great way to give back, get a season pass, and make a little extra dough.

    • Thanks. I have often thought if I could go back in time I might work that angle but now I don’t want to put the effort into qualifying as a ski patroller or instructor. I am thinking that supporting adaptive skier instructors might be a good “give back” scenario. Less responsiblity and less training. It comes with a lift ticket, discounts and a jacket at my home mountain, too!

  7. It’s actually good to have charity causes whenever you have enough, it’s fulfilling! You have a good heart, I hope people like you will be multiplied 🙂

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