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Goodbye six-figure salary: A Leap into Financial Independence

So, picture this – June 2023 rolls around, and I decide to have a chat with my boss. Something had been brewing within me, a realization that led to a pivotal decision. In the meeting, I announced, “I’m leaving the office.” I had been on the financial independence journey since 2015. I let her know that I would be officially submitting my notice at the end of the week.

There was a plethora of emotions. Excitement. Sadness. Nervousness. I was leaving not just the office I’ve been at since October 2016 but my 19-year career. After years dedicated to my financial independence journey, I had reached a defining milestone. Work optional status.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting – the unexpected recognition from my boss, the world of FIRE, and the extended farewell…

I made sure to let my supervisor know that I wasn’t going anywhere else…instead, she exclaimed “You’ve FIRE’d?!” I was taken aback that she knew the term and I smiled and responded yup “I’ve reached Financial Independence and will be Retiring Early.”

My boss was incredibly supportive over the years and I took the opportunity to share my passion as a personal freelance writer, proudly launching my blog and even landing interviews on exciting podcasts. I made sure my boss was in the loop about these ventures, letting my professional sphere peek into my creative endeavors.

What I didn’t know was that my boss had followed my journey. She was aware of the FIRE community and that my posts weren’t simply on how to budget and reduce expenses. Instead, I was introducing people to the idea of reaching financial independence so that work is optional.

I didn’t put in my two-week notice, instead, I agreed to stay in my role until the end of the summer.

Then I extended that until the end of the Fall, and finally until after the holidays.

There’s more to that story, but I didn’t mind at all. In fact, the long goodbye prepared me to transition mentally and emotionally. There were no tears, no second-guessing myself. No doubting my decision.

By the time the final direct deposit hit, I was at complete peace.

Walli Miller Financial Coach

A Canvas of Possibilities: Life After Corporate Goodbye

Fascinatingly, I’ve spent my entire life future planning. In high school, I was thinking about college. In college, I was thinking about career planning. When I was in my dream career, I wondered what retirement would look like. Little did I know I wouldn’t have to wait until 65 to find out. The journey to financial independence had dramatically accelerated that goal.

The most common question I’ve been asked is “So what are you going to do next?”

Answering the Question: ‘What’s Next?’ – My Liberating Response

And the answer is “Whatever I want.” I don’t know what life will look like 5 years from now. The canvas of my future remains blank, a mystery yet to unfold its hues and contours over time.

What’s true for me right now is that the challenge and excitement of entrepreneurship have completely captivated me. It’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding when I see my clients feel confident about reaching financial security and going from simply surviving to financially thriving.

I equate it to being a coach in the locker room before a game who gives an inspiring speech that reverberates through a player’s bones. The emcee gets everyone ready for the incredible event they are about to witness. That’s how I feel, as a financial coach, helping my clients get started on their financial independence journey.

The Entrepreneurial Thrill: Navigating the Exciting Challenges Ahead

Financially Thriving Money Coaching was created during 2020 when I, like most of the world, was stuck at home with more time on my hands than I had previously. I didn’t have to commute to work and with New York City shut down, there was no place to go.

I had been blogging for a couple of years about my FIRE journey and wanted to inspire folks to consider starting their financial independence journey simply. Introducing the idea of early retirement felt like my responsibility. Beginning the financial wellness alone can seem daunting but with the right support and strategies it’s possible. Financial coaching isn’t simply about teaching financial strategies, it’s about providing guidance and accountability to my clients as they implement new concepts.

Most of my clients find me via Instagram or a podcast they’ve heard me on. Appearing on podcasts is fun. Posting on Instagram and getting minimal, if any, feedback is not. I’ve created close to 300 pieces of content and have 3,000 followers but it’s like the algorithm only shares a fraction of that content. I’m constantly wondering, Does this resonate? Is this pretty enough? Am I adding value? Does this make sense? Will people take action?

Entrepreneurship is like trying to jog after being a couch potato for years – it hurts, but in that ‘I’m getting stronger’ kind of way. It’s painful but in the same way, the day following a good workout at the gym leaves you sore.

Working for someone else, I didn’t have to worry about finding people to help. They simply appeared. However, what I’ve realized is that the strategy without mindset work is almost useless.

Entrepreneurship is fun but difficult. I still vividly remember the day when I questioned whether my efforts were resonating. And then I get a text from a client who says, “You’ve changed my life.” Or a couple you’ve worked with for months says “You’ve saved us so much on therapy by helping us get on the same page about money.” Or a single mom who now has a plan to fund her child’s college.

Financial coaching isn’t something I need to do. It’s something I want to do. I enjoy working with my clients on their personalized plan and sharing general money tips on social media even though only a fraction of people ever see it.

Helping a woman go beyond financial security to feeling confident about her finances. Guiding a couple from constant fights about money to being on the same page is why I continue to coach. It’s why I’m okay with taking on the challenge of building a business. That damn Instagram algorithm. But I’ll post again tomorrow… Oh, it hurts so good. I can’t help people if they don’t know I exist. But then you receive that one email, DM, or comment and it’s total euphoria.

The Mindset Shift: Beyond Spreadsheets to Heal Your Relationship with Money

I started my financial coaching practice thinking I would be creating amazing spreadsheets and introducing people to new concepts. Yes, personal finances involves math.

But it’s also about…dare I say it?

Your mindset.

As my clients unpack why they have the habits with money that they do, they come to realize that without healing their relationship with money, the math doesn’t matter as much.

Now, here’s a moment that made me realize the true impact of an unhealthy money mindset. In 2021, we began remodeling our New York City apartment. As with most things during that time, I worked with a virtual interior designer. By the time 2022 rolled around we had remodeled a kitchen, bathroom, and the entire flooring for the apartment. There are a few minor things we need to update but overall the big projects have been completed.

It was now time to replace our hand-me-down living room furniture. We have an incredibly awkward laid-out living room so this wasn’t an easy task. After months of searching, we found the PERFECT sofa. The price tag… $4,000!

I sat on the decision for weeks and told the designer that I was going to save up for it and purchase the sofa once I had the money. A couple of months later, I had enough in the home furnishings savings account to order the piece I wanted. I did not. I wanted to wait until after the holidays. Then I delayed ordering until after the snowy, wet season of the city.

Eight months after I had decided to purchase the sofa, the designer reached out to me and asked how I was enjoying the new living room. Ummm, yeah, no sofa had been purchased. I felt panicked, judged, and ashamed that I hadn’t ordered the sofa.

It wasn’t just about buying a sofa; it was about challenging deep-seated beliefs.
What I realized was that I hadn’t changed my mind about the sofa. It was that I had this belief that I couldn’t afford the sofa. That I wasn’t worthy of owning expensive pieces.

Yup, I know… At the time, I had a multiple six-figure portfolio, a fully funded emergency fund, and a savings account specifically dedicated to the sofa. But the thought “You can’t afford it,” was whispering in my ear. That is the problem with not having a healthy mindset. When I realized that was the thought I had in my head I called Bullsh*t. I ordered the damn sofa, and I love it! Why in the world had I waited so long?

Intrusive thoughts like these will stop even savvy savers from making decisions to start investing, pay for a housekeeper, or take a vacation because of an unhealthy relationship with money.

I want to serve people. I want to help people, and it’s been frustrating that I haven’t quite figured out how to explain to people “You don’t have to live like that.”

Use Money to Give Yourself Options

You don’t have to be anxious about every bill that comes into your inbox. It’s possible to not feel resigned to working until you die, stay at a soul-sucking job because you need the paycheck, or fear that your finances will always look the way they do.

Imagine being able to fund fertility treatments even if your insurance doesn’t cover it, leave a toxic relationship because you have cash reserves, or deciding to only fly first class on any flights over 3 hours. These are options available to you if you begin to use money as a tool to reach your financial milestones and fund lifestyle goals.

Navigating Wealth Guilt: The Intricacies of Leaving a Six-Figure Career

The decision to walk away from a six-figure sanctuary, solely because I could, has become a clandestine intruder, stirring echoes of wealth guilt within the recesses of my mind. It’s this sneaky feeling of guilt that creeps in, and I’m grappling with it. I have to acknowledge the privileged position I am in but also reassure myself that I am worthy of building wealth.

Wealth guilt has popped its head in when I’ve reached certain milestones like earning my first six figures or saving a year’s worth of living expenses. But sometimes the mere desire to be a first-gen millionaire was a loud siren call to make me question “Who do I think I am?”

Since I’ve left my career in public interest law, my energy is now focused on serving my community and helping them gain financial confidence, and build wealth. I’ve limited my use of the phrase “early retiree” and instead have replaced the R.E. in Financially Independent Retired Early to refocusing energy.

It’s the dream most of us never believed we could have. It excites me to think that children who aren’t even born yet will be impacted by the parents and grandparents that I get to work with as a financial coach today.

I hope my financial independence journey has opened your eyes to the possibility that freedom is possible for you. Having more control over your time, being present at your child’s school events, purchasing your first home, paying off all of the credit card debt, embracing your rich auntie era, building generational wealth, and generating passive income are available to you.

Feeling inspired? Ready to experience the freedom of financial independence? Let’s chat about how my coaching can empower you to take control of your financial journey. Book a call, and let’s make work optional for you too!

Walli Miller Money Coach

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