It’s the weekend, friends! Scientists finally solved the centuries-long mystery of where a starfish’s head is.
In today’s big story, I’m exploring something equally mysterious to me: How people who have achieved financial freedom got there, and what their lifestyles are like.
What’s on deck:
But first, let’s talk freedom.
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The big story
The work behind financial freedom
Passive income. Retiring early. Traveling the world. The concept of financial freedom sounds like a dream come true.
It’s when you don’t have to actively work to earn money but still have a source of income that covers your expenses. Insider regularly chats with many people who have achieved this, like Dion McNeeley, a former truck driver who built a real estate portfolio, and Brian Luebben, who made podcasting his full-time job.
I wanted to understand more about just how much work goes into this — so I spoke with two people who consider themselves financially free. My goal was to figure out how they’ve been able to do it, and what others might not realize about how much legwork is needed to become truly financially independent (but not yet retired).
Spoiler alert: it’s actually a lot more work than I expected.
Heather Johnson and Brandon Timothy each have Etsy shops that annually generate six figures in revenue.
Heather currently only spends around five to 10 hours a week maintaining her Etsy shops, mainly on customer service.
She started selling print-on-demand goods in 2021 while working full-time as an MRI tech at a hospital, and also putting in 15 to 30 hours per week to get her shop off the ground. Within one year, she says she generated six figures in revenue and had to reduce her hours at the hospital. The catch? She’s still working 30 to 40 hours a week, since she branched out to other ventures like YouTube.
Brandon also sells digital products on Etsy, and he’s been doing it for nearly a decade. He shared that after four months of selling on Etsy, he was making more than his full-time job as a certified electrician.
So, for two years, he used the passive income generated from Etsy (around $4,000 to $5,000 in profit per month) to travel and pay down student debt. Now, his digital products generate around 18,000 Canadian dollars, or $13,000, of revenue per month. (Insider verified this with documentation of his earnings.)
Although he achieved profitability on Etsy years ago, he still sometimes works more than 40 hours a week on other ventures.
Both their lives still include travel and flexibility. But for them, being financially free definitely requires work. As Heather told me: “What I put into my business is what I get out.” Yet, “there’s a lot of freedom I feel now.”
For more stories on financial freedom, check out:
3 things in travel
- A solo female traveler who’s visited every country in the world shares her favorite countries (plus, why some didn’t make the cut). She based it on their landscapes, diverse cultures, and cuisines. Austria, Pakistan, and Tunisia were among her top 10.
- A commercial airplane took off with two missing windows. The Airbus A321 was headed toward Orlando International Airport. It reached 10,000 feet before anyone realized there was a problem.
- At least nine people on cruise ships have gone overboard this year. The chances of falling overboard off a cruise ship are extremely low. Only two of the nine people it happened to this year survived.
3 things in careers
- Why Gen Zers aren’t looking for promotions. It partly has to do with Gen Zers believing that management is unfulfilling. Plus, they don’t believe it’s worth the pay or stress.
- “I’m a former Google recruiter. The smartest job candidates always did these five things to stand out.” The best job applicants are prepared with anecdotes that illustrate lessons they’ve learned, said Nolan Church, who also recruited for Doordash. They also shouldn’t be afraid to be bold.
- Computer science isn’t looking like the promised land of money and job security anymore. Many young job hunters say the process has become tougher after layoffs hit the industry. And the high-flying salaries of the pandemic tech boom seem unlikely to return.
3 things in life
- Photos show the Northern Lights in places as far south as Texas. The aurora appeared from a double eruption on the sun. Although these natural light shows are pretty rare so far south, they could become more common in the next year or so.
- Hit snooze — not the gym — in the morning, doctor advises. Dr. Nicole J. Van Groningen revealed a list of things she would never do, including skipping sleep to work out instead. Other experts also warned about the dangers of prioritizing exercise over sleep.
- Tis’ the season: battle of the hot chocolates. A reporter compared the sweet beverages from Starbucks, Peet’s, Coffee Bean, Dunkin’, and Krispy Kreme. She was in search of a cup that felt the most like a warm hug without being a one-note sugar bomb.
In other news
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Thanksgiving turkey hack
Spatchcocking cut the turkey cooking time down to 75 minutes. Plus, it turned out delicious, beautiful, and easier to carve.
The Insider Today Saturday team: Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor, in New York City. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York City.
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