Like many, I got into financial trouble the moment I started earning “real” money. At 22, making more than I ever had, I quickly became buried in debt and was struggling to make even minimum payments. Luckily, I recognized the problem, but clawing back to 0 left me money-emotionally scarred.
Learning to budget and set financial boundaries are obviously important skills, but I was always curious to know the exact long-term results of this discipline — in short, I wanted to know the maximum lifestyle I could afford, while ALSO achieving my long-term goals. I didn’t realize it, but I was doing the whole FI/RE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) thing before FI/RE was a thing.
The real game-changer for me was understanding the enormous impact of mindset. Rather than spending every weekend in a bar or club, mixing it up with hiking or cook-outs with friends can be just as fun, with the added benefit that the entire group is better off! But trying to find a software tool to quantify and illustrate these choices and the financial impact over a 40, 50, 60-year period was futile.
Many tools can illustrate the results of a particular savings rate, but I wanted something that let me play with different income streams and expense assumptions over time in order to answer questions like, “What happens if I take a year off?” or “What are the long term financial affects of buying this car?”
I wanted to know how contributions to different accounts, like my 401k, affected my future, or the different outcomes of renting versus owning a home. Again, many tools can answer each of these questions individually, but nothing brings it all together to see the complete picture.
Finally, I grew tired of waiting. As a software engineer, I worked on a solution, and after some prototyping, I formed a small group of like-minded engineers and in 2014, OnTrajectory was born. Over the years, we’ve added many more features than I originally envisioned, because other folks in the Financial Independence community have found them useful.
In addition to defining your future assumptions around income, expenses, and account contributions (IRAs, 401Ks, 529s, etc.), we now perform many advanced calculations and have features you won’t find in any other tool, for example, you can:
- Track your actual progress along with your assumptions to ensure those assumptions are correct and easily adjust as needed
- Understand the effects of different “Debt-Reduction” strategies, such as the snowball or avalanche method
- Interactively run Monte Carlo and Historical analysis to determine your “chance of success”
- See the results of performing more advanced financial strategies, such as Roth Conversions or various tax-handling / drawdown techniques
Ultimately, however, all those features and functions are secondary to the reason I wanted a tool like this in the first place. The way I see it, everyone is on a financial path, and it’s critical to understand where it’s taking you. Of course, some folks don’t want to know, but I think we can all agree denial is not the best strategy for long-term financial security.
And that’s what it’s all about! It’s about knowing where you are going so you can STOP thinking so much about the dollars and do more living. Personally, I don’t want to count every transaction or balance my receipts every time I get coffee. I want to plan my long-term trajectory, set-up my savings and contributions to support it, then get everything on auto-pilot so I can forget about it.
Financial peace-of-mind is not just about your wallet or bank account because financial stress can bleed into every aspect of one’s life. It’s been linked to everything from heart-disease to divorce.
Right now you may have a vague idea about your financial future, but just like a movie that’s out of focus, it sort of hurts to look at. Using a tool like OnTrajectory brings your future into focus and the more clearly a person can SEE a successful future, not only will they be happier now — they’re also more likely to achieve it.
Feel free to find out more at OnTrajectory.com. We offer a full-featured 2-week trial that requires no credit card. We have an array of guides and videos to help get you started, as well as a “To-Do List” to help you flesh out a complete financial plan, one that I truly hope brings your clarity and some degree of financial peace-of-mind!