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OK, here is a contrary opinion.

I do not think it is realistic to save yourself into wealth.

Plus, you aren't really living, you are existing: We don't have cable, we don't have a land line, we hardly ever eat out, we shop at Aldies whenever we can and our entertainment is camping with the kids.

At 40 I was in a very similar situation to you, with the exception that I had also just been laid off from my job and had been through a very expensive divorce. As soon as I got a new job, I lived on a budget, I spent years camping with the kids for entertainment. My daughter still tells stories about how we would stop at a McDonald's on our way camping and when she wanted a cheeseburger, I would make her get a hamburger and put a piece of cheese from the cooler on it. But the real change I made was that I developed outside interests which produced outside income.

The very important point is that the outside interests were not working for someone else, where someone else takes most of the profit. They were working for myself, where I kept everything I made. Over the years I could loosen up on the budget.

I remarried about 10 years ago, and had already achieved what would have been FI, if I had wanted to live on a tight budget.

Right now I am 60, and we have put two kids through college, and we will retire next year with income in the top 2% of the US. Roughly 20% of our net worth is from my 401(k). The rest is from the proceeds of the outside interests. Bottom line is that I made 4 times as much on the side as I could save.
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