I’m an Australian in my
mid, late twenty’s, early mid-thirties and a major goal in my life is to become Financially Independent and Retire Early (FIRE). But what exactly does FIRE mean? Well, I’m sure you can figure out the retire early bit (my favourite part). As for financial independence, one definition defines it as:
‘Having sufficient personal wealth to live, without having to work actively for basic necessities. For financially independent people, their assets generate income that is greater than their expenses.’
FI basically means that you have income-producing assets that generate enough money for you to live off…forever. This, in turn, gives you the option to retire early (RE) and pursue your interests without relying on a paycheck to keep a roof over your head. Pretty sweet right?
I definitely think so. But before we venture any further I’d like to rewind to the start of my journey many years ago…
I have always been responsible with my money even from an early age. I accredit this attribute to my parents but particularly to my father. Being a typical WOG he was a tight arse and I hated it.
When I was young and needed new footy boots, off to the store with Dad I would go. Back from the store, I would come with the no-brand, pov, ugly football boots that I would be embarrassed to wear to training the following week.
I can now appreciate how utterly ridiculous children’s football boots and clothes, in general, are priced. Especially when you grow out of them in less than a year. Nevertheless, this does not cross your mind when you’re a child and all you care about is having the coolest shit possible to show off to all your friends.
Dad taught me that smart people saved their money and only suckers parted ways with theirs. Whenever I would buy anything he would ask me how much I paid for it. No matter how much of a bargain I got on the item the response was always the same.
It was sort of like when Darryl Kerrigan would ask his son “How much does he want for it?” and the response would always be the same “Tell him he’s dreaming”. It was almost like spending money on anything other than a necessity was being ripped off.
I have always had an interest in money and wealth. I’m not sure where it comes from but I took notice of it from an early age. When visiting friends who lived in really nice houses I would always be interested in what their parents do for a living.
When I would watch a reality TV show some of these people would be living in multimillion-dollar mansions. I would be less interested in the main ‘stars’ and wanted to know more about their parents and how they obtained these enormous fortunes, often resulting in me reading their wiki page for hours.
The connection I made early on was that most of my ‘rich’ friends parents didn’t have normal jobs. They either owned businesses, land, real estate, shares or did something that wasn’t your average 9-5 day job. There were a few that held high positions in companies but even then it seemed that the wealthiest people owned things that made them money.
If you live in Australia you might be aware that we have a love affair with real estate. God forbid you move to Melbourne and start renting. That would be like throwing your money down the drain.
What you need to do is buy a house and ‘set yourself up’.
I was once engraved in this mantra too. I knew that smart people bought investment properties and I wanted to be smart! So when I had saved up enough money for a deposit I bought my first Investment Property in 2013.
Towards the end of that year, I started to think to myself :
“Shit. You actually have this massive debt to your name and 90% of the reason you bought it was because you were told it was a clever move. You need to actually figure out yourself if that was true.”
So I set out to discover as much as I could about investing in real estate and not too far into the journey I discovered the term financial independence.
I believe it was from Robert Kiyosaki’s famous book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ which is not specifically about real estate investing. I remember reading a section of the book that roughly said all you have to do to reach FI is to keep buying assets that make you money. It will be slow at the start but thanks to the powers of compounding interest the more you buy the more you make and the easier it is to buy again. You eventually have so much money flowing in from the assets that you can live off the stream of income.
It seemed so simple. Just buy things that make money, that’s all there is to it. Buy enough of those things (assets) and voila you’re finically independent!
I had my doubts, I didn’t think what they were describing in these books was really possible.
I mean really?
You’re telling me that if I save my money each paycheck and invest it, eventually I would not have to go to work 5 times and week?
I must have read somewhere between 15-20 books in 6 months (which is a lot for me). I started to subscribe to online blogs of people who had already reached FIRE. I went to seminars in Melbourne on the weekends to meet people who had achieved financial independence. Anything I could get ahold of to do with FIRE I would absorb it.
I BECAME OBSESSED.
The light bulb went off in my head and I was now fixated on achieving this goal.
Now I have to admit, I don’t actually mind my job. I actually quite enjoy it. But I HATE having to be there for 38 hours each week. It’s not the work, it’s the time I feel I am forced to give up. My precious time that I can never get back. And as I eventually move up the ladder of adulthood that precious time is continuingly taken away from me. It seems like I don’t have enough at the moment, what happens when I take on more responsibility at work and move up in my career? Move out with my partner? What about KIDS? Yikes!
This blog is going to track my journey from $0 net worth to FIRE with detailed information and analysis on saving $$$, investing, mindset, struggles and anything else that is relevant to reaching FIRE.