Now that we’re a month or so into this relationship of ours, you may be wondering more about me. Not in the ‘oh he must be so interesting’ kind of way, but more in the ‘why the heck should I listen to this guy’ way.
And maybe you’re right. Who do I think I am to talk about money? I am, after all, just a regular guy. But if you ask me, that’s exactly why I may be qualified to help you with your retirement planning. You see, I’m doing it. I am retiring before I turn 34 and the earlier the better. All you have to do is watch me do it and you will have gained value from this. Not that my way is the only way to do it, but surely there will be lessons learned along the way that will be of use to you and help you reach your own goals.
So then, how did I get here?
Well, I grew up with a pretty averagely awesome amount of opportunity by almost any standard in today’s world, and like many people I knew at the time, I took a ‘year off’ after graduating from high-school in British Columbia, Canada. I traveled, ‘found myself’, and then came home to work as an electrician’s apprentice for about a year. Ultimately, I started drifting towards returning to school, and between the age of about 22-27 completed a degree in Biology. After that, I had some jobs that paid OK, while I was constantly looking for other jobs. I probably spent more time looking for jobs and submitting cookie-cutter applications than I did actually working! Looking back, I could have had some whole other side-hustle that actually paid.
I poked away for a few years, travelled some more, met a girl and ‘settled down’, buying a house (with a rental suite) and starting a Master’s Degree program. I was housebroke but fortunate. It would have taken me the rest of my career to be completely free of all debt, but from the outside I was living the American Dream
And then the girl left (and then another girl not too long after). Before long, I was 30 years old in an empty house with a job I didn’t care for much that paid me just enough to pay all my bills and no prospects for replacing it with a job I cared for more. I had all of this debt associated with school, the house, and my shiny new motorbike. I was making gains overall (my net worth was growing), but I felt broke and, above all, stuck.
Over the next few weeks, I decided to sell my house, especially once I learned just how strong the Real Estate Market where I lived was. I had no idea where I would live after or what was to come, but I knew that I had no attachments or obligations and that I would be free of all debt with a good chunk of cash if I sold, so I did.
Later that summer, before I had actually moved out of the house, I was on vacation in Mexico and, low-and-behold, the opportunity to build myself a great and simple home that would also produce enough rental income to sustain my single-life in Mexico came my way through a friend of a friend. I should also mention that it suited my lifestyle goals wildly. In fact, it exceeded them (I can walk to the beach and be surfing in less than 10 minutes). So I went for it.
Currently, I am working to pay off the remaining cost of the construction and it will be paid for outright, as well as possibly adding another level to increase living space and rental income potential in the long run while also trying to avoid being ‘housebroke’ and ‘stuck’ once again. With this, and some savings, and some frugality, I could live out the rest of my years in relative comfort and great satisfaction and happiness. Likely I will pick up work or volunteer opportunities from time-to-time, and I may even find a whole other path altogether still, but at least whatever decisions I make moving forward will be from a place ‘unstuck’ financially, from a place of pure interest and curiosity and generosity, and that will be the most satisfying part of it all.
One day, when people actually read this blog, I can imagine receiving comments from someone far more versed in finances than me, telling me why my advice is bad. And some of it probably is bad. But you can imagine how that person has probably advised others, and how they would have approved of my ‘previous life’, without considering that I had never felt more ‘stuck’ than I did in that life. So I think those comments will probably be borne out of trying to appear something (like smart or right) rather than to actually help me or the other readers who just want to find our way to the life of our own making. And let’s not forget, this is a journey to retirement, in which we will be learning along the way. And I think that seeing a regular person do it is as powerful as any textbook or lecture or video webinar on the topic of financial independence (especially since you’re probably paying for those resources rather than saving for your retirement).
Are you more advanced than me in your ways of financial ‘unstuckedness’? How did you get there? What are your strategies? I’d love to hear more from you in the comments section below. And remember, we’re all here to learn.