Yesterday was quite the day and probably one of the days I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Officially I left the working world and entered into a new era of life, one of early retirement. All at the grand old age of 40.
I have been chasing financial independence retire early or FIRE as those in the community know it since 2011. That sounds like a lifetime ago, but I promise you, the past 10 and a bit years have flown in. If you’re only starting out on your journey, the next 10 will go by in the blink of an eye.
Listen to experience
Please remember to enjoy the journey. It can be easy to be consumed by the focus on frugality, to save as much as you can and this may cause you to miss out on experiences because of it. I don’t regret any decisions I’ve made, but if I was to start again, I’d maybe spend a little more and take a little longer on the journey. But then, I’m here now because of those choices and I wouldn’t change that either…
Can anyone achieve financial independence?
I honestly believe that this is a yes. Who you are today and where you go in life aren’t pre-determined. If you’re willing to change and grow, then the opportunity is there for you. It won’t be easy. There will be significant periods of self-doubt, but it will be worth it.
It’s an absolute shit-show out there at the minute, but for those of us who were old enough during 2008, there are similarities. I am of the mindset that there are always opportunities out there. You have to look for them and choose to make them work for you.
How did I achieve financial independence?
I owned a small business that was acquired in 2020. I was financially independent before the business was acquired. More so after. Starting a business changed my life and it was 100% the driving force in this process. Before working for myself, my largest salary was £20,000 per year. Would financial independence be possible on that salary? I don’t think so and for that reason, if you want to achieve financial independence, I fully believe that increasing your income is the easiest way to do this.
I started my business with £1,000 back in 2009, mid-recession. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I would regularly work 17hr days building my business and trying to make it a success. In year 1 I barely replaced my income, but over the following years, this increased somewhat. What’s important to note is that I did not really increase my costs as my salary grew. I did buy some nice things, but at the height, I was investing 70-80% of my income towards my goals.
If I’d stayed in my £20k job, I’d maybe get a 2-3% raise each year. Starting my own business multiplied this.
My advice to anyone looking to become financially free is to learn about business and start their own. I was a marketer and had zero sales skills. I took a job with a very well-known (then) business directory that was renowned for its sales training. Once that was figured out, I decided what my business would be and began working on it.
I’m a salesperson to the core now and it’s the one skill you cannot start a business without. I’m also eternally optimistic and pragmatic as fuck. I think these are incredibly valuable skills to have as a business owner because you’ll be tested multiple times a day. The tests don’t ever get easier and you need to be able to navigate them all.
Is now a good time to retire?
For me, it’s a perfect time. Probably not the best financial decision, but I intend to earn money in my retirement. It’s what I’m built to do and what I enjoy. It’ll 100% be on my terms and only if my priorities allow it.
What am I going to do with all my free time?
Prioritise the things I’ve neglected over the years. Myself and my family primarily. I am now present at home, not working on my business and I’m spending more time looking after myself. I’ve set up this website because I like writing and I want to help others achieve financial freedom, so that’s a big focus of mine.
Currently, I’ve no plans beyond looking after myself and my family, but I’m sure they’ll come in due course. I’m absolutely shite at Warzone, so I think I’ll practice a bit of that or properly learn to make some house or techno music. The world is my oyster as they say.
Advice to anyone reading this
It may feel that we’re in one crisis after another, but this will pass and brighter days lie ahead. If you want to change your life, then start moving forward towards your goal now. Small steps, then bigger steps and you’ll get there.
It’s websites like this and communities online that make a journey towards financial independence easier to navigate. I have consumed so many podcasts, articles and videos of those ahead of me on their journey and it was inspirational. I hope mine is now also.
Whoop whoop it’s the retirement police
I have friends who have known about this journey for the past 10 years. At the start, they questioned the logic of early retirement with a healthy level of scepticism and banter that only friends have. Over the years they got on board with the idea and came to expect it.
Recently questions were asked about making money in retirement. I am open to making money and consider this an option for anyone retiring. I may be retired, but I have amassed a skill set that is in demand and if a project comes my way, then I’ll consider it. Though I’ll not go looking for them. Some may want to retire to a beach and drink mai tais all day. That’s not me. I intend to be productive and provide value, in whatever I’m doing. Including working on this site.
Whatever retirement looks like to you is wholly personal and not someone else’s pre-determined view of it.
Wishing you all the very best on your own journey.