Why do most people spend decades in careers they don’t like?
The norm is to go to school, graduate, take a job, climb the corporate ladder and stay there for 30-40 years.
Then you are free to enjoy life when you’re 67 years old.
Have you ever wondered if this is the life you really wanted?
I don’t understand why more people questions this.
If I asked you right now to tell me the truth; would you retire right now if you had enough money to cover all your expenses?
I’ve Always Been Frugal
I’ve always been frugal, I think it lies in my nature to be careful with money.
During my studies I lived on aprox. $850 every month.
I’ve done over 10 years of different university studies, and because of limited income as a student I was forced to not splurge.
This is a habit I’ve kept and I haven’t really upgraded my lifestyle too much since then.
During my studies I traveled to India for a month, and then China 6 months later.
These trips changed me.
I saw people living at the street, people poorer than we can imagine.
But I also visited villages where everybody was smiling, where they shared stories around a campfire and showed happiness.
I asked one of them about how much they lived on, and he said it was aprox. 3 $ / day.
This really got me thinking.
How could they seem so happy with so little?
And why do I chase material things at home?
Because I always thought that would make me happy.
With these thoughts in the back of my head as I traveled, I started to welcome the simple life.
I stopped buying new things, simply because I didn’t have enough money anyway.
And as a consequense that I stopped buying new things, I stopped wanting new things.
And as I stopped wanting new things, I noticed that things didn’t have any effect on my happiness at all.
Discovering Financial Independence And Setting A Goal Of Quitting 9 – 5
In the end I finished my masters degree and entered the cubicle 9 – 5 world.
My first paycheck was aprox. $3,300.
Almost four times as much as I had lived on the last 10 years.
I remember I thought: “What am I gonna spend them on?”
My spending was still around $950 / month.
This meant I had over $2,000 $ extra to spend per month, but I didn’t want anything new.
I had the things I needed to be happy.
I started to wonder why my friends wanted me to chase a life of excess, when in reality I already had everything I could possibly need.
For 3 years I’ve been working 40 hour weeks for the purpose of buying more and have more.
But all the way there was nothing I wanted to buy.
So what good was a job for me?
What was I supposed to be working for?
One day my brother told me about how to invest in index funds, and I was completely hooked.
Was there really a legal escape out of the 9-5?
I couldn’t believe it!
It was too good to be true.
The principle for reaching financial independence is to save up 25 x your yearly expenses.
I’ve done a lot of tracking over the years, and my average spending over several year is aprox. $1,500 – $2,000 / month.
If we assume I spend $2,000/month every month, I’ll end up spending $24,000/year.
25 x my yearly expenses is therefore $600,000.
In other words, I will be financial independent when I have a net worth of $600,000.
Escaping The 9-5: Financial Independence In Only 5 Years
Okey, so let’s get honest here.
My net worth is already almost $200,000.
There’s no way I could’ve retired from the 9-5 in only 5 years starting with a $0 net worth.
So how did I get from $0 to $200,000 in the first place?
-By living frugally and saving 50 % of income for years (but with an extremely low salary in part time jobs).
-By working 9-5 for three years after I started working full time and saving almost 65 % of my salary every year ranging from $57,000 – $81,500 (current job).
-By reducing my costs to a bare minimum, only spending money on what gives me lasting happiness.
For details on my monthly expenses, you can check it out here.
At the end of march 2024 I will be financial independent.
I will be 36 years old, and my whole life is still ahead of me.
The curious reader is perhaps wondering how the math works on how I’m getting to $600,000 in 5 years.
You can find all the calculations on how I’m going to retire in only 5 years in my detailed post here.
But the truth is that it’s much easier to reach financial independence with an higher income.
And I neither got kids, which makes it even easier.
Why Do I Want To Reach Financial Independence?
Think about it, both you and me have somewhere else we’d rather be in life, right?
Or can you honestly say that you love to work 9 – 5 for 50 weeks a year?
My biggest financial goal in life is to be financial independent.
The reason for this is so I can take back the control over my time.
It doesn’t feel right to live the rest of my life working in a corporate world.
I want to work on my own projects, have more time with my spouse, family and friends.
To feel like that the work I do, I do for myself and not for someone else.
Financial independence is not about relaxing at the beach, playing golf all day and do nothing.
It’s about doing work that’s meaningful to you.
I love to work, but only on my own projects.
After all, maybe I will end up working more hours than I do now, but it’s totally worth it when you’re on your own and have your own schedule.
Sacrifices I’ve Made On The Path To Financial Independence
I’ll go into the sacrifices I’ve made on my path to financial independence.
But let me change the view on what’s a sacrifice is first.
Did you know that if you’re 40 years old, you only have aprox. 336.000 hours left to live on this planet?
Do you really want to sacrifice 1/3 of that time to a job you don’t even like?
And don’t forget that you sleep 1/3 of the time as well, meaning that you only got 112.000 hours left doing what you like.
I haven’t even mentioned commuting, getting ready for work etc. that as well eats of your time, but it’s easy to see that we don’t have much time to what we really want in life, right?
To me this is the biggest sacrifice at all.
Living an unfullfilled life.
That’s why I sacrifice to live on $1,500 – $2,000 a month now, and save 65 % of my income every month (this is for me alone).
To me this doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
I do all the things that I want to do today (besides from working 9 – 5).
The only thing I want is more time.
And that’s the reason I pursue financial independence.
Set yourself a time limit for how long you want to play the corporate game
Set yourself a limit of for example 5 – 15 years, and work hard those years to max your time in your corporate 9 – 5 job.
Optimise your skills that will be useful for your future, eg. networking, presenting, selling, negotiating etc., and use minimal time on boring tasks that only gives value for your boss (reports, Excel plotting and all mindless tasks which is unnecessary).
Let the employer that treats you the best (aka. pays you the most) win your time, and make sure you spend time developing the skills that benefit you.
When I look back at the moment I graduated my masters degree, it was a weird time in my life. I was so glad that it was over, but I was also unsecure about what I could expect from the 9 – 5.
I already had a signed job contract, but I had no idea what I actually wanted from life.
Children and marriage? Solo traveling?
I was like a big question mark.
Maybe the 9-5 was the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
It gives me time to think and plan, to experience the corporate world, and to build a strong foundation financially.
And if you want to be financial independent yourself, my advice to you is simple:
-Read the book “Your Money Or Your Life” by Vicki Robin. I also made a comprehensive summary of the book here:
-Track your income & expenses every month
-Track your net worth
-Increase your salary every year. Change your job often to get the best promotions.
-Set yourself a Financial Independence Goal. This motivates you every month when you update your net worth and see you’re slowly getting closer to financial independence. I wrote an e-book about Financial Independence Goal Setting, you may download it for free here:
Still not convinced that Financial Independence is something for you?
Wait? You don’t want extra time to pursue your interests and have more options in life?
Well, I’m not forcing you.
And no one says you have to quit your job either, it’s all about opportunities and more freedom.
Come and join me when you are ready, I will gladly teach you what I know!
I made this 16-pages FREE workbook with the steps I’ve taken on my path to Financial Independence.
Having a goal written down with a set date for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work for.
It’s 7 lessons and I hope you enjoy it!
After you’ve signed up, you will recieve the book right away.