If I can do it anyone can, even you
When I look back at my early life I realize that I wasted most of it. Despite this, I got back on track and reach financial freedom.
If I can do it from such a bad start, then I truly believe that anyone can. If you’re in your early 20s or younger, you can get off to a flying start.
What happened early in my life? A long story best left for another day. Suffice to say that I didn’t have a great life at home I then left and got in with the wrong crowd. If you’ve done that, don’t worry. You can still turn your life around. What follows is what helped me personally. Some or all of these may work for you, but it’s up to you to carve out your own life.
When I was 29 I had debt of around $5,000. By age 50, I gave up work, sold everything, and moved overseas. I was finally financially free.
So, how did I achieve that in so little time?
1. I Went To University
Most people go to university right after school when they’re around 18 years old. I didn’t go until I was 26 years old. I finished my degree when I was 29 years old. Better late than never. This was a huge part of my success, as it helped me get away from most of my old friends and build new relationships.
Other students at university also helped me develop a completely different mindset. I went from thinking that there was no hope for me to realizing that I could build a great life if I put in enough effort.
I should add here that I went to university in the UK. At the time, tuition was free and we also had a small grant. It wasn’t enough to live on, so I had a series of part-time jobs to help make ends meet.
I realize that these days university is much more expensive. Many graduates leave with large debts. In a sense, I had it easy. I would still advise going, but make sure that you take a course that will be worthwhile.
2. I Moved Away From My Home Town
My home city didn’t have hardly any decent jobs, and most people I knew that had built good careers had left. So I decided to do the same. It was one of the best decisions of my entire life.
If you live in a city with lots of opportunities, then you might not have to do this, but I think it’s great to make a fresh start in a new place. It helps get you out of your comfort zone, which is also a great thing.
I met new people, made some great friends, and continued improving my mindset.
3. I Started A Career In IT
Starting a career is much better than getting any old job. With some jobs, there isn’t much scope for advancement, and you can end up stuck in the same position for years, or even decades.
With a career, there is usually a clearer path for advancing to higher positions and higher pay. That is what you need to aim for.
Going to university helped me with that. It was via the end of year careers fair that I found a job as a Trainee Programmer.
You don’t have to take this path, but I would highly recommend starting a career.
4. I Lived Frugally
Having been in debt for years, I never wanted to go back to that again. To avoid that, I decided to live more frugally so that I’d be able to save money. I wanted at least a year’s emergency fund. That may seem excessive to some, but it helped me feel more secure.
Living frugally didn’t mean living like a monk though, It still meant going out and having fun, but I didn’t waste money on buying a car and other expensive products. I found a condo to rent ten minutes’ walk from work, so that also saved money.
5. I Started Contracting
During my time as a Trainee Programmer, the company I worked for took on some contractors during a busy period. I got friendly with one of them, and he advised me that it was something that I should also aim to do. IT contractors usually earn at least double what an employee earns.
As soon as I had 18 months’ experience, I applied for my first contractor position. I was surprised by how easy it was to get work. I spent the next 20 years working as a contractor. I never became an employee again.
These were some of the best years of my life. I look back on it with great pride. I started as a Trainee Programmer and ended up as a Senior Analyst and Developer.
6. I Bought Property
It was also during my time as a Trainee Programmer that I was introduced to buy-to-let rental properties. I was renting a condo at the time, and my fridge had broken down. The owner came to check and said she’d replace it with another one.
She asked if I could help load it onto the back of her truck and go with her to pick up another fridge. I agreed, and off we went.
She stopped at a house, and we unloaded the fridge and picked up the newer fridge that was in that property. She said she also rented that one out. Then, as we drove back to my condo, she pointed out other properties that she owned. I asked how she owned so many, and then she explained how buy-to-let worked.
When I had enough saved, I started doing that as well. I bought about six properties altogether, although they have now all been sold.
I wrote about the most interesting one –> I Bought A Former Drug Den
7. I Invested In Stocks and Shares
At this time, I also started investing in stocks and shares. I eventually decided that it was better to just invest in index funds, as the return was better and it didn’t take any work at all.
If I was starting again today, I’d also invest in crypto. If you’re young, investing a small portion of your salary into crypto seems like a no-brainer to me. The upside potential is massive. If you lose it all (unlikely), you can easily make it back. This isn’t financial advice, so do your own research or talk with a financial adviser.
8. I Started Various Side Hustles
I like finding new ways to make money, so starting side hustles was always fun for me. Sometimes they didn’t work out, but I still liked experimenting to see what worked and what didn’t.
This led to me building an e-commerce site that I ended up selling for around $250,000. That was the final piece of the jigsaw that gave me financial freedom.
9. I Moved Abroad
I have always loved traveling, so the chance to move abroad and live in a different country was an opportunity that was too good to miss. I chose Thailand, where I lived for many years. These days I split my time between Asia and Europe more or less 50–50. I count Bangkok as my base in Asia. It’s an awesome city. You should visit if you get the chance.
10. I Keep Investing and Building Side Hustles
This last step isn’t really what got me to financial freedom, but I think it’s still important. If you retire and do nothing, you’ll stagnate. You still need to do something with your life. For me, that’s mainly traveling, but the side hustles and investing help keep me focused. They also bring in more money so that I can have better travel experiences.
If I had to sum all this up, the advice I’d give to someone else that wants financial freedom is to start early, build a solid career, freelance if you can, invest, buy property, build side hustles, and go see the world.
None of the steps are difficult. You just need to stay focused. And remember that it’s a journey. You need to enjoy it and have fun along the way.