In case you don’t know, FI+RE stands for financial independence (FI) and retire early (RE). I am often asked what particular aspects helped me the most to reach financial independence and be able to (semi) retire at 50.
It was a combination of things that seem weird to most people. Many people can’t imagine doing one of these, let alone all 4. They suit me perfectly though. Some, or all, of them, may also help you reach FI+RE.
But don’t despair, many people reach FI+RE without doing any of these. You have to do what suits you not what suits others. It’s a very personal journey.
Weird Thing #1 — No Children
I don’t have children and have never wanted any, which puts me in a small minority. When I see how much other people spend on their kids, it makes me wonder what would have happened if I’d had one or more children. They can be quite expensive, especially If you need to help them through university.
It’s also possible that having children would have spurred me on to create even more wealth. I’ll never know the answer to that.
But I think not having any has helped because it’s given me more free time and more independence. There hasn’t been any pressure to make money because it’s needed for the kids.
Weird Thing #2 — No New Cars
I’ve never bought a new car, and have only owned four secondhand cars in my life. My first car cost around $1,000, my second one cost $500, my third one $3,000, and my final one $16,000. I sold all of them for next to nothing. I needed them all for work, so I couldn’t have done without them.
I know many people that buy new cars every three years and spend $40,000 each time. They don’t get much back for the one they trade in either. Even if they get $25,000, that means it’s costing them $15,000 every 3 years, Do that over a working life of 40 years, and that’s $200,000 spent on new cars, not even taking into account insurance, tax, gas, and other expenses. It’s a huge cost for many people. One they don’t fully appreciate.
Weird Things #3 — Side Projects
My main side projects have made me approximately $550,000 (ecommerce store), $15,000 (flipping websites), $4,000 (kindle books) $3,000 (flipping domains), and $60,000 (travel blog). So that’s a total of around $632,000.
If I had been like other people and bought new cars every few years and not bothered with any side projects, I’d be over $800,000 worse off. And that doesn’t even count the lost investment income. I think this explains why so many people seem to struggle, even though they have well-paid jobs.
#Weird Thing #4 — Moving To Thailand
If I’d stayed in London, where I lived most of my life, I wouldn’t have financial independence. I would have paid off my mortgage, but would still have needed a job to enable me to live there. It’s only moving to Thailand, with its much lower cost of living that meant I could live without having to work. I rented out my apartment for many years and lived in Thailand off the rental income. Was that enough money? I could certainly do with more, but it was much more fun being there than living in London and still having to work a 9 to 5 job.
I know moving abroad isn’t for everyone, but it has worked out well for me. I would encourage you to at least consider it. The worst that can happen is that you don’t like it and end up going back home. On the other hand, you may love it. There are plenty of great countries around the world with much lower costs of living than most Western countries. Central and Eastern Europe are fantastic places to live and have comparable costs to Thailand. Central America is popular with many Americans.