“It’s impossible to save enough.”
The statement above is ONLY true if you don’t spend and save very carefully. You know what’s another thing that’s possible? — spending LESS. I would like to cite myself as a living proof that FIRE (Financial Independence – Early Retirement) is attainable. You can read my brief FIRE adventure story here.
Apart from myself, there are many other living proofs that FIRE can be achieved through hard work and frugality regardless of your standing in life. Here are some of the FIRE heroes and bloggers that can serve as for your inspiration. They all came from different walks of life:
Mr. Money Mustache (www.mrmoneymustache.com) grew up in a family in Ontario, Canada where parents didn’t buy much stuff. This taught him to be frugal. He was not given things for free and had to work (delivering newspapers) 6 days a week earning thirty bucks. His next job was in a gas station with a partially heated booth, which he considered as an easy job — grateful for earning $4.15/hour.
The next year, he worked for a convenience store where he earned $6.50/hour. By the end of that year, going to high school, he had $5,000 in the bank. Mr. Money Mustache continued his frugal life, went to a university (a local one) and chose to live with his parents for the sake of a rent-free lifestyle. He worked in the summers and graduated with no debt.
He got a professional job after graduation and got a used car and rented a house shared with many roommates — rent: $270/month. After a few raises and several jobs, he moved to the USA and got a higher salary (standard tech-industry cubicle jobs throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s) while maintaining his used car and his house-renting with roommates.
Moving forward, he was able to save a 25% down payment for a house (in need of repairs) and worked on it with his future wife. They had and still have investments (real estate investing, index funds and ETFs, Lending Club), enjoyed their lives (doing international travel thriftly) and were able to add more to their savings. Soon enough (by the age of 30 — year 2005), they were able to quit their jobs.
Michelle (www.makingsenseofcents.com) started her blog when she was 22 – when she still had some debt (house, car and school loans). She graduated from an expensive private university in May of 2010 with a lot of student loan debt, then graduated again in August of 2012 with her Finance MBA with even more student loan debt — $38,000 altogether.
She used to work in the financial services industry as a financial analyst, found ways to increase her savings by doing side hustles like ‘secret shopping’ and ‘online surveys’. She even did grocery hacks like using coupons and always see to it that she has her budgeting goals. She made extra income through starting a blog, BestMark Shopping, Mr. Rebates, Swagbucks, Ebates and renting a space to a friend.
Showing her monthly income and savings through her blogs helped many people see how to get out of debt. She even tackled investing (online investment firm, dividend investing, stock market). Believe it or not, by the age of 24, all her debts have been paid! She made her blogs as if it’s her day to day diary. She’s currently touring North America and living in an RV to pursue her travel goals while making money online – she had made $179,139 in February 2018 by being a full-time blogger.
FIRECracker (www.millennial-revolution.com) graduated college (Computer Engineering) in 2006 and had a boyfriend (which is still her partner until now – The Wanderer). After graduation, she then had her first job and wasn’t happy due to stress (regularly working 14-hour days and weekends). Next to this was getting her 2nd job, which was okay — good pay with benefits. This time, she moved in with The Wanderer to save on rent. Money seemed okay at this point.
They continued to rent and refused to get a house loan to avoid huge debts. FIRECracker decided to do index investing instead – and it did great! By the age of 31, she and her partner, The Wanderer, reached their early retirement and were able to travel and see the world.
Through her experience, she had developed a process on how to achieve financial independence and early retirement. It is the Rent-Build-Invest-Freedom. Rent while building your wealth, invest to gain freedom. Today, she’s doing work that’s meaningful and changes lives – writing children’s books, coding apps for non-profit and teaching young girls how to code while having enough money to live on passive income.
MadFientist (www.madfientist.com) was a software developer who started his financial independence website in early 2012. His path to FI ignited when he was in his teens when his father bought him four shares of stock: one share each of Pepsi, Wendy’s, Disney, and his dad’s employer, ADP. He’d continually check the newspaper to see how his stocks are doing – giving him motivation to aspire having his own real portfolio to manage someday.
After college and finding a job, he began to build his savings and started to invest – saying he just liked the idea of having a lot of money in the bank and a portfolio to manage. He was an above-average saver throughout his 20s and enjoyed his job (building websites and mobile apps). He was able to retire by the age of 34 (year 2016) and left his full-time job for good. He and his wife travelled through different countries but realized that travelling is not for them. However, they are both happier today than ever.
Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods (http://www.frugalwoods.com) are focusing their blogs on frugality as the main game plan towards early retirement. As for educational background, Mrs. Frugalwoods has a BA in Creative Writing and in Political Science while Mr. Frugalwoods has BA in Political Science alone. Both of them went to a state school in Kansas.
Mrs. Frugalwoods worked in software industry. She desired FIRE even though she loves her job. The reason behind it is for the sake of having a financial plan that can allow her to work less hours just in case she might want to do so.
The majority of their paychecks over the years came via traditional 9-5 jobs (well-established, nonprofit – mission-based organizations). They worked hard and gave their best to reach their highest earning capacity – and were able to have promotions and increased salaries over the years. They lived far below their means and saved the vast majority of their incomes. They’re not at all a financial guru when it comes to investing but they use low-fee index funds.
At the age of 31, they were debt-free and financially independent. This allowed them to pursue new ventures. They are now homesteaders on 66 acres in rural central Vermont along with their daughter and dog — happy and content.
Steve (www.thinksaveretire.com) got a good, high-paying job right out of college (2004) and was not at all frugal – he even bought a used 1999 Corvette convertible that took half of his first year’s salary, not to mention all the upgrades he did for it. He then started to splurge on eating out every single day, moved into the suburbs which was 40 minutes each way to work, got more preoccupied with buying another car and didn’t care.
Until he suddenly realized what true happiness was all about and started reflecting on all the stuff he acquired. He began reading investment blogs and started building his retirement plans. He worked on having more savings, got married and continued the strategical life with his wife. Retired from full-time work by the age of 35, he now lives a life of freedom from what he calls “work horizon”. Now, he blogs to give practical insights on financial independence and early retirement.
Joe Udo (www.retireby40.org) started his blog in 2010, sharing to readers his aim and ways to retire by the age of 40. In 2012, when he was 38, he was able leave the corporate world forever. He did not make his early retirement possible within just 2 years. Year 2010 was just the birth year of his blog but he had been saving and investing since he started working full time in 1996 – as a computer engineer at Intel.
Together with his wife, they tracked their cash flow and managed to save a lot and invested. Today, he is a stay at home dad/blogger (while doing other stuff he loves), retired from his engineering career –stating that he wouldn’t have it any other way. Amazingly, their net worth doubled since he retired in 2012.
The Escape Artist (www.theescapeartist.me) has a degree in economics — a qualified accountant who spent 20 years in corporate finance. She was able to pay off her mortgage when she was 32 and began to build her investment portfolio. When the time came that she no longer has to work for a living, she quit her job at the age of 43 (2014). She did all these, while being married and supporting a family with 3 kids.
Today, she teaches her readers not to be a prisoner of a job they do not like and how to escape from being buried in debt. She said that she could have accomplished financial independence years earlier if only she had access to the wisdom of an experienced officer with a plan, well versed in earning, saving, investing and self-development. But escaping at the age of 43 isn’t bad, right?!
Mr. Collins (www.jlcollinsnh.com) has a degree in English Literature from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He had worked on several jobs, such as being a busboy, dishwasher, order-puller, grocery bagger, stock clerk, produce clerk, gas station pump jockey, landscaper, account executive, radio talk show host, publisher and group publisher and many more.
He had worked for several companies such as Penton Publishing, Inc, Roulston & Company, Inc, PennWell, Babcox Publications and Penton Media where he served as a powerful instrument on increasing company revenue and profit.
In 2011, he was able to leave his full-time job. Today, he blogs about Money – Life – Travel – Business. He tells readers how he failed on influencing his daughter in dealing with complex details about managing money. This served as his inspiration in writing his blog “The Simple Path to Wealth”. Here, he focuses on discussing saving and investing strategies the easiest way possible.
Jeremy and Winnie (www.gocurrycracker.com) are two people who had normal lives, grew up in lower income families and has student loans from college. They managed to save an increasing percentage of their income (more than 70%) by living in a small apartment, walking and biking rather than using a car, preparing meals at home and learning new skills that reduced their expenses even further. Doing this for about 10 years, they were able to live completely off income generated by their investments.
Through their blogs, they are able share their lifestyle, money hacks and their travels. Now, both of them are in their 30’s, retired and travelling the world with their son, Julian.
I hope their lives will serve as encouragement to you. If they’ve done, I have no doubt that you can do it as well. I really don’t think it matters wherever you’re at in life, with the right mindset, action plan, and a lot of hard work, you should be able to be financially independent and retire early.