Back in March 2010, I started the journey to FIRE (financial independence/retiring early) in earnest.
I didn’t have much money.
In fact, I had just recently been fired from my car dealership job in the Metro Detroit area.
You almost couldn’t pick a worse industry, in a worse place, at a worse time than the auto industry in Metro Detroit during the Great Recession.
But it was all a blessing in disguise.
Getting fired was the fire I needed to start my journey toward FIRE.
Finding myself broke and unemployed in my late 20s, I had to face my harsh reality.
I was broke.
Actually, worse than that. I was below broke, deeply in debt. At 27 years old, I was worth less than a baby. And it was all my fault.
Truth be told, I wasn’t managing my life very well. Poor choices were being made, especially in terms of finances.
But I realized no money meant no independence. No independence meant no control. No control meant being reliant on the goodwill of employers. Employers that could, as I experienced, change their minds at any moment.
That wouldn’t work for me. Not any longer.
There’s no peace of mind in that. There’s no contentment to be found without being the master of your domain.
I needed autonomy in my life. I needed to become financially independent and put myself in a position to live on my terms. Ownership of my time became an all-consuming goal of mine. I came to see there was nothing worth owning more than my own time.
So I dusted myself off, packed my bags, and drove to Florida in the summer of 2009 to seek out a new job in the sunshine.
I had a beat on a job. The service manager at a Volkswagen dealership south of Tampa said he might talk to me.
That was practically a guarantee to me.
I showed up to the service department every morning, dressed in a suit, resume in hand, until he gave me job so that I’d stop annoying him.
I had only been steadily working again for a few months when I set out achieve FIRE. My goal was to become financially independent and retire by 40 years old. That would give me about 12 years to accomplish my goal.
My bank account only showed a few grand when I started (not to mention the $20,000+ in debt).
So I didn’t have much (or any) money when I started my journey in the spring of 2010.
But I had belief.
And that’s more important than money.
I believed so wholeheartedly in my mission and will to do whatever necessary, that I saw it all as an inevitability. In my mind, there was a “future me” out there in a later timeline that was already financially independent and living the life of his dreams.
Well, that future has come.
That future me is the current me.
Here we are. March 2020. 10 years later.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
And what fun it’s been.
It’s been more fun and more prosperous than I ever thought it could or would be.
I quit my job at 32, eight years ahead of schedule. I gave up millions of dollars in the process, which I’m perfectly fine with.
And I achieved FIRE at only 33 years old, which was seven years earlier than I was planning on.
My FIRE Fund – the real-money stock portfolio I built with my hard-earned savings – generates the five-figure passive dividend income I live off of.
I’ve been extremely fortunate. I’m thankful that I started taking my personal finances very seriously in my late 20s. I could have and should have started doing so even earlier in life, but hindsight is 20/20.
Money isn’t the root of all evil; money only amplifies who you really are. Used properly, capitalism and compounding can radically change your life for the better. Best of all, almost anyone can do this. Capitalism doesn’t require a secret handshake.
You don’t need a lot of money to start the journey toward FIRE.
But you do need to have belief.
You must have that desire deep down inside of you, which will spawn an unshakable will.
If you truly want it, it’s an inevitability.
I grew up on welfare in a crack house in Detroit.
But I’m very far away from those humble beginnings these days – figuratively and literally.
I’m now more than 8,000 miles away, living a dream of an early retirement life in Thailand.
I have an amazing partner to grow with. My days are filled with passion and productivity, and my nights are filled with food and fun.
I lost my first set of parents before I was 11. Then I lost a second set of parents in my early 30s. Dropped out of college at 21. Blew a small inheritance in my early 20s. Never had a high-paying job. Didn’t even start to get traction in my life until I was almost 30.
Yet I still achieved financial independence at 33 years old.
If I can do this, you can do it.
It’s been an amazing 10 years. I really can’t believe the time is already gone.
I’ve experienced and learned so much.
Numerous relationships have been built, content has been written, money has been invested and given away, countless workouts have been completed, delicious meals have been eaten, laughs have been had, thankfulness has been given. And I’ve become the “future me” that I always believed in.
I’m living my best life these days.
But part of living my best life is helping and inspiring you to live your best life.
I hope you feel more inspired and empowered having read this.
And I hope you become the future you that already exists.
What do you think? Are you becoming the future you? When did you start the journey toward FIRE? Did you achieve your goals?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re ready to achieve financial independence and retire early, check out some fantastic resources I personally used on my to becoming financially free at 33!