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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Retire Young, Before It’s Too Late

November 14, 2017

Being young has some massive advantages.

You have plenty of energy for one thing.  And you (hopefully) have a massive amount of time left on this earth.

But with these advantages, comes great responsibility.

The choices you make in your late teens and twenties, set you up for the rest of your life.  This can be empowering or enslaving.  It all depends on your decisions.

Saving at a young age puts the power of compounding on your side much sooner, quietly multiplying your money over time.

I’d say most young people would love to be rich and retire young.  Instinctively, we tend to want to enjoy ourselves, instead of going to work.

Why is it that we tend to do nothing about it?

Surely, everyone would choose financial independence, over a never-ending workload.

So why don’t we?

I don’t have all the answers.  But here’s my view…


Why don’t people try to retire young?

The main reason is, it’s hard.  But not hard in the sense that it’s extremely difficult.  Hard in the sense that it’s different.

It’s almost the polar opposite of what everyone else is doing.

Since we have a hardwired urge to fit in, we’re often reluctant to break away from the pack and do our own thing.

Change in itself, is sometimes a challenge.  For many, it’s difficult to build new habits and learn new things.  Especially if our friends are encouraging us to keep doing the same-old things and be like them.

Yes, many people have great internal struggles changing the course of their lives!

It’s just so easy to continue doing what we’ve always done.  And since everyone else is in the same boat, it seems normal, even sensible.


Delayed gratification

Let’s face it.  Delayed gratification is not popular.  In fact, my view is, it’s more unpopular than ever!

With the speed of technology growing at an exponential rate, we’ve become accustomed to things happening instantly.

24/7 news.  Instant mail/messaging.  Same-day deliveries.  Instant loans.  Buy now/pay later.  Almost everything we want, instantly, with a tap of our smartphone.

Effectively, we are losing our ability to wait.

If our phone doesn’t load a webpage in 3 seconds flat, we think “what the hell is going on, this is ridiculous”.

As technology becomes faster and faster, this speed becomes normal.  After a while, we learn to expect things to happen instantly.

Nowadays, we’re simply not used to waiting anymore.

So it should be obvious, nobody wants to save for financial independence, because hey – that shit is going to take years…and years!
And I’ve got all this juicy income, that I can spend now!

Patience is a very valuable trait.  And unfortunately, it seems to be disappearing.

Some things just take time, we shouldn’t forget that!

Building wealth and achieving financial independence takes time, so patience is crucial.

Young people are typically very poor at thinking about the long-term effects of their decisions.
Since I’m only 28, I’m allowed to say this – it’s ok to bag your own generation 😉

The simple ability to wait is an unappreciated skill, that is a massive factor if you want to retire young.


Speaking of technology…

There’s an increasing risk on the horizon, with the rapid advancement of technology, robotics and automation.

It’s happening already, but this change will likely get faster over time.

Technology is enabling more tasks and services to be completed with less and less need for human input.

Our economies are becoming more digitised.  And this ends up reducing the need for staff, which dramatically lowers costs for business.

This is a scary thought for young workers today.

Ultimately, the main beneficiaries are business owners and investors.

Hint: become an investor to share in the spoils of the profit-boosting power of technology.

As I noted in an earlier post – every single day money is changing hands from consumers to owners.

Unfortunately, I think wealth inequality will increase due to technology.  Business owners who benefit the most will be the ones who embrace new technology, as has always been the case.

Maybe you’re in an industry that isn’t likely to see much change from technology.  But most people will be affected by it.

Since the future is unknown, it makes sense to squirrel away lots of cash, while you’ve still got your cushy well-paid job!

Sure, there will be plenty of new jobs and opportunities too.  But unless you’re regularly retraining yourself with new skills, it’s likely to be a bumpy career ride, for the next 30 years.

Finally, there is a damn good chance that many of today’s jobs will be done by computers in 10-20 years time.  So, think about positioning yourself for a future of accelerating change.

Wouldn’t it be great to retire young so you’re not so reliant on your job?

And instead, benefit from these changes as a long term investor (business owner)!


To retire young, start early!

Yes, Captain Obvious here – to retire young, you must start early!

But more accurately, what I’m suggesting is, retire young before it’s too late.

Here’s what I mean…

The common belief is:

People should spend their 20’s travelling and having fun, with little regard for saving.  Spending is to be celebrated and they should enjoy the fruits of their labour – usually with a luxury car and frequent restaurant visits, in between the clubbing and pubbing.

This is fine.  I did a few of these things myself.  But not all the time.

The catch-cry goes something like this… “you won’t get this chance again, so make the most of it”.

I completely agree.  But from an opposing angle.

The way I see it…you only have this massive advantage to save while you’re young.  Because after this, life gets in the way.

For most people, they’ve blown their earnings throughout their 20’s, or worse, loaded up with consumer debt.

When their 30’s come, it’s time to settle down and have a family.  Also around this time, many would buy their ideal house and have a kid…or two.

With an expensive lifestyle to maintain, and now only one income, there is simply not enough cash to allow any saving, let alone aiming for financial freedom.

The early retirement ship has sailed!

Maybe this course of events sounds fine to you.  But personally, I liken it to pouring concrete around our own feet.  And after it’s poured, there’s little we can do!

In summary, most folks would say your twenties are for having fun and enjoying yourself.  And they’d be right.  At least kind of.

You can enjoy yourself and have fun, but just with a little restraint thrown in too!

If you approach your twenties with no regard for the future, you’d better love your job!!


What I propose…

Alternatively, you can retire young by putting in a good 7-10 years of aggressive saving and investing, then declare your freedom!

It’s all about living efficiently, killing your bills, smart housing choice and sensible investing.

It can definitely be done, as you’ve seen from the post about our journey.  Plenty of people have done it, we simply copied them.

Here’s the point:  Get rich first.  By being frugal and investing sensibly, you can retire young…before it’s too late!

It’s not hard, it’s just different.  And precisely because it’s different, is the reason it works!

Think about it.  To achieve better results than the rest of the population, we need to make better choices than they do.

Making smart choices in your twenties, is the difference between lifelong mandatory work, and lifelong freedom.  I truly believe that.

So many of our habits and lifestyle choices are built in our twenties, which then rarely change.

If we build a lifestyle that gives us what we need to be happy, while still save a ton of money, then we’re set for life.

Maybe it’s the Scottish in me, that values freedom over everything else.  And true to form, I’m an unashamed tight-arse too. (Some people just call it frugal)

To me, there’s simply no comparison…

10 years of working, saving and investing, for a lifetime of freedom.  That’s totally worth it in my book!

At that point, your everyday needs are met.  You can then work on your passions, start a business, volunteer, travel or just hang out with your family.

Most importantly, you’ve already done the hard work and created your freedom.  The next 70 years is up to you!

Or 10 years of fun and excess, to end up stuck with a pile of bills and no options, like the grumbling masses.

Now, I know it’s not as black and white as that.  But it’s such a common life pattern that each generation gets stuck in.  And it really can be that simple!


Final thoughts

As usual, this post is longer than planned!

My main point is, we should be working hard and saving even harder, especially in our 20’s.

Unfortunately, for most people, if they don’t build the right habits and save in their 20’s…they never will.

If we don’t, we run the very real risk of never being able to get ahead.  Make no mistake, it does take self-discipline to build financial strength.

Despite some suggesting you’re missing out, the reality is far from it.  By making financial freedom your priority, you can retire young and wealthy.  And after this, your choices are limitless.

Let me say it another way…

If you choose spending in your 20’s, you’ll join the masses and have limited freedom for the foreseeable future.

If you choose saving in your 20’s, you’ll join the wealthy and have freedom for the rest of your life…


17 Replies to “Retire Young, Before It’s Too Late”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I missed the boat and started realizing this when I was 30.
    Now the possibility is endless when you think that you can influence the generation after us and our children.

    One thought on technology. I might be positive in nature but I strongly believe that it will only get better. Same for every revolution, men will have to adapt and different skills will be in need. You and I will have to embrasse the trend… no choice… and then ride the wave

    1. Great outlook grogounet.

      While I tend to be positive about the future, I think this time is possibly a little different. Even lawyers and doctors may struggle to compete with computers at processing clients information and making the best decision. It’s really a different kettle of fish, compared to just reducing physical labour as has been the case in the past.
      There is talk of the need for Universal Basic Income, in the future. It’s becoming more accepted just the scale of how many people could be disjointed by the changes.

      I feel lucky that I don’t have to depend on the workforce over the next 20 years, that’s for sure!

      On the other hand, most of these technologies reduces the cost of almost everything – which in turn improves our standard of living as a whole, since our money purchases more. There’s a lot of factors at play and it’s an exciting time to be around!

  2. It’s a really good point – people often say “you’ll never get the chance to do X again”, & as a result they miss out on years of compound interest! And then kids come along, then a big mortgage, then school fees etc. and it gets so much harder!

    Cheers SMA!

    1. Thanks Pete!

      It’s quite sad really. If they could just wait a while, they can still do everything they want. And be in a much stronger position to do so. Not to mention the quality of life they would gain by not having to rely on 50 hour weeks to pay for it all.

      Since you did it yourself, you know exactly how it works! Save and invest hard, retire, then the choice is yours. Work on things you enjoy, and scale up the spending if desired 🙂

  3. I cannot agree more with your article. Having just retired at 60, I am now enjoying the benefits of saving in a variety of products. Next year, after contributing for 43 years, my endowment policy will mature and I will receive a lump sum. When I signed up for this as a 17 year old the premium was easy to pay. Over the years once I had a wife and children there were times when the premium was more difficult to justify but we always found it. Despite different ‘financial advisers’ suggesting we cash it in, next year the family will all benefit from the lump sum which will be about two and one half times the total premiums paid.
    Superannuation has been beneficial to us but once again it required commitment to the product.
    I always tell my children ‘you can only spend it once’.

    1. Thanks for sharing Nan New. Great story.

      Goes to show the power of commitment. You made it a priority which is important, even when it was hard. Excellent stuff.
      Some great lessons there for your children also.
      Very true…spend it once and it’s gone forever…invest it well and you end up with multiples later!

  4. I wish I read this and was on board at 18, or even 21 rather than having a goal of travelling the world. While I don’t regret it, I could have still travelled and made much smarter decisions at the same time.

    Your ‘delayed gratification’ paragraph describes me to a T. I am often frustrated with things taking longer than I think they should, especially slow internet 😉

    At the ripe of age of 28 myself now too, I’m well behind but hoping to spend the next 3-5 years hustling hard, then finding a way to mix family and frugality so as to live my ultimate lifestyle.

    A good motivating read 🙂

    1. Appreciate your comment Miss Balance!

      Haha, it’s funny you noticed yourself in the text…everyone is guilty of it. I’m not typically a patient person, but for some things I am.

      You raise a good point I didn’t mention…there’s always the option of doing both (travelling and saving), although they are competing priorities to some extent.

      From your blog, sounds like you’re very much on track to reaching your goals!

  5. “there is a damn good chance that many of today’s jobs will be done by computers in 10-20 years time.” – this is one of the reasons why we are saving and investing the way we are now. We still don’t have definite plans of retiring early but we want to be ready in case anything like this happens. We started late, 30-ish, because FIRE is not really popular in our culture. Everyone works until retirement age, sometimes even beyond that.

    Great read, on a Monday morning! I hope this post reaches the young ones and be inspired/educated by it.

    1. Thanks J!

      I think that’s a smart move – kind of an insurance policy against the future 🙂 It’s definitely something I’d be concerned about if I was hoping to keep my old job for the next 20 years.

      Yes, let’s hope a few extra people become interested in changing their futures!

      All the best on your journey!

  6. Savings = income – expenses

    Being frugal (cutting expenses) is only working one side of the equation. Maximising your income is just as effective, if not more so.

    You can only reduce your expenses so far – a man’s got to live!

    But there is no maximum that your income can increase to.

    1. Thanks for your comment ETF Bloke.

      I agree to a point. I actually wrote about it here.
      In Australia, our incomes are pretty good to start with. So it’s much easier to cut expenses first. After one is living on a moderate amount, then sure extra income will work wonders!

      In reality, we only have so much time to work or dedicate to learning. I strongly believe to reach early retirement, it’s done through strong levels of saving…not chasing higher incomes. Most of the population thinks more income is the answer and gets exactly nowhere 🙂

  7. Married at 23 with a mortgage that same year (it was cheaper to build than rent where I lived at the time). Now 29 years old and just learning about the idea of FIRE right as our first baby is due, and we finish paying off my stupid new car loan (idiot keeping up with the jones’). Now going to one income is going to make it very hard to catch up with a good savings rate. As you said SMA, I feel like the early retirement ship has sailed – but I am hopeful that my financial independence and freedom has not. There is still time for that even if it’s when I’m 45. If you’re in your early 20’s (or younger) and reading this, LISTEN TO THIS MAN AND START THIS JOURNEY NOW. I wish I was thinking like this at 15 years of age, how different life would be.

    1. Really appreciate that Trev, thanks!

      There is always still time! You’re still getting into this at a very young age, so well done for that. Most people barely think about it. Even becoming financially independent by 45 is incredible! If it’s important enough to you, you’ll get there.

      It’s a shame more people don’t think like this, and think ahead – hopefully we can spread the word 🙂

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