Even those of us who feel pretty satisfied with our work-life balance and seamless commute can fall victim to those Sunday Night Blues. Indeed, the thought of returning to the office come Monday morning is enough to have most of us fantasising about hopping on the next flight to the Maldives and opting for an early retirement.
For a lucky (or perhaps just smarter) few, this fantasy has become a reality — with record numbers of people joining the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement. So, just how realistic is this for the average young person looking for a taste of freedom, and how should we go about the notoriously tricky business of turning a pipe dream into a reality?
Like all niche contemporary communities, FIRE devotees can be found gathering online across multiple forums and writing blogs, where they discuss strategies, techniques and lifestyles to help you achieve the seemingly unachievable.
We’ve done a little digging, and it seems that there is actually plenty of sound advice out there — so if you’re ready to take the leap, read on.
Live below your means
This might sound simple, but it is the single most-repeated piece of advice offered by the people who really have made their millions early — and this isn’t simply because frugality means more money available to invest.
Fritz Gilbert, Founder of the Retirement Manifesto wrote recently in a blog post, “my wife and I have always lived below our means, and I firmly believe that’s played the biggest role in becoming a millionaire.”
He explains, “as my salary continued to increase, we continued to increase our 401(k) contribution. If I received a 3% raise, I’d increase my 401(k) contributions by 2% in the month the raise took effect.”
And, living frugally shouldn’t end once you’ve reached your financial target. Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world has famously continued to live in the five-bedroom house he bought in Omaha in 1958 for $31,500.
Start by saving up six months of your income
This piece of advice comes courtesy of Mark Cuban, who has had a remarkable career as a businessman, investor, and NBA owner of the Dallas Mavericks. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cuban says “If you don’t like your job at some point, or you get fired, or you have to move or something goes wrong, you know, you’re gonna need at least six months income.”
“Then, what I would do is probably put it into the cheapest Standard Poor’s Mutual Fund that I could find” he adds.
Make friends in high places
“In most cases, your net worth mirrors the level of your closest friends,” writes Steve Siebold, the acclaimed author of How Rich People Think for Business Insider.
“Exposure to people who are more successful than you are has the potential to expand your thinking and catapult your income,” says Siebold. “We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.
“The reality is,” he says, “millionaires think differently from the middle class about money, and there’s much to be gained by being in their presence.”
Incidentally, if you’re looking to work your way onto a few more guest lists, we’ve got a handy guide on where to start.
Increase your streams of income
In the words of Tony Robbin, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” There are numerous benefits to trying your hand at a few different side hustles, alongside the obvious financial boost that an extra pay packet will bring at the end of each month.
Another project will provide you with a host of diverse skills and training, meet a whole new group of people, and test the water in different business environments to spot the opportunities available.
Read. A lot.
Another recurring piece of advice from those who’ve made it to the top is to keep on reading. According to research from Thomas Crowley, 85 percent of self-made millionaires read two or more books per month.
Mark Cuban counts himself amongst them, “I used to love to walk through bookstores” he says, “and if there was something that caught my eye which I thought could give me one idea, I’d spend $30 to help propel me.
These ideas make my businesses better, so the books were always a bargain! The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias used to get me all fired up.”
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