Dear E & V,
If there is one lesson I could teach you about finances, it would be this:
There will always be opportunities to get more money, there will never be an opportunity to get more time.
This is one of the hardest lessons you can learn in life because even when you recognize its truth you will still find yourself pursuing income opportunities that waste your time.
For me the waste has come from working a job I’m not passionate or excited about or interested in just so that I can put food on the table for you and your mom. Implementing that lesson above involves courage which I’m desperately trying to find at the moment.
I don’t want you to be in the position I’m in.
While I still have a plan to be financially independent in 5 years, that’s not nearly soon enough given how much of your life I’ll be missing because I’m glued to a computer screen.
Now, this whole letter may be moot because you’ve already found a job you like. Maybe it’s one you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. And that is an amazing gift of knowing yourself and having great foresight about your career (your grandfather and your uncle have it).
I personally get bored with doing one job for too long. There is too much in life for me to explore that the thought of doing the same thing for 8 hours a day 5 days a week makes me feel mentally trapped.
Additionally, money has a way of tainting things you enjoy. I enjoyed writing until I had it as a job. I enjoyed coding for myself until I did it full time for work. When you’re able to seperate things you enjoy from money, you’ll be much happier.
I don’t want you to fall into this trap. I don’t want you to have to wait until you’re 40 like me to achieve financial independence. I don’t want you to have to slave at a job you don’t like because you need the money.
So what would I do differently if I were your age again?
- Make as much money as you can while you’re young. This may mean going to college for a very lucrative degree like Petroleum Engineering (which may be outdated by the time you read this) — check the average Return on Investments for the different college degrees. Or it may mean skipping the costs of college and going straight to a well-paying vocational job like an electrician or mechanic. Or it can mean investing in real estate. Or even starting your own business or franchise. Try to pick something you think you can do for at least 5 years. I would recommend anything that provides you with passive income well after you retire early.
- Save as much money as you can while you’re young. You’ll have to balance this with also having an enjoyable life; you’ll have to determine the trade offs for yourself. I’m spartan enough were I would gladly trade 5 years of living with my parents and not going out drinking every weekend that I would still find ways to enjoy myself. But you are not me and need to do what is right for yourself.
- Combine #1 and #2 to save up enough money to retire as soon as possible.
Then, once you have enough “fuck you money” to never have to work again, you retire and do whatever you want. Travel the world, volunteer at an animal shelter, work full time in a job that wouldn’t normally pay the bills, become an artist or a musician…the sky’s the limit when you’re financially independent. And when you retire early, make sure you use your time to help other people. Nothing will make you appreciate life and what you have like making a positive impact on other people’s lives especially since you will now have more time to do so.
I was turned on to the financial independence movement about 5 years ago, and from start to finish the process will take me and your mom 15 years, and that’s with supporting you.
But don’t wait like I did, get started now and you won’t have to slave for a paycheck like me and most everyone else out there.
I’ve only glossed over the why of this “life plan” because there are lots of books that cover the how. I’ll end this letter with list of my personal favorites:
- Early Retirement Extreme
- Your Money or Your Life
- Financial Freedom
- How to Survive Without a Salary
- Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way
- Be a Free Range Human
- Tools of Titans
Not every book will speak to you; I recommend taking what works for you from each book and creating your own financial independence plan. If you need pick just one, I would say Financial Freedom will give you the most information you need to get started.
May your courage and wonder guide you on this journey.
I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.