Life was so much easier when I was younger. Then I went through a bunch of emotional torment, lost my entire inheritance, worked crappy cubicle jobs, and thought that was all my life would ever amount to. For a while there, I didn’t want to live. I saw no point in working in cubicles, paying bills and then dying.
Then I discovered financial independence. And it saved my life.
“How?”, you may be wondering. Well, here’s my story.
In my previous life, I had my entire existence planned out for me – go to law school, graduate, practise as a lawyer for a few years, and then helm my father’s business. I was happy with that, because I wanted to make him proud. It also didn’t hurt that the business was worth an incredible amount of money, and paid their employees handsomely.
Then, I came out to my parents. And everything changed. To teach me a lesson, or maybe to get me to change my mind, they took everything away from me – my inheritance, and any hope of ever working for my father’s company.
At the tender age of 22, my world shattered.
The Miserable Cubicle Life
I was still in law school when my world shattered around me. I could do nothing but watch as my dreams turned into ashes. My GPA plummeted. I eventually graduated with a broken heart and a less than desirable degree.
Because my terrible grades didn’t reflect well on me, I think I received more than a hundred rejections. Maybe even more than 200 rejections. (I don’t know, it was too depressing to keep track of all the rejections I received.)
After a few months of intense application-spamming, I got a job as a credit analyst. I tried to be enthusiastic, I really did. But within the span of one month, I was pretty miserable. I didn’t fit in, and I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. All I was doing was making rich people richer. I needed the money, so I forced myself to tolerate the required 45 hours a week at my workplace, and for what?
A couple of thousands of dollars every month. A miniscule fraction of the profits that the company made.
The worst part about it was my fall from grace – going from someone who was in control and had everything, to someone who was miserable, underpaid, and completely dispensable.
I thought I was doomed to spending the rest of my life in the cubicle. That really made me lose my mind, but it was all I knew. I thought I didn’t have a choice.
In a stroke of luck one fateful day, I came across an article about financial independence and early retirement. I was skeptical, extremely skeptical. It went against everything I was taught when I was younger. (“Get a good education. Get a good job. Work your ass off. Get that nice car and that gorgeous house. Buy other fancy stuff. Retire at 65.”)
But my interest was piqued. I read up more. Eventually, I became deeply enthralled by this community. I spent a lot of my free time obsessively browsing FIRE blogs. My addiction grew.
During that time, I became intimately acquainted with that one fundamental principle about financial independence that completely changed my world – that anyone can achieve financial independence.
Anyone can Achieve Financial Independence
Isn’t this amazing?
The fact that everyone is capable of achieving financial independence – this is true beauty right here. It doesn’t matter how much you earn. It doesn’t matter how much you currently have. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
What matters is that you’re willing to put in the effort. To dig deep and cut back on materialism. That’s the only thing that matters.
If you’re skeptical, don’t worry. I was too, for a long time, because of my upbringing.
Born into a rich family, I was bred by my parents to think that good things only happened to those who were rich. And people who weren’t rich? They basically had no choice but to fend for themselves as a “salaried employee” for the rest of their lives. An example of some really silly stuff my parents indoctrinated in me over the years.
You know those luxurious business trips and holidays my father often brought me along for? He would then tell me “this is what you would get next time if you follow in my footsteps. You think the average person on the street would be able to afford this?”
For the first 21 years of my life, I grew up thinking money was the most important thing in the world. And that money should be used to buy luxurious goods or experiences. After all, nothing but the finest quality, right?
After my world crashed and burned, and my parents took away everything I had, I needed money to survive. So, I went out and got my first full-time job. But because of my shitty grades, I was paid so much less than my peers. I thought I was screwed. “Man, I earn so little! How could I ever retire early? Maybe I’d even be working till the day I die.”
But something told me to push all the negative energy away. I sat down, and crunched my own numbers. I worked out what I needed to make, what I needed to save, what I needed to invest.
The conclusion I came to was fascinating.
Even at my not-so-ideal pay (and taking into account only inflationary wage increases), I could actually achieve financial independence by the time I’m 35.
And what if I wanted to quit by my late-20s to build my own business? Then I would need even less! I could shave decades off my cubicle life.
All I needed to do was cut down on those unnecessary luxuries and to boost my savings. Actions that are all completely within my control.
‘What?!’ was my first thought. The discovery made me jump with joy. I wanted to do a little tap dance. I wanted to shout from the rooftops.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
I like to chuckle to myself when I realise how wrong my parents were about the average person on the street. In contrast to their beliefs, I don’t think the average person on the street is doomed to working in a cubicle their entire lives.
That average person doesn’t need to earn $1 million a year before they start working towards financial independence. That average person doesn’t need millions of dollars in their investment portfolios before they can be happy. That average person doesn’t need to helm a billion-dollar company to truly enjoy the good stuff in life.
All the average person needs to do is to manage their spending, make smart (but not complicated) investment decisions, and be brave enough to walk away from the traditional.
Actions the average person is in complete control of.
And I feel so fortunate to have discovered this life-changing concept.
Anyone. Including You. And Including Me.
Before, I thought all I could do was work, pay bills, barely make ends meet, and eventually wait for my inevitable death. I saw no meaning to that.
Now, even though every single day at my desk job is an emotional struggle, and even though I’m getting paid far less than my peers, I know I have a shot at financial independence. I know I have a shot at quitting the corporate world and pursuing my dreams.
And this is all possible because anyone can achieve financial independence, as long as they are willing to work their asses off for it.
Anyone. The average person. Including you. And including me.