No it's not click-bait, I really retired at 34. My last day as an engineer was December 31, 2021. And boy does it feel good.
For those new to the blog, this is an update to the I'm Quitting my 9-5 blog from April of 2021.
I hesitated to put this blog out. A lot of friends and family read this and there's always judgement with an announcement like this. "What if it doesn't work out?" "You're so young. What are you going to do?" "You'll be bored and be begging to go back to work."
I'll answer those comments at the end. For now, let's look at who I am and how I got here.
Quick background - I have worked in NYC in the engineering field for 14 years, rising through the ranks and making pretty good money along the way. Not a brag, just being transparent.
I have been investing since 2008 (see my full investment journey in this blog). In 2017, I found the FI/RE subreddit (Financial Independence, Retiring Early). It's a community where people are maxing out their investments while they are young so they can retire early. Retirement isn't an age, it's when the passive income from your investments can fully pay for your lifestyle.
Want to figure out your FI/RE number? Here's the simple calculation:
After finding FI/RE, I went all-in. Every additional penny went into retirement funds or my self directed investment account. At the time my goal wasn't necessarily retirement, it was freedom. I wanted to be able to do what I want when I want.
A phrase I repeat often around here is "freedom is the goal, money is a tool." Meaning money isn't my driving factor. I simply use money to achieve my ultimate goal. After all, as a good friend says, "money is a fiction." Money is just numbers on a computer screen or paper in my hand. It has no real value yet we all agree that it's worth something. That's why money was never my goal.
In 2020, after 3 years of FIRE and to help achieve that freedom I desire, I set out a goal to pay off my student loans completely by the end of the year. In total, I had around $33,500 remaining of the $90,000 that I began with. I had been paying a little extra every month, but it wasn't enough. The interests on these loans ranged from 5% to 9% and I no longer wanted the burden of debt over my head.
Naturally, I resorted to my budget spreadsheet, which you can get for free when you sign up for our newsletter, and I came up with a plan to pay off the loans by the end of 2020.
Here's a look at a sample of the budget sheet:
*Note - not my actual budget.
For those of you who have blocked it out of your memory, COVID struck in March of 2020. Stuck at home and with nothing to spend money on, my savings rate sky rocketed. All that extra cash went directly to the loans. By September the loans were fully paid off.
With the debt gone and the proverbial monkey off my back, I suddenly felt a taste of that freedom I so desired. And there was nothing that was going to get in my way now.
Around this time, I started using Personal Capital to track my net worth. I was previously using a spreadsheet but the app was free and ridiculously easy to use so it was a no brainer. It pulls all my accounts into the app and fully tracks everything automatically. It's the best, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, with nearly double the capital every month, I dollar cost averaged into index funds, individual stocks and crypto. And since the markets were still recovering from COVID crash my returns were supercharged.
Fast forward a year of maxed out contributions and over 80% returns and I hit that magical FI/RE number. In fact, thanks to Personal Capital, I could see that my net worth more than doubled from a year earlier.
As much as I wanted to put in my notice at work, the logical person in me said to take a moment. Make sure the numbers still added up. Think about the state of the market. Think about inflation and the economy overall. Don't rush into this decision.
After all, the stock market was up over 100% from the COVID lows and Bitcoin was up 1,000% in that same period. We all know the saying - "everyone is a genius in a bull market."
I decided to wait a few months and use my salary to give me a bit of buffer. Between the additional contributions and the market rising another 9%, the time had come.
In November, right before Thanksgiving, I let my company know that I would be resigning. After a bit of negotiation, I agreed to work until the end of the year to allow for project close-outs and transition of workload. In return, they agreed to a small severance package. Win-win in my opinion.
I didn't let them in on my full plan, just that I would be consulting under CMG Venture. Why? Same reason I hesitated to put this blog out - I didn't want to hear those comments from the beginning of the post.
Speaking of which, my response to those comments is simple. My worst case scenario is most people's every day life. I have the option to work; if I want to work I can, if I want to do nothing I can. That's freedom. Many people have no choice in the matter.
And worst case if something happens and I need to go back to working for someone else one day, at least I have this moment of freedom to live my life and do what I want.
So what am I actually going to do? Simple - follow my passions. Build CMG, travel, spend time with my wife, work on my cars, buy land and build a house, continue investing, consult... the list is endless.
There's literally a million things I would rather do than work for someone else, especially a corporation. And I will not be bored I promise you that.
For now, my main focus is going to be growing CMG Venture and helping as many people as I can.
In February, our Instagram will be one year old. Over that time the page has grown to nearly 6,000 followers. The newsletter is now approaching 500 subscribers. The blog gets hundreds of views every week. And it's all free. I do it because I enjoy it.
Every so often I get a message saying that someone overcame their fears and started investing or developed a plan to get out of debt, because of something I posted. There is no better feeling than hearing that you helped someone potentially change their life. It's why I started sharing my knowledge and experience in the first place, so getting that message is priceless.
Freedom over my time and helping others - what's better than that? Cheers to 2022 and a new chapter in my life.
Thank you for reading!
These are the companies we have partnered with this year. They make this blog possible so go check them out!
Coinbase - cryptocurrency exchange - get $10 in free Bitcoin when you buy your first $100
BlockFi - cryptocurrency exchange - get up to 8.6% interest on your crypto
Personal Capital - personal finance platform that helps users take control of their finances by blending world-class technology with human advice. Pair industry-leading financial tools with licensed advisors and full-service planning experts across all 50 states
M1 Finance - the future of finance in a sleek, modern app. Rated #1 for Sophisticated Investors by Investopedia, users can enjoy: free investing, high yield checking, low rate borrowing, automation, and optimization
TrueBill - app that helps people gain awareness about their spending habits and better manage their money. Truebill makes it easier than ever to manage subscriptions, lower your bills, and stay on top of finances & budgeting
Canva - design software that makes design simple, convenient, and reliable. Create what you need in no time! Jam-packed with time-saving tools that make anyone look like a professional designer
Credit Karma - your credit scores should be free. And now they are. Check your scores anytime, anywhere and never pay for it. Save smart with Credit Karma.
Beagle - helps you find your old 401(k)s. Also helps you rollover & consolidate your 401(k)s in to a Beagle account, which gives you access to your retirement money early with no tax or penalties.
I am not a licensed financial advisor or financial professional. This is not investing advice. I am simply sharing my research and opinion based on that research. It is very important that you do your own research and make investments based on your own personal circumstances, preferences, goals and risk tolerance.
This blog contains some affiliate links. If you purchase any service through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.