I grew up in Country Victoria. A nice quiet place, not too far from the coast.
Growing up I always thought I would get some sort of trade and stay at home as long as possible. Because, well, it’s damn near free, so I can spend my money on whatever I want!
I’d stay in the town and eventually save up and buy a house at some point. Or so I thought…
School & Work
I worked a part time job for a few years while I was at school. It was incredible, raking in $10 an hour! It felt as though money was falling from the sky!
I was saving nearly all this money to buy my dream car. I stopped going out to parties and just worked and saved, dreaming of having that car in the future. This paid off, managing to pay for the car when I was 17.
Looking back, these were signs I would become obsessed in meeting certain goals if they meant a lot to me.
Around this time I was starting to lose interest in school. Working was more enjoyable and rewarding, so I dropped out after Year 11.
Soon after my 18th birthday, I decided to head to Perth for better job prospects.
Within two weeks of arriving, I secured a decent paying factory job. And luckily, it wasn’t too far from where I was staying.
After a few months I moved into a rental house with my mate who was living in Perth already and a couple of buddies he’d made since living here. See my thoughts on renting vs buying here.
Life was good, and my bank account started to grow with no real effort and even plenty of nights out and wasteful spending.
After a couple of years, I was bored and unsatisfied with that lifestyle, my job, and everything really. Looking around at how everyone lived and worked their whole lives for nothing but a house and some possessions.
They didn’t seem happy or satisfied either.
That’s when I knew – wasting my whole life working some crappy job, just to exist and pay bills was not an option.
This is when I decided I wanted to be rich and free. I had to be. Of course, I later learned, you need much less than you think to retire early and be happy.
At this point, Financial Independence became my obsession.
Not long after, I met my partner and moved in with her. We both worked full time. Me as a storeman/forklift driver, and my partner in admin.
We were both interested in property investing, so we started saving and learning more about it.
I bought an investment property with some of the savings I had built at the time. A year later I bought another one, using 5% deposit each time.
My partner also bought a property with some of the equity she had in her house. Being quite a bit older than me, she had been a long-time homeowner.
Over the next few years, we figured out how to save more and how to buy more properties using those savings and equity from our properties that had grown in value.
Change of direction
Having maxed out our borrowing capacity, we looked for other places to stash our cash.
The sharemarket always seemed scary, but investing for dividends seemed like a good idea.
Certainly more safe and reliable rather than watching the prices zig zagging all over the place!
In the next 18 months or so we built our share portfolio and used the dividends plus our savings to buy more shares.
It started to become obvious that shares pay excellent income with no bills or the headaches associated with property.
We also learned a lot more about what really makes us happy, we thought about what’s most important to us and how we want to live our lives.
When we realised how much money we needed to make this happen, a light bulb went off in our heads! It was much less than expected.
The properties we had in Melbourne and Sydney had increased in value quite a bit, but they still generated negative cashflow. We were equity rich, cashflow poor.
So we ran some numbers to see how much dividend income we could generate if our property equity was put into shares and it turned out to be more than we needed for our lifestyle.
Our mindset changed from investing for rising asset prices (capital growth) to focusing on investing for a growing income stream (dividends).
We didn’t need to work for another 10-20 years to generate millions in equity to live on, or wait for our properties to become positive cashflow.
Learning that was like winning the lottery!
Having realised that our investments would be more than enough for us to retire on, if the equity was put into good dividend paying shares like diversified LICs or an index fund, we decided to start selling down our property portfolio.
This process is underway with
1 2 sold so far, using some of the money to live on, while we pour the rest into shares. Because we buy shares regularly, our income is growing relentlessly.
During the journey, although we focused hard on saving, we still had fun along the way. There were multiple overseas holidays, nice dinners out, and an addition to our family with a far-too-expensive dog.
We just prioritised what was most important to us so there was never a feeling of missing out. Our mentality was “we can do anything, but we can’t do everything.”
We left work in the first part of 2017, around my 28th birthday. Hello freedom!
Learn more about my story, by checking out my in-depth interview with Aussie Firebug below. And to see the basic numbers behind it, read this post.
To get started on your own journey to Financial Independence, check out my 7 Step plan here.
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