Today’s post from Benjamin Davis @ From Cents To Retirement. He is working toward financial independence primarily with rental real estate. Check out his story below. If he can strive for early retirement, there is no reason why you can’t.
It has been one year since I launched From Cents To Retirement. In this period, I’ve learned a lot about blogging, money and investments. I was fortunate to connect with many of my readers. Most of them are trying to retire early, or are passionate about personal finances. Some of them told me they were inspired by my blog to start their own journey towards retiring early. And some of them told me they had started their journey towards retiring early, stopped, and then re-started all over again after coming across my blog and story. It is primarily about the latter I want to talk about today.
I have a very unique story. I was born in Portugal to an Italian and Canadian family. Due to my father’s job, we moved around quite a bit. I grew up mostly in Portugal and Italy. In 2012, a few years after I became independent, I moved to Germany to pursue a PhD. Due to various reasons, including the awful environment at the lab, a very demanding boss and the exposure to a new culture that I didn’t particularly like, I ended up developing CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CFS doesn’t only mean that you’re (very) tired all the time. CFS sufferers like me also have to deal with symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, and digestive problems, to name a few. These problems can prevent CFS sufferers from having a normal life.
After I developed CFS, it became evident that I would not be able to work much longer. The common path to a successful financial life, i.e. climbing the ladder to the top, was clearly not an option for me. As there are no government disability benefits for CFS sufferers, I had to create passive income streams to support myself. I remember the day I sat down and started to carefully assess my finances. I read over 100 books on personal finance and investing, and I started to follow blogs, like FI Fighter and Retire by 40. I knew that early retirement would be possible.
Today, I am on track to retire in my early 30s, mainly through Real Estate. I’ve got a Real Estate portfolio composed of 10 units (and I expect to own 100 units in the next 6-8 years). My stocks right now are limited to a handful of shares, as I expect a market correction soon. I’ve got other investments, including bonds and P2P loans. I’ve also set up other small businesses, such as a Real Estate company and a consultancy company. I am positive that my strategy will work out well. If you want to know more about my strategy, check out my book “My strategy to retire early”.
You may wonder how I do all this and run From Cents to Retirement at the same time, if I have CFS. Well, at the moment, I’d say that I am fine and well for half of the day. In the other half, I have some symptom that prevents me from working. It has been primarily dizziness lately. The real trick to keep going is, in my opinion, being passionate about what I do. I get I kick out of blogging about my journey and I love having people telling me I inspired them. On top of that, I have an immense drive inside of me. I believe that CFS triggered a survival instinct in my body, because I feared I could not work much longer and I needed a different way to support myself.
The main purpose of this post is to motivate you in your own journey. In the following, I’ll provide you a few reasons why you should relentlessly chase your dreams and never give up, even if you face the hardest obstacles:
#1 – If I can do it, you can do it too!
If you have been reading up until this point, you learned that I have CFS. Even if you don’t know exactly what obstacles this disease presents, I can tell you that every day of my life is a huge fight against this monster. I have learned to control some of the symptoms, with tools like a good diet and meditation, but I am still far from getting rid of all the symptoms for good.
A crucial part for my strategy to remain productive while fighting with CFS, is to adjust my tasks depending on how I feel. For example, if I am too tired, I sit down and I read (I have a goal to re-read a lot of books and provide reviews and summaries of them on my blog).
Now, coming back to my point. Just imagine yourself having to deal with dizziness on a daily basis. Or extreme tiredness. Or bad mood. I learned to mask my symptoms, fend them off and chase my dreams. If I can do what I do with the myriad of challenges that CFS poses to me, you can do it too!
#2 – The wealthiest place on earth is the graveyard
Do me a favor please. Write down all the projects you planned in the last 5 years. How many of those have you taken on? 1? Maybe 2? Or none?
Most people have awesome ideas. Most people have awesome plans for their lives. And the funny thing is that most people would be incredibly happy following those plans, but almost nobody ends up carrying out those plans. Most people don’t have the ability to change their lives because they are fearful to go against the crowd. And the crowd rarely works for their own dreams, instead being trapped into car and mortgage payments.
Very few people have the courage to really assess what makes them happy, write down a plan to maximize it and go for it.
Don’t be part of the vast majority, whose plans are never executed. Do not take your dreams to the graveyard with you!
#3 – Your passion is what makes you thrive
The two things that I love the most these days include writing awesome posts for my readers, taking care of my Real Estate, and growing my businesses. I love to create value, it makes me happy. I love to buy real estate that looks like this:
and I transform it into this:
and looks like this:
and I transform into this:
Doing what I love will enable me to retire early! You see, I am passionate about rehabbing properties, and setting myself free from the corporate world will maximize the time that I’ll have to do the things I love.
If I sound really passionate about Real Estate, it’s because I am! I am on track to retire by 33 through Real Estate. My portfolio is primarily exposed to Real Estate; if you have a look at my stock portfolio you’ll see it is actually very small right now (as I also expect a market correction and I want to take advantage of it). I am pretty hands-on as far as my real estate investments when my health allows me to. I often publish resources for Real Estate investing, including real estate books, pro forma explanations and landlording stuff. In the next 3 quarters of the year, I will be working on my health while trying to increase my net worth and diversify my sources of income.
#4 – Life is too short
Life is too short. Whether you realize it or not, when you become older, you’ll wish you had done things differently. But NOW is the time to do things differently!
If you spend 1 hour per day going to work and 1 hour coming back home, 5 times a week, that is 40h per month or 480h per year. In the course of 10 years, that sums up to 4800h, which means 200 days! Every 10 years, you’re almost losing 1 year of your life stuck in a car, going to work and back home.
If you were to take one year off, that would be “too much time”, right? That is how much time you’ll be inside a car over the course of one decade. A freaking car!
This is just an example. Being inside a car for 1 year every 10 years, attending meetings you don’t really like, having to deal with co-workers and/or bosses who are not really nice to you, you name it. All this and more are things that you can’t avoid if you have to work. Early retirement and financial freedom allows you to set yourself free from these things and enjoy your time. You don’t have much of it, sadly.
#5 – The best in life is outside of work
Work can be nice too, no question about it. I’ve enjoyed working my butt off to have a great PhD thesis. I’ve enjoyed receiving the best paper award at a major conference in my research field. I’ve enjoyed meeting co-workers who I became very good friends with. I even enjoyed working on my papers until late in the night!
However, the best in life is clearly outside of your job. I certainly loved writing my book. I loved being part of the renovations I showed you in #3. But I had the option to do it. And that is what early retirement is all about: giving you the choice to do what you do, whenever you want to do it. Just have a look at how some early retirees spend their time and how they enjoy it.
Although I am still a bit far from retiring early, I’ve found from personal experience, that I do things with more integrity and drive when I don’t have to do them. We are humans; we tend to cut corners on things that don’t interest us…
I want to end this section with a request: write down the 5 things you love the most. Ask yourself how much time (and what percentage of your life) do you spend doing those things. And imagine how your life would be if you could do them whenever you wanted.
There are no excuses to not retire early. I don’t want to sound rude and cocky – I mean to be inspirational and I hope you find this post inspiring. If I could achieve what I achieved so far, there is no reason for you not to achieve more than me, assuming you’re healthy. I’ve provided you with a number of reasons to set yourself free from money, and retire early. It is up to you to assess them and decide whether you want to do it or not. What I can tell you is that I am way more comfortable now than I was before starting my early retirement journey.
I won’t ask you to retire early, but I will ask you to take a few minutes and ask yourself whether that makes sense to you. If it does, go for it – there is nothing stopping you!
PS: Most of you are probably already on your journey to retire early. I hope this post also resonates with you and inspires you to keep hustling your way to the top. I hope you succeed!
All the best,
Benjamin Davis is 28 years old and runs the show at From cents to Retirement. He recently became a self-publishing author as he published the book “My strategy to retire early“. He developed CFS during his early 20s while working on his PhD, which motivated him to retire as soon as possible. He looks at money pragmatically, saving aggressively, eliminating things that do not increase his happiness, and spending money on what he believes is right. His goal is to own 100 homes in the next 6 – 8 years and make From Cents To Retirement a reference blog for early retirement, inspiring others with his own story.
Image credit: Zach Suhar