When I reached my mid 20s, you could say I reached an important crossroads of sorts. I’m not sure if I was going through the moment of arriving at my own version of “quarter life crisis” but many things didn’t feel right, and I felt like I was trapped in life.
Granted, on the surface, many things seemed to be going well for me, especially in my corporate life: good job, high salary, gaining respect from co-workers, and lots of experience in my career.
In fact, in 2011, I even got a job offer out in Orange County and was able to move out next to the beach… surrounded by gorgeous sunshine each and everyday.
But, like I mentioned, many things felt off… and it wasn’t long into my stay in Southern California that I realize I wanted something more outta life…
For me, it wasn’t about all that jazz that most people fight so hard for: job title, recognition, prestige, the affluent life. Nah, I wanted something much simpler and less ostentatious: peace of mind, free time, and minimal stress.
So, around 2012 (coinciding pretty much with the launch of this blog), I completely dedicated myself (and efforts) towards trying to get to early FI; this meant a number of changes in my life, but mostly it revolved around:
- Saving as much money as possible.
- Cutting out the excess crap in my life.
- Valuing life experiences much more than material goods.
- Learning how to invest my savings wisely.
I had always kind of subconsciously been a little frugal, but by 2012, I really kicked things up a notch… a lot. And slowly but surely, I was able to save enough for my first downpayment, purchasing Rental Property #1 around August/September 2012.
It was kind of unorthodox at the time (I guess in some regards, the early FI movement wasn’t anywhere near as popular and prevalent as it is today), but I told myself:
“I wanna see this thing snowball and grow. I wanna keep investing. I wanna use this achievement as further motivation to acquire more assets.”
And to achieve what I knew I wanted, I was fully cognizant of the fact that it wasn’t going to be easy and that I would need to do things “hardcore”. No half-assing it, to construct the life that I wanted, ultimately, I accepted I would never get there without giving the early FI fight my all.
At the time, straight up and no bullshit, many of the decisions I was making in my own life weren’t popular and accepted by many of my peers/co-workers/friends/etc. Many people, for starters, thought I was a freekin idiot for buying a house in what was still considered to be a “market depression” environment, where there was much fear that the global economy wasn’t stable and prices would eventually crater through the floor… and I was being “reckless” and taking on unnecessary risks. Further, I guess what bothered me even more were some of the snide comments I would get from so-called “friends”… Stuff like:
“I don’t know why you would buy a home and not live in it? Why are you renting it out? Why do you want to rent a room/live with family members when you don’t have to?”
To save money…
As much as possible…
Every last penny counts!
Even to this day, a lot of the actions I took way back when still aren’t really accepted by the mainstream now, but I think times are slowly changing and people are waking up and realizing just how difficult it can be to get ahead in life.
In other words, we aren’t living in your parents/grandparents generation anymore, so it’s time to wake up and face reality for what it is.
I didn’t get to where I am today by spending money like “money ain’t a thang”, but I was successful because I pinched pennies and learned not to waste it frivolously on stupid shit. I even went to such “extreme measures” as always renting out a room, and never “indulging” in a place all to myself.
“No pain, no gain.”
Yes, one could argue to a degree I had to make sacrifices, but not long after winning Rental Property #1, I did get a sense that home prices were starting to climb out of a bear market and enter a new bull market. No way in my wildest dreams did I think home prices would ever skyrocket to where they are now, but literally, that magnificent “window of opportunity” to make some life-changing gains didn’t last for very long, indeed…
Most recently, I was alerted to some news and a friend told me that one of my childhood best buddies recently closed on buying his first personal residence. This guy that I’ve known pretty much since I was a young buck in elementary school bought a townhouse in the Bay Area for something like $750,000. I didn’t ask for details but I’m guessing it’s 2/3 bedrooms.
And in today’s market, that ain’t considered a big deal at all…
Not saying, it’s right or wrong, but no one should ever forget — In a raging bull market, everyone feels like a genius b/c nobody remembers what it was like to lose money… In a bear market, everyone is going to be a cynic and skeptic b/c nobody remembers what it was like to not be crying a river…
But man, I know everything is all relative and it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but I still remember vividly when I closed my first two Bay Area townhouse deals for the following:
And I was met with so much: scorn, disdain, ridicule, and even hate…
But you know, that’s how life goes a lot of the times. For anyone who is reading this and making strong efforts to build a better future for themselves and to get to early FI, I salute you, and you won’t ever get flak from me. Of course, because most high quality assets (such as Class A real estate) aren’t trading anywhere near as cheap as they were 5-6 years ago, the journey to early FI is no question much more difficult to reach today.
However, that doesn’t mean early FI is unobtainable and outside your reach…
If the “rules of the game” change, well, you just gotta adapt… and like I always preach on this blog, just be open minded and be willing to think outside the box.
Very importantly (as I learned from first-hand experience), if you know full well what your REAL hopes and dreams are for your life, don’t be afraid to chase after them with reckless abandon.
Go all in, guns blazing, and don’t give a fuck what anyone else says if you know in your heart of hearts that you’re doing the right thing for YOU!
I’ll never forget my old college buddies from UC Berkeley who used to make fun of me all the time, whenever we met back in the day… Or even former high school friends who used to make me the butt of all their jokes by saying stuff like:
“Well, there’s a good reason Jay doesn’t have a girlfriend. He’s living at home with family…”
“When are you gonna be an adult and move out on your own?”
“You’re missing out by not living in the city.”
“Friday night and you’re reading textbooks and studying for work? That’s loser status, bro.”
Fast-forward to the here and now, and I’ll say even though at times it wasn’t easy to take shit from your peers, it was all totally worth it. I mean, I wouldn’t change a thing…
And all the people who were mocking me back then?
Some peeps have messaged me (many years later) directly and although it’s not a fun topic to ever re-visit, I have gotten stuff like the following:
“Aye bro, I get what you were trying to accomplish back then, now. Congrats.”
Like, you know, from guys similar to my buddy who just recently purchased his first home for $750,000.
No, I’m not saying I made all the right moves in my own journey to early FI, but one thing that helped was that I knew what I wanted, figured out a way to filter out a lot of the noise, and was able to stay really focused and locked-in with the task at hand.
Living at home with family isn’t something one brags about openly to their friends/peers, but in this day and age that we live in now, stuff like that is becoming much more a necessity (I mean, if you like really wanna turbocharge your saving/investing/early FI progress). That, or renting out a small room and sharing a house with a lot of other roommates… In Asia, it’s not as big a deal, but I know out in the West, well, your friends will make you feel like hanging your head in shame and shit…
You know, total “loser status”…
But as someone who benefited most greatly from “pinching every last penny” and watching their investments grow… and who is now privileged enough to be able to live pretty much wherever in Southeast Asia, I’m not about to turn my back on my former self and change my tune at all… Again, I got to where I am today because I was willing to make sacrifices and maximize my savings/investing.
So, again, if you find yourself in a similar boat, you’re never gonna get any crap from me…
I support you and your early FI efforts, completely.
Funny enough, I even got friends in the Philippines who are attempting their own early FI by doing stuff like:
Renting out a bed space (single bedroom) and sleeping on a bunkbed (sharing the room with 3 other people).
Yup, you read that correctly, that’s 4 people sharing and sleeping in a SINGLE BEDROOM.
Who the fuck said adulting is an easy thing to do?
Getting ahead and reaching early FI has only gotten more difficult over the years for many folks, not easier… But to achieve something great out of life, it’s gonna require lots of sacrifice and efforts… No bullshit, it’s not easy.
But it’s your life and your dreams.
Do what you gotta do to make it… The people who actually matter won’t be so quick to judge you…
Haters gonna hate, regardless…
Just do you, and one day down the road… all these people who doubted you won’t be able to say anything negative… at all.
Not that it’ll matter any, but who knows, maybe 5-10 years from now, many of these folks will be making steps and taking actions, attempting to do some of the things that you’re doing NOW.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally happy for my old buddy and commend him for being able to purchase his first home. That’s a major accomplishment worth celebrating.
I’m even more grateful and thankful I was able to get started when I did… because it made everything that I have today possible…