I’ve always been good with money. Every since I was a child I knew you had to save up before you could purchase things and that debt should be avoided. I remember saving my pocket and birthday money for years to buy my first TV. I drew out a huge thermometer and divided it into 120 lines to represent the £120 needed to be saved. Every time a pound went into the piggy bank, another line got coloured in and eventually I hit the target and proudly purchased my TV/VCR combo.
It even had colour!
As soon as I was legally old enough I went out and got an after school paper-round. This provided great exercise but also, and more importantly, a regular £16 ($27) a week. It doesn’t sound like much now but to a 13 year old this was a huge amount of spare cash. Instead of splashing it on drugs and fast cars I was sure to save most of it for larger purchases like a bike and camping tent. To this day I still have both sat in my garage and are regularly used.
First proper job
At 16 I was able to get a ‘proper’ job. Most of my friends went off to work in McDonalds or on a checkout, however I wanted something more interesting and that paid better. I’d always been a good swimmer and so applied to be a lifeguard for my local council. With this job I was getting regular exercise, customer service experience and best of all.. it paid a hefty £10.09 ($17.20) per hour adjusted for inflation! Back then the UK minimum wage for 16yr olds was only £4.14 an hour. By taking the time to look for different jobs instead of following all my friends I was able to secure over double their hourly rates.
For the next 2 years I worked alot! Finish school at 3, Catch the bus into town and be at work for 4 till 11. Double shifts at the weekends 7am – 9pm (plus a voucher for free lunch if you worked over 12 hours). I was averaging 35 hours a week whilst still in full time education and not having to pay tax.
Not quite as glamorous as this
I went to university with £7000 saved up from my life-guarding job. This meant I never needed to go into an overdraft or borrow anything other than the minimum tuition fee loan. As this loan was set at the rate of inflation it’s effectively interest free . I lived cheaply while still socialising and enjoying myself. By the end of university I still had £2000 in the bank and decided to take a gap year.
I spent the next 15 months traveling across Australia and working odd-jobs on farms and activity centers. It was awesome and I loved every minute of it. I kept applying my cheap living principles and ensured I never had to get into any debt. Eventually it was time to come home and back into the real world.
Working on the farm
When I was offered my first permanent job back in June 2010 I was offered the opportunity to join the company’s pension scheme. The scheme was relatively generous offering a 4% matched contribution which increased to 6/8/10% after years of service. I signed on the dotted line, begun contributing the minimum amounts and calculated my retirement in 45 years.
It wasn’t until a year later that I stumbled upon a forum discussing early retirement. To me, early retirement meant quitting your job a year or two before the normal state pension age (67). However here on this forum were people in their early 60s, 50s, 40s and even 30s who had retired and were enjoying life. It was a real eye opener and something I wanted to be a part of. I immediately upped my pension contributions to take advantage of the tax allowances and started planning the path to early retirement.
Early retirement plan
If I was going to retire long before my peers then I needed a plan of action. I live in an expensive commuter town for London where house values have shot up and rent prices risen even steeper. First priority was to get together the house deposit so I could stop throwing money down the drain on rent and be able to ride the house price rise. For 3 years I shared a house with some friends, lived cheaply and saved every spare penny I had. During this time I met a girl and started dating but never took my eye off the final goal.
After 3 years I had enough for the house deposit and bought a reasonably cheap house with my girlfriend. The plan now is to massively overpay the mortgage and be mortgage free by 35. Once that’s done I’ll divert the funds into other investments and retirement income generators.
And that bring us up to present day. Please contact me if you have any questions or leave a comment below.