Early Retirement Planning

It was early Summer of 2009. Weather in Alberta has vastly improved which was great. Winter was long and tough this year – temperatures did not go above -30 Degrees Celsius for two months. Having summer with lots of sunshine and steaming temperatures felt uplifting. Meantimely, my mind was on a rollercoaster. Resumption of travel after many years of having been nowhere brought breath of fresh air to my thinking. My body was back in Canada from Iceland, but my mind was still on the road. Within a span of last few months I travelled to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, Toronto and the Rocky Mountains. I loved it to bits and continued travelling in my mind. My time off work was spent on the computer, discovering places I would like to visit next.

I wanted to travel more. I needed to travel more. And now that the value of time and the idea of early retirement became well defined in my mind, I started to plan my exit from work and entrance into the world of travel. The way I saw it was that I needed to come with a strategy to quit work as soon as possible while causing as little uproar and talk as achievable. At the same time, I was gonna dedicate maximum of my off work time to the growth of my websites that bring the most revenue while entertaining offers for sale of websites that were more popular, but brought little revenue. I needed more positive cash flow which could be done by focusing on 20% of my revenue generators that generate 80% of my revenue and eliminating the costs associated with ownership of low income generators. And among all the essentials, I needed to find time to figure out where to go to start my tour around the world while keeping the cost of travel as low as possible.

Traveling frugally is not difficult at all. Average person could spend thousands of dollars for a vacation, but smart traveller will find a way to spend one quarter of that but will get four times as much. I laugh at people who pay retail prices for plane tickets, hotel reservations or car rentals. They are voluntarily ripping themselves off. It doesn’t take much. Scoring awesome travel deals is really easy, but I will elaborate on it in more detail later.

Planning my early retirement was fun. I had a lot to take care of, but it was fun. It was as if I had a giant catalogue of the universe before me and my job was to pick what adventure I’m going to have next. This was the feeling of freedom. I was in charge of my life giving everybody else no chance at controlling it. No one had any say at what I should do tomorrow. It was me who decided what I was going to do and I did strictly what was in accord with my plans. The world of adventure lied right before me. I just needed to polish up a few tiny matters and then… the journey itself.

Independence and Freedom vs Corporate Slavery

I had it all clear in my mind. I knew this was it for me and my lifestyle of a corporate slave. Everything came nicely together, I had not a slightest doubt that spending whole life in servitude so I can enjoy myself when I’m 65 was an awful lifestyle choice. The challenge I was facing now was to choose the best place to start my worldwide travels. It was a challenge, but it was one I was happy to face because it provided me with the most amazing feeling, the feeling of freedom and independence.

For the first time in almost ten years I felt like it was me who’s in charge of my own life. Nobody had absolutely no say about my next step. It was going to be my unconditional choice. How awesome is that? This true freedom of choice opened up my eyes to accept new horizons and I’ve realized that I spent near a decade of my life living conrtolled by somebody else. I had to get up when the alarm clock went off, not when I felt like, I had to go to the office regardless of how beautiful a day it was outside, even though I’d much rather spend it by the lake, I could ask for a vacation but had to do it with advance notice and only had so many days I could use – everything in my life was being determined by someone else, not me.

And here I found myself with firm grip on my own life, independent and free, no longer the property of my employer, my government, my family or anyone else. There was just me and my goals. I was choosing directions, I was choosing speed, I was choosing terms of service.

By becoming a corporate slave you give away your independence and freedom almost entirely. While I was employed, I wasn’t the person I was dreaming to be. I was the tool of my employer. I was there to take orders and deliver the product as per the requirements. The value of my life was given a price tag. I did what I was told so I could collect the paycheck and spend it according to the current community standards. There was no real freedom or independence in my life. My purpose as a corporate slave was to please my masters – the employer. Being a corporate slave, I obediently obliged which is what slaves do to avoid being punished. Corporate slaves, same as normal slaves in its true meaning live their lives in fear. The fear of being punished by being fired, or otherwise put into an undesirable situation.

The actual difference between a slave and a corporate slave is that corporate slaves have their minds locked up, not their bodies. Even though physically imprisoned, actual slaves were provided with food and shelter – corporate slave must provide their own shelter and their own food out of after-tax money they receive in exchange for their obedience. Unlike an actual slave, a corporate slave who loses his shelter must still come to work and follow his/her orders or else he/she could be punished.

The saddest part is that corporate slaves not only lead themselves into this imprisonment, they even ask and strive for it. Their life’s joy is provided by the reality shows on TV. And so their whole life becomes a rat race. They work during the best days of their lives, get taxed and whatever they’re left with is spent on things. The culture of consumerism controls their spendings by keeping them on high through advertising and media exposure.

Most corporate slaves are voluntary prisoners. It is not possible to lock someone up in a cage physically nowadays so setting oneself free is a matter of choice. However, most people will stick with slavery and turn independence and freedom their backs. Cage is the world they are familiar with. Walking out could be risky. And so they spend their lives instead of living them and will die without realizing how much they could have accomplished in life.

It is hard for me to hold it against anyone. I was exactly like that only a few months back. However, I’ve allowed myself to step back and look at the bigger picture from the distance. And when the first glimpse of bigger picture has offered itself, I have followed it to see what the rest of it is all about. I have not stopped until I got clear idea about what the world outside of the cage looked like. Like other corporate slave, back then I felt comfortable in a cage too. It wasn’t the life I would have wanted for myself, but there were forms of security in place that kept me inside. World out there could be dangerous – at least that’s what the media says. Staying inside of the cage offers some protection from this wild, wild world. And if you do what they say, there will always be a place for you in a cage.

I walked out. I dared. I exposed myself to the fresh air and the sound of the ocean. I felt the touch of independence, felt the touch of freedom and chose to soar on my own wings. I can go as high as I wish, take a turn whenever I see fit because it’s me who holds the reins. And this time around I’m not letting go easily. I’ve done it once and it cost me 10 years of my life. I know what I want and I’m gonna take it. My life belongs to me so from now on, I’m rowing my own canoe.

I do realize that freedom and independence come with responsibility. There will be no one to make decisions for me, now one to blame. But I’m ready and willing to accept this responsibility. It will be like the old days when I lived on my own terms. I’m back to my old me and I’m ready to kick ass. My first task as a free and independent man is to choose my first destination where to start my travels. It’s gonna be awesome.

Motivational Quotes To Keep You Going

I have been talking a lot about Early Retirement and tried my best to put my thoughts into words. I have one last thing left to conclude my attempt – to share a few encouraging, motivational quotes to keep you going. Or to get you going – wherever in life you are right now. These sayings have been left to us by wise men and women of the past and bear a great deal of wisdom. Read through them each time you are feeling blue or discouraged. There is nothing more encouraging than well said quote that hits just the right spot. Without further ado, this is the collection of motivational quotes to keep you going that I come back to often myself:

I’ve tried my best to transform my thoughts into words but found myself struggling each time. Everything makes perfect sense in my head, but trying to put it in coherent sentences was challenging. More often than not I felt like I’m not doing my thoughts a justice by failing to properly express my feelings, but I’ve tried never the less. If just one person finds encouragement, if just one person finds inspirations, if just one person changes their life for the better as a result of these words, then it was all worth it. I would like to start with my favorite quote of all. It’s the quote by Jonathan Swift who summed everything I’ve been trying to say in just nine words: “May you live all the days of your life.”

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Zig Ziglar
Will you look back on life and say, “I wish I had,” or “I’m glad I did”?

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Les Brown
You are the only real obstacle in your path to a fulfilling life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Martin Luther King
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Henry David Thoreau
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Richard M. DeVos
The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Ivy Baker
The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Swedish Proverb
Those who wish to sing, always find a song.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Barbara Sher
Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do – can love things that no one else can love. We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music. You know what to do.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Vincent Van Gogh
Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Buddha
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Jim Rohn
You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Denis Waitley
Chase your passion, not your pension.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by William Jennings Bryan
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Danny Kaye
Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Rabindranath Tagore
I slept and dreamt that life was Joy./ I woke and saw that life was Duty./ I acted, and behold, Duty was Joy.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Billy Graham
We cannot truly face life until we face the fact that it will be taken away from us.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Henry David Thoreau
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Alexander Woollcott
There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Unknown Author
There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Kevin Welch
There’ll be two dates on your tombstone/ And all your friends will read ’em/ But all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ’em…

Inspirational and Motivational Quote from Psalms
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Roman
While there’s life, there’s hope.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Leo Buscaglia
What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Buddha
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by George Eliot
The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Lieh Tzu
Living a life without limits is the highest state of existence.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Henry Ward Beecher
No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Friedrich Schlegel
In actual life every great enterprise begins with and takes its first forward step in faith.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Theodore Roosevelt
In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Robert Frost
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Abraham Lincoln
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Anna Robertson Brown
Be wise in the use of time. The question in life is not how much time do we have. The question is: what shall we do with it?

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Henry James
It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Diane Ackerman
I don’t want to come to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Lewis Grizzard
Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Dale Carnegie
Did you ever see an unhappy horse? Did you ever see a bird that had the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Bertolt Brecht
Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Harold Whitman
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by B. C. Forbes
Don’t forget until too late that the business of life is not business, but living.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Eric Butterworth
Don’t go through life, grow through life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Richard L. Evans
Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Jim Rohn
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Robertson Davies
If you don’t hurry up and let life know what you want, life will damned soon show you what you’ll get.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by T. S. Eliot
If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Mark Houlahan
If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Ovid
Neither can the wave that has passed by be recalled, nor the hour which has passed return again.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Marcia Wieder
You can come to understand your purpose in life by slowing down and feeling your heart’s desires.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Michael Cibenko
One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
One should count each day a separate life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Eleanor Roosevelt
The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Joan Borysenko
The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Marilyn vos Savant
The length of your education is less important than its breadth, and the length of your life is less important than its depth.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Cicero
The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Horace Mann
Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Arnold H. Glasgow
Make your life a mission – not an intermission.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Leonardo Da Vinci
Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Somerset Maugham
It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Walt Whitman
Oh, while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Richard Bach
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by William Lloyd George
He’s no failure. He’s not dead yet.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Jim Valvano
How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal and you have to be willing to work for it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Leland Bartlett
I believe life is to be lived, not worked, enjoyed, not agonized, loved, not hated.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Proverb
You can’t take it with you when you go.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Wayne Dyer
You have everything you need for complete peace and total happiness right now.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Jonathan Swift
May you live all the days of your life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Zig Ziglar
Remember, you can earn more money, but when time is spent is gone forever.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Oprah Winfrey
Right now you are one choice away from a new beginning – one that leads you toward becoming the fullest human being you can be.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Art Buchwald
The best things in life aren’t things.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Charles A Beard
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Stedman Graham
When you have a sense of your own identity and a vision of where you want to go in your life, you then have the basis for reaching out to the world and going after your dreams for a better life.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Mother Teresa
Life is a promise; fulfill it.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Coretta Scott King
Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Helen Keller
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Inspirational and Motivational Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson
So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man’s genius contracts itself to a very few hours.

Hope you have enjoyed my collection of motivational quotes to keep you going. Wise men and women of the past and present had the way with words, something I do not and left us these precious gems as guidance. Come back for more inspiration should you find yourself stranded in doubt. Here’s to an abundant and enjoyable life.

Be the Change You Want to See

9 out of 10 people don’t like where they are in their lives at this moment, or would put themselves in someone else’s place if they could. Are you one of them? If you are – don’t worry. For one, you’re not the only one who’s desperate for a change and secondly, if you knew of the hardships others are going through, you would likely want to keep the lifestyle you currently have, regardless of how much you think it stinks. Many people desire a change and they should. Life is meant to be abundant and enjoyable. However, lamenting will not deliver change you desire. It will only make matters worse. Change requires action. Action on your part. You be the change you want to see in yourself. Be the change you want your life to fall into. Be the change you’ve been dreaming off and it will come to be. For there is no greater power in the universe than the power of yourself. Help yourself and the powers of the universe will re-arrange to help you too. The change starts with you.

Change begins with clearly defined goals. Unless you know exactly and undisputedly what you want, how can you expect to get it? If your life right now doesn’t seem fulfilling, take a minute for yourself and go through your goals. Take a note that you are the master of your own life. Whatever has happened in your life so far is in the past. The past is the time that’s gone forever. A new day has started and it could be the best day of your life if you let it. Don’t hold back, don’t fear change and don’t be afraid to take risks. Better life is just around the corner. Believe in miracles. No matter how good or bad current situation may seem, it will change. It always changes. Change is a constant. You can start your change by getting rid of everything that isn’t useful, cheerful or pleasing. Don’t waste your time succumbing to envy. Let THEM envy you the lifestyle you are embarking on.

This is about what you love in life so don’t take “NO” for an answer. The seduction of money and prosperity may be difficult to overcome, but not impossible. Ask the right questions to get the right answers and know it is not the money you want. It is the lifestyle you were falsely lead to believe could only be had if you had a lot of money. If you dig into it a little bit deeper, you’ll easily learn that the cost of lifestyle you covet is oftentimes lower than the cost of your current lifestyle, the lifestyle you are trying to change. To be laying in a hammock on a private island, clipping your fingernails off while cool ocean breeze washes off the sweat after an endless walk along a tranquil beach doesn’t require you to be a millionaire. You can have the lifestyle you desire by changing your focus from making money to ensuring positive cash flow.

Society today conditions its members to spending. Why do people who are in debt continue buying? So much useless junk in their houses already yet they keep spending. And those are not isolated incidents – I used to be one of them myself. And that’s why I can relate. Advertising, media, soap operas – all the biggest junk of modern cultures condition you to buying new gadgets you don’t really need, but are brainwashed to believe it is the way of the world so you follow. Set yourself free from conditional spending, set yourself free from possessions that are not essential for your day to day life and breathe the free air again.

Designer clothes, expensive homes or flashy cars are not signs of wealth. They are merely a sign of a great deal of money spent. Don’t feed your ego. No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time showing off with expensive gadgets. Furthermore – feeding one’s ego is a losing fight. No matter how much of your hard earned money you spend to get the biggest rig on the road, one day you will stumble across someone whose ego made him buy an even bigger a toy. The satisfaction you experience after acquisition of ego fueled merchandise doesn’t last long. It will just increase the demands laid upon your spending by your own ego. There is so much of it out there, that no matter how much you keep buying, you will always want something else. This is a sure fire way to becoming a rat racing champion.

Change your life by being the change you want to see. You have all you need to do it, you just need courage to put it in motion. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, learn from them and use them to your advantage. Never dwell on them. Past is gone and it’s not coming back. Enjoy the present and look forward to the future. Today is the best day of your life. Stand up high and see yourself for a magnificent being that you are. You deserve the change for the better and it will come your way if you let it. Everyone who got where they are had to begin where they were. Every hour you save for yourself, to spend it the way you enjoy, is like an hour added to your life. So grab at it and become its leader for life is like a dogsled. Unless you are a leading dog, the scenery never changes (quote by Lewis Grizzard). The clock is ticking. Are you gonna watch it tick away or use it to your benefit?

Positive Cash Flow

You’ve heard me mention Positive Cash Flow number of times during previous lectures on Early Retirement. Positive Cash Flow is the key to retiring young. As someone who understands the value of time, it became clear to me early on that the goal is not to score big financially. Aiming for a big payday puts everything into way distant a future. To retire rich, you may be faced with decades of tight lifestyle before hitting jackpot, but to retire early, you may need as little as positive cash flow of $50 a day. The former will keep you stuck in the office until you’re too old to enjoy yourself to the fullest, the latter could send you on your way to endless adventure in a few months.

My Positive Cashflow

I got my positive cash flow out of the websites I’ve been running for years. I set up my personal photography website back in 2003. In 2004 I added ten more websites to my portfolio but they were each more of a hobby, rather than a business venture. I had a little bit of income through promotion of affiliate networks, but it only amounted to about $50 a month. As years went by, I learned a thing or two about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), learned a little bit of web programming and by 2006 I already had a network of 20 sites running.

I’ve been working on them diligently every day and come 2007, the popularity of some of them grew to a point that a server upgrade was needed. I was still only making pennies a day even after investing a lot of work into them on daily basis. I was doing it because I enjoyed it. There was a little bit of money, but hardly anything to reasonably compensate for the work put into it. Continuous growth resulted in complete necessity to switch to a fully dedicated server in 2008. I was getting a lot of traffic but kept failing in monetizing on my sites. The cash flow was vastly negative at this time as my monthly cost for the server was $199 yet income from my sites was only in the $100 neighborhood.

As the traffic kept growing, I was forced to upgrade my server once more in the beginning of 2009. This time my traffic amounted to half million unique readers a month and that required more powerful server with more available bandwidth. Monthly cost just went up another $100 draining $299 out of my pocket each month for just webhosting itself. Negative cash flow ruled, but I kept financing it out of the money I was making at my government job.

My life was awful. I spent whole day in the office, then when I got back home I worked on my websites. Yet cash flow remained negative. At that time I started to travel again and the phase of my spiritual awakening was initiated. I started to question the premise of going to work until retirement and bit by bit, these pieces of scrabble that combine into a complete picture as presented here in my blog, which opens you up to the life of enjoyment and abundance came together and made me see things I was brainwashed to ignore. I realized that I’d wasted too much of my precious time as a corporate slave and started to work my way to early retirement. There was one and a half month lag between full awakening and my departure.

I used most of that time securing myself with positive cash flow. I knew the websites with lots of traffic were there. After years of putting so much work into them I was faced with the biggest challenge of my life. I’ve realized that 20% of my websites make 80% of all the money. The rest either didn’t make any money, or only very little but together amounted to very high server costs. The idea of getting rid of those websites was extremely difficult to swallow. I put years of work into them and believed that they were on their best way to make it big. If I only stuck with them for a bit longer, I could really hit the pot of gold and become financially secured. But that was exactly the issue – there was a possibility of it happening one day in the future. And as I have come to realize, focusing on future instead of this moment makes you waste your precious time. You don’t live, you enslave yourself because you believe that one day in the future you will get the reward.

I understood it clearly. Happiness is a journey, not a destination and this 20/80 principle is something that accompanies everyone throughout their lives. I worked really hard to get those websites to grow and become popular and now I was playing with an idea of dumping them. I had an option to stick with them, continue doing what I’m doing and look forward to one day in the future when someone with lots of money notices my sites and offers me several figures just like that. Or I could just let them go, quit waiting for something I hope will come, render all the work I put towards them over the years useless, but gain positive cash flow that could set me out on a journey of a lifetime within a matter of weeks.

Since you are reading the blog about Early Retirement with entries from my adventures around the world, you know what came next. With biggest sites gone, my server and bandwidth costs decreased significantly and my negative cash flow changed into a positive cash flow literally overnight. But that’s not all – those biggest sites that were eating most bandwidth and bringing least money were also biggest eaters of my time as maintenance of such busy sites required a lot of dedication. By freeing myself from the clutches of busy but negatively performing sites (in terms of cash flow), I gained more time to focus on sites that previously made 80% of the money.

Within days, I was able to end my $100 negative cash flow and turn it into a $300 positive cash flow. One and a half month later, I quit my work and sat on the plane to South East Asia. During initial weeks of my early retirement I lived frugally but not cheaply and I put some work towards my money making sites, increasing positive cash flow to $1,000 a month. And I just went with it from that point on.

The only trouble was, that my life instantly turned from this miserable rat race in the office to an exciting adventure that never ended and I was enjoying myself every day to the fullest. Early Retirement rocks. But because of that, I’ve been only putting a few hours a week towards growth of my online business so my positive cash flow has not increased significantly since I’ve reached the $1,000 a month net income. My monthly Early Retirement costs fluctuated between $600 and $700 so the cash flow remained positive even after all of my expenses. And this is all I could need. I’m having the best time of my life. I’m enjoying myself every day. If I did not go for it, I’d be in the office right now, doing what my boss tells me, fixing other people’s problems. Then when the paycheck comes, I’d go and spend it on something because that’s what consumerism we are brainwashed into by the media is all about. We enslave ourselves by dedicating the best days of our lives to working for corporations and end up spending our compensation on material things we don’t actually need to be happy.

I don’t own that much right now and I’m way happier than when I owned all the crap in the world. I have my laptop, my digital camera, few things to wear and a whole world to explore. Would I be better off if I continued focusing on retiring rich when I’m 65? No way. I’m perfectly healthy right now, I’m enjoying myself while I still can. The whole world lies before my feet and I explore it unhindered every day.

My goal is to increase my positive cash flow within the next 6 months so I have enough back up and I would also like to diversify the activities so I have some positive cash flow from different sources. Retiring rich puts the lifestyle you desire in indefinite future. Retiring early enables you to get the lifestyle you desire as soon as your positive cash flow reaches the level that meets or exceeds your comfort level.

The quest for cash is a fool’s errand. Rich people can become poor on any given day and all you have worked for will be gone, but once you have the positive cash flow happening, you don’t concern yourself with whether you’re rich or poor. But that still doesn’t matter, because if you build up the positive cash flow and use it to retire early, you will have lead rich and fulfilling life full of amazing moments to share with your friends and family. Don’t save your life’s enjoyment for the end of your journey on Earth. When you are on your death bed, you will wish you had spent less time with your boss in the office and more time with those who matter to you. The life is now. Instead of giving yourself reasons why you can’t, give yourself reasons why you can and make it happen. Go with confidence in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

“The minute you choose to do what your really want to do, it’s a different kind of life.”
— Buckminster Fuller

Retiring Rich

Most people associate retirement with money and want to retire rich. And I can’t blame them. Before I embarked on my journey to early retirement, I used to think that in order for someone to retire, they must have certain amount of money or else their retirement will stink. Back then, the rat race through life was all about retiring rich, all about this coveted life that’s supposed to come one day in the future. Questions about retiring rich and how to achieve that goal seemed perfectly valid, but it only lasted until I realized the importance of asking the right questions. “How Much Money Do I Need to Retire” is a fundamentally wrong question because as most wrong questions it implies that possession of something (in this case “money”) is necessary in order to retire. But that’s something I have already covered in my How Much Money Do I Need to Retire Early article. So why am I coming back to the same topic you ask? Because I believe it is important to realize that retiring rich should not be the goal, otherwise it will lead to the rat race. Hunt for the riches can cost you a lot of time, the commodity you only have the limited supply of. If you waste your time trying to get rich, trying to achieve a goal that you believe will bring benefits in the future, by the time you are a baby boomer you will be so short on the time left, that even if you have accumulated riches, you will have little time to enjoy them to the fullest. And that doesn’t even take into account worsened health you will have developed by the time you have reached that age.

Retiring rich should not be the goal, retiring soon, preferably now should be. If you make retiring rich your goal, you will set yourself on a long path using the best years of your life working like a slave. Whereas if you make retiring now your goal, you will look towards the ways to establishing a cashflow that will set you free from shackles of corporate slavery and send you on your way to enjoy life.

Forbes Magazine has a list of Rich People. According to their definition, a rich person is someone with annual income of at least $1 Million. This is Forbes’ definition of “Rich” – their understanding of “Rich” has everything to do with the amount of money. My definition of “Rich” would be vastly different as what Forbes considers rich people are simply people with a lot of money to me. Just because they have heaps of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean they live rich and fulfilling lives. But that’s not the point at this time.

Given Forbes’ definition of rich, if you wanted to retire rich, you would be aiming at gathering at least one million dollars before you retire. If you happen to score a good paying job, let’s say one that pays $60,000 a year, you might be able to put away $2,500 each month towards your goal of retiring rich. If everything goes without obstacles and you remain diligent and never fail at putting away $2,500 a month, it will take you 33 years and 4 months to reach your goal and retire rich.

Now – if you take into account that you won’t score a job that pays $60,000 a year right off the college, you may not be able to start with such savings until let’s say – the age of 27. This means that my the time you have saved enough to retire rich, you will have been 60 year old. Great – you’re an old vegetable. How does it feel to retire rich?

Why would you want to make retiring rich your goal? It could condemn you to lifetime of servitude as corporate slave, wasting the best years of your life in a cubicle or wherever your workplace may be so you can have the retirement you desire when you are 60? Let me remind you of the fact that to live it up as though you have retired rich, you do not need much money in your bank account. As matter of fact, you don’t need any money in your bank account and still be able to embark on a journey of a lifetime. What do I base such bold statement on? I base it on a fact that I personally know a guy who retired in his 30’s just like that – myself.

Not only did I not have any money when I retired, I was actually $30,000 plus interest in debt. Yet I’ve wasted no time and set out on my merry way to early retirement and never looked back. How could I do that? Cashflow and belief that I can do it. That is all you need to retire young. Or simply retire at any age. If I could do it, anyone can. Get rid of the notion that you need money in order to retire and quit focusing on the size of your bank account. Because if you keep asking yourself how much money you need to retire, you will be putting your retirement off into the future. And what you put off once, will be put off again. There will always be obstacles, challenges and changes in your life. At one point it will be more money that you need to retire, then completion of the project you are working on, then fill in the blank. If you see it in the future, it will always be in the future. Future is the destination, but that’s not where happiness lies. Happiness is the journey.

Let me recapitulate again why the idea of working yourself to exhaustion so you can save enough money to retire rich is a silly one and why working to save money for the future is a fundamental loss:

  • Being employed provides you with security of a steady paycheck, but at the same time it is the type of income that’s taxed more than anything else and offers little control over how big a chunk of your hard earned money is taken off as tax
  • Going to work requires dedication of your time to job tasks and time is the most precious commodity you have
  • Employment doesn’t come with significant fluctuation of money earned. In order to earn more, you’d have to either work more (take overtimes or second job) or work harder
  • Employment has little or no residual value. You get paid for work performed and/or time spent at the workplace. In order to get paid again, you need to do work and/or spend time at the workplace again

Does the idea of spending your whole life being a corporate slave with the goal that one day you may retire rich still sound appealing to you? Being an employee is to be the most underprivileged member of society. You will be taxed near 50% of your income and you will only have the after-tax left overs to pay your rent with. But the worst thing is that you will spend the days of your life while you are able bodied doing anything but what you want to do. Days you have only so many of before your time is up. If you are going to invest it towards securing your retirement, don’t do it with the goal of retiring rich. Invest it into getting some cashflow happening for yourself so you can retire now, whatever your age and start spending your precious time doing things that matter to you, things that excite you, things that fulfil you. This way, when your time comes and Grim Reaper knocks at your door to end your journey on Earth, you will feel rich. Not Forbes rich, but content with the way you have led your life. You’ll leave this world happy and fulfilled.

What You Need to Retire Young

Now that you feel inspired and the idea of an early retirement starts making sense to you, you most certainly want to move to the next level, to the level of action. You want to know what it is you need to retire young so let’s take a look at it:

#1 Need to Retire Young – Positive Thinking

If you want to retire young, the first and the most important step to take is to start believing in yourself. You have to switch your thinking to “I can do it”. The “I can’t afford retiring young” thinking you were demonstrating as you were reading through previous chapters of my Early Retirement section must be put to rest. Keep in mind that whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t – either way you’re right (words of Henry Ford). Positive thinking is the key.

#2 Need to Retire Young – Get Rid of Self-Doubt

Second most important thing you need to retire young is to quit doubting yourself. How many times has it occurred to you as you were reading about my Early Retirement that it worked out for me, but you don’t think it will work for you? You are doubting your own ability to turn your life around and you are lazy to take action to make it happen. Door to your freedom will forever remain locked if you continue doubting yourself and remain lazy to take action. When I was on the cross roads of turning my life around, I had an option to go for it and pace my way to an exciting and fulfilling life, or let my self-doubt prevail and go back to work and continue working hard until I retire. Do you want your life to go forward or backwards?

Do you recall the pickup line from the Fight Club? “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” It is the same with retiring young – the first rule of retiring young is that you can do it. The second rule of retiring young is that you CAN do it. Getting rid of self doubt is just a different way of saying that you need to think positively. They are two different things yet they are the same and whether you succeed or fail in your quest vastly depends on whether you see yourself as successful or as a failure. Think like a winner if you want to win and keep in mind that you can’t win unless you risk the loss.

#3 Need to Retire Young – Cashflow

Thirdly, to successfully retire young and sustain your retirement, you need cashflow. I see cashflow as the key to sustenance of your early retirement. You don’t have to be rich, you don’t need lots of money coming in on daily basis, but you need enough to meet the needs of your comfort level. Fact of a matter is, a person of fair standards can comfortably live with as little as $600 a month in many of world’s safe countries. You wouldn’t even score a half decent room for rent in exchange for this type of money in the USA or Canada, but it’ll get you by with medical insurance, all the food you need, rent, transport, entertainment and more in countries like Ecuador, The Philippines or Cambodia. Monthly cashflow of $1,000 is recommended as it will allow for better standard of living and it’s always nice to have some extra. Cashflow is an essential ingredient in the pot called early retirement.

I personally do not believe such things as “plan” are what you need to retire young. Life will continue being exciting and enjoyable when you don’t know where the adventure takes you tomorrow. Follow you bliss – let your heart guide you. Don’t sit over the map or on the internet to pick your “perfect” destination. Be adventurous and open minded. Afterall – happiness is a journey, not a destination. Plan is a destination, it is a possibility of the future. Quit worrying about the future and start living for the here and the now. Now is the best time of your life. Yesterday is long gone and tomorrow – nobody know what tomorrow brings. If you have the cashflow secured and are enthusiastic about the change, then in my mind, you have all it takes to retire young. That which seems as the end of the caterpillar is the beginning of the butterfly.

Happiness is a Journey, Not a Destination

Happiness is a Journey, Not a Destination – words of the wise man responsible for this quote (I believe it was Crystal Boyd) resonate with me as strongly today as they have when I first realized that chasing goals of the future is akin to chasing your own tail. It’s a rat race. Happiness is not something you will work your way to. Things like: “I just have to pay off this debt and I will be happy” or “I just need to close this big deal and then I will be happy” or “I just need to finish building this house and then I will be happy” are all lies. You lie to yourself because where there is one obstacle forcing you to put the feelings of happiness off and into the future, there will be another right after.

There is NO way that will lead you to happiness, because happiness IS the way. It is the way you are feeling right now at this very moment. Appreciate this very moment and enjoy it, because it is in your life only once. Time is your most precious commodity, don’t spend it waiting for something you hope will come in the future. No matter what you do, there will always be challenges in your life. You tell yourself that your life will be complete after you have married your girlfriend, then after you have bought the house, then after you have had the kids, then after kids are a bit older cause it’s hard with the little ones, then after kids are out of puberty cause being a parent of teenagers is hard, then…. You see where I’m going with this?

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. That’s why no matter how much you save up, money will not buy you happiness. And that’s also why I did not make my early retirement a thing of the future. Since happiness is a journey, not a destination, you can start it from anywhere. You can start it from the very place where you are right now, reading this article. Every journey, regardless of how long or short has started with the first step. Take this first step in faith. You don’t have to see where the road leads, just take that first step in faith and the road will be shown to you. Where it leads is irrelevant, because it’s not the destination that makes for happiness, it’s the journey.

Be happy. Embrace yourself for who you are and open up your mind to happiness. There is no better time to be happy than right now, in this very moment. And there is a very good reason for it. It is because you are sharing this moment with someone special, someone worthy of every single second of your precious time – YOURSELF!

Treasure this moment. It is the best moment of your life. Treasure every moment of your life because you are an amazing person who deserves to be happy. Even the tallest oak tree was once a nut that stood its ground. It’s your life so go nuts and stand tall. And remember – happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Retire in Your 30s

I’ve been talking about Early Retirement for a while on the pages of my blog in attempts to put on paper what was going in my mind when I decided to quit work so I can travel. Today, for the first time I’ve decided to search the internet for websites that talk about how to retire in your 30’s to see what they have to say. I found out in horror that their recommendation and strategies for early retirement are way different from the path I have followed. Based on that, I came to conclusion that unless one is a risk-taker of unprecedented proportions, they should follow the slow, but safer road to early retirement. Afterall, articles on those websites may have been written by professional Early Retirement tutors where as I am not one. I am merely a person who took control over his own life to make it enjoyable and fulfilling.

In brief, according to other Early Retirement websites, in order to retire in your 30’s you should start thinking of it by the time you’re in your 20’s and steadily grow your bank account and plan investment strategies while ensuring low spending and very stingy lifestyle so by the time you are 30, you will be safely set to move to the country of your choice and enjoy early retirement with all its benefits. This is all nice and all as it provides near bulletproof blueprint of retiring in your 30’s. I believe that if you can, you should consider this safer path. It involves less risk taking and as you know, there is a reason why word “risk” is part of the phrase. Otherwise they’d call it “sure thing taking”.

While I in no way disagree with recommendations on other websites, I did not follow their pattern because it was simply not an option for me. I am 34 year old, I’m already in my 30’s. I can’t roll back time. I went through my 20’s having the best time of my life, then in late 20’s I was lead to believe that I needed steady work so I can buy a house and a car, instead of sleeping under the stars and wandering around as a free spirit. After much persuasion, I gave in to the family pressure and became a corporate slave. All that was free in me was suppressed and instead of working my way towards retirement in my 30’s, I succumbed to the life of modern luxuries and debt that accompanies them. I’ve missed my train to retire in my 30’s by the means described on other websites.

However, when I realized the value of time, even though I was already in my mid 30’s, I still wanted to make the best of the rest of my journey on this planet. I wanted to make sure that when my time comes and I’m on the stretcher with grinning death staring at me from across the room, that I have no regrets for the life I’ve led. There are so many beautiful places around the world I would like to explore, so many activities I would like to take part in and I’ve done none of that in the last decade of my life. Whether proceeded by 10 years of preparation for the retirement in my 30’s or not, I took a deep breath, went over my priorities and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. Just like that.

I took cold-turkey path to Early Retirement, because there was a lot in stake – my life. When I meet with Grim Reaper, I want to have the pictures of me watching the sunset in the Maldives before my eyes, not pictures of a fancy car I worked so hard for. I want to see the slideshow of my trip to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan, not the road to work through the concrete jungle of my hometown. I want to hear the rhythm of the drums I was dancing to with my new friends from a native tribe deep in the jungle of Guyana, not the sound of latest MP3 player with bass enhanced base station.

Even though I didn’t secure myself with safe passage to the retirement in my 30’s, I could no longer waste any more of my days working as corporate slave. I’ve realized that spending whole month by going to work so at the end of the month I can buy a new TV as per carefully fabricated advertising by multinational corporations makes no sense. Why would I want to spend money on a TV to watch documentaries about places I long to visit, when I can instead not buy the TV and go visit those places in person. To see them with my own eyes, to breathe the same air and hear the sound of wind that frolics through these plains.

By buying the TV, I’d be paying with more than just the money. I’d be paying with my own life which I would have voluntarily given away, for the more possessions you own, the more you are stuck in one place. Yet the brainwash by those multinational corporations doesn’t end. Their clever marketing methods are time tested and work well with psyche of those who don’t ignore them. I was stuck in that rut for far too long, wasted too many of the best years of my life and realized that it’s now or never. Ready or not, risky or not – I’ve set out on the path to adventure. A path with unlimited horizons. A path on which each day is different from the last one, a path on which you feel alive, not just living. I’ve retired in my 30’s.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

Can money buy happiness? If you asked me that question prior to mid 2009 when I was at the peak phase of my corporate lifestyle, I’d be able to give an answer that’s hard to refute. I’ve been up to my ears in debt since 2006 (yes, still am but not for much longer) and when you spend the best days of your life killing yourself going to work and taking overtimes so you can make ends meet, an influx of money would definitely deliver happiness. Back then I knew for sure that if I had the money to pay off my debt, I’d feel much happier than I was so don’t be telling me that money can’t buy happiness. Yet there’s been leagues upon leagues of people who made it big and became rich, both past and present and they all said the same thing in unison – money can’t buy happiness. So what’s the deal? Why do all those people who lived miserable lives when they were flat broke say that money can’t buy happiness now that they can afford anything their heart desire? Do they know something we who have not reached that level yet don’t know?

This was something I was having hard time accepting. How can money not buy happiness? Have all those people who say that money can’t buy happiness forgot what it was like being poor? And then I started paying more attention to people around me. Especially people with clear signs of affluence – those driving $200k cars, business owners, large entrepreneurs, et cetera. There is hardly anything they can’t afford to buy, yet you look at their faces and they look miserable. They walk around with their Blackberries at the ready because they must be available 24/7 to solve problems. Other people’s problems.

It has quickly become clearer than the sky that money truly can’t buy happiness. Being flat broke is no happiness either, but being rich doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be happy. It will allow you to solve your debt problem or whatever other financial problem you may be currently facing, but it comes with problems of its own. Being rich, just as being poor are the two extremes on the opposite sides of the same spectrum. Happiness lies somewhere in between.

I’m sure you have one of those neighbors yourself. He drives brand new Lexus with leather upholstery and all available extras. Sound system he had installed can be heard from three blocks away. He goes on a five week vacation three times a year yet each time you see him, he looks grumpy. He gets about 5 phonecalls every 30 minutes and always seems to be in a rush to go somewhere. He has all the money in the world, so why is he not happy?

It is because pursuit of money is akin to chasing your own tail. At one point in your life when you are flat broke you see money as the only solution to your problems. You start killing yourself working long hours, your life becomes all about elbowing your way up to the top and work becomes your life. You eventually reach the point at which you are promoted to a position which pays enough to quickly pay off your debt. But as you got consumed by the corporate lifestyle, the only goal you had in your life was to make X amount of dollars and now that this X was reached, you simply set yourself with a new goal and increase the value of said X. The pursuit of money continues.

At this point your bank account is nice and thick and you quit work to start your own company so you can make even more money. The temptation of driving that new Lexus in leather with navigation system is irresistible. The more money you make, the more you want to make. You are on the sure way to working until you die. You have been asking yourself all the wrong questions and because of that it’s not clear in your mind what it is that fulfils you. So you fulfil yourself with work because it provides you with the sense of purpose. You are financially secure, but you continue working to feel productive. Is there any way you are gonna tell anyone that money can buy happiness now that you have all the money in the world?

That being said, if I were to choose between being broke and being rich, I choose being rich. However, when asking whether you’d rather be rich and sick or poor and healthy, I choose rich and healthy. Never compromise your happiness. Happy person is an enthusiastic person. Happiness boosts energy and creativity. As a result, happiness can buy you money. If you set yourself up to living an enjoyable, fulfilling life, your mind will be clear to come up with fresh ideas for financial freedom and instead of wondering whether money can buy happiness, you will find out that happiness could lead you to money.