My desire to achieve financial independence developed at a young age. Growing up, we had enough to get by, but my parents sacrificed a lot just to put food on the table. I remember thinking how I could grow wealthy and never have to want for anything later in life. I decided the path to achieve this was to go to university and find a job in a high paying field. Like most, I assumed once I was earning good money the rest would just fall into place. I was wrong. Sure, having a decent job gives you more capacity to invest, but it also gives you more capacity to consume. Instead of investing and setting myself up for the future, I enjoyed my new-found capacity to consume. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived a good life so far, seen much of the world, got married, had an amazing honeymoon, and laughed with friends along the way. But I never realised just how simple achieving my financial goals could be. I accept that this is my fault, however some of this blame I place on our school system. I struggle to understand why our school system is more concerned with Pythagoras theorem than teaching fundamental personal finance skills, and highlighting the magic of compounding interest. But then again, it’s good business to have a society of debt slaves.
The growing housing affordability crisis in Sydney has made me somewhat disillusioned, with the median house price being 12.9 times median household income. I find it utterly absurd that people are willing to commit to paying over $1 million for a three-bedroom weatherboard house built 40 years ago. Of course, there are other areas in Australia that are affordable, but even the notion of signing a 30-year contract has never sat well with me. There had to be another way to achieve financial independence.
I stumbled across the FIRE methodology while browsing my favourite forum. Here I was led to the likes of Aussie Firebug, and Mr Money Mustache. I was immediately hooked. It was a massive light bulb moment for me. Everything made complete sense, from the simplicity of investing in ETFs vs multiple properties, to the Trinity Study safe withdrawal rate. I was utterly amazed, and honestly somewhat pissed off that I had just wasted the last 10 years of my working life. I now could see a path to financial independence. I decided that I too would blog my experience as I work towards my target of $1.5 million invested across a range of ETFs, to keep myself accountable, but also to provide another example that this can be done, and that you too don’t have to subscribe to the great ‘Australian dream’.