Wow… just writing the title is scary.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve been working on a huge project. I’ve made my coworkers laugh a great deal when I told them I would retire at the age of 35. I didn’t tell them what I intend to do yet, but you know about it already. At the age of 35, I’m quitting my job, selling my stuff and leaving for a one year trip through the Americas (North & Central) with my wife and three children.
This is now beyond the point of writing “I’m going to do it”. We are completely invested in our project. We spent the past three months refreshing our house and did some home staging. On May 1st, we will put the house for up for sale and my wife will tell parents she will close her daycare in June. After this date, my wife will devote all her time on our project. There are lots of things to do such as;
-Prepare a school program for 4th and 6th grade
-Make a check list of all necessities in the RV
-Another check list for passport, insurance and other legal paperwork required
-Finalize our itinerary
-Prepare the RV (small modifications are required)
-Sell the rest of our stuff
On my side, I’ve increased the number of hours worked on my websites to 25hrs/week since January. My partner and I bought The Dividend Monk and we continue to add features to our investing platform Dividend Stocks Rock. I write three articles per week here, plus 1 per week on the Dividend Monk and 1 per week on Seeking Alpha. Traffic is seriously increasing on all sites and so has income. I can say that after almost 4 months of hard work done, I’m confident that I will never have to go back to work for someone else. I’m not there yet; but I can see the trend and it is currently growing faster than what I had planned. I have another 12 months to reach financial freedom and here’s how I intend to use them:
Sell Everything & Start Minimalism
Now that we have this project of freedom in mind, “stuff” as I like to call it seems less and less important. I’m living in a 3,600 sq.ft. house and I really wonder why I wanted to have such a large home. I don’t even use half of the space anymore, it just gathers more stuff. I don’t want to keep many things from my “previous life”. I know I will buy a property once I come back, but it will definitely be smaller. Once I sell my house, I will be debt free; this is already a good start! Even better, I should leave in May –June 2016 with roughly 50K-60K in cash. This money should not be use for my project but rather be invested. This will be my emergency fund.
I also realize that I don’t need many things to be happy. For the first time in my life since I started working, I don’t buy things I want impulsively anymore. I take several months to make a purchasing decision and think about it a long time before buying anything. I bought a watch with my year-end bonus. I saw that watch back in March 2014 and bought it in January 2015. The watch wasn’t even 1% of my bonus, it wasn’t that expensive. But I wanted to make sure I wanted it and I can tell you there is not a day where I don’t look at it and think “wow, I love my watch”. This is how I’ve stopped buying most stuff that would simply fill my house. In fact, this watch was my only significant purchase over the past twelve months.
We will soon move from 3,600 sq ft. to something like 160 sq ft. This is when you realize that “stuff” doesn’t matter much and you don’t need it to be happy. Minimalism principles start to work their way into our minds and I must admit I’m starting to love it! It doesn’t only cost less, but you spend less time taking care of your stuff and do something with your life. I love it.
Generate More Income
My plan is to assure I can withdraw enough from my online company to travel for one year. The cost of living in an RV is way different than my current lifestyle. I estimate I’ll need between $2,000 and $2,500 per month to cover all expenses. I’m currently working on my sites so it can generate double this amount after operating costs and taxes. Then, I’ll have another emergency fund within the sites. I couldn’t leave my job behind with sites generating only 2K/month, I wouldn’t feel right about that!
Income doesn’t happen overnight; it requires a solid plan and hard work. Before working 25hrs/week in January, I sat down during the Holidays to determine a work plan. My goal was to focus on value added tasks I can achieve. Not simply write blogs and answer email. While this is part of my job, I need to add more value if I want to generate a substantial income.
Each week, I follow an established writing schedule. This is the time I have to write my 5 articles per week. Then, I have time reserved for improving my sites. I’m currently working on improving The Dividend Guy’s blog design. I previously worked on integrating our recent purchase (Dividend Monk) and adding features on Dividend Stocks Rock such as the Mike’s Buy List. Constantly improving what you offer to readers/members is crucial if you plan on building a sustainable business. This is what I work on to make sure you see how much I care about helping you invest. If I wasn’t passionate about investing and helping people achieving their goals, I wouldn’t do it. Finally, about 10 hours per week is required to run DSR. I do my stock research, write my bi-weekly newsletter, manage my portfolios, etc. I want to be available for my members and be able to chat with them. This is what working longer hours helped me to achieve. This is probably the only investing site you can register for and actually discuss with the owner who replies back!
Follow a Financial Plan to Freedom
I’ve been working pretty hard on my plan to achieve financial freedom. The first step is quitting my job and leaving with my family in an RV but the project doesn’t stop 12 months later. I don’t intend to come back to the “9 to 5” job I have. It’s a great job with great pay and great conditions, but it doesn’t give me freedom. No job can. But I won’t live like a hippie with my three children. I want them to have a great life as well. This is why I need a plan when I arrive back home.
The plan is pretty straight forward right now; keep a low-cost lifestyle and continue to make money from my online company. I don’t want to come back and buy back all my stuff. I want to live life simply and put most of my income aside. Guys like Jason @ Dividend Mantra, Bert & Lanny @ The Dividend Diplomats, Ryan @ My Dividend Growth are real inspirations for me as they show amazing saving rates. I hope to reach this level once I come back. In an ideal world, I would generate 5-6K per month and only need 3K to live in order to save the remainder. This is what we will work on while we travel and hopefully, will continue to do so once we come back.
Financial freedom won’t happen overnight either, but I now see how I can make it happen. Buying less stuff and working harder seems to be the secret to a young and comfortable retirement plan.
I want to share as much as possible about this journey, is there anything you would like to know?