How I Retired in Six Years on a $50,000 Salary

December 28, 2016
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Note from Daily Trade Alert: This is the first article in an exclusive four-part series that reveals how Jason Fieber went from below broke at 27 years old to retired at 33. His story is both incredible and inspiring, and the neat thing is, what he did is available to everyone. With that in mind, this series explores Jason’s six-year journey, recounting the exact strategies he used to get where he is today. Through sharing this information, we aim to inspire you to reach for similar heights while simultaneously giving you the tools to succeed. As you’re about to discover, there is indeed a “blueprint to early retirement” — and Jason is pulling back the curtain and revealing all the details…

Less than zero. Below broke. Beyond bankrupt.

That’s where I was in my late 20s.

I almost couldn’t believe I was in that position.

We graduate high school with wide eyes and big dreams. We’ll conquer the world!

At least that’s what we’re told. And I genuinely believed it. I know deep down inside that I’m capable of anything.

Then life sets in, with all of its cruel reality.

After struggling with some personal challenges throughout my life, such as my mom committing suicide when I was 21, money became a scant concern.

I never thought about money. And so it never thought about me.

What I failed to realize then is that money is an incredibly powerful tool.

It can put you in a position to supplant pursuits that don’t offer you happiness, meaning and purpose with pursuits that do.

Yet many of us just use money to buy bigger, better, or more versions of what we already have.

Well, I was stuck on that same treadmill, too. I was running faster and faster but doomed to always stay in the same spot.

I was like a modern-day Sisyphus.

That all came to a head in 2009.

I was working in the auto industry. I was a service advisor, working for a car dealership just outside the Metro Detroit area.

We all remember the CEOs of the three major domestic auto manufacturers sitting in front of the House Financial Services Committee, begging for bailouts. We remember that, don’t we?

So I couldn’t have picked a worse career at a worse time in a worse place.

The dealership I was working for started letting people go. I was one of those people.

If I were in a better place financially, this wouldn’t have been too terrible.

But I was like most people – I was living paycheck to paycheck.

Worse yet, I was in debt. Deeply.

I had almost $30,000 in student loan debt to my name. I had very little cash in my bank account. And I was unemployed.

You remember that I mentioned earlier that I was below broke?

Well, there you go.

Babies are worth more than I was. A baby is worth $0 (no assets and no liabilities).

And a baby can’t even walk or talk.

I had managed to learn how to do both of those very basic tasks – and so much more – yet I was worth far less money. I was worth less than a baby, even though I had spent about 20 years in school and 10 years working.

I was 27 years old.

How embarrassing.

But you know what the great thing about hitting rock bottom is?

You have nowhere to go but up!

The first thing I realized is that I needed to stop working so much for money and instead have it work for me.

See, when I was let go in 2009, I had no power over my situation. My employer had all the power. Unless I started to make money again very quickly, I wouldn’t even be able to afford to have a roof over my head – or food in my belly – for very long.

So in order to get some kind of control over my life, I needed to have control over my money. I needed to master it. And I needed to have it work for me.

I made some radical moves in life.

I moved halfway across the United States, to Florida. I did this for a number of reasons.

Florida’s economy was far more dynamic, robust, and healthy than Michigan’s at the time. Instead of relying on a decaying manufacturing base, Florida relied on a multitude of industries. Florida dealerships were actually hiring – and paying more!

The lower tax rate would also help. I knew if I could save more of the money I was making, I’d have more to work with, which would result in more eventually working for me. Florida’s state income tax rate is 0%. Michigan had a state income tax well over 4% (and still does). If I could make more and pay less in taxes, I’d be in great shape.

And I also knew the warmer weather would make it easier to potentially get rid of my car, which was a huge expense. While waiting for the bus when it’s 20 degrees outside is pure misery, catching the bus when it’s sunny and 70 isn’t a bad way to go at all.

Well, I did all of this. I moved to Florida, snagged a higher-paying service advisor job, paid less in taxes, and spent far less on my lifestyle (especially after selling my car).

These changes resulted in excess capital being generated. Whereas I was constantly running a deficit before, I was finally running a surplus.

I was saving a significant percentage of my income.

Although I was only making, on average, $50,000 per year, I was spending very little of it.

But I knew that just putting this money in the bank account (or worse, under the mattress) was a terrible idea. It would barely grow with interest rates being so low. In fact, due to inflation, I’d actually lose money over time (in real terms).

Lose money I worked so hard to finally amass? I don’t think so!

So I had to figure out a way to intelligently invest this capital.

After some initial trial and error, I realized that investing in high-quality businesses that had excellent fundamentals, competitive advantages, and lengthy track records of growing profits was the way to go.

After all, if a business doesn’t offer all of that, why invest?

But it went beyond that.

I also wanted to invest in businesses that were regularly and reliably sharing a portion of those growing profits with their shareholders. And if the profits were really growing, then so should the payments to shareholders.

We’re talking dividends.

Growing dividends.

Dividend growth investing.

This makes a ton of sense.

First, it’s a great litmus test of growing profits. If a company is actually growing its profit, I want them to prove it. What better proof than more cash in hand?

Second, it keeps a company honest. Less worries about squandering shareholders’ cash on fruitless acquisitions. And when a company knows that shareholders are counting on those bigger dividend checks, the last thing it wants to do is put itself in a position to negatively affect that. There’s pressure to sell more products and/or services so as to generate the increasing profit necessary to pay those growing dividends.

Third, the growing dividend income itself becomes another source of income that one can use to reinvest back into shares, buying even more stock and growing dividend income.

This creates a snowball of wealth and income that only accelerates over time.

It’s like an invisible second worker that shadows you, giving you the entirety of their paycheck to invest.

It increases your output without increasing your input. It’s money working for you.

Fourth, the increasing dividends are a great source of growing passive income. And we’re talking completely passive income here. One doesn’t need to worry about stock prices – or even the stock market in general. The dividends are funded from business operations, not from what millions of traders collectively think a stock is worth. Once one is done reinvesting the dividend income, it can be switched over and used to pay real-life bills.

Bingo!

That’s dividend growth investing in a nutshell.

And it’s that last part that allows one to potentially retire quite early in life relatively easily.

I knew if I could invest enough money into these high-quality companies, and generate enough growing dividend income, I could become financially free.

Once my growing dividend income exceeded my expenses, I was there. I would be financially independent.

Well, I got there at 33 years old.

I built a portfolio chock-full of high-quality dividend growth stocks that’s worth well into the six figures. And it’s generating five-figure dividend income for me right now that I don’t have to do any work for.

This dividend income, combined with other sources of passive income (which I’ll go over in the coming days), covers my core personal expenses. That means I can pay my bills without working.

Said another way…

I’m essentially able to retire in my early 30s.

More importantly, I didn’t start that early. As I noted earlier, I didn’t realize that I had to change until I was 27 years old.

But I went from below broke at 27 to retired at 33.

And I did it without any tricks. There’s nothing I did that’s not available to anyone else.

I worked really, really hard at my day job. I hustled on the side. I saved a very high percentage of my income. And I intelligently invested my capital into high-quality dividend growth stocks.

In Part 2 of this series, I further discuss how I saved and how much I saved. I use real-life numbers that I have saved from my historical financial reports.

Keep in mind that I was a bit extreme at times, but the idea of retiring in your early 30s is nothing short of extreme.

If you want it, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices.

Click here for Part 2.

– Jason Fieber



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