What if you could be a superhero? You’d have your own legion of fans, blockbuster movies manufactured to tell of your exploits and conventions designed to showcase your awesomeness.
Well, what if I told you that you could be a superhero – of sorts. You don’t need to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but you do need to accomplish positively superhuman tasks.
I’m aiming for financial independence by 40 years old. You might say this is a bit of a superhuman goal, seeing as how most people at 40 are just entering the peak of their career, staring down another two decades or so of labor as they’re hampered by debt and their own lifestyle. Instead of working through my 40s, 50s and 60s I want to focus on activities that bring value to my life – spending time with family, traveling, writing, managing investments and relaxing. You don’t need to be Superman to live a truly super life.
Accomplishing financial independence at such a young age isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. If you want to accomplish financial independence at an early age in life it will help to have a superpower or two. And I’ll share with you readers what I believe my own personal superpower is: consistency.
You see, it’s easy to understand how to live below your means. It’s easy to formulate a long-term plan that involves you saving a significant portion of your income and investing the difference. You can read a couple of books and have that eureka moment that truly changes your life. I know I did back in early 2010 as I realized that I didn’t want to be less than broke forever.
However, while it’s easy to understand how to become financially independent at a young age, it’s significantly more difficult to actually perform the steps necessary to reach such a lofty goal in a consistent enough manner to make a difference. And that’s really where the superheros are separated from those that sit back and watch: consistency in action.
Much like it’s relatively easy to know how to lose weight – hint: you must take in less calories than you burn – it’s much more difficult to consistently apply the steps necessary whereby you eat food you may not like and exercise.
I realized at 27 years old that I wanted something truly different out of my life. I didn’t want the standard 9-5 ’till 65 death sentence with the 2,200 square foot house with a 2.2 car garage where I park my three-year-old commuter car that whisks me 40 miles down the road to my job. Early on, it was fun to make the changes. I started this blog shortly after initiating my taxable investment account. I sold my car in early 2011 and decided to live without a car in a city not designed with public transportation in mind. I moved to a cheaper apartment located on the bus line. I cut my food bill dramatically, albeit not necessarily with my long-term health in mind. I started taking all of my excess capital and rapidly built a Freedom Fund into what is now a six-figure powerhouse of a portfolio filled with equity stakes in 43 high quality companies.
But after all of the excitement of change, something unfortunate tends to creep in: impatience. Once you set a long-term goal that requires years and years of hard work it’s easy to get depressed seeing seemingly small steps of progress taking shape when you’re looking at things through the lens of day-to-day life. Like the weight loss example I used above, it might be difficult to stick to a long-term weight loss plan if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, but after the initial kick of of changes propels you to a quick 10 pound loss, you’re then stuck staring at a scale that barely moves week after week.
But this is where you need your superpower(s) to kick in. And I was born with an incredible sense of determination once I put my mind to something. I try to take consistency to another level because I believe that it’s pretty much my only advantage. I didn’t start this journey off with a bunch of money, but rather I was worth less at 27 than I was as a baby. The only major financial help I got in my early 20s was completely blown during a stretch of time in my life when I dealt with the death of my mother, the once-more disappearance of my father and a failed college career. I don’t have any other advantages over anyone else – I certainly don’t make a big six-figure income, I wasn’t born with incredibly good looks and my intelligence is average. So consistency is my lone superpower. And I leverage it as much as I possibly can.
And after all of those initial dramatic and exciting changes in my life, I’m here in the thick of the day-to-day battles as I fight my way out of the cave and toward freedom. And how am I doing? Well, I’m still saving well over half my net income, and I’m on pace (barely) to meet my 2013 net savings goal of 60%. This would be my highest annual savings rate ever. It might be easy to stop saving so much and buy cool stuff. Hell, I could go out and buy a brand new Scion FR-S and still have six figures in the bank. Yet, instead I recently purchased a gold 2006 Toyota Corolla – and this was an upgrade for me; an upgrade I made only because the price was too cheap to ignore. I’m still investing as much of my excess free cash flow as I possibly can as I continue to maximize the value of my capital by investing in high quality companies at attractive prices. In fact, I just recently posted the 60th stock purchase article here on Dividend Mantra.
The great thing is that consistency isn’t some proprietary skill. I don’t have a patent on it. You can exude even more determination than I do if you really want to. You can be your own superhero. And while you may not have movies made about you, you’ll one day have the time and resources available to make your own if you have such an interest. Don’t get lost in your own journey, and don’t let early victories cloud your judgement. Be true to who you are and what you really want out of life. Attaining financial independence isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight. It’s easy to quit because success is still so far down the road. But remember why you started walking the path in the first place. Do you want freedom or do you want someone else to own your time?
Consistency is my superpower. What’s yours?
Thanks for reading.
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