Retiring In My Early 30’s: How I’m Doing It My Way
I’m retiring at age 31.
But I’m doing it my way, so read on!
Brief Background on Me
For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief intro:
My parents are missionaries and my dad is also a pastor. I was born in South Korea, but my parents moved our family to Budapest, Hungary when I was 5 years old. They’re still there daily feeding the homeless and visiting the gypsy slums.
I immigrated here to the US in 2004, with $500 in my pocket. In other words, I don’t come from money, and I’m an immigrant.
My Start was in the Warehouse
After college, I started a job working in the warehouse, at Will Call (i.e. stage, pull, and cart out products for the customers). I’ve been at the same company ever since.
So, roughly 1/3 of my life! That’s a long time, and it went by quick!
Moving up the Corporate Ladder
I quickly moved up the ladder. Within 2 years I became a mid-level manager in the Purchasing department and eventually Senior Management (Vice President, Procurement) in my late twenties.
As you can see, I’m a fairly ambitious person. I didn’t have any connections coming into this company. And that’s why I started in the warehouse.
It’s also another reason why I can’t just “turn off.” I’m always “on.” I’ll explain more further down on the post.
Why I’m Leaving a Cushy Job
I get paid well, have great benefits, stable job, and a position of authority.
So why leave? Well, in a nutshell, it’s just time to move on. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and my viewpoint has been changing quite a bit over the last year or so. Here’s why:
The Bible Says there are Seasons in Life
The book of Ecclesiastes says that there’s a time in life for everything.
A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to uproot. A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
“What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3: 9-13
How I’m Able to Retire So Young
We as a household hit millionaire status about a year ago and it has gone up quite drastically since then thanks to my stock market holdings.
The majority of our net worth comes from stocks. And we also have multiple streams of income (pro tip: the average millionaire has 7 streams of income).
Related: I was featured on Business Insider!
I’m Not Sharing My Story to Brag
People often misinterpret my intentions when I share my financial successes. It’s never to brag. It’s to uplift. It’s to show you that if I was able to do it, coming from no money, zero connections, immigrating to a whole different country away from my family at a young age…then anyone can do it.
There are also so many skeptical people that I have had to show screenshots of my checking account balance, and various brokerage accounts just to show that I’m not making all of this up.
Some people gave me flak for doing this, so I realized I can’t please everyone. Lesson learned!
Funny Story on how I Got Started in Investing
This was in late 2008 when the stock market was crashing. One day my college finance professor came into class and told all of us that he was down $60,000 from earlier that morning.
Can you imagine being down $60,000 in less than one day?
He proceeded to tell the class that this was a once in a life time opportunity where the stock market was “selling at half-off” and told us that we should start investing in the markets. I’ve been investing since. And the stock market has done tremendously well.
On a Side Note, Here’s Where I’m Investing Today
Today, I have about 95% of our portfolio in stocks and 5% in cryptocurrencies. I’m working towards having between 10-20% in crypto, and the rest in stocks and real estate.
For those of you who are interested where I’m currently investing in the stock market: I’ve started to heavily tilt towards international markets, especially in emerging markets like China, India, Russia, South Korea, Brazil, etc. I also feel Europe is undervalued as a whole. There are great multi-national brands there that are trading at far lower prices than their American counterparts.
True Definition of Retirement is Financial Independence
If I asked the typical person what they wanted in life, financially, they won’t say “I want to be able to retire.”
The typical person wants two things financially: financial security and financial freedom.
Financial security in the sense that you wouldn’t ever have to stress out about money. Ever. Money is no issue. You do what you want, eat what you want, live where you want, travel where you want, give freely to others as much and as often as you want, etc.
With zero stresses or anxiety over finances. That’s what the typical human being wants. And it’s not a bad thing. Financial security is one of the most fundamental and basic of human needs.
Retirement in the Traditional Sense, Makes no Sense
I don’t believe in the traditional American view of retirement.
Personally, I think it makes no sense to toil hard for 40-50 years (your prime years), saving and scrimping, just so that you can “enjoy” your last remaining 10-15 years. It makes zero sense. And chances are you’ll end up dying earlier than you planned and/or be in poor declining health relative to when you were younger and in your healthier years.
It’s completely a backwards way of living life. I believe, like most things, moderation is key here. You should work hard but enjoy life while you’re doing it.
I Love to Create and Add Value and I Can’t Sit Still!
I feel really good when I’m “creating” things. Things of value. It’s one of the reasons why I like to blog and share encouraging and educational content on my social media. It adds value to society and to those that are struggling; and I can make money doing it!
That’s a very satisfying combination. I’m working on a book right now as well, because I love to write and teach.
As I’ve mentioned earlier on in this post, I can’t turn my “switch” off. I can’t stand sitting around not doing anything!
I’m Made to be an Entrepreneur
Everyone’s wired differently.
Personally, I love business. Everything about business. I enjoy commerce and the market place. I like building things from the ground up and seeing it flourish. It’s how God wired me.
I can’t imagine ever “retiring” from entrepreneurship because that would be a worse life.
Meaningful and Purposeful Work is Beautiful and So Satisfying!
There’s also the difference between “work” and “meaningful work.” I happen to like doing meaningful work. So that’s what I’ll continue to do. Do what I want to do, go where God leads me, and do it with financial security and complete financial freedom.
And one thing I’ve realized is that when people say that they don’t like to work or don’t like their job:
It’s usually because they aren’t doing meaningful and/or purposeful work.
They aren’t feeling fulfilled and satisfied by their job! It’s that they hate their current job, not work in general. And it can be for a variety of reasons.
It can be their boss, their co-workers, being overworked but feeling underpaid, lack of benefits, feeling under-appreciated, office politics, dealing with customers day in and day out, burn out, flat career trajectory (which ties back to lack of fulfillment, meaning, and purpose).
The Freedom to Say No
So part of doing meaningful and purposeful work is having the freedom to say no.
The freedom to put my energy towards what drives me and what gives me satisfaction. This means I have no boss telling me what to do. I don’t have deadlines (except for those that are self-imposed). I’ve found that I’m my own biggest critic anyways!
I can do things at my own pace, when I want, how I want, and all without the stresses of financial constraints or any kind of financial depravity. And so this is how I will enjoy and live my life moving forward.
This is true financial security and financial independence. And that’s my definition of retirement.
It’s a beautiful place to be.
This Blog Generates Multiple Streams of Passive Income
As I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, aside from my investment portfolios, this blog throws off multiples streams of healthy income. Not just one stream. Multiple streams!
Every day I wake up and I check how much money I made while I was sleeping. That’s as passive as it gets!
This blog makes roughly $100 – 200 every single day (between $3,000 – 6,000 per month). Even during the weekends and the holidays. Whether I’m posting new posts or not. It’s always working for me, so that I don’t have to constantly be working. Just like my stock investments.
I log on to each of my affiliate partner portals and ad network partnerships to see that I made $20 here, $100 there, $50 here, and $30 there. Multiple streams of income from just one blog (ad revenue, affiliate marketing partnerships, referral fees, etc).
And I’ve been writing only once a week, which takes about half an hour!
So for roughly 2 hours of writing per month, I’m able to generate $3,000 – $6,000 a month.
Not bad. And I absolutely love doing it!
What are your thoughts on retirement? Do you see yourself working for a far-off and distant retirement, in the traditional sense of the word? Has anything I’ve shared today helped you see things in a new and different light? Feel free to share in the comments below!