13. Travel Wisely. Our plan isn’t all about being strapped, you can go on vacation, you must! See the world, go to the beach or jungle or the snow. Go be happy and not think about all this, but take your journal. Always take your journal. I have been to all 7 continents, (had to include that, because I’m super proud), I’ve traveled like a beggar and like Gatsby. The trick is the middle. My wife has recently introduced me to AirBnB, and wow. Use this, please. (My link saves both YOU and I on our next booking. In fact, you’ll get $40 in travel credit!). It’s so much less expensive than hotels, plus it cuts huge costs on eating out in tourist areas for every single meal and snack. I get it, you are on vacation, you don’t want to cook. But, a quick trip to the market for cheese, meats, crackers, apples, and little snacks will keep you from spending $42 on a subpar lunch. Don’t invest the savings…spend it on a nice dinner, have an extra cocktail, you’re on vacation, you deserve it!
14. Take advantage of credit card bonuses. Please do this. I know what you are thinking, credit cards are the devil. How can using a credit card and their 22% interest help me retire early. Well, number one, do not pay interest—ever. Pay it off! Every single month, no exceptions. You are going to spend money, you are. You have electric bills, water bills, you buy food, you travel, you buy clothes and furniture, your fridge is going to break…whatever. Apply for a credit card, one with a good bonus…scratch that, great bonus, and use it. 60,000 bonus points or miles…that’s like TWO flights somewhere. I’ve applied for several and cancel them after I use the bonus. They probably hate me for that, but I’m telling you so you don’t think I work for a credit card company.
However, to do this, you MUST be disciplined. It’s easy to spend with the swipe of a card. Remember that journal, yeah, you need it now more than ever. I will tell you my favorite is the Barclays Arrival Plus Card. I am not affiliated with them in anyway, but I love how easy it is to redeem their points. I get 2 points per dollar spent, and points are worth 1 cent when redeemed on a travel purchase. Basically, I get 2% back, unlimited, on any purchase. There are better cards if you want to track every category and revolve your spending, but I have better things to do.
15. Surround yourself by wealthy people. Ever seen the movie, Trading Places? Chances are you have. You are a product of your environment. It’s been proven time and time again. Surround yourself by wealthy people, most of the time, this is going to be people much older than you. My best friend is 63 years old, I am 37. You guessed it, he is beyond rich. You wouldn’t know it though, I didn’t when I first met him playing poker over 10 years ago. A few years later, he hired me. His name is Bucky and he is the vice president of a company that has been in business for 70 years. I worked for him for 5 years and ate lunch with him and his partner, Nell, nearly every single day. I learned a lot from just listening and hanging out with them.
16. Indulge in Free. Bucky and Nell, this is not why I ate with you two every day! I paid, sometimes, and we should have lunch when I get back to Texas! Ok, indulge in free. What does that mean? It means when your mom invites you to dinner, go. When your friend wants to buy you a drink, accept. Apply for the mail in rebate, it’s free money! Instead of going out for drinks, dinner and a movie with your significant other, stay home and have sex, it’s free and fun! Find free entertainment, free food, free whatever, and indulge. Plus, you won’t need a journal entry for free.
17. Eat smart, drink smart. In my notes, this read, “eat less, drink less.” I changed it literally as I typed it out. I do this and always have, my wife…not so much. When we go out, I drink water, every single time…it’s free and I like it. To be honest, I’ve never liked soda. Replace soda with water and you will lose weight, feel better, and spend less. Unless, you are not in America, like me right now, because they charge for water. The point is, be smart about your dining expenditures. Everyone must eat and drink. Shop wisely at the store, use happy hours, share (because American restaurant potions are HUGE), take home the left overs, just be smart.
18. Cut the cord, invest the rest. I do not miss cable (or dish or direct or whatever you have) at all. $150+ is the average television bill in America. Remember that “no subscriptions clause,” yeah, this is one. Cut it. Replace it with Netflix or Hulu or whatever. But aren’t those subscriptions too? Yes, I know! $10 a month is way better than $150. Invest the $140 and move along. Just say no to cable. Go to a friend’s house for live sports, just show up with food or beer and you’ll be welcome!
19. Have a spouse/partner that is like minded and supports your goal. This should be number one, but I’m the writer and my favorite number is 19, so I put it here. Just kidding, it accidentally fell here, but 19 is my favorite number. There not much to elaborate on here, but if your partner supports your goal, you can invest a HELL OF A LOT MORE, assuming he or she works. If they don’t give them the boot! Just kidding, sort of. No freeloaders allowed. In all seriousness, this is crucial. I am not sure why someone who is with you wouldn’t want to join your goal, but if they don’t, you should re-evaluate your relationship and decide what’s important. I want you happy, and I want you retired by 40.
20. Do not buy people. Wasn’t that outlawed in the 1860s? That’s not what I mean, wow! Do not buy friends. If you find yourself always paying to hang around a person or group of persons, cut the cord (again). Same with a girlfriend or boyfriend. People are expensive to buy, so just don’t.
21. Shame on overspending. One of the silliest examples of overspending is a wedding. Fortunately, tradition says the bride’s parents pay…this isn’t always going to happen. Lots of couples find themselves footing the bill for their wedding. I am in no way suggesting the two of you hop down to the justice-of-the-peace in blue jeans and tee to tie the knot. However, I am suggesting spending less than the cost of your car! The most expensive part of my wife and I’s wedding was my suit! Well, if you don’t count her engagement ring, LOL. We had 30 or so guests, the venue was free, and we spent around $1000 on food. It was at the resort where we met, the food was outstanding, and everyone had a great time. This is just one example. Shoes, cars, clothes, anything really…again, be smart, use your journal, and this probably won’t happen. After all, we are 21 ways in, you get the gist of it by now!
22. Good debt v Bad debt. Not all debt is bad, contrary to popular belief. However, you want your debt to generate income. Back to the, you guessed it, duplex. A home is your biggest debt. I know, everything you’ve heard says your home is an asset, surprise, it’s not. The equity in your home is an asset, the home is a debt, a big one. If you are going to borrow money, make that money make you more money than the cost of borrowing it. But, don’t be afraid! My wife and I are about to go look at a property in Italy, literally, in like 45 minutes so I better wrap this up. The cost is $400,000. We don’t have half a MILLION dollars, nor can we borrow it. That big number scares people away from opportunity. Not you, you fearless soul! The owner is willing to finance it for us, with (I think) very little down. Let’s pretend we get it. We owe $400,000!?! What?! We have to pay that back? The answer is no. Our customers (it’s a bed and breakfast) will pay for it. If it doesn’t work-out, we simply sell. Any improvements will surely increase the value. Worst case scenario, we walk away. The owner retains possession and we are out our down payment. On paper we would owe a ton of money, but in reality, we would have a money generator, and that sounds like fun!
23. Don’t let emotion affect business. This is it, you’ve made it through 23 ways (well if you finish reading this last one) to retire in your thirties. This one is huge. Emotion is tough. I sold my first house based on emotion. I sold it for $209,000 and I paid $210,000. If I would’ve waited a year, like I wanted, the housing market in the area skyrocketed and that house was worth around 250 a year later. Ugh. Silly me! You are not going to make that mistake. Money is money, business is business. Separate it from emotion. Houses don’t make you sad, shoes don’t make you happy. I should make that a tee shirt.
You are on your way to retiring early. Obviously if you retire at 35 you’re going to need money to live for the next 50 years. Your investments (all those duplexes), stocks, bonds, other houses, whatever you invested in, will have created passive income streams for yourself. Remember in the opener, I told you that there are countless articles about retiring early by generating income streams and creating wealth, well, you’ve just done it, and you didn’t even know. So write in your journal, find a like-minded partner, drive a practical car to work and indulge in the free coffee at the office. Pat yourself on the back, because you are on your way to weekday golf, afternoon sex, and enjoying life; all before you are too old to do so!