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My First Job – The Start Of My Financial Independence Journey
I started working when I was 15. And even though I was mowing lawns and called it a “business” I was just pushing my lawn mower around the neighborhood looking for a few bucks. My motivation was simple – I wanted to buy new roller skates or a bike, or something like that. I didn’t care about saving money or retirement. I only wanted to look cool as I played with the other kids on my street.
When I turned 16, I started working for Alberton’s (before it closed). I was SO proud to be earning $5.15 per hour just to bag groceries. I mean, it was a simple task that I’d be getting paid for! #winning
Little did I know that the allure of having a job didn’t last all that long. But, they promoted me within a few months to cashier and soon enough I was happy again. I mean, I got a 50% raise and was making $7.75 per hour! WHAT?! Again, that pride soon vanished. But hey, I got promoted a third time and was now cashier/front-end manager! Now, I was really raking in the dough. I was making somewhere around $9 per hour and LIFE WAS SAWEEEET.
Just kidding. Then they decided to close the store. We started prepping for a store closing sale. I worked almost around the clock for a few days to setup the end caps, hanging store closing signs and prepping everything in the store with new/lower prices. Talk about a fun time and a lot of work.
We repeated this work every 4 or so days. Each time increase the percentage off the store closure signs. We started at 35% and ended at 90%. By the time we reached 90% there was hardly anyone coming into the store and us employees had a lot of free time to hang out.
By the time the store closed, I was 17 heading into my junior year of high school. It was then I realized that working to make someone else wealthy is not for me. Is it really for anyone? Not sure the shareholders of Albertson’s were making any money at that point at my store, but it still felt like they were.
Flash Forward To 1 Year After College
I graduated college with $90K in student loan debt, was driving a BMW, in the process of buying my first home and thought everything was fine. I felt NORMAL – like I was making NORMAL progress and would have a NORMAL life. WTF is normal? It was then I realized that I didn’t want to be normal and live like most people who are stuck at a job they don’t love to buy things they don’t need.
I Love To Travel
I try to take a big trip every year. In the past 5 years since I graduated – I’ve been to India, Greece, London/Paris and I’m going to Madrid/Barcelona/Mallorca Spain in September 2017. In addition to those places, I like to take a few smaller domestic trips each year as well. During 2017, I’ve been – NYC, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Portland (Oregon not Maine) and took a road trip from Dallas to Salt Lake City including a stop in Denver. Ideally, I’ll go on one more trip during 2017. Not sure where not sure when. I generally have the flexibility to take spontaneous time off work so I take advantage of last minute travel deals (keep those prices low 😊).
I Hate Time Punching
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to time punch at work. In fact, I haven’t done that since I worked at H-E-B after Alberton’s closed. Flexibility in my schedule is the most important aspect of any job in my opinion. I’ve worked for the same company for over the past 4 years and I have no plans of leaving anytime soon. They provide generous PTO & uber flexible schedules.
When Did I Know I Wanted Financial Independence?
I can’t pinpoint a specific time in my life where I threw my hands in the air and proclaimed that I want to retire early. But throughout my short life (27 years) and my own work experience, I’ve learned that some things are more important than money and if I don’t have them then I won’t be happy.
- I won’t ONLY work to make someone else money
- I NEED to travel frequently or I’ll lose my mind
- I MUST HAVE flexibility to be happy
Each of what I just listed are the things that drive me to financial independence. If I had the choice, I would do nothing but travel and spend time with my family and friends. This is financial independence to me.
These may seem simple to most people, heck they seem simple to me, but they tell me I need to be doing the following:
- Keeping my expenses low
- Investing/Saving as much as possible
- Preparing to eventually leave W2 work altogether
- Start a business to supplement my income
- Live for me and not for my job
-My Strategic Dollar