If you ask Francis about the best way to retire early, his answer is simple: Don’t.
For years, the 42-year-old has made great efforts to achieve FIRE, which means “financial independence, early retirement.” But in reality, life without work is actually not what most people want, he says. It’s a lesson he discovered himself after retiring at the age of 37 in 2017.
“I think following FIRE is probably a misconception,” Francis, who requested that his last name be withheld for privacy reasons, told CNBC Make It. “I don’t think most people want to retire early. I think what most people want is some kind of vacation. They are disgruntled with their careers and they want to have a really long vacation. Maybe a year or two.”
That same dissatisfaction led him to quit his job as an electrical engineer, where he received a base salary of $120,000 plus $30,000 to $60,000 in stock and bonuses. But Francis describes life without work as “really boring”. In his case, he decided to lean on his YouTube hobby full time, and now he’s making money making videos for his 350k followers.
Francis quit his job in 2017 with $1.2 million in savings and investments. He had first heard about FIRE in 2013 and decided to dedicate himself to its realization. His strategy for reaching early retirement comes down to one major factor: spending as little money as possible.
The first step was to pay off the mortgage on his home, which cost $22,000 a year. While dealing with this, he also worked to cut his spending wherever he could.
“I jumped through a lot of loops in order to save money and keep my expenses to a minimum,” Francis says. Cost-cutting measures ranged from not paying any streaming services to making sure he used every single food item in his fridge to his short life without a cell phone.
Not calling the phone “turned out not to work very well,” he says, but I think it’s important to push a little bit too much, and feel a little uncomfortable. Eventually, with his house paid off, Francis was able to cut his annual spending to less than $15,000.
His background in electrical engineering helped him cut down on household spending as well. He installed his own water heater and fixed his garage door when the power went out. He also built a solar panel system in his backyard that provides a small amount of electricity for free.
“I’ve never called a handyman because I’m the handyman,” Francis says. “All my appliances are really old because they never break. If it breaks, I fix it and it’s as good as new.”
Francis is also an expert at collecting credit card points. employs A process known as churningwhich includes flipping between different credit cards to maximize points, and has more than 20 credit cards active at any one time.
“In order to change these credit cards, you have to have a really high credit score,” he says, adding that his own score is 835. “A lot of people think it’s a problem, but for me personally, that gives me a lot of value.”
After two years in early retirement, during which he enjoyed his time off from work and made sure to travel, Francis encountered the boredom that he warned most people against if they quit their jobs at an early age. solved? back to work.
In 2019, Francis started doubling his YouTube channel and regularly posting videos. Originally started the channel In 2013, he posted videos ranging from how to create imitation shark fin soup for strategies Beating the popular game “2048”.
Focusing on financial topics, he taught viewers about credit and investment scores. When his opinions began to climb, so did his earnings. Although his workload fluctuates depending on his mood – some weeks he works nearly full time while others work less than eight hours – he has gained more than 350,000 subscribers.
In his best months, he generated nearly $10,000 in YouTube revenue. He still maintains his same $15,000 annual budget and uses the income to pay for his living expenses. The rest goes to his investment accounts.
It’s a project that brings him more joy than his 9-5 year old, and one he plans to stick with for years to come.
“Now I no longer call myself ‘retired’ because I put in my full effort at YouTube,” Francis says. “I would like to put a lot of work into it and grow it…I think it’s a work in progress.”
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