One of the biggest milestones in my life happened last June 2015, when I left the corporate world — my world for 18 years — took a leap of faith, retired early and became a full-time “slasher”. I became a podcaster/blogger/speaker/coach/teacher.
It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. I had been planning for my cubicle escape for more than a decade. And it all started when I first read the best-selling book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki when it first came out in the early 2000’s.
I seldom share about my financial journey in this blog so please indulge me for a few moments as I talk about my journey towards freedom.
A Vicious Cycle
Before reading the Rich Dad book, I was a financial mess. I was in my early 20’s at that time, working as a glorified clerk for one of the world’s biggest banks. Working for a bank meant you are automatically given a credit card, one of the bank’s most popular and growing products at that time.
I was elated! Yes, my very own credit card! No need to swipe the life out of the extension card (thanks, Dad!). At that time, I felt like I was given a booklet of blank checks — I can buy whatever I wanted. If there was a trending hashtag at that time, this would be it: #SwipePaMore. The latest clothes, shoes, gadgets, and any shining new object, I just swiped it, no problem. Night outs (a.k.a. “gimmicks” in the ’00s or shortened to “G” for texting purposes) were all paid on credit
What’s interesting is that I was not really maxing out my card. What I did wrong is that I was only paying off the minimum amount due per month, which I thought was just fine. As the months progressed, the interest fees kept growing and growing, and in effect, so did the total monthly due, even if I wasn’t using the card that much. It came to a point that I always had to rely on our mid year and Christmas bonuses so that I can pay off my “unexpected” debt. Bonuses were a joke, they were gone in 60 seconds. My monthly salary was not enough to cover my bills. This vicious cycle had been going on for years. I had no savings and my net worth had a minus sign before it. Not good.
Enter Mr. Kiyosaki
I didn’t like reading books at that time and the only book that I read and finished (for months) was Jurassic Park. But Rich Dad changed all that.
From Rich Dad Poor Dad, I realized that I did not want to be an employee forever like Poor Dad. The proverbial corporate ladder that we all aspire to climb and reach the apex of is crumbling.
I knew that I needed to create my very own ladders like Rich Dad. I needed additional streams of income while getting rid of my credit card debt.
From then on, I sacrificed dining out and spending on items I didn’t really need. I slowly but surely paid off my credit card balance.
Then, I invested in a foreclosed property which I eventually rented out and, in turn, gave me an additional income stream apart from my salary — my second ladder. That felt great!
The third ladder that I built was my investment in mutual funds, which came from a game-changing personal finance book that I read after Rich Dad — “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach.
The book taught me the value of paying myself first by investing automatically…by setting up systems so that investing becomes a no-brainer.
I was about to get married at that time. My wife and I knew that in order for us to provide for our future family, we needed to start investing a portion of our take-home pay automatically in mutual funds. We chose Sun Life’s mutual fund products and I am glad to say that we have been religiously investing in it for about a decade now. Third ladder, complete.
From there, I set forth and continued to prepare building more ladders — my brick-and-mortar businesses (water delivery service and a pre-school) and online business (FreelanceBlend.com).
It was a tough and difficult decision for my family, but these multiple ladders allowed me to courageously let go of my first ladder… my day job.
Now, from my story, you may be thinking that we are already set for life, given the income streams and investment vehicles that we have created.
But that’s not true. Now that I have turned the pages to a new chapter in my life, with my kids going to college in the next few years, with my wife’s turn to retire from the corporate world in the coming years and with all the new challenges that our economy is facing, I needed to get a fresh perspective and learn new strategies when it comes to money and investing.
Although information and advice from books helped me a lot, I realized that it is not enough. And that’s the reason why I accepted the #challenge and joined a workshop series for digital influencers called #Money4LifeChallenge by Sun Life — a six month course on investing that covers topics such as: goal setting, managing Expenses, checking debt, life and health insurance and retirement planning.
It is a privilege to listen and learn from personal finance blogger and expert Aya Laraya of PesosandSense.com. It was for me, a breath of fresh air. It felt the same way when I first read Rich Dad Poor Dad many years ago. I became a student of the game once again.
The workshop is still ongoing as of this writing. But at the conclusion of #Money4LifeChallenge in November, I will write about the important lessons that I learned from the course. Please watch out for that.
But before I go, I ask you to start counting with your fingers how many ladders you have right now and share in the comments box below.
THREE or FOUR? Good for you. More than FIVE? Great!
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Photo credit: Angie Harms