My story is likely fairly similar to many of you reading this today.  I graduated college in 2010 with more loans than I knew what to do with ($75k to be exact), no real plan in mind, but was lucky enough to have landed a good job right out of school.

Throughout the first two years, I lived at home and was able to save 60% of my after-tax income, which I put directly towards the loan payments.  Living with parents wasn’t exactly the “coolest” thing to do, but I’m grateful that doing so gave me the chance to pay off my debts quickly.  I switched to another firm in December of 2012, and given the extra hours I was required to put in I decided it was time to move out.

My expenses throughout 2013 were quite a shock to me after having been such a saver living with my parents, but eventually I was able to figure out some good habits to get back on track.

In August of 2013 I was able to buy my first rental property ,which has generally yielded anywhere from 5-7% depending on the year (not exactly stellar given the S&P has averaged 14% in the same period).  However, I continued to save and max out my 401k, in addition to saving enough for a down payment on a second rental property in late 2014. In 2016 I took a big leap, and bought a 5-unit building to bring me to a total of 7 units.

Over the years I’ve been lucky to have mentors who have guided me through some of these purchases, but more importantly they have pushed me to think bigger.  I grew up in a fairly average middle class family, where the idea of a “millionaire” seemed like a pipe dream.  My mentors forced me to stop limiting myself, and realize that there’s no reason to stop at 1, 2 or even 3 million.

Since purchasing my first property, I’ve come up with a plan to reach financial independence in the coming years.  To some extent the plan has evolved as the years have gone by, but I believe that I’ll reach my goals by 2020, at which point I’ll have worked for 10 years and be 32 years old.

I have no plans to retire in the conventional sense, but by 2020 I believe I’ll have earned the flexibility to take some greater career risks and potentially go out on my own or do something completely different.  I’ve spent much of my life abroad, and would love the ability to split my time between Tokyo, LA, Maui, and Minnesota where most of my extended family still live.

“Life is what you make it” is the credo of the website, and I truly believe my journey up to this point is doable for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.  I’m certainly not the smartest guy in the world, and ultimately it really just comes down to starting early and sticking to the plan.  As much as we all would like to be the next creator of a billion dollar corporation, it’s really not necessary to “make it” in life.  Get a job.  Save.  Invest.  And the rest will fall into place.