Free in 30 is a plan to help you go from having nothing to being financially independent in 30 years or less.
The couple who publish this website started married life in 1968 (he 21, she 17) living in a furnished rented apartment, with no savings, and they could carry all their belongings in a suitcase. Both had high school education. He was making $4,940 per year, and she had just started working full time, making $3,000 per year. They purchased a house soon after marrying. The house was 100% financed (parents’ house used as collateral also). Within a few years they were raising two children. He worked while she stayed home (working part-time) until both children were in school full time, at which time she returned to school to become an accountant. She started working full time in 1979.
They started one business, and later bought another business, which was sold in 1988. He was then self-employed and able to work part time, retiring completely in 1995. They then started a small Christmas tree farm. In 1997, she quit her job, and started to work part time as a consultant, retiring in 2001. Soon after, they started this website, because income tax information was very hard to find online at that time.
Financial independence was accomplished mainly by living below their means, and saving money. The only non-tax deductible debt they ever had was to buy and renovate their first home. One of their favourite sayings is “borrow to invest, never to consume”.
When he was in his teens, he had a very good lesson in how credit cards can cause major problems. His mother let him use her credit card to buy Christmas presents, and he got a little carried away. By the next Christmas, he was still paying off the presents from the previous year! Due to this experience, he avoids debt to this day!
The “Richest Man in Babylon” pamphlets, which were available at a local credit union, also made a great impression on him. These pamphlets recommended that you invest your money and make it work for you, instead of you working for it.
They borrowed to invest in RRSPs, because at that time the interest was tax-deductible. They invested their RRSPs mainly in interest-bearing investments until interest rates dropped in the 1980’s, when they started investing in stocks. For investing outside of RRSPs, they considered day trading, but it looked like a good opportunity to lose a lot of money, so they passed. They also looked extensively at investing in commercial real estate and developing some property, but finally decided to invest in stocks, both inside and outside RRSPs. Stocks provide a good return over time, are easy to sell a portion of if some money is needed, and are fairly easy to manage. They’ve made mistakes along the way, and lost money in 1992, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2015, and 2018, but have averaged 9.8% annual return from 1992 to 2018.
Not sure how much you need to retire or be financially independent? See our article How much money do you need to retire?
While you’re following the plan, you can use our Net Worth Calculator to monitor your progress. You can use our Investment Return Calculator to calculate your own returns on investments. Use our Rule of 72 Calculator to see how long it will take your investments to double!
In order to have the financial freedom to do whatever you want, you must have a plan. The plan should include the following steps:
- Pay yourself first
- Emergency money
- Define your goals
- Personal budget
- Buy a home
- Get out of debt
- Save and invest