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Self-proclaimed “financial train wreck” achieves FIRE by 33

Posted: 16 January 2021 8:00 am

Here’s how you can, too.

Our series highlights stories from real people who’ve joined the financial independence, retire early (FIRE) movement. Some have successfully reached FIRE, while others are on track to do so over the next few years. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

  • Name: Brandon Neth
  • Profession: Credit card and travel rewards expert at FinanceBuzz
  • Age achieved FIRE: 33
  • Time in FIRE movement: 5 years
  • Investment strategy: Real estate, running a small business, geocaching, house hacking, stock market

I’ve been part of the FIRE movement for five years, but I was actually living many of its core principles for years before discovering this community.

I achieved leanFIRE at 33 years old through real estate investing, running a small business and extreme frugality. I found success with house hacking, so I bought rental properties that brought in $2,500+ each month in passive income.

However, I didn’t invest much in the stock market until about three years ago, which was a huge mistake on my part.

I was bringing in enough money to stop working full time, but I quickly got bored of this lifestyle.

That’s why I started a full-time role with FinanceBuzz two years ago. I love what I do, and working remotely with a salary and health insurance are huge perks.

What is your investment strategy?

The main advantage to being financially independent and having a salary is that I am able to take 100% of my salary and invest it. I just started this in 2020, although in 2019 I was investing about 70%.

Today, all of my salary goes to the market and real estate.

I am a fan of Vanguard and essentially invest in the three-fund portfolio strategy, but am heavily in VTSAX.

I’ve also started to expand my real estate portfolio after geo-hacking last year and moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma through the Tulsa Remote Program. I got paid $10,000 for doing so, among many other benefits.

My hope is that between these two investments strategies, I’ll fatFIRE by 40 — for me, that’s $12,000 per month in passive income.

What inspired you to join the FIRE movement?

My inspiration for joining the FIRE movement was (and still is) my wife.

In my early 20s, I was a financial train wreck. She was naturally great with money and put her foot down with me. She told me to get it together or we wouldn’t last. I started to turn things around within a month.

Top 3 tips to be successful in FIRE

Here are my top three pieces of advice for others looking to join the FIRE movement.

  • Make sure your partner is onboard and willing to commit, too. Without this, you’re at a huge disadvantage.
  • Understand the difference between need and want early on. If you’re a low earner, you’re going to have to make sacrifices to FIRE. If you don’t think you can cut costs, you need to learn how to make more — ideally you’ll do both, but one is required.
  • Diversify. Whether it’s in how you save, invest or learn, you need to diversify. Multiple sources of income, saving and learning all have been key to my journey.

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