I'm 30 this year and I'm from pretty far away in Singapore!
I have never been good at the money stuff. Throughout my twenties I was a dreamer (in many ways I still am) and was always looking for a passion and something that would give me freedom - in all senses of the word. I never had much money in the bank, and whenever I had some I'd spend them all away. I'm not very interested in status symbols, but I love food and books and travel and cameras and other hobby-related toys, so much of my money was spent on these stuff, lots and lots of stuff.
(I also didn't have a good core mindset about money. I thought money was there to be spent, to buy experiences and stuff I like. But I have since realised that money buys freedom, and that is what I yearn for the most.)
About 3 years ago I began working as a freelance photographer. I'd finally found something I was good at and that I loved to do. Over time my career picked up and I began to earn money - more than I have ever earned in my life previously! Sometimes I'd earn up to SGD$20,000 in 2 days for an advertising shoot. Over the last 3 years I think I have earned about at least $200,000 of clean profit from my work as a photographer, but at the end of each year I'd never have more than $10k-$15k in my bank left. Most of the money earned was squandered away. I simply didn't know how to keep my money. And to help give you some perspective, I don't have to feed anyone else other than myself!
Months ago, near the beginning of the year, I began to wake up from this horrible financial nightmare. I swore to start saving properly. I was sick of earning money and then throwing them away at... God knows what. It was around this time that I found the financial independence blogging community. It really opened my eyes. My heart was beating so fast reading all of the inspiring accounts. I began to make some changes in my lifestyle, but it wasn't until I found Mr Money Mustache that I really got spurred into feverish action!
Since then I have accumulated about $30,000 in liquid assets, the most I have ever had in my life. The good thing is I have no debt at all (my one good financial saving grace!). Every month I am putting away at least $3,000 in my savings account - hoping to increase that amount drastically over time.
I have since:
- cut off all my internet subscriptions (still trying to wean myself off Netflix though)
- stopped eating at expensive restaurants every other meal;
- stopped buying brand new books and started borrowing them from the library instead;
- stopped traveling so voraciously (I have already been to more than 10 cities across the world this year alone, from Japan to Europe to the US);
- stopped buying random big ticket items like foldable bikes, original art works (this happened during my I-want-to-be-an-art-collector phase), the newest iPad / kindle, etc;
- stopped shopping and buying things in general (unless I really need it, like the external hard drive I just bought to replace my old used-up one);
- started taking public transport instead of driving the car I share with my friend or cabbing everywhere;
- started tracking my expenses religiously (and now I have a much better idea of what I spend on every month!)
In other words, I am a far different person from a few months ago, and I have to thank Mr Money Mustache for this new mindset. I now understand that it's not about how much money I make, but about how much I can save and invest. But of course, I am always working on making more money doing things I like (a strong principle of mine) and I hope to eventually retire / achieve financial independence by age 35.
I know it sounds pretty impossible to most people, but I believe I can do it!
There's still lots I need to learn from MMM and the very inspiring community here.