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Financial independence means everything is possible, but how do you actually get there?
Blogger: Cam McLellan, director, OpenCorp
Even when I was a kid, it was my vision to retire at 40. For me, this was the definition of financial freedom. I pictured a never-ending, round the world adventure holiday filled with extreme sports. I’m now 40 and have an entirely different view of financial freedom. My kids changed all that (unless trampolining is considered an extreme sport).
I won’t bore you with the details of my early life. But I want you to understand the importance of working hard when you have to.
Apart from my old newspaper round, I started working at the age of 14. My mum said to me, welcome to the real world. It’s time you started earning so you can pay rent and buy your own clothes.
My working life started by collating papers for the Bairnsdale Advertiser. I’ve stacked more shelves in supermarkets than I care to remember. I’ve been a fruit and veg manager at the local supermarket. I’ve pumped petrol. I’ve scooped ice cream. I’ve flipped burgers. I’ve worked as a garbo hanging off the truck (side note: people used to hang off the truck and empty the bins by hand. I once fell asleep standing up on the back and lost a fair amount of bark as I rolled down the road). I’ve been a plumber’s trade assistant. I’ve picked bin after bin of gherkins and broccoli in the paddocks. I’ve stacked thousands of mud bricks. I’ve sorted recycling at a tip (that was the worst). I’ve baled hay. I’ve driven backhoes. I’ve driven forklifts and crashed a few along the way.
I did all of this before I turned 18. For many years, I held two or three jobs at a time and I’ve had many more jobs since then. I left home at 17 and did what I had to do to make a dollar and survive. I worked my backside off in every job I ever had. I always made sure I did more than the next person and I always looked for ways to make improvements.
I feel that I’ve been rewarded in the long term. My brothers have the same work ethic. Andy is a builder and the hardest worker I know. He spent years working on the oil rigs and is now in the mining industry. Bob is an account executive in the telco business I started, and one of the best sales people you will find. He still holds national sales records. Both have now built impressive property portfolios. Maybe my mum’s hard-line approach to the real world is the right way to go. It certainly hardened us up.
Although I worked hard, the fact is I hated feeling like I was tied to a job, or that my future was controlled by someone else. Just thinking about it made me feel trapped. But once I started investing, I actually enjoyed my years of employment. I was there because I wanted to be. I had my investment properties, which gave me a large degree of satisfaction. The main thing I always wanted was to shake off the financial shackles that society places on every one of us.
Like many others who dream of financial freedom, I saw my life mapped out in front of me and I felt locked into a cycle of never-ending bad debt. We’re programmed to follow a cookie-cutter financial model that society lays out for us. Go to school, get a job, buy a house (with a 30-year mortgage), have a family (which is good, but locks you in even more). Then you start grinding away at that mortgage.
This is normal life for 99% of Australians – but it freaked me out.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Aussie lifestyle and I love being part of mainstream society (just not financially). It means my kids will grow up in a stable environment with good people around them.
So what is financial freedom? It means everything is possible.
As soon as Richard Branson gets his commercial rocket ship off the ground, I’ll be buying a ticket to head in to outer space. I’ve dreamed of looking back at Earth since I saw Star Wars when I was five years old.
Property investing is my ticket to making things happen.
• Work harder than those around you and opportunities will come your way. Always seek areas for improvement.
• Be prepared to work hard in a job. You don’t have to earn huge dollars, but the more you earn, the faster you can build your portfolio.
• Investing lets you do what you want, when you want.
• Financial freedom means everything is possible.
• Always appreciate the Aussie way of life.