Congratulations on the most important decision you’ll make today. Maybe even this week. Hell, this year! If you are new to personal finance, your future (hopefully 30 year old) self will thank you for it. Because you are about to learn how to be financially free by 30.
So turn the music down and your phone onto silent. It’s time to become a money badass.
How long does it take to be financially free?
If you really knuckle down to it – a realistic expectation is 7 to 10 years. It took us 8 years but we started in our 30s.
In reality, how long it takes you to be financially free depends on where you are at today. If you’re thinking you’re going to be financially free in 2 years, it’s pretty unlikely. But 7 years is doable depending on how aggressive you are about it. And hopefully you’ll read our blogs and learn a few short cuts along the way.
The three key ingredients to cooking up your financial freedom fast are:
- your income
- your savings
- your time
If you want to know how these combine to serve up a great big steaming hot dish of financial freedom, check out this post that explains the concepts.
How to be financially free by 30 – in 12 steps
Here are 12 steps to be financially free by 30 that will totally transform your life if you want them to:
- Value your financial freedom above everything
- Spend more time learning than earning
- Set financial goals
- Kick bad debt to the curb
- Nail a monthly budget
- Start a side hustle
- Save your butt off
- Make friends with your credit score
- Get a lawyer (to structure your future investments)
- Get leverage and buy or build assets
- Pimp your assets (manufacture value)
- Reinvest your equity and income
Once you’ve done these steps, rinse and repeat…The ‘rinse and repeat’ should go on until your assets produce enough income to cover your expenses. Once you reach this point – boom! You’ve made it.
Oh, and order matters peeps! Some steps must come before others. If you mix the order, there’s a risk you mightn’t have the financial wherewithal to be successful. Now let’s take a quick look at what you need to do for each of these steps.
1. Value your financial freedom above everything else
This first step is about mindset. No its not all rah, rah unicorns and fairies. It’s just a simple fact. If financial freedom isn’t your most important value, then you’re unlikely to get there. You certainly won’t make it by 30.
The reason? Because it takes trade-offs, sound decisions, dedication and commitment. If you want to be free by 30, you won’t be able to do what other twenty-somethings are doing. But it can also be really fun and its totally freakin worth it.
I can’t help you with this step. All I can say is that Step 1 is going to be tested at every other step along this journey. Not everything is going to go the way you planned. Your values are what will keep you full steam ahead when this happens.
“Be unapologetic about your financial freedom. Be a Mogul. Build wealth. Keep it. Learn to live off it. “
Flip the bird at anything or anyone that tries to distract you. You’re gonna need that single-minded focus to get where you’re going….
2. Spend more time learning than earning
You need to kick things off by learning about finance. This is particularly true if you’re in an employee in a wage earning job. There are a few things you’re going to need to change about how you earn money if you want to be financially free. There’s a whole game of money you need to know how to play, with a tonne of tricks to it. But we’ll get to that.
Dedicate a minimum one hour a day to reading about personal finance. I used to do it on the commute to work each morning. Hell, you can even put on an audio book if you drive to work. You can learn and earn at the same time, just get started today with your learning and keep on with it.
What you need to know about personal finances to become financially free
Here’s a little bonus for you. Personal finance is a huge space and we don’t want you to get bogged down at the start. So just focus on this helpful list of what you need to know about, with links to the best resources to get you started:
- The rules of money – what are assets, liabilities and cashflow, and how can you use them to become financially free
This is the resource that changed how we think about money and got us started – the Rich Dad education suite.
- Financial freedom strategies – what works and what will work for you
- Tax effective investment and income vehicles – how to earn income so you can keep it (pay less tax!), how to benefit from corporate tax deductions, and how to use family and discretionary trusts
There’s no, one compelling resource that will give you all the answers here. We’d suggest starting with the Rich Dad education to learn about how to earn income tax-efficiently. Then google ‘tax’ for the particular type of assets you’re looking at – whether it be property, stocks, digital assets.
- Personal finance products and how to use them to your advantage – credit cards, offset accounts, ETFs, managed funds, loan products, loan to value ratio
Here’s where we explain each of these products and how they’re relevant to your financial freedom.
- Side hustles and secondary income streams (for when you get to Step 4).
Here’s a link to our growing list of secondary income and passive income ideas. Remember to check back as we keep adding to this list.
3. Set 1, 2 and 5-year financial goals. Reverse engineer your 1 year goal.
Some people hate this step and some love it. We say just do it. Write down what you want (financially), why you want it (usually not financial) and by when. Set a 1-year goal, a 2-year goal and a 5-year goal.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Financial freedom goals
Be specific and write down your financial goals as though you have achieved them. Here are some examples to get you started:
- It’s September 2021 and I have eliminated my credit card debt.
- It’s July 2022 and I have a side hustle doing X that earns me an extra $X per month.
- It’s December 2021 and I’m saving X% of my income each month
- It’s July 2023 and I make $X in annual income
- It’s July 2022 and I own X investment properties
- It’s December 2021 and I currently invest $x per month of my savings into X
Now here’s the bit where the rubber hits the road. Backwards engineer each of your 1-year goals, month by month. Write down and map out what you will need to do each month for the next 12 months to hit that goal. Excel is a great way to do this.
Check back on your goals from time to time and track your 1-year goal closely. Do everything you’ve written down.
If you’re not willing to take this step, then do not pass go and do not collect $200. Just kidding. But maybe financial freedom isn’t your most important value.
This is also where Step 2 comes in handy. If you haven’t swatted up on assets, liabilities and cashflow, you’ll probably have no idea what steps you’ll need to take to hit your 1-year goal.
4. Kick bad debt to the curb
Bad debt is a trap that keeps you poor. Simple as that. Don’t buy anything with borrowed money unless it puts cash in your pocket at the end of the month. Want a car? Save until you can pay for it in full. Same goes for a holiday.
“Delayed gratification my friend, is the secret sauce to your financial freedom.”
Pay down your most expensive debt first. This usually starts with a credit card. Pay down your credit card to zero. Arrange in your bank app to set up an auto sweep of your credit card each month so that you pay zero bank interest. Never use your credit card to withdraw cash.
Pay off your car loan or any personal loans you may have taken out.
Cup up your store cards unless you use them to buy things you need (like groceries) and they pay you cash rewards for doing so.
Any time you feel the urge to buy something, calculate what it’s worth in terms of hours of your life. Divide the cost by your hourly wage. Ask yourself “Is this new TV worth the 28 extra hours I’m going to have work to pay it off?” It sounds dramatic, but it works for me. 90% of the time, my answer is no! (and that’s how I know financial freedom is my most important value).
5. Nail a monthly budget
We recommend a monthly budget because it allows you some flexibility to move the timing of expenses around. It’s easier to manage your money and still come in on budget at the end of the month. But if you’re bad with budgeting, we’d suggest 2 weeks. If you want to nail your budget it’s easier when you practice these habits:
- Pay yourself first – set aside your savings as soon as you are paid
- Put your savings somewhere you can’t get them
- Have some reward money set aside for when you make budget for 3 or 6 consecutive months – budget this in.
6. Start a side hustle
We say start a side hustle but what we mean is increase your income. We did this with a side hustle because you can structure it in a way that means you keep more of the money you make.
You can also increase your income by negotiating a raise at work or getting a higher paying job, but you’ll also lose more your ‘hard earned’ to tax. Why? Because wage earners pay the most tax. Pfffst!
We started some side hustles, set up in a corporation. You might want to skip to Step 9 before you get started on this step. Get some professional advice from someone qualified in tax effective income and investment structures. This advice can help you keep 15% more of the money you make (in Australia). And you get a shed load of tax deductions. So even if you have to pay for this advice, it should pay you back in spades.
By far the best side hustle this side of 2020 is Airbnb. And as you haven’t hit step 10 yet, you may be interested in this post on How to earn money on Airbnb without owning property. Yep, without owning any property yourself. You can set it up and be earning thousands in extra income all within 6 months. We know this because we did it.
We’ve had a lot of success with this side hustle. Just check out how much we made in one month with this one apartment that we didn’t own.
If Airbnb is not for you then check out our other passive income ideas.
7. Save your butt off
There’s lots of different theories about how much of your income you need to save to be financially free. There’s a direct correlation between how much you save and how quickly you get to financial freedom. You’re not saving to have cash in the bank though, you’re saving to invest.
Your savings rate is the key defining factor that makes you different from folks that follow the conventional route to retirement. If you’re saving 10% to 15% like they are, expect to work for 45 years like they will.
“From our experience, you need to be saving 50% of your income and then some.”
But if you’re at 47% don’t sweat it! There’s two ways to save more:
- cut back non-essential expenses
- make more money
This is why you’re starting a side hustle before you knuckle down on your savings. Starting your side hustle first is designed to boost your savings rate (because that’s exactly what you should be doing with the side hustle income). It will generate momentum, and keep you on your financial freedom path.
8. Make friends with your credit score
You’re going to need this when you get to Step 10, so start now.
What is a credit score, why is it important, and how do you get a good one?
A credit score is a rating that lenders like banks use when they decide whether to lend you money or not. It’s based on how much you borrow, whether you pay what you owe on time, and how many credit applications you’ve made.
A credit score is important so that you can leverage ‘good debt’ to invest later on. Good debt is used to buy assets that put money in your pocket each month.
Your credit score is something that you need to build up over time. It’s a history of your behaviour with money. If you’re in your early 20s, you’ll be at the start of this process. If you want to be financially free by 30, you’ll need to go about consciously building your credit score as early as possible.
You can get your self a good credit score by:
- Getting yourself a credit card and showing that you can pay it off in full each month
- Paying your bills (mobile, rent, etc) on time each month
- NOT making excessive credit applications – just the one credit card with a small limit is enough.
9. Get a lawyer (to structure your future income and investments)
Not all income is equal. There is highly taxed income and then there are rich people that pay very little tax because they paid for good advice instead. Those rich people don’t earn highly taxed income. They structure their investments and income in ways that allow them to pay as little tax as possible. They also use the same structures to claim tax deductions that are not available to average income earners.
All of this means that if you want to keep the money you earn, you need to get good advice on how to set up your investments and income. This should ideally happen before you own assets or income producing vehicles, as its tough to change ownership once you’ve started and often there’s a cost (a tax of course!) to do so.
We’ve probably spent around $10,000 on tax effective structures and advice over the last 10 years. But that investment has paid us back around 18 x. Not a bad return…
10. Get leverage and buy or build assets
When we say leverage, we mean either capital or programming code. No, you don’t have to be a programmer. If you are lost at this point take a look at this page where we explain these two different types of leverage you can use to buy or build assets.
- Financial independence (the traditional way) uses capital (or other people’s money) to build wealth.
- ‘New financial independence’ uses the internet (or code) to build wealth.
What you’re trying to do is buy and build assets. An asset can be digital – like a website or cryptocurrency. It can also be tangible – like property or a business. If you remember the Rich Dad education resources from the beginning, then you’ll know this one vital thing:
An asset is something that puts money in your pocket.
Don’t buy assets that cost you money each month. That won’t get you financially free by 30.
Everything you’ve done so far has led you to be successful at Step 10.
- Step 1 is your mindset that has gotten you to this point…
- The knowledge you’ve gained at Step 2 means you know what sort of assets to buy, why ‘good debt’ is a critical financial freedom tool, and how to manage both.
- If you’ve completed Steps 5, 6 and 7 you should have a nice nest egg to invest.
- Steps 4 and 8 have helped you build up a great credit score, which means the banks will lend you capital.
- Because of Step 9, you’ll know what ownership vehicle to use for the asset, regardless of whether you build or buy it.
11. Pimp your assets – manufacture value
Step 11 is just about squeezing the most out of your assets – both in terms of income and capital growth.
You can’t do it with all assets, but you can do it very effectively with the following types of assets, which makes them great leverage options.
- Real estate – by buying well and renovating cleverly
- Companies – by building the business and earnings
- Digital assets like websites – by improving them and their monetisation.
You can also maximise your assets using a range of new online services, technologies and platforms that are collectively referred to as ‘the share economy’.
We’re big on using the share economy to generate more income from our assets.
You should be too, if you have a goal to be financially free by 30.
12. Reinvest your equity and income
This final step is about compounding your income and capital growth.
Your aim is to grow your assets to a sufficient level that they produce enough income to cover your expenses.
Some examples here might be:
- Refinancing a property investment and drawing out any equity. Then using that equity as a deposit on your next investment.
- Diverting business earnings into business growth
- Automatically reinvesting dividends into more dividend producing stocks.
You want to look to do this once every 12 months.
By the time you get to Step 12 you need to have the lived experience of every single previous step. Especially if you’re leveraging further good debt. You need to know exactly how to manage cashflow and risk. You need to have a buffer built up in savings. Your lender will look for these things in order to lend to you. By Step 12 you’re officially a money badass so you need to have the skills of a badass to make it.
The final word – how pass ‘go’
Remember Monopoly? Well, just like in Monopoly you can roll the dice on your financial freedom and pass go in plenty of different ways. How you become financially free by 30 is ultimately up to you.
But unlike other blogs with their vague ramblings about how to be financially free, this ‘step by step’ guide is tried and tested. We know it works because we’ve done it.
We muddled through in 8 years. Now, with this guide at your fingertips and our kick-ass blog, you don’t have to.
So what are you waiting for?
Til next post, have fun, be happy, do good.
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