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A Single Mom‘s Journey to a Ridiculously Early Retirement

How a Busy Single Mom Will Retire in Her 40s

I am a single mom to three boys. I have about 85% “custody” of my children and a demanding job. And this year, I’ve begun my official journey to early retirement (though I've always been on this path and just didn't know it). Here’s what you’ll find in this post:

  • My career journey- so you can understand my humble beginning
  • My turning point- so you can understand your own potential
  • The pinnacle of my career- so you’ll see that making 7x what I was making 10 years ago is critical to my plan
  • My initial thoughts on how I’ll retire by 45
The working mom grind

The working mom grind

My Career Journey

I used to say that I would retire a little early. Maybe at the age of 60. Maybe do a little bit of traveling. I always assumed that my career and my family life and everything else that I had going would make me so overflowingly happy that early retirement wouldn’t really be anything worth chasing after with a lot of fervor.

11 years ago I got married and had my first son. I was a couple years into a newfound banking career after graduating with a journalism degree and subsequently managing clothing retail store for a few years. My retail management skills maybe weren’t the best, and banking seemed like a natural transition and one that wouldn’t require the 80 hours a week that I was putting in. The shift into banking was a good move, although I didn’t know it at the time.

After a few years of doing an above average job, the local wealth management team within my company noticed me and recruited me to come work in a support role for their team. I viewed myself as an outsider. The wealth managers drove to the office in their fancy cars and wore their fancy clothes. I came from humble roots, middle-class or maybe upper middle-class America. But nothing flashy or fancy. Just a nice normal average happy upbringing involving no fancy cars or fancy suits.

My Turning Point

But my outsider status quickly shifted. I joined the team for lunches, events, and strategy sessions. I began to break down and understand their fee structures and how they were paid, and I became an asset to them as they grew their books of business and their empires. I enjoyed that job, working with those people, and somewhere along the way melting in to their world. I had a pivotal moment where I realized they weren’t different from me at all. There was no certain something that they had that I did not have. We were the same. And so I asked my boss for a significant raise. He came back with a smaller number and within a few weeks I had put in for my resignation. They did everything in their power to get me to stay, including eventually surpassing the number I had asked for. But I was 28 and disgusted with corporate America. I couldn’t understand how organizations could value people so much, but still undercut them. And I didn’t want to go work for another bank or wealth management firm. I wanted to work in small business. I wanted to control my destiny.

I didn’t know it then, but every move was a good one in the long run. From retail to banking to wealth management to small business (which didn’t work out and left me job hunting within six months’ time)… all of it was a part of a larger plan. I was always grasping and learning, and I thought I was after short term results (I was), but a wiser, older, future me was actually after the experience and the knowledge that I gained from every step in the process. “Mistakes” and all.

The Pinnacle

After a few years of dabbling in various small businesses and personal ventures, I landed on my current job. It has been the pinnacle of my career thus far. My complaints are numbered, and overall I have been happy here. My income has skyrocketed with various promotions and I now make about seven times what I was making when I left my wealth management job nine years ago.

Again: all good moves.

But remember when I began this story, I had just had my first son. Today there are three sweet growing boys in my household, and time is a precious commodity. It is this dynamic that brought me full circle: from the early days of fighting for what I deserved to learning as much as I could about each role I was in and each small business I worked for by reading book after book... to now, having achieved "success" and realizing that money and status aren't it. They are tools in your toolkit. They are a means to a much greater end. The end is financial independence and a life in which you are in control of your time.

Time is fleeting

Time is fleeting

The Plan for Early Retirement

As someone who has worked in sales and finance with affluent individuals and complex corporations for over 15 years, I can say with great certainty that what you earn- and how you put it to work- are paramount in the path to financial independence. Because of the passion I had for learning and building my career, combined with a fair amount of luck, I now earn enough to envision a date in the not-so-distant future when I can reach "work optional" status.

What will I do then? It remains to be seen. For now, I leave you with these critical steps to take on your own journey. These are forged from years of studying and learning. They are reflective of my own lessons learned but also those of the many multi-millionaires and financially independent people I have had the pleasure of providing financial services to over the years.

Steps to Achieve Financial Independence

Suggest your favorites in the comments!

Your Income

What you earn is critical. You may have a day job or two, or perhaps some passive income. Whatever the case, when you are getting started in the journey to financial independence, earning as much as possible without sacrificing your sanity or integrity is essential. (This requires bringing 100% to the job, whether it is your dream job or not.)

Your Expenses

Your expenses must be lower than your income. You cannot achieve financial independence if this is not the case. If you are not there yet, you have two choices: increase your income or reduce your expenses (or both!).

Education

Knowledge is power. If you're reading this, you understand that. Talk to and befriend people who have achieved what you are looking to achieve. Read books written by individuals who have experience with money, career, and business-ownership. This is free, and paramount to your success.

Your Plan

Craft a plan. You may not yet have all the pieces, or even understand all the steps in your journey, but you must start with a framework in mind. You will re-write your plan many times. It will be molded and shaped by your experiences along the way. But start somewhere, and document it. A written strategy will help keep you on track.

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