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Free in 30 is a plan to help you go from having nothing to being financially independent in 30 years or less. With real estate prices the way they are today, we know that the road to financial freedom is not as easy as it was in 1968, and becoming financially independent may take a lot longer than 30 years. However, the process is still the same - have a plan, live below your means, save and invest, and make your money work for you!
Starting With No Savings
The couple who publish this website started married life in 1968 (he 21, she 17) living in a furnished rented apartment, with no savings, and they could carry all their belongings in a suitcase. Both had high school education. He was making $4,940 per year, and she had just started working full time, making $3,000 per year. They purchased a house soon after marrying. The house was 100% financed (parents' house used as collateral also). Within a few years they were raising two children.
Work Life / Family
He worked while she stayed home (working part-time) until both children were in school full-time, at which time she returned to school to become an accountant. She started working full time in 1979, at the same time continuing her studies in the Certified General Accountant (CGA) program, becoming a CGA in 1983.
They started one business and later bought another business, which was sold in 1988. He was then self-employed and able to work part-time, retiring completely in 1995. They then started a small Christmas tree farm. In 1997, she quit her job and started to work part-time as a consultant, retiring in 2001. Soon after, they started this website, because income tax information was very hard to find online at that time.
By 2012, the BC CGA Association wanted her to register for public practice because they were publishing a tax information website, even though there were no clients of the business, and never would be. They also said he would not be able to be a shareholder in the business any longer. Thus, she resigned from the CGA Association.
Live Below Your Means & Save!
Financial independence was accomplished mainly by living below their means, and saving money. The only non-tax deductible debt they ever had was to buy and renovate their first home. One of their favourite sayings is "borrow to invest, never to consume".
When he was in his teens, he had a very good lesson in how credit cards can cause major problems. His mother let him use her credit card to buy Christmas presents, and he got a little carried away. By the next Christmas, he was still paying off the presents from the previous year! Due to this experience, he avoids "consumer" debt to this day!
Make Your Money Work For You
The "Richest Man in Babylon" pamphlets, which were available at a local credit union, also made a great impression on him. These pamphlets recommended that you invest your money and make it work for you, instead of you working for it.
Save and Invest
They borrowed to invest in RRSPs, because at that time the interest was tax-deductible. They invested their RRSPs mainly in interest-bearing investments until interest rates dropped in the 1980's, when they started investing in stocks. For investing outside of RRSPs, they considered day trading, but it looked like a good opportunity to lose a lot of money, so they passed. They also looked extensively at investing in commercial real estate and developing some property, but finally decided to invest in stocks, both inside and outside RRSPs. Stocks provide a good return over time, are easy to sell a portion of if some money is needed, and are fairly easy to manage. They've made mistakes along the way, and lost money in 1992, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2022, but have averaged 10.4% annual return from 1992 to 2022. This return is net of the interest paid on borrowing to invest.
How Much Do You Need To Retire?
Not sure how much you need to retire or be financially independent? See our article How much money do you need to retire?
Monitor Your Progress
While you're following the plan, you can use our Net Worth Calculator to monitor your progress. You can use our Investment Return Calculator to calculate your own returns on investments. Use our Rule of 72 Calculator to see how long it will take your investments to double!
Have A Plan
In order to have the financial freedom to do whatever you want, you must have a plan. The plan should include the following steps:
For doing your annual tax planning, use our Detailed Canadian Income Tax and RRSP Savings Calculator.
Live below your means - i.e., spend less than what you make!
Borrow to invest, never to consume!
Revised: October 26, 2023
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