Here’s How I Did It.
Over the years and there has been a lot of them I have had some crazy ideas, about 35 years ago I thought ‘why not advertise cars and houses on the internet’ and ‘sell cars in the same way as estate agents sells property’. If I listed all my ideas I would be very depressed, why because I didn’t do anything about them at the time. During my 12 years in the travel and tourism industry I wondered why holiday reps didn’t club together to buy a villa and seen as they had accommodation supplied for them, they could rent the villa out to pay the mortgage and eventually they would have a property empire.
It took turning fifty to realise you have to just do it or as the new trendy saying goes just ‘jump’ I mean what is the worst that can happen. Deep down you know that even if you work really hard in your chosen career you’ll always get paid just enough not to leave but never enough to live your dreams. Worst still if you wake up every morning dreading going to work I have some advice for you, quit your job. I would love to say at this point “wear sunscreen” although that song has some valuable words in it.
So I’m going to correct approx 35 years of procrastination and break it down into what you can do right now to start living.
Now I want you to continue reading this post so I have put some links at the end, of valuable things to read and watch especially Tim Urban’s talk called inside the mind of a master procrastinator. I will also put a link to an excellent, thought-provoking website called “wait but why”. So here is my advice, make of it what you will but grab your dreams and run with them no matter what anyone says. You have far more to gain than you could possibly lose!
I know obvious really! But wait, well don’t wait get started. I understand you have a lot of responsibilities a family, a mortgage, a car, a loan, a job. I had some of those when I suddenly had the thought of what if I died soon. I know, odd thought or maybe not, after all I was 50 and I lost my father when he was 54. So I imagined I had 4 years, crazy or not this gave me a huge kick in the butt to live my life my way and now.
Let’s address the elephant in the room, so you have a family. All you do is, as a family decide on what your collective dream is and plan accordingly. Living your dream life is different from everyone else’s, mine happens to be travel and I’ll admit right here, it’s also to find a loving partner. You may have gathered by now I’m single but I didn’t used to be, becoming single was the worst time in my life but that story is for a different post.
I’ve already mentioned everybody’s dream is different so to continue I’m going to base the rest of this advice from my own experience.
I worked in the Automotive industry for 25 years, I had a mortgage, a car, massive amounts of credit card debt and other debt nearly £50,000, that’s right nearly fifty grand.
So first piece of advice is get rid of your debt whatever it takes, I admit I had some luck here but what happened started the ball rolling. Once the decision was made that my wife and I would divorce. I needed a place to live, I had a reasonable salary £25k working as a depot manager, I also didn’t want to waste money on renting, although I have learnt since that renting is not a waste when done correctly. So I arranged a mortgage and started house hunting, I found a small property close to the old family home, it was for sale at £39995 (I know but it was 16 years ago). This is the point when a little bit of Psychology came in, at the time I hadn’t a clue about this but have since found out that I actually created what is known as an ‘Anchor’ when I made the offer on the house.
I offered £30000 nearly ten grand less than the asking price, you maybe surprised at the reply. It was simply £31k and pay our solicitors fees and it’s a deal, I had no idea how I pulled it off but within the next 6 months I would find out. I was in within a month but didn’t have a penny spare to my name, so I slept on the lounge floor. A few friends offered me household items and my mum basically gave me all her kitchen utensils. It took a few months to save to buy a sofa bed and slowly I furnished my new place. Just a side note, when I bought it the decoration was green carpet and pink walls apart from the bedroom that was blue, bathroom olive which is the worst colour for a bathroom ever, apologies if you have an olive bathroom. I lived in that little house for 4 years before I decided I wanted to travel. I decided whilst sat in a 4 hour traffic jam on the M62 motorway, well your mind wanders when stuck on a motorway.
So I resigned from my job and put the house up for sale, here ladies and gentlemen is the luckiest move I’ve ever made. I sold my house within a week for £60k paid off the mortgage, paid off £30k worth of debt and slept on a couch at my mother’s until I started my new job. In the month it took to work my notice and move out of my house, I applied for a job working abroad my first venture into the travel industry.
I still had debt but I knuckled down and read everything Martin Lewis had to write, I changed credit cards to zero interest cards and threw every penny I had at them and by the time we celebrated 2006 I was debt free. Yes it took me 6 years and I had some luck but I had cleared £50k of debt.
I was interested in travel and my new job gave me the opportunity but only gave me a small salary, however I soon discovered that I could live for free, almost.
In 2006 I decided a car was an expensive luxury, so my next piece of advice is “get rid of your car” most, not all but most cars are stationary 96% of the time. The really bad news is that 96%, you are still paying for. Do the math, I worked it out and my car cost me £25 a day for just being parked somewhere! I use a bicycle, public transport but most of all my feet.
Start saving every penny you can.
To do what I am doing now you’ll ideally need at least 1 year’s salary saved up, so I worked the past 18 months 6 days a week and saved £8k that’s £444 saved every month and my salary was only £709. You have to be frugal but you are setting the stage to live your dream life. I was a tour guide in Lanzarote and I must admit, loved it! The hotel where I was based let me eat breakfast and dinner, massive saving but I put on a lot of weight. I visited a few local tapas bars with my customers and those tapas bars let me eat and drink for free even when I wasn’t with customers. I didn’t go out as most holiday reps do but still managed to enjoy myself on less than £300 a month. When the exchange rate hit 1.43 I went mad and spent £1000 on pro Lenses for my camera and still managed to save a year’s salary in 18 months.
Alastair Humphreys has an excellent short video on how to have a Grand Adventure by saving £20 a week, after a year you have a grand to have an adventure with. Good title for a book, as you can imagine Alastair has already thought of that. The book is well worth it as it gets you all excited and gives you some great ideas.
In business, to make more money you have to either sell more (you sell your time) or reduce costs. I suggest you list all your outgoings and reduce or eliminate as many as possible. Martin Lewis is a genius at this, check his site out, in fact by following Martin’s advice you can give yourself a 25% pay rise right now. Today is also an excellent day for asking your boss for a pay rise, now don’t barge in, plan it first. There are lots of good websites giving advice on asking for a rise.
Every bought something and 2 weeks later you realise you didn’t need it? We’ve been programmed since childhood to buy stuff, in fact sell the telly first. I haven’t watched TV in 8 years, I still watch movies on my tablet but I stopped listening to all that TV propaganda and it makes a huge difference to my life. As soon as you discover experiences over possessions your life will change overnight. I used Gumtree mainly to sell stuff, I also made a point of including why I was selling my stuff. So many people I met who bought my stuff were extremely positive and even told their friends to have a look and buy stuff. Today companies build in obsolescence to everything, my mum had a Kelvinator fridge for forty years. Does anything these days last 40 year’s, no but it’s just putting your money into corporate pockets, every time a new model is released. I know I mentioned stuff a lot but that’s all it is, it adds no value to your life.
This is not as easy as it sounds because most people will tell you that you’re mad and will be very negative. In fact the closer the relationship the worse it gets. I still say tell them because it helps you get motivated and gives you a huge push towards taking action. When I told people I was going abroad to work, I got everything from “you’re mad” to “I wish I could do that”. Well you can and it’s easier than you could possibly imagine.
I’m going to continue in my next blog, as you’re probably at work and the boss will be along in a bit. So back to that spreadsheet or whatever you do.
Here’s those links!
Time Urban – The Mind of a Master Procrastinator
Wait but Why – Put your life into perspective.
Martin Lewis – The Money Expert
Alastair Humphreys – Grand Adventures