Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Why it pays to be financially aggressive

It’s the secret to early retirement; the secret to independence and the secret to breaking the confines of conventional (read wasted) lives while young.

Gary Clement for The National
Gary Clement for The National

Financial aggression. Yes, I am advocating it.

Socking it in the savings and hitting out at spend – that’s what it’s about.

It’s the secret to early retirement; the secret to independence and the secret to breaking the confines of conventional (read wasted) lives while young. I’m talking about really young – like just turned 30 and never needing to earn again. More on that later.

Financial aggression is the strategy an American footballer has been living since he got his first major contract, back in 2009 – and he’s thriving. You have to love a guy who takes being called cheap on the chin – and has been since he was a teen. Back then Glover Quin preferred to pocket the cost of rides while his friends enjoyed themselves at theme parks, while cultivating a specific mindset, and look where it got him: living off 30 per cent of his earnings and saving the rest. This is financial aggression in full flow.

Yes, his 30 per cent is huge compared to most. US$6,000 a month during the first three years of his big break to be precise. That’s what he and his family lived off. Team-mates could spend that in a day.

I hear you. He earns big and can afford to do this. But no, you don’t need to earn millions to follow suit. Other – mere mortals – do the same.

Take the Frugalwoods: a Boston-based family also living on 30 per cent of their pay after tax – 29 per cent last year in fact. They see things differently to most – out with a budget in their case and in with spending as little as they can. Why no budget? Because "spending is like a gas: it’ll expand to fill whatever space you give it" to quote them. Guess what? They did it: retired at 33, bought 66 acres in Vermont in the US and now don’t need to earn to live ever again.

They’re remarkable and a rarity. Meaning there are others. The internet is full of stories of real people who have done it, and gone on to live abundant lives where they decide where to spend their time and energy. And nowhere does it include working for a boss person anywhere.

Now, 30 per cent is extreme but how about 50 per cent? It’s what more people out there – the savvy ones – do. Like Grant of Millennial Money. He had $2.26 to his name when he graduated. Five years later, he had $1,000,590 in his account. And yes, he saved 50 per cent of everything he earned from the first paycheque onwards. He became financially independent at 31, and still sets aside at least 40 per cent of what he makes.

Anyone can live a financially aggressive life. Even you. It’s tough, but the rewards are definitely worth it. The big takeaway is that, to be financially aggressive, you must be aggressively frugal.

Frugal doesn’t mean boring. Plus, how exciting is it to aim for the life you want? Four words sum up how: live beneath your means.

You’d be in good company. Warren Buffett, known as the world’s greatest investor, and ranked among its richest men, is frugal. Living in the house he bought in 1958 for $31,500, his lifestyle hasn’t changed much over the years. I ask you: if Buffet is frugal, why aren’t you?

Perhaps he’s not hip enough for you. Then know that Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer David Grohl is happy to live in suburbia with his wife and children. Even with over $280m to his name, he’s concerned about running out of money – and with no education to fall back on, doesn’t want to risk it or so I read. Point is, there are many monied folk who are frugal and wear it as a badge of honour. They have nothing to prove – true – and neither do you.

Back to Quin. Earlier this year it was reported that he’d doubled his money in eight years by investing 70 per cent of his salary. When his contract expires this year he’ll have earned over $20m from the NFL. Yes he’s on huge money, that’s not the point – it’s his strategy that I want you to take on.

When he signed his first major contract in 2013, he didn’t splash out – he didn’t even buy a new car. Instead, he diversified his portfolio and began taking more investment risks. Like putting up to 20 per cent of his wealth towards funding start-ups.

Here’s what he said during an interview with CNBC: the plan has always been to "save as much money as I can and spend as little as I can in the time that I have in the league," Quin said "so that I can maximise my future."

How about you maximising your future. What does living on half your income look like?

Find out, spend less and live more.

Financial aggression is how.

Nima Abu Wardeh describes herself using three words: Person. Parent. Pupil. Each day she works out which one gets priority, sharing her journey on finding-nima.com

Updated: July 1, 2017 08:25 AM