It’s not too hard to find stories in the media about seemingly ordinary people finding great financial success. You hear about what seems like an ordinary guy or gal who worked in what seemed like an ordinary career path and somehow they’ve got a million dollars in the bank. How did they do it?
Unfortunately, many of those stories have additional details that you don’t read about in the headlines. Often, you’ll find that those people practiced a level of frugality that seems like complete misery to you. They live in a very tiny home or they eat a very strange diet or they never leave the house or they homestead for all of their food needs. Sometimes you’ll find that although their job title is ordinary, they’ve actually earned a ton of money through either a higher-than-average salary or some other financial benefit (like receiving an inheritance of some kind).
At that point, the walls come crashing down. Rather than giving the idea that anyone can do this, they again reinforce the idea that financial success is something that only occurs in exceptional circumstances.
I’m here to tell you that it’s actually quite possible to achieve financial success without extreme frugality and without a lot of wealth already in the bank and without a huge salary.
Since the start of our professional lives, my wife and I have never earned more than about 25% above the average American salary with the exception of one year where I almost worked myself into a mental breakdown (never again…). We don’t make a ton of money. We also have three children at home and anyone with children knows that they’re money pits, so it’s not like we’ve got tons of income to spare, either.
At the same time, we’re not extremely frugal. I try different things for experiments in my writing, but in our day to day lives, I don’t consider us to be insanely frugal in any way. We eat normal meals, have normal hobbies, and have normal lives.
Yet, over the past decade, Sarah and I have paid off two car loans that measured in the five figures, then eventually replaced those cars and paid for them in full. We paid off our student loans, which was in the five figures for each of us. We also paid off a ton of credit card debt, also measuring in the five figures. We bought a four bedroom home and then paid off the entire thing in about four years. Right now, we have no debts – not even a mortgage – and are saving for actually retiring early.
How is that even possible? It’s possible thanks to using a handful of very smart strategies along the way. The rest of this article is a basic blueprint for what we did.