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How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)
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  1. #1
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    How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)
    Stephen Hepple Dec 27, 2013
    Features

    A commonly held misconception is that retirement is exclusively for the old or rich; a privilege not bestowed on mere mortals. I’m living proof that you don’t need to be Bill Gates or a colostomy-bag-wearer in order to achieve financial independence. You do, however, require bagfuls of determination. I’ll provide a brief explanation of how anyone can achieve financial independence provided they follow the same simple rules I did.

    I grew up as the eldest of six boys in Ashington, Northumberland in the northeast of England. Since the collapse of shipbuilding and coalmining the area has seen dramatic decline. High levels of unemployment exacerbate socio-economic issues that blight the area in this post-industrial age. It hardly needs highlighting that many live in debt-fuelled depravation as a consequence. I endeavoured to escape.

    At the tender age of 16 I joined the Royal Navy as an Engineering Apprentice. After 10 years on ships and submarines I left to finish a BSc(Hons) with the Open University. I then spent 3 years as an IT Technician before studying an MSc at Newcastle University for a year. At 32 I made what I regard to be the best decision of my life and I left the UK to teach maths in Asia. By 39 I had retired.

    The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t come from a wealthy background and I’ve never worked in lucrative industries like medicine, law or gas. You don’t need to.

    My first step on the road to financial freedom was listening to some salty old seadogs warning me of the perils of marriage from the bowels of a Trident submarine. We were coming back from three months under the sea and I invited them for a beer. They declined saying that they had no money. I had three month’s pay in my account! They made me swear I wouldn’t consider marriage until I was 40. I’m still thankful for that advice as it’s afforded opportunities for extensive travel, further education and early retirement – things beyond my wildest dreams as a 16 year old.

    The second step on the road to early retirement was the acknowledgement that debt is toxic. I remember looking on enviously as a colleague drove to work in a brand new VW Golf and parked it next to my worthless wreck. However, her car generated six years of future payments plus interest. I remember leaving that particular job and thinking about her working for the next six years to pay off a depreciating asset. She was effectively pouring money down a drain and expending a lot of energy (in the form of work) to do so. Never take on debt, learn to do without – a strange mantra in today’s world.

    The third step was the realisation that living a frugal (or minimalist life) can lead to huge savings and a significant increase in one’s net worth. During my working life I did without luxuries. I always bought clothes from charity shops, drove a banger and travelled (extensively) with a tent. There are millions of tips and techniques on how to live frugally but the best piece of advice is to ask yourself “Do I really need this?” You have to neglect consumerism and embrace a frugal mindset. I always aimed to save 50% of my net income every month – difficult but not impossible. As a result I’ve discovered that less is more in life. Freedom trumps possessions.

    Once you have a positive net worth (savings and/or other assets) you have to store this wealth somewhere. Savings not only need to be safe but should also generate a passive income. I personally stashed my lump into a Hong Kong based litigation funding scheme. This particular point takes huge amounts of research but nothing too intellectually demanding.

    Finally, once you’ve embraced minimalism, saved and invested enough to generate a sufficient passive income, you need to find somewhere cheap to live and where better than Chiang Mai? I fill my time by writing and riding a Honda CBR 250 around the fantastic scenery of Northern Thailand. That’s my one material indulgence!

    Why do so few succeed on the path to financial freedom? In the first paragraph I mentioned a few simple rules. Just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’re easy. An important distinction! Many people today can’t adjust their psychology and learn to do without ‘things’. The YOLO attitude provides instant gratification at your future’s expense. I’ve always believed (like our Grandparent’s generation) that you should save up for the things you want in life.

    This is a very brief but I hope inspirational piece to anyone dreaming of securing their future financial independence through minimalism. It takes huge amounts of motivation, determination and discipline but once you reach the goal (39 for me but there are no age limits) you’ll know the sacrifices were worth it. Good luck!

    For more information visit my website:

    www.awolgeordie.com

    CHIANG MAI CITY NEWS+ Photos

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  3. #2
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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    The key feature there was not marrying early, the next best thing is to marry a frugal woman!
    "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little." Sydney Smith

    May all beings be happy, may all beings have peace.

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    I retired at age 57 (I was going to retire at age 55, but I got sick with end-stage liver disease). My plan was a little different than yours, in that I wanted to enjoy the best life has to offer in terms of material goods and experiences, so I wound up spending (wasting actually) a lot of money staying in 5-star hotels, drinking $300,00 USD bottles of wine, and traveling extensively (not to mention two safaris to Africa and a brand new Dodge Viiper).

    The biggest thing you and I had in common was to avoid debt. I generally saved up before buying anything expensive and I always paid off my credit cards every month. I managed to pay off my house in 15 years, and saved tens of thousands of dollars in interest fees.

    My wife is fairly frugal as well (most of the money she earns she sends to her family in Thailand and helps subsidize our grown son).

    Once I started studying Buddhism, I became less attached to material objects and have learned to appreciate what is really important in life (most of which is absolutely free).

    I still have a lot of stuff (boats, cars, trucks, etc), but everything is paid for, and we have a positive cash flow from my pension and my wife's salary. I want her to quit working in another year or so, and hopefully I will be collecting enough money from my assets that we won't have to touch any of our savings.

    Learning to enjoy a minimalist existence is one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    RickThai

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    I think the biggest tip is to keep out of debt.
    "Repudiate bullshit wherever you find it. Reason is worth standing up for." - Peter Boghossian



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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    For sure. I always ensure I pay everything off immediately-my credit card company and bank hate me (they are one of the same!) and it makes for a far more peaceful, stress free life -and improves my wealth.

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    Congratulations.
    That's very interesting.
    Maybe for me is a little late, I am 42, married and have 2 children.
    Worth try it.

  11. #7
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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    Well my employer is going through cutbacks at the moment and quite a few workers look like being redundant (not bad for the biggest resource company in the world that just posted a A$14.8B profit) and I may well be one of those people - I'll know my fate when I go back to work on 1st Sept. I have a few ideas of what I may do if I do get paid out a redundancy and one of those ideas is to live in Thailand with Chiang Mai or Hua Hin as my choices.

    I'm 56, never maried, own my own residence (which I may put on the market if I go), have some good savings and my superannuation is worth $750k - if I convert the super into a pension fund it will give me $43,000 a year ubtil I'm 93 but I doubt I would live that long. By my reckoning if I just live off that pension fund and roll the money I would get for selling my residence and the redundancy payment into term deposits I should be able to live comfortably in Thailand.

    I would just rent an apartment and not live like a tourist, partying all the time is definitely not on the agenda. My family don't really understand why I would want to move to Thailand but I keep telling them that I love the culture, people, food and most other things about the place - sure there are a few warts over there but if you avoid the trouble and go with the flow it is an enjoyable place.

    Of course if I survive the cull at work and don't become redundant then my original plan kicks in and that is to work another 2 years to get the super fund up to the magic $1m then pull the pin and retire

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    Good luck Maxxy, that sounds like a plan.......I have had a few work mates up in Hedland who kept putting off their retirement.....a couple more years they would say......not ready yet......and then came the global financial crisis....can't do it now...a few more years.....ended up never to enjoy their hard earned savings as age and health caught up to them all too fast.

    I hope it isn't those pesky Tug Engineers causing all these cut backs with poor old BHP???
    “ The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. ”
    - Chinese Proverb

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    fileeep, they started the cull in my department (Operations) on Friday, 8 people that I know of so far and one of those said there is more to go (there are probably some from the marine dept that is amalgamating with my dept but haven't heard from them yet) - I'm off for a week and go back to work on Monday to learn of my fate.

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    Re: How I retired at 39 (in beautiful Chiang Mai)

    Speaking of early retirement, I came across this interview with a Filipino Financial Adviser titled "Is it possible to retire young?" He explains how retiring early is made possible, what kinds of investments to make, and what mistakes can derail someone's early retirement goal.

    https://anc.yahoo.com/video/possible...094909071.html
    Last edited by Marie; 03-09-14 at 12:58 PM.

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