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My Wild Ride To Financial Freedom

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We never set a goal to be debt free and we never set a goal to be retired early.

I never knew what the acronym FIRE meant either (Financially Independent Retired Early) – well not until a week ago when I finally got a Twitter account.

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I was completely oblivious to the vibrant community on Twitter focusing on financial freedom, personal debt reduction, and early retirement.

They have budget ideas, money saving tips, investment strategies, and common sense approaches to earning more money.

It’s been fun reading all the different stories as they unfold in real-time.

Some of these bloggers have developed friendships and business partnerships even though they’re thousands of miles away from each other.

Some have already retired, and some are still planning their retirement.

And a lot of them talk about this thing called a “Side Hustle“, which is another term I’d never heard of (a second stream of income besides a day job).

The sheer amount of what I don’t know never ceases to amaze me.

However, regardless of my ignorance I’ve always had the same dream these bloggers do – freedom.

It Was Like A Jail Sentence

When I was a child all I wanted to do was be left alone.

I was blissfully content to be working on a little project in the dirt area of our back yard. Used to love making roads with popsicle sticks for the power poles and string for power lines.

I was a happy kid.

But when it was time to start grade one I was petrified at the thought of being stuck in a room surrounded by other children – being told when and what I was going to do.

I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat knowing I was going to be “sent off” to school soon – I begged my parents to stop the madness.

I just couldn’t understand why I would have to leave my family and be alone with all those strangers. No matter what my mother told me I felt something was very wrong with the world.

Within months of starting grade one I was moved into a class for “special children” which was comprised of kids who needed extra attention.

That, along with my Forrest Gump style leg braces (born with congenital hips) I became a perfect target for the “less enlightened” students.

To me it was like a jail sentence.

I swore I would someday be free. Free to be alone and never do anything someone else told me to do.

Free to sleep when I felt sleepy, eat when I was hungry, play when I wanted to play, and wear whatever clothing I wanted.

A Plan For Freedom

I decided I was going to become a famous musician and live the American Dream.

Not only was I going to be free to do whatever I wanted with my time, I would also show those little bastards how wrong they were treating me the way they did.

I was going to prove to them that I was the special one and they could all eat my…..dust.

An ego was born.

The Fantasy Of Freedom

By the time my teenage years approached I was living in a complete fantasy world. I believed I was just putting in time with the annoying herd until I would FINALLY be released.

I discovered marijuana and alcohol which further helped me float away into my fantasy life – my bright future as a rich and famous musician.

When I was done with school I left home with a band and moved to Vancouver.

I was determined to “make it”.

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It never happened.

The cold, thick hand of fate bitch slapped me for five long years.

I lived well below the poverty line sharing low rent apartments with other drugged up and delusion people.

I got to meet every type of unsavory person you get to meet when you’re poor in a big city. I got used to the smell of urine in the hallways and the sounds of domestic abuse on the other side of my wall.

My neighbors were prostitutes, fourth generation welfare recipients, pimps, drug dealers, and thieves.

It was a stone groove baby.

The Lucky One

I was finally starting to face the fact that I wasn’t going to be a successful musician, and I ended up going to doctors for anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia.

I wasn’t a great date.

But compared to my neighbors I was the lucky one.

Unlike the people I lived amongst, I had a get-out-of-poverty-card in my back pocket the entire time.

One that I never thought I would need to play.

I had sober loving parents.

Facing Reality

My father drove down to Vancouver from their home in Port Hardy, B.C. in his small Ford Courier truck.

I remember him packing all my stuff into the back of the truck and tying it down with the same multi-colored rope he always had in the basement. A special make of rope only used by B.C. Tel (British Columbia Telephone company) employees.

As soon as I saw him tying the rope I began to cry.

He was here to save me.

When I got home they got me on a special diet because I was emaciated. I started to gain some weight back and I was starting to feel better.

My father got me a job in aviation working in an old hanger in Coal Harbour. I got to work mostly on my own which was perfect for me.

coal-harbour

My parents then made the tough love call and asked me to leave their house six months later. They helped me find a small bachelors apartment and I moved out.

Eventually I began to accept working full time for a living, but I didn’t like it.

I still thought the concept of working forty hours a week for someone else was nuts – but this time I didn’t have a plan to change it.

There was no WAY I was going to live in poverty again.

For the next decade I worked as an aircraft mechanic, playing in part time bands, and moving from city to city wherever I could find work. Those were good days.

At one point I got married for a few years but it failed – we divorced and I claimed personal bankruptcy.

And then it happened.

A True Love – A True Friend

Her name is Betty and we’ve been married since 2000.

She helped me through a lot of issues. I started on medication for my anxiety, stopped playing in bands, quit smoking marijuana, and stopped wasting money.

The clouds were parting, the sun was warming, and I had never been happier.

But I still had a dream to pursue. I still wanted financial freedom.

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The Sonic Boom

Not long after, Canadian Airlines closed the base in Saskatoon where Betty and I worked, and we were transferred to Calgary.

Within six months my job was gone.

During my last shift at the Calgary base I used the company computer to search the web using Google.

I typed in the search field:

“I want to work at home on my computer”

It was like a sonic boom. Everything had changed.

Now when I looked at web pages all I could see was money moving from mouse click to mouse click.

I knew this was it……I had found it.

Soon I was starting my first websites.

They were horrific by today’s standards but I remember getting my first organic click just because I misspelled a word (in those days the search engines didn’t correct for spelling so if you spelled something wrong you could get some hits).

Family and friends thought I was flying away again into a new world of delusion.

But I kept at it and I discovered a way of making consistent profit.

I created ads on the Yahoo search engine and when people landed on my ugly little websites some of the visitors clicked my Google AdSense ads (it’s called Adsense arbitrage – doesn’t really work anymore).

What we got paid by Google was more that what we paid Yahoo.

We made it!

The Debt

We had accumulated some big debts.

We weren’t making that much in the beginning and debt just climbed and climbed as earnings were less than the cost of our bills.

But we could taste what freedom might be like.

Betty was now working for a different airline while I worked 18 hour days 7 days a week writing content.

Then we thought….if we can make this much money with two websites, why not make four websites.

So we did, and soon after Betty suggested we get more aggressive with our advertising.

She has more guts than I do (I was just too afraid to spend a lot of money on Yahoo traffic) so she took over.

She was a natural and she was aggressive.

She watched all the keyword bids like a hawk and did what I call the Price Is Right Maneuver. She would wait until our competition finished setting their keyword bids and then she would login and out bid them by one penny.

She doubled our income, then tripled our income, then quit her job too.

We REALLY made it.

The Shrinking Debt

As our income grew our debt started dwindling.

We didn’t spend any extra money because we were so busy working, and we didn’t want to get distracted – we knew we were on the path to financial freedom.

A few years later Yahoo was bought out by Bing and we could no longer get traffic to our ugly little websites.

We had to start over.

Luckily I had a feeling it was coming and had been publishing content on blogs for years before we lost the PPC traffic – so when Yahoo gave us the punt we still had enough organic traffic to easily pay the bills.

Later on we sold the house in Calgary, bought a smaller house in Saskatoon and settled down for good. The move enabled us to pay off the mortgage, the RV, and our SUV.

A few years later Betty sold the RV for $38,000 and that started our cash-on-hand nest egg. We still have $250,000 in RRSPs and mutual funds we started back in the early days working for the airlines.

Life After Debt

Everything is different. We don’t feel like we’ll have to go back and “work for the man” again.

We know we would never be employees again. If our Internet business collapsed for some reason we would find some kind of self employment gig to grow.

Losing our freedom is not an option. If we have to sell the house and down size again we will. If we have to live in a trailer we will. All that matters is we’re together and we’re free.

And we still don’t have a date set for retirement. We have plans on how to save for the possibility that we can’t work anymore, but by constantly creating more passive income streams we should always have something coming in to bolster our old age pension and RRSP withdrawals.

As long we have the ability to think straight and create content we will keep doing it.

I still love the feel of a cheap keyboard under my fingers and I will never again choose a hobby that costs money over a hobby that makes money.

I Never Would Have Made It Without Her

In my case I never would have achieved financial freedom if it wasn’t for my second wife Betty.

It was her loving support and confidence in me that made the difference.

It NEVER would have happened without her.

So this is something I stress with all the people who visit my sister sites looking for financial help – choose your spouse carefully.

Make sure you communicate with your love partner and be fair with each other. You’re all each other have. You’re a team and that team must be protected at all costs.

——–END——–

Brent Truitt is a full time Internet marketer and part time blogger who lives in Canada and the United States. You can connect with him on Twitter @IAmBrentTruitt    

brent 

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28 Comments

  1. Yep, having the right spouse really helps. I know that my hubby is way more naturally frugal than I am, and that’s helped reign in my spending quite a bit. Though it’s been a while since I was irresponsible, Jon’s really good at finding savings opportunities.

    • Hi Emily, Thanks for coming by and sharing! I’ve been enjoying JohnJaneDoe.com – very clever name. Who’s idea was that? My wife and I love picking out domain names. See you in Tweet land! B

  2. Congrats on reaching early retirement! It’s been nice to connect with you. I love the picture of you jamming. I’m so done with being an employee (you put it perfectly). I thought debt freedom was all there was to it…boy was I wrong.

    • Hey Chris!

      Thanks for stopping by my little blog here. It’s a brand-new freshy so I want to thank you very much for coming by and helping me out with a comment.

      I’ve actually run across your blog before I ever started DF. You’ve done some great work there.

      I’ll see you over a DFG!!

      It will be good getting to know you.

      Sincerely B

  3. Fascinating story man – so glad it’s turning out the way it is!! I feel like you’re going to help a lot of people sharing this – keep going.

    • Hey J. Money – love your site and thanks for including me in your directory! I’m going to do a roundup including your work.

      Least I can do.

      I hope a can help in some way. Maybe because I crashed and burned I could at least help them understand their high debt situation is just temporary and really not the end of the world.

      I wish somebody could’ve told me that at the time because I was scared shitless.

      B

  4. I might advertise myself as Classy and Sassy and use swear words but I read this post word-for-word and ended with Awwwww.

    Such an interesting story. And I hear you about being fascinated with all you don’t know. I consider myself a smart Lady but Twitter has certainly opened my eyes to some things! Dang.

    I’m looking forward to collaborating with you!

    • Hey there LITB!!

      Thanks for stopping by humble abode! I think the rug ties the room together. Thank you for the kind words, and you betcha we’ll have to collaborate on some cool projects!

      Brent

  5. Great story! You held my attention all the way through and you got me cheering you at each milestone. Love photo of the Tomcat going through Mach 1, it’s one of my favorite photos. The personal symbolism you place on it is as awesome as the photo.
    Looking forward following your unfolding story.
    I’d like to learn more about generating revenue from a blog, but first, I have to deliver value to my readers.

    • Hey Franklin!

      Thanks for dropping by my home, and thanks for the kind words. I’m still learning the art of writing (and stumbling) but thanks to people like you it’s starting to get better. I checked out your site – YOU can write well.

      Keep it up eh!

      Sincerely B

  6. I always love a happy ending! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    • Thanks very much Lucy. I look forward to watching your journey as well.

      B

  7. kimmy kimmy

    great read!

  8. Brent, this is a great story. It’s always fascinating to read about people’s personal financial stories, their struggles, and their journey. This is definitely a story that plenty of readers will find hope in. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks for coming by and sharing Zach. It means a lot!

      B

  9. Outstanding story, Brent!

    Most people spend money and time on the internet. You figured out a way to earn money before most of us knew it was possible.

    My story is very different than yours, but we share a commonality in that we were both working towards FI without realizing it and without knowing why. When I first read about the concept of FIRE, I realized that I was pretty much FI already, and I could choose to RE at any time, a couple decades earlier than I once thought I would want to retire.

    I’ve making it a long, slow transition to ensure it’s not just a wacky idea, and the more I write, learn, and contemplate, the more I’m sure freedom is a good fit for me and my family.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Hi Pof,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’ve been admiring your blog for awhile now. Learned a lot about flow from you.

      It’s so true there are many unique ways to hit FI. Just like all humans are unique with unique experiences.

      Talk soon!

      B

  10. Mel Mel

    I love your mindset shift about how you could never go back to working for people. I love stage managing, but I managed to get the bills paid during 2 months of being between gigs blogging and freelance writing this spring and it was kind of crazy liberating to be able to do whatever I wanted with my days. I mean… I mostly worked like crazy, but I didn’t HAVE to and it was amazing.

    • Hi Mel,

      I’ve been following you on Twitter. Thanks for the visit and comment.

      Yes, freedom is amazing. Ironically my issue since being free is working too much in periods of inspiration.

      Doesn’t feel like work at all.

  11. I’m happy to hear it, Brent. Congrats on the RockStar treatment today!

  12. Amazing story, Brent. I love this line:
    “Family and friends thought I was flying away again into a new world of delusion”.

    I remember crying every day in kindergarten watching my mom with all the moms on the other side of the fence leaving us to die (I mean thrive) there. For me, too, that was when the first signs of rebellion showed up. Don’t make me f-ing do things I don’t want to do.

    The person you marry is key. There’s a book I heard of called “Cherish” I want to read. I want to remind myself that even with all the little “mocking” Mr. Groovy and I do of one another, I need to remember to show him how I cherish him.

    • Hi Mrs. Groovy,

      Thanks for coming by!!

      Looks like we have natural rebellion in common. Some folks think rebellion is an admirable trait, and in some cases maybe so, but we usually end up paying a price for not “being like water” as Bruce Lee said.

      Thanks a ton to you and Mr. Groovy for letting me submit an addition to your awesome blog! See you both on Twitter.

      Sincerely B

  13. What a fascinating story Brent. So good to hear a great couple story. I know my husband is much better off having met me. 🙂 Just kidding, we are both better off with each other.

    Thanks for the reminder to cherish who you’re with and communicate on all matters. For the good of your team.

    • Thank you Amy! Wow 😳 honoured you came by for a visit and shared. I’ve been on your amazing blog a few times now for a good read.

      I will see you there and on Twitter!

  14. Tiffany Tiffany

    It takes some courage to dive into your journey and share it with the world. I appreciate your willingness to help us understanding that life’s turning point is not always on a specific clock but when you are ready to make a choice. Lovely story and glad you have a such strong partner.

    • Thanks Tiffany glad you enjoyed the post. It wasn’t easy to write because it brought back some scary-sad times. YOU should start a blog!! Or have you already?

  15. “Losing our freedom is not an option. If we have to sell the house and down size again we will. If we have to live in a trailer we will. All that matters is we’re together and we’re free.”

    Wow, this completely resonated with me! My husband and I are completely on the same page (also credits me with setting him straight – but I didn’t do it, he did it! He just needed someone to say “no really, you are awesome!”). I feel like we could also weather any storm as long as we are together and committed. I spent most of the last year disabled which was trying for the entire family and it just reminded me how important it is to marry the right person (or as he says, “you are really working this ‘in sickness’ portion of the contract!”).

    That was a great read, thank you!

    • Thanks for coming by and reading Tucker! I’m glad it resonated with you.

      It saddens me when I see people who are alone without a partner who “has their back”.

      We’ve all met people who have wealth but no partner to truly love and plan with. All that money is a waste.

      B

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