My name is Benjamin Davis and I was born in Portugal, to an Italian and Canadian family.
Although I am 28, I already have a pretty dense resume, which is topped off by a PhD awarded by a tier 1 German university.
Today, I want to share my thoughts on success, happiness and time.
Have you noticed other people telling you that “money can’t buy happiness,” when you bring up your plans, and mention your ambitions?
Have you noticed that other people will try to talk you out of creating your own company, because “it is too risky”?
We, humans, have an intense aversion to instability. It’s part of our DNA and our survival instincts.
They say the richest place in the world is the graveyard – we carry so many of our dreams with us when we die.
I had a lot of people telling me about what they dreamed of doing, but they did not do it.
In fact, this is so common that I bet that if you name your biggest dreams right now, chances are you are not working towards them.
And if you really look at them closely, you’ll find out that what really prevented you from chasing them was fear. Am I right? If so, continue to read, it may help you.
As I said, I’ve gotten my PhD in Germany. But one day, I woke up exhausted and felt hit by a train.
After a gazillion visits to all kinds of specialists, and countless blood-work tests I was diagnosed with ME/CFS (Myalgic encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) – in particular a mild version of CFS.
Most likely (and fortunately), you have no idea what this disease is. Fatigue for me is actually the easiest part of CFS.
Sometimes I experience dizziness that is so serious that I can’t look to the computer for more than 5 minutes.
I learned to manage some of my symptoms and I can get through life (some days are much better than others though).
An Epiphany Changed My Life
CFS was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
In late 2014 I decided that I needed to do something about my situation because it became more and more unsustainable for me to have a full time job.
Quitting my job sounded reasonable, but what would I live off of? I thought about ways to earn money without having to go to work.
Yes, I know, this is probably everybody’s dream. But in my case I had a very good reason to do that. Because CFS was started to prevent me from having a normal job. And I knew that sooner or later I would have to stop working.
I had invested in stocks with great success since I was 16 years old so I was already used to the concept of passive income.
Now the question was to replicate what I had done in the past and scale that up to a level that allowed me to live off of the dividends. This changed my life entirely.
I sat down with a bunch of papers and a calculator and I started to project how much I could save (of my relatively large salary) and how much time would it take for me to live off the dividends.
I read over 100 books in the course of the following 24 months, educating myself financially and learning a lot about investing, from stocks to real estate.
Eventually I put together a list of these book summaries (just like Brian does) and reviews for them.
I am a big advocate of financial education for everyone because a lot of people out there struggle and it doesn’t have to be like that.
While I read all these books, I found a bunch of early retirement blogs that ultimately confirmed that I wasn’t crazy and it was actually possible.
I set my goals and started working towards them.
Time – Now And The Future
I fell in love with real estate once I started investing.
I managed to find deep value deals yielding up to 20% net a year, which you can find on my Real Estate portfolio.
My current net worth is primarily exposed to real estate right now (you can see that my stock portfolio is indeed very limited right now as I expect a market correction soon).
I am so hands on that I spend a lot of time posting about practical aspects (such as pro forma examples, how to get rid of a couch, and free real estate books) of real estate investing. I am on track to retire by 33-36, if I continue this path.
My first goal is to be able to retire by the age of 33, to which end I will set up a portfolio of about $700,000.
This portfolio should generate enough money to allow me to live (frugally) off of the dividends.
And it will be a diversified with stocks, bonds and, primarily, real estate.
Building such a large nest egg won’t be easy and I need to earn well, save aggressively and use the profit of my investments to keep the portfolio growing.
On top of that, I will have to work relentlessly to stay motivated. I am currently setting up two businesses to increase my monthly cash flow and make sure that I am on track to retire by 33. Those take a lot of my time.
Last month I worked, on average, 16 hours a day. Note that even though I have CFS, I can work for long periods if I manage my tasks carefully and stop occasionally – as I said I’ve learned to manage some of my worse symptoms over the years.
Right now, for instance, I am focusing on increasing my online business, which consumes a lot of time because my strategy revolves a lot around SEO.
I am also setting up a real estate business too, which I am trying to scale to the point where it will run mostly passively, in two years from now.
Yes, the majority of my time is actually spent working. But really, what I am doing right now is working towards my dream.
And my dream is to attain full freedom; a day where I don’t have to work for money anymore, a day where I am truly free and can do what I want to do.
If the weather is good I can go out and surf. If I am tired, I can stay home and relax.
I ask you to replace me with you and replace my dream with yours.
Are you really chasing your dreams? Or will you take them to the graveyard?
I hope you find my story inspirational and it has some impact on your life.
This article was written by Benjamin Davis, the man on a journey to early retirement at fromcentstoretirement.com. I previously answered interview questions on Ben’s site that you can read here.