In need of some inspiration for your saving?
Take a look at parents Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, who’ve been able to retire early after saving two million dollars (around £1.5million) in the space of eight years.
How did they do it? With a seriously strict budget and plenty of side hustles.
While the couple, who both worked as civil servants, don’t want to reveal the exact figure they saved, they say they now have enough to mean they’ll never work another day in their lives.
That’s great news for their children, Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, who now get to spend a load of time with their parents.
The family has now moved from San Francisco to Lisbon, Portugal to live a life of leisure. Anyone else jealous?
Amon, who brought home $98,000 a year as an urban planner, and Christina, who earned $70,000 as a federal attorney, insisted that almost anybody can retire early if they follow their example and join the Financial Independence Retire Early movement, known as FIRE.
Christina said: ‘The FIRE journey is all about saving money, making money and investing that money.
‘But before you do all that, you have to believe that you can do it. It’s about your mindset.’
Amon realised he wanted to retire early when he received an award for ten years service at work in 2011.
He said: ‘That was a life changing moment. You can work for so many years and all you get to show for it is a piece of paper.
‘I really wanted more out of life than this.
‘The idea of working another 30 years in a cubicle and missing out on life was crazy to me.’
Christina and Amon worked together to create FIRE, which now has thousands of followers working to put away enough money to ditch the world of work.
They gave themselves a ten-year plan to become financially independent and able to retire by 2021.
In 2013 they began flipping homes, buying their first fixer-upper in the San Francisco area by putting just 3% of the property price down, which was $17,000.
They lived in the home while they did it up, sold it, and then did the same thing again with two more properties, allowing them to gain over $400,000 in profit.
The couple also sold spare possessions on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and signed up to become Uber and Lyft – they say they earned $26,000 without ever having to pick up any passengers.
Amon said: ‘For a period we drove for Uber and Lyft in the San Francisco bay area.
‘For us, it was all about the hack. The companies were giving $40 an hour just to turn on the app.
‘We would literally get no rides but we’d still get the sign-up bonus.
‘I think we made $26,000 just on this Uber and Lyft hack, not driving at all.’
All the extra money went into low-cost index funds.
Amon said: ‘You start off with investing all your tax advantage accounts – the ones you have at work, your retirement funds.
‘In our 401k, we invested in an index fund that tracked the stock markets, we weren’t dabbling in individual stocks.
‘The return on the stock market is historically eight to 10% so we just plowed our extra money into the index funds.’
The family made some lifestyle changes, too, including trading in a BMW for an $800 minivan
They also made changes in their lifestyle including trading in their brand new BMW SUV for an $800 minivan. But the parents made sure that throughout their scrimping and saving, the family was still able to have fun.
Each year Amon and Christina used sign up bonuses on credit cards to pay for a big holiday, heading on vacations to Thailand, Hawaii, and Singapore.
The couple are sharing their story to show other parents that they can save enough money to retire early.
Amon said: ‘When people say that children are expensive – you make children expensive if you are trying to give them the world.
‘People will go broke for their children but they won’t become rich for them.
‘We’ve seen people overspend on toys and activities. But we never found our children to be expensive. We have a minimalist mindset.
‘We didn’t give out gifts at Christmas but we went on trips.
‘Our girls can remember that they were in Paris on Christmas Day or in Singapore or in Thailand.’
In 2016 their savings got a boost when the couple moved to Japan with work, where they lived rent-free. This allowed them to save 70% of their income and invest it for three years.
Following that time, the couple hit their goal of financial independence two years earlier than expected. They were able to retire in July this year, then moved to Portugal because of its weather, education, health care, and the low cost of living.
The family’s outgoings are now around $4,500 a month.
Amon and Christina now spend their days with their children, taking Portuguese classes, traveling around Europe and focussing on their physical fitness, with Christina swimming and Amon playing basketball.
They also focus on their Youtube channel, Our Rich Journey, where they share their tips and tricks on achieving FIRE.
Amon said: ‘We just took 40 hours a week back.
‘We are so busy every single day.
‘What type of life is it commuting to work every day and sitting at your desk?
‘I can organize my own life and my own day now.
‘What is most important is that we are not tired at the end of the day when we meet our children.
‘We have the energy to keep up with them.’