I am The Escape Artist and I am here to help you.
If you are in debt or working a job you don’t like, then you are a prisoner. I can help you escape from the financial Prison Camp that so many of us have been trapped in…often without even knowing. Beyond the barbed wire, watchtowers and dobermans lie our goals: the treeline of freedom and the rail station of happiness.
These goals are a lot easier to achieve if you are financially independent. Financial independence (FI) means you have enough money to never have to work again. You are allowed to keep on working if you want but you have the ability either to either politely decline your boss’ less reasonable requests or, even better, be your own boss.
If you think that getting rich is only possible for pop stars, rappers, CEOs and people running hedge funds, then think again. It’s easy to get rich slowly. You just need to take it step by step and allow the aggregation of marginal gains and compound interest to work their magic.
Why might I be able to help you?
Well, I spent many years in the Prison Camp myself and I know how the system works. I wanted freedom, so I hatched a plan and began to dig. I paid off my mortgage when I was 32, built up my investment portfolio and then quit my corporate job in March 2014 at the age of 43 when I’d made enough not to work any more. I did this whilst funding 3 kids and without winning the lottery, inheriting money or being CEO of a large multi-national company. Those are my stripes.
The Escape Artist is a highly trained financial commando. I have a degree in economics, I’m a qualified accountant and I had a 20 year career in corporate finance. But the stuff I teach on this blog and in financial coaching with clients is simple enough for anyone to put into practice.
Although escaping aged 43 isn’t bad, I could have done much better. If only, aged 21, I’d had the wisdom of an experienced commanding officer, well versed in investing and self-development literature, with a cunning plan then I could have reached financial independence years earlier.
You, lucky reader, have that commanding officer and here is the plan.
Within the Prison Camp, think of being in debt like being in the solitary confinement hut with no food and only rats for company. We have to get out…but how?
Step 1 is to get a grip on your spending. Most people treat their money like its water in a bucket full of holes. I suggest you think of it like your blood. Its not something you want leaking out of you unless there’s a really good reason. When it comes to your spending, you need to be able to answer the question: where does it all go?
Before you can repay debts and invest anything, you need to save. In order to save your spending needs to be less than your income (I know…duh!). You need to target a savings rate of 50+% of your (net) pay. No, that is not a typo.
To build wealth, we need to first understand and then slash our spending. We spend money for a variety of reasons…lots of which are stupid and reflect evolutionary biases that people find it hard to be aware of, let alone correct. Remember this – money is not for showing off or spending on consumer shit, it is for making you more money to buy freedom and happiness.
Step 2 is to dig the tunnel out of the camp by clearing your debts. All debt that you owe to fund spending (credit cards, car finance, student loans, hire purchase) needs to be repaid. Debt that does not fund productive assets (rental houses, equities) is an emergency that needs to be dealt with quickly. Once you have destroyed all consumer debt, you can start to attack your mortgage.
Step 3 is like getting the train to the Swiss border as quickly and safely as possible – you need to learn to invest without taking unnecessary risks or being ripped off. Investing can be made simple enough for anyone to manage their own portfolio. Even if you know nothing about investing.
All you need do to get to financial freedom, is increase your portfolio (and reduce your spending) until you have more than 25x your annual spending. That will probably be enough.
In my portfolio, I combine high quality shares held directly with low cost index trackers. I’ve managed my own investments for the last 19 years, over which time my direct equity portfolio has delivered about 12% per year.
Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. At 12% per year, your money doubles every 6 years. This can seem quite boring for the first few years. After that, as the snowball gathers speed and size, it stops being boring and becomes pretty fucking interesting.
If you follow the principles set out on this site and action them in your everyday life, you will become rich and you will escape from the Prison Camp. That is not just my opinion, it is simple arithmetic. The Escape Artist is Right and will show his workings.
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You can also follow via Twitter @TheEscapeART1ST (note the number 1 not an “I”).
Right, its midnight and we are 250 miles from the Swiss border, so lets get started!
Note 1: With apologies to “The Great Escape”
Note 2: Not actual photo of the author
Note 3: To be fair, my last couple of bosses were actually very reasonable