We all have to start somewhere, right? In this post, I will share with you ALL 11 jobs that led to my early retirement at age 36.
Additionally, I will disclose how much I got paid along the way so you can get an idea of the progression. I think it’s important to see this, especially for my millennial friends who admittedly concentrate a lot of their focus on “today”.
If you have the goal to FIRE, it’s critical to keep moving, growing, and by all means SAVING along the way. Although I earned much more in my later years, some earlier jobs were more critical in my overall development… including my unpaid internship!
I think it’s a great idea to take a job in your teens. It’s a time when you potentially have a decent amount of free time on your hands… especially in the summer!
In addition to making a little extra money for yourself, you begin to understand the money and labor dynamic in a traditional sense. This builds appreciation for “hard work”.
I only had one job in high school, but really wish I taken some others. I also dabbled in some entrepreneurial endeavors as well, although I didn’t make much. 🙂
If I’m being honest, I only took this job at the time to earn some extra cash for a paintball gun I wanted! No saving was ever intended with this income.
It was however, a great experience to really pull up my sleeves and trade time for dollars. I can’t say that this model interested me for long!
Half way after declaring my major in economics, I realized I wanted to work in tech! So, I decided to pursue an internship in web design which ultimately led me to working in technology.
Although I didn’t earn a dime, this internship really gave a glimpse into the tech industry and helped me to learn real world skills that were tangible for many years to come.
This part-time job was another low paying job, but super high in value. I ultimately became life-long friends with the owner of the business and she’s become more than just a mentor to me… she’s our children’s Godmother!
Because I had tangible skills learned at my prior internship, I was able to work for a local web development company as a freelance web designer.
Although I like web design, I couldn’t see myself sitting behind a computer screen all day long. I needed to get out and stretch my legs and see the world!
So, I began pursuing opportunities in I.T. specifically with networking and hardware. In fact, the company that I did web design for allowed me to build out their first network and server.
This led me to finding my first salaried job as a systems admin which would launch my career into outsourced IT.
I was like a sponge here. There were so many opportunities to learn. Being hands on at your first “real” job is critical to your success.
Pay attention to all the departments and how they work… not just your own!
After several months, I decided to ask for a raise. I did a ton of research and made my move.
AGE 25 TO 30
A little less than two years into my first salaried job, the technology market took a huge crash!
Our company was hemorrhaging cash left and right and people began to get laid off.
After witnessing 6 rounds of layoffs, a couple of my friends and I decided that we had seen enough. It was obvious if we stayed we would get laid off at some point, so we decided to resign and start-up a company of our own.
I was just 25 at the time, super naive, and unprepared to start a business. Fortunately, I didn’t care.
I had built up enough confidence over the past few jobs to know I could be flexible and maneuver through challenges.
Fortunately, we landed our first few clients quickly and I was already making more money than I was prior to a few months earlier.
I like working with clients at times, but I was also super interested in business. So, I took it upon myself to really grow it with systems and processes.
As CFO, I managed our cash flow wisely and we were able to make a couple acquisitions along the way which really fed our client base nicely.
Remember, if you ever start your own business, cash flow is KING! Because I controlled the company cash flow, I made sure to pay ourselves fairly, but also not pay out everything.
AGE 30 TO 36
Over the next few years, I took a more active role in leading the company growth. I knew that someday when we sold the company, our recurring revenue contracts would be the assets that had actual tangible value.
I spent a lot of time growing our business from a place trading time for money, into an actual scalable business complete with a management team and processes to run the day-to-day operations.
This focus would ultimately lead to a larger pay off later on, outside of my regular salary.
My last job was a position I had for a little over a year. After we sold the company, we merged our teams, and I was responsible for the outsourced IT team that did onsite calls and projects.
I enjoyed a nice salary during this time, but the leadership of the new entity left more to be desired and we ended up parting ways.
I was able to negotiate a generous severance package which I used to transition into early retirement.
AGE 36 – ???
Today I am super blessed to be a Stay-At-Home Dad first and foremost. I meet so many people who had regrets about not spending enough time with their kids when they were younger. So, I’m soaking it up as much as I can, while I can!
To keep my mind active and grow our asset base, I pursue other projects. Other hats I get to wear are: investor, financial coach, e-retailer, etc.
To me, early retirement is not about STOPPING work. Rather it’s an inflection point where I can simply work on exactly what I want to, when I want to.
There is definitely more work to be done, but I will always stop and smell the roses along the way.
BUILD YOURSELF A SOLID FOUNDATION
Climbing a ladder is much easier than scaling a high wall all at once. It can be done, but I’d rather increase my odds of success over time to guarantee my outcome.
Make sure that each job you have is serving you and your goal of early retirement.
And remember, it’s not the amount of earnings that will take you to early retirement, rather it’s your mindset and your subsequent habits.
Readers, what kind of jobs did you take along your career path that really impacted you in a positive way? Were there jobs that were super challenging, but really made a difference? Where will you “jump to” next?