If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen loads of blog posts about people with 7-figure net worth in their 30s. Often high-earners at FAANG companies or in finance. It feels impossible to reach that level, given current income and age. I think it’s sensible to acknowledge that.
From there we can move on to setting a realistic goal for ourselves, based on the same principles, but with some tweaks to account for age and income levels. These folks are sometimes able to put away in excess of $100k a year, typically into index funds, without doing a great deal else.
It’s likely then that we’ll have to work a bit harder and a bit smarter to do the same. My plan would involve still using index funds. In the UK we have stocks and shares ISAs that give you a tax-free place to place your savings. In the US that’s the 401k/IRA or similar. But then by my calculations we need to go a little further to grow the comparatively small amounts of capital we have quicker.
The aim might be to still retire early, but maybe up to a decade early instead of 20 years. Or to build a few years' worth of savings as a cushion. In any case I think anyone looking to do this is looking to make a few compromises or sacrifices now to build some security for later life. Not necessarily everyone can realistically become independently wealthy, but most of us can make our future selves' lives easier.
The high-growth part
For this I’m going to recommend two higher-risk investments. They need weighting as high-risk to still offer some protection, but if done over a long enough time-scale should still yield more than similarly placed capital in index funds. These are:
- Selling a digital product or course
- Trading forex markets (manually, semi-manually or automatically)
Neither of these options were available to my parents, and I’ve seen many success stories from both. I am also aware of confirmation bias though, and the fact that 70-90% of forex traders lose money. That being said, my thinking is that given enough time, and with the right expertise, one or both of these could lead to great returns with only time and a little outlay at risk.
Allow me to explain.
Selling a digital product
This “idea” depends on having an existing expertise in an in-demand field. Preferably one that people are already searching for online. This could be software-related, engineering based, educational - one that solves a burning need that saves people time or makes them money. The basic outline is that you create a course or book around your subject and every future sale from creation onwards requires very little intervention. Price high enough and your support costs are also covered in advance. I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but the plan is to use income from this to seed the next part of the plan.
The markets have become much more accessible in the last decade and retail trading is increasing all the time due to this. I say forex specifically over stocks and crypto trading because neither of those hold a candle to the size of the foreign exchange market, the biggest in the world. Every foreign business transaction passing through banks and brokers goes through this market. They say it’s worth something like $5 trillion a day. That’s all the fish in the sea, times five, or all the trees on the planet, times five. An incredible amount of money. And this helps us because it means it jumps around much less and takes much stronger forces to flash crash it than the other two. Stability, in other words. Those things still happen, but you also get low-barriers to entry and full international regulations covering your deposits and trades. You still need to chose brokers carefully, but you can learn to trade without spending a penny on their papertrading accounts, or backtest automated strategies for free using the widely available software on offer.
I’ve spent 2.5 years so far researching this and have modelled a handful of strategies that, at least in backtesting, outperform the index funds by a long way. I’ll be publishing those test results as well as my forward testing results in due course. I’ve enough confidence in them to allocate a large portion of my retirement fund, but even if you only allocated 5% of yours, and it grew to 7.5% in the following year, then doubled again thereafter, you’d be well on course to catching up with the high-earners by retirement time. 50% a year is not to be expected, but the backtest results are showing that kind of level over 21 currency pairs and 9 years.
These two additions to the buy-and-hold strategies employed by higher-earners with a better capital base will, in my opinion, allow any late or lower-income starters to go a long way towards catching up with the top-flight of the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) folks.
You can continue to try and earn more in your day-job. For me, that’s freelancing, and I do try to earn more there, but I won’t be able to double/triple my salary in a few years as easily as, say, a programmer job-hopping. Or you can skip straight to the forex part if you have 5% of your net-worth that you’d like to attempt to grow faster than the rest.
Come and discuss this in the live chat group, link below, or join the mailing list to find out more as I continue to write these thoughts up.