Mike Rosehart is just 27 years old but he’s already been retired for three years, having quit work at the grand old age of 24 once he had saved up £578,132.
Yep, get ready to feel like a financial failure.
Mike is another proponent of the FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early – movement, which has previously helped a mum and dad to save millions in the space of eight years.
The former IT business analyst says that there’s no big secret: he just saved aggressively, lived frugally, and bought his first home at the age of 19 instead of renting.
Mike also believes that anyone and everyone can achieve financial independence and stop needing to work with a little financial wizardry – he’s even taken in three mentees to teach them his saving skills.
Mike said: ‘The secret to retiring early is: spend less, earn more and maximize the returns on the difference.
‘The hard part is executing it. Most of us can’t resist the Starbucks, the trip abroad or the new cellphone. Delayed gratification is the secret to FIRE.’
Okay. Delayed gratification. Write that on your hand and look at it the next time you fancy a sweet treat or a jazzy jumper on the way home from work.
Mike hit upon the idea of retiring early when he was studying at the Ivey Business School in Ontario, Canada, in 2010.
He came across Early Retirement Extreme, a book about becoming financially independent on a median salary by Danish astrophysicist Jacob Lund Fisker.
He said: ‘I was in my first year at university and I was working on a project about the psychology of happiness.
‘I went deep into a wormhole on the internet and I came across Jacob Lund Fisker. He started the spark for me. His thesis was that anyone can retire in five years.
‘I thought: ‘Hey, I’m 17, I’m young and eager.’ I realised that what makes you happy is freedom and the ability to do what you want in your life.’
Mike’s then-girlfriend, now wife, Alyse, found this new approach to spending tough at first, as many of us would.
But Mike kept reminding her that those little spends could add up and prevent the pair from fulfilling their long-term goals.
‘Alyse and I have been together since we were 16. I wouldn’t say she’s a crazy spender but she likes her Starbucks,’ Mike said.
‘She wanted to have kids young so I explained that if we were able to retire early we could be there for our kids. I told her we just had to cut our spending in half. It took me over a year to get her on board.
‘Every time she bought Starbucks, I said: “That cost us two more days away from our kids”.’
Before you go thinking ‘well, it’s easy to save a load of money if you have rich parents and don’t have to rent’, Mike is quick to say that he didn’t grow up with wealth.
He was raised by a single mother on the poverty line and received scholarships to go to university. When he embarked on the FIRE plan he was working at coffee and doughnut shop Tim Hortons, earning slightly above minimum wage.
That meant making sacrifices and living below his means to save for the future.
He explains: ‘I saved aggressively. In my second year of university, I rented a bedroom for £200 when the market rent would have been £315.
‘It was 7ft by 8.5ft but it was perfect for me. I just needed a place to sleep. Then I got a tiny apartment with my girlfriend for just £346 a month.
‘We even shared the internet with the neighbours and gave them £3-a-month. I cycled everywhere instead of getting a vehicle.
‘I found a bike that someone was giving away on the Craigslist of Canada.’
Scrimping on rent allowed Mike to buy a home at the age of 19, putting down a deposit on a £115,626 cottage in London, Ontario (the one in Canada, not England’s capital).
Once the home was his, it was time to rent part of it out.
‘It was a tiny little cottage, the cheapest house I could find in London [Ontario],’ he said. ‘We put down £22,515 – half of that was money we had saved and half of it was our student line of credit.
‘We rented every room in it and so it was earning money for us. We had four other roommates.
‘The guy in our basement apartment was paying our mortgage. We graduated debt-free and with money in the bank.’
When it came to getting married, Mike and Alyse made sure to keep costs down, spending around £2,890 on the wedding and using points they had gained on credit cards to go to Brazil for the honeymoon, staying with a friend so they didn’t have to spend more on accommodation.
After graduating, Mike took on a job in consulting that paid £31,950, while Alyse worked as a graphic designer, making £20,157 a year. That’s not a load of money, but the couple were determined to make the most of it.
They began to use nearly all of Mike’s salary to buy up properties and start renting them out, living on ‘slightly less than half’ of Alyse’s saving then putting anything left over straight in savings.
Over the course of three years, they were able to buy 10 properties.
In 2016 the couple welcomed their first child, Emma, and one year later, in February 2017, Mike handed in his notice, having sold 11 properties and saved £578,132 – the 25 times his yearly living expenses that FIRE recommends saving.
Mike said: ‘I knew I needed £368,925 to retire and I had, in equity of my property, just under £578,132.
‘I went into my boss’s office and he told me that my job would be there when I came back in six months time.
‘He thought I was having a quarter-life crisis.’
In 2019 the couple had a second child, Arielle.
Mike admits that despite being a dad-of-two, he still had to find ways to fill the time left behind by retiring by 24. He started gaming at first, then decided to create a group in the area for other people who want to follow the FIRE system. They now do a monthly meetup.
While he’s no longer in employment, Mike does still make money. He describes property as a ‘passion’ and so buys houses, redesigns and redecorates them, then sells them on.
‘That’s what generates income by accident,’ he explains. ‘I made £34,610 this year without even trying. If you chase your hobbies, you’ll probably make more money.’
He also spreads the message of FIRE on his YouTube channel and has made his own mentorship program with four men who live in his rental properties.
The family still live a good life and their monthly outgoings are around £1,750 a month.
They’re going to Florida in January and plan to go to Disney World after that – but will make sure to hunt for deals when it comes to travel.
Are you an expert saver who fancies sharing their wisdom with the world? Or do you have any budgeting tips and tricks we should know? Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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