Retired at age 35: Steve Adcock on how you can reach financial independence

Steve Adcock is an entrepreneur and a writer who retired from his IT job at the age of 35 with his wife Courtney. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about how he was able to retire early (without doing something like winning the lottery), why you don’t have to work at a job that you hate, how you can be more financially responsible in your everyday life, what financial freedom looks like and much more!

On a common misconception:

“Most people assume that I won the lottery, got an inheritance or sold a business. None of those things actually happened, I did it the old fashioned way. But I don’t think the government should define when you retire. That should be your choice based on your decisions and the goals you have maintained throughout your life. That is the bottom line for me.”

On what life is like for him right now:

“I get to wake up whenever I want without an alarm clock, and do whatever I want for the rest of the day. I can go to bed whenever I want. Then I can get up whenever I want the next day and do it all again. To be honest I can’t think of a better way to go through life.”

On his career background:

“I worked 14 years in information technology. So there’s a good and a bad there. Obviously if you work in technology, you make a good salary, that part is great. But for me it also drains the life out of you. This is because you are always on call, work never stops. In my case, I could not see myself doing that for the rest of my life. The job was draining and I never got any satisfaction out of it. So for a while, the first half of my working career, I would reinvest that money into my happiness. My garage had a new Corvette, a new Cadillac and a new sports bike. I was living like a Rockstar. I will remember this day for the rest of my life. One day I walked out to my garage and looked at all of my toys, and there was something missing. I’m not happy and yet I have all of these things. What is going wrong?”

On a possible alternative career:

“I was seriously considering becoming a truck driver. I don’t know what it is about it. But I was considering packing up and hitting the road full time in a cab. Ultimately I am glad I didn’t go that route, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. I thought I can’t retire but I don’t want to take my work home with me, why not be a truck driver? Never happened and I am glad it didn’t.”

On when the process started:

“I think it was around 30. In my late 20’s I was like there’s no way I can retire. But I never put the pieces into place until 30 or 31. Then the ball got rolling when I met my future wife. We combined out resources and the snowball started to build.”

On the first steps:

“The very first step has nothing to do with money. We talked about our future and what we wanted it to look like. We did this every day while walking the dogs. It was always at the forefront of our minds. Strangely it never involved either of us working a full time job. It involved travel, adventure and having fun. Talking about that future goal kept that idea planted in our heads. The more you talk about it, that is going to help you to go in the right direction.”

On how the little things add up:

“There’s the latte effect, I’m sure people have heard about that. Those little, tiny expenses that over time add up into something that is significant. I never encourage people to live their life by sacrifice. If you like that $5 Starbucks just do it. That doesn’t mean your going to spend $15 on lunch and $20 on dinner. You just have to be honest with yourself. Spend money on things that make you happy, and be honest with things that don’t make you happy. If you cut back on those things that don’t make you happy, it does help.”

On how he made his money:

“We tracked every dollar that we spent. It got to a point where my wife could tell you how much we spent on sweet potatoes over a year. We were really anal about it. Cable TV was easy to cut out. We never took expensive vacations either. We did do things, but we budgeted $50 a month for restaurants. A lot of the recurring expenses that are funded in the background, we looked at our statements. We cut out what we were not using or wasn’t making us happy. All of that added up to several thousand dollars a year. We would invest that money, and through compound interest, all of that adds up.”

On some people not being able to save a lot:

“That is a common concern and I get it. We can’t all save 70%. But if you don’t like what you are doing and don’t have the money there are 2 things you can do. You an either increase your income or decrease your expenses. It’s more fun to increase your income of course. Or you could take a look at your expenses and see what is not making you happy. What can you cut out? It’s not a fun process, but going through that statement can add up to something you can be proud of.”

On when he realized the job wasn’t for him:

“About a week after I started! I graduated from college and took a look at everything around me. It was nothing like what I had expected. I had no concept of early retirement when I started. But my late 20’s and early 30’s was where it really started to come to a head. I didn’t know what the solution was but I knew I couldn’t do this for the rest of my life.”

On how he quit his job to retire:

“Luckily I worked for a very cool boss. I gave him 6 months notice that I was going to be quitting at the end of the year. Giving him notice alone was so freeing. I knew I had the next 6 months to finish out my career without a lot of stress and pressure. It was like nothing I have experienced before. Hopefully I never have to work again for the rest of my life. I also had enough confidence to know that it was going to work out.”

On where he lives right now:

“We are out in the middle of the Arizona desert. We are not filthy rich, we have enough to sustain our house. Also We have solar on site and we collect our own rainwater. We are self sufficient, so we have no utilities. That has been wonderful for us and helps us keep our expenses on the ground. I spend my day going on Twitter and doing podcasts. I get to experience the creative side too.”

On what’s next:

“We had considered international travel, but that has stopped because of COVID. I think the next goal is to have 2 separate residences. One in the desert for the fall, and a house on the lake for the summer. That’s going to be an expensive thing, but it’s a good change of pace to move around with the seasons.”

On what he is grateful for:

“My upbringing, the love of my life and the opportunities I have had throughout my life.”

Steve can be found on Twitter here.

Featured image: Marriage Kids & Money

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