How a man lost a fortune and still found financial independence

by Phil Lowe
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There are so many stories of people who are financially independent yet few seem to be achieved at a fair starting point. Some are left amazing inheritances by their parents which allows them to set up a company or buy their first house. Others simply have their first house bought for them. Money loves money and hearing about someone who made a lot of money but started off rich too, is not that impressive (cough cough, Donald Trump). What about people who start off with nothing and make it all, isn’t that more impressive? Well, we can go one better. Here is a story of someone who had nothing, was gifted it all, lost it, and earned it back himself.

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Brandon Neth came from a lower-middle-class family in America. Times were tough and any money that was made by the family was spent quickly. Saving was not an option. Then Brandon’s grandfather died and suddenly to his surprise he was handed an inheritance of $100,000. This is usually the point in the story where we stop paying attention because there is no lesson to learn when someone is being gifted money but stick with me for a moment. 

Brandon lost all of it. He was in university at the time and had a love for cars. During his time in uni, he bought ten cars, spent his money quickly, and partied with people far weather than him. He basically had no idea how to manage his money and threw it all away. His girlfriend at the time had to have some stern words with him. She told him that she loved him but could not raise a family with someone who had no ability to financially plan for the future. Brandon got his ass in gear.

He started to research financial planning and soon became a follower of the FIRE (Financially Independent, retire early) approach. He started to sell off the things he didn’t need and realized he was pretty good at selling so it become more than a step, it became his livelihood. His next big idea was to geo-hacking. This is the simple idea of earning a good salary while living in a country with a low living cost. He worked remotely like this for a few years until he had saved up enough money to invest in a property back in the United States. 

He moved home and bought a property and immediately took on a tenant. The price he charged the tenant was enough to cover mortgage repayments so Brandon was living rent-free. This allowed him to save up more money, invest in more real estate, and enter the stock market. Today at 33 years old Brandon has achieved his dream of being able to retire young. Although he did retire for a number of years he is now back working, driven by passion instead of a financial need. 

Brandon’s advice to anyone who wants to be financially independent is to be proactive. He argues that you can’t just wait for an opportunity, you have to go out there and get it. If you are willing to do that and work hard and be smart with your money, financial independence is not an impossible dream.

Brandon’s experience is a dramatic one. It took him blowing $100,000 before he learned the lessons that would allow him to become financially savvy. You don’t need to spend the same amount. Start acting smarter with your money today and you too can realize financial independence in the future. The key is taking small steps that in time equate to giant strides.

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