I would just like to take the opportunity to thank 2005 Nelson for everything he did so 2019 Nelson could live in comfort. Gosh, what a guy. I’d buy him a drink because Lord knows he was too damn cheap to buy one himself.
I remember one night working overnights at the ol’ grocery store where I decided on a path for my life. I would become a millionaire by the time I was 30. Then I could do whatever I wanted. I told my buddy and he actually believed I could do it.
So I did everything possible to get there. I walked to work despite it being a 20+ minute one way trip.And then I’d walk 8-10km per shift. Not surprisingly, I lost weight doing this job.
Working overnights came with other added benefits. Not only did I go to town on all the old donuts — which were free for the night shift guys — I also didn’t have many evenings free to hang out with my friends. Yes, I actively discouraged having a social life to end up slightly richer. I’d hang out a bit with my co-workers after work, but for the most part I’d come home at 9am, put on the ol’ BNN (ROBTV back then), and pass out at noon. I’d be up at 9:30pm to do it all over again.
By the time I was 22 I was promoted to Evening Manager, which came with a half-decent raise and plenty of opportunities for overtime. I even got a bonus at the end of the year. I maybe could have made more by moving to Alberta’s booming energy sector (remember, this is 2005), but I stayed put because I liked the steadiness of the grocery business and I didn’t want to work outside.
I did sometimes consider moving a little closer to work, but never seriously. That’s because I lived in my parents’ basement for the low, low price of $200 per month. I took full advantage of that deal and stayed until I hit 25. I figure that decision alone put $100,000 into my pocket.
Young Nelson wasn’t just being a cheap ass. He was also investing as fast as he could. Every spare dollar was put to work, first into real estate until those deals dried up. Then my cash was split into the stock market and our rapidly growing private mortgage business. I invested all I could and then borrowed to invest some more. I remember going into the bank as a 22-year-old and asking them to use the equity in another rental house for a down payment on a new property. And they actually agreed to it. No wonder the Canadian housing market is in a giant bubble.
In short, the first few years of my adult life were spent sacrificing so older Nelson could afford to take it easy. Young Nelson has never been fully thanked for it, so I’d like to take the opportunity to do so now. Thanks young Nelson. You’re the best.
And one more thing, young Nelson. Don’t worry, you will actually have some success with the ladies. They’ll start to appreciate what you’re doing in a few years. At least a couple of them do.
What about balance?
It’s a good thing young Nelson didn’t read anything on the internet about balance. Because he sacrificed everything those first few years.
I remember cracking $30,000 in yearly earnings for the first time That year I probably spent $5,000 all-in. My biggest expense was rent, but I made that worthwhile by eating all my parents’ food. I’d have the occasional meal at McDonald’s. I walked everywhere and my entertainment was cable TV, downloading music on the internet, and library books.
That’s an 83.3% savings rate. Not every year was that good, but I bet I averaged a 75% savings rate until I moved out at age 25.
Young Nelson sacrificed greatly so older Nelson doesn’t have to worry about money any longer. I know that the $25,000 I saved as a 20-year-old isn’t alone responsible for where I’m at today, but it was a damn good start. It bought assets that are still spinning off reliable cash flow today. I just did it over and over again.
The thing is I remember this not being much of a sacrifice to young Nelson. Sure, he wanted a car, but would always balk at the price, especially for insurance. Walking everywhere really wasn’t a big deal. Those free donuts were still damned delicious. My parents’ basement was comfortable and spacious. And most importantly, making these decisions allowed me to get rich in a hurry while the rest of my generation was piling on student loan debt.
So to young Nelson and to everyone else living that kind of life so they can be free in the future, I salute you. And trust me, the journey is worth it.