NONE OF THIS IS AN INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE. I WROTE THIS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY.
In the name of Allah the most compassionate, the most merciful.
Salary is the most notorious drug, capable of eating you alive without you knowing it. Only take it in small doses when needed. Take too much and you'll die from overdose. When someone is addicted to this drug, they become too weak and fragile to be able to think beyond the next paycheck. Most people become so addicted that they'll learn to cope with it for the rest of their lives.
You might be thinking: Why should I give up something that gives me stability, comfort, and most importantly predictability?
If your goal in life is to work for a company that gives you a great salary, health insurance, 401k matching, 4 months of paternity leave, and office perks, save yourself time and stop reading. Join Google or Meta. But if you're slightly more ambitious, then here's the answer: Stability, comfort, and predictability is great for older people but extremely dangerous for a young, healthy, and capable man. Having a stable job is equivalent to sitting on your couch and scrolling through Tiktok videos all day. That's unhealthy for your body and your soul.
What if you want to start a new venture, move to a different country, or spend two years learning something interesting? What will you do if the economy tanks, and you have to pick up a different skill to work in a different industry? You can't do that if you're waiting for your next paycheck every two weeks to pay off your rent/mortgage and your loans for that car you regret buying.
For my Muslim readers:
The real reason why you should strive to become financially free is so you can work on building (or joining as a cofounder/early employee) a startup and use that money to provide for your family and the Islamic community. If you happen to be privileged and live in a relatively stable country and are able to take on risks, do it! I'm not talking about starting a mom-and-pop shop. I'm talking about building a product that billions of people around the world will use.
There's no reason to be stuck in your 9-5 day job when you can be spending that time doing something more meaningful to earn a higher standard of living and provide for the community. Every day, trillions of dollars are transacted around the world in trade. Why not capture some of that money and use it for good?
Escaping wage slavery isn't actually all that difficult. People all over the world are doing it at an alarmingly high rate. The only thing you need in order to escape from wage slavery and become financially free is a bunch of "F.U. money".
The following is my simple 5-step guide on how to get some F.U. money for only $29.99. You'll need discipline, patience, and perseverance.
Whether you're a recent grad, working at a well-established company, or a college dropout like me, the first step is to figure out if your skill set will allow you to earn a lot of money. By a lot, I mean over $150k if you live in the US as of today's writing. Anything below is a mediocre salary compared to what you can earn simply by acquiring a different skill set.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is sticking to their "line of work" because they dedicated so many years to acquire that degree and/or skill set. Get over it. If you're a mechanical engineer, consider learning to code. If you're an office secretary, consider becoming a project manager at a tech company. Even if you're a PhD graduate that wrote a thesis about some extinct animals in Africa, there's hope for you too.
Start by looking for an industry that pays well, and learn a high-in-demand skill. Right now, that's the tech industry. If you can learn to code, do it. Otherwise, there are a plethora of jobs available within tech that pay really well. Most don't even require a college degree! Some examples include product management, product design, technical recruiting, digital marketing, etc.
Please, for god's sake, don't go back to college to earn a master's degree. That's a total waste of time in today's ever-changing world. There are a lot more effective ways to learn, such as by joining a bootcamp or studying on your own like I did. Software already ate the world. Every successful company is now a tech company. There's more demand than ever for labor. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you're not actively learning a skill that will pay you a lot.
One important advice to keep in mind when learning a new skill is to avoid going into a rabbit hole and trying to learn everything. Learn just enough to get a high-paying job, and the rest will follow. Also, learn by doing. If you're learning to code, stop watching tutorials and start coding up a project. If you're an aspiring product designer, fire up a Figma project and design a cool app right away and learn skills as you go along. Avoid the tutorials and books trap.
Don't think you're not smart enough. If a fob like me with broken grammar and no college degree is able to work at companies like Doordash and Facebook, so can you. One of my biggest fears was not having strong communication skills, until I entered the workforce and discovered that most of my colleagues had broken English and terrible grammar. As companies continue recruiting talent globally, your biggest advantage is to learn the right skills and make a bunch of smart friends.
(Strong communication skills is extremely important for most skills by the way. I'm not down-playing it.)
Like I said, if you're making anything less than $150k in the US, you're not getting paid enough. Revisit step 1 if you think you don't have what it takes to get a high paying job. Send your resume to every company in the world and do whatever it takes. We're in wild times. Wild times call for wild actions. If you're not actively getting rejected from a bunch of companies, you're not pushing hard enough.
At this stage of your life, you should be optimizing for equity instead of high cash salary. Most tech companies will give you equity in addition to the base cash salary. The smaller the company, the bigger piece of that pie you'll own. Consider joining a Series A or B startup that's valued less than $1B. Don't waste your time trying to work for a FANG unless you have a valid reason to. You'll find that it's easier to join a growing startup than to join a FANG or equivalent like Stripe. Heck, you'll even earn more money.
Again, optimize for equity. I can't emphasize that enough. Consider the following scenario: Company A is a slow-growth public company that's offering you $120k in cash and $30k in stocks. Company B is a hyper-growth startup at series B and is offering you $80k in cash but $70k in stocks. Join company B! If company B fails, move on to the next hyper-growth startup. That's what successful tech bros in the valley do. Why shouldn't you?
Once you get that dream job, it's time to pay off your debt. You should be waking up in the morning and going to sleep with severe stomach aches if you have over a dollar of bad debt. By bad debt, I mean student loans, credit card debt, car loans, and other forms of debt that decrease your net worth. Become David Ramsey's disciple if you have to.
If you're not seriously paranoid and living like a poor person to pay off debt, it will take you forever to start thinking about saving. I don't want to sound like an old uncle preaching you but when I first got a (real) job at Doordash as software engineer, the first thing I did was pay off all my debt and try to save as much as I could.
That meant driving a 2001 Nissan Maxima I got from my father until 2020 when I had decent savings. I drove it to work every day. Once, one of my coworkers jokingly told me to request my boss for a raise to get a better car. I drove it everywhere proudly until it completely died down. I still remember the squealing and squeaking sound it made every time I drove the car.
The next morning, after the breakdown, I bought a Model S for a little over $23k in cash from a tech bro on Craigslist:
Before you think about saving, make sure to pay off all your debt as soon as possible. After that, it's saving time. Few do this right. Don't start by budgeting. Instead, start by stashing away a healthy portion (more than 40%) of your after-tax dollars. After that, you can spend the remaining on whatever you'd like. Avoid those stupid credit cards - even if you're paying 100% of your debt on time to avoid interest.
Credit cards are dangerous in that they change your spending behavior regardless of whether or not you're paying them off on time to avoid interest. Countless studies have shown that people that use credit cards are likely to spend more than 30% than people that pay in cash or debit card. That's more money than the lame 1-3% cash backs. That's because when you use a credit card, you're not pinched. It's someone else's money.
(Not an investment advice)
Take 10-30% of your savings - or if you're degen like me 100% - and invest in a few assets (like 3-5 stocks or Ethereum/Bitcoin) and forget about market volatility. Don't be afraid of investing. Just avoid day trading and invest in great companies and leave your money for a very long time.
At this point you might be wondering: What's the point of sacrificing your youth for a better future? Why not have a fun lifestyle now instead of deferring that for old age when you can't have fun anymore? I completely agree with that. You should totally live happily in your youth by going for jogging and hiking and consuming fewer calories at restaurants and buying a cheap couch so you spend less time farting on it and more time moving. That way when you hit your 50s you can use that money to subsidize for the missed fun activities by going to grand resorts and dining at the French Laundry.
Assuming you did all that (great job!), you might be wondering: when should I quit my 9-5 job to start my own business, spend 2 years learning web3, or spend a year in Paris to learn French (vomit)?
The following is a step-by-step plan designed to help you escape from wage slavery:
You should know exactly how much you will burn cash for a year. If you don't know it off the top of your head, then sit down with your wife and go through all your expenses, planned vacations, etc. You should have an exact number, with some extra padding (like $10k). Keep in mind that you may qualify for free health insurance depending on where you live since your official income will be $0 :)
How many years do you want to escape wage slavery? 1 year? 2? 5? 30? Take that number, add 6 months, and multiply it by step 1.
So for example, if you want to give yourself 2 years to work on a startup (time-boxing is a great idea btw!), and your annual burn-rate is $80k, you should have 2.5*$80k = $200k of savings. The reason why you want to give yourself that extra 6 months is if that for whatever reason if you need to get a job again after you're done with whatever you were doing, you'll have 6 months to find a job again which is plenty of time.
Consider moving to a cheaper place to increase the slavery-free duration!
Once you have enough savings, START! Don't wait around. One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting for the next promotion, the next vesting cycle, or whatever the thing is. That's a HUGE mistake for two reasons: the first is that your passion for whatever it was you wanted to do might die out, and you might not see that opportunity again. The second is that you'll likely keep running into that cycle over-and-over again until it's too late.
The best thing you can do is start before you're even ready. Give your boss a notice right away when the time is right. Don't worry, you have plenty of time to go back to your comfortable job. Quit and Start your plan!!
I wish you the best
Some Hadiths for my Muslim readers:
Imam Ja·far as-Sadiq (a.s): "The person who works hard for his family is like one who fights in the way of Allah.''
Imam ar-Rida (a.s): 'The person who seeks the blessings of Allah to maintain his family has more rewards than one who fights in the way of Allah."
Imam as-Sadiq: "Verily Allah, the exalted and high, dislikes long sleeps and long idle times.”
Imam al-Baqir: "I strongly dislike the person who is lazy in his worldly affairs because one who is lazy in the affairs of his world is lazier in the affairs of his hereafter."
The Prophet: "Accursed is the person who puts his burden on the people.”