I'm in my 40s, living in Toronto, Canada, and have worked, saved and invested for my entire adult life. I have managed to create an investment income stream that already covers my entire cost of living. That income stream will keep growing and will be there to provide me with a secure and early retirement. The income stream I've created is large enough that I could retire today, if I wanted to.

I created the SmarterSquirrel site to help others learn how to save their money, how to invest it to create an income stream, and to share some ideas on how to enjoy life (like dressing up for Hallowe'en no matter how old you are), while being frugal in some areas and spending more freely in others. It takes some dedication but it's easier than you think.

​It all started one day when I was having a chat over a cup of tea with my Dad. I was mentioning that I was thinking of taking a new job. He asked me what would happen to my pension at work if I changed jobs. I laughed and said none of the jobs I've had come with a pension. My Dad had retired from teaching a long time ago with a pension that provides him a regular monthly income that provides financial security for my parents. He asked how I would be able to retire without a pension from work. I didn't have an answer.
I went back home and decided that I needed to make a pension for myself. I needed to create an income stream that would keep coming in and keep growing to keep up with inflation so that I could one day retire from work and still have a reliable source of income. I did a lot of research on how to do it and decided to invest primarily in dividend growth stocks and in growth stocks. 

Seven years after that conversation, I had created a dividend income stream that covers all my fixed expenses: it covers the cost of the roof over my head (that roof being in Toronto, Canada); mobile phone, internet, TV, home phone, electricity, and car insurance bills; car gas and maintenance, and groceries.

I also make enough from my passive dividend income stream to cover discretionary spending like dinners out, the occassional clothing purchase, movies, pub nights, and really fun vacations and snowboarding trips, and the occassional technology upgrade. In effect, I now make enough from my passive dividend income stream that I could retire today if I wanted to.

Being in my 40s I don't think I want to retire just yet. And every year I keep working is another year where my dividend income stream gets reinvested and experiences more compound growth, getting bigger every year. With a dividend income stream your money starts to pay you money and pays you more every year. It's like giving yourself a raise every year. 

Having this passive dividend income stream that keeps growing gives me a lot of peace of mind. It removes a lot of financial stress. It also allows me to be much more selective in where I choose to work or if I choose to work. It gives me the flexibility to take time off or to only do some part time contract work. It also gives me the knowledge and security that my retirement will be an enjoyable one.

Now that I've built this level of financial security, I wanted to share what I have learned so that others could benefit from the things I've done right and learn from the things I've done wrong. A lot of people are struggling to secure their financial future... but through hard work, discipline and a little bit of educating yourself on investing, it's not actually that difficult to secure your finances.

I came from very modest means. My parents immigrated from India to Canada with hardly any money. My Dad was a teacher, as I mentioned earlier, and my Mom became a small store owner. My Dad would help her at the store sometimes when he wasn't teaching. I saw how hard they worked and I learned to have a very strong work ethic as a result.

They didn't spend frivolously, but they did spend on things that brought them joy, like airplane tickets for the whole family to take a trip to India, or a summer afternoon at the ice cream shop where we would get some hot fudge sundaes. They never cared about keeping up with the Joneses. As a result, I've learned to spend on things I care about, to not spend in other areas and to ignore societal pressures to spend on irrelevant things.

So coming from modest means, it meant the leg up my parents gave me was a stable and loving home, support and encouragement at school and in life, delicious home cooking, and support in the way of some RESP money for the first couple of years of university. Making it financially from there, was going to be based on what I did with that good foundation they had given me.

I worked at the family store as a kid, then got a job at a grocery store during my high school years, and had summer jobs and part time jobs throughout university and law school. I became a lawyer. But...I didn't enjoy being a lawyer. The jobs I was getting seemed to be based on characters in John Grisham novels... if you've ever seen Matt Damon's character in The Rainmaker, you know what I'm talking about. And I wasn't making much money as a lawyer, despite what you might think lawyers get paid. And since life is meant to be enjoyed, I left law. I got an MBA degree and focused on strategy, marketing and innovation. I got paid better than I did when I was a lawyer. I worked for various companies, advancing my career and my salary along the way. I've been working essentially non-stop since I was 16. 

All that time I've lived below my means (for the most part), and saved and invested as much as I could while still enjoying life, travelling and diving deeply into the things that interest me. Fortunately tennis on a public tennis court is a pretty cheap hobby, as is running, snowboarding is a lot more expensive, and playing guitar is really cheap after the initial guitar purchase. Laughing with friends and family costs nothing. Splurging on somethings now and then is totally fine too. I love to travel and I've seen many countries with many more to go. No matter what, life is meant to be enjoyed in the here and now. You can do that and still save for your future.

I want to share with you what I've learned about:

  • working hard
  • investing in yourself to improve how much you can earn
  • saving money by not spending on things that don't matter
  • spending well on things that matter to you
  • setting aside regular savings in an investment account
  • investing in ETFs, dividend growth stocks and growth stocks
  • enjoying life more.

I hope that by sharing what I've learned with you, you will be able to reach your financial goals sooner or even reach new higher goals you didn't think were possible while having fun along the way. Don't forget to stop and smell those flowers!

I hope SmarterSquirrel.com becomes a place you can come to, to learn and maybe laugh a little too.

Be a SmarterSquirrel... Save. Invest. Enjoy.

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