Attention Full-Time Workers Seeking Early Financial Freedom: This New Book is for You

by | BiggerPockets.com

I just wrote the latest book to be released by BiggerPockets Publishing. The book is called Set for Life and is available for sale on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

I wrote this book because I feel that too much of the content out there about wealth creation and investing is geared towards entrepreneurs. Where is the great book for employees who seek early financial freedom? Where is the guide to financial independence for those who work solid full-time jobs? How does one transition from a standing start with little to no assets to a position with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in real, accessible wealth, not including inaccessible stuff like home equity or retirement accounts? How can you do this without giving up everything that you’ve built in your career thus far and starting over?

It was the search for that book that led me to write Set for Life.

Set for Life is written for employees. Over 95 percent of real estate investors on BiggerPockets got their start in real estate investing while working a full-time job. This book isn’t written for the person with no income, no job, and no credit. This book is written for folks looking to build wealth consistently and scalably over several years as they move towards early financial freedom.

You’ll learn how to create a situation in which you are saving thousands of dollars per month and regularly making large, serious investments alongside major advances in your career. Investing with no and low money down won’t be your challenge—deploying your accumulated and rapidly expanding savings efficiently will!

I created Set for Life over the past 18 months. It contains everything I’ve learned through my personal experience, research from over 150 books on the topics of personal finance and wealth creation, meetings with hundreds—if not thousands—of investors around the country, and thousands of connections on BiggerPockets.

Set for Life will change your life. It will change the way that you approach spending and lifestyle design, the opportunities you look for in your next job/career, and the way you think about managing your wealth. You’ll learn how to live on 50 percent or less of your income and how to stockpile a year of savings rapidly. You’ll learn how to transform your home into an income-producing asset. You’ll learn the tradeoffs that come with a salaried job and how to set yourself up for opportunities to earn more. And you’ll learn how to invest for financial freedom. I’ll give you a hint—it’s not the same investing advice that Average Joe gets from his financial advisor.



Related: Forget the American Dream—Renting, Not Homeownership, is the Path to Financial Freedom

While I could keep talking about the book all day, there’s no better way to introduce you to the book than the introduction itself:

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Introduction to Set for Life

Let’s talk about the American Dream. Traditionally, for the majority of us—at least for those of us in the middle class—it means consistency. It means buying a nice home in a nice neighborhood and having a nice life. It means that after a 30 or 40-year career, we plan to retire using a formula that historically hinges on having saved 10 to 15 percent of our income and having invested in a 401(k) or other retirement vehicles.

The problem with this formula is that the working person following it will be forced to work for wage income for the better part of his day, during the best part of his week, throughout the best years of his life. At best, he will retire with a modest amount of wealth, late in life, and be forced to hope it’s enough to last.

How about a different formula for the American Dream? How about something capable of producing a retirement level of wealth in less than 10 years? How about less than five? How about retiring in your 20s from wage-paying work?

Those who accomplish this financial result can laugh off would-be employers who ask them to be at work before 9:00 a.m. Someone in this position can spend a sunny Tuesday at the park instead of crunching spreadsheets in a dusty cubicle. She can stay up until 3:00 a.m. binge-watching Game of Thrones on Sunday night and head to the gym at noon on Monday. She can rent out her house and travel the world, living like a local. She can start a business funded with passive income, volunteer in her community, or focus on raising her small children. She can serve others without the red tape and bureaucracy of corporate involvement or the interference of a boss with objectives different from hers.

Early financial freedom enables this. Those who achieve early financial freedom build wealth and acquire assets such that they produce passive income in excess of what they need to live. And they expect to continue to generate that level of income for the duration of their lives. Regardless of whether you currently enjoy your work or not, early financial freedom is a worthwhile goal. Industries change, companies change, and coworkers change. Even if you love your job, wouldn’t it be great to have the option to leave wage-paying work? Wouldn’t it be great to know that you show up because you love to be there and not because you have to be there?

This book will teach you how to make wage income irrelevant to your financial picture in just a few years. In this book, you will learn how to redesign your lifestyle, restart your career, and rebuild your financial position. With this book, you will save your money, earn more money, and use the cash you accumulate to purchase freedom and the ability to design your day-to-day life without the need for wage-paying work. This book is designed for someone with a specific set of circumstances. It is designed for the full-time median (around $50,000 per year) wage earner who has little to no initial savings but wants early financial freedom.

The 3 Stages of Wealth Creation

This book offers a simple, three-step approach to gaining early financial freedom. It is written with a specific audience in mind: the full-time wage earner starting with little to no wealth but aspiring to early financial freedom. Each step in the journey increases one’s flexibility and exposes the individual to more and more opportunities. Each step increases one’s “financial runway”—the number of years that one can maintain their lifestyle without the need for wage-paying work. Many Americans can’t survive for more than a few months without earning a paycheck. Readers of this book will rapidly develop a financial position capable of sustaining their lives for a year without work. Then they’ll extend their financial runway to five years. Then forever.

1. From $0 to $25,000 in Personal Wealth

Part I of this book will take Average Joe from $0 to $25,000 in personal wealth. You have to start somewhere, and the median wage earner with little to no accessible wealth will begin their journey by focusing on lifestyle design. Part I teaches readers how to make the necessary changes to go from little to no savings to preserving over 50 percent of one’s middle class income. It teaches readers how to live well on less than $2,000 per month and how to use the savings to pay down debt and extend their financial runway to a year or more. Executing this leaves the reader in a position in which they have a full year of expenses in after-tax wealth, ready to be deployed in pursuit of early financial freedom.

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2. From $25,000 to $100,000 in Personal Wealth

Part II of this book takes readers from $25,000 to $100,000 in personal wealth. It takes readers from one year of financial runway to a position in which they could survive for three to five years or more without earning a paycheck. While continuing to live efficient lifestyles, readers will further reduce their living expenses by purchasing a primary residence that allows them to live for free. They will also learn how to earn significantly more income by changing careers and how to develop habits tied to success. Opportunities to earn more income often develop out of careers in sales or technology or are the result of joining a small company or freelancing. The financial runway developed in Part I will be critical to ensuring that readers can pursue these opportunities with little risk.

Related: Rethinking “Wealthy”: The 5-Step Ladder From Middle Class to Financial Freedom

3. From $100,000 to Early Financial Freedom

Part III of this book takes readers from $100,000 to early financial freedom. It takes them from several years of financial runway to a lifetime of permanent financial abundance. Readers will continue to scale their income and live efficiently, but our focus shifts to the purchase and creation of income-producing assets. Readers are exposed to an advanced discussion on the concept of financial freedom and taught investment philosophy. They learn what types of wealth count toward financial freedom and what types don’t. This background will enable readers to intelligently exploit the investment and income opportunities multiplying before them as their financial position improves and their financial runway lengthens. Readers also learn how to track their progress efficiently.

This book layers philosophy alongside practical knowledge. Wealth creation is not a rigid formula or step-by-step process. Don’t ignore income opportunities while you focus on building your first $25,000. Don’t ignore investment opportunities while accumulating the first $100,000. You need to earn more, spend less, and invest the difference aggressively throughout your journey, as they apply to the specifics of your situation.

Understand that accumulating a lifetime of wealth in a short period of time involves making personal decisions in major areas of your life that are different from the norm. It involves working harder and smarter than the average employee, and it involves making different career decisions than the Average Joe. Achieving early financial freedom involves managing wealth in a totally different way. In short, it involves a change of perspective that may be sharply at odds from that of your family, friends, and colleagues.

What You’ll Discover

Examples of the perspective you’re about to discover include:

  • You should start by saving the next $1,000, not earning the next $1,000.
  • A new car is totally unnecessary.
  • You should spend more, not less, on entertainment and fun.
  • Student loan debt is rarely worth it.
  • Buying a home (or worse, a condo) in the best part of town will slow you down on your path to early financial freedom.
  • Stocks are less risky than bonds.
  • You need to spend less money to earn more money.
  • Developing a specialty is far more risky than being a jack-of-all-trades.
  • A few good options are better than too many options.
  • Contribute less, not more, to your retirement accounts—and be ready to withdraw from them early.

If you want a different financial result, you need a different plan. This book offers that plan. Work hard. Spend as little as possible. Invest the difference intelligently. Set yourself up for life, as early as you possibly can.

No, it’s not easy. It will be up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Looking to set yourself up for life as early as possible and enjoy time on your terms? Scott Trench’s new book Set for Life, slated for release April 23, 2017, and can be preordered on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers! Whether you’d like to “retire” from wage-paying work, become less dependent on your demanding nine-to-five, or simply spend time doing what you love, Set for Life will give you a plan to get there. This isn’t about saving up a nest egg. It’s not about setting aside money for a “rainy day.” Set for Life is an actionable guide that helps readers build the accessible wealth they need to achieve early financial freedom.

What’s your plan to reach early financial freedom? Any questions about this new read?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Scott Trench

VP of Operations at BiggerPockets.com, Scott is also a licensed real estate broker/agent, real estate investor managing 8 units in Denver, CO with a partner, a house-hacker, and personal finance nerd. His book, "Set for Life" (published through BiggerPockets Publishing) thoroughly details a step-by-step journey to early financial freedom for full-time workers earning median incomes and starting with little or negative net worth. When he's not helping full-time workers move toward early financial freedom, the 26-year-old can be found playing rugby, biking, or skiing.

33 Comments

    • Scott Trench

      Sure – far too many folks aspire to early financial freedom but are specialized in one specific industry or field. For example, an MBA or law school grad specializes heavily in a business or law concentration. This creates multiple problems for them:

      1) The have debt to go along with this degree
      2) They often feel obligated to work in something related to their field due to the great degree of difficulty and expense that went into obtaining their degree
      3) They often lack skills in other basic areas of their lives–they are unable to perform even basic home maintenance, fix equipment, file their taxes, start a business, or otherwise run other parts of their lives. This means that they have to outsource many routine tasks at great expense.

      A well-rounded individual can exploit opportunity quickly. The ability to quickly adopt new skills and become proficient is far more beneficial to one aspiring to early financial freedom than a concentrated speciality in one area of income production.

      I elaborate further in the book. But, the book is written for folks making a middle class or upper middle class income. Obviously, a doctor making $450K per year should be focusing only on his craft. But a junior accountant or marketing manager making $65K per year should understand that they need to be able to run their lives with confidence until their income increases drastically.

    • Scott Trench

      Living on $2,000, or less, per month is very easy if you are able to wipe out your housing expenses and find another primary means of transportation to work. I house-hack close to work, basically eliminating my housing expense, and my transportation costs are minimal as I bike to work. I live in Denver, CO.

      If you choose to live in a more expensive city (there are only a couple), then you may find it more difficult to live so efficiently. I hope in that case that your income generation is correspondingly greater, if you hope to achieve early financial freedom. This book is all about the tradeoffs that come with certain choices. It is possible to live cheaply or for free (housing costs) in all but perhaps 3 major US cities in the country on a median income. And $1,200-$1,500 on fun, food, and entertainment is pretty great to me! I’m not sacrificing anything with this low cost lifestyle, and I am able to save a tremendous amount per month.

      Of course, this book is written for those that badly want financial freedom and are willing to make smart, major life changes, or at least think them through seriously.

  1. Chris Mylan

    This looks great, Scott! Can’t wait to pick up a copy.

    For my own reasons, I’m very interested in the transition from Tier II to financial freedom. Are there discussions/ analysis/ case studies/ metrics as how one would go about making the leap from one tier to the next?

    In speaking with fellow investors that are in a similar position, it seems this is the most difficult transition to make. In short, it’s one thing to buy a few houses, house hack, and/or cut down on transportation costs – it’s another to generate thousands of dollars in semi-passive income a month.

    Since I’m a big fan of metrics and case studies, I’m really looking for a book that lays the road map or details what others have done to reach that goal.

    Again, looking forward to reading!

    • Scott Trench

      Hi Chris,

      The book is packed with examples of how individuals make decisions that can bring about or delay early financial freedom.

      Moving from tier II towards early financial freedom is where the snowball kicks in. Unlike the first two tiers, opportunity and confidence multiply as one accumulates hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth and thousands of dollars in passive cash flow. However, this confidence ONLY kicks in if that wealth is accessible. The guy with a $500,000 net worth, comprised mostly of his home, 401(k) and car, and just a few thousand in savings, does not benefit Investments rapidly become mor significant and the investor benefits more and more from spending time managing his portfolio, assuming that he has control over said portfolio and isn’t investing passively in index funds.

      The phase that you are talking about involves building REAL wealth, outside of home equity and retirement accounts. Too many people think that they are past tier II when really all or most of their wealth is trapped in retirement accounts or home equity–wealth which does little or nothing to bring about confidence in early financial freedom.

      This section of the book actually has the least specific information, compared to the first two sections. The reason for that is that opporuntities begin multiplying for someone that has built their first several hundred thousand dollars in net worth, lives a low cost lifestyle, and feels that they could confidently make it for five years, a decade, or more without wage paying work. One can easily purchase rental properties, buy a small business, spend a few years bootstrapping a startup, angel invest, or myriad other creative strategies. The possibilities are far greater and more realistic for folks like you with several hundred thousand dollars in real net worth, and the ability to easily get by on a decade or more without wage paying work.

      Of course, they can also just continue to apply the system of saving, earning, and investing, and grind it out to financial freedom over a modest number of years, keeping their assets deployed and working for them.

      If you are able to buy a few houses, house-hack, and/or cut down on transportation costs, then I’d argue that you are well on your way to financial freedom, and assuming that you throw a solid income into the mix, should be able to complete the journey in much less than ten years.

      For example, if you can save $50,000 per year and invest it, which you should be able to with a solid income, a few houses, and low expenses, you stand an excellent chance at building up $750,000 in additional wealth over the course of a decade. Much more if you are able to maintain some hard work, self manage your properties, and get a few raises or new income opportunities.

  2. dhermesh patel

    Hi, I’m very interested in this book but not sure if this is more targeted towards the US market, I am currently in New Zealand but just a little worried that the book would not relate to me? We do have similar retirement saving programs like the 401k and currently on the tail end of a property boom.

    • Scott Trench

      Dhermesh – while there the book was definitely written with an American audience in mind, I suspect that the principles apply regardless of your homeland. Make sure to tweak the numbers and substitute 401(k) and such for the applicable versions in NZ.

  3. Italo Medina

    I guess that the general principles are applicable to any economy/region.
    Regarding the specific strategies, I’d say that the reader must adapt them to her personal circumstances (something that, probably, US audience also will need to do to some extent).

    Scott , congratulations for the book.
    I’m genuinely interested in the topic & willing to explore new approaches.

  4. Do you have kids? I’m wondering how this would apply to my small but growing family (currently two kids) — i.e. going without a car is not an option; moving into less expensive neighborhood means sacrificing quality of schools — those kinds of questions crop up as I consider if your book (which sounds awesome) is appropriate for me/my lifestage.

    • Scott Trench

      Tessa – I do not have kids. I do specifically address the question of schools in the book, however. The point is, however you do it, you will have to figure out a way to live for low cost, expose yourself to income opportunity, and invest in and build real wealth.

  5. sergio avina

    Hey Scott — is the book mostly geared toward an audience making $50-100k/annually? Wonder if the book was meant for me 5-7 years ago. I now make over $100k/annually in the W-2 job. How beneficial might it be for me? I do admit I need help with cutting down discretionary expenses & saving more…

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