About Me

 

My Introduction: liquid bird avatar

Male, late-twenties, residing in Metro Vancouver, Canada. Planning to become a millionaire one day through smart investingIn the last six years that I’ve lived on my own I’ve managed to pay off $15,000 of student loans, quadruple my home equity, build up a stock portfolio worth almost $200,000, and acquire over $300,000 worth of additional investments like farmland, mortgages, and precious metals, all using my own savings, plus some bank loans. I’ve shared my income tax statements from previous years to demonstrate that even an average salary can be used to create great wealth with the proper strategy and leverage ;) My investments are growing at double digit rates every year because I’ve learned how to make my money work hard for me. I’m Liquid Independence, and welcome to my freedom 35 blog (^_^)

My Background:

I don’t have a dramatic rags to riches story. I grew up in a typical middle class household. My parents never had a lot of money, but they’ve never lived in poverty either. When I was going through college they were generous enough to contribute $10,000 towards my tuition :) I’ve received no other financial aid from them since then.

My financial journey really began in 2008, when I graduated and began my humble career at a medium sized design firm with a $35,000 starting salary. Still living with my folks at the time I was easily able to save $13,000 by early 2009, which I used to buy a $230,000 apartment, and moved in right away. Most of my friends thought I was crazy for buying a home when I still had student loan debt. I continued to invest heavily into 2010 and 2011 mostly in the rising stock markets. In 2012, I was 25 years old, and I ventured into more exotic investments like farmland. By 2013 I was investing in silver coins, bonds, gold bullion, and global stock markets. By May of 2014 my salary had grown to the mid five figure range and I had over $250,000 in net worth, thanks mainly to my outperforming investments like Google and Amazon shares, and agricultural land.

My Secret: 

The secret to my success so far is to think outside of the box. Some readers ask how it’s possible that I only take home about $40,000 a year from working 2 jobs, but somehow still increase my net worth by more than $60,000 a year. Well since I have over $800,000 of financial assets, it’s not hard to imagine that even a conservative 6% annual return on those assets will already mean a decent $48,000 increase to my overall wealth. The rest can come from my personal savings. This is the power of having a strong asset column. But in order to build an asset column one must be willing to seize opportunities when other are reluctant to do so. Below are some examples of this.

Most people would rather pay down their student debt before they buy a home. But that’s the opposite of what I did. I believe you don’t get rich by paying down debt. You get rich by buying appreciating assets :) So I invested heavily into real estate first and then worried about my debt later. My primary residence is now worth $50,000 more than my purchase price from 6 years ago. That’s the power of passive wealth accumulation. I don’t do any physical work but I receive all the capital gains simply by being a home owner :D If I had paid off my student loans first, I would have saved maybe $2000 of student loan interest, but would have also missed my opportunity to make $50,000 of tax free gains in the growing real estate market.

Most people in 2012 invested in stocks. But I did something different. I saved $10,000 during that year, which others could have done as well, and I even sold $10,000 of my existing stocks, in order to buy a farm in Western Canada because I believed farmland was undervalued compared to the stock market. By the time mainstream investors had also become interested in farmland in 2014 my land had already appreciated by $50,000 over those 2 years, which is more than 100% annual return on my initial $20,000 investment. This is the power of leverage :D

In 2013 many investors sat on the sidelines because they were worried about a correction in the financial markets. But I did the opposite. Not only did I invest all the money I saved that year (about $12,000) but I also borrowed tens of thousands of dollars more from the bank to invest even more into the markets. Both Canadian and U.S. stock markets increased double digits in 2013. It was one of the best years in recent history. My stock portfolio outperformed the index due to my leveraged holdings. This is the power of staying in the game  :D

The best part about investing is it’s completely passive. If I went on vacation for an entire year my farmland, fixed income funds, and stocks would all continue to pay me rent, interest, and dividends. Instead of paying down debt I choose to invest. Instead of playing it safe I choose higher returns. Instead of just using my own money I leverage the power of the banking system to multiply my profits. This strategy of using other people’s money combined with recognizing undervalued investments has been working well for me so far. It’s possible for others who earn an average income as well to reach early retirement as long as they have the right mindset, use all the tools available in the financial system, diversify their risk, and invest wisely.

Whenever I make new investments I often explain on this blog my decision process, and often demonstrate exactly how I did it with documentation. This keeps me accountable as I can’t make up random numbers, and it gives other people a chance to try out my strategies, if they so choose, at their own risk and discretion of course :P There are many other generation Y bloggers like myself who also have a relatively high net worth for their age. But most of them earn a really high income, which many readers may not be able to relate to. I suppose what’s unique about my particular situation is that I’m more like the average person. I had average grades in school. I had a summer job working at Safeway, and had to go into debt to complete my education. I don’t even consider myself very frugal because I currently spend over $3,000 a month.

The salary from my full time job in 2014 on an hourly bases is still below the average Canadian wage for my age group, which is about $26/hr. But combined with my part time job, rental revenue, and all other investment incomes I now gross over $60,000 year. Unlike a 9 to 5 job, there is literally no limit to how much income can be made through investing! :) My gross income would not have climbed so quickly if I had focused primarily on climbing the corporate ladder at work. I had to make some minor sacrifices like taking on another job and exposing myself to more investment risk than most people in order to get the higher returns that I need to attain financial freedom by 35 years of age.

The way to make money without working is to own assets that produce goods or services (land, businesses, etc) and wait until they appreciate. It takes money to make money. But I started just like most people – with no money of my own. Which is why most of my investments are bought using other people’s money (bank loans,) but as time goes on the value of my assets should increase, and those loans I have should decrease, which causes my net worth to expand :) Earlier in 2014 my wealth jumped by over $50,000 when I realized my property was undervalued and adjusted it accordingly.

Earning $50,000 by working at a job is not easy. But investing in assets that grow by $50,000 doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, as long as one understands and is comfortable with the associated risks. Many people equate income to wealth, and they mistakenly believe that it’s not possible to become a multi-millionaire unless someone makes a six figure salary or become a successful entrepreneur. Although there is a correlation between income and net worth what’s more important is understanding capital management and general financial literacy. Life is too short to stress over work, debt, and other financial matters. I believe in finding a fulfilling job that one likes, but may not pay a lot of money. In my case it’s graphic design. And then supplement one’s income by making smart investment decisions to take care of debts, inflation, retirement, and other financial worries in life :)

My Goals:

These are my life long goals
-Become financially free
-Donate at least a million dollars to charity
-Become part of the 1% wealthiest people in the country
-Start a company and create jobs for my community
-Qualify and become an accredited investor
-Fly into space

My Philosophy:

In today’s world money represents power, potential, security, influence, hope, and of course freedom. When I spend money I’m essentially buying back my time. This is why I make it a priority to invest. But life is also about balance and moderation. I try to balance my spending to make my life just as comfortable today as I plan to be in the future. I don’t want to save money so aggressively that I’d miss out on life right now. But not saving enough would leave me with financial difficulties when I start a family, or eventually retire. So currently I save around 1/3rd of my total gross income, which I find is the right balance for me. I have a similar mindset when it comes to investing. Penny stocks are too risky, but the safest investments like US treasuries do not provide a good enough return. So I balance my portfolio mostly with investments like real estate, commodities, and blue chip stocks, as well as a small handful of more volatile and higher risk equities.


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  35 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Very kool man, very kool!

    I like your philosophy and have the same Freedom 35 goal. I stumbled on your blog just by chance.

    Like yourself, I started in 2007 with around $25000 student debt, but now an getting close to 6 figure net worth. I have 2 income streams and various investment vehicles.

    One avenue that I am strongly trying to tap into is the real estate market. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Have a great day,
    Mark, in Moncton, NB

    • Heya Mark, thanks for dropping by. I’m glad to see others who have similar aspirations as myself (^_^). I personally think real estate is a great investment in the long run. Unfortunately as of now, 2012, interest rates are near historic lows, and the banks are very happy to lend, so this pushes up the demand for housing and artificially inflates prices to above market fundamentals. So for investment purposes I would not buy any real estate in major cities like Toronto or Vancouver today, but there may still be some opportunities in alternative real estate investments like REITs, or farm land, that has potentially less risk.

  2. Hey there,

    I came across your story on the Me and My Money column in the Globe and Mail which has led me to your blog.

    Just want to say nice work and very inspirational story! I’ve been investing for about 6 months now, but it’s mostly been in ETFs. Hopefully after reading more through your blog and learning more, I’ll build up the courage to get more aggressive.

    Cheers,

    Patrick, in Vancouver, BC

    • Hey Pat, nice to hear from a fellow Vancouverite. I’m fairly new to investing myself, so we can probably learn a lot from each other. And if you’re reading financial articles and choosing ETFs instead of high cost mutual funds, then I believe you are doing all the right things so far ʘ‿ʘ

  3. Congrats on your goals! It’s nice to see someone with a good plan and another fellow Vancouverite :) I bet you’ll get ahead of me in your Dividend Progress, I am just above $5,000 now.

    • Yeah, there’s quite a few financial bloggers here in the lower mainland. Thanks for dropping by (^_^) I still have some way to go before getting to $5K a year in dividends, but congrats on reaching that milestone yourself. Passive income all the way!

  4. I enjoyed reading your bio. Sounds like you are on the right track to get there!

    Best, Sam

  5. Hi

    Love your plan and find it super interesting tracking your progress. My question is: where did you gain all of your financial knowledge?

    Cheers

    Nick

    • Hey Nick, great question. Finance and business news sites such as BNN, MSNBC, Globe Investor, Yahoo Finance, etc are all great places on the internet to learn about personal finance for free. What I do is browse through the front pages of these kinds of websites every day and choose just a couple of interesting articles to read. And if there’s anything that catches my attention in those articles, I would go on Google and do some further research about the topic.

  6. Hi

    Great site – really inspirational. I came across it through ModestMoney.com and check back regularly to see how you’re doing. Great job dude!
    I’m based in London but have pretty similar financial goals – you’re spot on about passive income!

    Michael

    • Cool, I don’t get many readers from across the pond. Thanks for visiting.

      • Thanks for the mention Michael.

        I really like your financial plan too. Having so much money saved up at your age is impressive, especially knowing it’s not due to some high paying job. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from you, especially since you literally live 10 minutes away.

  7. [...] Liquid Independence posted interesting information on the median and net worth of Canadians and Americans. While the Canadian median is higher, the American average is higher. Read on to find out more! It really struck me how much higher the average is than the median. There are some very rich people out there… [...]

  8. Having a goal is the half of winning, congrats and good luck on your journey to financial freedom.

  9. I recently came across your blog and I am very interested in reading it. I graduated from grad school in 2010 and I am making the effort to set myself up for financial freedom and starting a business down the road. I am a financial analyst so it will be interesting to read and follow the stock market with you. Best of luck, this should be a fun blog to interact with.

    • Would be great to get the professional opinion of a financial analyst on this site :). Feel free to comment on anything you like. You seem really career driven. I know you’ll be successful with your investments and future business some day. Looking forward to connecting with you as well.

  10. Even if you do not make it to that magical million, just know you will be ahead of so many 35 year olds….It can be done and good luck!

    Joe

  11. Wow…..I like it ;) Good for you! I’m rooting for you to reach your goal! You can join “Mr. Money Mustache” with the retire by 35 goal ;)

  12. Good to read your story! I’m sure you’re going to do well! Sam

  13. Thanks for sharing your story. From your day job income $25+/hr you have an impressive savings rate! Good stuff.

  14. An interesting perspective – and one might say the right perspective – hard work, sensible investment decisions and a smattering of luck! Well done on being perhaps a little more level headed and committed to your future rather than just the present as most today seem to be.

    I’d love to write you a guest blog post – we cover alternative real estate – we have bought and sold farms on 3 continents on behalf of Investors, as well as participating in a range of structured real estate investments that have delivered ahead of expectations.

    David Garner
    DGC Asset Management

  15. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to sharing your blog with friends (late 20s and early 30s) – It’s nice to find a relatable financial perspective. Best of luck with all of your short and long term financial goals!

  16. Great blog and congratulations on your progression!

    26/M from Ottawa currently working in the financial industry, previously as a financial planner. I hope to have reached a $1,000,000 NW by age 35 and, coincidentally, my current NW is about equivalent to your last fiscal update.

    I hope you won’t mind my questions;

    1. You are currently leveraging aggressively with limited liquid assets (given your aggressive holdings’ time horizon) and limited cash flow from a currently lower employment income. Have you considered which steps you are currently, or would take to hedge the risk of a potential increase in financing rates in the coming years?

    2. You appear to have limited exposure to international equity in your current holdings – you are heavily weighted in Canadian securities in spite of a lagging economy. Could you please explain your rationale?

    Lastly, seeing that your goal is to be an accredited investor, I would highly recommend completing the CFP (along with CSC)

    Your blog is a great inspiration for others our age that aspire to be wealthy. Thank you for investing the time to educate others financially.

    J.

    • Hi J. I’m 26 as well. It’s nice to see we have similar goals :D

      I believe low interest rates are here to stay for the next 7 to 10 years. We’ll probably see small incremental increases by 25 or 50 bases points every year, but I don’t expect mortgage and bond rates get back to historical 6% or 7% until 2020 or later. This is because we have eased for so long that any change other than a small amount could slow down the economy which neither Poloz or Flaherty would risk doing in my own opinion. Consumers are carrying a lot of debt compared to historic times and the amount of credit around the world including US/Europe/Japan is so high right now that it’s not likely we can afford to pay higher rates. Europe is still mired in debt. China’s growth is slowing down. Inflation is still very tame at the moment. And overall there doesn’t seem to be a catalyst for growth. Even if the economy in North America does well in the short term and the unemployment rate falls below 7% we may still see continued low rates because of the currency war going on right now globally. But having said that, I feel like I’m properly hedged against “potential” higher interest rates with the ownership of my farmland, gold bullion, gold/silver stocks, and bank stocks. I believe higher rates will only come at a time of higher inflation. The gold and farmland investments will benefit from higher inflation as they are hard assets. And banks should outperform in a rising rate environment because all the bloated credit that people have took on during the low interest rate years will have to be refinanced at a higher rate (larger spread for the banks.)

      I’m heavily invested in Canada mainly because of the preferential tax treatment on eligible dividends and capital gains. In a global economy I don’t believe the performance of a country’s economy is directly related to it’s stock market index. From 1987 to 2010 the Canadian economy (measured using the GDP) only had a 12% correlation to the TSX 60 stock market index. So if the GDP and stocks only move similarly 12% of the time then there’s pretty much no correlation at all. In 2008 our economy was doing fine, but the stock market fell. The following year in 2009 our economy shrank but stocks bad a comeback. Similar findings were discovered in the US. Holger Sandte, an economist from BNY Mellon said “Over longer time periods, the statistical correlation between the quarterly change of real U.S. GDP and the S&P 500 is virtually zero,” The same is true for emerging markets as well. China’s stock market index, the Shanghai Composite is still down more than 60% from its 2007 high. But the S&P500 and Dow Jones in the US meanwhile have been hitting record highs even though the US economy is growing at just a fraction of China’s pace. Last year the Greece stock market index rose by over 30% despite all the poor economic news about unemployment and debt defaults. It’s a mystery to me why there’s practically no correlation between stocks and the economy but it seems to be true world wide. But I still believe there are investment opportunities to be had in developing countries with better growth than North America. And my plan is to gain exposure to them via Canadian and US companies. 46% of the S&P 500 Company sales were derived from outside the United States. I think by owning large multinationals like Walmart, Chevron, Pfizer, and Disney with globally recognized brands I’m doing enough to diversify geographically. Same with Canadian companies. Scotia Bank makes 50% of their revenue from outside of Canada. They have a large presence in growing economies like Latin America. I think our oil sand companies like Suncor and Canadian Natural Resources is in the business to ship our fossil fuels to other countries as well so I also hold them in my portfolio. Investing indirectly into international economies this way is also less politically and geographically risky since all Canadian companies have to follow strict compliance rules and are liable to shareholders. Although this doesn’t stop them from breaking regulations occasionally when partnering with other countries of more questionable business practices. I lost a bit of money in SNC Lavalin when the scandal was reported last year :|

      I will look into taking the CFP maybe during my sabbatical or some time. It will probably broaden my investment knowledge :) Thanks for the suggestion.

  17. Qualify and become an accredited investor: what is your reason for this?
    thanks!

    • Great question aj :D The reason is because accredited investors are given access to certain types of exclusive investment opportunities that’s out of reach for the average retail investor. Due to federal securities law higher risk investments such as seed money, limited partnerships, professional hedge funds, and angel investor networks cannot be marketed to the general public. This is to protect people from getting into something they don’t understand and lose all of their investments. The minimum investment required for angel investing for example can be $10,000, which is a lot of money for the average citizen to risk losing.

      On the other hand mutual funds, stocks, ETFs, and other types of common investments that most of us are already familiar with have tougher regulations around them because they are deemed to be less risky, easier to understand, and more transparent. Although it’s true that any publicly traded company can still go out of business, investors at least have the choice to sell their shares at any time. But with higher risk investments like a hedge fund for example, the investor’s capital is usually locked in for 3 to 7 years. There’s also a lot of fees associated such as a 2% commission, plus 20% of any profits, commonly known as the “two and twenty” fee structure. Hedge fund fees are much higher than a mutual fund because hedge funds are permitted to trade options, futures, or other high risk securities, which if managed correctly should outperform the general stocks and bond markets. Mutual funds however are restricted from buying those fancy types of derivatives.

      In the US to be an accredited investor you’ll need to have a net worth of $1 million or more, or make over $200,000 a year. Similar rules apply in Canada. The reason the security regulators allow these high risk investment funds to be marketed and sold to accredited investors is because if a millionaire loses $10,000 or even $100,000, chances are he or she is still doing a lot better than the average investor. In other words, accredited investors can afford to take the extra risk.

      There’s a lot of interesting investment opportunities out there that I would like some exposure to. For example there’s a crowd funding company called OurCrowd that pool’s investors’ money together to help fund small tech companies in Israel. They work kind of like Kickstarter, or Indiegogo. Investors can research all the companies on their site, and choose specific ones that they want to invest in. The risk is high, but so is the reward if you choose a good one. There are some very cool innovations coming out of Israeli startups right now. It’s a fascinating space to explore for sure. The crowd funding company is currently looking for investors worldwide, including Canada. But you need to be an accredited investor to contribute.

  18. Hi, I currently live in Chilliwack, BC and just bought a home in Manitoba with 160 acres and was looking for info on the internet regarding renting the land out to farmers. I found your info and it was very helpful!! Also liked your goals, especially the one to fly into space!! Regards, Annette

    • Thanks for making a comment Annette :) Congrats on buying your new property! The farms are probably more expensive in Manitoba but they’re probably better quality too. Yes, going into space sounds awesome doesn’t it :D I plan to post an article next week about how I’m going to do it ;)

  19. These are great goals and if more of your age bracket thought like you we’d all be in much better shape financially. The best advice I received in my early 20′s from my financial advisor was, “save every penny you can now and invest because once you start settle down and start a family your expenses will increase considerably”. I heeded that advice and I lived very frugally from age 22 to age 30 and saved and invested as much as I could. I am proud to say that we (my husband and I and our 2 kids) now have a net worth of $1.7 million and we are 35 years old (and I have been a stay-at-home Mom with no income for the past 4 years). That is on a good 6 figure salary, but with a lot of saving and making financial freedom our goal. Now we feel free to give back and have increased our donations to charity. Good luck in your endeavours – it can be done!

  20. Really great website, I have been a big fan of financial blogs featuring average Canadians striving towards financial freedom, and the detailing of this process. I just turned 25 myself, and just began working and actively saving and investing ( I currently have a TFSA comprised largely of strongly performing mutual funds, and a seperate account for swing trading where I can take advantage of moves on a shorter time frame). Although I am quite abit behind you net worth wise (sitting at about 25k now), I have no debt, and a near term goal of a 100,000$ net worth by 28. Im not sure if it is overly ambitious, but sites yours are certainly inspirational!

  21. Hey Liquid,
    Very nice site with a ton of quality content! I’m practically in the same boat as you…graduated at the same time. My income has probably been a little higher than yours, but I’ve also striven to save and invest. I’m a value investor by nature and trade, with a goal for my wife and me to have a net worth of $1m by the time I turn 30 (2 years to go!). I love your goals, as they align almost in lock step with mine. I’d love to talk further sometime…drop me a line or visit my site!

    What’s been your best strategy to build activity on your site?

    All the best,
    Wes

  22. Hey man

    26 M North Van here and living on blogging income. I bet you could spin this blog into something that captures a good bit of nice passive income if you play it right. Email me if you want some pointers

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