Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

5 Years On…And Not Financially Free

Almost 5 years ago exactly I wrote this post proclaiming exactly why I would be financially free in just 5 years time.

Well 5 years have come and 5 years have gone and I am currently not financially free.

So why aren’t I financially free (despite my proclamations and fierce self-belief).

My Reasons That I Would Achieve Financial Freedom

I think to start it’s a good idea to look back on the reasons I gave for why I would be financially free.

1. I Think In Terms of Cashflow Not Net Worth

2. I Am Always Learning

3. I Am Not Just Willing To Take Risks, I Want To Take Risks To Learn

4. Having Financial Intelligence Attracts Money and People With Money

5. I Will Use Leverage

6. I Love The Game

7. I Know My ‘Why’

So Why Aren’t I Financially Free?

Looking back on these reasons I gave I can see that some of these reasons have caused me to advance financially, but other reasons have actually meant that financial freedom was the wrong goal to strive for.

1. Thinking In Terms Of Cash Flow, Not Net Worth

This has served me really well. My net worth is extremely small (under $100,000 if you counted everything in my life) yet my cash flow is good and we can afford to do most things we want.

By focusing on cash flow rather than net worth I focused heavily on growing my income and growing my online income.

Between 2011 and 2012 I TRIPLED my salary. Going from around $33,000 to $104,000. This happened by changing jobs and securing an internal job promotion to the role of “Business Advisor” with a large pharmaceutical company.

I was also able to grow my online semi-passive income to around $1,000/month on average (on the side). This passive income and the fact that I could pay down debt and get some savings allowed me to make the jump to running my business full time in October 2013.

2. I Am Always Learning

This has also served me well. When I was a road rep I used to listen to multiple podcasts or audiobooks per day while I was driving between appointments. Even now that I am self employed I am almost always listening to something educational while I am working.

This learning allowed me to grow my business without going to business school and actually achieve a moderate level of success (still growing).

3. I Am Not Just Willing To Take Risks, I Want To Take Risks To Learn

It is one thing to be willing to take a risk, it is another thing entirely to seek out risk and make it your comrade.

While I don’t base jump (wish I did) or ride a motorbike (I would like a Vesper…I know…not a real motorbike) I do naturally seek risky things to do.

Leaving a 6 figure job for a business that paid me less than $1,000/month. Having a kid at 22 and another one at 23. Moving out of Sydney and then moving interstate.

I love taking risks in life. I think I love it because I know that if the poo hit the fan then I could just move back to Sydney, get a good job and I would be right back where I started…no worse off.

I think taking risks is one of my favourite ways of learning. Because a lot of things I want to do haven’t really been done before so you have to take the risk to find out.

It’s hard to know what it’s like to live interstate…you kind of have to do it. It’s hard to know if a new business venture will work you…you just have to do it.

Risks have definitely helped me advance my life forward…however not always financially. Moving interstate costs money and leaving a high paying job for a low paying business wasn’t the best short term financial decision.

4. Having Financial Intelligence Attracts Money And People With Money

While I don’t think I have become extremely financially savvy I do think I have become savvy at business and marketing. Specifically online marketing.

This has attracted some interesting people into my life and has let me hang out with marketing guys who have $1,000,000+ budgets.

So while it attracts money and people with money (or marketing guys with huge budgets) it hasn’t actually passed that money onto me, and I am ok with that.

5. I Will Use Leverage

This is something I never got to do. See I never quite earned enough (or stayed in a job long enough) to secure a loan and invest in property. So I never got to leverage other people’s money.

However, I have been leveraging other people’s time to build my business. I have people who work on transcriptions for me, design, data entry and other tasks in my business.

As my business continues to grow (and I have more disposable income) I can increase the amount of other people’s time I am leveraging and I can focus on tasks that give me a higher return.

I still can’t get a loan though.

6. I Love The Game

In 2010 I spent $1,000 (basically all the savings we had) on USB sticks that I was going to resell on Ebay. The sticks were dodgy and I lost $1,000.

Between 2008-2013 I had many attempted to quickly grow successful online businesses (none of which grew quickly).

But my LOVE of the game drove me forward.

For me it was never “I hope I will succeed at working for myself” it was always “I will succeed at working for myself, it is just a question of how long it takes.”

Quitting and giving up simply wasn’t an option in my mind. I could settle for the day to day 9-5 life. Even if it took me 40 years (which luckily it didn’t) I would have kept going.

7. I Know My Why

Ahhh this is the one that actually stopped me from becoming financially free. My why was:

So I can have as much free time as I want to spend with my family, and so that I can have a platform from which to speak into people’s lives.

Believe it or not but I feel I have actually achieved this why.

My business gives me the flexibility to spend as much free time as I want with my friends and family. I start work late on Tuesdays because I go to swimming lessons with my kids. I finish early half of the time so I can go to the beach with my kids.

The goal was never to “not work”…the goal was to spend as much time as I want with my family. I have basically achieved that goal…though a few extra hours away from work and with family would probably be the right balance of work and family.

The other “why” was to have a platform from which to speak into people’s lives.

I love communication and I love having a positive impact on other people’s lives. Turns out you don’t have to be rich or a billionaire for people to want to listen to you. But what you do have to be is GENUINE, and that is what I have focused on.

In fact this week someone actually quit their job and went into business for themselves full time because of me.

This is an email I got from a fellow property blogger Ben

I also have some other exciting news. I left full time employment today never to return.

After my eloquent reply saying “wtf are you serious?” He wrote:

Yep, Im done.

Completely shitting myself but done.

Its 90% because of your story man!

So despite not being financially free, I have achieved my why. My life is not perfect and I still have a long way to go both personally and financially. But I am pretty happy with how far I have come in the last 5 years.

The next post I will do will talk about what I want to achieve in the next 5 years (or maybe what I want to achieve before I am 30). Stay tuned for that.

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