FIRE: Financial Independence Retire Early
10 Tips for Making 6 Figures as a Freelance Writer
Our goal is financial independence and to retire early (FIRE). For years, I (Ms Aspiring Millionaire), have done freelance writing which has provided both a great income and incredible experiences. Because of writing, I have been paid to travel, get my diving certifications, do cool experiences with my kids, and publish books and all of it was done around the kids.
On the site, we will be covering both what we do to make money and other high-income career suggestions to help you achieve financial independence quicker.
I do a few different things and will cover each in a different article. Mr Aspiring Millionaire recently started working as a commercial diver with a starting wage of $100,000 per year that will go to $3,000+ per day when he does saturation diving.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services we use.
What is a Freelance Writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed writer who writes things such as articles, social media content, website content and similar. Basically, anything you see written can be done by either an employed content producer or a freelance writer.
Freelance writers need to register their business, invoice, and manage their accounting, tax, insurance, and everything as it is a business.
How much do Freelance Writers Make?
The income varies greatly depending on the writer’s experience, qualifications, who they are writing for, what they are writing about and where they are from.
Many in developing countries charge significantly less than those in Australia, the UK and USA. However, since they are not typically native English speakers, the writing is not of the same quality or usability as native English speakers.
Those in the UK, USA, Australia and similar countries charge more. Any content (articles etc) that are research-heavy or requires skills such as SEO or qualifications such as legal or medical writing will all attract a higher rate too.
Making 6 figures as a writer is doable and common among the writers I know. When you start out you might not make that but as you build your portfolio and network, it becomes easier.
My usual income per article is anywhere from $250 for an article I can quickly write without research through to over $1,000 for research-heavy articles. Clients on retainer or who batch purchase articles get a discount.
Most work I see on other sites, Facebook and similar is 10c a word or more. Anything below that is not worth it at all.
How do you Become a Freelance Writer?
If you have great English skills and an eye for detail, you can do it. Writing takes practice and I recommend everyone do a writing course. Writing courses such as Earn More Writing help you become a freelance writer and teach you all about the marketing and business side of it all to get you to 6 figures too.
For me, I started with blogging, landed a book contract with Wiley within a year then immediately had websites pitching to me to write for them. As such, even now, I don’t pitch much. Magazines and websites usually come to me.
I am in writing groups, am a member of some writing associations and have a portfolio to as all of these places provide opportunities.
How do I get Paid to Travel as a Freelance Writer?
I started with blogging and writing about finance then tourism boards asked me to do trips and write content for other websites and magazines. Instead of being a journalist for one magazine or an influencer with a travel website, I had writing and marketing to provide.
My trips usually resulted in fully paid trips, articles I was paid to write, and sometimes being paid to do marketing strategies or the content for websites as well. Plus I often picked up more clients on those trips.
As such, I wasn’t solely a freelance writer, I was a tourism marketer and could offer complete packages. Especially when Mr Aspiring Millionaire and I did things together as he is a photographer. We share our travels and work for this on Blended Nomads and on my site Kylie Travers.
Top Tips for Freelance Writers
I’ve been paid to write for over 10 years now and love that it is so flexible. The opportunities as well as the income as been great. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer but was advised not to as you can’t make money. How times have changed! Writing is a viable career now, especially if you know what you are doing.
Do A Course
If you are serious about making a career in writing and earning 6 figures, do a course. As mentioned, Earn More Writing is the course I recommend for freelance writers.
There is so much more to this career than just writing. You need to know about marketing, networking, where to get work, how much to charge, how to increase your rates and more. Invest in yourself by investing in Earn More Writing.
Submit Ahead of Deadlines
When you get a gig, complete it with plenty of time to spare. Submitting something right on the deadline is allowed but also cuts it fine for everyone. Every editor I have worked with loves it when I submit my work early.
It gives them time to look it over, edit if necessary or ask me to make changes (rare) so they can send it off to be published on time.
When you are submitting your work right on the deadline, while technically you are withing the guidelines the editor wanted, it makes you the same as everyone. Submitting early is one way to be easier to work with and get offered more work.
Learn About Where you are Pitching
Before pitching an article anywhere, check the place you are pitching. Make sure they haven’t done something on that exact topic already, have a point of difference but ensure it matches the place you are pitching and follow their procedures.
With a little research, you can find out the best way to pitch according to their guidelines instead of pitching blindly. Adhering to their guidelines increases your chances of success with placing the article.
All occupations require networking. New gigs, meeting the right people, being recommended to others and all sorts of opportunities come from networking.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to networking events specifically, although they can be great. It includes Facebook groups, Twitter chats and similar as well as carrying cards everywhere you go and not being afraid to let people know what you do.
Have a Contract
When you do start working, always have a contract. This is covered in the courses usually as it is essential to protect you and them. Know exactly what you are writing, how long it needs to be, how many edits are allowed, when it is due and payment terms.
Include a kill fee, meaning a fee you will be paid even if they choose not to publish. Know when payment will be made and how so you can plan accordingly as well as follow it up if you’re not paid. Have clear terms and conditions for everything, including a deposit of 50% of full payment upfront and consequences for non-payment if you choose not to have it paid in full upfront.
Read and Write
The more you read and write the better you get. I aim to read at least one book a week and I am writing every day for work. When I look back at the early articles I wrote for various places I cringe.
Firstly, it was different back then and secondly because it seems so immature compared to my writing now.
The more I write, the faster I get and the easier it is. Practice as often as you can, and write about topics that interest you even before having somewhere to place them. Get involved in language through reading and writing to improve your skills.
When you are constantly working on your skills, you get better and can charge a higher rate as well as get more work because of the quality of your work.
Ask me anything about writing below.
How to get into Commercial Diving and Career Options
Our aim is financial independence, retire early (FIRE). As such, it makes sense to go into an occupation you can earn a lot in so you can invest fast and have more options. It helps if you love it, which we do.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire trained to be a commercial diver last year. He has previous experience diving, although that is not necessary to do this career. Growing up in Vanuatu, then working in the Solomon Islands, commercial diving was not an option for him even though he wanted to do it for years.
Once we got Australian residency sorted for him, commercial diving was the next step. Last year, we did both residency and his course, which wasn’t cheap but both were worth it.
Commercial diving is a high-risk occupation, especially if you work on offshore oil rigs. However, the pay for those jobs is high ($3,000+ per day) as well. It doesn’t require a university degree and pays well from the start. In fact, you can do it at 18 after a few months of doing a course and go straight into a job at $100,000.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and services we use.
What is Commercial Diving?
Commercial diving covers jobs from working in fisheries repairing nets, getting abalone and similar through to offshore saturation diving, where you live in a chamber under the water for a month at a time. It is in high demand, pays well and you can start young.
How Much Can You Make as a Commercial Diver?
The lowest-paid are those working in fisheries at around $80,000 a year and only requires ADAS 1 and ADAS 2 ($7,000 each course). If you want to earn more, you need to do ADAS 3 and you will work in construction commercial diving repairing dams, wharves, bridges and other underwater construction essentials. This is around $100,000 and is a great step towards saturation diving.
Saturation diving, offshore on oil rigs is the highest paying but also the most dangerous. Typically, you will work for 4 weeks then have 4 weeks off but make $3,000+ per day.
Read how much a commercial diver makes for more specifics.
What Prerequisites Are There?
Aside from passing a commercial diving medical, and having a current advanced first aid certificate including CPR, oxygen etc, there aren’t any. You need to be fit, able to handle enclosed spaces and other skills do come in handy but realistically you can get that training after.
What do you need to do to Become Qualified as a Commercial Diver?
Within a few months, you can be earning over $100,000 after completing your course and getting a job. Mr Aspiring Millionaire studied at Commercial Dive Academy in Tasmania, Australia. He did ADAS 1, 2 and 3 at the same time for about 3 months.
They have a discount if you do all 3 at once and there is a house students can pay to stay at since it is away from everything.
Certificate III in Maritime Operations can be extremely useful depending on the area and job you go into. Any construction experience, forklift licence and similar are also great to have or may be required to secure a job.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire needed his dive certifications, first aid certifications, a white card (construction card) and drivers licence. Within 2 months they arranged a few construction qualifications and his forklift licence as well. These would cost thousands but since he is a good worker and will be with them for years, it is a good investment for them.
Some commercial divers are happy to do fisheries and nothing else. Those who do the construction style commercial diving often have a desire to do saturation diving. Saturation diving is the most dangerous and although the wages are high, works often blow through their money as they are bored being offshore.
Since they can be qualified to do saturation within a few years of starting as a commercial diver and you can start as young as 18 in commercial diving, it is huge money for such a young age.
Any area of commercial diving you choose to go into has options for progression. After years of diving, you can move into supervision roles, training and similar. It’s up to you and the higher you go, the higher the income as the knowledge and experience is unique.
Commercial Diving Risks
If something goes wrong, you could easily die. It’s that simple. Of course, the safety checks and procedures are there to protect you and are extremely strict in Australia, it is a risky occupation though.
Offshore diving is even riskier because if you line gets cut or anything goes wrong, you cannot get to the surface. There are also issues such as decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, delta P, currents, sharks etc. The list is long and all of it requires divers to keep extremely calm under immense pressure.
Find out more about the risks of commercial diving.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s Diving Background and Plan
Before commerical diving, Mr Aspiring Millionaire did tec and scuba diving in the Solomon Islands, PNG and parts of Micronesia. He was crew for the expedition to find Amelia Earhart’s plane, had worked on boats his whole adult life doing everything from engineering and repairs through to learning to be a captain.
Having this experience, working in extreme conditions including being at sea through cyclones and having to repair boats in the least developed countries, he can clearly work well under pressure and problem solve. These are essential traits for a commercial diver.
When it came to securing a job, his previous work experienced helped immensely. It took a month from graduation to secure the job he has although he was offered other work before then. The other jobs were casual, lower rates and nowhere near as much diving.
Since he wants to go through to saturation diving, he needs to get his diving experience up quickly.
His plan is to work for a few years where he is, do the saturation diving course then work offshore on oil rigs at the highest rate. With a month on then a month off, we will be able to travel on his month off.
We will be investing his income heavily to enable him to retire early if he wants. However, he is interested in going right through to the supervisor roles.
If you have an questions, leave a comment and Mr Aspiring Millionaire can respond.
How we Increased our Net Worth by $166,000 PLUS got Permanent Residency and new Qualifications, Jobs and Another Baby
A year ago, we started this site as a hobby. At the time, we had just applied for a residency visa for Mr Aspiring Millionaire, we had 4 kids (teens, a primary schooler and a 3 month old). Mr Aspiring Millionaire had not been working for 2 years as he was on a tourist visa and Ms Aspiring Millionaire had health issues through the pregnancy causing a drop in income.
We’d seen some extreme expenses including repatriation after getting lockdown in the Solomon Islands. For 2020 it felt like we were bleeding money, so once we did the residency visa and knew we’d be based in Australia for a while, we regrouped and focused on our finances.
So in April 2021, we sat down and worked out where we were at financially, our goals and what we wanted to do.
What did we Achieve in a Year?
With the visa approved, we were able to get clear on our goals and also fell pregnant with a daughter who was born in February. With our son turning 1 in January, this meant by February 2022 we had two teens, an 8-year-old, a 1-year-old and a newborn.
A baby, a residency visa, a $30K course, cleared some debt, 2 trips (a road trip from Noosa to Melbourne then a trip to Tasmania for 3 weeks), a new job and started another business.
For 1 year, and 1 sporadic income, that is a lot to achieve. Many aiming for FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) would baulk at some of these expenses and choices. Our aim is to enjoy life, create great memories and do what we want while also working towards financial freedom.
A note on our income, Ms Aspiring Millionaire is the main income earner and due to health complications, her income dropped below 6 figures so we are not using a high income to achieve this either.
$30,000 Course: Commercial Diving
Our first goal was to save for a commercial diving course for Mr Aspiring Millionaire at a cost of $30,000 with 3 courses, flights, accommodation and some gear. In December 2021, he became an ADAS 3 Commercial Diver.
August to December, Mr Aspiring Millionaire was based in Tasmania while Ms Aspiring Millionaire was in Noosa with the kids. As the only income earner for the past few years, it was a little daunting to aim for $30,000 for the course.
Things fell into place in July, so we quickly booked him in the last spot available for the August course. If he didn’t do the course then, it couldn’t be done until early 2022, when Ms Aspiring Millionaire was due with a baby.
So for us, the only option was to find the money asap and we did. Getting the money as well as him getting qualified was a huge achievement.
The teenagers are just over a year apart, they are best friends and are from Ms Aspiring Millionaire’s first marriage. The 8-year-old is from Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s first marriage and she currently lives in the Solomon Islands. Together, we had our son in January 2021 and before we had him, we had decided to have another close in age, the same as the teenagers are.
In February 2022, our youngest daughter was born. Mr Aspiring Millionaire was doing work in another state so flew back for the birth and has visited twice in the 2 months since her birth.
Despite being experienced, her birth had complications and it was an extremely traumatic birth, requiring surgery and extra care for Ms Aspiring Millionaire after birth. Not at all what we planned or expected but 2 months on, things are going much better.
Our daughter is easygoing, much like our other kids and our older children simply adore her. All of the kids get along well and the teens love teaching their younger siblings everything.
In April 2021 we did a road trip from Noosa to Melbourne. For the most part, it wasn’t that expensive as we had a lot of free accommodation with family and friends. The purpose of the trip was to see friends and family as well as collect our belongings that had been stored in Melbourne since early 2019 when we went travelling.
In the September/October school holidays Ms Aspiring Millionaire flew with the teens and baby, while pregnant, down to Tassie while Mr Aspiring Millionaire studied. Ms Aspiring Millionaire’s uncle lent us one of his spare cars for the trip and we stayed with family in some places and paid for accommodation elsewhere.
The Tassie trip was a combination of seeing each other during the course, showing the kids and Mr Aspiring Millionaire where Ms Aspiring Millionaire grew up, seeing family and some travel writing work.
New Job and New Business
In January 2022, Mr Aspiring Millionaire started work as a commercial diver and loves it. His previous career was in diving as a guide and tec diver including doing the trip to find Amelia Earhart’s Plane with National Geographic. Commercial diving was a goal of his since he started diving but wasn’t achievable in the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu.
As for the new business, many of our businesses are small at the moment with room to grow. Focusing on the babies and studies meant we didn’t spend a lot of time on the businesses. However, we had the opportunity to get involved with one this month. Right now, it’s not worth a lot but there is huge potential for growth across the 3 countries we are based in.
Plus the new business requires minimal work (less than 1 day a month) from us as most of the work is done elsewhere.
How Our Net Worth Grew
We are ecstatic to look at what we have achieved in the past year, especially since we know the obstacles we faced that we aren’t sharing here. Doing all of that predominantly on one income was amazing so we know now that we are both working and have the capacity to expand the businesses that our net worth will grow faster.
Here is where we were and where we are now.
Our Assets April 2021
April 2021 I was only able to list out our properties from Vanuatu so below is more specifics from May 2021 after the little businesses were valued. Retirement funds aren’t listed fully but we also plan to retire well before we access them so won’t really include them. In April 2021, we were having issues getting the amounts from the islands so couldn’t list them.
Business 1: $70,000
Business 2: ?
Business 3: $3,000
Our Liabilities April 2021
Combined, our debt is not great. We have a few separate loans and are focusing on one at a time while maintaining minimum repayments on them all.
Custody debt $9,000
Visa debt $6,000
Personal loan $12,000
Cash debt $600
Cash debt $500
School debt $900
Net Worth $571,000 April 2021
Once we remove the liabilities from our assets, our net worth isn’t terrible. We have a positive net worth which is the main thing! Our net worth is roughly $571,000AUD. This will be different once the businesses and retirement are sorted.
Assets April 2022
Business 1: $120,000
Business 2: $20,000
Business 3: $5,000
Business 4: $10,000
Business 5: $0
Total Assets: $755,901
As you can see, we haven’t invested a lot anywhere but the businesses have increased in value due to marketing. The value of the businesses is based mainly on the annual income since most of them don’t have tangible assets.
We would have invested more in shares and crypto but the course was our main focus, along with clearing debt. This coming year, we will invest more.
Liabilities April 2022
Custody debt $5,000
Visa debt $5,000
Personal loan $8,434
Cash debt $0
Cash debt $0
School debt $0
We are quite happy with how much debt we’ve cleared here on top of everything else. Our assumption is this debt will be all gone within a few months.
Net Worth April 2022: $737,467
Considering our expenses, the health issues with pregnancy reducing income and working predominantly with 1 income, we are pretty happy with this.
Knowing how much we achieved is empowering and motivating for this coming year. With Mr Aspiring Millionaire now working on a good wage and the world opening up again so Ms Aspiring Millionaire can do more travel writing again, we anticipate the next year to be even better.
Plans for the Upcoming Year
Rather than sharing plans, we will continue to share what we have done, as it is done. Ms Aspiring Millionaire will continue with the $2 to $1,000,000 challenge. We will continue to grow our businesses and Mr Aspiring Millionaire will work full time as a commercial diver.
As for large expenses, this year we plan to buy a 7 seater car. Debt will be cleared soon and we have a few purchases to make for the home.
What do you do when your Cultures Clash over Finances? What is Bride Price, Compensation and Custom Fees?
Mr Aspiring Millionaire comes from Vanuatu and Ms Aspiring Millionaire comes from Australia. They met in the Solomon Islands and Mr Aspiring Millionaire has a daughter there to his ex-wife. Ms Aspiring Millionaire has 2 daughters to her first marriage who are part Tongan and part Maori. That’s 5 cultures with financial differences to be taken into account and managed.
So how do we manage issues such as Bride Price which is extremely important in Vanuatu and Solomon Islander cultures but non-existent in Caucasian Australian culture? Or the fact children are expected to financially support their elders in his cultures while in her culture, the parents leave an inheritance and support the kids. What about the expectation we support the family in the islands because we are considered wealthy?
Here I’ll share some of our experience then tips to help you navigate cultural differences when it comes to finances.
The Rocky Road to Settling our Cultural Financial Differences
Juggling multiple cultures and needing to be respectful has caused a few issues. Ms Aspiring Millionaire was aware of some but not all. She was also unaware how important some were to Mr Aspiring Millionaire, such as Bride Price. To her, it was a dated practice about ownership which she had no interest in participating in. For him, it is about thanking the parents for raising the daughter well and showing he is capable of providing. Not paying Bride Price would be an insult to him and shameful to his family.
While Ms Aspiring Millionaire had some understanding of Islander culture (which does vary country to country and even from village to village in those countries). She was not fully prepared and some has been difficult to manage. On the other hand, for Mr Aspiring Millionaire, the attitude towards money in Australian culture took a bit to get used to and understand.
Numerous discussions about culture, goals and expectations took place before meeting kids and taking the next step in the relationship. That did not stop the various issues and blocks along the way.
Some of our Major Financial Differences
A few have been mentioned but there were 5 major cultural differences when it comes to finances we had to work through.
This was dismissed by Ms Aspiring Millionaire immediately as being Australian, she assumed it was not applicable. Mr Aspiring Millionaire didn’t say much because Ms Aspiring Millionaire had such a strong view on what she thought Bride Price was about.
She thought it was the man buying the woman (and in some cultures it is as well as some men assuming bride price means they own the women). However, in Vanuatu it is thanking the family for raising the woman. It was extremely important to him which only became clear the more serious marriage was discussed.
Because Ms Aspiring Millionaire also had no desire to remarry, so it wasn’t going to matter. Over time though, because Mr Aspiring Millionaire did want to marry, the discussions shifted.
Education and understanding was key for dealing with the differences around Bride Price.
Supporting the Parents and the rest of the Family
Ms Aspiring Millionaire had assumed some level of support would be required since the options for retirement are limited. There are no pensions, no welfare and hardly any retirement funding available in the islands. Children are expected to support their parents and family.
If you happen to get a good job or live in another country, you are also expected to send money home, pay for schooling and other things if you can. The expectations were more than Ms Aspiring Millionaire was aware of. In her culture, the parents supported and helped the kids. If she needed money, she could get an interest free loan from her parents. They also gifted money when they visited or would buy gifts, items for babies when born and help where possible.
This is not to say Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s family don’t do any of that. When in Vanuatu, his parents take care of everything, they got new furniture for the front two rooms so when we visit we have our own space. They let us use the car whenever we want, take us to the family-owned beaches and Mr Aspiring Millionaire has inherited nicely because of his family.
White Are Wealthy/Being Used For A Visa
This was a big issue for both sides. White people are assumed to be wealthy but usually assumed to be Beverly Hills wealthy. They are wealthier than Ni-Vanuatu and Solomon Islanders but not to the level assumed. On top of that, a relationship between someone from those countries and someone from Australia is usually assumed to be done for a visa, that the white person is being used and played.
We faced opposition from both sides of the family until they met us in person and saw how happy we were, how our relationship was much more loving and supportive than our previous marriages. Friends who were there when we met and had spent a lot of time with us already knew this but our families didn’t and they were cautious.
Given the history of both countries, the amount of people who have been used for a visa and the blackbirding trade (where Australia stole people from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and many other nations to be slaves on plantations), the fear is understandable.
In the Solomon Islands and some other island nations, if you do something wrong, you have to pay compensation to the person you wronged. This was hard for Ms Aspiring Millionaire to understand, she was not in a position where she ever wronged someone and had to pay. But it did cause them to be careful in each country.
Females Do Not Inherit
This one took a lot for Ms Aspiring Millionaire to understand or be ok with. In Vanuatu and many parts of the Solomon Islands, only the men inherit. The women are expected to be taken care of by their husbands. They can own their own land if the work and buy it themselves but they will never inherit it.
Even if it was put in a will, the customs would override it and the lands taken. This is why a son was crucial for Mr Aspiring Millionaire. The family needed someone to inherit the family’s wealth, otherwise it would go to another family.
A compromise with this is the son will inherit the custom lands in Vanuatu, the daughters from Ms Aspiring Millionaire’s first marriage will inherit property and business in Australia. While the daughter in the Solomon Islands cannot inherit, options for her are still trying to be worked out so as not to offend either culture and not to be lost to other families. It’s way more complicated than most families.
How to Manage Financial Cultural Differences
Communication is key. Being clear about what is important, discussing it all with an open mind then deciding what is best for your family is essential to making this work. Financial issues are a leading cause for divorce. Throw in cultural differences and it becomes a million times harder. Here are some tips.
Determine The Lifestyle You Want
If you are clear on the life you want, you can create a plan to make that happen. When working this out, you need to include career goals, property, essentials for the families to be culturally sensitive, hobbies, who will stay home with the kids or if you both work and have a nanny, all of it.
Discuss your childhoods so you have a clear idea of what was normal for each other and what is within your comfort zone. Share your dreams and the lifestyle you want. Write it down and compare. Do this early, before kids, before marriage and before committing too much.
Once you are committed, if you haven’t had these discussions you might find yourselves on completely different paths and it is much harder to compromise at that point.
Decide together the lifestyle you want.
Be Clear About Your Cultural Expectations
As mentioned, Mr Aspiring Millionaire expects to pay Bride Price, he expects to support his family and participate in any cultural matters. Ms Aspiring Millionaire expected to provide for herself and her immediate family only, not everyone.
Boundaries had to be put in place around the cultural expectations and how much could be catered to so both were satisfied and respected. This could only happen once all expectations were put on the table to be discussed.
Work Out What The Deal Breakers Are
Some cultural expectations might be easy to let go of for one partner others might be total deal breakers. If there is a cultural expectation that is a deal breaker for you, be honest and state what it is and why it is a deal breaker for you.
Doing this early in the relationship enables you both to decide if it will work or if it is something you will fight about forever.
Communicate With An Open Mind
When discussing finances and culture, do so with an open mind. No one’s way is the right way. Each tradition or expectation has merit and cultural importance so don’t dismiss or belittle any of them. Discuss them all with an open mind, be understanding and if you don’t understand something, ask questions in a non judgmental way.
Being non judgmental makes it easier for the other partner to open up and share their culture, values and beliefs. If you are judging it, pushing your way or viewing your way as the only right way then communication won’t work.
Now you have a clear idea of the different cultural expectations, what the deal breakers are and the life you want, work out your compromises. You might be ok with accepting all of it or you may need boundaries in place.
A few examples of ours:
Bride Price: Ms Aspiring Millionaire’s parents are uncomfortable accepting money when they are so wealthy compared to Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s family. A compromise from them was the debt Ms Aspiring Millionaire owes them can be paid by Mr Aspiring Millionaire as the Bride Price.
Plus a piglet named Kevin. No joke! One of Ms Aspiring Millionaire’s sisters asked if that could be done at the Bride Price ceremony and Mr Aspiring Millionaire laughed but said that is easy, we can do that.
Money to Family: Mr and Ms Aspiring Millionaire pay child support to his ex-wife as agreed when they did child custody. Education is important so paying for a cousins degree, paying for the daughter to get a good education and budgeting for the nieces and nephews to attend school is all included.
Also, planning for businesses and growing them to support the family through retirement instead of simply sending money. This compromise grows wealth without being a handout.
Females do not inherit: as mentioned, the son will inherit custom lands but other property and wealth can and will be inherited by daughters.
How do you manage financial cultural differences? What are some considerations for your culture?
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How to Achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early with a Large Family
Most things written about financial independence and retiring early is from white males. In more recent years, other voices have come through, often still single or double incomes before kids, or with only one kid.
In my experience, it is much easier to achieve financial goals without children but as someone with 4 kids, that isn’t the journey I’m taking. We have 2 daughters from my first marriage, my partner’s daughter from his first marriage and a son together. Aged 13, 12, 7 and less than 6 months.
My partner comes from Vanuatu and in his culture, it is expected you support the parents in their later years. Vanuatu does not have an aged pension, welfare or many of the things we have here. Incomes are extremely low so even with some retirement savings, it is impossible to live off, let alone aim for a large retirement nest egg.
Also, it is not uncommon for the wealthier family members or those in a better location to support nieces and nephews through school. His parents supported numerous cousins of his and still do. Since his sister has two children, it is possible we will have not only our kids but hers at some point too.
Our situation and FIRE goals are different to most.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.
What can you do to Achieve FIRE with a Large Family?
Knowing what you want, creating a plan of action and going for it are with commitment is how. You might not achieve it as fast as someone who doesn’t have kids or your expenses but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
Please remember to live life still! Don’t scrimp and save on everything, sacrificing fun memories with your kids in an effort to retire early. I see too many families cutting off everything, not really living in an effort to retire a year earlier or 5 years earlier. Your kids will remember their childhoods. If you are off working 24/7 or constantly side hustling and cutting corners so they never get to do anything, they will remember it.
A strong relationship with your kids is more important than retiring a few years earlier. Always aim for a balance between reaching your goal of retiring at a certain point with having great times as a family.
What we do for Family Fun
Having time with your family and lots of fun doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A few key things we do are:
- Friday Family Fun Night: an activity as a family, usually on a Friday night. Every week, we do an activity together. It might be watching a movie on Netflix with treats, going for a hike, the beach until midnight, any activity we enjoy. The point is, our kids know that every week we have a few hours doing something as a family and they look forward to it all week.
- Dinner Together: every night we have dinner as a family. We often cook these meals together too.
- Grateful and Compliments: at dinner we all list 3 things we are grateful for plus a compliment for each other. With the compliments, it is about catching each other doing something good and recognising it rather than superficial compliments.
- Family Travel: we are a family that loves travel. So much so, that we have side hustles based on it. Family travel doesn’t need to be expensive, most of ours is free but our kids have the best memories. Check out free campsites for weekends away, stay with friends and family interstate, go on a random road trip.
- Private Conversations: at any time, our kids can ask either one of us for a private conversation and the whole family will respect that and give us space to talk.
- One On One Time: I try to take the kids out individually, even if just for a walk on the beach together. Having that one on one time with me makes a huge difference to the relationship.
All of these things add up and have ensured our children are emotionally stable, confident and happy to work towards our goals. They aren’t constantly asking for new things and we don’t feel the need to buy them things because they get our time.
Find a balance between work, side hustles, reaching FIRE and the time with your family.
Sort Out Your Budget
Go over all your expenses, your income and plans. Create a proper spending plan to tell your money where to go before it lands in your account. Be sure to include regular savings and investing as part of your budget. Treat them as a bill instead of an afterthought. They should be paid first and work with the rest of your income for everything else.
Look at ways to cut back and as you do, transfer those extra amounts to savings or investments. If you are hopeless with money, try using the envelope system to begin with so you use cash and physically see the money go.
What is the Envelope System?
Multiple envelopes for different expenses are used. Take out the cash amount you set aside in your budget for each area e.g. groceries, petrol, bills and once you have spent the cash, it’s gone. For every purchase, put the receipt into the envelope so you can properly track where and how you spend your money.
For many people, seeing how much cash they spend and how much they waste is confronting. This alone is enough to make them change their spending habits.
Other people prefer to use separate accounts online and transfer the money between them. Try each method and do what works for you.
How we do Our Budget
Every Sunday we have an Abundance Meeting. We sit down together, go over all our income, investments and expenses to ensure we are on track. Our investments are set up to be automatic, as are most of our bills.
Each week we get our own ‘play’ money which is a specific amount we can do whatever we want with. The minimum aim is at least 10% to investments and 10% to savings. Right now, we are saving $30,000 fast to pay cash for Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s career progression. It will see a huge leap in income from his previous career stage.
Once we have paid for that and cleared our remaining consumer debt, all excess is going to investing. Right now, our current investments are 3 properties owned outright in Vanuatu, one business there, a business in Australia plus shares and crypto.
We use Kiva for donations and send money back to family in the islands. Plus, we like to support some charities in Vanuatu aimed at gender equality and helping women. Read how to know which not for profits to support to know more about what we do.
Maximise Your Money
Set your money up right and you can make or save thousands. Look at all the ways you can maximise your money. Some examples are below.
Free Interest and Bonuses
If you’re good with your money, credit cards can be used to acquire points to save money on travel and in other areas of your life. Many businesses have sign up bonuses, banks have account opening bonuses and other incentives. Look for the right products for your needs then get them set up. We have over $500 worth listed here.
Salary Sacrificing/Tax Benefits
Check to see if your employer or government offers bonuses or salary sacrificing to make your money go further. Different occupations and companies offer different salary sacrificing, retirement and bonus options.
Cash Back and Rebates
Look for rebates and cashback when you go shopping. Do what you can to ensure you are making the most of the money you have.
Check and Combine Retirement Accounts
Regularly check your retirement fund or funds to ensure your employer is paying into it. Next, check the fees and charges plus benefits of all of them to see which one is best then combine them. Often, as we change jobs, new accounts are set up. Paying fees for each is a waste of money.
Increase Your Income
Do what you can to increase your income and put all the extra into investments to enable you to reach financial independence and retire early. Get a promotion, increase your income, start a business or look at side hustles to make more money.
Some of the ways we make money include websites, freelance writing, crypto, shares, odd jobs and consulting.
Get a Promotion/Increase Your Wage
If you are working, one of the easiest ways to make more money can often come from your job. Look at promotions or ask for a raise if possible. Overtime is another option but it takes more time whereas a raise or promotion often means you make more money in the same amount of time.
Depending on your career, if a raise or promotion isn’t possible, it might be worth looking at other options, retraining or seeing what is necessary to get the wage you want.
As an example, Mr Aspiring Millionaire changed careers a couple of years before we met. However, in the islands, the wages are extremely low ($5,000AUD a year is not uncommon). And there is a limit on what he can do in that career or how far he could go.
Moving to Australia and doing a specific course means he has the potential to earn his old annual wage in a day. It takes training and dedication and is a risky job. When he first switched, even though it wasn’t an option in the islands to go all the way in this career, it was his dream. Now we are in a position to make it happen. Doing this accelerates our FIRE number massively.
Find ways to make money on the side. For over a decade I have been making money from home, both with a business which I will discuss more and with side gigs. Below are a few of my favourites and some of the most profitable. 99 Side Hustles for Aussies has 99 great ideas anyone can do, most are fine even if you aren’t Aussie.
Freelance Writing $150+ per article
This would absolutely be one of my favourites and most profitable. Writing is a passion of mine and has been since I was a child. Freelance writing has enabled us to travel, make money from anywhere and meet fun people.
To get started with freelance writing, create a few articles and get active. Meaning, you can set up your own blog or start writing on Medium or similar so you have examples of your work. Pitch yourself in Facebook groups, on work marketplaces or directly to businesses.
To be more professional, it helps if you have a website. Siteground is my preferred website host. You can get low monthly hosting, buy your domain name and set up WordPress or other platforms through them to set up your website. They walk you through it all making it easy.
Online Surveys $5,000 per year
No one makes big money with online surveys but an extra $5,000 a year to invest makes a difference. Especially when that $5,000 can be made while you’re waiting to pick up the kids from school, watching TV or similar.
Flipping Items over $10,000 a month
When I did this actively in Melbourne, I made over $10,000 a month while doing other projects too. My aim is to get back to that which is why I started this site. Flipping items can be one of the easiest ways to make money. Check out this guide on how to make over $10,000 a month buying things to resell.
To track my progress, what I am flipping, where and for how much, click here. I have outlined it all and update it as I go along. My eldest daughter has started doing this too and is learning what sells well, what to look for etc. She has bought and sold a dress, some Lego and is starting to do books too.
Start a Business
I’ve had a few businesses over the years: hairdressing and beauty, a marketing company, blogging, consulting and now a tourism business in Vanuatu. Some businesses can be started for under $100. It depends what you are doing and how big your start up costs are. If you don’t need stock on hand, you can easily get started for next to nothing.
Some businesses you can start for next to nothing include drop shipping, blogging, services such as virtual assistant, cleaning, babysitting etc.
Blogging as a Business
My favourite business has been a blog I bought in 2014. Within a week, I had made back the purchase price. In a few months, it was making a full time income. Now, it does most of it passively and I have been able to work on other projects while that runs itself.
Check out this full guide on how to set up a blog and make money blogging for more on this.
Reduce Your Expenses
There are only so many ways you can cut back which is why I focused on making money first. Spending less than you earn is the only way you will be able to save and invest anything to be able to retire though so it is crucial.
Most experts say to keep the cost of housing below 30% of your income. Given the rising costs of housing this can be difficult. If you have a mortgage, look at refinancing to see if it will save you money. Consider getting in a boarder if you have the room or renting out your garage if you don’t use it.
For renters, share housing is becoming more common since there are not many cheap rent options available.
When it comes to buying a home, truly think about what you need and want in a home. A room for each child plus a study might be a want but is it affordable? Be realistic with your home and reduce your housing costs to ease financial stress.
Meal planning, shopping with a list, buying items on sale or in bulk to save money all help. They might seem basic but it is the basics that can make the biggest difference if you get them right. Find ways to use up leftovers, eat what you have, eat in season and take advantage of special offers.
For example, get a FREE HelloFresh box here. $100 off Marley Spoon, split across your first 4 boxes, $60 off Dinnerly which is split across your first 3 boxes and up to $75 off your first box with EveryPlate. Use a different one each week or month to get the specials and save on groceries.
Combine errands, walk or ride your bike instead of driving and see if you have free public transport options in your area. Cars themselves are expensive from purchase price through to maintenance and daily running with the cost of petrol.
Look at ways to reduce the cost through using a fuel app to lock in or look for the cheapest fuel. Service your car regularly to prevent major issues and fix things as needed. Rotate your tyres, get a wheel alignment, keep it clean and keep a logbook.
Start saving to replace your car as well to prevent paying interest on a loan when the time comes to upgrade. Or look at your options such as salary sacrificing if that works out financially better.
Review All Your Expenses
The above are 3 of the biggest expenses for most households. Check all your expenses and look for ways to reduce them. Compare insurance providers, electricity, internet, phone, all of them. Be sure to never renew your insurance and instead, get a fresh quote each time.
Doing this has saved thousands. Now, I set aside time each year to go over all our expenses in an annual financial review. I look to see what deals there are and how we can change our habits to save more.
Reaching FIRE as a Large Family
It is doable but requires more work than a single person who can live for free in many ways and save a significant portion of their income. Having kids means you have more expenses but it doesn’t mean your goal is impossible. You just need to work around it a little more.
What tips do you have for a large family wanting to achieve financial independence and retire early?