I entered the corporate world five years ago. I went from carefree college student with zero responsibilities to a cog in the rat race. Wake up at 6am. Get to work by 7am. And leave work at 7pm. Five days a week and sometimes work on the weekends. Six weeks into the corporate life I knew I couldn’t do this forever.
I didn’t want to get stuck. Stuck on the hedonic treadmill of lifestyle creep. I could picture it in my head. If I got stuck in lifestyle creep I visualized being the overweight man in the red convertible in fifteen years. Unhappy, unhealthy and stuck with a large mortgage.
To prevent this from happening I sat down with my wife and made a five year plan. It was called “Freedom 30”. The goal was to have enough money saved up by the time we were 30 to ditch the traditional work lifestyle for good. A short five year plan that would essentially buy us back our freedom.
We are currently 4.5 years into our Freedom 30 plan. A mere six months left of the corporate rat race. I am projecting that we will overshoot our target by the end of the year.
The journey into financial freedom has swung from the pendulums of fun to frustrating. Fun as it was great watching our net worth increase by thousands each month. Frustrating as I hated my job, lifestyle and everything corporate American stood for. The journey of financial freedom was definitely worth it and in the words of my wife, “but holy hell it actually worked”.
In five short years we will have saved up enough money to never work a demanding corporate job again. Our investments should provide enough income for us to live on for entirety. And if you count our side hustles that is just icing on the top.
Here are a few tips for anyone else pursuing this journey:
Focus on the long-term: The journey to financial independence can be long and frustrating, especially if you hate your job. You need to have a long-term focus and be financially disciplined to make it work. My wife and I lived like average Americans through this entire journey. The average amount of money we spent in a year was around $45,000-55,000. Everything else we dumped right back into the stock market. If you live like an average American and earn above average wages you will become financially independent in a very short period of time.
Invest as much as you can: Don’t stick the money you save into a bank account. Dollar cost average everything you save into ETFs and safe investment vehicles that will have a predictable returns. The majority of my money was in individual stocks which is not typically recommended by gurus who have done this before. I aggressively all of my excess savings into the stock market everytime I got paid. Only invest the majority of your income in individual stocks if you are a trained professional investor.
A high savings rate will do more wonders than a high investing return: In a short period of time a high savings rate will do way more for your bank account than high investment returns. Save over $100,000 per year for five years in a row and the amount you saved will likely be more than the returns you made off each incremental dollar. However, over the long-run, the investment returns will outstrip your savings rate.
Start a side hustle: This is a big thing I recommend everyone do. Make a presence on the internet and build it up each day. In one years time you could have a large presence on the internet that you can start monetizing. Content creation is king and highly valued in this market.
Don’t buy a house (probably): My rule of thumb is to have enough money saved where you could live off your investment returns before buying a house. Personal homes have historically been a money sink and I’d rather put my 20% down payment into the stock market over a liability that generate zero cash flows.
Get a high paying job: The more you make the more you save. Becoming financially independent at a young age almost always requires a high paying job. Don’t have one? Learn a valuable skill and get one.
Your spouse has to be onboard: This will not work if your spouse loves spending money and consuming and you don’t. Having a double income that you can both dump into the market at a rapid rate will speed the process up. If one of you is a high saver but the other is a high spender this will not work.
Fertilizer prices keep rising: Retail fertilizer prices continue to rise every week with no signs of a slowdown. RaboResearch analysts state that “fertilizers face supply issues compounded by underlying demand strength.”
My Take: I think higher prices are here to stay — at least for the next 12 months. A significant amount of the Brazilian corn crop was wiped out by a frost this week, making a short crop even smaller. The price of corn should continue to improve followed by fertilizer pricing. I continue to stay long CVR Partners (UAN) and think we see record stock prices over the mid-term.
Corn and soybeans soar: Futures for corn, soy and wheat soared after the USDA dropped a reported showing that farmers planted fewer corn and soybeans than estimated. Corn plantings totaled 92.692 million acres. Soybean plants totaled 87.555 million acres. Consensus suggested that corn acres would be at 93.787 million and soybeans at 88.955 million. Corn shot up limit high with soybeans and wheat both up high single digits.
My Take: Going back to the first point, I am very bullish on fertilizer companies as higher corn prices give farmers an incentive to spend more money juicing up their fields for the harvest. Demand will remain strong and given the disruptions in the South American market its possible prices go higher. With the current price of UAN, I don’t need prices to rise really anymore. Anything extra is icing on top.
On top of that: CF Industries just requested the investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission to look into the unfairly subsidized UAN dumping from Russia and Trinidad. “For too long, UAN producers in the United States, who are among the most efficient in the world, have competed on an uneven playing field due to dumped and unfairly subsidized imports from Russia and Trinidad,” said Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. “The duties we are seeking will restore fairness to our highly competitive industry and help ensure that American UAN producers remain a reliable source of fertilizers for American farmers for years to come.”
My Take: Like I said before, fertilizer producers are going to the moon. Look at the recent price increase from yesterday of $UAN. This is one of my favorite ideas right now.
Ray Dalio is concerned about potential housing bubble: Founder of Bridgewater, Ray Dalio, went on record Tuesday to state that he is worried about a potential housing bubble due to high liquidity and low interest rates. Ray later stated that the Fed needs to keep purchasing U.S. Treasuries., “You saw the reaction in the markets when the Fed just even hinted at tightening," Dalio said, referring to the market reaction that followed the central bank's latest policy meeting.
My Take: The Fed is stuck in between a rock and a hard place. If the Fed ever lets interest rates rise the last thing I am concerned about is a housing crash. The entire equity, bond and pretty much every market will crash if rates rise substantially. I think it will be a monumental disaster for all asset classes if rates ever get out of control. Everyone will be forced to raise their discount rates which will negatively impact all future free cash flows.
Kyle Bass: “Private Crypto Market Going To Have Difficult Moments In 2022: Kyle Bass warned investors that the crypto market is going to have a challenging 2022 as China regulates the crypto industry. Bass also stated the launch of a Chinese digital currency will lower China’s reliance on the U.S. dollar. Bass also called out Nike, Disney and Lebron James for pushing social-justice reform in the U.S. while coddling China.
My Take: I think the crypto market will have a difficult period going forward even if China doesn’t regulate the industry. There has been an immense amount of crypto scams launched in the past few years and U.S. regulators are licking their chops. 99% of these alt-coins that were launched have a terminal value of zero. Regulation will come on all fronts.
National Retail Federation issues huge boost to retail sales forecast: The National Retail Federation expects retail sales to grow in 2021 between 10-5% and 13.5% from the 2020 level. This is an increase from the prior forecast of 6.5% to 8.2%. Retail stocks flew on this news with many individual retailers up high single digits.
My Take: If you have been following the newsletter for a while you probably already know how incredibly bullish I am on the retail sector. I called the retail sector a slam dunk in early 2021 and made a handful of multi-bagger investments. I don’t think there is that much opportunity anymore as most of these stocks have re-rated. But I do have one last retail play that looks significantly undervalued. Find my research report here.
U.S. Steel Guides Q2 Earnings Above Consensus and Confident in Very Strong 2022: "Continued strong demand and low steel inventories are empowering today's ongoing market improvements," U. S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt. "These market fundamentals are showing no signs of slowing down and have us increasingly confident of another strong year in 2022."Q2 Adjusted EBITDA is expected at $1.2 billion, more than double the Q1 performance.
My Take: The steel industry is likely to be in a multi-year bull market. The price of steel continues to hold strong everyday as there is significant pent-up demand all over the world. I am expecting this bull market to last through 2021 and into 2022. My favorite way to play the steel industry is in metallurgical coal. Steel producers have all skyrocketed but met coal producers are trading at extremely cheap valuations despite the rapid increase in met coal prices. My favorite met coal stock idea can be found here.
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