How do I go about putting in place an Escape Plan?
Most people go through life repeatedly making the same mistakes but hoping for a different outcome. This can come in the form of doing nothing i.e. finding yourself in a job for life that you don't enjoy, but continuing with it anyway because of the perceived risks of leaving. Or the other end of the spectrum, bouncing from one job to the next because 'you've got a low boredom threshold' or 'the grass looks slightly greener' and never ending up where you want to be (or stay there long enough to make it worth it).
The real problem is that quite often we're so caught up with trying to make ends meet, put food on the table, pay the mortgage etc that we don't actually take time out to work out how we really want to live our lives.
The biggest hurdles I faced when carrying out my Escape Plan, were my own self-doubts. Am I sure I have enough money? I haven't done anything clever so why isn't everyone doing this? What if it goes wrong - am I too old to start another career?
And to a certain extent, these questions of self-doubt were partly right - what I had done hadn't been particularly remarkable or clever, so why wasn't everyone doing it?
The simple answer is that everyone can do it, and should have an escape plan in place (even if you don't want to escape from anything, just knowing you can takes a lot of the stress out of everyday living). The problem is that there are so few positive role models living lives on their own terms, that we now assume working 40 years for 'the man' is all part of the deal. Job unsatisfaction has been normalised. It doesn't need to be this way.
In order to put in place and carry out a successful Escape Plan I narrowed it down to 4 key points that must be addressed:
1) Take the time out of your busy lives to think about it, and most importantly act upon it.
2) Live well within your means.
3) Be financially astute and prudent enough to save and invest wisely over a long term horizon.
4) Keep yourself fit and healthy, in mind and body, for long enough to carry out your plan.
Four very simple statements you would think, but how many people carry them out effectively?
Take the time out of your busy lives to think about it, and most importantly act upon it
Just by reading this blog now, you are taking time out to think about it. But that is the easy part - you need to follow through and act upon it. Keep reading this blog and I promise I will give you all the information and tell you exactly what you need to do to put in place a successful Escape Plan. But much like the feedback you'd probably get at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting you still have to actually do it for yourself. As the saying goes "You can lead a horse to water, …"
Live well within your means
Most businesses fail because of high running costs, not their lack of revenues - you are no different! Obviously the more money you can bring in should make your escape easier (in theory!), but the real key is to keep spending down. Modern society works against us on this front - we're all consumers and there's a huge amount spent on marketing and advertising to make us materialistic. But don't fall for this trap!!
Subscribe today for free to receive a comprehensive guide on what you should be doing to cut costs and reduce spending 'Don't spend it like Beckham - A penny saved is a penny earned ...'
Be financially astute and prudent enough to save and invest wisely over a long term horizon
Make no mistake, if financial freedom was quick and easy everyone would be doing it. There are no shortcuts unless you win the lottery. It involves keeping a very close eye on your bottom line, restricting what you're spending and diligently investing over a long-term horizon (10 years or more). That being said it's almost possible for anyone to do it given the know-how, and incredibly rewarding and fulfilling when achieved. But don't think of it as learning a new magic trick, it's more a change of mind-set and lifestyle, being more frugal and committing money for the future rather than spending it today.
Keep yourself fit and healthy, in mind and body, for long enough to carry out your plan
During the many years that I worked in the city, I saw more people than I care to remember set themselves up financially but ruined their health in doing so. If you lose your health and fitness doing your day job it kind of makes the financial rewards inconsequential. As anyone who's had a health scare knows, it puts life a bit more in to perspective and makes you realise that along with family it should be a priority. Sure, you normally have to endure some type of stress with every job, but I've certainly found that exercise is the best way to cope with it, and the old adage 'healthy body, healthy mind' definitely rings true. If you do feel like you're well and truly stuck in the rat race, use exercise as the pressure release valve, and your healthy body and mind will help you plan your escape out of it.
If you're prepared to put some time and effort into these four facets, there is absolutely no reason why you can't put in place an Escape Plan no matter what your current income. The power of compound interest over a long enough time frame can make the most modest of savings turn into something substantial and produce significant income if invested wisely ...