Wednesday 4 September 2013

Use Technology for Early Retirement and Not to Extend Wage Slavery

Looking back over my short 40 and a bit years, technology and access to it really has exploded.  Thinking about technology a little deeper though and I start to wonder whether the majority of people really are using it or whether it’s actually using them.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Credit cards may not be a technology in the strictest sense of the word but technology advancement sure has helped make them an everyday item.  It’s debatable as to who or what was the first credit card, but roll the year to 1951 when 200 pre-approved persons were able to present a Diner’s Club card at 27 New York restaurants and you have something that sounds pretty close to what we have today.  Except even in my “early” years, some 30 years or so post 1951, I remember my parents not even possessing a credit card but instead choosing the debt free alternative, layaway or lay-by.  Fast forward to today and it’s rare to find somebody who doesn't possess a credit card.  Unfortunately this great convenience seems to have been used by the majority to bring forward consumption by piling on debt at the expense of either larger consumption later or earlier retirement.  Instead let me demonstrate how I use my credit card (yes I have a credit card and also save 60% of gross earnings).  I buy everything I need (of course my definition of need is very different to that of many) on credit card knowing that I have the money in the bank.  I get the item now but depending on when in the month I make the purchase I don’t have to stump up the cash, which automatically happens via direct debit, for between 1 and 2 months.  Over that period that money is earning interest for me, adding to my wealth and bringing retirement that little bit closer.

I remember my first computer, which also came in the 1980’s.  It was an IBM XT clone desktop with a processor capable of 4.33MHz and a ‘turbo’ button which pushed that to something like 10MHz.  It had a 20MB hard drive, a CGA monitor and two 5 ¼” (remember those?) floppy disk drives.  It certainly didn’t have a microphone or a camera and in hindsight it did very little to better my life.  Today we have Smartphone’s, Tablet’s and Laptop’s with multiple GHz processors, 100’s of GB (if not TB) hard drives and high definition screens.  Combine that with the internet which was still in its infancy in the late 1980’s and the opportunities to create extra wealth are today nearly endless.  The majority of people just don’t see or don’t want to see the opportunities. Let’s look at a few.

To get to retirement in the shortest possible time I'm continually working to maximise my earnings.  This includes both my better half and I living together in a location where our skills are both in demand and well remunerated.  This has enabled us to really accelerate our savings rate.  This unfortunately means we rarely visit our parents, extended family and old friends.  I know it’s not quite the same but modern technology allows us to download an App like Skype for free, which can be used for close to no cost, where we can not only hear people but see them grow up.  Yes it’s a sacrifice that many wouldn't make but before you jump in and start to flame me I'm taking it nowhere near to an extreme.  We live in a globalised world and I personally know people in China who not only live apart from parents but live 1,000’s of km’s away from their husbands and wives, only seeing each other on holidays, to maximise their earnings.  They want what we take for granted.  In contrast the masses in the western world seem content to use the power of the web and modern hardware to go in search of that next £0.99 App.

The web is also awash with free informative gold.  We really mustn't be too far off being able to learn just about any skill online.  That includes learning about how to be a better investor.  It’s where I spend most of my online time and I can definitely say it has and continues to educate me.  Invest wisely off the back of that learning and my early retirement is accelerated.  It’s out there for free yet the excellent non vested interest Monevator site, which will teach you to be a better investor, only ranks as the 126,822 most popular website worldwide according to Alexa.  In contrast Facebook, which is just trying to sell you stuff, ranks at number 2 and certainly doesn't help you develop passive income streams.

So where next with technology?  One area I see an opportunity to make money is the emergence of mobile payment devices which enable you to accept payment with your smart phone.  Given where we started this post – credit cards (and debit cards for that matter) – you really do want to make it as easy as possible for people to pay you.  I can see the day where I've retired early and instead of sitting in a meeting room arguing about something that really doesn't matter I'm instead taking advantage of a lovely summers day (whether here in the UK or abroad) by picking a bumper fruit harvest from trees planted years prior.  In the days prior I've also raided the vegetable patch.  It’s been a great growing year and so I have far more than I can ever use.  So armed with nothing more than an old table and a Smartphone I proceed to earn myself some pocket money which gives my retirement pot a well earned break that week.  The next week I could also see myself undertaking some short term contract work with an old contact...  Will the masses take advantage or will they be the ones handing over the credit card.  I know where I'm placing my bets.

1 comment:

  1. You need to get a march on planting those fruit trees :) The blighters take a while to get on stream, we planted our forest garden getting on for four years ago and to date the bumper harvest this year has been...drum roll...

    one apple!

    people who know about these things say that's fairly typical, they'll come on stream over the next few years. But there's only so many 'next few years' in a lifetime, so planting trees is something you want to do sooner rather than later