Joe and Ali Olson are living their dream.
After just eight years in the workforce, the couple, each in their early 30s, were able to retire from their jobs as public school teachers in August 2015 and begin travelling the world — now with their 1-year-old daughter, Annabelle, in tow.
By living frugally and finding a good side hustle — in their case, real estate — the couple was able to achieve financial independence relatively quickly. After purchasing their Las Vegas home at a steep discount in 2007, they started scooping up rental properties for cheap, a result of the battered housing prices during the financial crisis. They lost money at first, but eventually the market flipped and they began to turn a profit.
But even as their net worth rose, they didn’t succumb to lifestyle inflation. The pair continued to save 75% of their income and resided in their 400-square-foot home.
Fifteen properties later, they were able to retire as millionaires and tackle new dreams: travelling the world and starting a family. (You can follow along with their travels on their blog, Adventuring Along.)
The Olsons make it look easy, but sticking to such lofty savings goals is often easier said than done. Their secret? Learning to be content with their current lifestyle, instead of lusting after more.
“Rather than trying to keep ourselves ‘motivated,’ we implemented a lifestyle we were satisfied with,” Joe told Business Insider. “Being happy with simple pleasures and what we had. Thus, we never felt deprived. There was no need to keep ourselves pumped up or motivated when it was just our natural lifestyle, and we were happy.”
They celebrated what they did have, instead of mourning what they didn’t.
“A meal at home and a walk in the park can be just as great of a date night as an expensive evening on the town if you approach it with the right attitude,” Ali says. “We considered ourselves immensely lucky to even have a car, so what did it matter if it was a decade old? So many people in the world live with far less than what we had, and that knowledge helped us avoid the trap of keeping up with the Joneses.”
However, as they watched their net worth grow, it was impossible not to get excited about the prospect of true financial freedom — and finally realising their long-held travel dreams.
“Travel has been important to us from the very beginning, and our goal of building enough wealth so we could leave our jobs to travel indefinitely was a huge motivator,” Ali said. “I happily taught summer school and took on an extra class during the year, knowing that every extra dollar went toward the experiences we wanted to have.”
“We counted down the months left until we could start our adventure, and used spreadsheets to watch our funds grow,” she continued. “It was something we were excited about the entire time we worked toward financial independence.”