Retirement centers around two primary concepts: Assets & Cashflow.

“You have to build your asset base”


“Liquidity has to be your primary focus in the long run”

Are you ready to seriously start thinking about your 'Retirement'? If so, you're in the right place. Simply put, 'retirement' is a term we use to describe a state in which someone doesn't need to work for money. This term essentially describes a person of any age, who sets their financial life up to be able to have/do whatever they want with their time irrespective of money as a need for covering their basic necessities.

Typically speaking, this retired someone is out of the labor force and over 65 years of age. However, more and more people are discovering the simple fact that 'retirement' is hackable, it can be engineered and implemented with relative ease at any stage in life. What does that mean? It means folks in their 40's, 30's, and even in their 20's are retiring. They are not retiring in the traditional sense of course. They simply figured out how to generate enough cashflow through their investments, to be able to afford not to have to work for money alone. This doesn't mean they don't work anymore, far from it, it means they get to work on what they want to work on, and they get to decided when they do so. It means they have full control over their time. They get to decided their schedules. They get to decided where they want to live on the globe. They get to decide for themselves, they choose who they work with, and what they get to work on, they are not bound to employment for mere financial reasons. These individuals are either working on passion projects, spending time with their family/friends, they are traveling around the world, or they are volunteering to help communities in need, or in some cases, all of the above. 

Sounds like a pretty good deal, no? Of course it does, but you’re here because you want to figure out how to get there. How to take full control over your time and money. 

If your goal is to free up your time, then you will need to first figure out how much money you’re going to need in order to do that. Many people assume they will need millions to retire. This is simply not true. What you need in order to retire successfully is Consistent CashFlow or a Large Pile of Savings, although the former is much more realistic to obtain than the latter. Instead of adopting the traditional model of accumulating employment savings and investing/lending these funds out to managers and markets to generate an income off dividends, what we are focusing on instead is the bypass of the employment phase, and the generation of consistent stream/s of month income to support our lifestyle. This means you should be thinking in terms of costs first i.e. the bottom up approach. Quick example: if you spend $2,000 on Rent or Mortgage, another $500 on food, another $250 on transportation, $700 for all other services = this means your monthly spend is $3,450. So, if you can figure out how to set up a system (or several systems) that generate this amount of cash every month, without you having to spend a lot of time maintaining them, then you can effectively, retire. Your needs will be met, and you can spend your time doing whatever it is you want. 

You: ok, I'm in, I get it. But how do I do it? What's the recipe? 

1. Passive Income - Many people figure out how to make money with out spending a lot of time on it consistently by setting up businesses and other income streams that are semi-automatic. The idea is simple: you put up all the work needed UP-FRONT (this means you bust your ass until the job is done), and then whatever business you create runs automatically or with minimal maintenance. Then you get to sit back and collect on your hard work.  We have seen so many different kinds of entrepreneurs doing this in so many different ways: RealEstate, Stock Trading, Small Business, Online Markets, Dropshipping, and the list goes on and on. Spend the time on developing your income streams, and you will be rewarded accordingly, you will have enough to cover your needs, and most importantly, you will have time. 

2. Investment Dividends - We cannot emphasize this point enough. Always invest your money! When you have some left over, don't buy that new car! put the money to work instead! Invest in your future self. Investing in stocks, ETFs, private businesses, cryptocurrencies, etc, etc, etc. The best ways to grow your wealth over time is to let your money work for you through investments, the sooner you can start the better. Investing is an essential practice in making your money make you money. When you do this well, you receive dividends, as well as capital gains, which you can use to spend and/or re-invest. Anyone who wants to retire early will need to have a steady stream of dividends coming in, and in the long run, you want those cap gains to balloon to the moon ;) 

3. Slash Expenses - Live like your a college student. Yes, you can do it, get rid of the car, the cable, the truthfully unnecessary excess. Just cut the crap and cut the costs. If you can't complete this basic move the hard truth probably is that you don't want it bad enough. We'll even take it to the point of canceling Netflix (check out popcorn-time...), yes, get rid of the all fat, you need to slim your finances up if your going to be nimble and flexible. All the excess "fat" get invested. 

4. Housing - Here's the deal, wether you rent or paying off a mortgage, your housing costs are probably 30% to 60% of your monthly expenses. In order to retire this is the #1 expense category you need to control. Move to another country if need be, get this cost eliminated or cover it with you Passive Income, but under no circumstances can you continue to bleed your cashflow on housing. In most all cases, if you can solve this piece of the equation then your gonna be able to retire with ease. Own your house outright, yes, we said it. Build yourself a tiny house. Move to a place where your living expenses are dirt cheap until you build up your cashflows (there are many regions in Europe where life is super cheap and you can live well, Asia is also filled with comfortable options for a good life on the cheap). The bottom line is that housing is your biggest expense, and you need to be able to not have to worry about this cost if your going to retire at any age. 

5. Digitize - track all of your finance with a P&L and a Balance Sheet.

Great! You got this far! Now one more step to consider and implement:  

Doing all this takes time and effort, you must be consistent, deliberate, and at times relentless. Be realistic. This will not happen over night, so you need a game-plan, set something super basic up, and above all you must keep yourself accountable. 

Food for thought:

How To Retire In Your 20's

If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.
— Warren Buffett

Re-defining Retirement

The concept of retirement has been redefined since its inception. Initially, retirement was the idea that indicated a government and/or corporate scheme be set to support individuals in old age. The calculous for such schemes were pegged to life expectancy (60-65 at the time_. The retirement lifestyle of leisure was established during the US retirement booms of the 50’s and 60’s. However, this model of retirement is no longer sustainable as the population ages across the west and social security, pensions, and equity retirement accounts all contract. Moreover, life expectancies have risen drastically and continue to do so (+80 years and climbing). This notion of retirement is now, irrelevant and unsustainable.

The new retirement model is financial independence.

In today’s economic setting, the idea of retirement has morphed, and is no longer pegged to age, it is age agnostic. Today, retirement is pegged to the control of the ultimate currencies of life such as time, flexibility, and mobility. One is effectively retired when one controls these aspects of one’s life, i.e. be your own boss, and don’t be a slave to your work.

Today’s Retirement = not having to 'work' for money

There is pretty much only one way we know-of to retire early, whether you are in your 20's, 30's, 40's or beyond, this path is rooted in one simple concept called, Passive Income Cashflow. In other words, if you can figure out a way to generate enough passive income for yourself/your-family, then you can just live off of that, and not have to spend your time and energy hard at work for money alone. 

What is Passive Income exactly? Simply put, Passive Income is a way of generating a set or fluctuating amounts of money every month/week/day that generally doesn't require the input of your constant/continued time and energy to maintain. 

If you weren't fortunate enough to be born into wealth, and/or if you do not have at least $1-5Million pile of cash in savings (our estimated baseline budgeted amount needed to retire with relative ease if you live in America) to retire-with/ live off-of comfortably; then, your only real viable pathway to retirement is passive-income.

Plan of Action

Now that we've established our strategic pathway for retirement in being passive-income, the obvious next question becomes: how does one generate passive-income streams?

The answer is simple, upon reviewing your Financial Statements, the clear path to generating passive-income becomes the creation and accumulation of Productive Assets

Productive assets can be classified in a number of different ways, for example: real estate investments, business investments, stock/equities, digital, bonds/fixed-income, and/or any other investment vehicles that generate constant passive Cashflow


Recently the notion of early retirement has been popularized by the FIRE Movement.

The objective is to accumulate assets until the resulting passive income provides enough money for living expenses in perpetuity. Many proponents of the FIRE movement suggest the 4% rule as a guide, thus setting a goal of at least 25 times estimated annual living expenses.

While the general principle of asset acquisition, passive income and the reduction of spending are absolutely solid principles of financial management and early retirement, the problem with this movement is the proselytization, suggestion, and advice of a recipe-like “early retirement plan”, which is certainly effective, but will not work for everyone, and should not be hailed as the only path forward. The important note on this issue is that assets do not have to be low cost index funds as most FIRE proponents recommend. Productive Assets can be wide ranging: online businesses, digital products, various content, IP & royalties, real-estate, various forms or lending/ fixed income, and more.

The Solution

Unless you love going to work, if you want to retire at any age, by now, the picture should be clear: instead of trading your most valuable asset (i.e. your time) for money, trade in other assets like ideas, physical goods, and/or capital to generate passive income/ cashflow.

If you don't have any of these, well, then you’re shit out of luck. You’re gonna have to get a job and go to work. But hope is not lost, while working for money, make sure you invest what you earn so that you can start generating income off of your investments. In other words, don't save your money, invest your money, in a way that will generate a dividend (i.e. income).

The simple math is: Passive Income > Expenses. Do not live to spend your cash, that's the sure way to guarantee you will not be able to retire, ever.  Your goal should be using your money to generate Passive Income, not Savings!

The key to financial freedom and great wealth is a person’s ability or skill to convert earned income into passive income and/or portfolio income.
— Robert Kiyosaki

Converting Earned Income into Capital Gains vs. Cashflow

So, you are either an employee, an investor, or an entrepreneur, or a combination of these. Each one will determine your type of income. Most people are employees, they generate earned income by selling time. Investors and Entrepreneurs typically aim to generate Portfolio Income (i.e. Capital Gains), and/or Passive Income (i.e. Cashflow).

One must invest to own assets in order to differentiate between the two.

Here are a few examples:

  • Real Estate: Buy properties and rent it out.

  • Business: find/create something to sell and automate it.

  • Intellectual Property: create content, write a book, start a blog, film a movie, build an app, and/or create any other kind of consumable idea, solution, entertainment, etc. Once created, you can live off of the royalties, advertising/sponsorships, automated sales, rents, dividends, and/or repayments.

  • Rent Assets: you can rent out anything you own, a bike, a car, a house, a washing machine, your money (lend it out with interest), etc, etc.

The Future of Retirement

What does the future of retirement look like? This question is also rooted in: what the future of humanity looks like? How will society be organized? What will the nature of work be? How will productivity be measured, sustained, and expanded?

While it is hard to say for sure, and assuming capitalism survives in one form or the other, we can look at two distinct possible futures. One in which governments and corporations take more control and responsibility over individuals (movement towards the socialist side from an economic perspective), or one in which individuals become much more sovereign and financially stable as investor-entrepreneurs regardless of whether they are employed or not.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live in a world in which individuals are financially stable and in control, as opposed to a govt. or corporate sponsored form of citizen care such as UBI, Social Security, State Pensions, etc. This is not to say that these ideas shouldn’t be pursue at all, but simply to illustrate the two edges of the economic spectrum as it relates to individuals. If for some reason you are having a difficult time wrapping your head around this, we’ll leave you with this clip of @Naval:

Your Retirement Plan Is A Sad Joke

Much like Bobby Fisher learned how to master the game of Chess by starting with the endgame, a single king vs. a pawn and a king; when it comes to personal finance, taking a look at the endgame is the difference between knowing how to play the game and mastering it. When it comes to personal finance, the collective likes to call the endgame ‘retirement’, and guess what?! Turns out retirement is deeply misunderstood.

The current state of retirement-health in the US is pitiful at best. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the average American family has only $95,776 in total retirement savings. But this number doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the iceberg. 1 out of every 3 people over the age of 55 don’t have any retirement savings, and, 1 out of every 3 Americans has no retirement savings at all. That’s over 135 million people without any form of retirement in place. This picture gets even worse when considering Millennials (18-35), who, in some fairly conservative estimates, show that 42% do not have any retirement savings whatsoever. 

Before diving into the specifics, lets take a moment to review the broad concept: what is retirement?


1. The action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work.

2. The period of one's life after retiring from work.

3. The action or fact of ceasing to play a sport competitively.

- Oxford English Dictionary

Retirement simply means not having to work for money. Retirement means you either saved your whole life and are now living off of that pile of savings (investments, 401K’s, IRA’s, Pensions, cash, etc.), or, it means you have enough productive assets, which produce cashflow to support your lifestyle. These are your 2 endgame options. Simple.

Let’s for a moment assume you went for option #1: worked your whole life until you’re in your 60’s (or a later age), you put money aside into your employers’ plans, you’ve invested in equities through your 401K and IRA accounts, and/or you’ve got a pension, you have some cash in savings, etc. In this instance most folks will outlive their ‘savings’, because their withdrawal rate will outpace their meager rate of return (less fees).

Here's the thing about retirement so many people miss, having a healthy, or productive looking retirement fund/portfolio, is actually doable, if the withdrawal rate is sustainable over a long period of time. Below is a graph that demonstrates what a baseline portfolio can look like at different annual withdrawal rates assuming a 7% annual average growth rate. 

$500K Portfolio - Withdrawal Rate Scenarios (4% - 10%)

$500K Portfolio - Withdrawal Rate Scenarios (4% - 10%)

This is what your retirement portfolio can look like! For example, if at the age of 20 you were to invest a one time amount of $10,000, by the time you were 80 you’d have well over $500K.  Due to compound-interest of 7% annual average returns on a $500K portfolio, and 4% annual withdrawal rate (starting with $20,000/year at retirement at 65) the investment-portfolio stabilizes and continues to grow through time at roughly 3% annually.  If this were the case for everyone, retirement may actually be a pleasant experience for most Americans. This math is supported by the Trinity Study.

However, most people fail to 1. Save up/allocate $500K by the time they are ready to retire. Problem#1. And, most people fail to 2. withdraw only $20K/year in retirement, for most people this isn’t enough to cover their expenses (Essential, Excess, or Actualized). However, if one can either severally contract their spending (which is what most elderly ‘retired’ people do), or generate enough consistent monthly cashflow to support their spending, then when can effectively retire at any age.

Generally speaking, the average American thinks there aren't too many choices when it comes to retirement; and they are right!

In reality, there aren’t many option, there are only 4. These are the 4 main retirement options:

  1. Owen Assets, as many valuable ones as possible (preferably productive): Real Estate, Stocks, Commodities, Businesses/Companies, Markets/Indexes, Bonds, Art, etc. = Wealth.

  2. Family Support/ Inheritance = Luck

  3. Not having any or little savings/investments = Bottom 1/3

  4. The 401(k) and/or IRA programs = What people think retirement plan is, but is not.

The first two options are great if you are lucky, or savvy, or an entrepreneur/investor; unfortunately the average American doesn't have access to a bunch of assets or a well-off family to support him or her.  Pretty much we are looking at about a third of the population with little or no savings to support them during retirement, or over half the population with all their retirement savings in a 401(k) and/or IRA combination.  

The 401(k) wasn’t designed to be a primary retirement instrument for the masses, it was designed to get average people back into the stock market. The issue with this instrument being people’s primary retirement plan is that most 401(k) companies simply say  something along the lines of "give us your money and you will be pleasantly surprised when you are 65 and open your retirement check."  The reality is that in most cases anywhere from 50% up to 70% of what your investments generates is scammed out of your pocket. If you have a 401(k), and/or an IRA/ROTH IRA, the chance of you getting cheated out of your retirement savings is likely. 

*More on this below, but first historical context is needed.

A Brief History of Retirement

  • 1881: in Europe, Otto von Bismarck, the conservative minister president of Prussia, presented a radical idea to the Reichstag: government-run financial support for older members of society.

  • mid-1800s: In the United States, certain municipal employees—firefighters, cops, teachers, mostly in big cities—started receiving public pensions.

  • 1875: the American Express Company started offering private pensions.

  • 1920s: a variety of American industries, from railroads to oil to banking, were promising their workers some sort of support for their later years.

  • 1920s: Manufacturing companies were the last to adopt the new retirement plans. The Internal Revenue Act of 1921 helped to spur growth, by exempting contributions made to employee pensions from federal corporate income tax.

  • 1935: Social Security Act was passed in the US, the official retirement age was 65. Life expectancy for American men was around 58 at the time.

  • 1939: Great Depression Ends (October 29, 1929 – 1939)

  • WWII: September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945

  • 1940s: Labor unions became interested in pension plans and pushed to increase the benefits offered.

  • 1950s: nearly 10 million Americans, or about 25 percent of the private sector workforce, had a pension.

  • Americans start to live longer: due to advances in medicine, technology, and economy.

  • 1960: life expectancy in America was almost 70 years. About half of the private sector workforce had a pension.

  • Pensions were the primary means of retirement in America. Massive collective piles of savings which were invested in a variety of market vehicles and govt. projects/bonds = defined benefits plans.

  • 1970s-1980s: America begins shifting from defined benefits plan to defined contribution plans: 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457 plans, and Thrift Savings Plans.

  • 1974: The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, ERISA - made pension plans more secure by establishing legal participation, accountability, disclosure requirements, guidelines for vesting, etc. — ERISA stands out as one of the few laws passed in US history that fundamentally changed the nature of retirement, and retirement administration in the US since it effectively created a regulatory framework around employer-sponsored retirement plans.

  • 1978: the Revenue Act of 1978, created the 401(k).

  • 1980s-1990s: The 401(k)s and other defined contribution options quickly surpassed the defined benefit pension as the plan of choice for large private sector companies, due to cost.

  • 1990: 401(k) plans held more than $384 billion in assets, with 19 million active participants.

  • 1996: Assets in 401(k) plans exceeded $1 trillion, with more than 30 million active participants.

  • 1997: The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which created the Roth IRA.

  • 2001: The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act resulted in several changes to the 401(k). In general, the law increased the amount that individuals and companies could contribute to the accounts. Additionally, it allowed participants over the age of 50 to make “catch-up” contributions. In 2017, the contribution limit is $18,000 and the max catch-up contribution is $6,000.

  • 2006: The Pension Protection Act made it easier for companies to enroll their employees automatically in 401(k) plans. Some companies even automatically increased their employee’s contributions by 1% a year to encourage saving. 

  • Today: 401(k) plans hold more than $4.8 trillion in assets. And pensions, in the private sector, are increasingly rare.

  • Today: the Social Security Administration estimates that there are 38 million retired people in the United States alone.

  • Today:

The 401 (k) & Defined Contribution Options

Most people don’t do the math, and the fees are hidden. Try this: if you made a one time investment of $10,000 at age twenty, and assuming 7% annual growth over time you would have $574,464 by the time you’re 80. But, if you paid 2.5% in total management fees and other expenses, your ending account balance would only be $140,274 over the same period. Let’s see if we’ve got this straight: you provided all the capital, you took all the risk, you got to keep $140,274, but you gave up $439,190 to an active manager!? They take 77% of your potential returns? For what? Exactly.”
— Tony Robbins - Money, Master the Game

Let's put the concept of 401(k)/IRA retirement into historical context for a minute.  The original retirement fund was the pension plan where all of the members of the said company would contribute a portion of their pay check to the fund and it would be collectively invested on the employees’ behalf.  As the population demographic of 65+  grew to record highs, corporations recognized the increasing cost of their pension plans, thus many pension plans across the US were dissolved over time, and new ones weren't created. The burdens of saving towards retirement were placed on the individual employee instead. 

As corporate profits began to rise across the country, so did the gap between executive and ordinary worker pay.  Naturally, most executives wanted to invest some of their extra income for the future while simultaneously hedging towards future tax rates (i.e. income taxed upon withdrawal of funds vs. taxed upon deposit of funds).  The 401k (1978) and the IRA (1974) were initially designed to service such a need.  As the deposits continued to pour in from various bank and company run 401(k) plans, mutual funds quickly recognized the opportunity to manage such enormous funds. The IRA was initially geared more towards a mass base, the 401(k) was used primarily by the higher ranking executives of said big companies to put some more of their excess money invested-away for the future (i.e. they were stashing excess cash in tax beneficial savings/investment instruments in order to have it protected from taxation).  Both the IRA and the 401(k) were heavily marketed by banks, insurance companies, and boutique brokers, and the market for retirement was wide open for the taking (and some would argue, it still is today).

Fast forward to today, the 401(k) is now the go-to financial instrument for millions of Americans’ Retirement, yet very few take the time to fully understand how it works, how to use is, and how to incorporate it as part of a larger investment plan for their retirement years.

The 401(k) & IRA, are simple saving/investing instruments. Here’s how they work:

  • The employer should let his employee set his or her contribution amounts from his or her pay check (with a limit).

  • Ideally every dollar put in to the 401(k) by the employee should be matched by the employer.

  • The employer aggregates everyones' contributions and invests it on the employee's behalf.

  • It is the employer's fiduciary responsibility to invest the employ's money to safeguard and maximize the investment as best they can.

  • Often employers contract this work out to third party business, many of which are called mutual funds.

  • The employer literally transfers money from the employees to the investors, who can essentially do what ever they want with it.

  • Contributions can be made both before and after payroll taxes are applied (electing a ROTH option will control this variable).

  • Tax payments can be deferred into the future, so no payment on income is made now.

  • Reduces your current taxable income.

  • Puts off paying taxes until employee is retired, assuming that he or she will likely be at a lower income bracket then. Twisted thinking?

  • ROTH 401(k) acts as the opposite of taxes terms. The income invested in a ROTH 401(k) is taxed upon deposit, and will be tax free come withdrawal time.

  • The limits on a 401(k) plan:



  • The limits on an IRA plan:



  • General Limits:

  • Historical Limits:


How is the 401(k)/IRA scamming retirees?

Fees. 90% of all 401(k) plans in the US are managed by Mutual Funds. A Mutual Fund is a company that actively manages and invests your money. Nearly 90% of mutual funds do NOT beat the market, so in most cases you are better off taking a portion of your pay check and investing it yourself in a low cost index fund tied to the market. In addition, there are "fees and commissions," the little dirty secret of the 401(k) industry; over the life of a 401(k) it is commonplace to see 70% of profits go to the “active managers,” while the investor, you, are left with only 30% of the profits at the end of the investment period, also known as your retirement savings.  This is the "pleasant surprise" check that the employee receives when he or she retires.  Not too pleasant once understanding the calculus.

Once More:

Most people don’t do the math, and the fees are hidden. Try this: if you made a one time investment of $10,000 at age twenty, and assuming 7% annual growth over time you would have $574,464 by the time you’re 80. But, if you paid 2.5% in total management fees and other expenses, your ending account balance would only be $140,274 over the same period. Let’s see if we’ve got this straight: you provided all the capital, you took all the risk, you got to keep $140,274, but you gave up $439,190 to an active manager!? They take 77% of your potential returns? For what? Exactly.”
— Tony Robbins - Money, Master the Game

The Takeaway

The 401(k), is a retirement investment instrument, it can actually be useful for folks who use it as part of a larger investment-strategy.  It is fundamentally flawed to view the 401(k) and/or the IRA as the entire package deal for your retirement savings as this use comes with major consequences. If one were to use the 401(k)/IRA as part of their asset allocation strategy in protecting against taxation, then it would only represent a portion of his or her portfolio and hence would prevent the risks of relying completely on the 401(k)/IRA.  

“The great lie is that the 401(k) was capable of replacing the old system of pensions,” former American Society of Pension Actuaries head Gerald Facciani tells The Journal. “It was oversold.”

Keep in mind that not all 401(k) plans are "evil" and that there are actually a few good ones out there, but not many.  You must do the research if you are going to entrust others with your retirement savings and planning.

Furthermore, there are many possibilities of what a healthy retirement strategy can look like, so it is crucial to plan accordingly and be in control.  Next steps for taking control of your retirement:

  • Read the FPF framework - understand the concepts of financial control and financial freedom.

  • Read and understand concept of investment.

  • Learn as much as you can about the topic of retirement. If you are in need a starting point, read this article:

  • After you're all caught up: Select your investment strategy and asset allocation plan. Take your time here at the core of your decision-making. Apply Risk Management Principles.

  • Select a broker, be in control. This is critical (Lowest Fees & % possible).

  • Run your pro forma reports before you sign anything. Project 10, 20, 40, 80 years into the future.

  • Review all documents carefully. Use your lawyer if possible.

  • Action! Invest your money. And keep diversifying over time. Your retirement savings is not an investment worth gambling with, so stay conservative.

  • All in all, know where your money is going, operate from a position of financial control, and invest well over time.

Your retirement is not something to be messed around with.  Do not go blindly with the herd. Use the 401(k) plans, IRA’s strategically, NOT as your sole/primary retirement savings/investments.  Do your homework! Know where your money is going, and don't be afraid to start thinking about this now.  Take action, stay informed, and take control of your future.

Must Watch Retirement Videos


Charts & Graphics