start young, take risks and don’t settle in expensive cities.

By | March 27, 2024

Daniel George travels through Iceland.Thanks to Daniel George

  • Daniel George worked at Google in 2018.

  • That year he started investing most of his income and by 2023 he was living on 2% of his investments.

  • Daniel shares five things that were crucial to achieving financial freedom and quitting his job at age 29.

This is an as-told essay based on a transcribed conversation with Daniel Georgethe co-founder of ThirdEar AI. Daniel George provided documents to verify his finances. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

At the age of 29, I achieved financial independence and was able to retire early.

After completing my Ph.D. When I was 24 in 2018, I worked at Google In 2020, I left for a VP role at JP Morgan and stayed with the company until 2023.

Starting with just $1,000 in 2017, I had aggressively invested my income in stocks and surpassed my first $1 million by my late 20s. By 2023, my annual spending in the US had become less than 2% of my investments, so I left my job.

I no longer have to worry about earning a paycheck so I can work on what I’m most passionate about. I spend my time building my startup, ThirdEar AI, an AI that provides real-time help and suggestions without prompts.

Here are the ways I could do it:

1. Avoid education debt

I grew up in Kerala, India, where my parents made less than $20,000 a year. I wouldn’t have been able to afford a bachelor’s degree in the US or even attend private schools in India without taking on debt. So I decided to study at a government university in India, which is much cheaper.

I studied hard for a test that students in India take every year for university admission. I was among the top 0.1% and was allowed to study engineering and physics at the India Institute of Technology Bombay, a leading public university in India. The total cost was only about $1,200 per year, including tuition, housing and food.

Instead of taking on debt to get a master’s degree, I applied directly for a Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

You can apply directly for Ph.D. programs in the US without first obtaining a master’s degree. Ph.D. students at American universities often receive tuition waivers and receive a stipend from day one – usually $2,000 to $3,000 per month. You will receive a free master’s degree two years after the Ph.D. program, saving you time and money.

I moved to Illinois in 2015. In two years I obtained a free master’s degree. After another year, I received my Ph.D. already at the age of 24.

My entire education cost me absolutely nothing. I only needed half of the allowance I received to cover living expenses; the remaining income was much more than the cost of my bachelor’s degree.

2. Invest aggressively in stocks when you’re younger

I also earned some extra income during my PhD. by working part-time and doing summer internships at technology companies. Most of the money I made was initially in a bank account earning negligible interest. In the last year of my PhD, I slowly started buying stocks.

I learned more about investing. When I started working full-time at Google I spent less than 10% of my salary at Google I have not invested in anything other than stocks and have no savings.

The sooner you invest, the better because of the exponential growth. However, this growth comes with a lot of risk and volatility. However, time in the market is better than market timing. Even if stocks fall, they will usually rise again if you can wait long enough without selling.

If you are young and working, you can deal with the risks and volatility of the market because you have income from your job and the cost of living is lower.

If you are older or retired, you probably want to diversify into safer, less volatile assets such as bonds, government bonds and regular savings accounts.

3. Working in expensive cities initial but don’t settle in it long-term

In San Francisco, New York and Seattle, the pay for many jobs can be much higher. This usually does not help with saving, because the cost of living there is also high.

If you move to these cities early in your career when you don’t have a lot of expenses yet, you can take full advantage of this high income to quickly grow your savings.

When I started working at Google I shared a nice apartment with friends, ate most of my meals at Google offices, and had no other major expenses, so I spent less than 10% of my income.

If you eventually want to settle down, you can multiply the value of your savings by moving to places where the cost of living is significantly lower.

4. Learn to negotiate pay

For my first job at Google

I had friends who came to work at a lower level than me, without a Ph.D. but were paid triple the shares because they negotiated by showing Google counter-offers from other companies.

When JPMorgan approached me for a job a few years later, I had a lot of influence as I secured several offers from tech companies and hedge funds. I also invested some time learning more about negotiation strategies.

I took advantage of other offers, avoided specific numbers when discussing salary expectations, and reviewed all aspects of my pay package during my interviews at JP Morgan. I negotiated my salary well and got almost double the initial compensation they offered.

5. Find a partner who has similar goals

My wife and I met on Google X. We were about the same age and both had Ph.D.

Ds in AI. We had similar incomes, and we all have about the same amount of savings, invested in separate stock accounts.

We share the same mentality about spending and investing, dividing our expenses equally. We both enjoy a minimalist digital nomad lifestyle, where we value travel and experiences over owning expensive material possessions, which is why I was able to retire early.

If you want one, finding the right partner is one of the most important factors in your long-term happiness and success.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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