I’ve got an awesome freedom story for you today from Jared at Fifth Wheel Physical Therapist. He decided to pursue a life of FIRE when he graduated from school and is now within arms reach of achieving his goal. Here’s how he did it!

Finding FIRE

Jared and his girlfriend on a mountain in Vermont

When I was in grad school, studying for my physical therapy degree, personal finance was the last thing on my mind. I was racking up a huge amount of student loan debt along with my knowledge on physiology, anatomy, rehab, and exercises. Then, in my final semester, one of my professors went out of his way to hold a special lecture on the importance of personal finance after graduation.

Growing up, my parents went through tough times, including bankruptcy. I never wanted my future children to have to worry about the family finances like I did. This lecture rekindled my desire for financial security and I started consuming any information available on personal finance - blogs, books, podcasts. This is when I learned about FIRE and developed a plan to achieve it.

My FIRE Plan

Jared and his girlfriend in the cold with winter jackets

After eight years of college, getting my doctorate in physical therapy, I was used to living cheaply. I decided that I could easily continue a version of that lifestyle after graduation, allowing me to save a huge portion of my income.

In order to maximize my income, I decided to pursue traveling physical therapy contracts around the United States. I also worked overtime or part time as opportunities were available. Side hustles brought in extra income as well. These included bank account and credit card sign up bonuses and starting my blog.

In order to keep expenses to a minimum, my girlfriend and I bought a fifth wheel camper. We also decreased our other expenses (groceries, eating out, cell phone, etc) as much as possible. Between maximizing my income and minimizing my expenses, I was able to achieve a savings rate between 85-90% each year over the past three years.

After my first year of work, I realized that I could achieve financial independence in four more years, at the age of 32. This was based on my anticipated future expenses and my savings rate. This was great, but I decided to take it a step further, negotiating higher paying contracts and continuing to decrease my expenses. With these changes I was able to reduce my retirement date by another year. At this point in time, I am less than one year from being fully financially independent and am currently 29 years old. In June, I will begin Semi-Retirement (working only 6 months or less per year), kicking it off with a 5 month trip around the world!

Our Life On The Road

Jared and his girlfriend standing in a grassy field

Traveling in our camper and working as a contractor has its ups and downs. While living in the camper is simple, we have run into numerous difficulties when moving around the country. It has been a major source of headaches but luckily has never caused us to miss any work.

As a contractor, I generally make double than I would at a permanent location, but I’ve had to settle on a few contracts in order to avoid missing work.

Also, getting licensed in each state has been much more difficult, and costly, than anticipated. This lifestyle and career is unique with a lot of growing pains, so I’ve begun mentoring other physical, occupational, and speech therapists pursuing travel contracts, helping them avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.

FIRE In Sight

Jared looking out over the terrain in Bar Harbor, Maine

As I move forwarded into early retirement, I’ll continue mentoring along with pursuing international travel, long hikes, learning to play the guitar, and many others that I wrote about here.

And when we start a family, I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time with my kids and possibly home school.

If you are interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle or career, I would say go for it! Everything that I did could be replicated by anyone that is willing to work hard through college and save diligently. I don’t feel that I’ve had to deprive myself. I’ve enjoyed the process and am very excited for what the future has in store for me.

A big thanks to Jared for sharing his story with us. We love that you’ve worked hard towards your goal and are now mentoring others so they can have the same success. We can’t wait to hear all about your trip around the world and what life looks like for you afterwards!

Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!