On the mainstream media, it is quite rare to find anything related to gaining Financial Independence (FI) or early retirement. This is why I was very excited when I found out that Channel 4 (UK) would be showing a show called How to retire at 40. I assumed that the programme, presented by Anne Richardson, Rhik Samadder and Sophie Morgan would give a few of the secrets already well known and discussed in the FI community. However, I was really disappointed with the show and quality of journalism.
First of all, there was no mention at all of using investments to harness the power of compound interest. To its credit, the show featured a “super saving” former accountant who retired at 43 making a claim that if you save 75% of your income you can retire in 7 years or 19 years if you save 50%. This was useful but could have been backed with some clear calculations or charts and actually mentioning how the money can be invested, for example in low cost index funds. Most viewers are likely to think that the money is to be saved in cash bank accounts, which currently offer pathetic interest rates, making early retirement very difficult. At some point, the programme makes it seem like one has to scrimp and have a difficult life in-order to save. However, with careful planning and wise spending a it has been proved that a life of abundance can be had.
The show also featured a couple of friends who combined their finances in-order to buy an expensive flat in London. This might be a wise decision, given the very high costs of property in the capital, but I struggled to find how this would help the lads to be financially independent. The two seemed to be certain that they would make a big profit on the property in a few years; this may have been true in the past but recent reports indicate that property prices are likely to be heading down. However, the show featured the Millennial Revolution couple, who managed to retire at 31 by avoiding buying overpriced property in Toronto. It would have been worth further exploring how they managed to achieve this.
Some interesting points covered in the show were people who have managed to start some innovative small businesses at a young age: A lady running a crowdfunded foodie business with £3 million of sales a year and a man who writes funny text on personalised gift potatoes while earning more than £64 an hour. Also shown was a space where people can meet and bounce around ideas for starting businesses.
The show was a good effort at making viewers aware that ordinary people can be financially free but it would take a lot more time and research to convince of the possibilities and methods. There were probably some time constraints as half an hour is nowhere near enough to cover most aspects needed. It would have been beneficial to have more focus than trying to cover a range of disparate topics. However, it is good to know that the FI community is gaining some more visibility to the masses. More shows like this with more detail and focus would be great.
How to Retire at 40 on Channel 4 (10 July 2017 and available on demand)
An ebook containing information about how one can retire early by investing wisely is available here. The book also contains some of the best material from this blog.