Earning

How a cop and a teacher saved 68% of their income in 2020 and plan to retire in their early 40s

"Our ultimate goal is to be able to retire in 13 years."

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William and Jessamy Wang.
Courtesy William Wang

William Wang, 27, learned to be money savvy early in life. "I remember vividly my dad bringing me to his room when I was in grade nine or grade 10," he says, "And he opened up his checking account, opened up his savings account, and he said, 'This is how much we have. This is how much we save. This is how we invest.'"

As a teenager, Will started working side hustles and saving his earnings: He did roofing through his dad's company, worked at his college gym, and taught English. He met his wife, Jessamy, at university, and the two moved to a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada, where he was posted after completing his police training at 22. Jess, 28, is now a teacher.

Will began investing at 22 and later discovered the financial independence, retire early movement. He and his wife discussed the prospects of living frugally now so they could retire early, and decided it was a lifestyle they wanted to embark on.

"Our ultimate goal is to be able to retire in 13 years," he says. At that point, "we should have around $1.2 million." He's also factoring in his pension from Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which will eventually allow him to take his benefits as a lump sum close to $1 million. That would bring the couple's savings to about $2.2 million.

They believe if they invest that much, it will generate the $80,000 per year they'll want to live comfortably and travel. (The couple's figures are in Canadian dollars. In U.S. dollars, based on current exchange rates, their goal is to amass $1.7 million and live off about $63,000.)

"Last year alone, we saved 68% of our income" to reach that goal, he says. Here's how they've been able to do it.

'Canadian police officers make pretty good money'

Will's starting salary and the parameters of his job have helped the couple bring in a lot of extra cash.

"Canadian police officers make pretty good money," he says. "My first year, I started off at $60,000 Canadian, and you get a lot of overtime opportunities if you want. So by my second year I was over $100,000." By 2022, with overtime, he anticipates he'll make between $130,000 and $140,000 per year.

Jess brings in about $60,000 per year. Altogether "we live on around $2,000 a month, $1,500 a month," he says, which amounts to about $24,000 per year. They save and invest the rest.

'Costco is our good friend'

The couple has multiple methods for keeping monthly spending low. Because they live in a small town, the cost of living is comparatively cheap to begin with. Rent for their four-bedroom house costs just $800 per month in Canadian dollars.

Their commute is cheap and easy, too. "We both walk to work," Will says, which has saved them the cost of gas. "We'll fill maybe $50 or $60 worth of gas every three months depending on where we drive," he says. They own both of their cars outright, so neither has a car payment.

Will and Jess Wang.
Courtesy William Wang

To save on groceries, Will and Jess use an app called Flashfood, which notifies them about food soon to expire at grocery stores nearby selling for "a heavily discounted price," he says. "For a loaf of bread, sometimes we've bought them for 50 cents," he says. "Or for salmon or steak, sometimes they're 60% or 70% off." They freeze such purchases immediately to eat over time.

For the rest of their household needs, "Costco is our good friend," he says. "We love bulk shopping."

The two will even bulk buy items like milk. "Milk is like $6 in our small town, and it's around $4 at Costco," he says. "Whenever we go to Costco, we'll buy four or five jugs or six jugs" and freeze them.

Will and Jess Wang.
Courtesy William Wang

'Trying to lower fees' when investing

When it comes to investing, Will keeps it simple. He started with mutual funds but discovered that he was paying more in fees than he needed to. So he switched to low-cost investments that track the market.

"I'm trying to lower fees as much as possible and just follow the index," he says.

Jess is currently pregnant, and Will is excited about the prospect of being a stay-at-home dad once he's retired. "I love to cook," he says. If one of his only priorities would be to "just cook for the family" at some point, he says, "that's super-enticing to us."

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