CHAPTER 1

How to Retire at 36

I was not born into a wealthy family with rich relatives who buy winning lottery tickets, nor did I invent website destinations that make billions when they go public, and yet I retired at 36. Here is how I did it.

The story began when I walked into a bank, hand-in-hand with my mom, and deposited my life's savings—just over $100—which was the minimum needed before they paid interest.

Each time the bank updated my passbook, I had a warm feeling of accomplishment. The more I saved, the more they paid me to save, and that reinforced a belief system that endures to this day.

I received a massive raise in my weekly allowance from 60 cents to $7.60 when my father started a new job managing a large apartment complex. I became a garbage man, moving hundreds of smelly garbage bags from the collection room inside the buildings to the street. I saved almost every penny I earned.

Five days after I turned 16, I got my first job washing dishes at the Gould Hotel. I spent more than two years there, earning $2.05 an hour. That was a nickel above minimum wage, so I felt fortunate.

When my parents moved away, I stayed behind and spent the last five months of high school living out of a hotel room. I worked part time washing dishes and doing odd jobs for the hotel until I graduated. I paid a token amount for room and board under the kind generosity of the owner, George Bantuvanis, and starved on the weekends when the kitchen was closed. The money I saved went to pay ...

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