A married couple who both worked full time for the government have revealed how they saved up more than $2 million in just eight years, they exclusively told DailyMailTV.
Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, from San Francisco, California, saved up the staggering sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and investing wisely.
The two even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Although the Brownings don’t want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives and have now retired with their two children in Lisbon, Portugal.
Amon, who made $98K a year as an urban planner, and Christina, who earned $70K as a federal attorney, insist anybody can retire early if they follow their example and join the Financial Independence Retire Early movement, known as FIRE.
Christina told DailyMailTV: ‘The FIRE journey is all about saving money, making money and investing that money. But before you do all that, you have to believe that you can do it. It’s about your mindset.’
Amon said realized he wanted to retire early when he received an award for 10 years of service at work in 2011. At the same ceremony another man, who had worked for 40 years, also received an award.
He said: ‘That was a life changing moment. You can work for so many years and all you get to show for it is a piece of paper. I really wanted more out of life than this.
‘The idea of working another 30 years in a cubicle and missing out on life was crazy to me.’
He shared his thoughts with Christina who embraced the plan.
Christina said: ‘Amon said to me: ‘I want us to be retired by the time I’m 40.
‘It was a bizarre thought. We’d never seen anyone do it, definitely not someone with kids, but we thought: what can we do to make this happen?’
The couple devised a 10 -year plan which they hoped would make them financially independent and able to retire by 2021.
Christina explained that although there wasn’t a name behind the fast track retirement plan yet, several others were embracing the idea.
Now the FIRE movement is popular on social media with thousands of people worldwide striving to put away enough money to walk away from the traditional work force forever.
Christina said: ‘The big things are finding ways to save more and ways to make more.’
They began their plan in 2013 and started flipping homes, buying their first fixer upper in the San Francisco area by putting just three percent of the property price down, which was $17,000.
Amon said their process was to ‘live and flip’.
He explained: ‘We lived in the home and put in our own sweat and labor doing it up. We sold it, took the equity and did the same thing again.
‘We did it on three properties and turned that $17,000 into a little over $400,000 in profit.’
Christina said: ‘We didn’t come from wealthy families, we didn’t have a lot of money, we had to look for the properties that nobody else wanted.
‘By the time we sold them, we had turned them into incredibly beautiful properties. They became the houses that everyone was overbidding to get.’
They even took into account the best time of year to buy properties, which were in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Amon said: ‘We looked in the off-season. During that period, you have no competition looking for a home.’
The couple also explored other side hustles, selling any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
They even signed up to become Uber and Lyft drivers and say they earned an incredible $26,000 without ever having to pick up any passengers.
Amon said: ‘For a period we drove for Uber and Lyft in the San Francisco bay area.
‘For us, it was all about the hack. The companies were giving $40 an hour just to turn on the app.
‘We would literally get no rides but we’d still get the sign-up bonus.
‘I think we made $26,000 just on this Uber and Lyft hack, not driving at all.’
The couple began investing all their extra money in low cost index funds.
Amon said: ‘We took a very simple approach… You start off with investing all your tax advantage accounts – the ones you have at work, your retirement funds.
‘In our 401k, we invested in an index fund that tracked the stock markets, we weren’t dabbling in individual stocks.
‘The return on the stock market is historically eight to 10 percent so we just plowed our extra money into the index funds.’
They also made changes in their lifestyle including trading in their brand new BMW SUV for an $800 minivan.
Christina said: ‘The shift in mindset from going from a luxury car to a minivan was actually incredibly freeing.
‘We can’t be consumed with this idea that we need to ”keep up with the Joneses.”
‘Some people might say it was a sacrifice, but to us it was liberating.’
But the couple still wanted to enjoy life and took full advantage of ‘travel hacks’ to take the family with their children Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, on vacations to Thailand, Hawaii, Singapore and Europe without being left out of pocket.