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Foregoing the American Dream Helped One Couple Retire in their 30's


Kristy Shen knew the typical path to retirement: Get a job, buy a house, be a loyal employee, retire around 65.

However, when she thought about what she wanted for her life, that plan didn't sound very appealing. Still, she went for it. She got a job as an engineer and then she and her husband, Bryce Leung started saving for their first home.

"My parents have been screaming at me to buy a house for the last eight years," Shen, 33, told a Canadian news network. "'If you're a renter, you're a loser.'"

When they had saved about $500,00 they started looking at houses. What they found, however, was that while they'd been saving the cost of homes had gone up and they no longer had enough money.

Instead of caving to an expensive real estate market, they chose to invest the money they'd saved.

After consulting a financial adviser, the couple decided to put 60 percent of their money into stocks and 40 percent in fixed income investments, like corporate bonds. 

By 2014, Shen and Leung say their money had doubled. By 2016, the couple decided to retire.

Now a typical day is either filled with traveling, volunteer work or an occasional freelance job. They've found they can live off of $30-$40,000 a year, money that largely comes from dividend payments from their stock portfolio. 

"I had a recent checkup with my doctor and, after giving me a clean bill of health, he diagnosed me with being 'obnoxiously happy,'" said Leung.

Shen and Leung acknowledge that not everyone can start with $500,000 but they encourage millennials to understand their money and learn how to build on their savings, no matter how small the amount.

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