Very small advantages can grow into massive advantages over time that can propel you to financial independence at a much earlier age than traditional retirement.
Allow me to use myself as an example of how ostensibly benign advantages have proven to return extraordinary results. My dad has his own accounting practice that has proven to be a successful business. One day when I was 16 he asked if I’d want to do accounting work part time to make some money and learn accounting.
I agreed and I started preparing bank reconciliations and write ups for small business clients. Later that year I had a choice of taking a college accounting class in high school and the curiosity of learning more about a subject my dad was teaching and earning college credit motivated me to say yes.
When class began we were learning accounting 101 and it was very simple accounting, but I mastered the subject matter a little quicker than my peers and with greater understanding because my dad was also teaching me at home when I worked for him.
Then in my senior year of high school, I took college accounting 2 and once again the elementary accounting principles were not challenging and I received another A and 3 more college credits. In addition to the 2 college accounting classes I took in high school, I also received college credit for AP World History, AP US History, and College Italian.
This all allowed me to graduate high school with 15 college credits, basically a semester finished. When college began I was always a semester ahead of my peers since I started college with credits. This allowed me to take more advanced accounting classes earlier and since I was a student athlete and had accounting work experience with my dad I was more attractive to employers and landed 2 paid internships before my junior year.
With the high grades, athletic experience, and now two internships I had a resume that landed me an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers and was offered a full time job before I started graduate school. Since I entered college with a semester done already I was able to graduate with my Master’s in Taxation a semester early which saved $10,000 and then gave me another advantage.
In my last semester of graduate school I began studying for the Certified Public Accounting exam and passed the audit and business environment exams before graduating. Since I graduated a semester early I had the time to focus 100% on passing the remaining two parts and was done just two months after graduating from college.
I was 22, had a full time job lined up that started in 7 months, and learned what freedom felt like. All of this began with working for my dad at 16 and continuously building on my foundation of knowledge. The effects of this initial marginal advantage continued after graduating from college.
Having worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (which was made possible from two previous internships with smaller companies) I was able to land an accounting job that paid 50% more than if I had stayed at PwC.
Even more than better pay was fewer hours, health insurance premiums covered 100%, 401k contributions matched 100%, and free breakfast and lunch. I would’ve never predicted that taking advantage of such a small opportunity at 16 would reap such enormous and exponential rewards in my low twenties and beyond.
I share this story, not to boast, but to show the power of how small comparative advantages can reap enormous rewards down the road. Reflect on this because there is something you can do that can fuel your quest to financial independence. Something you do better than someone else due to skills, accumulated knowledge, contacts, or straight passion and willpower.
Your comparative advantage may seem tiny and insignificant today, but over a long enough time horizon it can become a huge advantage and being able to deliver massive value to people who are willing to pay money for such value translates into financial freedom in the near future.
It may take a while to find the best path to take to arrive at financial independence, but keep in mind how important the little advantages you possess can reap transcendent rewards.