How Jeremy Schneider Retired at 36 with $3 Million in California

When Jeremy Schneider graduated from college in 2002, the FIRE (short for Financial Independence, Early Retirement) movement didn’t really exist.

But the computer engineering student, who earned his master’s degree in computer science the following year, couldn’t help but notice that his peers were finding ways to retire well before their 65th birthday.

During the dot-com boom, “I would see these young people just a few years older than me making millions with tech startups,” Schneider told CNBC Make It. Although he hadn’t heard of financial independence, “I’ve definitely heard of selling a Internet company for a lot of money and establish myself financially.

Jeremy Schneider, now 41, retired at 36 with a net worth of $3 million.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Do It

That’s exactly what he ended up doing. In 2004, she founded RentLinx, an advertising network for rental properties. He would sell the company 11 years later, a transaction that netted him around $2 million.

Schneider quit his 9-5 job soon after, but found that while he had the financial flexibility to retire, he enjoyed the satisfaction of working on projects he was passionate about. Today, the 41-year-old lives in San Diego, has a net worth of $4.4 million, and runs a small business that sells online financial education courses.

That’s how he did it.

Budgeting while building his business: ‘He lived on credit cards’

When he graduated from college, Schneider decided to take a gamble on himself. Instead of taking a $74,000-a-year job with Microsoft, where he had interned as a software developer, he started his company. “I’d rather start my own company where if I worked 10 times as much, maybe I would make 10 or 100 times more money,” he says.

Between an athletic scholarship and help from her parents, Schneider graduated with no student debt and had about $6,000 in savings from summer jobs. But that, combined with the $14,000 in revenue her website generated in the first year, wasn’t enough to pay the bills.

“I lived on credit cards,” he says. “I racked up about $10,000 of credit card debt in my first year. And the second year, that $10,000 turned into $12,000.”

But things took a turn in the third year and profits started to take off.

Today, Jeremy Schneider, 41, lives in San Diego, has a net worth of $4.4 million, and runs a small business that sells online financial education courses.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Do It

For the next eight years, even as the company continued to grow, Schneider kept his salary at $36,000 a year. “Basically, the whole time I ran my company, I was as frugal as possible. I wasn’t even budgeting because I didn’t have any money to budget with,” he says.

That meant driving a paid-for 1999 Ford SUV, spending as little as possible on food, and living in a converted garage to keep the rent low.

Even with his restricted income, Schneider has managed to put some money aside, contributing between $5,000 and $6,000 a year to his Roth IRA. At 32, he says, he had about $120,000 in his account, a combination of contributions and investment earnings.

In 2015, Schneider fulfilled his goal of selling a company when a competitor offered to buy his business for just over $5 million. Because he owned about 70% of the company at the time, his after-tax profit was about $2 million.

Retiring early: ‘It started to feel a bit empty’

Schneider worked for another two years for the company that acquired his, earning a six-figure salary and helping integrate his former employees into the new company.

But he noted that the earnings on his portfolio, made up almost entirely of index funds, exceeded his salary. “My $2 million had grown to $3 million just because of market growth,” he says. “I realized that I don’t need to work anymore.”

Following the so-called “4% rule,” which says retirees can withdraw 4% of their portfolio value per year in perpetuity without running out of money, Schneider could live on $120,000 a year, “twice what I would “. spend in a year.

So did Schneider, then 36, take his money and ride off into the sunset? For the first year after he quit in 2017, he tried it, dividing his time between playing video games and taking trips. But the novelty quickly wore off.

“As the year progressed, I discovered that something was missing in my life. There is no tension,” he says. “He wasn’t working towards a goal or any progress. And he started to feel a little bit empty.”

In 2019, Schneider opened an Instagram account where he shared daily personal finance and money tips. Soon, the excitement returned.

“Some people like kite surfing or parasailing or skydiving, and I like Roth IRAs and index funds,” he says. “If I can talk to someone for 30 minutes and change their financial future, it still cheers me up every day.”

“I don’t really see retirement as the goal. I think financial independence is the goal,” says Jeremy Schneider. “I want to be able to direct my time as I see fit and do the things I’m passionate about.”

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Do It

By mid-2020, the account had grown to 90,000 followers, and Schneider found that many of them were posting the same basic financial questions. In response, he made a video course, which he began selling later that year for $79. Within a week of release, he had earned $110,000.

“It took me four years of my first company to earn $110,000,” he remembers thinking. “So this could be a real deal.”

That business, The Personal Finance Club, has generated about $1 million in sales since it began turning in revenue in October 2020. Schneider and his two full-time employees on the project each put in $70,000 per year, plus additional payments in form of bonuses and profit sharing.

For Schneider, continuing to work despite having achieved financial independence is better than lying on a beach somewhere.

“I don’t really see retirement as the goal. I think financial independence is the goal,” he says. “I want to be able to direct my time as I see fit and do the things I’m passionate about.”

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