I am Sandy.
My father was a prison guard and our family of 6 lived in a simple two-bedroom flat in the prison. We had a stable life as the income of a government servant was assured but clearly the prospects were limited.
When I cycled to school each day, I passed beautiful bungalows and vowed to myself that one day I too would live in a large, nice house . At school I worked very hard and obtained a prestigious scholarship to study architecture at the university near home. Staying at home instead of a hostel, my expenses were low and I was able to pass the savings to my mother to help with household expenses, and even keep some for my future use.
At university I made it a habit of associating with senior star students. Before every semester I obtained their lecture notes and studied them. I was also friendly with lecturers and often asked them for clarifications and how to apply the ideas taught in class. These practices helped me obtain good results.
I started working for the central bank, which offered a generous housing loan. This plus my wife’s government loan was enough to buy a bungalow in one of the top suburbs in the city, where CEOs and such were my neighbors. The liberal financing meant we needed little upfront money so we did this within 3 years of starting work. Eventually when the real estate market boomed we made a healthy profit. We continued to invest in property.
I went overseas twice for further education. I obtained professional qualifications in architecture and urban planning the first time. The second time I obtained a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters in Law, after earlier obtaining a law degree by distance learning. The employer funded all these studies. Even when I was studying in a foreign country, my fees and expenses were paid by the Bank and I still obtained my monthly salary. This allowed me to increase my savings quickly.
At the central bank, I was in charge of construction. Using this experience and my knowledge of law, I wrote the industry standard on construction contracts and became a sought-after guru on the topic. After almost 20 years with this one employer, I retired to practice on my own as an architect and arbitrator. As I started during a recession, the latter role was more in demand and I was booked 2 years out. This assured me of not only a large but stable income.
I could have fully retired fully at the age of 45, but choose a portfolio that balances work and non-work activities. My current lifestyle allows me enough time to be spiritual and to support charity projects yet remain intellectually involved and professionally sought after.