• Chris Chung is a data analyst and personal finance influencer set to retire by age 45.
  • He said his biggest achievement was internal: learning he doesn’t have to keep up with the Joneses.
  • Not comparing your wealth to your peers and staying laser-focused on your own goals is key, he’s found.

Chris Chung was 26 when he decided to focus on being debt-free and financially independent. 

After paying off $50,000 in student loans over the course of two years, he’s been investing heavily in pursuit of early retirement. Chung, now 33, showed Insider his investment portfolio and projections that indicate he will be able to comfortably retire by the time he’s 45 years old — 12 years from now. 

When asked what financial achievement he’s most proud of, Chung didn’t point to savings, investments, or a prestigious job, but rather: “being able to be myself, and not feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses.”

“In my early 20s I did a lot of stuff not because I wanted to do it, but to impress other people,” he added.

Chung said that he doesn’t make as much money as others in his friend group, which includes a doctor, small business owner, and Google employee — but that this doesn’t bother him anymore as he hits more of his own financial goals.

His goals aren’t based on ‘stuff’

“Everyone’s got the nice car, and the nice house, and are doing all these other things,” said Chung. “I’m happy and comfortable in my own skin because I’ve been focused on my own goals.”

Chung said that his biggest focus is simply to: “Invest, invest, invest, and retire early.”

In addition to his day job as a data analyst in the public sector, chronicling his personal finance journey on Instagram as “The Everyday Millennial” has also boosted his confidence and serves as a reminder of how far he’s come since he started focusing on his student loan debt. It’s even become a lucrative side hustle for him, bringing in an extra $20,000 a year.

Financial success can look different for everyone

“What’s unique about my current journey is that I live in a three-generation household with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, wife, and daughter, Emilia,” said Chung. “This is definitely not the norm for most, but it works for us financially — and as a family.”

Chung said he understands that this decision would probably not be a popular one, but that by living this way, he’s able to continue saving and investing aggressively, and that the payoff will be having the ability to retire before his nearly 2-year-old daughter graduates from high school. 

“I am comfortable enough to focus on my own financial goals,” said Chung, who added this his focus on what’s best for his family guides a lot of his financial planning. 

However, he recognizes that setting financial goals and then taking steps to achieve them is “daunting.” Part of Chung’s side hustle is a personal finance course, which includes private coaching to help buyers meet their own individual goals. He also offers an free expense tracker that he created and used to set his own budget.

“One of the biggest reasons why I became a personal finance influencer is because I love helping people, and this is an important topic that I have a passion for,” said Chung.

Are you planning and achieving big goals with your money? We might be able to share your story! Email [email protected].

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