‘Me and Mam have been talking,’ my youngest daughter, 25, said three years ago. ‘We need a new roof on this house’.

There was a long silence as my wife and daughter looked at me. ‘Ok…’ I replied.

Then, I twigged what they were waiting for. ‘I’m not paying for it,’ I said, firmly.

‘What do you mean you’re not paying for it?’ they said, outraged. ‘You own three houses and you’re working 80 hours a week – you must have the money.’

‘I have got the money,’ I agreed. ‘But that’s to buy another house’.

There was an uproar, with tears, shouting and door slamming. And, while I had no intention of changing my mind, I realised I’d made a huge mistake.

I hadn’t told my family about a goal I’d set myself; a goal that was changing all our lives.

I planned to be wealthy – really, truly wealthy – by the age of 67, all while working on minimum wage. It’s a goal I set five years ago, age 57 – and it’s working.

But I wasn’t always good with money.

I left school at 16 and spent 12 years in the Royal Navy as a hydrographic surveyor. I married my now-wife in 1987, and left the Navy in 1989.

From then on, I struggled to fit in at any job, and I was mainly self-employed.

I worked as a pensions adviser, a mortgage adviser and a wealth advisor – but I failed at all of those because my heart just wasn’t in it. I worked in sales, too, including as a sales director.

But it wasn’t all high-profile jobs. I’ve sung in bars and restaurants; I’ve been a car park attendant; I’ve sold clothes at a market stall.

I always wanted to be wealthy, but I saw wealth as being a sudden event that happened – someone from X Factor walking past while I was singing in a restaurant and making me the next star.

I wish I’d known then that wealth is a process. A series of tiny steps that, over a long period, compound into riches.

Instead of saving my money, I spent it on things that I hoped would make me look rich, like so many people I knew did. I bought a BMW and designer clothes, trying to impress others – but I wasn’t getting any wealthier.

As my life went on, it wasn’t unusual for me to have no money left just before payday, but I never worried about it. It was normal; I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t struggling by the end of the month.

Once, around 2016 – a year or two before I started my project – I found £10 in a Sainsbury’s car park.

I phoned my wife and suggested we get dressed up and go for two rounds of drinks in a nice part of Newcastle.

When we got there, I realised I hadn’t factored in how expensive the drinks would be. ‘I’ve messed this up,’ I told my wife, sadly. I was short around 50 pence.

‘We’ll just walk around the bar,’ she suggested, unperturbed. ‘There’s bound to be some money on the floor.’

So we walked around, scanning the floor. ‘There’s 20p there,’ we’d call out.

We were laughing – but it was ridiculous. We had no money, and we were spending what precious little we had, joking about being skint.

Age 57, I was working for minimum wage at a bar near home. I had no savings and around £10,000 in credit card debt

One night, I was sitting behind the bar on a quiet evening; and a sudden realisation hit me: I was 10 years away from pension age.

‘Bloody hell, that went quickly,’ I thought.

At that moment, I knew if I actually wanted to be wealthy, I had to make some changes.

First, I had to decide what ‘wealth’ actually meant to me.

I knew I’d feel wealthy if I was sipping margaritas with my wife, on a yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean, while knowing I had enough cash in the bank to fund that lifestyle until I died.

I settled on £300,000 as the way to make that image a reality – and having that goal changed my life.

First, I needed to earn more money and it wasn’t long before I was working from 7:00am until 4:00pm as a cab driver, then working at the bar from 5:30pm until 12:30am.

It was incredibly tiring. After I parked the cab, I’d come home, have a quick shower, lie on the couch in my bar uniform and sleep like a log for half an hour.

I did that for three months – but it was killing me. So I chucked the bar work in, and started working as a cab driver 80 hours a week.

I took four days off in two years.

But by the end of those two years, I’d saved £20,000.

I bought my first house in September 2020 for £63,000 and began renting it out. That gave me an extra income of around £400 a month – which, coupled with what I earned from my 80-hour a week job, meant I could buy a second house in January 2021.

I bought it with my best friend, who was so impressed with my story that he wanted to buy one with me.

It wasn’t until the third year that I realised I could make a lot more than £300,000.

The morning after the argument about me paying for our new roof, I told my wife and daughter why I was doing all this.

‘I know I promised to take you on holiday,’ I said to my wife, apologetically. ‘But if I do that, it’s going to delay the purchase of another house by six months.’

They were both quiet. ‘Well?’, I asked, nervously.

‘Don’t worry about the holiday,’ my wife said, finally. ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing’. 

She also paid just short of £5,000 to replace the roof, something she ‘occasionally’ reminds me about.

I plan to follow her advice – because I want my family to benefit from it.

I refinanced my first house for £90,000 – it had gone up by £27,000 in a few years. That’s how I bought my third property, in December 2022.

I bought my fourth house in October last year, and I should be in a position to buy the fifth one this July.

If I keep going, I should get to £1,000,000 by year 10 and I will have become a millionaire while only earning minimum wage. 

Now, I’m down to about 60 hours a week. I’m not a young man any more, and all those hours were taking their strain.

Plus, I’m getting more money from the properties – around £2,000 per month. A Navy pension for £400 a month kicked in when I was 60, and I save about £1,000 a month from being a cab driver.

I also plan to keep refinancing properties two years after the purchase – I refinanced my third property last week, and got £8,500 out of it.

The journey towards my goal has sucked so far. It’s not enjoyable; I’m tired all the time.

What’s your strategy for achieving financial independence?Comment Now

But I don’t plan to stop any time soon, because I’m on track. Plus, we all need a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.

If anyone wants to do what I’m doing: You just need that goal, and a plan to achieve it.

And don’t knock the minimum wage.

I used to feel ashamed of being a taxi driver. But now, I know it’s not how you earn your money that matters. It’s what you do with it that counts.

I just wish I’d started sooner.

To find out more about Perry, follow him on YouTube herewww.YouTube.com/stupidisthenorm

As told to Izzie Price

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