About

Welcome to Starting From Zero.

I’m a 21 year old investor and writer blogging about my journey to financial independence. I started investing in individual stocks in January 2013 and started Starting From Zero in February 2014 after being inspired by some of the many great personal finance blogs out there that chronicled their individual journey’s to financial independence and retirement. I wanted to share my journey to hopefully inspire others and also to track my progress towards my ultimate goal of financial independence by age 40.

So, a little about myself. I grew up on the east coast, one of two kids to middle class parents in a small town. My parents instilled financial discipline in me at a young age, always encouraging me and my brother to save birthday/gift money and eventually earnings from summer jobs. After graduating high school in 2011 I joined the Air Force where I currently work today. When not writing here, I enjoy hanging out with friends, working out, reading personal finance blogs/stock investing research, and biking.

As I set about learning to invest, I really had no clue what I was doing or what my goals really were. I knew I needed to save for retirement and the basics of what an IRA was but as far as what type of mutual funds or stocks, I didn’t really know. After experimenting with some individual stocks, I eventually happened onto the Dividend Growth Investing community at SeekingAlpha.com. I immediately knew that this was the right investing strategy for me and began researching stocks in my spare time.

Towards the end of fall of last year, despite getting a solid investment plan set up, investing in both a Roth IRA, a taxable brokerage account, and the Thrift Savings Plan (a 401k plan for federal employees), I still wasn’t in the best shape financially. I finally realized that in order to build enough meaningful wealth in order to retire early, not only would I need to invest smartly, I would also need to plan my expenses better. I started reading personal finance blogs such as Mr. Money Mustache, Johnny Moneyseed, and Dividend Mantra and implemented many of the frugal principles taught there into my own life.

I hope you enjoy reading about my journey to financial independence here at the Starting From Zero Blog.

-Mr. SFZ

17 comments

  1. Wow, I didnt realize you were so young!
    Congrats on taking the first steps towards financial independence at such a young age. You will thank your younger self in a few years for starting this early. I started investing when I was 25 and already wish that I had started even earlier.

    Best wishes and good luck. Looking forward to hearing your progress stories.
    R2R

    1. Thank you R2R! I figured I should take advantage of the fact I don’t have a lot of expenses at the moment and try to save/invest as much now to set up a nice foundation for the future because I know at some point I’ll have more expenses and less money to invest if I get married/start a family, etc plus I would like to start my own business someday and that will take away from stock investing money.

      Best wishes,
      SFZ

  2. Hi SFZ,

    There isn’t an echo in the room I promise but, I didn’t realise you were so young!

    Time is one of the greatest assets you can have in investing, and you have that in abundance. I’m 31, and I’m happy that I manged to start a Dividend Growth Strategy which has allowed me an opportunity to retire by the age of 40. Like R2R above, I wish I had started it earlier!

    Congratulations on starting your journey so young, I was too interested in chasing girls and spending money than looking at my future at 21! Very impressive!

    Good luck on your journey, and I look forward to seeing your progression.

    All the Best
    Huw

    1. Hi Huw! Nothing wrong with an echo, thanks commenting. 🙂

      I completely agree with time being your greatest asset. The earlier you start the better you’ll be off in the long run. Besides taking the time to educate yourself about investing, just starting early is the best thing a beginning investor can do. Time will help cover up the investing mistakes you make when starting out and allow you to maximize the awesome power of compound interest.

      Congrats on choosing to go with a DGI strategy and choosing to retire early. 31 is still really young compared to a lot of people out there when it comes to planning for retirement.

      Don’t worry, I still do most of the things normal 21 year olds do. I just manage to do it in a more financially responsible way. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Best wishes,
      SFZ

  3. Just stumbled onto your blog from dividend mantra…Gosh you have great maturity quotient compared to your peers…All the best on you Journey for Financial Independence..you will be in my favorite list of personal finance blogs.

    1. Thanks for the compliments Jayanth. As far as maturity goes, I think I’m just really lucky to have had such great parents who taught me about financial responsibility and being self-sufficient at an early age. 🙂 Glad you enjoy reading.

      Best wishes,
      SFZ

  4. You are miles ahead of most people. The sooner you start the snowball the better. Although I didn’t start dividend investing in my taxable account until 2 years ago, I started contributing to my 401k about 20 years ago when I was 22 years old. The results will seem insignificant, almost invisible during the first several years. Make no mistake, disciplined monthly investing will deliver results beyond your imagination. Keep feeding the beast!

    MDP

    1. After receiving only a few hundred in dividend income my first year I definitely agree with you on the results seeming insignificant at first. I know if I stick with this I’ll be thanking myself later on down the road though. I’ll be sure to keep feeding the beast! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by MDP and for adding me to your blog list, I appreciate the support.

      Have a great weekend,
      SFZ

  5. Starting From Zero – Well done! You’re killing it! At your age, you’ll likely have the option to retire early, ultra wealthy, or both. Ignore the doubters and continue to stay on course. You are doing very well for your age. Wish I would have started as young as you did.

    I just added you to my blog list as I’m interested in seeing your continued progress. Best wishing…wishing you continued success! AFFJ

    1. Lol, thanks for commenting Evan.

      Yeah I guess I’m just lucky I stumbled on to dividend growth investing and the idea of FI so early through sites like Seeking Alpha, Dividend Mantra, etc. Those sites along really got me motivated enough to get started with this.

      Best wishes,
      SFZ

  6. Wow! I’m 32 and wish I would have started this years ago… But I didn’t know how to invest properly back in the days and since my gic’s were yielding me a meagre 1-2% I decided to spend my money on cars and buying a house before inflation would eat too much into my savings.

    I’m new to dividend growth investing and when I realized that many corporations were paying growing dividends to their shareholders I felt like if I had found the Saint-Graal!!!

    Keep pushing the snowball down the hill! When you’ll be millionnaire in your forties you’ll be more than happy you did!

    1. I certainly will Allan, just got to stick with it and that snowball will just continue to grow as the dividends compound. I felt the same way about DGI when I first read about it, I knew pretty quickly that this was the best strategy for me.

      Thanks for commenting,
      SFZ

  7. Hello! I was thinking of writing a book called “Starting from Zero” and did a Google search to see if such a title was already published and came across your blog. I am also on a financial journey, but a bit different. I am 45 and trying to regroup from living a life of just barely getting by and surviving on regular 9 to 5 jobs. I have a MUCH shorter time window than you so I am sure you will be very successful! Looking forward to reading more of your journey! 🙂

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