Retire Early [The Jay Leno Way]


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So what can Jay Leno teach us about hitting our financial goals - even including an early retirement?

Set aside the fact that he's a famous celebrity millionaire aside, there are a few fundamental habits that Jay Leno cultivated from the very beginning of his working life - at McDonald's.

Number one: 

He pays cash for everything.  It is said that the borrower is a slave to the lender.  If you hit financial hard times and the things you own are owned by a bank or lender, then if you can't keep paying your payments, they'll come take that stuff away. 

So a couple of ways to avoid borrowing?  

Well, first is to realize that having a lot of STUFF isn't going to make you happy.  Will a gently used vehicle you buy for cash do the same job as a brand new one?  Yes.

Second is to try to be disciplined.  Save up for those things.  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.

Number two:

Be discerning with your money.  

Jay Leno has famously said he never uses valet parking.  I honestly don't think he says this because he's trying to save money... But consider that even though you CAN afford to pay for valet parking everywhere you go, or you CAN afford to run through Starbucks every single day on your way to work..  consider what else you could have spent that money on - or saved it up for.

No, I'm not saying to never do those things or to occasionally indulge in some little luxuries here and there.  But if a person spends money on those things all the time, and is worried about how they're going to fund their retirement, maybe let's work on our priorities.

This goes for new cars, big houses, and big tvs.  You're kinda spending your retirement now.  Is that worth it?  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.

Up to you.

Real quick - while we're on the topic - who did you like better:  Carson or Leno?  Answer in the comments below.

Number Three:

And this is the big one I really wanted to get to..

It is said that Jay Leno didn't live off of or spend his Tonight Show earnings, which were reportedly as high as $30 million a year.

What did he do with that money?

He saved it.

So what did he live on?

Jay lived off the income he earned from doing 150 stand up comedy shows a year - and saved his Tonight Show salary (still does stand up even today).

What he did was:

He ALWAYS has two jobs - even now - and this is the big secret:  he always saves the bigger income and lives off the lower income.

So he was working at a car dealership and doing comedy at night - he lived off his comedy income when he was just starting out and saved his dealership income.  When he started making more money in comedy, he kept his dealership job and lived on THAT income..  while saving his higher comedy earnings.

Freaking brilliant.

So how can you apply this to claims?

I've said in at least one previous video that you need a side hustle (click up here).  And why did I say that?

Because I want you to protect the money you make all summer doing cat claims.  You don't want to work all summer and live off that money all winter and then when storm season rolls around again, you're broke.  Believe me.  I did it for several years when I got started.

Jay's way takes this even farther.  

You live off of your side hustle.  And you save ALL of your cat earnings.  

I'm not going to sit here and second guess what your financial goals might be..  But if you're anything like me..  while I love running claims and traveling for work and all that..  If somebody said, "keep climbing roofs or retire today and go travel for fun and play golf and make AdjusterTV videos.."

(What do you think I would say?)

So let's run some numbers..

Let's say in the off-season, you can earn enough money to pay your bills.  In 6 months you -  and maybe combined with a spouse's income - can cover your bills and keep food on the table.

So if we take the worst year you might have running claims - assuming that you've got some experience and you're not a complete noob who's not guaranteed to do very well your first year - you're up and running and you bring home ONLY $60,000.  

If you were able to save all of your cat earnings at $60,000 a year, in ten years you'd have $600,000.  And at a safe withdrawal rate of 4%, that's $24,000 a year in interest income.  Kinda hard to live off of that, but it can be done.

You can also pay off your house, and reduce your monthly expenses, which makes living off of $24,000 a year a lot easier.

But every year isn't going to be the worst case scenario.  

Once you get up and running as a cat IA, you can have a great season where you bring home $140,000.

Even though I say to never count on events like Irma and the crazy income people were making  on that storm..  they still happen.

So you get a a crazy outlier year where you bring home $225,000. 

And you save it.  Not out of the realm of possibility to have that happen once, maybe twice, in a ten year career.

And those are low numbers.  Most really good IA's make quite a bit more than $60,000 a year on average.  

Again, we're talking in LESS THAN 12 months.  Don't think of it as annual income because it isn't.  You've got the rest of the year to do whatever you want.  No boss, no commute.  No emails.  I think you get the idea.

Let's put it this way.

If I told you that you could retire from running claims on the road in ONLY ten years - but you had to deliver pizza, and wait tables, and sell roofs, and maybe sell Mary Kay for 6 months out of the year..  Would you do it?

You don't even have to make that choice.  

Because as a skilled, trained, licensed adjuster, you can run daily claims during the off season and potentially make as much as you do on cat.

I'm just saying.  Just throwing this out there.  

You know, if you have zero intention of doing anything with insurance, you can still use Jay Leno's method to reach your financial goals.  

But if you're serious about making a huge impact on your life and your family's life, becoming an independent adjuster doing cat AND daily can really accelerate your savings goals and get you out of the rat race in less time than you can imagine.

It's real.

Question of the Day:

For you millennials out there and older folks who still stay up watching late night tv..

Kimmel or Fallon?

Starbucks $10 Gift Card Winners: James Defalco, John Cayot, and Paul Koski! Send me an email at and I’ll send you your gift cards!

Mathew Allen

I teach new catastrophe adjusters how to get started in the business.  I also build my own websites and sites for friends (who sometimes pay me).  In addition, I film and produce personal adventure videos for hunting and fishing clients.