How to reach retirement or financial independence in a world with 0% rates and no returns on bonds

If I were Marty McFly from Back to the Future, I would travel back and warn everyone against borrowing money from their future selves.

Alex Mashinsky
6 min readDec 29, 2020

Note: This article originally appeared on Marketwatch. We’re re-publishing this article here for people looking ahead to their financial planning options for the year ahead.

If I were Marty McFly from Back to the Future, I would travel back and warn everyone against borrowing money from their future selves. Does that sound crazy? Well, financial companies, the Federal Reserve, Banks, and Brokers all claim that they act in your best interests, yet your retirement statements prove otherwise. We are seeing the deepest gap ever between the haves and have nots with savings erosion through COVID-19, a devastating recession, and lack of government support that has left people wondering who is serving their needs.

The lack of real interest in investing in the future in younger generations is due to the confusion caused in trying to put away for tomorrow by these traditional financial channels. Interest rates are near 0% from banks; there’s no return to be had on bonds, all while things like rent, tuition cost keep climbing faster than the rate of inflation.

There are hopeful solutions that are not yet mainstream from financial technology companies that prove they can do better for the consumers in the fight for financial independence. Here are three steps anyone in their 20s can take immediately to make sure they have a chance to see retirement one day:

Understand What It Means to be “Financially Free”

To save for your retirement, you must first understand what it means to be financially free. Financial freedom means preserving your capital, earning yield on the wealth you’re creating, and budgeting for your savings to outlast your days on this planet. The goal of financial freedom is to get to the point where your monthly income is greater than your monthly expenses. When you’re spending, you’ll be spending against your own earned money and not against what you hope you’ll earn in the future. When rates on deposits drop below the inflation rate it becomes impossible to save for the future and so one must invest in more risky assets or in non correlated assets to escape this impossible savings conundrum

The United States is a credit society. $922 billion in outstanding credit card debt pays a 24% average rate of interest back to the banks. Add $1.6 trillion in student loans and $1.2 trillion in car loan debt. We are being forced to borrow from our future selves at rates of 12–24% when we can barely earn 1% on our money from traditional financial institutions.

Hoping you choose to spend against your future earnings is what banks and credit card companies would like you to do, but this year has proven that borrowing from the future is unpredictable. When Banks get you to borrow from your future self at 24% interest, they are grabbing someone else’s dollars on which they pay them 0.1% to let you have instant gratification and spend now what you can not afford otherwise.

Can you see the dangerous trap here if you can’t pay it back?

The current policies by the Federal Reserve also stifle retirement plans for the younger generation. Current approaches cause low or non-existent income for most savers, and there is no indication of it getting better for the foreseeable future. Decades ago, with Social Security and a pension from an employer, a person could expect to sustain themselves in retirement. Now, too many people find themselves retiring with student loans, car loans, and more that make retirement difficult to realize.

Think Outside the Banks

Start asking yourself this every time you spend a dollar: Do I want to spend this dollar now, or do I want this dollar to earn for me for the rest of my life? Changing your overall mindset of how money should be put to use can change your life.

Putting your dollars to work through high-interest earning offers an alternative that revolutionizes how you can build your retirement plan.

Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research found that most people worldwide are what you’d call “passive” savers or people who pay little attention to tax incentives currently given by traditional financial policies. Instead, they adapt and adjust their spending to their take-home pay. This mentality makes the idea of saving and earning more responsive to initiatives like auto-enrolment.

If you put money away into an asset that is not linked to the USD or your local FIAT currency it will grow faster than inflation, if it also pays interest income on 35 different digital assets, such interest rates can be greater than inflation and get you closer and closer to financial independence each month. Add on top of that compounding interest and you have the trifecta of how to reach retirement. So here you are, we gave you the secret but unless you press the financial launch button NOTHING HAPPENS, you need to take action and put yourself on the right track for retirement.

Many companies focused on financial freedom are cryptocurrency-based. The blockchain technology and community around it has a belief in helping users find financial freedom. You do not only have to invest in a 401k or IRA to save money. Although good options, you’ll find that there are other ways to buy, save, and earn from assets like cryptocurrency, gold, and stablecoins to break free from what the Banks have long convinced us are the only options for saving.

Stop reading this, and start saving now!

Compounding interest is interest on your interest, your new dollars plus the original dollars calculated based on both the initial amount and the accumulated interest from previous periods. Celsius Network, my rewards earning crypto company, has a calculator that shows you how much you could earn weekly on your crypto and stablecoin assets, and even shows you what that savings looks like compounded over 20 years.

There are many companies offering ways to begin earning for yourself, so start right out of high school or right after you read this. The Banks have created an addictive model of spending and borrowing to earn and grow wealth through credit cards and rewards point programs. There are many blogs dedicated to hacking these programs, but just like in Las Vegas, the dealer always wins in the end.

By putting away the average cost of your credit card’s monthly payment (around $123.88) in the right service, you can earn up to $420,000 after 20 years. With monthly earnings of nearly $20,000 by your 40s. A much better average monthly payout than Social Security provides at an average of $1,503 per month.

Just as we looked to startups like Uber and Facebook to revolutionize their industries, financial technology companies in blockchain are now mature enough to provide real alternatives. Services that can earn users up to 15% in interest a year. That isn’t 24% owed to the Banks for future income, that is your dollars earning for you — while you’re at work, while you’re asleep, and while you’re focusing on your family or friends. The future of retirement is here and ready to help you be free.



Alex Mashinsky

Founder of @CelsiusNetwork | Transit Wireless| Arbinet | Tech Innovator with over 50 patents and awards