My Journey Towards Financial Independence #TenYearChallenge

My recent instagram post to my followers featured a sheet with my long term goals written and typed up back in 2008. That was December 30th 2018. I was packing up to move major cities. From Wellington to Dunedin, New Zealand. Its a big deal for a rural village girl from a tiny South Pacific Island.

That was not quite 2009 for a 10 year challenge however, I’d like to acknowledge the year of 2008. Mind you, on social media these days, the most important meme should be the geographical changes to our environment over the 10 year period.

10 yr challenge
Things that matter more; our environment and how fast it is disappearing if we do not act fast to protect it.

I was recovering from a very bad relationship break up. I was almost suicidal with it. I have never been so broken hearted.

I went on mindless spending sprees. I had more than 10 piercings. I had belly button piercings and ear piercings. I even attempted to get tatoos without success. Phew. Thankfully. I knew these practices were not normal. But I was concealing my very painful past and brokeness. I broke into an episode of depression. elegantgreenibis-max-1mb

I was in a dark place for a while. It led me to a point where I had to take time off from work. It had really affected me. I had to be around my close friends who loved me dearly for my own sanity. I regularly questioned whether I was good enough for life. Whether I was good enough for any man for that matter. My parents maintained their emotional support from overseas. I was loved. Yet I was in a very dark place indeed. It felt like I would never heal. I struggled. I became a wild child. It was hard enough living in a foreign country let alone no close families. i am not good enough

But I was reminded that time would be a healer. My friends worried about my well being. They encouraged me to refocus and write. They wanted to rebuild me. They wanted me to plan my life better. They wanted me to take control of my own life. They wanted me to be an adult. They needed me to grow up and be responsible. Accountable. Constructive. To move forward and to better myself. write essay

I needed to write down some good plans. Temporarily, ‘A man is not a financial plan’ was part of that plan so that I can focus on healing. I had racked up a few debts from lots of store credit cards. I was reminded that for a young adult on scholarship who had no debt, how come I had ended up with so much debt. It was all un-necessary spending. I never knew of that phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” as I was just wreckless with my spending. Retail therapy became a good soulsaver. I was satisfied with the clothes I bought, the shoes I fitted, the sports that I played and the alcohol drinks I had at parties.

a man is not
I read a lot of this book from the Wellington Central Library.

But really, I needed a good financial cleansing. I needed a different life focus. The year of 2007, I had my first deposit of a real estate land on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. I struggled with paying off that debt. It costed me 1.2 million vatu by the time I finished paying it off in 2017! That was a real #10yearchallenge success. It was worth it. I have no regrets now. I also learnt a lot of valuable lessons from the settlement of this property. See: financial cleansing

The year of 2008 saw me wrote some very significant goals. They were powerful goals as I wrote on Instagram. I was accountable to a lawyer/accountant neighbour-turned friend and two of my very close friends. However, they were not SMART goals. In the entrepreneurial world, it meant that I did have a vision but I wasn’t serious about achieving them. You could assume I was obscure and I had some fantastical wishes. SMART Goals is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relevant and Time-based. I was very limited with my knowledge on how to set goals, so I listed them as plans instead. I embarked on Postgraudate Studies at the Otago University to help me focus. With a rehabilitation focused in health sciences, I learnt how to set SMART goals for my patients and the clinical practice.

Let me list my goals here again for you;

From the 22nd August 2008, Leina Beina’s Long Term Plans read;

  • Complete paying off my debt (Within a year)
  • Buy a new car
  • Buy and own a house (New Zealand or Australia)
  • Complete my Bachelor of Midwifery (2 years at Otago University)
  • Do contract work preferably Australia 
  • Maybe get married to a handsome DOCTOR or a FARMER and have lots of kids

The year of 2009 saw a very changed Leina. I was Leina Beina as my friends called me. I grew a liking to that name so my social media pages of instagram, pinterest, whatsapp and twitter pages are labelled this (Though that name changed to Bluebell and then to TinkerBell while I was working as a humanitarian on Red Cross Missions). I worked through my goals. Well, my plans diligently. The amount of failures and mistakes I have made along the way have been memorable but I did not stop investing in my self education on investments.


This was a new me. I paid off my debt and filtered all my credit card debts. I bought a new car and saved really hard for a house deposit through my Kiwisaver. I worked some big nursing agency jobs that took me into working at the Wairarapa Hospital and Wairau in Blenheim. I bought a couple more houses and maintained them. They have appreciated in value. I still find this article very useful and it was published recently on Hannah McQueen and how she is offering value to those of us who want to get up on the property ladder for retirement investments:

Camborne House
Real Estate became a focus for me with trying to achieve my financial freedom. It was a journey I found so risky at times, but it has certainly been rewarding with the increased equity through the years.

It was a lot of calculated risk and working smarter with a 4 day week. Working smarter meant I had to do freelance translation work (even contributed to publishing a book which I am very proud of), volunteered my services and skills, did the odd baby sitting jobs, pet sitting and house sitting and worked extra hours at work when I was needed.

I juggled work and community projects that I was passionate about. I actively volunteered my services, skills and time through the years-it was one of the best projects I have done in life as it brought me so much joy. I was an entrepreneur. I was actively discovering, creating and building business ideas on the side. It was about creating my own personal brand.

nz nurses
NZ Red Cross International Delegates; Midwife Donna Collins from Whangarei and Registered Nurse Leina Isno from Porirua, Wellington at the Rubber Gardens Hospital closer to the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar November 2017

I worked for the NZ Red Cross as an International Delegate doing contract work overseas as missions with my nursing skills. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and exposure.

The humanitarian missions developed me further and really tested me my ability to survive on my own. It tested my faith. It challenged my family relationships. It was confrontational. It tested me personally to be able to handle challenges. Yes it broke me at times but the healing and the rejuvenation with recovery that came with it was transformational. It was life changing. It challenged me to do more for humanity and the world we live in.

Bangladesh #1
Leina Isno as a Registered Nurse at the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in 2017. It was Norwegian Red Cross Mission.

My friend and mentor Marie Preston, an ex Registered Nurse with an extensive wealth of knowledge and a real cancer fighter, a retired well known Independent Marriage Celebrant in Wellington wrote me a very uplifting note,

‘Leina, we do wish you well as you embark on yet again, another career. Becoming a Doctor is a courageous move and one in which I will utterly support. God be with you on the journey. God grant you the tenacity, the perserverance, the grace to keep learning and offering compassion.’ 

She noted some very important words; they are words that describe a certain character and trait that are closely linked to achieving financial independence and freedom. I don’t feel like I am there yet but in some ways, I feel my journey towards achieving this financial freedom is becoming more real. Investing in real estate made it more real for me. I believe this investment and witnessing the grown equity the estates have accumulated over the years have been satisfying. My goal setting from 2016 onwards have been very SMART. Every year I make changes to how I achieve them. The 2019 is 8 pages long!

A great human trait to develop and have: Tenacity.

Tenacity is another word for curiosity. For problem solvers, it is the one thread that binds all innovators, problem solvers and entrepreneurs. It is a crucial trait that one needs in order to succeed despite the odds. In his article, ( Dowling pointed out three reasons as to why tenacity is so much more important for entrepreneurial success. He talked about the love and passion of building something with a purpose. Be prepared to fail and eliminate all distractiosn. Similarly, Glausser ( identified two important traits for a successful venture. The Zeal for their business and a dogged tenacity to win. To be able to achieve financial freedom, they must find ways to get over the mountains, across valleys and around roadblocks. They put in long hours, make personal sacrifices, change directions and keep costs down.

finding nemo
Perserverance is the key!

Pure Perserverance is what distinguishes successful entrepreneurs from non successful ones as stated by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. It is really tough out there. It is so hard when you pour so much of your life into this thing. Most people give up when there are so much rough moments in time. If you want to achieve in life, stick at it. Build a good and valuble, skillful team around you. Life is a marathon, not a sprint as I like to be reminded from the other entrepreneurs.

the graceful trip
The graceful trip-still a dignified elegance.

I believe Grace is a very compassionate trait to have. Campbell had a noteworthy article for us to read here:

“Grace is that dignified elegance about a person’s appearance, movement, personal style or behavior. To be graceful is to be strong and assured in who one is and to move gently within that energy.
Exceptional people live with a sense of inner elegance and are graceful even amidst a challenge. They are able to handle themselves in a noble and ethical manner. They hold good posture, their energy has a mystery, softness, strength and cleverness to it. They are vulnerable yet self-assured. Grace is the undeniable quality of the depth of their personal wisdom.

We must learn to admit our imperfections and take accountability. We need to be reminded about transparency. When we fail, we admit it.


As I start my journeys in Medicine at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, I hope to continue these wonderful traits of tenacity, perserverance and grace through the long and hard 6 years. No doubt they will be a lot of growth and development and knowledge building through the years. I look forward to it and embracing the journey wholeheartedly.

On reflection, the #10yearchallenge has been worthwhile. I am celebrating my small wins and my successes with my close friends and family. I am also quietly writing down my failures, the mistakes and the constructive criticism and the feedback I have recieved from my wider networks. I hope you do the same too, where ever in the world you may be.

Kia Kaha as we say in New Zealand, stand strong!

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