099 | Generous Giving On The Path To FI | Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson, owner of a bacon-themed concession stand in California, talks about downsizing his family expenses, spending 8 months of the year managing a non-profit in El Salvador, and why generous giving is important to him.

  • Mike worked in his grandfather’s concession business during college summers, then bought the business after graduation.
  • Getting his products into the media requires doing something new and innovative, and something that media outlets will be excited to share with consumers.
  • How do Mike and his wife talk to their children about their family’s finances?
  • Mike’s family lives in El Salvador several months of the year, so opted to rent their family home in California and have built-out a shed and some sea containers in which their family lives when they’re at home in the U.S.
    • Downsized from 2,700sq ft with pool and 4 acres, to 20’ x 20’ storage shed with two 20’ sea containers.

  • Current living expenses are about $100 a month.
  • What put Mike into the mindset to get creative about how his family would live?
  • Ultimately, seeking adventure might be just as unfulfilling as seeking material things.
  • What really makes life fulfilling is finding purpose and living in community.
  • Mike no longer needs to work – he’s financially independent – but he’s continuing to work so that he can be generous with his resources and time.
  • Mike’s family lives and works in the U.S. from May through August, so they can volunteer and manage an organization in El Salvador during the rest of the year.
  • What does day-to-day life look like for Mike’s family in El Salvador?
  • Overseas, most of a person’s life happens within walking distance of their home, which changes the understanding of community.
  • Generosity was a value Mike learned in his youth, and has continued to develop.
  • There is never buyer’s remorse when you’re generous.
  • Does generous giving slow your path to FI?
  • Living a FI lifestyle gives you more financial margin in your life, so you can be that much more generous.
  • Life doesn’t change when you hit FI: if generous giving isn’t a habit on your journey, it won’t be a habit when you arrive.
    • You can’t guarantee you’ll have those opportunities once you reach FI.
  • Generous giving doesn’t have to be funneled through an organization.
  • People who give are happier.
  • Mike thinks the U.S. is the cheapest place in the world to live.
  • How did an overdue library book cost Mike $10k?

Listen to Brad and Jonathan's thoughts about this episode here.

Resources shared in this episode:


“Why the heck would a missionary need so much money to live in a foreign country?” – Mike Peterson

The Molecule of More – Daniel Lieberman & Michael Long


Your Financial Resilience Toolkit

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6 thoughts on “099 | Generous Giving On The Path To FI | Michael Peterson”

  1. I just finished listening to this episode and my heart is beating so fast out of pure excitement. My heart resonates so well with this message. Ever since I discovered you guys (Brad & Jonathan) this past year, my life has truly changed for the better. I had no real financial plan to guide me and a lot of debt to deal with. Now, consumer debt is something of the past and I am saving up to 52% of my income as of September 2018. But the part that really excites me is that I have been able to give away money to more and more causes that really speak to me, one of which is the documentary “Playing with FIRE.” Giving is by far the most important reason leading and inspiring me to pursue FI.

    I am a classically trained singer/pianist and most classical singers or pianists are told over and over they could never earn enough money to put food on the table unless they are part of the elite 1% in the world performing in the most prestigious opera houses or concert halls. I am truly grateful, due in part to your herculean efforts at ChooseFI and my diligence in the practice room (can’t get away from practicing), not only do I have food on the table but I can also contribute money to bringing classical music to some of the public schools and senior living centers in my area. Geo-arbitrage led me to move from NY to a small town in Oklahoma. It’s true the arts scene is nowhere near as vibrant as it is in NY but being able to give to those in need and save for the future is oh so worth it. Thank you so much for pushing me, all of us really, to grow a little bit better each and every day.

  2. Thank you for bringing Mike and his vision/purpose to us. I have some kind of identical plan post FI and when my kids done in school. I have more questions. I will try to contact him directly. Again, thank you.

  3. I’m currently living in El Salvador, and I got unreasonably excited when I read the description of this episode. Would love to learn more about what Mike does around here.

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