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“Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?” — David Gilmour and Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, 1979
If you're reading this post you have confirmed that, indeed, someone is in there. And together, in so many ways, we are all home in the financial independence community.
Welcome to CHGO FIRE. It's awesome to meet you. I hope to get to know you in the months and years ahead as we blaze a path to financial independence together.
I've wanted to blog about my personal journey to financial independence for some time and just haven't pulled the trigger on it until my new friends, Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa, the co-hosts of the ChooseFI podcast invited their listeners to become bloggers. So … here we go!
My story is a long and winding road, but here's the short version (there'll be plenty of time to get into the weeds in future posts).
Since the internet was just a wee babe, I've been out of college and cruising the hedonic hamster wheel to try to live the life that American society prescribes.
- Go to college
- Get a job
- Get married
- Have kids
- Buy a house
- Fill it up with crap
- Get a raise
- Buy a bigger house
- Fill up bigger house with more and new crap
- Hey kid, look at that shiny car! Yeah, I'll take one of those!
- Get a promotion
- Buy that second home
It literally. never. ends. The pressure to consume, the pressure to keep up. It's almost as though we are somehow programmed at birth to respond affirmatively.
I had become, as the song goes, comfortably numb. Like a zombie, just commuting to an office every day. With some distant dream of retirement and travel. I had just accepted that this was the way things were and would always be.
Then, an explosion occurred. A personal Big Bang!
I read an article in, of all places, Crain's Chicago Business about a fellow Chicagoan who retired when she was just 34 to travel the world. Sure, I had heard about Mr. Money Mustache, but I'd never so much as scratched the surface. It was that Crain's article that was my gateway to the FIRE community.
I was immediately hooked.
For weeks and weeks, I consumed. Whether it was a blog while waiting for swim lessons to end or a podcast while I was driving an hour to work, I was devouring this stuff like I used to devour Portillo's chocolate cake! (You Chicagoans know what I'm talking about.) I binge listened to every Mad Fientist podcast on a cross-country road trip with my daughter (and my ex-wife!) to look at colleges!
Mr. Money Mustache, ChooseFI, the Mad Fientist, Afford Anything, 1500 Days, the Root of Good, the Frugal Professor, Physician On Fire (and I'm not even a doctor!), Millennial Revolution, Rock Star Finance. That's not even half of the list.
JL Collins! How can I forget JL Collins and the stock series?
I mean, I even stopped listening to music for a few months because I was so completely engrossed!
Finding my tribe
I had found my home. This place, and you all, just made sense. Here I could throw up the proverbial middle finger to the status quo and declare a new path.
And I optimized. I mean, I read Mr. Money Mustache's clown car post and I almost immediately went and sold the ridiculous SUV that I drove (almost always alone) for a teeny little gas sipping used car. Paid in full.
In the months ahead, I'll share all of the optimizations I've made and the many, many still to come.
CHGO FIRE is my attempt to share this entire journey with you, to forge a path forward together and to have a good time along the way to FI (and eventually even RE). I hope you will tune in regularly and become a member of the crew.
I've chosen to write anonymously at this point because I'm still gainfully employed. It'd be nice to stay that way for the time being. Anonymity gives me the opportunity to be bluntly frank and brutally honest. It gives me the chance to share with reckless abandon and that's what I aim to do.
CHGO FIRE is going to do at least three things …
- Share my journey, share all of my royal screw-ups and cover topics that we share an interest in.
- Things like geoarbitrage. In fact, on this journey forward I'll embark on a little geoarbitrage without even leaving my current hometown. I hope you'll be passenger for all the details.
- Details on the side hustles I'm building so I don't rely on just a single source of income (and because I'm freaking passionate about them).
- How it is never too late for FI.
- How to be frugal with children.
- One of the many things I've screwed up … divorce and the havoc it wreaks on financial independence.
- How the pursuit of financial independence lead to a complete overhaul in other areas of life, such as diet.
- How I survived my first FI Christmas!
- Helping my kid get into college and my attempt to light a second generation fire.
- Share my monthly numbers. I'm always drawn to blogs like 1500 Days and Wealthy Accountant because I'm curious how others are doing. Curious what “their number” is. Curious how they invest their stash. Anonymity affords me the opportunity to share openly and openly I will share.
- I'm most excited to do something that I haven't seen any other financial independence blog do. One of the Milestones of FI is that Personal Capital call once you hit $100,000 in assets. Well, because I came late to the FI party, I was lucky enough to get that Personal Capital call within days of signing up for my Personal Capital account. (If you haven't signed up for your own Personal Capital account, it's super easy and so helpful!). I listened to their pitch. I was intrigued. And now we are going to conduct a little experiment together. Here it is …
Personal Capital vs Vanguard VTSAX
- Personal Capital vs. Vanguard VTSAX! Mano y mano, for all the FI glory!
- Like the Mad Fientist has said before, I have been sitting on some cash, trying to time the market, thinking this can't continue! Shite's gonna go south any day now! And when it does I'd run out with my wash basin and start scooping up stocks at fire sale prices. And what do you know? All it's done is increase about 15 percent as I've been waiting and watching. JL Collins doesn't even know me (yet!) and he's ashamed.
- Now it's time to do something about it. So, on the same day, I will invest $10,000 with Personal Capital for them to quasi-actively manage and I'll invest another $10,000 in everyone's favorite, Vanguard's awesome VTSAX fund.
- Real money. Real results. With an update once a month.
- Personal Capital knows they start at a disadvantage because they charge .89 basis points to Vanguard's .04. But they're confident little buggers over there at Personal Capital. So we'll see what happens together starting in the coming weeks.
Well, that's the plan. Thanks for reading post numero uno.
So … stay tuned. Join in. Let's Go! (which, coincidentally is a great Matt and Kim song you need to check out).
Until next time …