Discovering the Power of FU Money | EP 321

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

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Households of FI-Zach and Marilyn

What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show

  • Picking back up with our ChooseFI Households of FI family, Zach and Marilyn to hear about all of the incredible progress they’ve made since their last episode.
  • Like most people, the last year has turned Zach and Marilyn’s life upside down, only their’s has been positive. Following their conversation with Paula Pant in Episode 247, they were felt encouraged to move forward with a real estate investment when the numbers made sense rather than waiting for a property that met all the specific criteria.
  • Within two months of their conversation with Paula, they purchased the home they are currently living in. Since then, they have put money in renovations and just rented out the basement apartment.
  • Although the original plan was to do a live-in flip, they are now house hacking after taking out a mortgage with a 2% interest rate thanks to their excellent credit, making their new mortgage the same as the mortgage on their previous home that was half the size. Plus, the basement apartment rent is covering the entire mortgage and then some.
  • Zach finished school in 2020 and began working in his field earning a good raise. Rather than let the raise inflate their lifestyle, Zach put the entire raise into his 457 plan.
  • Between saving more than $1,000 a month on a mortgage and putting $1,000 a month into a 457, Zach and Marilyn have created more than $24,000 of space in their financial lives.
  • Although five years ago, they never would have dreamed of being in their current position, they attribute frugality and long-term planning for their success.
  • Being on the path to FI feels so good that it’s something Zach talks to people in his everyday life about. He thinks if you adopt the long-term mindset and stick it out during the first five or six years, seeing the end from the beginning becomes less overwhelming.
  • Marilyn says that not having debt hanging over their heads has improved their quality of life a hundredfold. While it did take them six or seven years to get there, it wouldn’t have happened at all if they hadn’t taken that first step.
  • In looking toward the future, they have created FU money, which they’ve already reaped the rewards of. When Marilyn’s employer told her to come back to work 100% after successfully working from home during the last year, she decided to quit rather than put her kids back into daycare.
  • Jonathan appreciates the power of no and says sometimes when you can say no to your employer, it puts you in a position of power where they might be willing to negotiate.
  • Zach and Marilyn’s have no mortgage payment, drive paid-off cars, and have an abundance mindset that allows them to live off around $30,000 and want for nothing. In fact, Marilyn uses a hack from Brad and uses an Old Navy credit card for their spending, and earns points to buy clothes for his kids.
  • In comparison, most other American families spend $30,000 on just shelter and car payments.
  • When leaving previous jobs, Marilyn always felt a bit of panic, wondering how they would make things work, but with living expenses taken care of, they were in a different place. She felt none of that panic.
  • Zach grew up without a lot of money and a scarcity mindset. When interacting with people who were well off, he often felt if that person was wealthy that he couldn’t be. The path to FI has been a mind shift to understanding that everybody can win and to a level of empathy.
  • What’s next for Zach and Marilyn? Since they are saving more money than ever before, they are interested in optimizing what they do with it. They have considered more rental properties, but prices are high and inventory is low. Index fund investing is another option.
  • Prices are high in their area and they looked into renting out their current home, but it doesn’t meet the 1% rule. They would need to geo-arbitrage a second rental.
  • If they were to purchase another property, the downpayment would likely come from an old 401k of Marilyn’s. Zach has looked at rolling it into a self-directed IRA for real estate.
  • Since Marilyn left that employer her 401k is with, it should have triggered the option to roll it over to an IRA without creating a taxable event as long as she follows her plan’s rules.
  • They also have an interest in diversification, but with the real estate market so high, they want to have cash on hand to make a move if it dips. And if the stock market does something crazy, Zach and Marilyn want to be prepared for it.
  • They want to invest, just with a shorter time horizon, so they need to invest somewhere with less risk.
  • Jonathan says they need to invest like a 55 or 60-year-old. They can achieve that with investments that provide either income stability or a negative correlation.
  • They would love to be able to pay for their next property with cash, but they don’t know when the next deal that makes sense will pop up. It could be anytime in the next five years and ideally, they would like to have at least $75,000 saved up for it.
  • Although Zach and Marilyn want to do what’s the most optimal with their money, Brad says it really should be what they are comfortable with. Investing in real estate isn’t for everyone and may provide comparable returns to the stock market. They should keep communicating and figuring out what works for them at the moment as it’s impossible to predict where they will be in five years.
  • Jonathan thinks it won’t take long to reach financial independence. With annual expenses of just $30,000, they will need $875,000 to hit FI. With $80,000 in investments and adding $1,500 to it each month, they will have $229,000 in 5 years. In ten years, they will have $451,000, and in 15 years, it will reach $783,000 if nothing else changes.
  • Future raises, additional rental properties, or Marilyn returning to work can only speed their path to FI. Both Brad and Jonathan believe they can achieve FI in 10-12 years.

Resources Mentioned In Today’s Conversation

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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