How I Was Set On FIRE

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ChooseFI Favorite: top rewards card for beginners

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card​

Looking for the best credit card to start earning travel rewards points? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our pick. With a 50,000 point signup bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months), the $95 annual fee waived the first year, and ultra-flexible points (transfers to 13 airlines & hotels!), this is our top choice!

My first “technical” introduction to Financial Independence (FI) was in 2012. It came down to one exact moment, and I remember the exact words I said to myself.

I was in a Christian thrift shop, thumbing through the books. It was there I picked up a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover (the cover where he is cutting a credit card with scissors). I looked at the book and said to myself, “I'll pay a dollar to see if I can change my life.” Oddly, that dollar did change my life.

Enter Dave Ramsey

So I drank the Dave Ramsey Kool-Aid and ran with it. I could quote his book left and right. I watched every YouTube video I could find and listened to the audiobook a bunch of times. Thanks to all this, I was working hard to pay my car off and get out of student loan debt. But I wasn't really “gazelle intense.” My income was sporadic, and although I picked up around 40 hours every week, I was technically a part-time employee.

In July 2013, I switched employers and took a small pay cut (but actually made more with consistent full time hours and benefits). I was unable to contribute to the employer 401k for a year and was unaware of Individual Retirement Accounts, so I just kept extra cash in my savings account while waiting to contribute.

In 2014, I got antsy and gave into peer pressure. My roommate had decided to work towards an MBA. I thought, well if I get my MBA I can climb the corporate ladder. My employer did offer tuition assistance, so I paid for books as much as I could.

In 2015, I ended up with about $25,000 in student loans. As I said I wasn't very gazelle intense, even though I could quote Ramsey every way to Sunday. 2015 was a bit slow for my finances. I was just paying minimums to keep my head above water. Plus, I contributed up to the 401k match.

In 2016, I got a bit more serious about my finances. I was still using Ramsey's 25% allocation to Small Cap, Mid Cap, Large Cap, and International funds and I saw my 401k slowly growing. Around this time, I met my current manager. He introduced me to Mr. Money Mustache. I didn't take a look at the MMM blog right away. But this would circle back.

Enter ChooseFI

I can't 100% remember when I first heard about ChooseFI, but I do remember listening to the Travel Miles episode of the Mad Fientist podcast with Brad. At the same time, I remember hearing about ChooseFI podcast coming soon after that, and I was ready to dig in, as I was quickly addicted to new finance podcasts. I remember also joining a lot of Mr. Money Mustache Facebook groups.

In 2017 I started to dominate my finances. I started keeping my net worth posted when I started my blog in September of 2016. In addition, I learned about high yield savings accounts, how to open different types of IRA's, low cost index funds, and all the optimizations that the FIRE community recommend. I remember Brad on the podcast emphasizing the importance of taking action. So I opened a high yield savings account and a Roth IRA.

When the Facebook group was still growing exponentially, there was mention of the excitement in Jonathan's voice whenever a guest was about to sit in the hot seat. I made a comment about how cool it would be to sit in the hot seat and I was fortunate enough to be allowed on a Friday roundup episode.

By listening to ChooseFI, reading financial blogs, participating in the FI community, and taking action, I was able to really focus on my finances.

How one regular guy found the path to Financial Independence

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5 thoughts on “How I Was Set On FIRE

  1. I started with Dave Ramsey as well with my journey. Ironically I was lead to MMM in a Dave group. Then in 2017 found the ChooseFI crowd. 2017 was also the year I consider finally taking full control of my finances. I can’t wait to see what the next few years look like for us!

  2. I’m one of those weirdos who found Mad Fientist, then Choose FI, then MMM. I know, I did it totally backward, but it’s been an amazing journey! I’m glad to hear about your story, and I can’t wait to hear more!

  3. Great to read about your introduction to FI. Dave Ramsey also played a part in the early part of my $ journey.

    Kudos to your boss for introducing you to MMM! It is so nice to have people in the workplace that you can have intelligent conversations about money with.

  4. Amazing story. My introduction began with Dave Ramsey but I rejected his car buying advice. Fast forward five years later, and I am five payments away from getting rid of my card debt. I’ll have to go back and listen to the episode with you in the hot seat.

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