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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.
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.