Hello Choose FI readers and listeners. For the past six months or so, I’ve been blogging over at Winning Personal Finance. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be writing here as well.
Today, I'll be talking a little bit about my journey to FI. Enjoy!
My theory of FI
As much as I want to reach FI, I don’t look at it as a race. We need to enjoy ourselves along the way. Minimizing time to FI is one approach, but I don’t play that game. Maximizing long-term happiness is my end goal. I don’t think the financial independence path is about sacrifices. I think it’s about making strategic decisions that maximize overall happiness.
I look at savings as a means to an end. If you feel like you’re on a “financial diet,” just like many nutritional diets, you probably aren’t going to be able to keep it up long-term. Instead, I believe all money conversations and decisions should start around goals and dreams. The rest should flow from there. The motivation to save for early retirement, a dream vacation, or a house is much stronger than simply adding an extra few bucks to your savings account.
If you want to live in a high cost of living area or (gasp!) buy a luxury item along the way, it’s OK! The key is to make sure you’ve evaluated what that purchase costs you in the long run and make sure it lines up with your goals.
Just because, I’m not racing to FI doesn’t mean I throw away money. It just means that I spend only when somethings important to me based on my priorities.
For example, I look at a car as a tool to get from point A to point B, not a status symbol. As such, my wife and I share one 2006 Altima that we’ve had for years. On the other hand, we love to travel and allocate a large chunk of our budget to do so. If it takes working an extra year or two to pay for these vacations, so be it.
Finding my tribe
I discovered Choose FI shortly after starting my blog in the summer of 2017 and immediately knew I had found “my tribe.” Everything I’ve heard Brad and Jonathan talk about this year just…made sense. After I binged on all the previous episodes, I listened to each new episode the morning of release.
I found myself listening on the train and looking silly as I nodded my head in agreement the whole time. I'd then subscribe to the guests blogs and start reading all their back content.
I love how the hosts have open minds to the many paths to achieve FI. There are many ways to get there after all. I believe personal finance is, well, personal, and they certainly get that. Brad and Jonathan have most of the same ideas of wealth accumulation that I do.
But there is one exception to our agreements. I have absolutely no interest in the intermittent fasting they promote. Even if there are some health benefits. I wrote a comment that Jonathan read on the air in episode 049R saying:
“I’m chasing FI so that I can put food on the table forever, not so I starve myself. NO THANKS. I want to eat!!!”
Anyway besides that little difference of opinion, we seem to see eye to eye.
My key personal finance philosophies include:
- Paying yourself first
- Investing in low-cost index funds
- Taking advantage of tax advantaged accounts and 401(k) matches
You know, the basic stuff. I don’t think you need to get too fancy to win this game.
A little about me
I live in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City with my (overly tolerant) wife and two sons. I’m a tiny bit jealous of those of you who live in a less expensive area. The stories from Brad and Mr. Groovy about moving from Long Island to North Carolina resonate with me as it’s nearly impossible to raise a family on $40K a year in my locale.
My wife and I are on target to FI in a little more than 10 years when I’m 45. We are at this point by having made saving a priority when we were young. We were also fortunate to start out with very little student loan debt. Had we been a little more focused on a FI goal from the beginning, we may have already gotten there. Listening to personal finance podcasts and blogs have motivated me by illuminating what's possible. I wish I'd found them sooner.
My free time
In my free time, I love to play strategy games. My favorites are Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, and Texas Hold ‘em. I’m the guy whose wife won’t play Monopoly with him anymore.
I love to come up with optimized strategies to maximize my chances of winning. The best part of these games to me is that optimal strategy alone won't get you there. They all have elements of luck. Knowing if you're going to get that good fortune, keeps them interesting.
I look at personal finance as a lifelong strategy game. There are rules and known probabilities with uncertain outcomes. I love to play and I’m here to win.
In addition to the strategizing, I also enjoy taking part in outdoor adventure sports. I've run marathons, triathlons, and obstacle course races. I love to ski even though it's not very “FI friendly.” What else? Mountain biking. Whitewater rafting. Hiking. Yes, please.
My job in corporate America keeps me tied to the New York City area. My work life has always revolved around maximizing corporate profits. I started my blog to switch it up and help people reach their goals. I find doing so extremely satisfying.
Personal finance has always been a passion of mine and I love to share my tips and tricks. In fact, I enjoy it so much that soon I’m going to begin the process of becoming a CFP. I’d love to shift my full-time focus to help people rather than corporations. I’m expecting to want to continue to do so long after reaching my FI number.
I’m passionate about helping others with their finances. While I’m not a financial advisor…yet, I’d love a chance to help with a personal finance challenge you’re having. Chances are, others find themselves in the same situation you are in. We can all learn from each other.