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I, like many of you, am the type of person that is always thinking of different money making ideas and trying to come up with the perfect invention to become a millionaire. As time has gone on I have finally realized that although cracking that code is certainly one way to get there, there are definitely way more practical routes as well.
First things first, we are very regular people and aren’t doing anything that is not completely replicable by all of you. We are, however, making much more optimized and informed financial decisions than we used to and more than many of the working class that we all know. The unexpected thing is that through these learnings, our entire decision engine has now been overhauled. A special thanks to Mr. Money Mustache & ChooseFI for opening our world and minds to these life-altering concepts that the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) community embraces every day.
My FI story started about two years ago (2016) when my brother (M) called me and said “hey, I want you to read this article and tell me what you think about it, it’s called ” news flash: your debt is an emergency!!” I just finished reading it and I think I share this guys’ views on debt.” I put my brother on speaker phone and proceeded to read the article and I started to have all of these defensive feelings as if Mr. Money Mustache was personally attacking me, my spending habits and my beliefs (which after reading more of his posts I realized he totally was “face punching” me and for good reason, but more on that later). I was telling my brother that I thought this guy was ridiculous and obviously not anywhere near a high cost of living area and was clearly not really living at all. I mean how could he not have any debt at all and think that someone with a few grand on a credit card or two is living wrong or irresponsibly and should be compared to being “attacked by killer bees.” My brother, who we will introduce later, was much less defensive but kind of agreed with me on MMM’s “extreme” perspective.
Fast forward a year later (2017) when my brother and I were at a friend’s bachelor party where a small group of us were complaining about our respective jobs, this time MMM came up regarding saving 25x your expenses to achieve early retirement in his post titled “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement“. This time I was still definitely a non-believer that something like that could ever be done in one lifetime, but no longer did I have the same defensive types of feelings I had the year prior. Instead, I became super interested in finding a better way than this concept of working for 45 years, retire and try to enjoy the rest of your life starting at 65. My research at this point was super limited to finding businesses or inventions that would make me a millionaire overnight, which as most of us know is not exactly the easiest thing to stumble across.
The following year my eyes were finally opened to a different way to look at the equation. I started looking for financial podcasts and searching for interviews with MMM to find a way off this merry-go-round. I finally found his interview with Tim Ferriss and he blew my mind and had me scouring for more content when I stumbled upon ChooseFI and that podcast sent me down this path and I haven’t looked back since.
Each day after listening to an episode on the way to and from work, I dumped all of my thoughts on my wife while she was out on maternity leave for our first baby. Of course, initially she thought I was crazy, but she was mildly ok with it since I was now focused on a more frugal (admittedly very difficult for me) way of thinking instead of my usual spendthrift mindset. We started with www.mint.com (which I have had for years but only in the background) and jumped fully into holding ourselves totally accountable for every dollar of our spending. We also immediately started throwing as much money as we could spare at the debt until it was all gone, with the exception of one credit card that we used a balance transfer to halt the interest so we could get started with our taxable investment account and maxing out our 401ks.