Turning Fear into Strength

By Philip

Let’s talk about money. I know it’s not something many of us are comfortable talking about. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we are embarrassed about our lack of knowledge or success when it comes to finances. Maybe we fear we are not doing as well as our friends and neighbors. Whatever the reasons, a recent poll showed that 44% of Americans would rather discuss death, religion or politics than talk about their finances. I think the fact that it’s such a taboo topic leads to the lack of financial literacy in America. How many people do you know that are not in debt, have an emergency fund, or have a significant amount saved for retirement?

I’ve always considered myself to be a financially responsible individual. I chose a profession that paid well and was in high demand at the time, and when I graduated with substantial student loan debt Melissa and I worked hard to eliminate the debt in under 5 years. I have used credit cards, but always paid them in full at the end of the month. I have always tried to live within my means.

After my student loans were paid off I turned on the cruise control, I didn’t have a clear financial goal and it showed. Now 4 years later I look back at how much student loan debt we paid down and wonder what we have accomplished since then. We’ve had to cover some big expenses like a pool renovation, a new roof which snowballed into a whole exterior remodel, and welcomed two new children to the family, but I  still feel like we should have more to show. I realized how little I’d been paying attention to the money coming in and out of our accounts. I thought I was being good about money but I realize that’s just because we have been fortunate enough to have it. I had a lot to learn.

The turning point for me came in July of this year when I asked Melissa for a good personal finance podcast. Enter ChooseFI and the FIRE movement. I had been introduced to the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement a few years earlier when a friend turned me onto the Mr. Money Mustache blog. I thought he had some interesting ideas but it all seemed extreme and inaccessible at the time. I just wasn’t ready to take the steps I needed to for a better future. The ChooseFI podcast found a way to simplify the movement and make it more accessible to me. 

I’ve been binging years worth of podcasts and my eyes have been opened to many missed opportunities. I’ve learned about maximizing pre-tax investments, cutting costs, travel hacking, and most importantly living a more intentional life. One thing  I love about ChooseFI is that they acknowledge that the optimal way is not always the best way for each individual, so as I go down the rabbit hole of blogs and podcasts Melissa and I are formulating a plan to incorporate some of these ideas while still making some choices that we value but acknowledge are suboptimal. So, no I don’t see myself in a position to retire in the next 10 years, but I am becoming what I like to call FI-ish. Join us on our journey and maybe I’ll be able to teach you a few things that I’ve learned along the way. As my new friend Jonathan of the ChooseFI podcast says “ you don’t know what you don’t know until you know”.

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