I’ve always been… let’s call it… extremely careful with money.
Even as a kid in an upper middle class family, I never felt comfortable asking my parents for a candy bar at the grocery store, unless I saw they were on a sale like 4 or 5 for $1. My mind always runs cost-benefit analyses… “Both body washes will last 2 months, but is this brand really worth an extra 49¢ to me?” Little calculations like these frequently guide my purchase decisions. So being money conscious or frugal has never been difficult for me. Pretty sure I even used a coupon on one of my first dates with my wife.
I’ve always hated debt. I had a little bit while in college (maybe approaching 5 figures), but when I got married we set our sights on paying it off in about a year. Even worse, a lot of it was on credit cards. I didn’t even really know student loans were a thing. We lived in the cheapest apartment we could find. Bought a $30 used couch with a broken frame that slouched on one side. We ate pasta with Prego sauce, baked potatoes, ramen, and cereal almost every day during that time. Even thinking about spaghetti with Prego makes me sick to my stomach 6 years later. We put all our focus on getting out of debt, and it really wasn’t all that difficult, even if it wasn’t convenient or fun.
My wife and I have always been savers too. Even when I had money as a kid, I never felt the urge or need to spend it. My wife tells the story of when she was in grade school, her sister would ask if she wanted to go to the restaurant in town and get a shake. My wife said she didn’t have money for it, so her sister offered to pay. The truth was, she had a few hundred bucks sitting in her piggy bank, but that was not money she deemed worth spending on a milkshake.
I give these examples to set up a point… even though we’ve always had some good money habits (avoid bad debt, saving, and frugality), only recently have I discovered how simple and defined the path to financial independence can be. I define financial independence as being in a position where you can rely on your own assets to provide what you deem a comfortable life, and having a job or salary is no longer a necessity. My wife and I have set a goal to be financially independent in 5 years, which will be our 35th and 36th birthdays. In future posts, I’ll talk more about the power of compounding, the 4% rule, and some other principles, so you can define goals for yourself and chart out a realistic path to get there.
I’m also writing the blog, so I can hold myself accountable and you can see what did/didn’t work for me. I find that the more I get into this financial independence stuff, the more I learn. I believe as I chart out my progress, findings, and tools I use, I can reach my goals faster and hopefully inspire some others along the way.