Listen, I know I’m probably going to get shit for starting another finance/FIRE blog. I’m not even certain I’ll even keep this thing up, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile because I feel like I have a unique-ish perspective and path towards FIRE. If you don’t know what FIRE is, head on over to ChooseFI‘s beginner’s guide to get started.
So what is the point of all this?
I’ve always been money obsessed. I grew up on a small farm in a split farm house with my grandparents on the other side. After moving a couple hours away and my father going to prison for 15 years, my mother was forced to raise 5 (very unruly) kids on her own. While we were all growing up, I doubt she ever made more than 15k/year. Somehow she always managed to get us to sports practices, keep a steady roof over our heads (only moved once in 20+ years), and made sure we always had all the mac & cheese and ramen noodles our hearts desired.
How did she do it? By being frugal!
I was fairly young when my grandfather passed away, probably about 6-7. I always remember sitting around the large farm kitchen table playing rummy or dominoes with him as he attempted to teach me Pennsylvania Dutch. Another thing I remember is that when he passed, this humble farmer managed to leave all of his 6 children and all 25+ grandchildren a decent inheritance. This also included the farm land that now happened to be sitting on the edge of a bustling suburbia and being bought up for millions of dollars.
I’m not sure how much each of his children got, but I think I got about ~2k in stock. Some quick math and estimating if each child got 10x what the grandchildren did, and everyone got the same, that’s about 200k in cash and stocks this poor, suspender wearing, dirty jean, trucker hat farmer had to pass on to his large family. And that’s after spending his last 5 years in a rather nice assisted-living facility.
That frugality was passed down to my mom, and then passed on to me. But not before I learned some hard lessons.
I’ve never been a big spender, but I wasn’t always a big saver. I never had enough money to be either and started off poorer than most. I never got any new clothes, new toys, and a dollar cheeseburger from McDonald’s was a treat that sent me over the moon! When I got my first job in high school, I spent every dollar I made on trying to make up for looking poor all those years. I’m talking about the custom hub-caps from Walmart, the under car-seat LED’s from eBay, and early-internet get rich quick Ponzi schemes. I really knew how to look rich! I was searching for an outlet for my new found “wealth”, and was determined to live the baller life without actually being one. That ended quickly.
I convinced my mom and some friends to let me invest ~2k in a HYIP (High Yield Investment Program, aka – scam). Before I knew it I was making 10% a week deposited to a shady debit card that I’d withdraw every Monday. I was on my way to riches beyond my wildest dreams! I quit my job at the grocery store pushing carts and IMMEDIATELY the scam went under and I lost all the remaining money. Shocker!
That taught me the valuable lesson that there aren’t any shortcuts in life. You have to work hard and be diligent. Nobody is going to just give anything to you, so you have to go get it for yourself.
So just how do me and the wife plan on being financially independent in 10 years and have $1.2 million in the bank? Working hard, being diligent, and being frugal.