Let Me Introduce Myself

Welcome and hello! I just wanted to take a second to get an introduction out there before I start in on some actual posts and getting into what my hopes for this blog.

I’m currently a software developer living in southern California with my wife and three kids. I’m a little over thirty now, but when I was nineteen I had this burning sensation.

No, it wasn’t herpes.

It was more about dissatisfaction with where I was in life. I was already tired of trading time for money, even though I knew there were far worse ways a person could spend their limited time here on Earth. No, I had a desire to get money and I didn’t care how I had to get it. Of course, I had some impediments along the way. For starters, I was pretty shy so I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone. Second, I hated selling things to people (the only time I’ve been actually fired is from a sales job). Third, it had to be easy. In other words, I wanted a quick way to get easy money. I’m sure you see where this is going.

Fast forward to me sitting in a bookstore in the self help section going through book after book on money-making techniques. Book after book yielded squat in terms of things I wanted to do. In fact, reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, I discovered two things about myself. One, I was tired of reading books that told me I needed to spend money to make money and two, I obviously needed to make more money before I could do anything useful (given my specific personality, that is). So I decided to just go ahead with my life and stop worrying about getting rich quick and other nonsense.

And guess what? Life improved. I went through a lot of changes throughout my twenties, got married, had a kid, learned a ton, became a much better developer, started making a lot more money, had another kid, made some more money and then had yet another kid. Somewhere in the middle of all that insanity, my wife and I bought a house. And not a small, cheap house. I’m talking about a big house worth over half a million at the time. You could say I was just sort of going with the flow.

Awesome wife who loves me? Check.

Amazing kids? Check.

Career I enjoy? Check.

Big, expensive house? Check.

Oh, and to top it off, I bought myself an expensive car. It was like I was flying on American Dream Autopilot. Meanwhile, I had no real savings to speak of, nothing sizable set aside for retirement and the money we spent every month sort of flowed straight back out of our bank account into various places. We ate out all the time. If we wanted to buy something, we got it. If we wanted to go somewhere, we went.

I’m not sure when it hit me, but somewhere in the middle of all that, I had a moment of clarity which changed my path. Suddenly I was thirty and I remembered my eighteen year old self. I remembered wanting to be free and do all the things I wanted to do. If you’ve ever tried to split life between a full time job, a family and side projects, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it was hard to fit my own hobbies in. It’s not easy.

So here I was, making more money than I ever had in my whole life and had nothing to show for it. Sure, I was a “real estate owner,” and I had a couple of cars but what would happen if the money ever ran out? What would I do when I’m old? What would my wife have if I die? My kids? It was a lot to process, but it solidified a single-minded purpose in me. I wanted to figure my financial situation and get it under control. I wanted to put savings into high gear and then put it in places that would actually work for me. But, of course, I knew nothing about it.

I started reading books. I searched the web. For the first time, I started finding like-minded individuals. These were people who just wanted to live simply by living below their means. Period.

At that point, I was making around $150,000 as a software developer, and wanted to start diverting some of that toward financial independence. I discussed things with my wife. I told her about a plan I’d formed after binge reading through a number of online forums on how to set yourself up to be financially secure. The plan was in three parts. First, I had to establish 6-month Emergency Fund. Second, I had to start maxing out an IRA every year for tax-advantaged savings. Third, once both the Emergency Fund and IRA were filled, I would start investing.

So I started on the path to saving $50,000.00.

Keep in mind, I had never saved more than a few thousand in my whole life. Not for just having, anyway. Even when my wife and I purchased our home, we pooled our money together to put 5% down on an FHA mortgage. But again, I was determined.

So I started stashing money in an account earning 1% at Ally. At first, the amount in there was depressing in a way. It was sort of like the feeling of starting a diet knowing you’ll give in at some point and all the weight will come back. There was nothing groundbreaking happening. It was just money I couldn’t spend. Then I started hitting goals and things shifted a bit. Once I got to $5,000, I really wanted to see if I could reach $10,000 without giving up. A few months later, I was there. Honestly, that was one of the best moments in my life and I couldn’t share it with anyone except my wife. My wife, by the way, was already amazing with money until she married me. It was my job to bring us both back to saving the right way.

Have you ever heard someone say that the more you save, the easier it becomes? Well, it’s absolutely true.

I think I started out saving $1,200 or so every month, but seeing the number growing became almost a game. I wanted to hit my goal and hit it faster. I started going through our finances found that we could start diverting more money toward the goal. So I increased it. $2,000. $2,250. $2,500. Every month, I’d do this and sort of close my eyes waiting for the hammer to drop, but it never did. I’m currently saving at around $4,000 per month now and have nearly reached the $50,000 goal.

And that’s where I want to start this blog. Right before I hit the big number one. When it happens, I will post about it here. When I learn something new, I will share it here. My hope is that it will help someone who was on the same American Dream Autopilot I was on, and snap them out of it.

4 Responses

  1. The american dream autopilot! That’s a nice way to say it! :) I totally understand what you’re talking about. Living from paychecks to paychecks. Buying whatever you want and not worrying about accumulating debts. It’s fun for a while. But you eventually feel like an ATM machine. Money in. Money out. Start over again. It’s like being rich than broke than rich than broke over and over. And then you realize that ten years, fifteen years have passed. You realize that you only have 2 – 4 weeks per year of true freedom and live them under a constant flow of adrenaline because time flies and you know you’ll have to wait one more year before being free again for a little while.

    Things could be a lot lot worse. It’s the misery of the riches. But they also could be a lot better.

    Putting money aside for you and starting to train your kids to do it young in their life will sure improve your life and theirs. Living below your means will help too. If you lose your job. You won’t be worried and stressed out. If you want to take some time off like a sabbatic eventually, you could make it a possibility.

    You’ve already achieved a lot. I’m 33 and I make a lot less than you per year but have been able to refund almost 30k on my mortgage and save 50k within 2 years. I feel a lot better now than I used too 2 years ago. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel! I simply changed my habits, set goals and a solid plan! It’s incredible to see that were able to achieve that we thought impossible when we dedicate ourself to something!

    Keep saving and cutting expenses! Find a way to invest your money to at least protect it from the damage of inflation. It’s your first ennemy and not one to forget. Inflation compounds fast. That’s one of the reasons why I love dividend growth stocks. Companies pass inflation to their customers and raise my dividend income faster than inflation giving me an inflation protection on my income and on my capital.

    Cheers

    1. Allan,

      You make some excellent points!

      You realize that you only have 2 – 4 weeks per year of true freedom and live them under a constant flow of adrenaline because time flies and you know you’ll have to wait one more year before being free again for a little while.

      This hits the nail on the head. Because you have so little free time, the entire time is spent in stress and not wanting to let time pass by too quickly, which makes it pass by even faster. Then work is back, and you’ve got a strong case of work-itis.

      You’ve already achieved a lot. I’m 33 and I make a lot less than you per year but have been able to refund almost 30k on my mortgage and save 50k within 2 years. I feel a lot better now than I used too 2 years ago. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel! I simply changed my habits, set goals and a solid plan! It’s incredible to see that were able to achieve that we thought impossible when we dedicate ourself to something!

      That’s huge progress! Yeah, I’ve been lucky in a whole bunch of ways to land where I am as a Software Developer. I’ve definitely worked hard, but because my Dad taught me to program from a young age and because this is sort of the age of the developer, things have gone well. That being said, I only recently started taking advantage of it. And as we know in the FI community, you can make a million bucks per year but if you aren’t saving it, you’ve got the poor person’s mindset. I’ve had the poor person’s mindset for most of my life and it’s only recently that I’ve turned that around.

      And it’s exactly as you say. Once you see that light at the end of the tunnel, other things start to blur and melt away. Suddenly, it’s just you, the goal and whatever you need to keep from tripping up on the way there.

      As you may know from reading my recent entries, dividend growth stocks are something I keep reading about over and over. It’s to the point where I want to create software just to help me choose and then maintain a dividend growth stock portfolio! (Who knows?)

      In any case, thanks for commenting and I look forward to hearing from you again!

  2. I can relate to your story in a big way. Im 35 and work at a SW company. I have 2 kids and think about my future a lot!

    Im going to follow your blog and look forward to updates!

    1. Adam,

      Yeah! I’ve noticed that our profession is mentioned quite a bit in early retirement circles. I honestly wonder what the connection is.

      Glad you’re following. I’ll check your blog out as well!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge