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.