Today, I am excited to have a guest post from Julie!
Julie is a 29-year-old pursuing financial independence in the Pacific Northwest. Her favorite things are dogs, wine, and cheesy reality TV shows. She co-hosts the FIRE Drill podcast, is an Etsy seller, and a blogger at Millennial Boss. Last year she made $40,000 online on top of her day job. She now teaches others how to start a blogging or Etsy side hustle at GoldCityVentures.com.
Once upon a time there lived a girl who had no marketable skills, student loans, and a liberal arts degree. She waited for things to happen to her and didn’t have the confidence to take action. She also spent way too much money on clothes. Like, way too much money on clothes. She had two closets full of clothes that she never wore.
Well this girl stumbled across a personal finance blog one night while mindlessly watching Netflix and it inspired her to take action. She made an aggressive debt payoff plan and paid off roughly $25,000 of student loans in one year. She also changed jobs, cut back on spending, and started her own blog to document her financial journey.
Through blogging she gained the confidence to put herself out there. She also started an Etsy shop which brought in some extra money every month.
Last year, the girl made $40,000 on top of her day job with her side hustles. She’s now on the path to financial independence and early retirement in her thirties.
That girl is me, Julie.
I’m a 30-year-old dog-lover living in Seattle, Washington. By day I work in tech and by night, I’m a podcast host where I talk money and side hustles with interesting people.
I never imagined that I would be on the path to financial independence or that I’d want to retire early but I’m so glad I discovered this community. I’m having my first baby in August and I’m grateful for the options that saving aggressively and earning more have allowed me.
I’m also shocked that I host a podcast about money because I was terrified of public speaking growing up. I’m just sweating thinking about the time I had to recite a passage from Othello to my 10th grade English class. My crush was in the front row and I almost died.
Here are 7 truths about financial independence that I’ve learned from interviewing over 150 guests on my podcast, Fire Drill.
#1: Value based spending wins.
When I first started saving I was worried about every dollar that left my wallet. I cut out all ‘extras’ from my budget, even the things that added a little boost of happiness to my day or allowed me to spend quality time with family and friends.
I’m much happier now that I’ve added some fun back into my discretionary spending, even if that means I’ll get to financial independence later in life.
What I’ve learned is that value based spending wins and there is no one who can decide what is valuable to spend money on and what isn’t but each of us.
#2: Walk before you run.
I was not a financially-savvy person in my twenties so when I discovered the concept of financial independence, I was frankly overwhelmed.
I heard people talking about investing in brokerage or taxable accounts and I didn’t know how to do that or even what that meant. I had never opened up an investing account outside of my work retirement accounts.
I tried to combat my lack of knowledge by learning everything I could online. I felt that I needed to know everything at once because I was so far behind. I consumed endless blogs and learned a bunch of things that I probably didn’t need to know at the beginning.
Looking back, I could have taken things much slower.
The most important concept is saving more than you earn and investing the difference. If you start with that, you’ll be okay.
#3: Earning more will get you there faster than spending less.
I tried really hard to cut back on my spending but I made the fastest strides towards financial independence when I changed jobs and started my side hustles.
There is only so much you can save but there is unlimited potential on what you can earn – especially if you’re open to trying a side hustle.
I’ve recently started teaching the side hustles that I know, blogging and Etsy, to others in the community to help give them the boost they need to earn more outside their day jobs.
#4: There are people like you doing this too.
I thought I had an idea of what the typical person on the journey to financial independence looks like, how they spent their money, and what they did for work.
Turns out, I was really, really wrong.
There are people from all different backgrounds pursuing this goal.
It may be harder to find more diverse people on the path to financial independence but they are there. I was especially excited to find more women on the journey. (See this list of women in the financial independence movement if that interests you too).
I’ve really made an effort on the podcast to showcase as many different stories and types of people that I can. Representation matters and inspires more people.
#5: You can actually meet friends online.
In 2015, I went to an event in Ecuador called the Chauatauqua where people traveled from all over the world to learn and hang out with others in the financial independence community.
That was my first time doing something kind of crazy like that and it was an amazing experience. I was worried about getting ‘catfished’ and having the whole thing be fake or a bunch of people I couldn’t relate to and it wasn’t like that at all.
I met so many friends from that trip and it inspired me to continue to find in-person meetups. I recommend searching on Facebook for financial independence groups in your area. It definitely helps with swapping tips but also is nice just to meet other people who are motivated towards this goal too.
When I moved to Seattle two years ago, I found many friends through the financial independence community online. They are now my in-person friends.
#6: It might take some time to get your partner on board.
When I first read about financial independence I was hooked. My now-husband, not so much.
I did all of the wrong things to try to convince him such as sending him meaty articles about investing strategies and tax-advantaged accounts. I also made the unilateral decision that we weren’t going to spend very much money anymore.
After a few months of pestering, I gave up. I didn’t need him to be on board just now. I could do this myself.
A few years later he has come around to the concept of financial independence on his own terms and is 100% onboard. He’s still not as nutty as me about diving into the technical strategies but he wants this thing just as much as I do.
I think many people overwhelm their significant others from the start and if they showed some patience at first, they’d have an easier time.
#7: It’s not about money at all.
The first few years of financial independence for me were all about the money. What was I saving, what was I earning, what was I investing. Then I started realizing that it’s not really about the money, it’s about designing a lifestyle that you want to live.
For some people, they want to live in a van and road trip to exciting places. Others way to spend more time with their kids. The money part is straightforward but figuring out what to do with your time and what your time is worth to you is way more difficult.
My top downloaded podcast episode features an artist in his 50’s who reflects on two decades of early retirement and if it was worth it. He shared an honest look at the life he chose and the corporate success he gave up to retire early. I recommend listening to that episode to understand financial independence at a deeper level and what it looks like from someone who experienced it for two decades.