About MeWorking to strengthen families by strengthening finances
Learn Our Story
Hi, I’m Stacie. Welcome to my blog!
You know those truly momentous days where the trajectory of your life changes forever? Times like your wedding day, the day your first child was born (and then your subsequent children), the day you figured out what you were called to do with your life? April 5, 2018, was one of those life-changing days for me.
It’s the day that I discovered the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement and blogging community.
Learning about Personal Finance
My introduction to personal finance probably started a little later than most people’s. I never had a personal finance class in high school or even in college, so I knew next to nothing about money and how to manage it well. Soon after I graduated from college, my husband started college. I was working full-time at my first “real” job, and we decided to take some classes together just for fun.
The first class we took had nothing overall to do with personal finance, but in one class we talked about the importance of managing your money well and specifically about the (amazing) power of compound interest and investing early. I don’t know where the original graphic is that our instructor handed out to us that day, but it was similar to this one below:
Diving Deep into a New Passion
From the moment I learned about compound interest, I was hooked. I upped my 401(k) contribution from the 2 percent the company had enrolled me in automatically when I started my job to 10 percent, and I felt good about how financially responsible I was being. 🙂 And I made it my goal to learn all that I could about personal finance. I read countless articles on MSN and CNN Money and Yahoo Finance and MSNBC and the Motley Fool and Wall Street Journal—it’s what I did on my lunch breaks and in the evenings while my husband was doing his homework.
And I read countless books that I got from the library—in fact, at one point I literally started at A and got about halfway through the books in the personal finances genre before my interests turned to something else and I didn’t finish. But by then I had already read many books by most of the big names in personal finance—Suze Orman, David Bach, Robert Kiyosaki, and many others—and I felt like I had gained the knowledge to manage my money pretty well.
After a couple of years of studying and learning everything I could about personal finance I decided I probably needed to focus on something else, so I still read a book or article occasionally that caught my eye, but I started reading lots of others things instead. (I have a degree in English and minor in editing, and I’m a full-time professional editor and have done freelance writing and editing as well since I graduated from college close to 15 years ago—so I read a lot.)
But then I heard about Dave Ramsey from a coworker at the retirement party of another coworker who was retiring “early” at 59. I know that 59 is not super young, but at a company where people tend to really love what they do and many have 30-, 35-, or 40-year careers, and to me who didn’t really know anyone who had retired before age 65, it seemed pretty early.
Anyway, another coworker who was a Dave Ramsey fan said at the retirement party that basically the reason this man was able to retire early was that he had followed Dave Ramsey’s plan and gotten his finances in order. I figured that maybe I needed to learn more about this Dave Ramsey guy, so I went back to his website (I had visited it briefly a year or two before that), and this time I learned about his philosophy on avoiding debt. His financial teachings really aligned with the philosophy my husband and I had recently adopted after making some of our own pretty substantial financial mistakes and then paying off all of our more than $60,000 in nonmortgage debt as soon as we could after we bought our first home.
Becoming Mortgage-Debt Free by 30 Years Old!
By then, we had realized that debt was a trap, and we didn’t want to be ensnared anymore. Before we were able to pay off that $60,000 of debt, there had been many nights where I hadn’t been able to sleep well because of fear—because of the knot in my stomach caused by what felt at many times to be an insurmountable obstacle. I hated that feeling, and I know it has largely shaped my philosophies about avoiding debt and seeking financial stability and security.
By the time we heard of Dave Ramsey we were already following many of the principles he taught. We worked hard. I put in a lot of overtime and also earned more than $10,000 a year from freelance work on top of my full-time job, and we were able to pay off our modest home (we bought a foreclosure for $100,000 that we fixed up as we were able to save up and pay for remodeling with cash) less than 5 years after we bought it. (And we were virtually a one-income family between my making about $50,000 a year with overtime and freelance work and my husband’s part-time work as a full-time student.) That feeling of now being completely debt free was utterly amazing! Really, as those of you who are completely debt free can attest, there’s nothing quite like it in the world!
Now, editors can make a decent amount of money as they advance in their careers, but I started out with that first full-time job making $32,000 a year. And we also put my husband through school without any student loans, with him working 20 hours a week or less for a little more than minimum wage.
I’m telling you this not because I think we’re anything special but rather so that you can know that even with a modest income (even with one modest income), you can do incredible things to win financially! You too can become debt free and build wealth so that you’ll have a financially stable and awesome life—and I’m here to help you do it.
Discovering the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) Blogging Community
The years rolled by, and we’ve now been blessed with three beautiful children. Though I would still listen to Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard (another personal finance guru that I love) occasionally and read personal finance articles and books from time to time, life was pretty full, and my interests and attention were primarily focused elsewhere.
But then, as I mentioned at the beginning of this page, I learned about the FIRE movement. And my life changed forever (again) as a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I learned about Root of Good and Mr. Money Mustache and Financially Alert and ESI Money and many others, and I was in awe. These relatively young people were retired (though some of them did work at least part-time doing something they enjoyed) and were traveling and raising their children and crafting the lives they wanted to live on their own terms. Their time is their own—and unlike money, you can’t get time back once it’s spent.
I had learned sometime in the last year, from one of the PF articles I read, that if you leave your job after 55 you can start drawing on your 401(k), so I was planning on that being my version of early retirement. Fifty-five is still 10 or more years earlier than “normal” retirement age. But then I also heard from one of my coworkers about his wife’s family, who had lived in an RV for four years as the dad traveled for work, and the idea of having the freedom to be location independent and traveling long-term caught hold again. (I’d first had the idea of being a nomad a year or so before that when my husband and I heard of a family with several children who lived in a large sailboat for several years as they traveled around the world.)
But back to the FIRE bloggers. These bloggers weren’t retiring in their mid-50s or even their mid-40s—they were retiring in their mid- to late 30s or early 40s! And I couldn’t believe it! By keeping their expenses pretty low (many of them live on between $30,000 and $40,000 a year) and having generally good incomes and investing the rest of their money, they were able to be financially free decades early!
In our household I have been the sole breadwinner while my husband has been our stay-at-home parent. That’s not the path we had ever planned to take.
Working full-time after my children were born was definitely not the way I had envisioned my life. I had always thought I would be a stay-at-home mom once we had children—that’s one of the reasons I had decided to be an editor in the first place, was so that I could do some freelance work from home if I chose (that, and I just love to read—like I mentioned earlier :)). But it’s the life we’ve lived for the last almost six years. After our first daughter was born we had a son and another daughter. And though being home with them was where I truly wanted to be, I couldn’t see how it was financially feasible, given that I was fairly advanced in my career by then. So I had resigned myself to being the working parent. And because I have a job that I actually love, I figured that that was good enough.
Becoming a Personal Finance Blogger—a Decade-Old Dream Finally Becomes Reality!
But then I learned about the FIRE movement and FIRE bloggers, and I was hooked! If we could set up our finances right, and keep our expenses low, then maybe I could “retire” (work only if and when I wanted to) in my mid-40s to early 50s, and I could live this dream of being home with my children, even if they were teenagers by then.
Because I have loved the topic of personal finance for almost 15 years now, I had thought in the past about changing careers and becoming a financial counselor or coach. I had considered maybe even going back to school to do it. But I realized that that would take a lot of time, to build up a career as a financial counselor—time that I didn’t want to be taken away from my children when I felt that I was already away from them far more than I want to be. So I figured it was something that could wait—maybe until my children were teenagers, and we didn’t want to see each other or spend time with each other anymore! (I’m just teasing.)
But then I learned about blogging! And the idea of blogging about personal finance was so exciting, because I realized I could do that from home, after my children went to bed! (Because who needs sleep anyway, right? Totally optional.) I could teach people the life-altering lessons that I have learned over the last 14 years, and I could work to help people’s lives be better, one reader at a time! And that could be a new hobby!
But then after reading several PF blogs I realized that some of these bloggers actually do this full-time, for a living—they make money from blogging! I had just thought it was a fun pastime; I hadn’t realized that you could in fact make money doing it. And then I discovered, to my even greater amazement, that some of them make a lot of money doing it (check out these income reports!)—between $10,000 and $100,000 a month, and some even more than that!
And over the next few weeks as I learned more about blogging and about FIRE and PF bloggers particularly, I set a goal—a goal to earn enough income from my blog that I can quit the job that I love within three years (by May 28, 2021) so that I can do something I love even more: be home with my children.
Pursuing a Goal
I hope you’ll stick with me during that time as I work to make that dream and that goal a reality. Beyond that, I would love to be financially independent (in other words, work optional) by the time I’m 45. For me, that means that I want to have enough investment or passive income to earn at least $40,000 per year. It won’t be a lavish lifestyle, I know, but since we are (again) mortgage debt free, it will be enough.
A perhaps more modest lifestyle (and the potential decrease in income) is a trade (my time—my life!—for less money) that I think I’m willing to make. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll stop working, but rather that I’ll be able to scale back if I choose in order to pursue other worthwhile goals like volunteering more in the community and learning new, non-work-related skills and spending even more time with our children and maybe even traveling extensively if we choose.
For almost two months before I started writing this About page I was so excited to actually start creating content for my blog—but I made myself wait as I learned about blogging and weighed (and prayed about) whether it was really something I should invest time, money, and effort into. Fear and doubt at times made me hesitate (who am I to think I can do this? what do I have to offer the world that someone else hasn’t already said and maybe said better? what if no one reads or agrees with anything I have to say?), and the steep learning curve has at times been daunting. Blogging may be easy, but blogging well, well enough that you can replace a good full-time income, is not.
But of course very few things in life that are worth doing are easy.
Making a Difference by Helping Individuals and Families Achieve Financial Freedom
So I have stuck with blogging even when it has been a little hard, and I will continue to stick with it. My goal with this blog is to help as many people as possible in their own financial journeys, wherever they are on their own path. I want to help all those who want to learn to better manage their money so that they can ditch debt, save more money, earn more income, invest well, retire in comfort, and give generously. I want to help strengthen America and strengthen the world by strengthening each individual and each family. And I feel so strongly the call to do that because I believe with all my heart that when we are stronger financially as individuals and families than our nations and our world are stronger as a result. I love my country and I love this world, and I hope you’ll join with me as we work together to make it an even better place.
What are your financial goals and dreams? Where are you at financially? What do you need help with right now? Join our new, closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more to reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.
Invitation to Share
Was there something in this article that inspired you to change something about your money? Are there ideas or tips that you feel could help a family member or friend or people in general? Would you please take a minute to share this article via email or social media? I would love your help to share these principles of financial well-being with others. Thank you!
Join our closed Families for Financial Freedom Facebook group to get support and share ideas for how we can all improve our financial well-being by earning more, spending less, saving more, and investing more and reach our financial goals. You can do this! And we are here to help.
I’m a wife, mom, professional editor and writer, and personal and family finance fanatic! Thank you for visiting!