Category Archives: Podcast

Financial Independence and Raising Kids are Not Mutually Exclusive

 Financial Independence seems almost impossible when you're trying to raise kids, but many families are doing it. 

Matt Miner shares his family's journey along with some key takeaways! 

Pursuing Financial Independence as Parents

Last week on the podcast, we began the conversation of finding the right path towards financial independence or freedom for your family based on where you are and what goals you are pursuing.

Even though these paths may be a little different with the speed that you're pursuing them with. I think what we have to talk about is what they do have in common.

When you're talking about financial freedom, independence. Yes. You are tracking the numbers and you're trying to optimize your budget. But the real critical resource, I think that this is really about is time.

To me, the point of financial independence is to give you guys enough flexibility to pursue a memorable and meaningful life. And when you have kids, to me, it feels like things are taken up a notch.

There are so many conversations to have about priorities and what you value. But you're also working with the specific needs of each of your kids.

So what does that look like in the real world? How do you pursue financial independence while raising kids and enjoying the time you'll have with them today?

Today Matt Miner is here to share not only talk about the finances as an advisor over at PLC Wealth but designing your life as a parent. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • How Matt and his family paid off $225k along with how they invest
  • Designing more options and flexibility into your life before hitting your FI number
  • Raising your kids where you give them what they need and enjoy without going overboard with spending or stressing yourselves out 

Let’s get started!

Resources to Be FI as Parents

If you're looking to become financially free or pursuing FIRE as a family, here are some resources to check out! 

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team.

They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more!

How Matt and His Family Paid Off $225k

Elle Martinez: And when you have family, especially when you're raising kids, there's a lot of conversations about priorities and I think, you know, the money matters because, well, you know, your family matters more and designing your life does mean working with the finances to get it there. And that's kind of your specialty, which will kind of just jump in because I just thought your story was fascinating. You knocked out. What was it? Over two hundred thousand dollars of debt?

Matt Miner: Like two hundred twenty five. I guess we've pretty well remember.

Elle Martinez: That's a significant amount. So I know student loans were a part of it. Was that all or were there other loans?

Matt Miner: Yeah. Well, in fact, I guess I could update that to say that we paid off the house in August. That was I reckon it ends up that's now over half-million dollars repaid. And so that was that's the first place I've discussed that publicly. But that is August 13th.

Elle Martinez: Wow!

Matt Miner: Where the were the debt killing Commando's the two twenty five. Yeah.

Just ah, real short story. We went to a business school here in the triangle at Duke University. It's a wonderful place to go to school. It's a great place to rack up student loan bills.

We came out of school with a great education and good work and income but had that debt.

And so then over the course of about three years, with really being super conservative, we did pay off that debt and then went on to sort of save and invest.

We're going to talk about it later on in the context of like Dave Ramsey as our on-ramp to this, but we kind of went from that debt repayment to wealth building stage and then kind of got introduced to financial independence, personal finance, online space.

That happened for us probably in 2013. I first found total money makeover. So, yeah, are are kind of like personal finance journey started in 2010.

If that was kind of the Enlightenment and then there are like hardcore fye crowd stuff came in and two thousand thirteen and then we've had a big transition in two thousand eighteen where we were able to transition careers to be more aligned with our goals from time spent with family and a stress level standpoint. So I'm sure we'll get into all that. But that's it.

Other than that, I'm married to a terrific lady named Charity. And we have three children- Lucy, Josh, and Ben – would like me to give a shout out when I have the pleasure of the podcast interview. So thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

Discovering Dave Ramsey

Elle Martinez: There is a lot to unpack because I think so many families like you start off with debt and they pay it off and they get this feeling.

And I think that's a perfect word. Enlightenment about like, wait a minute, what we've been doing before isn't working. We're not happy, we're not getting the results we want. And then they discover, you know, whether it's financial freedom or independence, this new path.

So I kind of want to start back there. In particular, you mentioned Dave Ramsey, very popular, especially with like getting out of debt and his book, Total Money Makeover.

When I was reading this on your site, you were saying that it was a big book for you. What actually clicked when you were reading that?

Matt Miner: It was interesting. We had some cousins who are also good friends and super successful entrepreneurs who were actually five years younger than me, but they slipped me that book on a visit like, ‘you study finance and be curious what you think about this'.

It's kind of a classic ‘I'm interested in' Your kid gets you to do what I think might be good for you.

You know, I think what clicked just in reading that, you know, at first blush, I maybe found it simplistic and had that reaction.

Some people have like this guy's talking to somebody other than me. But as I thought more about it, it's like I didn't like where we were at and kind of the weight of the debt and just the debt overall sucks, you know, from the fact that we paid off the mortgage. Like, that's not even bad debt per se.

It's just like I don't want to go around. And the other thing that I think that I like about that book is just the. Sort of the motivation that it sets out and a vision, even if it's not all that clear. His points of the financial future. And so.

When I get the chance to speak with people about money, which is pretty often if it's sort of a motivation book about debt like I just don't know a better one than them, that I think it's a good place to start.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I remember reading that and I kind of felt the same way where when I was describing it to other people, I'm like, OK, that sounds really simple. But like when I was reading it and hearing the stories and dramatic results, people were paying off the debt.

It was motivating. I thought it was very powerful because it's more than just numbers.

You probably noticed that when you don't have that debt, it just feels different. You have more options before you got that book.

What were your opinions about money like? How were you guys juggling everything?

Matt Miner: Yeah. So I always had an interest in money, probably going back to my childhood. I used to back in the day have a paper out and I would sometimes use the iron to out the cash that I collected for my paper out. And I was like, I also never talked about that publicly either! So we're just coming out with all your goodies before it's out of any make or out to save our money plan was to earn more money and then to kind of like let the compounding of my investments bail me out at age 65. And subsequent to reading, so many make overbook. And then stumbling on to the 5 stuff, I really got intrigued by this idea of being able to radically accelerate that plan and then to disconnect it at the very least, kind of the day to day, month, month, week to week from how much salary you're bringing home at a given time. So that was kind of the previous plan. That's the new plan.

Elle Martinez: Ok. So I have a question. I was reading your site and I saw some references, Mr. Money Mustache and everything.

Were there any other people within the fi space that kind of spoke to you felt like this is my wheelhouse?

Matt Miner: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I'm eternally grateful to Phillip Taylor and for the work that he does in providing a forum for that community.

He has pivoted away from so much personal finance directly to serving the personal community online. He's in a big way.

But I think beyond that, you know, Jim, Jim Wang does a great job.

The Mad Fientist, has some really helpful content on his site.

Actually, I really my closest friend in this space who has a pretty neat thing going is Joshua Sheet's from Radical Personal Finance.

Elle Martinez: Oh Yeah.

Matt Miner: And had the pleasure to know him a little bit. And so those would be there's I know there's others. Those are the ones that come to mind.

Elle Martinez: Gotcha. Gotcha. And then I know some people because they'll see in the media certain stories are repeated over and over again. But I think the financial independence space. I mean, it's people that are trying to craft their own life. And so there's so many different paths and strategies. So with the two of you, how are you creating your your path? What does it look like for your family?

Matt Miner: Yeah. So what we did was post business school, had about nine years of corporate work and then have transitioned to something a lot more a lot more human scale subsidies to that. And during that time, we moved fast with the debt repayment and the same position. We were blessed to be earning pretty good pay. And to have had this. Sort of self-discovery. Yes. Before we'd had the chance to blow it all. And, you know, for the last year and a half, what we've really been focused on is kind of enjoying what we've built. So we've both lowered our savings rate and come off some money in order to do some things that we have particularly enjoyed as a family. And actually, I mentioned Joshua Sheets a moment ago, but it's my first opportunity to sort of visit on a podcast like this was in 2016 with him. And in that interview, I said, you know, if I could work two thirds of the time for half the pay, I would do it. And I'd like pretty well successfully executed that strategy like that. My work from probably 60 to 35, 40, which is still full time. But also like just came back from four weeks away this summer. And I'm able to do things that never would have been possible from a from a corporate job standpoint. So that's like the current path.

Elle Martinez: So is it investing? Well, I know it's investing to some degree. Is it like index funds or real estate? What are you guys kind of dabbling less?

Matt Miner: Ok. So in my notes in preparing for this, I broke this up into our F I path, which I guess I just covered. And then the strategy I'm taking. So I'll be arguing on the strategy for just a minute and then I'll get the nuts and bolts. Ok. So we are not waiting. This is our overall strategy. We are not waiting to be financially independent in order to enjoy some of the benefits of financial independence. And so especially for us, that takes the form of off time with family and trying really hard to challenge myself, not to think, oh, I'll do that when we're at 5, you know, instead ask like, how can we do this thing you say is important to us right now or how can we hack this goal or how can rent this goal, you know, or how can we achieve 80 percent of of this goal? And, you know, I have no idea how this will resonate with your audience, but I'll just talk about what I'm familiar with. There is a there's an eastern North Carolina Hunt Club that I have a friend who's a member. And it's like sixty thousand buy in. And that's dollars a year in dues. And like, that's more than I'm going to do right now. But sometimes I would like to be a part of that organization. But in the meanwhile, like I can go down there on their workdays and help them. And I have they're an awful lot, you know, and I can have public lands and I have a little place in Sanford that's six hundred dollars a year. So it's like, yeah, I want to do this other thing, but I don't need to wait until we've achieved our goals in order to do an awful lot of it. So that's just an example from our life. If the hunting thing's offensive, I'm sorry. Hopefully not. But hopefully you can and your listeners can maybe see parallels to how they can.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I got the concept. My uncle is down past Fayetteville. Yeah. He it he hunts so I don't know, maybe near the same area? But I love what you're saying because I think also for some families it is a turnoff when they look online like what the communities and they'll see people where they're so driven. And I understand like you want to reach that goal and you're excited and it's good to be passionate, but they're almost they traded one rat race for another. You know, where they're sacrificing this, especially when you have kids so young. Do you want to put in? I see some doing over time so they can lay more money like this, you know, and it's a trade. So I love how you're doing that. You're finding ways to kind of hack the goals a little bit faster. So it's obviously like you guys are having some really deep and good conversations as as a couple. How do you come up with your goals?

Matt Miner: As far as how we think about that as a couple and I know that that's a big focus of your podcast. I was excited to see that you and your husband are able to do monthly money dates. We also do money dates. We are not as diligent and regular as you are. We, I would say, do between 2 and 4 a year and we usually do them at lunch. And we will a lot of times plan that out in advance, of course, and we will combine both like an extended calendar review with the the money stuff. At this point we're kind of on the polar pant ante budget program. Should be another great voice in this community where we just kind of have the savings rates on track and then we just we don't we do not do monthly tracking of our budgeting. We just don't borrow money and we make sure that we're hitting the savings levels that we've set as goals. So that's how we manage the actual budget part. And then a lot of it for us as a family isn't thinking about how we're going to allocate our time more like how we're going to take the. The savings that we do have and then deploy them to support the goals. That we've said are important to us. So that's how we handle that.

Elle Martinez: So that's fantastic. And I love that you guys found the pace and a rhythm that works for you. So when it comes to like the nuts and bolts and with investing in some of your other finances, do you take the lead? Are you both like on board? How does that kind of break down with you?

Matt Miner: In our family, I'm the money nerd, to use Dave Ramsey's phrase, probably not surprising, but charity has always been the voice of thriftiness and conservativeness with money in our family. And so she's a great counterweight to my pie in the sky dreaming. Yeah, that's kind of, you know, so I'm I'm the spreadsheet guy. But charity brings huge value in terms of like asking her, is this really what we need to do?

Elle Martinez: Yes. So what is your kind of nuts and bolts strategy with like investing in and building that nest egg?

Matt Miner: Yeah. So for for us, you know, I think our goal overall for that would be to be in like 80/20 index fund mix of stocks and bonds for about half of the portfolio and then to have the other half in real estate. I've recently that looks right now is that half of that is our home. So we had a goal of thinking like we're the best tenants that we're ever going to have. So we're going to stop paying our own mortgage before we start buying investment properties. But now that we have done that, then I think what we will do is we will begin directing new savings or new long term savings, 50 50 between direct ownership of income producing real estate and that same age stock bond portfolio. So that's kind of the real simple investment mix that we see, you know, as far as how we think about priority of stuff pretty aligned with Dave Ramsey, unlike to have the emergency fund in place. And from there, we quickly go on to recommend health savings accounts, if that's appropriate, or that that's where we would focus next. Then we would say the four one K up to the match, certainly. And then Roth IRAs, whether done as a normal contribution or as a backdoor or Roth. We're huge fans of all of those places to stash cash.

Elle Martinez: Gotcha. So, I mean, you've done a fantastic job like taking your goals and then breaking it down and seeing like how can we move in that direction? So what would you say like in your home schooling, right?

Matt Miner: Yeah. I mean, another huge part of our strategy is definitely our children. So whenever you want to talk about that, we're all I'm all for it because we're we're big on that part of the plan as well.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, well, I do want to talk like. How do you balance that? How do you organize? Because there is a temptation, I would say, especially sometimes when you're earning high income, you get this pressure like with the kids. OK. Then you have to put them in the activities and then you got to do these clubs and yadda, yadda, yadda. And you almost feel like you're bombarded. And like this peer pressure to spend. But look, you've hacked your other goals. I'd love to see. Like, how are you hacking this and spending the time with the kids? And still, you know, homeschooling is not easy. I have a couple friends that are doing it. It is. I mean, it's fulfilling, but it is work.

Matt Miner: Yeah. And I think, you know, hats off particularly to Charity on this. She has definitely takes the lead from a school standpoint. You know, as far as that juggling of activities and demands on on money, I sometimes share with new parents like kids cost as much as you want them to. And I don't mean to be glib, but at the end of the day, if if families love one another and treat each other well and spend time together doing something other than watching TV and playing video games, like it's all probably going to be OK. You know, I got a text from my boys the other day that they had this is gonna sound impossibly nerdy and homes like they had. They had excavated clay, mud in the back yard and baked bricks and made kiln. And so it's like they'll just find things to do. We do some sports, so to be more practical. We generally limited it to one activity first season per child, and then we do things like community leagues or church leagues and travel baseball or. You know, extra lacrosse, extremely expensive sports. We're not aiming for athletic scholarships. Our goal in athletics is community fitness, enjoyment and skill building. It's not it's not to make them even necessarily competitive athletes, although we have one who isn't. So that's how that's worked out.

I think you bring up a great point, which is like what is the goal when you do these activities for the kids? And that's a very personal answer. But I think it's a great job of kind of stripping away unnecessary pressure that we could put on ourselves as parents, you know?

Matt Miner: Yeah. I mean, you're not going to break your kids as long as you're being loving parents to them.

Which Financial Independence Path is Right for Your Family?

Financial independence is a hot topic, but with so many different paths (FIRE, leanFI, FatFIRE, slowFI, etc), it can be difficult to figure out what's the best path for you. 

Today we dive into some of the most popular ‘flavors' of financial independence and weigh the pros and cons of them. We’ll also get into how you can begin to calculate your FI number! 

Is Financial Independence a Smart Path for Your Family? 

Be honest with me, what do you think of when you hear the term financial independence? 

Do you think of a certain number, maybe when you’d like to be retired by? Maybe travel on your own schedule not having to worry about a 9-5 again? 

Do you think of it as the ultimate security blanket – an amount you have tucked away in investments or some income stream where you don’t have to worry about the bills or maintaining a certain lifestyle? 

Do you see a family with very good income living a life where they’re depriving themselves of vacations, eating out, and having fun just to retire faster? 

Talk to different people and you’ll get different answers. 

What I'm curious about is how young families can take key principles from the financial independence space and use them to reach the goals that matter to them personally. 

Sure, maybe it’s retiring or maybe it’s making sure the essentials are taken care of so you can spend more time with your family. 

Two components to figuring out how it could work for you is know first off how much you need to be financially independent and what is the timeline you're looking for.  

In this episode, we’ll go into that. We’ll jump into:

  • The different paths to financial independence
  • How to begin figuring out how much you need to retire
  • Choose an FI path That fits Your family

Let’s get started!

Handy Resources for Families Looking at Financial Independence

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team.

They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more!

How Much Do We Need to Retire? 

One of the things I get to see writing about personal finance and my site are some of the questions people have about money. 

Over the years certain topics may come in, depending on if there’s a shift in the big picture like a recession or maybe it’s a certain time of year – summer where you get people asking about getting a good deal on a family vacation. 

And then there are topics that perennial – year in, year out different families with of different sizes, backgrounds, and incomes type into google to get an answer to a question that’s weighing on them. 

One of those questions is ‘How Much Do We Need to Retire’?

Now there are some solid back of the napkin calculators, but can you really use them for your family’s financial future? 

I decided to chat with Drew Snider who’s part of Coastal Credit Union's Wealth management team to see what families need to consider when figuring out how much they need to retire. 

More Than One Way to FI

Let’s define financial independence because even that gets mixed up with a related idea, FIRE.

Financial Independence: Financial is where you have enough money saved and invested that you can cover all of your expenses with.

FIRE: The difference with FIRE is there is a focus of leaving or retiring from your work. I’ve noticed that many in the community do point out how FI is the root, however, the RE is what’s the hook. 

  • LeanFIRE: You have enough stashed away to take care of your essential expenses.
  • FatFIRE: ”It's a level where you get to live your life at the same level as your highest-earning years, while not having to work a day job.” – Financial Samurai
  • SlowFI: As you move towards financial independence you make adjustments for more quality of life choices even if it slows you down towards your FI date. – The Fioneers
  • CoastFI: With CoastFI, you've reach a threshold where you have enough to retire at a traditional age. You can now use this ‘leverage' to align your lifestyle towards what you want during your FI years. We're at this point and love the options that have opened up for us.
  • Barista FI: With health expenses being a concern for many, I’ve seen a take on FI where you maintain a part-time job you enjoy for the insurance benefits. 

As you can probably guess from the podcast name Simplify & Enjoy, FatFIRE isn’t really a priority for us.

I recently came across an article online about one family in their thirties looking at financial independence

One sentence stuck out to me –  

Your “FIRE number” can be an age, date, or net-worth amount when you reach financial independence and no longer have to work if you don’t want to.

And I think that can be so helpful when you're deciding on your path – what do you consider to be your FI number?

Choose a FI Path That Fits Your Family

So I’ll let you in on a secret- when I was working out the site name, I was sure I didn’t want financial independence in it.

The reason is even though how we manage our finances qualify as taking a financially independent path, it’s not the end goal. It’s simply the tool. 

The principles of financial independence that I appreciate include: 

  • Define Your Essentials and Must-Haves 
  • Cut Out Noise and Status Symbol Spending
  • Pursuing More Options, Typically Fewer or No Debts
  • Work Optional (Type/Flexibility)

Next Week's Episode: Kids and Financial Independence

Speaking of aligning your money with who and what matters most to you, next week we’re seeing how kids fit in with financial independence. 

Matt Miner, a financial advisor and father, shares his take and some practical advice on designing and weaving more options when it comes to finances and advice. 

So if you haven’t already, make sure you’re subscribed. You don’t want to miss that episode. We’re on iTunes and wherever you get your podcast from! 

Our music today was from Lee Rosevere and Music for Makers. 

And thank you for your support!

If you have any questions or ideas for the show, please email me or join our free and private facebook group Thriving Families. We’re all about encouraging one another with our goals.

I hope you have a wonderful week, take care! 

Crafting Your Family’s Plan for Financial Independence

Today we’re showing you how to create a FI (financial independence) plan even while you’re raising your kids!

Financial Independence and Family

In this final episode for the season, I want to go back to a question I asked at the beginning – is it possible to become financially independent while raising kids? 

I had gone over some myths people have about the FI movement, including that you had to be high earners or that or that you need to be pinching pennies clipping coupons obsessively. 

Today I want to lay out some strategies and ideas on how you can create a path to financial independence that reflects what you value. 

Pace it so you’re also enjoying the journey. 

To do that though, you need a plan.

Which is why I’m happy Catherine Bryant is here. She’s a Financial Advisor at Coastal Wealth Management

She’s sharing some crucial things you need to consider when crafting a plan.  

I’m also going to share some takeaways I got from speaking with an early retiree here in the Triangle area awhile back that has been incredibly helpful for us on our journey. 

Through careful saving and planning, Justin and his wife managed to accumulate enough wealth to retire in their 30s, while raising three kids.

In this episode, we’ll look at:

  • big wins to focus on with your budget
  • Why your savings rate, not income matters more with becoming financially independent
  • ways you can start investing now

I don’t want you to put this off anymore. 

Let’s get started! 

Handy Tools to Start Your FI Journey

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family and look at pursuing financial independence, here are some resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team.

They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more!

Creating a Gameplan for Financial Independence with Kids

While financial independence is a conversation that comes up more and more as more stories are being featured, for many families it feels out of reach.

I think that's understandable because a lot of times the stories that are shown present a couple or a family that makes a pretty healthy income and then they drastically cut their spending and they're able to retire in a short amount of time.

There are families that do that within the community, that's the path they take and they're happy with it, but that's not the whole story.

When you dig into financial independence or financial freedom, and you're talking to families and couples that are creating a path that fits them, you see that there are so many different ways, different pieces that you can go about with this journey towards financial independence.

Why Your Savings Rate Matters

If you talk to them, whether they're high-income earners, whether they live in a big city or rural area or suburbs, there are few commonalities.

One of them is not so much focusing on your income. That definitely is a factor. Don't get me wrong. But they're going to talk to you about their savings rate. That is a huge thing.

How much of the income you have coming in is being saved and invested?

This matters because you need an income stream when you retire early or as that safety net become financially free.

Focus on the Big Wins With Savings

When you're optimizing your expenses, you have a decision to make. Where should you focus your attention?

Some people will tell you to skip the lattes and these little bits and pieces of your budget.

I do think that we have to examine like those money leaks. But if you are busy, if you were raising kids, you probably have your hands full already and you're looking for wins that will give you a significant push in the direction you want.

There are three major expenses that a lot of families, if they optimize or put them on the road to financial freedom and maybe independence.

The three areas are:

  • housing,
  • transportation, and
  • food

You may have noticed that this season we talked about two of those expenses in detail about housing and about eating well on a budget.

That's because I know personally for us those were the major expenses that we needed to nail down.

Keeping Housing Costs in Check

I've done dozens of interviews with early retirees or families that are on that path. And housing was a huge win for them to be able to have that high savings rate.

They needed to cut the big expenses. And when I talked to Justin from Root of Good years ago, who retired in his early thirties with that was also another huge win for their family.

Justin: We thought we were going to have kids pretty soon. So we went ahead and bought the house that we thought we would need to raise somewhere between one kid and six kids. We didn't know at the time how many kids we would want to have. So we end up having three kids and we're done.

We focused on buying a house that we knew we could afford at the time easily. And then knowing that, hey, you know, we can fix it up over time, we can we can do a little bit each year as our incomes grow, as we have more money coming in that we're going to we'll be able to afford to fix it up.

It's a work in progress. It's always going to be a work in progress. The house is getting close to 50 years old now,but it's really just the mortgage.

When we started out, it was four or five hundred dollars a month. It just wasn't a very large mortgage. It's the kind of thing where our mortgage payment ended up at twelve hundred dollars a month.

By the time it was twelve hundred per month, we were both earning a lot more than my sole salary when we first started out right out of college. So our household income was, you know, went from $48,000 to both – I was working and making a lot more – so we're making maybe $120,000 a year. So.

Twenty thousand dollar income is very doable, but that would have definitely been harder when we were fresh out of college.

Now, I realize that you might be listening and you already bought the house and you might be thinking, OK, well, we can't change that, but do this exercise.

What percentage of your gross pay and your take home pay is going to housing?

After looking at that and seeing that number, talk it over. Is there a way for you guys to significantly save, maybe move to a different neighborhood, maybe downsize or maybe moving somewhere else nearby that doesn't have an HOA that's eating up your housing expenses?

Now, this isn't going to happen overnight, but it's something to consider because if you want to go for this big win, you got to go for the big expenses.

Dump the Car Loans

When we were first married, this was definitely a burden on our tight budget was transportation; talking car loans.

For many families, it's the norm to go ahead and get a car loan. But when we paid off the loan, we decided as a family, we're going to change things up.

We were going to save a head for our cars and now we do buy them with cash.

It sounds crazy, but it's been fantastic. You can still find great deals on cars that will last for years.

Again, I know this is not an overnight decision to make, but this is something to talk about.

Is there way for you to downsize if you have to car loans to one or is there a way for you to start planning now?

Once that car is paid off, you start building a fund. So the next car that you get is with cash or a theory small car loan.

Become a Frugal Foodie

Finally, let's talk just a little bit about that third expense – food.

It's a necessity, obviously, but with a lot of families and three, guilty of this for a while, too.

It wasn't necessarily the groceries. It was those lunches out. It was those dinners on the way home because you were tired. And, yes, on top of that, you go out for dates or family nights and then it adds up.

It doesn't take much. But if you learn some foundational culinary skills, you can have some delicious meals at home for a fraction of the price of what you would pay at a restaurant.

When you do go out, you're going to be looking for those special experiences. So they mean more.

Justin: We cook almost all the meals at home. We just got done cooking part time tonight from scratch, but just saving a lot of money by not going out to eat, but still having a pretty crazy, amazing day meals at home just because we spent time learning how to cook.

So really, food, housing and transportation, those three things are the big ones for everyone's expenses. And keeping those three costs low goes a long way towards saving a lot of money.

So if you have a chance, please go back and listen to this episode's about how to be a frugal foodie and how to get a great deal when you're buying a house, because those are going to put you in a strong position.

Creating a Game Plan for Financial Independence

Just saving money isn't enough if you're trying to develop an income stream, why you retired, whether it's traditional retirement or early retirement.

You've got to have a plan and you've got to invest wisely, which is why Katherine suggests sitting down with a financial planner and crafting that blueprint.

One answer that I'll keep popping up is do a financial planner, because the financial plan basically will put it all together for you and it will basically tell you if you're going to run out of money. It's going to happen close to this year. There's no it's not linear.

It's an absolute. Yes, but if you stay on the same track that you're on, this is threw out the accumulation stage and the income stage, what you could plan on happening throughout retirement at all. It'll tell you whether you're gonna have a shortfall or whether you're in a good place.

Maybe you can do some estate or legacy planning. But it really gets down to your financial independence, comes from the knowledge that you're going to have about where you are financially today, what it's going to look like when you do retire and how do you transition to that income source.

Catherine Bryant: So a financial planner with you, you're going for a traditional or an early retirement, having those accounts like your for one K and your IRAs set up and where you're contributing as much as you can is a smart move.

If you are thinking of retiring early, you do need to have additional accounts set up and contributing towards.

So if your plan really is if the member is really looking to retire before 59 and a half, if they don't have a bucket of income producing resources, then they're going to have to create that themselves. And the best way to do that is to do it based on their risk tolerance and based on what their goals are. You know, me with a financial adviser, open a brokerage account and start actively contributing to that. You know, you can even contribute on a monthly basis.

Just have someone sweep in there each month so that as you're nearing that early retirement, you're going to have an idea of what money is going to be available to you. That's not going to be penalized or come out and create a tax that for you.

A lot of times we have clients that created a sleeve of dividend paying stocks. Yes. So they hold on to those or just take the dividend off of them. We meet with clients and they've been heritage or value of dividend paying stocks. So it just really for the people that are trying to plan to retire early.

Your point about not being able to access some of those retirement plans with restrictions on it, you know, saving outside of that, you can do it in a brokerage account and just make sure that everything is growing and working while you're still working.

Now we're not to get into specific financial and investing advice, because we each have unique circumstances.

It's really helpful to have a financial professional look over with you, not only your plans for investment, but are there any tax benefits that you can take advantage of.

I do, however, want to highlight something that Justin told me, because I've heard this from a lot of early retirees, which is building a portfolio that is diversified and that's simple to contribute towards and follow.

Justin: Yeah, I think you can probably summarize it one sentence by a low cost diversified set of investments from around the world. And you implement this, at least I do.

We're talking about Vanguard, Vanguard Mutual Funds or ETF s passive index funds that have very low costs, expense ratios under point two percent. In general,

I think if you pick two or three funds like a total market index in the US, total international index and a bond fund, those are those three funds. You can create an extremely powerful investment portfolio.

There's really just focusing on that passive investment, letting the market grow over time, take advantage of low costs, take advantage of tax efficiency and, you know, put in more money each year and let it grow over 10 or 20 years and you'll end up with a lot of money.

However, you create your plan for financial freedom and independence. Just please make sure that it reflects what you value, what matters most to you.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Music is by Lee Rosevere and Music for Makers.

Financial Independence with Kids: Figuring Out Your Path

Most people would love to become financially independent and have work be optional, but it is that realistic?

Today we’re looking at the real scoop about FIRE and whether it’s the path for you!

Financial Independence with Kids: Is That Really Possible?

One of the reasons I started Simplify and Enjoy is I felt like there wasn't enough discussion about financial independence and how that fits in when you have kids especially young ones.

I do believe that financial independence is really not about the money but about freedom.

But the reality is you have to have a plan to get you there.

What choices do we need to make as a family now to get us there?

Helping me to dig into this is Jonah Kaufman. He’s a financial advisor at Coastal Wealth Management. 

In this episode we’ll discuss: 

  • 5 big myths and misconceptions people have about financial independence
  • Two key numbers to keep an eye on for early retirement (and income is not one of them!)
  • How you two can create a FIRE plan that fits you

Hope you enjoy!

Handy Tools to Start Your FI Journey

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family and look at pursuing financial independence, here are some resources to check out:

FI Community

Too many to number, but here are just a few of my favorites!

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

If you want to be better prepared financially for retirement, please check out Coastal’s Retirement Planning options

Financial Independence

Before we get into the house and the process I want to talk a little bit about financial independence because you've probably seen the stories and you might have an idea of what it is.

Sometimes, though, I feel like what they highlight in the newspapers, podcasts, and online….. I mean it's great for a story it's great drama and I get why they pick it but I don't think it gets the whole spectrum of the movement.

And sometimes I feel like it discourages people from trying it out because they don't have similar circumstances to what's being highlighted.

When you have high-income families saving 70 percent of their income, first off- kudos. I think it's awesome they're keeping their spending in check.

I also think, however, you should highlight other stories where they have more modest incomes but they're saving a significant portion of it.

And think that's a good place to start with these FI myths…

Myth #1: You Need to Be a High Earner to Be FI

Truth: While income is a factor, it’s not the deciding one for FI. 

Listen if you’re a dual-income family with a healthy income, it’s typically going to be easier and faster for you to reach your goals. 

However, provided you’re not below a certain threshold (I'm just going to use $40k as a baseline for family's to take care of essentials and have some buffer), I do think it is possible to become financially independent with a more average income.


Because while income is a factor, it's not the main one when it comes to financial independence.

Two numbers to instead look at are:

  • Your Essential Expenses: How much money do you typically spend each year? What are your usual monthly expenses? 
  • Your Savings Rate: How much are you saving and investing each month?

When you're aware of both numbers you can then start on a plan to build up your savings rate and get you to FI faster.

Myth #2: FI is About Never Working Again

The second misconception I see is financial independence is about never working again.

The truth is the more I speak with people in the community different backgrounds the kind of thread that connects us all is financial independence is about designing your life around what matters to you.

And yes there is a big subset of financial independence called FIRE which is financial independence, retire early but financial independence itself is such a broad term and even within the community you're going to have different subsets.

Some that I've seen are:

  • Barista: where you've saved enough. So the only need to work a part-time job and maybe it's for like a little supplemental income for travel or a little extra expenses or maybe it's for the benefits like health insurance
  • Coast: you reach a certain threshold with your saving and you're on target for your goal but then you slow it down as a way in those years leading up to becoming financially independent to make it less stressful and you might switch careers and try different things
  • Lean: that's where you saved enough to take care of your basic expenses
  • FAT FI: If you have lean you have the other side. Sometimes they call it fat fire where the lifestyle you have it could be fully upgraded you want travel you like the nice things you save up a significant amount to get you there

By the way these aren't formal definitions. There's no official dictionary for this but these are just my general takes about what I see within the community.

I thought this is actually something encouraging especially for families because you can see that you can craft a path that fits you where you are now and where you want to go.

Myth #3: You Need to Be UberFrugal

Another idea about financial independence that actually might be a turn off to you and in other families is this idea that you need to be uber frugal.

You have to cut things down to the bone to be able to retire early.

That's not the case.

The truth is however with financial independence it is a mindset shift. You absolutely have to be more mindful of your money. That means you're going to make decisions that are different from other people.

Yes, there are uber frugal bloggers like Liz from Frugalwoods and Pete from Mr. Money Mustache that people are really familiar with.

You also have like Kevin from Financial Panther where they're not necessarily trying to be frugal for frugal sake.

They're being more conscious of how they're spending their money and how they're directing their time towards what matters to them.

Myth #4: You Can’t Become FI in an HCOL Area

And then finally there's this idea that you cannot become financially independent in a high cost of living area.

I'm not going to lie. The truth is it is going to be a challenge if you're going to be living in a bigger city.

But it is not impossible.

You have to have a strategy to offset and minimize that typically higher housing costs. But there are also advantages to living in a large metropolitan area.

Some bloggers that you might be interested in are Frugalwoods, they had started in Boston.

You have David from City Frugal.

You also have The Fioneers that are based in Boston and then also you have zero from Walking to Fire. She's in New York City.

These are areas where it is very expensive to live. But it doesn't necessarily have to be as expensive as you think it is.

I hope that just kind of talking about financial independence and the different flavors and paths that you can take.

I also want it to encourage you about looking into this a little bit more.

Finding a Path Towards Financial Independence While Raising Kids

Elle Martinez: Jonah thank you again for joining me. Especially talking about financial independence and investing.

We have a lot of people in our community that are curious about this. They just finished off paying their debts or very close where they see the light at the end of the tunnel and they're thinking about the next steps.

This idea that if we could retire early or have enough to take care of our essentials why don't we go for that? And that is a huge goal.

As a financial expert, How exactly would this work out?

Now the formula that's given on the web for financial independence is:

Annual Spending/ Safe Withdrawl Rate

Could you kind of break that down? What that would translate to for a couple of interested in this goal?

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? It’s provided by Lee Rosevere.

Easy Ways for Busy Families to Manage Their Money

Looking for easy ways to manage your budget? Learn the best tips that have helped busy families stay on top of their money!

Easy Ways to Manage Your Family Budget

I’ve been in the personal finance space for almost 10 years.

Besides running Couple Money and now Simplify and Enjoy I've written for other sites many times talking about family and finances.

And when people read the articles, listen to the podcast, or maybe a friend finds out what I do, many assume that my husband and I talk about money.

A lot.

But that's not the case for us.

Money is a tool that we use to reach our goals – whether it's deciding where to live, being able to work from home, having more time with the kids, and even saving up enough to become financially free or even independent.

All of these things require that we stay on top of our finances.

Whether it’s deciding where to live, being able to work from home, having more time with the kids, and saving up enough to become financially free or even independent – all of these require being wise with the money coming in. 

The big question we're personally tackling is – how can we work. towards becoming financially independent while raising our kids?

So if you’re parents looking to give your family more options to design a life that reflects what you love, Simplify and Enjoy is for you. 

If you a young family looking to get on this path of financial freedom or independence one of the biggest challenges that you probably have is finding a way to stay on top of your money while taking care of all the important things.

Today we're going to talk about:

  • different ways to manage your money
  • time-saving apps to make it easier to stay on top of your finances.
  • an automated system to make savings much easier.

Hope you enjoy!

Handy Tools to Stay on Top of Your Money

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are key resources to check out!

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

They have competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

What's Your Money System?

We're grateful that so far we've managed to pay off debts like the car loan and student loans which gives us more options to save and invest our money.

We've been able to explore options like working from home because we have this buffer.

A big part of the ‘how' is pursuing minimalism and financial independence.

As we've taken this journey as parents and as a couple we've also had to make some choices that may differ from what's typically shown in the media.

Yes, we're above average savers (wasn't always the case – another story for another time) but we've also pulled back at times because we want to enjoy the now with our little ones.

While financial independence is a goal we're trying to reach it is not the main goal.

Really this is about time.

Time for us to enjoy with our little ones while there's still little and then of course in the future.

So if we need to do a career change or we want to volunteer more or we just need to be there for one another we can.

And so when I tell people we are pursuing financial independence I kind of cringe a little bit because there's this idea of what we should be doing versus what we do.

I mean we have cut back on eating out but we still foodies we love going to restaurants occasionally and trying out different cuisines.

Travel is a part of our budget.

And while we've taken on some DIY projects and learn some skills around the house we're also completely comfortable calling in contractors or even splurging on some Tech. We know we'll use and enjoy.

We're trying to find this balance between raising our kids while being wise with our time and money.

So if you're parents looking to give your family more options looking to design a life that reflects more of what you love, Simplify and Enjoy is for you.

And I do believe that exploring different journeys and ideas can help all of us find a path that fits us and our circumstances.

Which is why I'm grateful that I have my buddy Brianna joining me.

So the funny thing is I've known Brianna for a few years and my girls and her daughter are buddies but we've hardly talked about money.

It's just never come up in our conversation. But after we started talking about the challenges of working from home we found out what each other did.

And I discovered that they're also trying to find that balance of staying on top of their money while raising their little one.

Brianna: My name is Briana. I am a busy wife and mom of one little girl. I'm 28.

Three years married.

So we're still kind of learning things [with finances] and get on the right track.

[Yeah] we are now a new homeowners. We just moved into our home last November.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? It's provided by Lee Rosevere.