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.

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