10 Questions with Design Independence

This is the 79th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” soon (one more to go!).

Today’s answers from Matt Miner over at Design Independence. 10 Questions is almost over, so I’m going to shut my mouth and turn it right over to the guest. Take it away Matt!

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.

I know from personal experience that many high earners (doctors, lawyers, and fancy-pants MBAs) have always focused on growing their incomes, and not their net worth.  Also, many of the mainstream financial pundits are focused on serving the broad middle, and that advice often doesn’t resonate with this crowd, even when they could benefit from it.  High income earners feel like advice directed to folks earning middle incomes is not for people like them.

These big earners have two huge risks to their finances.  First, they may earn an absolute fortune throughout their lives while saving and investing very little of it.  Second and more subtly, they tie themselves to very competitive, stressful work for way too long, and they don’t create a path to exit, when, from the FI community’s perspective, they easily could.  For any of these high-income paths, you lock in at a very young age without knowing how you’ll feel about your vocation in your thirties, forties, or fifties.

On the other hand, if high-earners can catch the vision, they can break free and do a ton of good in the world with their wealth.

Design Independence is totally focused on addressing these challenges.  My early posts begin at the beginning, trying to help people as they’re considering school, while they’re in school, and immediately after school.  I write a bunch about business school because that’s my particular experience, but the topics are highly generalize-able.  I write about other personal finance, business, and life topics too.

What post are you most proud of and why?

I have three posts I’m most proud of so far.  First, I have a post reflecting on my Dad’s unexpected death in 2013 that addresses the issue of why money matters in our lives.  Why something matters is a good place to begin.

Second, I recently reviewed one of my favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door.  I’d always wanted to back-test Dr. Stanley’s wealth equation, and so I took time to do a little research and analysis and published it as a review of this terrific book.

Third, I’m almost done with a lengthy series dissecting the business school process in particular and grad school / professional school process in general.  I had the privilege of sharing an interview with Joshua Sheats over at Radical Personal Finance that gives a great introduction to this whole series, and my motivation for tackling this project.

1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?

I love 1500 Days specificity and clarity in setting your early retirement goal.  And, no surprise, you hit that mark.  I am so excited for you guys.  I even have a ripped-off 1500 days calendar amongst my nerdy budget spreadsheets.

Design Independence is about achieving financial independence so you can do what you want, when you want, and with the people you most enjoy.  I love the challenge of improving both businesses and personal finance, and I love to work with great people.   My vision is not sitting on a beach in a hammock all the time…just whenever I want to!  Design Independence seeks to keep people from letting a vast fortune of income slip through their fingers over the course of a working life.  With wealth you can do some really fun stuff, for our own families, our communities, and maybe even the world.

When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?

Obviously I could write a book on this, but I’m gonna go for short and punchy: When I look back on my life at 90, I want to have served well in my family, my community, my church, and my business.  I want to have taken time for, and been kind to people.  If I do those things well, I’m not concerned about what anyone else thinks.

How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?

I try to persuade them about the glories of frugality and creating flexibility in their lives from the get-go.  Particularly when I have the chance to interact with high school and college students, I love to show the path to FI very early, if they’ll put the foundation in place sooner rather than later.  Conversely I highlight the perils of debt in general, and ill-advised or excessive student loans in particular.

I caught this vision dimly around age 31 and more clearly around age 33.  Today I’m 37.  I’d give a lot to take this knowledge back to my 18 year old self.  No doubt that’s a future blog post.  If you want to eat a picnic in the shade, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The second best time is right now.

Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?

Like many people, I grew up middle class.  My parents did a solid job with their finances through frugality and family business ownership.  I did not grow up knowing a lot about investing or the difference between wealth and income.  I didn’t really get the concept of savings rates (which are the key to everything at any income level) until I started consuming content on 1500 Days, JLCollinsNH, and Mr. Money Mustache.

Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?

The biggest gift my parents gave me about money was a work ethic, an outlook on life in which you do what you say, and a strong desire to serve others through my work.  I had the right philosophy to be skilled with money, but lacked the strategy and tactics to follow through.  It may have been because I wasn’t listening though!!

We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?

We love Settlers of Catan and I love Risk.  We also love a partners-version of Dutch Blitz called Nerts.  For getting spouses riled up with each other, it’s our go-to game.  It is, however, absolutely essential that you clear the drinks off the table before you start.  Please let us know when you can join us in Raleigh for supper, delicious beer, and to play games.

What do you do for exercise?

I run, and do pushups and situps.  I don’t post bare-chested photos of me on my blog, with or without Mexican wrestling masks!  I recently decided that the entry fees for my preferred half-marathon are too high, so I’m organizing my own in Umstead Park here in Raleigh for May 2017.  You’re welcome for that event too.

What is the best thing you’ve read lately?

Books and blogs are so important for me from a continuous learning and development perspective.  Right now I am reading two that I love and would be a great for anyone in the FI world.  The first is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I am consuming this one via Audible.  The second is called The Referral of a Lifetime, by Tim Templeton about serving others first, and growing your business as a result.

Thanks Matt for your answers today! Perhaps some day, we’ll meet up for an epic game of Risk?

And Readers, go over to Design Independence and say “Hi!” to Matt!

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15 Responses to 10 Questions with Design Independence

  1. Thanks for sharing Matt!!! I love Settlers of Cataan and love Dutch Blitz so I will definitely need to check out Nerts. I’ll be jumping over and checking our your site later on day 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Week 1 of the 28 Day Network ChallengeMy Profile

  2. The middle does seem to be an underserved market whether it be government programs, company’s selling things, or as you pointed out advice. That middle is so large and I’ll defined I suspect that’s the reason they are targeted less. They have less in common.

  3. Thanks for sharing Matt. I’ve had “the happiness project” on my radar for some time and will look to move it up on the list of books I want to read.
    Freedom 40 Plan recently posted…Monthly Net Worth Update – January 2017 – $1,307,146My Profile

  4. Thanks for sharing, Matt.

    I’m a big fan of Settlers of Catan and love to play it often. Risk is also pretty cool, but I’m not that good at all as my territories always get conquered really quick because I spread my army too thin.

  5. Just loaded your blog into my Feedly, so thanks for sharing your story over here on 1500days.com

    I am interested to dive into your series on B-school. I got my undergrad in Finance and have flipped back and forth as to whether I want to get my MBA and if it is even necessary. I am 30 and have recently made it into the C-Suite, so I am not sure how valuable it will be to me…as before this, this was something I planned to pursue to increase my probability of making the C-Suite.

    Anyways, looking forward to checking out your blog and this series in particular.
    Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…Using Life Savings To Save A Life – A Financial Decision Made From The HeartMy Profile

    • Matt Miner says:

      Hey Gen Y finance – thanks for your thoughts and your interest in the blog. Feel free to reach out through my contact form if you’re interested to discuss B-School. I did a pretty comprehensive podcast interview on the topic at one of my favorite shows, Radical Personal Finance. It’s episode 377. Have a great day!

  6. Steven says:

    Interesting. I would love to learn more about how to handle question 5. I sometimes have to bite my tongue in order not to comment or advice further on finances. It’s hard to keep a balance between having a good intention and coming of as weird and intrusive. Discussions about money are so hard, yet so important.

    • Matt Miner says:

      Hi Steven – in order to persuade anyone, you generally have to have permission/ an invitation to speak to them on such an important and personal topic. That generally comes due to having a good relationship. On the other hand, people seeking web content on personal finance are generally already open minded to learning, so you could just start a PF blog…

  7. Matt Miner says:

    Hey Mr and Mrs 1500 – it’s been great to hear from and interact with your readers. Thank you again for the opportunity to share this guest post. I still credit the praying chicken-wing dinosaur! I’d love to share a game of Risk anytime. Meanwhile, keep up the great work. I’m excited for the next chapter in your lives.

  8. Enjoyed reading this interview, Matt. You sound like the kind of guy I could have a nice beer or wine (or an ‘energy’ drink) with. Another North Carolinian to meet, after the Groovy family invited me to visit. Will check out your blog. Hope to have you as well on my website.
    Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) recently posted…Dividend Investing vs. Indexing – Part 4My Profile

    • Matt Miner says:

      Hey TFR – Would be super to connect here in NC. I’m not hard to find! I likewise enjoyed your interview with 1500 Days and look forward to getting to know you better. It looks like you’re a little further on your blogging journey than I am – I’m sure I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the comment.

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