10 Questions with ESI from ESI Money

This is the 73rd 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!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.

The tagline for ESI Money is ‘Three simple steps to wealth.’ ESI stands for Earn, Save, Invest. ESI invests in traditional vehicles such as real estate and the stock market, as well as newer investments such as P2P Lending. His net worth allowed him to leave a ill-fitting job with no worries.

ESI is now retired – the story of how that happened is fascinating, and he wrote it up in a 3-part series.

ESI, take it away.

 

ESI Money

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
ESI Money is a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). There’s a bit more to personal finance, of course, but if a person concentrates on these three areas, they will do quite well financially. As such I focus on the few topics that will get readers the most results. I’m a big fan of the pareto principle. 🙂

What makes the blog different/great is that it’s written by someone who is wealthy taking about what he’s done to amass a sizable net worth. I combine this knowledge with concise, practical, and proven tips. If I can do it, anyone can. But they can do it better as they can avoid the mistakes I made along the way.

I must say that my readers make the site great as well. Many are more accomplished than I am and have great comments on career management, investing, and all other facets of personal finance.

That’s the Cliff Notes version. For a more detailed explanation see What Makes ESI Money Different.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
I don’t focus on changing the world all at once, but changing life for one person at a time.

If I do this, then there will be an increasing number of people seeing positive results and that’s the main reason I’m blogging.

What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
My goals are almost all long-term. I just started blogging about a year ago and began seriously only a few months ago. Over the next two to three years I just want to write good content and have it impact people’s lives.

Eventually I’d like to get to the point where the blog delivers $10k-$20k per year in profit. Doing this will allow me to diversify my retirement income which is currently heavily weighted on real estate.

What post are you most proud of and why?
It’s hard to pick just one — even though I have just 100 posts. Here are a few that I think are special and why:

  • I Retired — I finally did it! After setting a magic number I felt I needed to retire, I actually did some new thinking about retirement and found I had enough income to fund my retirement, and even if that fell short my assets would last for decades if I needed to spend any of them.
  • Real Life Example of Saving a Bundle on a New Car Purchase — I LOVE practical tips and this is a great one. It details my results with a method I have for purchasing new cars. I’ve used it to buy several cars over the past two decades and it’s always gotten me a much better deal than I’ve seen anywhere else. This post gives all the details on the latest purchase.
  • How to Manage Your Career to Make Millions More — One key to financial independence is having a good income — and the stronger, the better. For many people, this means making the most out of their careers. This post gives seven steps anyone can take to grow their careers. And when you do the math, just a simple 1% difference can make you an extra million dollars.
  • Moderate and Selective Frugality — The second key to financial independence is keeping your spending under control. But you don’t have to be so frugal that you hate life. You simply need to be selectively frugal and keep other expenditures at moderate levels.
  • Financial Details of My Real Estate Investments — I like to share the details of my life and this post is a good example. It lists details on my three properties (14 total units), why I bought them, what happened, and my returns. Lots of details and insights in this one.

Do you enjoy writing?
Some days I enjoy writing. Some days it’s painful. 🙂

For anyone who has ever written regularly, you know the joy of sharing your thoughts and having someone’s life impacted positively. It’s an awesome feeling!

And you also know the days when no ideas are coming and every word is a struggle.

In the end I would probably say that I don’t like writing but I like having written.

1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
I started thinking about early retirement about 15 years ago. That’s when I really focused on saving and investing as much as I could.

I also set a goal for myself to live off the earnings of my assets — not spending any of the principal. I thought to do that that I would need $4 million or so.

But as noted above, I re-ran the numbers over the past several months and decided I didn’t need that much, that I could actually cover my living expenses now.

So at the beginning of August, I did it! I retired!

So far so good. I haven’t gotten bored or driven my wife crazy yet. I’m giving my readers regular updates on how it’s going and so far posted my 30-day update.

If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
Uh, staying home and having fun? 🙂

I’m actually starting to figure out what my retirement will look like. Like any big issue in life (death, divorce, firing), I’ve decided not to make any big decisions for the first six months or so. I’m just letting life happen at this point, but will someday have a more developed plan.

Will I ever go back to work (part-time)? Will I volunteer my time? Will I start a new business? Will I just travel and have a blast?

Time will tell.

What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
I started using Quicken in 1994 and now have 22 years of income and spending tracked to the penny. I use it to record expenses, track investments, and make decisions. It’s the one tool I’ve used for so many years and I’d be lost without it.

Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
I did not grow up with money.

My parents were divorced when I was in third grade. I lived with my mom who had no skills or formal education. She supported us by taking minimum wage jobs for years until she met and married my step dad. At that point we moved from lower-middle-class to a notch above that — but probably not middle class. So needless to say we weren’t wealthy. We did improve over the years, but that took time.

One thing my upbringing did was that it showed me I didn’t want to be poor. So I poured myself into school and did well. I went to college and graduate school (MBA), then built my career to eventually become the president of a $100 million company. My upbringing gave me the drive I needed to do well financially and ultimately retire early.

We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?
Chess of course (have you seen my logo?)! I even wrote a post about how chess and finances are similar in many ways.

Other than that we play Risk (shades of my high school days), Settlers of Catan, Aggravation (a family favorite I used to play with my mom and dad), and Monopoly (my daughter’s favorite.

What is the best thing you’ve read lately?
I recently read The Miracle Morning, a book about how you can change your life by getting up earlier (like an hour earlier) and do the important things many people often don’t find time to get to. Doing this can have an impact on your finances, and that’s why I wrote Can Getting Up Early Make You Wealthy?

As I’m sorting out my retirement schedule, I’m working on what my miracle morning looks like. As of now I still get up at 6 am every day, workout, and get a lot done early in the day. This gives me flexibility in the second half of the day to either press on or to have fun.

What do you do for exercise?
I’ve been through several phases of exercise.

Ten years ago I was an avid cyclist. I used to ride 2,000 to 3,000 miles every summer and did so for five years.

But being bent over so dramatically started to aggravate a back issue I had lived with for years. So I gave up cycling and began swimming. I would swim a mile a day for five days a week. I did that for six years.

Then I moved to Colorado and had a free session with a trainer. That led me to hire him and ultimately reduce my body fat from 28% to 16% (and still going down). I’ve done that by doing cardio three times a week and lifting weights three times a week. I gave all the details in Update on My Fitness Efforts.

As I end this interview, I’d like to say a big thank you to Mr. 1500 for having me here. He’s been an inspiration to me as he has for many others and I appreciate his generosity in having me here.

Thanks Mr. ESI! I hope you look me up if your journeys ever take you to the north in our fine state.

Make sure you connect with Mr. ESI at ESIMoney.com.

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7 Responses to 10 Questions with ESI from ESI Money

  1. I really identified with your comment I don’t like to write I like having written”. I really enjoy engaging in discussions around posts and sharing ideas,, but coming up with the next post can suck. Are there any steps you take to clear writers block?

    • ESI Money says:

      I get most of my ideas simply from my life — something I’m doing, an interaction with my kids, a comment from a friend, a podcast I listen to, something I read, etc. (I do consume a lot of material and that helps spur thoughts).

      As ideas come from these, I put them in a spreadsheet for later review. I list the potential post title/topic as well as a link to the article and/or note that caused the thought. Then when I need an idea, I go back to my list and there are several there.

      Many are uninteresting upon review, but there are always enough to provide an idea or two I want to write about.

      I’ve been doing this for a year now and have about 75 ideas on my current list.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Great interview, ESI. I’ve really enjoyed following your blog over the last few months. You had quite a journey toward FIRE and you’re a wealth of information. Keep up the great work.

  3. I only recently found ESI and am happy to have found it. Like I have mentioned to you over email and on your blog, I am drawn to your blog, because I can relate so well to your own journey…as I am on the same path.

    From the interview the quote that stood out to me was:

    “In the end I would probably say that I don’t like writing but I like having written.”

    It’s kind of like working out…I always tell people to just do it, I don’t know anyone that ever regretted a completed workout.

    Writing can definitely feel the same.

    I also have a few more posts to check out that you linked to in the interview. Looking forward to reading more of your content over the coming weeks, months, and years.

    Cheers,

    Dom

  4. Very nice interview. I haven’t stopped by ESI’s website before but I definitely will now. Like Full time finance, I relate with your comments about writing. Nothing is better than writing when you are inspired and feel like you have a great story/message to share. Conversely, the same feeling in the other direction is terrible. Looking forward to reading your story and following your journey through retirement.

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

  5. Somehow missed this earlier. Great interview ESI Money! I am a silent lurker on your blog and enjoy your sensible writing. Thanks Mr. 1500 for this fine service you are doing to fellow bloggers.

  6. Pingback: Star Money Articles for the Week of December 19 - Increase Your Net Income

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