10 Questions with Financially Alert

Today is the 47th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Late last year, my family and I spent some time in Southern California which also is the home of Michael from Financially Alert. I took the opportunity to meet Michael on the rooftop deck of a microbrewery right next to the Pacific Ocean:

beer + ocean views + great conversation = Perfect Afternoon

Michael is an inspiration because he has crossed over the threshold to FI and retired. How cool is that? So many of us write about it, but few of us have taken the leap. Way to go Michael! Keep kicking ass in life!

Any maybe most importantly, Michael brought me delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies. That will take you a long way with me. A very long way.


Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
The dream for my blog is to help as many people as I can to find financial freedom as quickly as possible.

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 6.30.38 AMI define financial freedom more as a mindset, rather than a number. Being financially free simply means you no longer worry about money as a necessity, and have the ability to actively pursue work that you love.

Financially Alert is my site where I share openly my own personal journey to financial freedom at the age of 29. I also am documenting my journey to financial independence and actively pursuing a net worth goal of $10M. It is my sincere hope that this full transparency helps to inspire you to take action towards your own goals. If I can do it, anyone can!

My mission is to help you to appreciate the present, celebrate your progress (large or small), and embrace challenge and adventure. The path to financial freedom is one sought often, but frequently travelled. I’d like to be your guide along the way and help you maximize your true potential.

What post are you most proud of and why?
I am a huge fan of Tony Robbins’ work and the tools that he’s developed in the area of personal development and peak performance.

When I recently attended a couple of his seminars, I wrote about my experience. *Warning, it’s a bit long, but I like this one because it’s written 100% from my heart.

Do you enjoy writing?
I definitely love to write! I’ve been keeping a journal of some sort ever since 1992. Writing is a great way to communicate to others, and with yourself. It’s always fun to go back and see how I used to think along different points in my life. I think it’s also helped me to maintain a strong sense of gratitude.

1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
Early retirement was my dream ever since I was a little kid. Kind of funny considering I’d never worked a day in my life yet, but it was my goal!

After college, I wasn’t sure what to do with my Economics degree, so I pivoted 180 degrees into I.T. From there I was able to start my own company with a few friends and ran that for a little over a decade before selling it.

During that time I made a conscious effort to save a large percentage of my income, purchased real estate, and eventually found myself a millionaire by the age of 29. At age 36 I left the workforce to become an early retiree… woo hoo!

It’s been a couple years now since the transition and I love staying home with my kids on a daily basis. However, I also realized that I needed to start something else, and that’s how Financially Alert was born!

If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
I am also working on building a personal development and finance coaching business to help others identify and work towards financial freedom.

What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
I like using a combination of personal capital in conjunction with my own excel spreadsheet. If you’d like details, you can find the link here: http://www.financiallyalert.com/how-to-budget-like-a-badass-the-easy-way-part-1/

How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
I try not to judge other peoples’ views even if I don’t agree with them. I believe that most people are doing the best they can given the current resources they have. If they agree to be coached by me, I will challenge them to dig internally to understand why they spend money as they do (or don’t). From there we can explore different ways to make changes.

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

Way to go Michael for being transparent! Can I borrow some money? Just kidding, Maybe

Way to go Michael for being transparent! Can I borrow some money? Just kidding, Maybe…

I was lucky. I had one parent that loved to save and be frugal, while the other one was “spendy” and free loving. So, I got to learn the pros and cons of each perspective and have tried to incorporate the good elements of both into my life. This also gives me the ability to empathize with my clients on either side.

I never had to worry where my next meal would come from, but I also felt a lack of money at times (even though we may have had it – unbeknownst to me). Ultimately, I’m glad that I did not grow up with a lot of excess because it fueled my desire to have more, and taught me to really go out and become resourceful as an entrepreneur.

Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?
My Dad was a CPA and an investor in a couple small/medium sized businesses. He really taught me the value of hard work and always emphasized the power of businesses.

What do you do for exercise?
The bulk of my exercise comes from chasing around my two kids at home, dancing around to silly kid songs, and an occasional walk to the park… yes, that’s the day in the life of a stay-at- home Dad!

However, this year I’d actually like to take some more time for myself to exercise. I actually enjoy tennis, basketball, fishing, and golf. Since I didn’t get much of these activities in last year (well, save fishing), I’m making it a point to change that this year. In fact, I’ll be joining a tennis class this coming month!

Thanks so much, Michael, for sharing with us. Keep up with him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at www.financiallyalert.com.

Chocolate chip cookies in paradise. Does life get better? Thanks again Michael!

Chocolate chip cookies in paradise. Does life get better? Thanks again Michael!

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26 Responses to 10 Questions with Financially Alert

  1. Thanks for the interview, Mr. 1500. 🙂

    Glad to see you had a good trip out to Omaha and still ran the race (despite the IT band)… impressive!
    Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  2. Hi Michael, you seem to have continued working for several years after having saved enough money to retire. (and a big well done for becoming a millionaire at 29 – that’s one hell of an achievement!) What finally gave you the impetus to take the plunge and hand in your resignation?
    mrssmellingfreedom recently posted…Preparing your mortgage for emergenciesMy Profile

    • Excellent question, MSF! There were multiple factors that went into the decision to delay early retirement. Although I had hit the double comma club at 29, a lot of that was tied up in real estate and business equity. So, it wasn’t really money that I could easily spend (or wanted to). In fact, if you look at my NW graph you’ll see that the amounts fluctuate from year to year given the movement in the markets.

      But, most importantly, I wasn’t ready to sell the business at that point. We were having a good run at that point and didn’t have the urge to exit the business at the point. Years later I felt the business was getting stagnant and we were approached by a couple different larger companies with offers for our company. So, we made the decision to sell at that point, with the option to continue with the new company (they wanted us to stay to maintain client relationships). After a year a half though, it was rather apparent that our cultures were completely disjointed. So, we amicably separated and I was able to negotiate a healthy severance upon my exit. I was free! Boy is life different now, but in a good way. 🙂

      My life’s work at this point is to help others find financial freedom earlier than later. And, although I did have business I sold, it’s quite possible for anyone to achieve financial freedom with a modest income and the proper strategy.
      Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

      • There are many parallels between your story and mine. At this point I am working with the larger company that acquired my company. I am totally committed to making sure the transition is successful and the synergies realised. Not quite sure what the future holds so it’s encouraging to follow your blog and your story as it evolves 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
        mrssmellingfreedom recently posted…After selling my business – A wild rollercoaster ride!My Profile

  3. Great getting to read more of your story Michael, and awesome work is building up the Networth thus far. Hope all is well, and will be looking forward to following the coaching business as it grows!
    Dr.J @ MedSchool Financial recently posted…Before You Buy a Home or Sign a Lease, Consider These CostsMy Profile

  4. Michael – Liked your blog and adding it to my feedly feed 🙂 Looking forward to follow your journey!

    Mr 1500 – Thanks for introducing me to Michael’s blog !

  5. Believe Fire says:

    Hi Michael, thanks for sharing about yourself and your blog. We look forward to reading more about the journey you took to financial independence.

    Did you have a planned timeline to sell your business or did you just take an opportunity to move on for one reason or another? It must have been hard for you to sell a business you started and spent more than a decade with.

    Believe Fire recently posted…5 Reasons Why Cuenca May Not Be the Ideal Retirement Destination for YouMy Profile

    • J&D, good question!

      I definitely had mixed feelings about selling the business. Some would probably say I was crazy for letting such a “good thing” go, but I knew in my gut when it was time to go…. I wasn’t growing any longer as an individual and contributing in a meaningful way like I feel I destined to do. (Growth and happiness go hand-in-hand.)

      Although we never had a specific timeline to sell the business, I always worked hard to ensure our business was an asset that could be sold. This was done primarily by ensuring a lot of recurring revenue contracts with clients.
      Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  6. Hi Michael, congrats on reaching FI and retiring, and now starting to do more of what you love in coaching others! That’s quite impressive! I look forward to checking out your blog more. Thanks for sharing.

    The Green Swan

  7. Awesome! I will definitely check out Financially Alert.

    Millionaire status by 29 is incredible – congratulations!
    Elle @ New Graduate Finance recently posted…Real-Life Horrible BossesMy Profile

  8. Thanks, Elle. Looks like you’re making some healthy NW progress already in 2016… nice work!!
    Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  9. Michael, I was curious how you started your coaching business. Is this mainly a word of mouth driven service? Great work on your blog and your real estate experiences. I look forward to reading more about your financial strategies.
    Smart Money MD recently posted…The Daily life of a Moh’s surgeonMy Profile

    • SMMD, I just started the coaching business recently and intend on growing it with the blog. For now my I’m just taking clients part time because the majority of my time is spent with my kids currently. However, once they’re off in school, I’d like to have a little business that I can work occasionally while helping others. I also intend on building more specific courses and classes into the blog at some point. Thanks for reading and great job building your site for those in medicine!
      Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  10. ZJ Thorne says:

    This is an incredible story. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m glad you were able to get yourself into a position to choose staying home with your happiness.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 4 – first milestoneMy Profile

  11. Thanks, ZJ! Well wishes for you on your journey towards financial freedom.
    Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…Operation DeclutterMy Profile

  12. Great Interview Michael and Mr. 1500.

    It’s interesting learning about other bloggers – I never knew Michael owned a business before the Financially Alert blog.

    Keep up the great work both of you!
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes recently posted…Tools For TemptationMy Profile

  13. That’s great Michael was able to view his parents different financial personalities as an opportunity to learn about both. And that they passed on some financial wisdom. As a stay at home mom, I agree that chasing two little kids, holding our own dance parties, and walking and biking to the playground give me plenty of exercise! That’s awesome he’s able to be home with his little ones.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…A Brief History of WorkMy Profile

  14. I love hearing more about the background of people. I’ve been able to work from home for almost 10 years (both for other companies and for myself). It is great to be around seeing the kids grow up and participating in their lives.

    Thanks for sharing.

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