10 Questions with It Pays Dividends

This is the 72nd 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.

Today we visit with Thias, an Excel-loving Wisconsinite who paid off $55,000 in student loan debt in 4-1/2 years in order to focus on financial independence.

His Pursuing Freedom interview series regularly interviews people in the middle of their financial independence journey to share the thoughts, processes and reasons behind their FI pursuits.

Thias, it’s all yours.


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
It Pays Dividends concentrates on the pursuit of financial freedom and obtaining a remarkable life. What does that all mean? To me, it comes down asking yourself one question:

What would your life look like if happiness dictated your actions instead of the need for a paycheck?

Your remarkable life is a life where you live the life you want to live, not the life someone else has chosen for you.  My blog includes the tips, habits, and systems that I discover and implement on my journey to my remarkable life.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
My goal? I want everyone to uncover what their remarkable life is and to help them achieve it through pursuing financial independence.  We hear this phrase so much (especially from personal finance bloggers), but our time really is our most valuable resource. Why would anyone want to spend a majority of their life doing something they hate just to support a lifestyle they can’t enjoy? This blog is going to change the mindset of every single person and get them on the path to greatness (Hey! You did say dream big!).

1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
If you asked me a year ago when I didn’t realize financial independence was a thing, I would have said I would like to retire around 55 if we were able to.  Now? Early retirement and financial independence has become one of the main focuses for me and my wife.  

Currently, we are aiming (and on track) to retire by 40-45 (about 10-15 years out).  If things go well over the coming years, we will be moving that number up as far as we are able to.

If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
I work as a Controller for a recycled paper manufacturer in Wisconsin.  In other words, I spend most days creating and updating spreadsheets in Excel.

When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?
I hope that I didn’t settle for living someone else’s life.  Instead, I want to know that I did everything I could to live a life that was important to me and that I spent time with people I cared about and activities that brought happiness to my life. I think that is all anyone can hope to achieve in their life.

What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
My favorite money tool out there is Digit. For people who aren’t aware of it, Digit links up to your checking account and analyzes your spending.  Using their algorithm, they will find small amounts of money that they will transfer and save automatically to a Digit savings account – it helps you save money without even thinking about it!

My favorite part about Digit is that it works through SMS so it opens up the possibilities of utilizing Digit in different ways.  Some of the main uses I use Digit for is my freedom fund (or FU fund as most people know it) and to actually save the money you save on purchases.  One quick text message and the money is transferred out of my checking account and the savings is locked in.

Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
We did not have money growing up. While I never felt that we were in trouble financially, I did feel tension caused by money.  To this day, I still don’t really know what things were like growing up for us money wise because I still can’t get my parent’s to open up about money. We are one of those families were the topic is taboo.  Even recently my dad semi-retired and I offered to help them through some of the financial planning and my offer was ignored because money isn’t something that we talked about.

It wasn’t all bad though.  Growing up this way helped me gain the desire to be on top of my financial life.  I plan to be more open with my daughter about money as she grows up so she has a better idea of how it works and why it is important to know about it. Money doesn’t need to be taboo.  I believe that if people would actually talk to one another about what they are doing with their money (both the good and the bad), all of us would be in a much better position financially.

What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
I am a big fan of Scottish Ales, especially a local one here in Northeast Wisconsin – the Stone Arch Scottish Ale.  I could probably drink that beer 100% of the time and wouldn’t get sick of it (which is kinda true since it is in my fridge probably about 90% of the time).

What is the best thing you’ve read lately?
I really enjoyed A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  It talks about ways to change your life by using elements of writing a good story.  Miller incorporates many of these elements into his own life to help make his life a story worth telling. It was a great read and really made me think about the story I was writing for my life.

What advice do you have for someone just starting to get their finances in order?
I have have two main pieces of advice.  The first is to begin tracking your expenses.  It can be as simple as a spreadsheet you write everything down in (check out my free transaction register) or you can utilize software such as YNAB, Mint or Personal Capital. It is really hard to get your finances in order if you don’t know how much you are spending and on what. A few months of tracking can really open your eyes to where your money is going and where you can make improvements.

The second piece of advice is to start. Sometimes we can get paralyzed by the sheer number of resources available.  Instead of learning 90% and starting, we try to learn 100% and never implement anything. Knowledge is incredibly important, but if you don’t start, you will never get your financial life in order.

HUGE thanks to Thias for sharing his views with us. You can connect with him on ItPaysDividends.com or on Twitter.

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7 Responses to 10 Questions with It Pays Dividends

  1. Jacq says:

    I love your second piece of advice! A friend in her early 20s talked with me last weekend about starting to save for retirement because she heard / knew it’s best to start when you’re young. 🙂

  2. Zero says:

    I like that you have realized the concept at a young age and are able to articulate the idea of “your remarkable life.” I interact with so many people that just don’t take the time to imagine what they could be because they are so dialed in on what they are. I read a sailing blog several years ago (don’t remember the author) that really stuck with me. The author’s point was that no one in the anchorage (parking lot for boats) ever asked him, “what do you do?” It just didn’t come up because it was, well… irrelevant. How cool is that?

    Why is it that many of us (me included) feel the need to define who we are in terms of what we do to make money. When you really think about it, isn’t that the most irrelevant (and boring) aspect of who we are?

  3. “Ultimately our lives are not defined by what we do but the lives we touch”. Your remarkable life point hits the nail on the head. If your paycheck defines you, you’ve already lost. Thankfully though in most cases it does not, so why do we settle for letting it? Work is but a tool to allow us to live our lives. Sure there might be a goal within your work, but that accomplishment is not work itself.

  4. Melissa says:

    “What would your life look like if happiness dictated your actions instead of the need for a paycheck?”- Awesome question. Thanks for sharing.
    Melissa recently posted…Reverse Mortgage: A Retirement ToolMy Profile

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