10 Questions with The Green Swan

Today is the 56th 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.

This week, we hear from The Green Swan (Hey, that would make a great superhero!) and peek into his ideas on money, frugality, and investing. He is on track to retire in his late 30s-early 40s, and believes that if you work harder and work smarter, you can retire early and find your beach.


Thanks 1500 Days for giving me an opportunity to be interviewed on your site! And also for encouraging me to link many of my posts on The Green Swan which I took full advantage of. Enjoy the interview!

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

The Green Swan is a personal finance blog and a way of life with Three Key Principles: (1) making money and working harder and smarter to maximize earnings potential, (2) tracking and budgeting expenses, living within your means and finding ways to reduce spending without sacrificing quality of life, and (3) investing and putting your money to work for you. Sounds simple right? Well, no reason personal finance has to be overcomplicated!

A couple things make my blog great. First, one of the major themes you’ll see in reading my blog is unique ways to reduce your cost of living without sacrificing. For example, I posted a series of articles on my experience going solar (first post titled Solar is Sexy) and how it will pay off significantly in just a few years.

Saving with Solar: Solar is Sexy

Secondly, I have a broad background in the healthcare industry which has given me insights and ideas into how to manage personal healthcare expenses which I will touch on regularly in my blog posts. You may have recently seen my guest post on Financial Samurai on why healthcare costs are so expensive.

How did I come up with “The Green Swan”?

The Green Swan is the name I coined for my style and approach toward personal finance. Many of you may have heard of a black swan before, which is a metaphor to describe a surprise event with a major effect, e.g. the 2008 economic collapse that resulted in significant financial destruction. This idea was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Talib in his book “The Black Swan”.

Alternatively, The Green Swan is a metaphor coined to describe a deliberate approach to managing and investing money with a major effect: wealth accumulation, financial independence and early retirement.

If you aren’t already, it’s time to follow The Green Swan!

What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?

I have been ingrained in personal finance for the last decade plus. I’ve always found personal finance interesting, I’ve constantly read books and articles on the topic, and have maintained a tight grasp (or obsession) with my own personal finances…just ask my wife, Lucy!

With this background and interest, I created my blog in order to be a bigger part of the discussion and more deeply involved. A related goal of mine is to help others in their pursuit of understanding personal finance topics, improve their financial position, and get on the track toward financial independence. In the short history of The Green Swan, it has been very rewarding to know that I’ve helped make an impact with a few folks.

I don’t have any grand aspirations or goals for the blog in the long term. I expect to always be interested in personal finance so I plan to keep the blog up and running to document and follow my path toward early retirement and throughout various other personal finance milestones which I would expect to be insightful for others as they encounter similar situations in life. A recent personal finance milestone I shared is how my siblings and I bought a small industrial company which I’ve given the pseudonym The Green Condor. Earlier this week I gave my first update on The Green Condor. The deal is actually closing next week at which point I’ll officially be a small business owner and entrepreneur!

The Green Condor

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

I definitely have early retirement dreams! It couldn’t come fast enough. For me it is a delicate balance between making sure retirement is financially secure and stable as well as retiring young enough to enjoy life and my children as they grow up.

While I am still on the path toward financial independence (FI), I hit a big milestone earlier in the year having saved over $1 million in ten years. I expect to hit FI in the next 4-5 years (by age 35). I tend to error on the side of being overly conservative with my estimates though and will likely work a bit longer to ensure a stable and long-lived retirement. I recently wrote an article on what motivates me to keep working titled What Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions Have in Common. I’ll see how long I can put up working in “Corporate America”, but my wife and I currently plan to retire by age 40.

Slackers, Vacations, Storms and Mansions

If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?

Blogging certainly isn’t my full time gig, but having just recently started my blog it has sort of become my full time gig! No joke, as other bloggers know there is a lot of work involved. On top of launching the blog, I’ve also recently launched my Green Swan eBook which more fully details The Green Swan lifestyle, my approach to personal finance, and how I was able to grow my net worth and join the million dollar club.

But my other job is working as a banker, specifically banking large healthcare corporations. It has been a great job and career for me so far given I like working in finance and I find the healthcare industry fascinating. Especially the last 6+ years since Obamacare was passed into law, there has been a lot going on in healthcare!

My wife also works full time and we have begun to raise a family. We have a two year old boy and at times this also seems like a full time gig! But raising the little one together with my wife has been great and has brought some joyous experiences.

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

Very tough question to reflect on, but the most important things to me are family and friends. I hope to be a good husband, father, brother, son, and friend. If I can look back on life at age 90 and feel good about that, then I’ll be happy.

Once we hit early retirement, we hope to begin traveling much more and showing our children the world. This is what I most look forward to about early retirement.

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

Well, I just hope they don’t come asking me for money when they see me retire early… J

Other peoples’ spending habits are interesting to me. Part of the reason I started The Green Swan is to help others make better decisions when it comes to personal finance. It can be a daunting subject that many people want to avoid. I recently wrote a post on how Financial Literacy is My Cash Cow which is in part due to “spendy people” with out-of-control personal finances. A conflict of interest you may say J, but hopefully I can help others realize it doesn’t have to be daunting, and they can make a few tweaks to their lifestyle and also be on the path toward financial independence.

Financial Literacy is My Cash Cow

With that said, we all have a soft spot where we are willing to spend more money on than others. Out of one side of my mouth I’ll explain how I recently Cut the Cord while out the other side I reveal my fantasy to own a mansion! What can you do?!

My Mansion Fantasy

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

I would describe my childhood as a comfortable, growing up in a middle class family. My parents had stable jobs and did well managing their personal finances. But I was one of four children and my parents were rightfully cost-conscious. We all had hand-me-downs and maintained somewhat of a frugal lifestyle.

I learned some important lessons growing up and chronicled them with my post on Four Frugal Life Lessons. I modeled a lot of my personal finance viewpoints after my parents such as maintaining frugal habits, working hard for what I want, valuing education, being debt adverse, and investing early and often.

What is the best thing you’ve read lately?

I enjoyed reading “America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve” by Roger Lowenstein. Very interesting and insightful book and I thought author did a great job of portraying the relationships and personalities of the key actors.

What do you do for exercise?

I’m not a huge exercise buff, but I know the importance of staying fit and having a healthy lifestyle so I force myself to exercise regularly (or try to at least). For my exercise I like to mix it up between going for a run, riding the bike, or Insanity exercises (DVD workout program).

Lately it has been a blast running around with my two year old and chasing him around the neighborhood playground. We bought him a Stryder bike to get him used to balancing and it has been amazing how well he’s picked it up. I get some of my best exercise chasing him around lately!

What is your favorite style of beer and what is your favorite beer in that style?

Ever since college (after having a bit more disposable income) I’ve begun to enjoy specialty and craft beers. I love trying new beers, especially local beers whenever I travel. I ’m a big fan of IPAs and I’d say my favorite is Dogfish Head. Although I admit I’m a bit biased as a childhood buddy of mine is one of their Brew Masters (what a sweet job title, huh?).

Thanks for taking a look!

-The Green Swan


Thanks for spending some time with us today, Green Swan. (I still think that would make a great superhero!) Keep up with The Green Swan on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and over at thegreenswan.org.

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19 Responses to 10 Questions with The Green Swan

  1. Great interview, GS! Best of luck with the new business. It sounds like you’ll have your hands quite full for awhile with work, new biz, and your family. Congrats on saving $1M earlier than most. You are definitely an inspiration for others and I wish you all the best on your upcoming FI adventures!
    Michael @ Financially Alert recently posted…How to Use Opportunity Cost to Make a Better DecisionMy Profile

  2. Mr SSC says:

    Nice interview! As far as the Insanity workouts, those things are pretty hard core. I used to do those, pre-kids and they were pretty taxing.

    That’s awesome your kid has taken to the Stryder, our oldest never quite got it, but I bet our youngest will pick it up really quickly. We’ve recently come to admit that our oldest is a bit lazy, and it’s probably going to frustrate us to no end down the road… Any tips on motivation, because we haven’t been able to find his motivation trigger yet. 🙂
    Mr SSC recently posted…How we got FIRE’d Up!My Profile

    • Haha that’s funny how you are getting to the point where you can notice the differences between your kids. I’m sure you are wondering where he got the lazy gene!

      It definitely took some time for ours to get used to it. I don’t think he sat down on the seat until just a few months ago, he’d just walk with it. It was funny.

      Thanks Mr SSC!
      The Green Swan recently posted…The Green CondorMy Profile

  3. Great interview! Really cool to see answers to some of the questions that you don’t talk about much on the blog. It’s always interesting to understand more about the people that you read so that you can understand their viewpoints better.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…Get Smarter, Richer, and Happier. Go to the Library.My Profile

  4. Thanks for the interview; I learned a lot of new things about you, JW.

    I’m a fellow fan of Dogfish Head. Confession time – a friend and I once paid $18 for a bottle of their 120 Minute IPA while dining on huge burgers at a heavy-metal burger establishment. Not the best financial decision, but the beer is super-rare even here in Chicagoland. I’d say it was worth it.
    FinanceSuperhero recently posted…Uncommon Lessons From an Uncommon Coach – Part 1My Profile

  5. Awesome interview and you already know I’m looking forward to following your new business venture! Getting four family members (brothers!) on board with ideas is a project all in itself. I think your background in the healthcare industry also helps you write from a different perspective. Great work -and yes, a 2 year old is like a full-time job and so is a 17-year old at time 🙂 Just a different busy!
    Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions recently posted…One More First Day of SchoolMy Profile

  6. Nice interview Mr. 1500 and Mr. Green Swan!

    It’s great to finally see him up here!
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes recently posted…A Tale Of Two SaversMy Profile

  7. Nice interview and post Mr1500 and Green Swan.
    Been reading Mr Green Swan for couple of months and finally here’s here.
    Good to go!!
    The Russian Guy recently posted…Being cheap vs being frugalMy Profile

  8. Love this! I always wondered what “Green Swan” meant, so that was neat to see. 🙂 Whenever I read these articles I always feel like I need to step up my game! Saving so much cash for retirement is awesome! Mr. Picky Pincher and I are still focusing on eliminating debt, which should happen in the next 3-5 years.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Save Money with Body PositivityMy Profile

  9. MrRIP says:

    Amazing interview! I like your approach and your writing style! You’re the Green Mustache!

    … and I think I should send Miss RIP to your Bloggers’ Spouse Support Group 🙂
    MrRIP recently posted…BoredomMy Profile

  10. Thanks Mr RIP!

    Yes, send her right over… New members are always welcome! Mrs. Green Swan would love the support 😉
    The Green Swan recently posted…Pricing HealthcareMy Profile

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