Today’s edition of 10 Questions features Gary Grewal from Financial Fives. My favorite line from Gary’s interview is this one:
I hope one day it’s as normal to talk about money as it is about the weather!
If we were all more open about money, consider how much better the world would be: We’d no longer buy status symbols to compensate for the money we don’t have. We wouldn’t feel compelled to compete with our neighbors for shiny things. Instead, we could help each other out. And then we could move on to things that really matter.
1) What is part of your blog that you wish you could do better?
The technical aspects! I consider myself fairly creative and well-spoken, but the development and SEO aspects of a website intimidate me. I’ve seen some pretty incredible blogs (like 1500 Days!) and also some not-so-well-organized ones, so I decided to utilize the same platform as I use for my zero waste moving box company, California Box Rental, on Wix. I think my site looks great, however, I’m not sure I’m doing as good of a job to be found on Google as some of my peers. So, I’m constantly evaluating what to change, guest blogging, and learning more about SEO.
2) Do you tell others of your FIRE plans or are you in the closet?
I’d say it’s pretty hard to remain in the closet when you are blogging, though some have done a good job of maintaining anonymity for an initial period of time. I will say that I don’t openly talk about money with anyone other than my close friends, and don’t offer unsolicited advice just because I am a financial planner. My parents are in the know of my net worth (more than halfway to the 7 figure club!), and when I become FI or my book goes mainstream I’m sure word will get out. I’m just hoping friendships that I value don’t turn ugly because they feel I kept this from them. I hope one day it’s as normal to talk about money as it is about the weather!
3) What is the best thing you ever bought? The worst?
Ohh a loaded question, where to begin! I’d have to say the first thing that comes to mind as the best thing I ever bought was a Giant TCR1 road bike. I bought it used for about $300 in Denver, spent about $100 tuning it up, enjoyed the heck out of it, and then sold it for $500 about 4 years later. Not just selling it for a profit, but thinking about all the money I saved on gas, parking, and maintenance, not to mention health and environmental benefits! Bike parking is always free, and when you live, work, and play downtown, that’s big savings!
The worst thing I ever bought was probably a Blackberry Pearl in college for about $300. I thought it was what the cool kids had, and then I lost it at the gym about a week later. Never again did I leave anything in a locker without a lock! Lesson learned.
4) What is your favorite money management tool?
I’d have to say mint.com. It’s the only one I’ve used, and since it works for my needs I haven’t tried anything else, maybe I should! The two things I like about it are the fact that all of my transactions are consolidated so I don’t have to check each credit card or bank account for anything off, and also the net worth tracker is a nice motivator to keep on the FI track!
5) What did your parents do to raise you to be financially smart?
My parents are first-generation immigrants from India, and I saw them create prosperity for their families through hard work, paying cash for everything, and using credit cards wisely. When my mother told me I couldn’t have my 10th birthday party at a local water park because it cost too much, that really sparked my interest as to why some parents gave their kids anything they wanted, while some parents were very conservative in that regard (I did chores for free, while my friends got allowances simply for going to school). The biggest thing I learned from them is taking on debt is bad, unless for a house, and spending money to impress others is pointless.
6) Ideal vacation: road trip, beach, mountains, forest, or city?
Well, it can be a road trip that encompasses all of the above! You can drive from the beach in CA, through a big city, and then to lush alpine forests in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In all honesty, though, I would have to say mountains/forest. I combined them because my favorite mountain towns are in the middle of or right next to forests. Living in Denver exposed me to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Give me a cabin in Frisco, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, or Grand Lake and I’m a happy camper (oh, camping is fine too). There’s nothing like swimming in a clear, cold lake and waking up to the crisp mountain air while gazing at the sunrise over the mountains.
7) How is the world going to be better because you lived?
I would say because I’m a conscious human being that constantly tries to improve myself and being a contributing member of society. I’m conscious about my consumption and try to be as zero waste as possible. I monitor my carbon footprint and try to encourage others to do the same. I volunteer at events to keep others safe, give them a smile, keep trash off the streets, and raise money for noble causes. I’m always reading books not just for financial independence, but how to be a better person, a better listener, and to comprehend the perspectives of others. I believe in community engagement, and participating in politics, and the greater good. Overall I just try to set an example of being a good human. You sleep better at night that way!
8) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Ooh, another good one. I’d say change my tendency to ruminate and overthink things. Older and wiser folks in my life tend to just go with the flow and shake things off, and I often find myself overthinking how to best plan an outing with friends, what insurance I should get for my business, how to be more tax-efficient, or even where to eat my lunch (booth, patio, is it too cold out??) While there is certainly a risk to being impulsive, I wish I could be more aware of what decisions should take further introspection, and what decisions are minor. I’ve made some progress, I now have an “X day outfit” for each day of the workweek so I don’t waste time with that!
9) What is something you read that changed your life?
The How of Happiness by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky. When I used to commute to work at my first job out of college, while living at my parent’s house, I was pretty tired of listening to hip hop at 8 in the morning. I had heard about audiobooks and decided to stop by the local library to browse their selection, and I was hooked (to both public libraries and audiobooks). This book, though I had to listen to it multiple times, really opened my eyes to what actually mattered in life. It helped me practice gratitude, reduce social comparison (still working on that), and understand the science around what we can control with our happiness. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me, and I’ll probably read it again.
10) Name one living person you look up to. Tell us why
So many to list, but the first one that comes to mind is Jack Dorsey. I’ve recently had the chance to listen to him in some interviews, and even though he is a bit timid, the way he thinks through things and provides answers is impressive. He comes across as very respectful, confident, and intriguing. He isn’t a flamboyant billionaire, he has truly changed the world with the companies he has founded, and he doesn’t seem to care about fame or attention. He is also very charitable and works hard, even though he could just kick back and travel for the rest of his life.
Gary Grewal is a financial planner, entrepreneur, author, and apprentice of one-pot vegan meal prep currently working remotely across our beautiful country. He writes at financialfives.com and is the author of Financial Fives: The Top 325 Ways to Save, Earn, andThrive to Retire Before 65.
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