Back in December, I received an email from a reader named Chris who had recently launched his own blog. Chris lived close to me and he seemed like an interesting character, so after a couple of emails back and forth, I mentioned that I was meeting another friend in Denver and asked him if he’d like to meet up.
A couple of years ago, this is something I never would have done. As a severe introvert, meeting new people is something I’d go out of my way to avoid. When I had to meet other humans, it was always awkward. However, I’ve found that most people I’ve interacted with through the blog aren’t so scary, so I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone with greater frequency.
So, I met Chris in person late last year and he turned out to be one of those rare people that I”m at ease at from the start. He’s easygoing, thoughtful, and a good listener. We also have a lot in common including careers, Midwest upbringing, and beer. I even invited him to our home for our recent Friendsgiving.
And today, I get to share my blog with Chris.
Where do you live? Do you love it, hate it or just meh.
Where I grew up in Minnesota, the nearest town had a population of under 350 people and was like something out of a Bruce Springsteen song. After college (U of M go Gophers) my now wife and I packed everything that we owned into our 2 cars and headed West until we hit the first interesting thing we found which was Denver. I figured that after moving 875 miles to be by the mountains I wanted a house with a view where I could see them. I traded my spin caster for a fly rod, my skinny cross country skis for big fat downhills, and I actually used my mountain bike in real mountains instead of woods. We love it here in Golden where it’s always sunny, Coors light flows out of every kitchen faucet, and nobody ever frowns. One thing I haven’t lost is my midwest sarcasm so be warned.
There are approximately 476,492,292,928 personal finance blogs last time I checked. Why should we read yours?
You should read my blog because it’s a financial blog that is also secretly not about money but actually about happiness and escaping the fallacy that money = happiness. I am on this journey myself trying to answer the question of how did I get to here and what should I do differently now that I am working for myself to be happy rather than working for someone else to achieve financial security. I post less often but am shooting for well researched high-quality posts that make you want to mine all that gold in the archive.
What is one post that you’ve written that you wish would have gone viral?
My most popular post is “The Obligatory How To Get Rich In One Blog Post Blogpost,” but I don’t think you could call it going viral because it only has about a dozen views and most of them are just me hitting refresh and weeping a single tear onto a mahogany desk while sitting alone in the west wing library with the blinds drawn.
The one I wish had gone viral is called “How to Save Over $100,000 Without Giving Anything Up.” It sums up a lot of habits and a general way of spending that got us to financial independence before we even claimed it. I never thought that the way I viewed money was that weird until time went by and I saw how much of it my friends were burning through while I was compounding. I guess I wish that I could spread a less wasteful and more value-centric way of being creative with all the currencies in life. I also want more of my friends financially independent so we can hang out at 10am on a Tuesday.
Do you tell others of your FIRE plans or are you in the closet?
For the first 6 months of me leaving my job post FI, I didn’t tell many people. I think I was testing the waters to see if it worked for me personally. I also had a fear that I would be judged or that it would create jealousy or expectation with friends. Over time, friends have noticed me not working but few have asked many questions after I tell them that I am not seeking a job. Like me, most of my friends have kids and are pretty busy raising young families. I have also started to tell a few friends and family that I blog. I was pretty nervous however, few even checked out the url. Haha, I guess either I have weird friends and family or we are not as important as we all think and should just relax.
What are some of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen?
Some of mine are: the caldera off Santorini at sunset, any steakhouse after a week of backcountry backpacking, the inside of St Peter’s Basilica, Lake Of The Woods when the water is glass on a summer evening, the islands of Lan Ha Bay, Shinjuku Gyoen in the fall at peak colors, Grand Palace Bangkok, the temples around Angkor Wat, The Rocky Mountains. I could write this list tomorrow with all new answers and be just as overwhelmed as I’m feeling thinking of these places now. Maybe that’s the most beautiful place is the one I go to in my mind when I evoke from these destinations and think of the awesomeness of our planet. I love to travel and am something of an advocate for traveling rather than just repeatedly vacationing every year.
What is your investing strategy? Stocks? Index funds?? Real estate??? Crypto????
My investing strategy is just a big bag of crypto coins sitting on a shelf next to my tulip bulbs and beanie babies. Ok that’s a lie, crypto and anything highly volatile or speculative is not my thing. My exception to this is that I have done a bit of angel investing through my history in the startup community. With over a decade working in this space I believe that I have an informational advantage and relationships get me into deals that are not exactly an open market. I also would not recommend this to most and touched on it in a post asking “Are Startups a Good Path To Financial Independence?”
Generally, I am a longer-term value investor and most of my portfolio is usually in a basket of picked individual stocks meant to represent all market sectors. I shifted from mutual funds to individual stocks once my portfolio got large enough. I also do individual property real estate investing because it works and is a simple but not easy way to make a good return. In this regard, I am very similar to much of the FIRE community.
One thing that makes me a little different than many FIRE folk is that beyond the Vanguard total market fund I do look for alternative investments and am always analyzing things and looking for opportunities where returns are disproportionate to risks. I believe that this analysis makes me a more knowledgeable investor and every once in a while I actually act on something. However, for most people looking for financial independence I recommend a steady total market long term type approach. I wrote about this while explaining “Why You Will Not Beat The Market But Still Can.” Weirdly, I have been investing since I was a teenager. While I do occasionally share some investing related ideas on the blog, I do not blog about my specific portfolio or share portfolio updates over time. Many others have done that much better than I could such as the super awesome and really in shape Mr 1500.
What is your favorite beer?
Finally an easy question. The answer is Duchesse De Bourgogne. It’s a flemish red and what is now known as a sour beer. This beer opened my eyes to what beer could be and will probably always be my favorite. It is complex, sweet, super sour, funky, and rich. Also, about half the people who try it think it tastes horrible which is fun because then I don’t have to share it much. I have been brewing for about 12 years now and am currently working on what I hope is my brewing masterpiece. I even had the opportunity to try what is widely accepted as the best beer in the world. If it is flavorful and isn’t crushed by hops (damn you Colorado for your overuse of hops), I probably love it.
What is your worst money mistake?
My worst money mistake almost cost me my life. I spent about $300 buying fake silver jewelry in Jaipur India. Later that night, I found out the silver was not real. Then I made the mistake of returning to the Bazaar outside of business hours, finding the man, and trying to get my money back. You do weird things when you have been traveling for months I guess. I navigated almost getting poisoned and beaten and having to think on my feet with a bluff that may have saved my life. Maybe the moral here is that bad purchases can cost you a lot and also that sometimes moving forward is better than trying to correct every mistake. Whew, you ask some tough questions Mr 1500.
What do you do for a living?
I am trying to answer this one in a new way for myself presently and do not have a traditional job as of October. I have been an engineer, a director, an entrepreneur, and I ran the concession stands a couple of times in high school. I can pour like 4 Pepsi at a time. I have been mostly in medical device and healthcare, done some software, and am generally a curious person who is always doing a bunch of weird things.
What is part of your blog that you wish you could do better?
I absolutely hate marketing my own creative endeavors like this blog. I am not selling anything but I do want to connect to this community and believe that I have some value add stuff to share. I wish there was a way to get the word out there just by writing things or maybe by answering 10 questions or something…..hmmmm.
Please come check in at LifeOutsideTheMaze.com and Thanks Mr 1500!
Thanks, Chris! Besides his blog, you may also show Chris some love over on Twitter: https://twitter.com/OutsideMaze
See you around Colorado new friend!
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