Today is the 4th edition of our new periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 NEW 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. (If you have already answered the first set of 10 questions, please feel free to answer these new ones.)
Today’s 10 Questions features Steve from ThinkSaveRetire.com. Like many of us, Steve started out on the wrong path. However, at the ripe young age 33 he has seen the light and is now pursuing early retirement full throttle. Way to go Steve!
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great
I run ThinkSaveRetire.com. This is a kick-butt blog because it keeps me honest every step of the way. I made a vow to myself to post virtually everything that I buy, whether a wise expense or otherwise. The last thing I want to do is publish a financial mistake and be relentlessly ridiculed for that dumb decision that I made that winded up costing me some of my hard earned dough. My readers love to keep me honest, and that’s why I love them so much.
For example, here’s how my wife and I are going to Glacier National Park for $11.20 a piece.
And this one talks about some of my bone-headed financial mistakes of…THE PAST!
I am especially proud to write about my retirement renaissance, and how I turned my life around and got back on the gravy train to early retirement, baby!
What is the best financial move you have made?
The best move I made was to adopt, finally, a lifestyle that puts financial independence and early retirement as the absolute #1 priority to everything that I do (and nearly everything that I think about, healthy or otherwise!). I was never a horrible spender, but I definitely spent money on some things that I deeply regret to this day. But, from the day that my wife and I decided to ditch the working world as soon as humanly possible, I knew that my goal of retiring by 40 will be met.
This decision has literally left me with piles of leftover cash that we put straight into both our short term and long term savings accounts. Short term, my wife and I are saving up for a down payment on a future townhouse in the city that we want to move to after retirement, Sedona, AZ. The longer term savings is a brokerage account that we will draw a certain percentage from when the time eventually comes to escape from this thing that we call “working for a living”.
Now, we are completely setup to retire early – like, real early. I’m 33 years old now and I want to be completely jobless by 40. I want to wake up in the morning and ask myself what the hell I want to do today. Maybe fix the lawnmower. Maybe take a hike up to one of the gorgeous red rock peaks that surround Sedona. Maybe, just maybe, sit on my butt all day with several cups of coffee, enjoying the ability to, well, not work for a living at such a young age. Ahh, jobless bliss.
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
Ultimately, I want to build the blog into a powerful resource that inspires others to ditch their spendy lifestyles (like I once suffered from) and instead adopt a much more frugal life. And heck, perhaps one day I will figure out a way to generate some passive income off of it, but that’ll come later. At the moment, my initial goal is to build a solid following of readers and reach as many people as I can. ThinkSaveRetire.com is not a place for me to lecture others – rather, it’s a place to show others how I am changing my life, the techniques that I am using to completely turn my life around. If I can reach even a single person, I’ll be a real happy frugal camper.
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
40, at the latest. I am 33 now, so I have 7 years to hone my frugality skills and enjoy a lifetime of jobless bliss. First comes financial independence, where neither my wife or I are dependent on a weekly salary to get by. Then, it’s the money shot of our dreams – choosing the day, that wonderful day – surrounded by dancing fairies in fields of dandelions – that we choose to politely exit the working world, once and for all. We are saving around 70% of my wife’s and my total combined salary. We’re racing full speed ahead towards this goal. We’ll make it, darn it.
If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
At the moment, it’s not. I am in Information Technology and work for a major player in the “enterprise database” market. Basically, what I do is travel to customer sites designing database solutions that meet their customized and individual needs. Yeah, it’s big time Information Technology work, but truthfully, I no longer find sitting in front of a computer from 8 to 10 hours a day writing software code to be terribly rewarding. I’d much, much rather be blogging! Or, maybe out with my camera pursing my hobby. Again, one day…
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
Truthfully, I let them be and operate their lives as they see fit. Though it seems strange to think about, early retirement isn’t for everyone. Some people really enjoy working. Others have built a happy lifestyle where they spend more now with the understanding that they will probably work longer than those of us who are more frugal. It is not my place to tell people how to spend their money or what lifestyle is best for them. We are all adults and can make up our own minds about our futures. I chose early retirement, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone else needs to.
Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
My parents were fairly well-off, but that also came from my father working his butt off to get into a position to build his wealth so drastically during the late 90s. While most kids probably would have focused entirely on the end result – money, I seemed to grasp the concept that money doesn’t, in reality, grow on trees. A solid work ethic and good attitude is what turns an average person into a truly successful one. My dad retired at 49, which is still very, very early for today’s standards. I called him up last year shortly after I made the decision to retire by 40 and informed him that, while I’m impressed at his retirement age, I’m going to beat him to retirement. To hell with 49. Let’s try 40 instead. Dad – I’m beating you by 9 years, and I’m proud of it! 🙂
Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?
I owe almost everything that I know about money to my folks. Not only did they open up a retirement account for me when I was in high school (where I deposited some of my earnings from summer jobs into) and taught me about saving, my dad taught me from a very early age the concept of a budget, and how money spent this week ultimately means less money to spend next week. While my parents made good money, they didn’t buy me everything that I wanted. Once I hit 15 and worked during the summer and after school, I bought the large majority of my things with the money that I earned. I did so by strictly budgeting every cent that I made. I knew how much money that I had to spend, and on what. It made the whole “Do I actually have enough money for this?” question so much easier to answer.
What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
I love amber beers, and my favorite is probably the Thunder Canyon Amber, which is a locally-brewed, delicious, nearly liquid-heaven beer right here in Tucson, Arizona. I could guzzle that stuff by the gallon…if I were a lush!
What do you do for exercise?
Oh man – staying fit is one of the things that I prioritize in life (read: obsess over), and is something that I willingly spend money on in the form of a gym membership. Every day – and sometimes, twice a day, I am at the gym going through my weight training program. All anaerobic work that completely destroys my entire body pretty much every week, from head to toe. Some people hate the feeling of being sore, but I actually love it. It means that I accomplished something meaningful and contributes to my goal of building muscle, gaining strength and staying extremely fit all year around. This is a habit that will keep my productive and healthy years pegged to the max as I grow older.
What is your biggest pet peeve in life?
Distracted driving, bar none. I remember one morning I saw someone put on her makeup by using the rear view mirror while driving and with her kids in the back seat of the car. Nearly every day, I see people cut others off when changing lanes, putting on the wrong blinker (i.e.: right blinker when turning left), unaware of the speed limit or drag racing from one stop light to the next. Not only does this put other drivers in danger, but it wastes gas and ultimately balloons your gas budget, puts undue wear on your car and, well, genuinely annoys other drivers. Save your car. Save your gas. Drive smart…that text message can wait.
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