Last week, a film crew came to our home to record our lives for an upcoming documentary:
The crew consisted of a director/producer, a cinematographer, a sound engineer, and Josh, a production assistant. Josh was the youngest and early in the day, he started asking me questions about my life and investing. I could tell that this was his first exposure to FIRE and probably investing too. He was enthusiastic, so I talked to him throughout the day about the importance of starting early, compound interest and index funds. When the shoot was done, I gave him a copy of The Simple Path To Wealth and encouraged him to read it. I also followed up with an email, encouraging him to attend a local meetup.
I Can’t Change The World, But…
I started a blog mostly to document my journey to financial independence. Writing gives me a way to hold myself publicly accountable and forces me to get my thoughts in order. It also gives me an outlet to do something that I’ve always loved, playing with words. But there’s been an even better, unexpected effect of the blog.
Once in a while, someone will tell me that my words changed their life. They’ll tell me how they discovered the blog and decided to get their finances in order and pursue financial independence. It feels incredibly awesome. I never thought anyone would read my stuff.
However, my reach is limited. People who found my blog most likely landed here because they had the disposition to pursue FIRE. My words were the tipping point. I was the teacher that happened to appear when the student was ready. I’m not magically changing the minds of haters or folks caught up in the throes of mindless materialism.
But, that doesn’t mean that my work isn’t worthwhile. Perhaps young Josh will remember his day with me. Maybe he’ll go home and read The Simple Path To Wealth and open an account with Vanguard. Maybe he’ll send me an email in 20 years thanking me. I can dare to dream…
Bag Of Books
If you see me out on the town, I’ll probably have a backpack. In that backpack will be at least one copy of The Simple Path to Wealth. I carry copies of this book in case I encounter someone like Josh.
I’m not going to stand a street corner yelling at passing humans about brimstone and fire like a crazy preacher, however, I will talk about FIRE when I hear someone open up about financial struggles or that needs help with investing. And I encourage you to do the same.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re already money savvy. You may not have $1,000,000 saved yet, but you have the knowledge to get there. And knowledge is power. And with power comes responsibility.
Just kidding. Maybe…
Don’t underestimate yourself. YOU have the ability to make a difference. A big one. Imagine this scenario:
A friend tells them that they’re struggling with money. Because you have stealth wealth, your friend doesn’t know that you drive the shitty, old pickup truck because you’re frugal. You open up a bit, show him that you can leave your job in less than two years because of the magic of compound interest.
You lay out all of the details; cut out cable, no more new cars, Airbnb the basement, open an account with Vanguard, VTSAX…
A decade later, your friend thanks you for changing his life…
Queue the unicorns, rainbow and beer waterfall. You changed a life.
How To Make A Difference
My assignment for you isn’t an easy one. Changing a life is serious business and requires tact. First of all, I’ll tell you what what you shouldn’t do.
Never Preach, Act Judgy, Or Talk Down
Telling someone that they are foolish for buying a new car or season tickets to their favorite sports team isn’t going to do any good. It will probably have the opposite effect; your friend will take offense and defend their position. Just don’t do it. I know from experience.
Do this instead:
Lead By Example
Show him how getting money right has made a difference in your life. Don’t brag, but it’s OK to drop subtle suggestions.
We saved a lot of money after cutting the cable bill.
Renting out our home when we’re away has generated some nice income.
My wife doesn’t like her job, so may leave. I’m thankful that our finances allow us to do this.
Wait for the other person to ask questions:
How are you able to only work part-time and make ends meet?
How are you able to take a 3-month sabbatical?
Wait, you’re going to be in Spain over winter? How?
Or, you may hear a friend say something that suggests something ominous:
We’re struggling right now.
There may be layoffs at Joe’s job and we’re concerned.
I have no idea how to get started investing.
And then pounce. Let your friend know that you’re there for them. Open the door. Show them your path. Don’t be too aggressive or they’ll think that you’re a nutter. Start by showing them some the basics of financial independence. Here are my favorite resources:
Playing With FIRE: Getting someone to read a book is a tall order. Invite them over and watch a 90-minute film instead.
Choose FI Local Groups: So much of what we do in life is motivated by our interactions with others and what we think they expect of us. Life is a lot more fun when you’re surrounded by motivated folks with the same goals. Join a local Choose FI group and start meeting people.
The Simple Path To Wealth: I haven’t read a better book on investing. VTSAX is the answer for most. This book explains why.
Who Will You Help?
We all know someone who struggles with money. I’d guess that most folks in my circle would be in a world of pain after just a couple of months of unemployment.
You know people like this too. We all do. When you sense an opening, invite them to a local meetup or show them Playing With FIRE. Be an inflection point for someone.
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
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*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.