Living A Better Life Interview – Countdown to FI
In our brand new interview series, we are interviewing various individuals from across the web. This interview series focuses on how they are living a better life. They can be living a better life by pursuing financial independence, minimalism, simplicity, and many more aspects. Are you interested in being interviewed? Continue reading!
Want to be interviewed?
If you want to be interviewed about how you are living a better life. Contact us at [email protected] and tell us why you’d be a great candidate!
Give us your best elevator speech!
Hello! We’re Mr. and Mrs. CTF from the Countdown to FI podcast. We started our journey to financial independence back in 2016, but before that we messed up bad, really bad. We know what it’s like to be financial trainwrecks and how hard it is to dig yourself out of that mess. We both work for local governments, which have some nifty tax-deferred savings accounts. Our goal is to show that it is possible to change your life and get to financial independence without an IT/engineering salary.
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
10 years ago our first child was about to be born in less than desirable circumstances: we were living in a bedroom in Mrs. CTF’s parents’ house, both of us were going to college, and we both had low paying, crappy jobs.
5 years ago we found ourselves living the American Dream….and paycheck to paycheck. We had a big mortgage, two car payments, a ton of credit card debt, and $60,000 in student loans.
Last year, we were finishing up with the last of the drastic changes we made in our lives. We were still in the mode of keeping our budget cut down to the bone as we paid off the last of our debt.
Today we are debt free except a mortgage. We’ve learned what we value in life and how to prioritize our spending and time. We’ve also eased up on the budget to allow for those things.
What would you tell your younger self?
“Don’t buy that” but we doubt our younger selves would have listened. Sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way. In all seriousness though, material things don’t buy you happiness, and most everyone that has all those fancy status symbols is a financial trainwreck. Even though you hear time and again that “making it” and material things don’t buy happiness, it seems like it takes a while to actually figure that out for yourself.
What made you want to change the way you were living?
Mr. CTF’s father died of a terrible disease at age 63. At the same time, we found out the disease was genetic with a doctor saying it was about a 50/50 chance Mr. CTF would develop it in his early 60s. That’s some seriously sobering shit to be hit with at 30. All thoughts of growing old together and enjoying our retirement went out the window. It took some time to come to terms with everything, but we decided that we were going to live the life we wanted now. That meant getting our act together pronto.
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
Financial independence brings a peace of mind like none other, and we’re not even all the way there yet. After seeing first hand the harsh reality of an unexpected death, it provides stability if either of us passes away unexpectedly…or loses their job or has a medical emergency or a thousand other what-ifs. It also gives us a chance for an early retirement together if we choose. We are putting away at least 50% of our income each year with plans to possibly retire when our youngest graduates high school in 10 years.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
Go against the grain. If the majority of people are doing it, it’s probably a good thing you are not. Whether it’s biking to work, bringing your lunch from home, or downsizing your house, you’ll get plenty of flack from people. It’s probably just human nature to be defensive about someone being different, but don’t listen to the haters. Be you. It will benefit you far more in the future than blending in with the crowd. Plus, you can also be the one to normalize frugal behavior at your work or in your family.
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
We’ve both read the Millionaire Next Door and Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. Both were a great slap in the face as to what we were doing wrong in our lives and paved the way for us to get serious about financial independence. Mr. CTF gets quite laser-focused on subjects, so he’s read and listened to just about everything out there. His favorites are: Your Money or Your Life, Mad Fientist, FIRE Drill Podcast, Waffles on Wednesday, Freedom is Groovy, Millionaire Educator, Go Curry Cracker, Root of Good, and Stop Ironing Shirts.
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
Eating out. For Mr. CTF, it’s a social thing. For Mrs. CTF, it’s the siren song of pizza. It’s hard when we both get home exhausted and don’t have the energy or mental strength to cook, but going out to eat is absolutely killer on your budget and waistline. There have been failure weeks were we have had pizza three nights in a row, but there are also “successful” weeks were we’ve had scrambled eggs and toast for three nights in a row. It’s all about making progress in the right direction.
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
Have an internal locus of control. Forget about the things you can’t change, and focus on the things that you can impact. It doesn’t do a lot of good to worry about things beyond your control, but at the same time, don’t be so quick to blame your current situation on things outside your control. At the end of the day, the only person that’s going to help you is you. Focus on the things that matter: finance, family, and fitness. If you get those things down, you’ll be winning at life.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
Check out other interviews here!
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