Living A Better Life Interview – Debt & Cupcakes
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!
Hey there! My name is Brent and I’m former debt-addict turned obsessive financial nerd. My wife and I are both Registered Nurses who work in a corporate setting now. We’re marching toward financial independence and hope to become “free” in 5 years.
We weren’t always on the path to financial independence… At one time, we had over $109,000 in consumer debt, were living paycheck to paycheck, and had little knowledge about our own financial health.
We. Were. Normal.
Now, we’re not only obsessed with becoming financially free, we want to help others become debt-free as well. The world of personal finance appears like a scary place, I want to show people it’s not and it’s actually a lot of fun.
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
Life 5 years ago looked drastically different than life today. We had a little over $109,000 in consumer debt. We weren’t saving any money, we had a negative net-worth, we weren’t talking about money, and we didn’t have much of a retirement plan.
We weren’t “poor” by any means. We simply spent everything we earned, lived for the next pay day, and fell in love with those “easy monthly payments”.
Fast forward 5 years and we’re consumer debt free (we still hold a mortgage), our net-worth hit $270,000 this week. We’re maxing out our 401ks, have a 6 month emergency fund saved, and we’re investing 57% of our take home pay into our Vanguard brokerage account.
Life sure looks different!
What would you tell your younger self?
I’d tell myself that becoming financially independent is possible. I was convinced that you couldn’t become wealthy without being invited or born into some exclusive club. I didn’t think it was possible for two Registered Nurses.
I’d probably end up screaming “stop buying shi…stuff!!” Cars, trucks, tractors, a home, and a lot more. If we wanted it, we financed it without much thought.
My younger self needed an education on what wealth building really was. I was under the impression that looking wealthy was just as good as being wealthy…
What made you want to change the way you were living?
Our household income was well over six figures and we weren’t saving any money. I remember over-drafting our account and sitting there staring at the computer screen wondering what happened…
We made great money, but we didn’t have any actual money to show for it! I decided I wanted to see where our money was actually going.
I printed out 3 months of bank statements and calculated our total debt payments per month. To say this was eye opening would be a drastic understatement…
We were paying almost $2,000 a month in minimum debt-payments, hundreds on restaurants and lord knows how much on other worthless junk…
I added up all of our monthly spending and it hit me… “We could become financially independent if we took control of this”… We started our debt-free journey shortly after.
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
Absolutely. Financial independence is our main objective now. We truly don’t want to stop working. We want to leave corporate America and work in jobs we’re passionate about.
Another aspect of financial independence we’re obsessed with, is not needing a job should our employer decide our positions are no longer needed. I recently had to lay off 25% of my staff due to corporate restructuring. It was the lowest period of my professional life.
The employees that we were letting go were hardworking, dedicated, and intelligent. It opened our eyes to just how important we are to our employer. They could cut our positions at any time to better their quarterly statement… We’ve been obsessed with financial independence ever since.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
Happiness isn’t a destination. If you think happiness lies in your next purchase, or your next objective… you’re wrong. Happiness is a dynamic emotion, not a linear destination.
Spend time thinking about the value of items you want to buy. Associate the price of items with the amount of time you’ll have to work to cover the cost. Once you realize that you pay for items twice (once with money and again with time), you’ll become more thoughtful with your purchases.
Simply appreciate what you already own.
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
I still struggle with anxiety. I have an overwhelming fear that I’ll lose my job and we won’t have enough money. I worry a lot about the actions I’m taking today. Are they right? Will I regret anything in 5, 10 or 20 years?
I also struggle with my job. I enjoy my job, I hate corporate America. I rarely agree with the decisions that are made and I have to mindlessly oblige because I’m not at FI yet.
I want to work for myself, but I’m not making that jump until we’re financially independent. Working is something we all have to do (well, most of us) and it’s allowing us to quickly march toward FI. So, for now… We carry on.
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
Wait before you buy anything outside of a life necessity. The more expensive the item, the longer you should wait.
Pausing will allow your rational brain to catch up with your emotional brain (your amygdala). It’s pretty rare that an impulsive decision turns out to be a good decision.
Simply… pause. Whatever you’re purchasing will still be available, the deal will be there (or another deal will follow), you’ll still end up with what you need.
Pausing will save you a lot of money.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
I post two articles per week at Debt & Cupcakes. Once we became debt-free, I became slightly obsessed with trying to help anyone in debt. A lot of the personal finance blogs that exist are writing at a really high level.
They’re sharing some amazing financial concepts, but not all make sense to the newbie. I want that newbie to realize they can take control of their lives and get out of debt.
I’m not a professional writer by any means, but I try to inject humor into some pretty bland topics. I’m enjoying it so far!
Come on by!
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