Living A Better Life Interview – Money Stir
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!
My name is Chris Roane and I’m a new blogger that launched MoneyStir.com in December 2018. Money Stir focuses on topics relating to managing money, budgeting, debt, investing and how to optimize life. I’ve been a web developer for over 17 years, and during the last decade, I’ve worked as a remote employee from my home office. I’ve been married 14 years, have two children, and live in Montana.
I don’t claim to be anyone extraordinary. But I’ve always had a focused work ethic, and excelled at solving problems. I don’t have a college degree, and Google is my primary teacher (other than my mistakes!).
Most people would probably define me as having a driven personality. Anything I do, I put in 150% effort. Where I lack intelligence, I try to make up for with pure willpower. I like to break up problems into digestible pieces, partly because I am lazy, but also because it makes complex problems easier to solve.
The best decision I made was choosing my life partner. We got married when I was 22 and had no clue what we were doing. We weren’t intentional in how we lived. My shortcomings became apparent as I developed a propensity to spend more than I made early in my adult life. Even though my income grew consistently, I was stuck with a credit card debt habit that wasted 14 years our money could have been growing.
Life isn’t all about money, and I’m learning the core issue in most financial problems is not money. Over the years my wife and I started growing further apart emotionally. It wasn’t until these issues came to a head that I realized I needed to tackle the central problems if I wanted my life to change.
In summary, I’ve done well in my career, but I’m learning this is not the most important thing to me. My marriage and kids are worth infinitely more, and I’m pursuing finances in a way that better reflects those priorities.
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
About two years ago is when my marriage got to a point where things needed to change. Through some hard conversations I learned some valuable lessons:
1) I’ve always loved my wife, but I did a horrible job communicating that affection.
2) Our finances were lopsided with me spending large amounts of money on what I wanted. I became an expert in representing why it was okay to go into credit card debt for something I thought we “needed,” but I would do the opposite with the things she wanted.
3) Living in constant credit card debt was a massive burden on our marriage.
At that point, I was determined to tackle the core issues and win my wife’s heart back. I felt so much of the pain from my past decisions that I cried for what seemed like 3-months straight. And I typically don’t cry! I remember writing my wife daily, explaining how I messed up and what I would do differently. Looking at that stage now, this was a vital turning point for me. At that moment I felt the weight of all my mistakes come crashing down on me like a tidal wave. It was the lowest point of my life.
And I will do anything to prevent these mistakes from happening again.
The good news is that my wife and I are closer than we have ever been. We are talking about our dreams and how we want the future to look, and I’m learning to show affection to her on a daily basis. Going to couples therapy helped tremendously.
We discovered that with how much money we made, we did not have a whole lot to show for it. And we started to see how making smart financial decisions could drastically change our future.
The last two years we have been focussed on turning our lives around. We are one month away from being credit card debt-free, which includes money to start a new salon that is doing well. I started Money Stir as a way to get my thoughts in writing and to put my driven nature towards a positive side hustle. We are now excited to enter the next phase in life, where we can accumulate a positive net worth and pursue financial independence.
For the last two years, we have been making tremendous progress in our marriage and finances. Before that, I found myself going through the same process of going into credit card debt, trying to pay it off, and then repeating that death cycle. Through the scars of those choices, I’m determined never to let that happen again!
What would you tell your younger self?
Self-reflection is more than being intelligent. It is learning to look at the “why” behind our habits. Often it is easy for us not to like the financial consequences we are experiencing, but until we start to look at the reasons behind our behavior, things will most likely not change.
I would tell my younger self to take a close look at my behavior and how it affects the people around me. From an early age, I’ve internalized my struggles as a coping mechanism. But burying your problems is not how you solve them.
I would also tell naive Chris Roane that he needs to open up more with the person he marries. I would explain that at his core, he is a loving and generous person, but that he puts on this mask that makes it challenging to show emotional intimacy and makes him a hard person to be with at times.
I would also give him an aggressive smack in the face and scream: “Stop spending more than you make and save!” I don’t believe in violence, but I was a pretty hard-headed youngster. 🙂
What made you want to change the way you were living?
I realized that I only had one person to blame for where we were at, and that person was me. On top of that, my extra spending was not making me happy. I started having visions of the future where I had more stuff, more credit card debt, and no longer married to the love of my life. On top of having to work a 9-5 job until I died! I didn’t like where I was headed, and this motivated me to change course. I decided my destiny depended on my ability to make smarter financial decisions.
In other words, we determined where we wanted to go and how we were going to get there.
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
The financial independence community is fantastic. The community showed me it isn’t just about having a vast net worth that allows you to quit your regular job. It’s about getting to a spot where you have options in how you spend your time. My wife and I started thinking about what we would do if we had full control over our day-to-day schedule. And that made us excited and motivated!
It is interesting that a lot of posts in the financial independence space relate more to how to live and enjoy life instead of focusing on money. When I started reading these types of articles, a lightbulb went off. “Chris do you realize that you could not only get rid of your credit card debt, but you could spend in a way that makes you happy?” … are some thoughts that came to mind.
I was excited to learn how to use money in a way that pursues what I truly wanted in life, as opposed to feeling like my spending and habits were working against me.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
Pay closer attention to what is happening around you. Is money bringing you closer to your spouse or children? Does your spending habits reflect what you want out of life? If you continue on the path you are on, where will you be in 5, 10, 30 years?
If we aren’t thinking about where our choices are leading us, they probably are driving us off a cliff. Or at least they aren’t working as hard towards our goals as they could be.
Time is finite. We need to make sure we are using it in a way that optimizes our future.
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
There are two books I read last year that had the most significant impact on my perspective: Your Money or Your Life and The Millionaire Next Door.
Your Money or Your Life challenged me to get to the core issues of my spending and why I was repeating the same debt cycle. The book does a good job driving home the idea that time is our most valuable asset, and how we can use our money to free up time to do what we want.
The Millionaire Next Door showed me how I could be wealthy. And having money doesn’t mean you have to live a luxurious life with servants doing everything for you. Or driving massively expensive cars. It revealed that the extravagantly rich we see in the media are the exceptions and not the rule.
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
Being a driven person, I do well at starting something with fury and fire. The tricky part is learning to push hard in a way that doesn’t make it a top priority over the things that matter most to me.
It helps to get up early and have some time to think about how things are going. Are my actions and priorities lining up with my long-term goals? How can I pursue my wife better? I’m finding it helps recenter my focus on my dreams.
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
It is never too late to start making smart financial decisions, and our spending habits are more than money problems. True happiness is not having large amounts of money, but instead having close and honest relationships, and learning to use our money to pursue our dreams. What is all the money in the world worth if we die lonely and miserable?
Where can readers get in touch with you?
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