Living A Better Life Interview – Stephen at The FIRE Lane
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!
The FIRE Lane is an in-depth look into our path to Financial Independence. I’m a construction project manager and my wife Erica is an elementary art school teacher. We are both in our late 30’s and we have two kids under 10. Recently we’ve become FED UP with our lack of financial traction. We’re now following our 3 step plan. We’ll change our lives from paycheck-to-paycheck to Financial Independence by 50 years old.
How are you living a better life than you were last year? 5 years ago? 10?
We’re living in a nice neighborhood with good schools for our children. Our home, which was purchased as the ugly house on the block, is on a 15-year mortgage. We’ve built solid equity in it and should easily pay it off prior to FI. Our children, 4 and 9, have well funded 529 plans. Our retirement accounts, though not at the level we’d like to see them, top nearly $200K. Our income has risen to $150,000 in a slow year and $180,000 in a good year.
None of this was in the cards 10 years ago. We were just starting out in our careers, freshly married and the kids were not around. There is a long way for us go, but we realize that we could be in a lesser position at this stage of our lives.
What would you tell your younger self?
Watch out for lifestyle creep. Lane 1 of our 3 step plan involves reversing lifestyle creep. I would have told my younger self to save our annual income increases in lieu of spending them. We could have been substantially further ahead if we had saved more during the recent historic 9-year stock market bull run.
What made you want to change the way you were living?
This summer, we started plugging expenses into YNAB for the first time in months. Quickly we saw that we were spending more than we were making. This was an, “I’m FED UP”, moment. Because of this, The FIRE Lane and our 3 step plan were born.
Does financial independence play a role? If so, how?
Achieving FI is Lane 2 in our plan. We calculate that we’ll need 1.5M in retirement accounts to qualify ourselves as Financially Independent given our expected expenses. This will take us 14 years from today to achieve without a substantial increase in income or an even more substantial change in lifestyle.
What advice do you have for others in living a better life?
As you are scrimping, saving, fee-cutting, investing, side-hustling and financially planning; remember to not forget happiness. If you can’t find peace in this process it won’t be sustainable over time.
What books/podcasts/blogs have you consumed that lead you to this point?
Currently, I’m reading (listening to on audible) Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. As the quintessential FIRE book, this is the perfect kick-off to Lane 1 of our plan.
What’s one area in your life you still struggle with?
Spending on non-essentials. We’re evaluating each and every subscription, monthly expense and random expenses. Recently we’ve removed an ongoing $40 OnStar subscription expense and our barely used Gym Membership which was costing us an average of $200 a month. But for every expense, we remove there is another one we feel that we can’t live without.
If you had to give just 1 tip that you’ve learned along your journey, what would it be and why?
A controversial one. 15-year mortgages are the longest mortgage you should take. With mortgage interest rates lower (still) than investment returns, it’s typically advised to take the longest fixed rate mortgage you can stomach. 30-year mortgages are advised in many situations. I say that 30-years are too long a time to take on a payment. The duration of the mortgage makes it difficult to gain equity in the property which increases your risk substantially in a real estate market downturn. If you absolutely must take a long-term mortgage, have a solid down payment and create a plan to pay it off faster than the length of the loan.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
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