Today we have an interview with Gwen from Fiery Millennials. This is the first time we made an interview but we’re hoping you learn a little from it and enjoy it as much as we did.
Who are you and what do you do? What is your story? Where did you start, where in the journey are you, and where do you ultimately want to end up?
My name is Gwen, and I’m a 26-year-old Millennial from the Midwest. My day job is in IT. I found the concept of financial independence at the age of 22 and haven’t looked back. Out of my original 10-year plan, I’m about 2 years in and a bit ahead of schedule. I started my blog Fiery Millennials to both track and share my journey with others. I want to prove this crazy thing called early retirement is doable in this day and age!
How did you get started on the path to financial independence?
I found Mr. Money Mustache’s blog in college and was hooked! Then I found other FIRE bloggers and tumbled down the rabbit hole.
Please describe what FI really means for you? We seem to have the same goal of retiring at 35 and traveling the world.
FI means freedom. I can choose to stay at my highly paid day job, or quit to travel, work on my hobbies, or spend more time with my family.
What are your criteria for saying you are FI?
I originally had a plan to retire by the time I’m 35 with $567,000 net worth, but the plan is slowly starting to change, as plans do. Now, I think I will be able to retire earlier than that with several streams of passive or nearly passive income to live off of while my nest egg grows.
Would you say you are more inclined to the not-working-anymore part of FI or the freedom part of FI?
I am more inclined to the freedom part of FI. I don’t mind working as long as it’s productive or helps me advance in some way. I hate busy work.
What is your preferred way to invest? Do you have a preferred asset class in particular or asset allocation?
I dump everything into some form of index fund, depending on which account it is. I feel a bit heavy on stocks though, so I will be buying a multi-family rental property in the near future to diversify my income stream.
Do you invest automatically on every paycheck?
I do. My 401(k) and HSA contributions get deducted automatically from my paycheck, and then I have an automatic withdrawal set up for my Roth IRA contribution.
What are your favorite financial tools?
My favorite tools are Mint.com, Personal Capital, Google Sheets, and a fun new company called OnTrajectory. Each tool serves a different purpose: Mint is for budgeting, Personal Capital is for the investment side, Google Sheets is for tracking the history of my journey, and OnTrajectory models future growth predictions based on any number of factors.
What are your thoughts on house ownership vs. renting?
I think each serves a distinct purpose and it depends on where you are in life. Until now, I’ve always rented because I’ve moved around a lot, so it didn’t make sense to buy. Now that I’m settling into one area for the next 5-10 years at least, it makes sense to buy.
What is the worst financial decision you have ever made?
It wasn’t so much a decision as it was a mistake. My first year I miscalculated how my 401(k) contributions worked by including the company match. I only put in $13k that first year instead of $18k!
What is the best financial decision you have ever made?
Starting to save right away. I didn’t have time to form bad habits. Instead of upping the amount gradually and feeling the pain of my “missing” money, I have always saved 40% of my income and now it’s normal to me.
What are your plans once you retire?
I have a multitude of things I’d like to do/could do. It depends on a variety of factors such getting married, having kids, taking care of my aging parents, etc. Right now, as a single lady, I would like to work at a ski resort in the winter, travel/spend time with family in the spring and fall, and work at a local youth camp in the summer. This would also allow me ample time to devote to my hobbies (gaming, stained glass, quilting, sports, and more). When I find a guy to be with long term, my plan will adjust to include his input.
What is the number one advice you can give a millennial starting out?
Don’t fall victim to lifestyle inflation. If you continue to live like a college student, you’ll be able to save a lot of money very quickly. I kept my car from college (saving me at least $9k, but probably would’ve bought a $15k car so let’s go with $12k average). Not to mention the fact that money I didn’t spend got invested instead and it’s now earning me money. Same thing goes for housing. Keep it simple: maybe live with your parents longer if you can, or get a roommate. I’ll save $10k this year from moving in with my friend out of my expensive apartment!
That will wrap it up for this interview with Gwen. We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about here and stay on the lookout for our reply to these interview questions!
Be happy, Xyz.