I love books. This is ironic since one of my earliest childhood memories is my Mom teaching me to read – and I absolutely despised it. Whenever she’d bust out yet another pack of flashcards with words to memorize I’d desperately want to flip the coffee table through a window and run away. Mom knew what she was doing though and soon after I became the certified family bookworm. Recently, I started getting into the mystery genre, reading up on all the old greats – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, etc. – and discovered a sub-genre known as the “cozy mystery”. Like the TV show “Murder She Wrote”, they generally involve an amateur detective who solves mysteries in their local town while going about their ordinary lives, and they often have ridiculous titles like “Gingerbread Cookie Murder”, “Rest in Pizza”, or “Wrong Side of the Paw”. They’re a lot of fun to read, but after a while you begin to wonder: are all they really doing is changing around some food ingredient or pet or hobby? It gets old.
Another thing that gets old is discovering a new FIRE blog and realizing that it just repeats the same old advice as every other blog. Even worse, the author may be so out of ideas that they just start repeating the same article in different forms every few months, hoping you won’t notice. You begin to wonder, “Why should I keep reading this stuff? Do I really know everything already?” So let me give some reasons why this blog is different from others and why it worth your time to read.
Reason 1: Not an engineer!
If you read many FIRE blogs you quickly realize that almost half of the community (if not more) is composed of former engineers or computer programmers. Retire by 40 has a good article on just why this is, but it does limit the point of view you often see. I am not an engineer and am terrible at math. As such, this blog will focus on ways to save and make money without ridiculously over-designing your life with every bell and whistle. It will also focus on some of the philosophical elements of early retirement that are given short shift elsewhere.
Reason 2: I make a normal wage!
I have never made a mid-six figure salary, unlike the aforementioned engineers and programmers. I worked minimum wage from the age of 16 to 25 through high-school, college and grad school, and even after that I did not start making serious money until I was 27 years old. While my salary is now on the higher end of the U.S. middle-class spectrum, I will never break six-figures unless I either go into management (which I have zero interest in) or my investments and businesses do it for me.
Reason 3: I wasn’t born frugal!
Unfortunately, I have not gone through life being eternally frugal. I finished grad school with $40,000 in debt. Between my minimum wage jobs and mediocre spending habits, my bank balance at the age of 25 was barely higher than it was when I was 16. While my parents are fiscally conservative and will retire wealthy, they didn’t give me any lessons about money except a healthy caution of credit cards. This blog will stress that people can turn their lives around and get ahead, regardless of age, and that children ought to be taught about the value of money at an early age.
Reason 4: I’m single!
Unlike other FIRE bloggers, I am not married and did not happen to meet an equally frugal spouse at an early age. As studies have shown, this is a crucial part of long-term wealth building for many millionaires (and people looking to retire early). For the time being though, I don’t have it. Whatever gains I make while writing this blog will be as a single person with no other income other than what I can pull down personally.
Reason 5: I’m an active trader!
Active stock trading gets a bad rap in the FIRE community…and for good reason. It is an endeavor fraught with risk for those who don’t take precautions. Anyone who participates in it should do considerable research before starting and practice with small amounts before growing their position size. The vast majority of people who get into trading ignore all this…which is why the vast majority of people fail. That said, I have several years of experience doing trading in the stock market and find it a good way of making money. I don’t view it as being terribly different from some of the nano-businesses other bloggers advocate for, like buying products wholesale and selling them at retail price via E-Bay, Amazon, etc. It’s just a matter of buying and selling something when you have a proper understanding of its value. And it can seriously pay off. I’m sure everyone would love to have this one reader’s problem about what to do with $1.6 million in assets at the age of 31. As such, this blog will look at stock trading strategies alongside other money-making enterprises.
Reason 6: Book reviews!
As a bookworm, I’ve read a lot of books out there on personal finance, real estate, stock trading, etc. that I’m not seeing covered elsewhere, or not as in-depth as I’d like. If bloggers reviewed finance books as deeply as literary critics reviewed fiction novels, the world would be better off. I plan on reviewing many of them here to help people decide what would be the best thing to study for their own needs.
To close, I hope this breakdown will help readers to determine whether this blog is worth their time. With luck, it will even help you become financially free and able to do the things you want. As the Chinese might say, “Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.” I’ll be putting a lot of words out there so that others may not neglect their life and opportunities like I did, and so many others still do!