Financial planning has always been a passion of mine. Luckily my wife is the same way. While financial discussions may be difficult or completely absent within some marriages, my wife and I enjoy talking about our finances and how we’re going to meet our next goal. While the communication lines were wide open about our finances, we had an aha moment in July of 2017. We were trying to keep up with the Joneses. Maybe not the Joneses of the city we resided at the time where the average home price was over $400,000, but nonetheless we were still on that path where things and stuff mattered. Everything changed for me in July of 2017. As a side note, I think my wife would tell you that she’s been ready for a while now, but as with everything, it takes me a bit longer to come around.
Back up a couple months to May of 2017; I was finishing up my fifth school year as a teacher and felt I was at a crossroads. Education is a second career for me and I will tell you that while teaching is rewarding in many ways, it is also the hardest job that I’ve experienced. I was averaging at least 50 hours/week, even through summer, spring and winter breaks for all five years. My wife would label me as a workaholic. I love what I’m doing and have a vision for where I believe education can go, but I had worked myself to the point of being completely burned out.
My bosses saw that I was burned out as well and were telling me at the end of the school year to take the entire summer off. This may sound great, but to a workaholic it’s difficult to hear. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my time and I had a ton of work to do over the summer to get ready for the next school year. To spare you the details of the tipping point for me, I realized that something needed to change. I also realized that getting a new job or switching careers were definitely not the answers; I knew I had to dig deeper to find the balance my wife and I were seeking.
In June of 2017, my wife and I took a trip to Miami to recollect our thoughts. 2017 had just been a terrible year all around with so many tragedies and then add this work thing I was going through, we just needed to get away. Miami was great but expensive! Nonetheless, we returned with energy and then the following week I had surgery to repair an old injury. Traveling to Miami and undergoing surgery forced me to take a break from work and do some soul-searching.
Throughout my time of introspection, which heavily involved Google, I found a blog post by Mr. Money Mustache (MMM). This is the exact blog post I had read (link). After reading all of his posts, listening to podcasts by ChooseFI, and Googling (I mean soul-searching) some more, I realized that this is the journey my wife and I needed to begin. I sent my wife Mr. Money Mustache’s post and she was all in.
Since finding the Financial Independence (FI) community, I’ve been on a mission to help my fellow educators, family, and friends understand the many benefits of FI. Throughout my discussions with colleagues, I’ve realized that retirement planning and financial education is not a strength for many of us, and many districts do not do enough, if anything, to help teachers plan for retirement.
Goal of TeachFI
The goal of TeachFI is to help and inspire people, especially our fellow educators. Jack and I want to share our knowledge and journeys to Financial Independence. Neither of us are perfect in our pursuits and we’ve both made a ton of mistakes in our financial lives. We want everyone, including our fellow educators, to know that you’re not alone in navigating your financial lives. We are here to help you. Our goal is to be completely transparent about our journeys which will include the mistakes we’ve made and subsequently learned from, our monthly expenses, our net worth and our savings rate. I believe if we’re open and honest about our pursuit of financial independence, you will find out improving your financial life is not as far-fetched as you may believe it to be.
What does Financial Independence mean or look like to you? If this path interests you, where do you stand now? What steps are you taking to move toward FI?