ESI Money // Financial Literacy Chronicles, No. 18

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Please welcome ESI from ESI Money as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 18 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog.

I’m a 50-something guy who’s been married 25 years and has two kids (son, 20; daughter 18). We live in Colorado (and LOVE it!).

I grew up and went to school in the Midwest and have lived in a handful of states since.

I enjoy football, soccer, hiking, chess, and money — not necessarily in that order. *smile*

Small gains over a long period of time add up to big things.

I reached financial independence a few years ago, retired a year ago, and now share the steps I took to develop a multi-million dollar net worth.

Can you share your most impactful money memory from your childhood?

I grew up rather poor and knew I didn’t want to live that way when I became an adult.

From the earliest of ages I wanted to become wealthy. As such all my career choices were directed towards high-paying professions.

I went through several options. The series was veterinarian, then lawyer, and finally executive.

Eventually I got an MBA and became the president of a $100 million company.

We all receive financial advice from people in our lives.  What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve received from your community?

My readers are one of the main reasons my site is impactful. Many are more accomplished than I am and have great comments on career management, investing, and all other facets of personal finance.

I’ve had a lot of great advice from readers, but I’d probably say the best stuff I get is when I write on a topic and someone comes along with an awesome solution.

For instance, I was writing about retirement and the fact that it puts me in a lower tax bracket. I was also wondering how to get access to a large amount of funds without paying capital gains tax. A reader pointed out that as long as I stayed in the 15% tax bracket, there were no long-term capital gains taxes. I hadn’t even thought of that for some reason, probably because I’ve spent so many years in a much higher bracket. Anyway, his suggestion saved me thousands of dollars.

This sort of stuff happens all the time. We feed off each other (my posts and their comments) to come up with some great solutions to life’s money challenges.

I have several personal finance books I regularly give to friends and family.  What are your 3 favorite fundamental personal finance books you often gift to others?

I actually have a list of the only five money books anyone needs to read.

But if you’d make me pick only three, I’d go with The Millionaire Next Door as #1. I read it shortly after it was published, applied what it said, and reaped the benefits. It’s the book with the single-largest impact in my life.

Next, I’d say The Richest Man in Babylon. It’s very basic, but covers everything so well. It’s a short read too which makes it a perfect gift.

Finally, I’d list Your Money or Your Life. It’s a great piece at getting you to think about the value of your time — something that’s worth far more than money.

What financial literacy education did you receive in school?  If you had a magic wand, what would you change to improve that?

None at all.

I went to high school, college, and graduate school and there was not a single personal finance class offered.

I would have loved to have had some basic teachings like what Dave Ramsey talks about. It would have saved me about ten years of floundering about.

There are so many blogs on the internet, what are 3 of your favorite blogs that instill financial literacy, either by word or action?

Financial Samurai (interview) – Always insightful. Sam comes up with some great (and controversial) topics.

Money Boss (interview) – JD is a friend and master story-teller.

Budgets are Sexy – Somehow J Money always makes talking about money so much fun!

I like to keep inspirational quotes around the house to remind me of what’s important.  Do you have a favorite money quote you use to inspire your financial life?

“Small gains over a long period of time add up to big things.”

I have a post on this coming up. It works on any goal you want to reach — money goals, fitness goals, relationship goals, etc.

If someone asked you the secret to becoming wealthy, what would you say?

Many Americans believe that there is some great secret to becoming wealthy. They think it requires a combination of luck, vast knowledge, and a trick or two that only a few can pull off. However, the truth is that the simple “basics” are all you need to build wealth.

The fact that you can become wealthy by following a few, simple principles is the basis of both my personal financial independence as well as the topic of my site. Simply work on earning, saving, and investing over time and anyone can become wealthy.

Thanks for contributing to Financial Literacy Month here on Enwealthen, ESI!

ESI writes at ESI Money, a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). It’s written by an early 50’s retiree who achieved financial independence, shares what’s worked for him, and details how others can implement those successes in their lives. You can learn more about ESI Money here and get his free ebook Three Steps to Financial Independence. You can also connect with him on Twitter @FMFBlog.

Readers, please share your thoughts on ESI’s experiences, any additional questions you have, and suggestions for who else you’d like to see interviewed in the comments below.  And please do share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Thanks!


  1. I always think it’s interesting to see who other people read and their influence. All three of the bloggers you picked have had a huge impact on me as well. JD was the first blog I read when he had Get Rich Slowly. Then when he started winding down from that site I moved to Sam at Financial Samurai and then got introduced to J. Money’s writing over at Budgets Are Sexy.
    MUSTARD SEED MONEY recently posted Spending Wisely on MemoriesMy Profile


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