The Green Swan // Financial Literacy Chronicles, No.1

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Please welcome JW from The Green Swan as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 1 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

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

My name is JW and I blog over at The Green Swan about personal finance and early retirement.

I started The Green Swan a little over a year ago to share my financial journey toward early retirement. My wife, Lucy, and I both grew up in a small Midwestern town and have bounced around the U.S. including stops in San Francisco and currently we’ve lived in Charlotte for over 5 years.

Nothing in life worth having comes easy.

By age 30, my wife and I accumulated a net worth over $1 million and are targeting an investment portfolio of $3 million by our mid- to late-30s, before hanging it up for good.

Together we have a 3 year old boy and we’re expecting our second kiddo literally any day now!

Editors note: Congratulations!

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

My parents were fairly open with me about finance matters growing up. In general, this helped provide a good framework of personal finance knowledge.

I think the most impactful lesson I learned growing up was the importance of diversifying my investments.

My parents explained how an uncle of mine lost a significant amount of his savings because he was invested primarily in his employer stock, AT&T. In the early 1980s when AT&T was broken up by the government he lost a significant amount of money!

A horrible lesson to learn first-hand, and hence why it was so impactful on me growing up!

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?

One interesting piece of advice I’ve received is opening a 529 account for your kid’s college before they’re even born.

No doubt the tax advantages of 529 accounts is great to take advantage of, but I had never heard or thought of trying to maximize the tax savings by starting to invest before the kid’s birth. But this can be accomplished by opening the account with yourself as the beneficiary at first, and then changing the beneficiary later to your kid’s name.

Creative idea, huh?!

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?

The main principles I live and espouse on The Green Swan are focusing on wealth creation and early retirement. With some simple lifestyle changes and the right financial habits, it is possible to achieve this dream.

Two books that have especially hit home for me and helped me in my pursuit of early retirement are The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin.

These are great books to get anyone started on the path toward financial freedom and living a life solely of your own pursuits.

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

Sadly, I never received any formal financial literacy education in school.

Nationally I think we can do a better job of placing emphasis on financial literacy education by making it a part of our core curriculum. If only I had a magic wand…but until that day comes I can only resort to taking actions I can control. Growing up, and especially in my college years, I took responsibility for my own financial literacy by reading and soaking up any bit of knowledge I could.

Thankfully there are many great free resources online.

I’ll also do my best to help my kids build a foundation of personal finance knowledge as they grow up. And lastly, I’ve made financial literacy my cashcow by launching The Green Swan!

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

Since I entered the blogging world myself, I’ve really come to appreciate how many other blogs there are and all the great work they do.

I’ve enjoyed being part of the community and dove in head first by following over 100 blogs. It’s been infectious and I enjoy reading the real, unfiltered stories of others as they navigate personal finance matters.

So narrowing it down to 3 is quite a challenge! But if you twist my arm, I would say…

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?

“Nothing in life worth having comes easy.” — unknown.

Why The Green Swan?

The Green Swan represents a way of life and my approach toward personal finance.

Many of you may have heard of a black swan before, which is a metaphor to describe a surprise event with a major effect, e.g. the 2008 economic collapse that resulted in significant financial destruction.

Well, alternatively, The Green Swan is a metaphor I coined to describe a deliberate approach to managing and investing money with a major effect: wealth accumulation, financial independence and early retirement.

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

JW is a corporate banker, a small business owner, a personal finance blogger, and a family man with a wife, a kid and another on the way. He amassed his first million by age 30 and is on the path to reach financial independence and retire early in his mid-30s. JW blogs at The Green Swan to help others achieve their financial objectives and believes  anyone can be on the path to retire early with the right habits and mindset. You can also find JW on Twitter and Facebook too.

Readers, please share your thoughts on JW’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. Great way to kick off Financial Literacy month! Thanks for the insights JW! So important that we continue to make progress on personal finance class becoming a requirement for graduation.

  2. I am so excited to read this and the rest of the posts that April has in store. While we all write PF in may different ways, it is interesting to read the background of all my favorite bloggers in regards to their financial upbringings. Great tip on the 529!! I don’t have kids but I will be sure to pass this one down. 🙂

    Congrats, JW and Lucy on Baby Swans arrival!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted 2017 1st Qtr Net Worth & Savings Rates…Homerun!!My Profile


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