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Please welcome Joe from Retire By 40 as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 12 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

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

I left my engineering career when I was 38 to become a stay-at-home-dad/blogger.

My job wasn’t the right fit anymore and I was stressed out all the time. Also, we had a baby and we didn’t like sending him to day care because we rarely get to spend time with him. Fortunately, we saved and invested for many years already and it enable me to stop working full-time to be home with our kid.

I’ve been blogging at Retire by 40 about early retirement and financial independence since 2010.

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

Sure, I can.

My family immigrated to the United States when I was 12.

My parents worked in minimum wage jobs for a few years and our finances were in a bad shape. Those jobs are not stable and sometimes, we couldn’t make ends meet. Eventually, my parents purchased a small restaurant and our finances improved rapidly.

The lesson here is – you need to improve your income to build wealth. We also kept our living expenses low and minimized our lifestyle inflation. That’s very important too.

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 dad told me to contribute to my 401(k) right away when I first started working full time.

I didn’t want to save for retirement because I was young and I wanted to buy some nicer things. However, common sense prevailed and I started saving for retirement instead of spending a lot of money.

I was able to max out my 401(k) after a few years and I’ve been adding to it over 20 years now. I’m really grateful for my dad’s advice because my 401(k) is now the biggest piece of our net worth. If I spent the money on a new car, TV, and furniture, they would be worthless after 20 years.

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?

  • Your Money or Your Life – This classic book asks you to examine your relationship with money, work, and life. You are trading your life energy for money. Is it worth it?
  • The Millionaire Next Door – If you’re not a millionaire, then you need to read this book and study their habits.
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad – Pay attention to the asset vs liability chapter and ignore anything related to MLM.

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

I did not receive any financial literacy education in school.

That’s unfortunate because young people graduate high school with no idea how to manage their finances.

I think high school seniors should learn basic personal finance concepts including debt management, retirement savings, and financial independence. These topics are easy to understand and everyone should understand them.

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

  • Budgets Are Sexy – J. Money’s blog is very entertaining and he is working hard toward financial independence. It’s great to see a regular guy get ahead financially.
  • Financial Samurai (interview) – Sam is a very dedicated blogger and he writes about many different topics. His blog is always entertaining.
  • Go Curry Cracker! – Jeremy retired early and he is enjoying an international lifestyle with his wife and kid. It’s a great story.

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?

No, not really. *smile*

What does financial independence mean to you?

Financial independence means work becomes optional and I can live the lifestyle I want.

Currently, I’m still blogging part time so I’m not 100% retired yet, but we are financially independent. We could stop working completely and we’d be able to maintain our lifestyle.

However, I believe a little work is good. It keeps you busy and you’ll have some goals to shoot for. An idle retirement can wait until you’re 70.

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

Joe left his six-figure engineering career to become a stay at home dad/blogger when he was 38. His wife is planning to retire early in a few years and they will take a couple of years off to travel around the world with their young son. Visit Retire by 40 to follow his journey to financial independence.

Readers, please share your thoughts on Joe’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!

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