When I told my wife my idea to begin blogging about our journey to financial independence and early retirement, she met me with a less than enthusiastic response. ”Does the world really need another blog?” I must admit that while a part of me was extremely excited to start this blog and see where it takes us and what it becomes, another part of me continues to ask the same question.
The biggest reason that I think this blog will bring value is that it will add another voice providing new ideas or at least different perspectives on old ideas for people trying to find a better way to use their finances to lead better lives. The biggest problem I’ve found in trying to make educated financial planning decisions is that it is very hard to find quality advice. Many people who are typically turned to such as financial advisors and insurance agents may provide some good advice and information, but the manner in which they make their livings almost always puts their motives and interests at least in part in opposition to your own. At some point, we all will need some help and advice. As such we will have to put at least some degree of trust in others. However, the better informed we are as consumers and the more we are making rational, mathematically sound decisions the less we will be to be swayed by sales pitches, fear tactics and half truths that are often pushed by those in the financial industry.
When we got serious about assessing how we were progressing toward financial independence and how close we were to being able to retire early, we found several blogs incredibly interesting and helpful. Our eyes were opened widely to options that we never had considered. We were seriously humbled to learn how much we did not know about our financial situation, particularly our lack of knowledge on investing and tax considerations. We also were inspired to see others pursuing goals and dreams similar to our own.
The first blog on any subject that I ever began to read was earlyretirementextreme.com. The writing of Jacob on this blog is 180° opposite to most conventional wisdom on our consumer driven lifestyle and I loved it immediately. My wife and I have always appreciated simple living and this blog speaks to our inner “dirtbag” selves. However, even for me, many of the ideals espoused are a bit extreme. (Suprise! It is in the name of the blog) I’m not ready to give up quite as much of the comforts that I am accustomed to (no car, no phone, eat the same things most days, etc) just to achieve this version of “financial independence”. However, this blog has challenged me to reconsider what is a necessity and what isn’t and gives very practical solutions to progress quickly toward financial independence. For less practical but more idealistic , philosophical and inspiring reading on this approach I also enjoy following the minimalist’s blog.
I also discovered the Mad Fientist blog and his corresponding podcasts and became a big fan. His writing has opened my eyes to ways of looking at things such as taxes and frugality that I never would have thought of that will have a huge impact on developing our own direction and strategies. I also enjoy the Mad Fientist podcast which turned me on to two more blogs. The first was Mr. Money Mustache. It is written by someone who retired at 30 years old while raising children, which is very applicable to our situation. He offers an incredible amount of useful and easy to follow suggestions and is also very inspirational for someone looking to follow in his footsteps. The other blog I discovered through the MF podcast was that of J.L. Collins. Before anyone ever invests their first dollar in traditional paper assets, I would recommend taking a week and slowly working through his “stock series” including his reader’s comments. While we do not agree with everything he says 100% and do not follow his recommendations completely in our portfolio, it was very instrumental in gaining a baseline knowledge and we do agree with the basics of his philosophy.
Another early retirement site I follow consistently is Darrow Kirkpatrick’s blog on early retirement. His writing offers great insight to the challenges and rewards associated with early retirement. He writes about a bit more traditional early retirement, quitting his job at 50 after his children were grown. I mostly like this site because his writing gives more conservative views on planning early retirement than the others listed above and he tends to be a bit more detailed and nuanced in looking at different financial issues faced by early retirees.
Finally, I found the website of Todd Tresidder at financialmentor.com. We have found that reading the free articles and blog on his web site as well as listening to his podcast has added a tremendous amount of value to our financial planning and education. He also offers e-books which we have found very useful in working through some specific problems we have encountered. I would say that this is the one personal finance website that we would recommend anyone check out because no matter your goals or current status, you could find value here.
The plan for our blog is to, like the authors featured above, bring our own unique experiences, values, mistakes, writing style and areas of expertise to the table. Readers can then apply what fits as we all try to figure out how to mold our own unique situations, strengths and weaknesses to provide for wealthier, more fulfilling lives. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what others think of these sites and hear other’s recommendations of resources they’ve found useful.