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The Educator on FI/RE interview series features educators who are looking to reach financial independence. They come from a variety of roles and at various points on the path. It’s my hope that these interviews build community and help show other educators what is possible. It’s a chance to learn from others and seek feedback – reply in the comments below.
Today’s interview features a dual-educator family building a path to financial independence. It’s an inspiring story – let’s jump in!
Tell us about you.
My wife and I live in the Pacific Northwest with our 10-month old daughter and 4-year-old
What do you like most about working in education?
Overall, my daily driving force is the opportunities for relationships with my students. I couldn’t imagine another job that would allow me to impact lives the way teaching does. I love teaching health, and have real conversations about life, mental health, relationships and everything that comes with the curriculum.
My wife and I appreciate the life balance that our jobs bring. We love spending the afternoons together, knowing that we will be able to enjoy holidays together, and having the summers to travel.
What is your Why of Financial Independence? (Why are you learning about or seeking FI?)
I think my why has evolved over the years. Now I am very much motivated by providing for my family, giving us a future where our finances don’t dictate our choices, and being able to afford to give our daughter a great life. But I think my original why started long before our family. My parents had me in high school, causing them to sacrifice a lot and struggle to provide. Finances
- FI Curious – Just learning and becoming interested in financial independence
- Future FI – On the path, but still learning. Destined for financial independence!
- FI Success – Financially independent!
Future FI, I hope! We have been able to eliminate debt, except for our mortgage. We have a “number” but aren’t near burning out of our careers or sure if we will want to retire early if or when we hit that number.
Share any financial numbers you are comfortable sharing.
– I am 30 and my wife is 29. We have been together since high school, married for over 4 years.
-I make around $74k pre tax and my wife makes around $68k pre tax.
-Our current saving/investments plan for 2019 is:
-Max out each of our HSAs, 457 plans, and Roths while still contributing to our pensions. All for a total of $59,688. Our Roths are through Vanguard. Our HSA and 457 are through district facilitators that we will eventually roll over.
-We have zero debt.
– We once had $90k in student loans and a combined $18k in car loans.
-Our savings rate comes out to rough ~40-45%. Largely due to a high mortgage and daycare/child expenses.
Tell us about your path to FI.
- What are your successes/wins?
- What are your challenges?
We decided early on that we wanted to tackle and eliminate our debt. Before our marriage, I chose to live in a friends basement putting away 85% of my paycheck to my student loans. I used the “snowball” method and got small wins paying off smaller loans along the way. I remember printing off each prom note as I paid off a loan, crossing out the amount owed and putting the letter in my desk drawer. Whenever I was discouraged about debt, I would open up the drawer and see the progress I was making.
Before learning about the FI community, we used Real Estate as our main vehicle for investing and a solid savings rate to help pay off debt. We started with a small 5% down payment $8,750. We begin renovating our first home and shortly after bought our second, becoming landlords. We sold our first home and eliminated over $50k in debt. We eventually finished the second remodel and sold that home for over a $135k profit.
We used these profits to invest in our current home, travel, and most importantly, adopt our little girl. I always knew we would eventually pay off our debt because we were fine living below our means and good at saving. But my wife and I met in high school and ever since have wanted to grow our family through adoption. Adoption can be VERY expensive and we weren’t sure how we would ever afford it with our student loan debts. Selling that last house and putting that money aside for adoption was one of the most fulfilling days of my life.
Side hustles along the way: I got my RE license to help sell some homes on the side (
What is your long-term goal? Do you have a FI target?
We want to have the option to work without any financial worry. For us, lean fire (and being able to work part-time while keeping our health benefits) would include $1-$1.25 million. Our FIRE number is $1.5 million and our pension would come into effect once we turn 65.
If you become financially independent will you:
- Retire early?
- Continue to work in education? (How/why?)
- Do something different?
Not sure. We love our jobs, our work/family balance, and
Tell us about a short-term goal you’re working towards.
Renovating our current home. Potentially converting the garage to a studio apartment and our upstairs into an Airbnb to create more passive income. Few things in the works there.
Who/what inspires you?
My dad is a huge inspiration. He is so selfless and would do anything for his family. My dad shopped at Goodwill, drove a $500 truck, but was still so proud of himself and his possessions. He irons the jeans he buys from G
What’s something you want to say to other educators about financial independence?
Too often people get into teaching and there’s this stigma that by becoming a teacher you are giving up on having a financially wealthy life. My friends hint at it all the time. “Those summers off sure are nice, too bad about the pay or else I would’ve been a teacher too”. I just nod and smile, think about my dad who still works physical labor for 60 hours a week and has since he was 18, and feel so grateful to make a good living with a job that gives me back so much. Don’t be a victim, educate yourself on how our profession offers so many awesome benefits (ability for side hustles, access to a pension/457/HSA/etc) because most districts don’t do a very good job of teaching you how to take advantage of these assets.
Is there anything you’d like to get feedback on from the community?
How has having an HSA with a young child/children worked out over the course of a few years? How are you saving for your child’s future? We are looking into a 529 plan and I am contemplating having my wife’s parents open it for our daughter. Our state doesn’t have
Where can readers reach you if they want to connect?
I am thinking of starting a blog. Feels daunting with how many good ones are already out there. I don’t want it to take away from my time at home with my daughter either…. Maybe that should be in the feedback section 😊
Wow, a lot of inspiring stuff in there. There is a lot of blog-worthy content in your story. I’d be glad to host any posts if you decide not to start one on your own!
Readers – please follow him on Twitter and give any feedback you have on the 529.