For me, becoming financially independent is what motivates me to save, invest, and build up wealth. I started my financial independence journey because I realized I’m already saving money each month. But that’s just it – the funds just stayed in my account, earning a minimal interest. I felt that I’m missing on something and that if I continue that way, I’ll probably never feel financially independent. What is financial independence for me? It’s to be able to have a quality life in terms of travel, health, to have secured mine and my family’s future retirement. As I know I can’t rely on the government pension system, I don’t want to end up 70 years old waiting for the €1000 monthly payment until I pass away.
Being financially independent is entirely personal. For every one of us, there is a different reason to strive for financial independence. Different people also start their journeys differently. I started my journey late last year when I ramped up my savings account. Firstly, I was going at it without a clear plan, but then I set milestones and went deeper into investment options from there. For others, that journey started years ago for various reasons.
That’s why I asked 11 financially independent bloggers to share how they started their own journeys. All of them come from different countries, have different backgrounds, ideas, and life. My question to them was: Which specific personal experience motivated you to start your financial independence journey? Here is what they replied, their stories, who they are, and what triggered them to make a better future for themselves.
Sherry from Save. Spend. Splurge: I thought: Something has to change, this is ridiculous.
It was the day I opened my statement from the bank and the university stating that my student debt is $60,000. When I saw how much interest I was paying a day, I freaked out.
From there, realizing I took the last $2000 from my student loans to put down a first and last month’s rent payment on my new apartment after graduation, was also another eye-opener. I didn’t even have enough money in my bank account to do this. I had to use LOANS, almost like a credit card for me, to pay for something like rent.
That shocked me. I realized right then and there, that paying my credit cards in full every month wasn’t enough. With $0 in my bank account and $60K in debt, I had NOTHING. How could this be? I have worked 2.5 jobs (average) over my lifetime thus far, since the age of 7 running businesses and I had NOTHING?
Literally ZERO? No. Just no.
That made me start reading as much as I could about money. I started by googling “budget + money” and devoured every article that came across my path and taught myself everything I could absorb.
That was 14 years ago.
So going from $60K in student debt to having a net worth of over $1M now (I became a personal millionaire at 36 and our total current family net worth is around $2.2M or so), was a real accomplishment for me. Once I hit it, it felt anti-climatic to know I was a millionaire (just felt inevitable). Now I am working on having $1M invested in the stock market, which I think will feel more real to me than $1M in net worth, which includes my fixed assets.
Who is Sherry?
I am my own Sugar Daddy. Became a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months using an Excel tool that I created and now sell and donate the net proceeds to charity (https://www.thebudgetingtool.com/). I quadrupled my income from $65K to $260K in 2 years after graduating, and have saved on average 50% of my income. I only worked 50% of my career by taking breaks anywhere from 3-months to 2 years in between contracts.
I have written 6 books including ones on blogging and money
Jeremy from Personal Finance Club: I started a company, then decided to sell it for $5 million.
My story is a bit strange because I started a company and was making a max salary of $36,000/year. At the age of 34 when I sold the company for $5 million. I then started reading every book on investing that I could get my hands on so that I didn’t squander my windfall. It turns out all these books say the exact same thing. A message we rarely hear in the typical American experience. The true path to building wealth is to spend less than you make and invest the difference in index funds. That’s really it. But no one is profiting off that plan. That’s is why we are bombarded with marketing messages that give more complex ways to invest.
Jeremy Schneider is a successful entrepreneur and personal finance expert. After starting an internet company in college and selling it at the age of 34 for over $5M and retiring at 36, Jeremy has dedicated his life to teaching personal finance. He founded Personal Finance Club, a community of champions of the individual investor who help further financial education. Jeremy likes playing beach volleyball and writing bios about himself in the third person.
Make sure to follow Jeremy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/personalfinanceclub/
Melissa and Murphy from fitnfunds: We were drowning in debt!
Over six years ago we had a rock bottom moment in our marriage and finances. At that point in our lives we were taking lavish trips with money we did not have which was supported by our line of credit. We used our car payment to go on a vacation, and buying groceries on a credit card. Unbeknownst to us we were drowning in debt and came to our rock bottom moment that enough was ENOUGH! The bleeding had to STOP. In January 2014 we began our debt-free journey with a total of $229,000.00 in debt.
Ok, this is where you go they had how much???? Yeah, you read it right, this daunting amount consisted of you name it student loans, lines of credit, credit cards, medical bills, IRS bills, cars, you name it we had it. It took Mel the first year to get on board. Once we started to gain momentum in our debt payoff we saw a huge shift in not only our finances but many other areas of our lives! One thing that we can express to you is that this journey will transform you in more ways than one!
TODAY, we are 100% DEBT FREE
We believe that through what we’ve learned we provide the tools, resources, accountability, plan, and encouragement to help others to get their finances in order.
We’ve been married for a whole decade. No, we don’t have kids yet! We are an interracial couple who celebrates diversity. We are not perfect and try to keep God first in every area of our lives. As far as the fitness/nutrition aspect of our lives over the last 10-15 years we’ve learned to enjoy the benefits of exercise, eating healthy, and lifting weights. Murph played basketball all through high school and college. Mel played basketball/volleyball in her early high school years and in her college days started working out on a weekly basis.
Make sure to follow Melissa and Murphy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fitnfunds/
Francesca from The Money Fox: I needed a change!
A few years ago, I found myself in a rut. In an unhappy marriage, in debt and going nowhere. Something had to change, I deserved more. I started budgeting, earning extra income, getting a new job, paying off debt, and more. I learned new ways about growing wealth and set about putting them into action.
A joy-filled life is important to me, and part of that is working when I want, doing what I want. I want a peaceful life, and to be a good example for my daughter.
My name is Francesca and I want to share my money journey with you, so you can see the things that have worked and the things that haven’t! I haven’t had a great time with my finances, but my hope is that I can share with you the ways that I have managed to turn my money situation around, to show you the best ways of doing so.
Caitlyn from Focused Finances: My mother taught me a lot about money
I was very aware of money and their value at an early age. I was raised by a single mother who put herself through undergraduate school and law school while raising me with little to no financial help from anyone. This experience growing up exposed me to money management and the concept of living paycheque to paycheque. As I grew up and began earning my own income I knew I wanted and needed to lead a better financial life.
My awareness of the financial struggles my mom went through caused some unhealthy tendencies with money. But it also helped me develop an awareness of personal finance. And this is ultimately why I began seeking professional advice to correct my unhealthy money habits through influences like Gail Van Oxlade, Dave Ramsey, and The Budget Mom. These influences and my past experience is what drove me to start my financial independence journey. Now that I’m married with a child of my own I strive to hold myself and my partner accountable. This is how we ensure that we lead a life we love on a budget we can afford.
My name is Caitlyn and I’m from Northern Ontario, Canada. Although my education doesn’t focus on Finance I’ve always independently studied to learn about Personal Finances and Financial Management. I’ve worked for a Law Firm for about 5 years now managing their office and doing their year-round bookkeeping. I hope to continue to help manage finances moving forward as both a personal and professional passion!
Make sure to subscribe to Caitlyn’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/focusedfinances/
Sarah from She Budgets: We wanted a baby and to pay off our debt.
The personal experience that motivated me and my partner to start our financial independence journey was building our family home and thinking of starting a family. We knew that we would definitely have to change our money ways when paying off a mortgage and we didn’t want to bring a baby into this world where we couldn’t afford to buy things for him or take him for experiences and holidays.
Before paying a mortgage and having a child we were so carefree with our money. We would only pay minimal amounts on our debts (which totaled more than $50,000), saved just enough for a house deposit, and would buy whatever we wanted when we wanted. Four years later, we have paid more than $40,000 debt, have saved over $20,000 for different savings goals, and paid $50,000 off our mortgage.
Who is Sarah? I am a 29-year-old Mum from Victoria, Australia. I am also a teacher and I love all things budgeting and finance.
Feel free to check Sarah’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/s.h.e.budgets/
Marc from betterwallet: This had to stop.
The specific personal experience that motivated me to start my financial independence journey occurred around December of 2016. It was the Monday after a long weekend of partying with friends and buying a couple of new outfits. I have overdraft email alerts set up for my PNC account and I remember my phone buzzing for almost 30 seconds straight. I checked my Gmail and realized I had 5 overdrafts fees due to the expenses over the weekend, totaling $150.
This was on top of the overdraft amounts. In total, it was around $300. I thought I could call PNC and have the fee waived. However, for the first time in my life, they denied my request. Adding fuel to the fire, I didn’t have enough money to take the train to work that week so I had to call out. Embarrassing. At that point, I knew I needed to budget and control my expenses. Fast forward 3 years, I’m debt-free and I’m teaching others how to not make the same mistakes I did.
Who is Marc? I’m a 30-year-old financial professional from Philadelphia. Paid off 80k of debt in 3 years. Helping others do the same!
Make sure to follow Marc’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/betterwallet/
Funancialism: I want to help others with money problems
What motivates me most is seeing my friends suffer. I know that reads oddly for a moment, I definitely don’t derive joy from it – I hurt with them. I started interviewing my friends with money problems and almost every time, there was something they could be doing better. They just never had anyone talk about money with them before; that’s when I decided to arm myself with financial knowledge and help as many people as I could by just talking to them about money.
I don’t want anyone to needlessly suffer. Improving my financial health is a byproduct of this goal. My hope is when I help someone out, they will help their friends and family out too and it becomes an infinite chain of social returns.
Ro from debttomojo: Investing to grow and create a passive income!
Purchasing my own property back in 2018 in the most expensive state and city in Australia (Sydney) was my main kickstart in wanting to start my own financial journey. You never realize how many additional expenses you can occur on top of the sale price and each year they tend to be increased.
This desire to expand my knowledge through books and the debt-free community on Instagram really is what got me on the path to seeking FI and learning all the different ways that can be achieved.
Ro bought her first property at 27 with a 405K deposit back in 2018. Now 29 she’s using investing to grow and create a passive income while still aggressively paying down the mortgage.
Make sure to subscribe to Ro’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/debttomojo/
Grace from comebudgetwithme: The debt-free community taught me a lot about money.
To be honest, stumbling upon the debt-free community is what inspired me to get serious about paying down our mortgage and building wealth! We were making extra repayments but nowhere near as much as we could have been. We weren’t really tracking our outgoings (we weren’t spending more than we earned, but we were still throwing money away unnecessarily).
Stumbling upon this community taught me I can still have the life I want now while still building wealth for our future. In the time since I found the DFC we have paid heaps off our mortgage and started investing in shares (share portfolio is currently $37K) and have bought a fourth property in our dream neighborhood while we continue to travel overseas 1-2 times per year, plus multiple interstate trips per year. Though not at the moment due to COVID…
Grace is from Australia, 36-years-old, loves to budget and travel.
Make sure to visit her Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/comebudgetwithme/
Nathaly from The Financial Talk: Being in debt is stressful. I wanted to be financially independent.
My decision to start my financial independence journey was in July 2019. Back then I had to pay $7000 of remaining university tuition with my credit card. It was a stressful time that affected my relationship with my mom and my mental health. Even though from a young age I have been interested in investing and personal finance, this life experience was the takeoff for a financial independence journey and generational wealth journey.
Being in high-interest debt, I realize that people could have a better life if they had a general knowledge of personal finance. If my single mom had had a better understanding of money management, maybe I would not have had to incur a CAD$7000 credit card debt and USD$29,000 student loans to pay for University. But it is not her fault, it is the fault of the system and their poor or lack of financial education all around the world.
Nathaly is a first-generation Ecuadorian who immigrated to Canada for studies. Her life experiences abroad led her to self-educate on money management and wealth building.
By sharing her debt and wealth journey, she seeks to empower other women and immigrants to be financially independent and live their best life.
Make sure to subscribe to Nathaly’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/thefinancialtalk/
Looking at all of these personal stories, did you recognize yourself in some of them? Did they inspire you to start your personal finance journey, become debt-free, and live a happier life? Let us know in the comments!