039 - Millennial Path to FI

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0 - 73 Jonathan Mendonsa Ok guys welcome back for another episode of the Choose FI radio podcast. Today I have a story that I'm very excited to get a chance to do. We brought Gwen in from fiery millennials. And today we're going to really try to focus on I guess what you could call the millennial path to FI. If I were going to look at my own story and timeline we're kind of me and Brad to a lesser degree or kind of in this transitional generation where a lot of this technology was really coming to the forefront I would say that right behind us though is the pure millennial generation that maybe grew up to some degree with iPads in their hands and had access to all this technology earlier and really new blogs from from the very beginning blogs to some degree were just arriving when we were coming through the ranks. But at this point for the millennial generation blogs had been here for a while they've been developed and they had access to a lot of this information. Now I would not say that our guest today Gwen is second generation fire because she did not have a parent mentoring her through this process she had to figure it out. But she did have the benefit of seeing other people do it first and that's why this story is really cool. What if you aren't really given any advantages in life except that you are willing to learn everything that you didn't know and then actually do it. Be willing to push yourself stretch yourself and actually take action no matter what it took and how far it took you outside of your comfort zone.
73 - 95 Jonathan Mendonsa What if you had access to all this information right at the right time where you could actually execute on these game plans knowing that your future 30 year old self was going to get to benefit from all of this information. That's the power of the story that we're going to do today. And I have Brad as my co-host here with me today and also introduce him to the choose F-I audience Gwen from fiery millennials. Hi Gwen how you doing today.
95 - 95 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I'm doing great.
95 - 109 Jonathan Mendonsa How are you. Coincidentally I'm doing great also. So what did you think about my intro. Did I represent or misrepresent the advantages that you had growing up as a millennial fire Walker.
109 - 125 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I don't know if I'd say that we had it you know from the very beginning because I distinctly remember the only form of really entertainment I had was like a handheld Nintendo you know like a gameboy. I would say I would say that the Internet started to take started to like really pick up when I was in like middle school.
125 - 131 Jonathan Mendonsa OK so we're going to have to go find someone even younger than you to find someone that's truly got it made. Yeah.
131 - 136 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. Because I definitely remember like being kicked out of the house like go play outside and come back until it's dark you know type deal.
136 - 138 Jonathan Mendonsa That is truly the game that we had. Go
138 - 143 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz play outside my I didn't get a cell phone until I was 17.
143 - 146 Jonathan Mendonsa You are not the droids we are looking for.
146 - 150 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well that has been fun. Seriously. What kind of millennial are you.
150 - 155 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well we were poor. My parents didn't want to give me a phone so I had to pay for myself so I had to wait until I could actually afford it.
155 - 157 Jonathan Mendonsa Brad are you giving your kids phones.
157 - 172 Brad Barrett That is a big topic of discussion in our house. Yeah it seems like in my daughter's school everybody gets these phones around like sixth or seventh grade which is frightening. And Laura and I are in deep discussions over that.
172 - 186 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So honestly I'm so glad that I didn't have a phone. And like the Internet was barely a thing like we had myspace but nobody was like cyber bullying each other yet like we just kept the bullying in school face to face.
186 - 233 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. All right. Well let's let's dive into this. So what I find so fascinating about your blog and your story is just that with Brad and myself to a large degree we we kind of talk about the past and if only I had known then what I know now type mentality where in theory we would love to go back and we would love to do the house hacking. We would love to do the dual enrollment but I think both of us know that at this point in our life it's an academic exercise. It's a thought experiment. It's not something that personally it's not a lever that either of us are going to get a chance to pull at this point in our life. But what I love about your story and the choices that you actually made is I've seen across the board you just actually do these things you check the boxes so if there's like a milestones of FI I'm very excited to see you hit yours. But along the way there's got to be these checkpoints of FI. And you're racking up a high score.
dual-enrollment, househacking
233 - 235 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I'm doing pretty good I'd say.
235 - 259 Jonathan Mendonsa Tell us a little bit just about yourself a little a little bit about your family. It's going to start with the cell phone that you didn't get until you're 18 but kind of walk us through maybe those first couple of years and how you discovered that the FI community and what that transition was like going from someone that's reading a blog the blog you started with and then how you decided to actually start doing some of these things to just fall into it. Or was there a very intentional thought process there.
259 - 332 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I guess it starts in high school is really where it started. Or even I guess before that because my parents made me save a whole bunch of my money. I worked with my mom over the summers cleaning people's houses and she would make me deposit half of her half my check into my bank account so I got used to saving part of my money and then I had to get a job if I wanted spending cash I had to you know babysitters stuff. So I had to work for my money. My parents just didn't give it to me. And then they told me that I was expected to go to college after I graduated but they would only pay for two years of community college. Well I didn't want to live with them for two more years and go to community college even if it was free. So then I had to figure out how do I pay for four years of college myself. And we had this conversation pretty early in high school so I had plenty of runway to do it and it turned into a whole bunch of extracurriculars. There's times I was at school from 5:45 in the morning for swim practice all the way through 8 o'clock at night to Girl Scouts straight and go home. So I worked my butt off in high school and I took a bunch of dual credit courses through the local community college so I got high school credit and college credit at the same time. So I actually graduated high school with twenty three credit hours worth of college credit.
college, savings
332 - 340 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I entered school as a second semester freshman that shaved one semester off completely and my parents paid for it because I was going high school.
340 - 368 Brad Barrett So just to stop you there because we do focus a lot on college hacking and the dual enrollment that you mentioned. Talk us through the thought process like did you do a lot of research. Did you look into scholarships like how did you figure out also that those dual enrollment would count at x y z college that you plan to attend like I guess just talk me through what you were thinking and what research you did that could potentially help our audience.
college, dual-enrollment, scholarship
368 - 423 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I've always had friends that have been a year or two older than me and some of them went to this college. And so I visited them at college while I was in high school and said Wow this place is really awesome. I want to go here and at the time I had a very good program for my major that I wanted to have which I ended up changing. So I went to the guidance office and got the book for the college and all the classes and went online and looked up and the state that I grew up in there's a program that colleges and high schools and community colleges all worked together and created this like this program where it standardized some of the classes and the requirements so that I was able to look and pick out which classes were available at my high school that would directly transfer to my university and count as credits. So the only classes that I took in high school that were dual credit were ones that would transfer over.
423 - 441 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah I think that's the important part. That you go forward first and you find out which ones will actually carry value at the institution at which you want to end up. And then you work your way backwards to actually go to the classes you'll just start with the classes you want to take. You have to start with where you're going to end up otherwise you just to waste your time right.
441 - 504 Brad Barrett Yep and yeah I would advise the audience certainly to check the rules in your state and see what programs exist. I know Jonathan and I both live in the state of Virginia and there is a guaranteed transfer admission program that the Virginia community colleges have with the Virginia state universities. So that includes up to the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia which are two of the top 50 schools in the country. And you as long as you check the boxes you need to do a whole bunch of things not least of which get a certain GPA. But as long as you dot the I's cross the t's do everything right. You were guaranteed a transfer admission into UVA which is really pretty remarkable. So and not to mention that you got two years at a community college for a fraction of the cost of what somebody else would have paid to have their freshman and sophomore year at UVA and so many of these programs exist throughout the country. Gwen is suggesting in her state. I know when I see it I I suspect in many many other states as well so do some googling and see what exists in your state.
504 - 518 Jonathan Mendonsa But I know that you capitalized on your college experience way more than just getting ahead by one semester I mean you're saying you got 23 credits it dawned on me that that's basically you're now one semester ahead of your peers but you optimized in several other ways your college experience am I right about that.
518 - 564 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. I didn't start there. So I knew that that would knock one semester off but then I still had to pay for seven more semesters so I didn't want any debt so I had to figure out well how to go to college without debt and you see the advertisements all over the place joined the military and will pay for your school. So I said well there's an easy way to do that. I mean easy being a manner of speaking because it definitely wasn't that easy. But yeah so after I graduated high school I joined the Air Force and the Air National Guard and I had to wait a year but they would have paid for all my school except for the fact that then I got a scholarship for academics. So my university actually paid for every bit of my schooling. The only thing I had to pay for was fees and books.
college, debt, military, scholarship
564 - 575 Jonathan Mendonsa Is there any actionable takeaways on how you went about getting that scholarship is there anything that someone else could benefit from that have a 4.3 GPA. I mean are there any kind of secret life hacks that you can convey to our audience there.
575 - 611 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I mean I it was pretty average across the board. I mean average you know being matter speaking but I had a 3.5 GPA and a 28 overall on my ACT. So it wasn't a thing you know incredible I think at 36 is or you know whatever the top score is. But I did have a crap ton of extracurriculars. I was on a bunch sports teams. I volunteered. I got my gold award through the girls it's so all of those together add up to be pretty impressive like wow she was able to maintain that kind of GPA while doing all this stuff on top of that like was there a certain type of scholarship that you got.
611 - 614 Brad Barrett Where did you apply for this college. How did you get it basically.
614 - 649 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So the university had a scholarship form that you filled out. And then they would put you in every scholarship that you were eligible for. So I filled out one form. I didn't even write an essay to do this. I just filled out a form with all my details and then they put me in all the ones that I was eligible for Originally I didn't actually get the full ride. I got one year room and board waiver and an extra $1500 but that was it. And then I got lucky incredibly lucky because somebody turned their full right down and I was first on the waiting list.
649 - 673 Jonathan Mendonsa The one thing that's missing here is people just don't even fill out the application. I'm sitting here thinking to get a full ride. You need to fill out 30 or 40 different scholarships. You need to be working on it all summer. You need to write essays. You filled out one application it was a generic application throughout the school and that essentially mean you know call it luck but you did put the application in and it was one application that sounds like a pretty good investment of time.
673 - 701 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. And I did everything with the goal of I knew what the requirements were so I didn't let my GPA drop below 3.5 and I took the ACT through our high school for free for the first time and the minimum requirements for getting the full ride was 28. So I got my 28 and that was it. I was done a lot of people I knew took ACT two three four times to get the score that they wanted. But I saw no reason to take it over again and pay money for it when I got what I needed. The first time around.
701 - 711 Jonathan Mendonsa So you've got a full ride for school now but you've also got this air force scholarship repayment. I mean how does all that end up going together do you end up with extra money.
711 - 736 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So what happened was the first year the school paid for all of my schooling and all of my tuition and then I missed a semester due to going through basic and tech school. So the military and the school wouldn't let me double dip. So technically I still have eight semesters of college that I could go use at a state school in that state but I don't I don't think I'll use it just because I don't want to go back to school for anything right now.
college, military
736 - 778 Jonathan Mendonsa And to clarify the reason you still have eight semesters of eligibility left is because you have this credit from their Air National Guard. (Gwen: Correct.) You did not end up needing to use it so you've got. So while a lot of people are struggling to get one full ride you essentially got twice what you end up needing. And it wasn't because you are this incredibly gifted student that had a 4.0 GPA and was able to write tons and tons of essays and nailed all these different metrics you just looked and you saw what the rules were and you just did the minimum that you needed to do in order to qualify for those things. And because of that you could have done this thing twice while other people are complaining or operating from a set of limited beliefs that there's no way to get college for free.
778 - 797 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yes so I didn't have the university scholarship first so then I went into the military which was guaranteed. And then I got a scholarship. So I had a backup plan in case my I my college GPA should dip below what it needed to be. I had to keep a 3.5 in college as well.
college, military, scholarship
797 - 804 Brad Barrett OK. That reminds me of Jonathan's famous quote. The backup plan for your backup plan. Yeah I love that. I was biting my tongue man.
804 - 820 Jonathan Mendonsa I was tied up to it. I just want to clarify there's two points that come to mind. The first one is this Air Force National Guard. Is this something that this is a life hack that everybody should be considering especially if they don't have an obvious way to pay for college.
820 - 838 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I would say it's kind of more involved than that because you have to be eligible to be in the military right. There's a bunch of people that would be ineligible. You have to qualify for military service. And some people have existing health issues that would just bar them from being in the military.
health, military
838 - 844 Jonathan Mendonsa Would you say it was a net positive experience would you go that route again if you hadn't gotten the full scholarship ride.
844 - 855 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Absolutely. Yeah I learned a lot about myself and a lot about how other people operate and how the world works. And and they they paid me to go to school. So it was totally worth it for me.
855 - 864 Jonathan Mendonsa And then the other half of that is my brother did ROTC he did the crops would you group those together or those two distinct different approaches that will get you to a similar result.
864 - 870 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz And there are two separate approaches although ironically enough I also did ROTC my freshman year but it was the Army ROTC so I was out.
870 - 876 Jonathan Mendonsa Of course you did you wouldn't limit yourself to just doing it one way why do one way you do all three.
876 - 877 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz It was fun.
877 - 916 Jonathan Mendonsa All right so you've crushed this college game. I think there's probably a lot to draw from I think there are people that are trying to figure out how to do college and these some of these things are things that maybe they in theory know are out there but they may not know anybody that's actually has done this stuff I think that's one of the biggest things is finding a role model or an example somebody that you can go to these questions so I love that you're in our space actually done some of these things that makes it great because I have had people asking me questions along this train of thought and I'd love to just be I'll send them to you so you can kind of mentor them maybe to some degree through this process. But the second half of this is you've made these choices but this is almost accidentally FI. Did you know about FI at this point.
916 - 919 Jonathan Mendonsa I did not. OK. Tell us how did you find FI.
919 - 938 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So there I was sitting in my dorm room and I was just messing around the internet. I think I was actually on stumbleupon if you remember that Web site and I stumbled across Mr. Money Mustache's site. And I was reading and I said oh my gosh this is what I can work towards. This is what I've been preparing for. And I didn't even know it.
938 - 944 Jonathan Mendonsa So it was like the light bulb went off. Something crystallized you had the awakening. Everything changed that was that.
944 - 945 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Ding Lightbulb Yeah definitely.
945 - 953 Brad Barrett And Gren were there any particular articles that you remember that jumped out to you. I mean did you go down the rabbit hole and read everything he put out.
953 - 962 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Oh I went down the rabbit hole. I read everything. I listened to his like his YouTube videos that he at out stop he has YouTube videos.
962 - 964 Jonathan Mendonsa How did I not know this.
964 - 973 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So he has like videos where he's been and things like there is the one where he was talking basically when he goes to conferences and presents those are on YouTube.
973 - 983 Jonathan Mendonsa I need to see this. Yeah we will definitely link that up in the show notes if there's the one where he talks about how to how to make a cult haha he's going to Tyler Durden. Oh yeah totally.
983 - 994 Jonathan Mendonsa That's perfect. So walk us through it. Does your life change I mean it sounds like you're doing so many things right. What's different about Gwen where the light bulbs gone off versus the grazing Gwen. How does that how does life change.
994 - 1030 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz It did and it didn't. It gave me a reason to do the things that I was doing and help me keep my lifestyle in check. Here I am I'm getting $900 a month to go to school and I have zero expenses Basically I have car insurance and I have gas and my cell phone bill and that's it. So I had a lot of extra money laying around and this helped me be conscious of my consumerism and consume less and save more and it gave me a reason to do so instead of being just like this. I don't want to go spend money it's like sorry I can't spend money because I'm saving consume less save more. I
insurance, savings
1030 - 1033 Jonathan Mendonsa think I think we can go and break Brad. Yeah.
1033 - 1047 Brad Barrett That about covers it. I like that one. Hey Glenn when you when you graduated. I'm not sure what year you didn't say specifically what year you found Mr. Money Mustache on stumbleupon But when you graduated. How much were you able to save.
1047 - 1052 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Do you remember I had $10000 saved up by the time I got out of college. Wow.
1052 - 1058 Brad Barrett So no student lones obviously a backup plan for your backup plan. And you had $10000 saved up.
1058 - 1125 Jonathan Mendonsa Yes. So first of all we have kind of stated in the past that your financial freedom clock starts when you get to zero. And for most of first generation FI, we're starting from a hole that we dug ourselves usually because we did not take some of these more creative outlets to get our student loans taken care of. We had to pay those down and at some point after we got out of school then our financial freedom clocks started but yours actually started right around your sophomore junior year of college. Correct. That's pretty cool. So you know the next thing that comes to my mind if I were thinking about what this optimized millennial path would look like I would think you're going to get out and you're going to start looking for your first job. But what I have come to realize especially looking back and trying to assess because you don't know what you know now looking back I realize that it's not good enough to graduate school and start looking for a job from scratch. The key that I have found over and over again from listening to other people tell me about it is this concept of internships and I just have this sneaky suspicion that you didn't wait to graduate to kick that strategy into gear. Did you pursue any internships was that something that was on your radar.
college, college-loans
1125 - 1152 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I did yes. I wasted one summer because I started looking in the spring and that's when you think that internships would be looking right is right before the summer. But most employers actually start looking for and hire interns in the fall before then next summer for internships. So go to job fairs start looking at companies hiring boards if they don't come near if they don't come to your university because I messed that up and I wasted a whole summer where I could have been working.
1152 - 1172 Jonathan Mendonsa So I'm going to try to learn from your mistakes and trust me when I say your mistakes would have been my successes or if I said that right basically that you were doing everything right. But I'm sure there's still a way to improve on it. That's what I'm trying to get across. And it sounds to me like you're saying the first year you messed up because you started looking in the spring trying to get the summer internship behind say in 2020 you needed to kick it back to the previous fall.
1172 - 1186 Jonathan Mendonsa And then there's a couple of keys to this you go to the job fairs when they're available and then you go to the hiring boards. I'm particularly interested in the hiring boards what do you mean by that is that something that your school host or is that going to the employers websites What does hiring boards actually look like for you.
1186 - 1209 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So sometimes when you get close enough to graduating the university will actually send out job notifications. They say hey this company reached out to me and they've got a couple of entry level jobs open send in applications. If you're interested and then Otherwise you have to go out to these companies and look on their Web sites and see if they have any part time student or internships available.
1209 - 1216 Jonathan Mendonsa Did you have more success with these essentially online applications or with meet and greets face time job fairs meet and greet in the job fairs.
1216 - 1284 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I had kind of slacked off and I say slacked off but really I just didn't do as much as I did in high school so I didn't have the overly impressive resume in college although it's still pretty impressive if I do say so myself but now I come off really well in person. So I went to the job fair and talked to a whole bunch of companies and received a lot of interest. I handed over my resume and my phone number and everything. And then I set up the interviews and I got to interviews that were really exciting to me both really big companies top 100 companies. And so the one I never got back to me which I was super bummed about because it was my hometown company that I was pretty much looking forward to working for until they just completely dropped the ball. And then this other company they called me the next day set up an interview and then the next day I went to the interview. They scheduled another interview a week later at their company. So I drove up there had the interview and then came back and another week went by and I had an internship offer. So they were like wham bam on it. And the other company was like.
1284 - 1312 Brad Barrett Hey Gwen So I'm curious. For college sophomore is there are juniors out there you're talking these two distinct paths right the job fair and the job boards. Did you notice any distinction between that type of companies that might have shown up to a fair versus appeared on these boards. I'm not all that familiar with them honestly but like we're always looking for actionable tips for the audience. Were there any differences. Were there different in companies were there differences in method of approaching them these kind of things. Does that resonate with you.
1312 - 1347 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah it definitely is different so the companies that were coming I went to a fairly small state university. So whatever companies were in the area if you wanted to be locals and that was definitely a good way to go if you wanted to apply for some of the more name brand companies maybe in different areas of the country then the job boards would be the way to go. But they're also just an application and they can window you out via the power of the Internet. Right. Who knows if somebody would actually see that resume. So it's more of a gamble if you want just applying for an interview. The job board.
1347 - 1374 Jonathan Mendonsa Now the other half of this is like tell us your secrets. Like you said I feel really good about meeting people in person. Is there anything that we can extract from Gwen. Any little life hacks here that allows the person that's going to try and do these meet and greets in person to stand out from the crowd is there anything that you feel like you did a really good job at that maybe someone that's listening to this and trying to have this figured out how can I stand out from that person that that line of people that's going up and just shaking hands. How do you stand out without just glad handing.
1374 - 1415 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well you need to be presentable for one wear business formal clothing so that means business jacket guys wear tie and look really professional. And they're like wow she looks very professional I think she'd fit in well with us. And then you have to be personable. Just go up and talk to them like you've known them forever and they're going to be relaxed and talk to you and you make an impression because you're not there like. Hi my name. My name is Gwen. Like Hey my name's Gwen how are you. Nice to meet you. Yeah you know I'm looking for an internship this summer. So you know here's my resume and ask some questions about the company. If you don't know any step outside and Google them on your phone and like ask them what they're looking for because you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you.
1415 - 1420 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. So help me out. So you're graduating. How old are you at this point. Give us a timeline here.
1420 - 1455 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I did an internship and the summer of 2013 and then two weeks after I went back to school for my last semester they called me and said hey we've got a full time position after you're done do you want to come back. And I said Absolutely. Thank you very much. I'd love to come back. And so I had a full time job offer two weeks into of my final semester as a senior. So that was pretty awesome because I just took it way easy. You know all I had to do was graduate and have to worry about grades or anything so I had some fun and then I graduated and took two weeks off for Christmas and New Year's and then went to work starting in January 2014 at the age of 23.
1455 - 1488 Jonathan Mendonsa So you're 23 years old. You've graduated college you've done what a lot of us never considered and did get the full ride got the full ride two different ways. Did the internship programs you've come out you've got your job you have a $10000 net worth at this point and you're starting way way ahead of most of us of what we would have even have considered possible. And I think that there's nothing that I've heard so far that isn't something that anybody that's in our community second generation FI someone that's hearing this stuff while they're in high school you certainly don't need to be given a silver spoon in order to get the sorts of results right.
2ndgenfi, college, networth
1488 - 1491 Jonathan Mendonsa Absolutely. So I think that's cool Brad.
1491 - 1515 Jonathan Mendonsa I mean just as an aside I think that when you know that other people are doing it and you're willing to not do what our culture tells you to do which is to take out as much as you need in student loans because you're going to get a job and you can pay it back over 25 years when you decide that no that is not acceptable and I need to find other people and see what they have done. This is what I would want for my second generation FI. I would coach them more towards this path. Are you on the same page.
2ndgenfi, college-loans
1515 - 1533 Brad Barrett Yeah I totally agree. I mean I think Gwen hit this on the head in every way possible and she looked at the problem a little bit differently. How can I get a scholarship How can I get a backup for that scholarship. That in and of itself is impressive. And then she's coming out of college with a positive network. I mean that is just really truly remarkable.
college, scholarship
1533 - 1576 Jonathan Mendonsa The cool thing is like we've said over and over again that if you just do a few things right at the beginning you don't need to make nearly as many right choices later on because you now have all this time. So I remember talking to several people and who I would call first generation fire but in particular I'm thinking about Jay from slowly sipping coffee. Millionaire educator and we kind of had this thing in common that we lost that decade of our 20s because we spent that entire decade trying to pay down this debt. But if you can lock down your teens and twenties the bar is lowered in terms of what you need to achieve in order to hit your FI number either earlier or later I mean just everything gets easier when you can make those choices the right choices early on.
1576 - 1592 Brad Barrett All right. Gwen So we're in the beginning of 2014 now. You're 23 years old. You have a full time job. You have a positive net worth. Where do you go from here. We're talking now three and a half years later. Tell us about your journey from the beginning of your job to now. I'd love to hear the highlights.
1592 - 1656 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I went into what's called an early development program and it was two 18 month rotations to kind of experience different aspects of the company and figure out where in IT I wanted to go. So I started off as a Linux system admin and figured out pretty quickly that I didn't want to be a Linux admin for my career. And so while I was doing that I was busy starting to max out my retirement accounts. I got a house. It was a beautiful three bedroom 1500 square foot house and is actually pretty funny because at the beginning I was like oh you know it's kind of small but it'll do until I get a bigger place. And then after living there for a couple of months I realized why do I need a bigger place. I can't fill this place by myself it's way too big. And so then I got a roommate. And so my roommate paid half the rent. So my expenses were pretty low still I didn't have a car payment I was paying you know typical utilities gas insurance and $450 in rent a month. So I kept my expenses as low as I possibly could not as low as they were in college but pretty darned low.
career, college, insurance
1656 - 1670 Jonathan Mendonsa So you're in this early development program and you're drawing a salary at this point right. Yes. OK. And then what I heard you say is that at this point your first year in you were you went ahead and started maxing out all of your investment vehicles that they offered.
1670 - 1688 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Not all of them but I tried. So I actually made a mistake and I calculated the match in the contribution limit. So at the end of the year I had exactly the amount $18000 in there but I'd only put in 13 so I could have put in way more. I just didn't realize it.
1688 - 1701 Jonathan Mendonsa So you thinking whatever they matched. Once that hits 18 I can't go over that yet. OK. I can understand you make the mistake. I think there's probably something we should actually talk about as an aside but you do not realize that you could actually put it up to 18 yourself.
1701 - 1705 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Right. I didn't separate it out. I'd just lumped it all together.
1705 - 1717 Jonathan Mendonsa But I'm assuming that the reason that you made the choice so aggressively to start maxing that out is because you at this point had been exposed to the Mr. Money Mustache articles and specifically the shockingly simple math of early retirement.
1717 - 1728 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yes that and I went down the mad fientist rabbit hole and basically read every single blog I could possibly lay my hands on. So I'm drawing from everybody in the FI world not just Mr. Money Mustache.
1728 - 1743 Jonathan Mendonsa I want to pause on this because it goes back to this idea that starting early if you start early you understand the stuff at a young age you don't need to do as much to get to FI because time is now working for you. So to our audience I just want you to pause on this. She's 23 years old she's learned the power of the math.
1743 - 1794 Jonathan Mendonsa And at this point she is doing her best to max out these buckets because she realizes how powerful this is. So as she's able. She's prioritizing $18000 a year and putting it into these pretax buckets and are employers giving her some match. That's not really being accounted for in that number. On top of that so it's even really more than that. And I guess I'm thinking well because you've got this so early. Let's go with our normal thing we talk about people working for 10 to 20 years somewhere in that range let's say that Gwen works until she's 35 years old but because she grabbed it and started at such a young age she's maxing out our vehicles each year. That means that she'd be putting the equivalent of fifteen hundred dollars a month and this tax advantage vehicle this 401k. Brad can you run the numbers for us and find out what that would be. What would it look like to throw. Fifteen hundred dollars a month into a 401k from the age of 23 to 35.
401k, tax
1794 - 1816 Brad Barrett All right. Just plug this in while you're talking and with an 8 percent return which is kind of our average that we use just as a general rule here. The amount looks to be three hundred and sixty nine thousand dollars. So Gwen will have have three hundred sixty nine thousand dollars at 35 if she gets that 8 percent return which is really truly remarkable.
1816 - 1837 Jonathan Mendonsa So I'm 32 years old right now. And so I'll be 35 years old in just a couple of years and I can't imagine. I wish I could imagine what it would be like just to make those few choices during my 20s and be landing basically where I am now with a net worth of three hundred and twenty five thousand dollars never having made a six figure income.
1837 - 1844 Brad Barrett Yeah that would be amazing. I mean personally I didn't max out my four ok when I got out of college. So Gwen. Yeah really really well done on that.
1844 - 1898 Jonathan Mendonsa I want to come back to this point and I want to introduce a new concept that we haven't really talked about up to this point but it was introduced to me by one of our readers. And they wanted to present this idea they actually wanted this to be a milestone or for it to be a a checkpoint certainly and it's called the cruise control checkpoint and it is the point at which because you've gotten this amount of money set aside you don't need to contribute another dollar and your 60 year old future is totally set. So what I want to hand just did is I took that three hundred sixty five thousand dollars that she had set aside at the age 35 and I said that let's say that Gwen somehow abandons this this life of intentionality and she just spends every dollar that comes in the door but she doesn't go into debt but she spends every dollar that comes into the door from the age of 35 to 60 but she leaves those pretax dollars alone. Do you know how much money she would have at the age of 60 waiting for.
1898 - 1930 Jonathan Mendonsa I can only imagine it's going to be millions but due to it is literally quite literally 2.5 million dollars. Wow. So awesome. That's what you call cruise control my friends and lock that one down because if you make just a few right choices in your 20s you're your 60 year old future is set. You can spend ever and I'm not telling you to do this but realize the power you can spend every single dollar that you earn from the age of 35 to 60. But because of the choices that you made for the first 12 to 13 years you are going to be worth 2.5 million dollars at the age of 60.
1930 - 1932 Jonathan Mendonsa Gwen did I just blow your mind.
1932 - 1960 Jonathan Mendonsa Consider my mind blown. I loved math. Well let's go back to some of the court details here. Your future self is worth 2.5 million specked current going is not worth 2.5 million she's just making the small little decisions that really optimize your future strategy. And going back to what you're actually doing now so you're 23 or 24 years old you're running your first place and your paying I think 900 around $900 a month is what I see on your blog is what you're paying and rent I believe even at that point you are already thinking roommate. Right.
1960 - 1966 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yup I've got a roommate. Towards the end there so for about eight or nine months I had a roommate helping me split the bills.
1966 - 1976 Jonathan Mendonsa OK. So if they're splitting at your your cost for your home at this point is $450 a month plus utilities plus utilities up so it ended up being about $700 a month to live in this three bedroom place.
1976 - 1991 Jonathan Mendonsa So there's nothing extreme there but I do believe at this point people were starting to talk more and more about this idea of house hacking. And one of the reasons I wanted to go here is I know that you latched on to this concept as well right. Yes. Why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about your house hacking experience.
1991 - 2025 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Ok so I went to Chatauqua and 2015 and Paula Pat was there from afford anything and she talked to me and a couple other people had really positive things to say about real estate. And then I came back and I was on fire you know I was like oh real estate yeah. Be a totally awesome way to build this income on the side. So it took me a while to actually find a property that I wanted. I tried to find a property and the market was red hot. I didn't really have that great of offerings so I didn't get a place until two years later this spring as when I finally got my first to house hack.
chautauqua, househacking
2025 - 2039 Brad Barrett So it's 2017 I guess you purchased your home and we're going to definitely talk about that because I know you have some interesting stories on that but did you rent for ultimately three years and have a roommate for all that time.
2039 - 2060 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I rented for three years. I had a roommate for approximately nine months. Of those three years I moved to a different city for my second rotation and kind of splurged and got a two bedroom apartment that I kept for myself. So it was a little bit more expensive than my last one but I was only a mile and a half from work so I was able to cut some costs there. So
2060 - 2063 Brad Barrett what was the decision behind getting a bigger place.
2063 - 2079 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So I went from a three bedroom 1300 square foot house for $900 to a two bedroom eleven hundred square foot apartment for eleven hundred dollars a month. So I did downsize but it cost me more because I was in a fancy part of town since I wanted to live so close to work. OK.
2079 - 2087 Brad Barrett So that was the main driver was was living close to work and did you. Did you walk did you bike ride there or did or what did you how did you get to work living. I
2087 - 2096 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz would like to say that I was hard core and I rode my bike and I walked to work all the time but that's a lie. I usually drove. But if it was a super nice day. I rode my bike. You
2096 - 2112 Jonathan Mendonsa know I think you have a friendly audience here with Brad myself as neither of us are known for our biking skills but certainly you know time matters. So drive bike walk whatever it is. But just the fact that you have that short commute. I think there is a real value to that just recapturing that time.
2112 - 2131 Jonathan Mendonsa You know I often see people that drive like 40 minutes to an hour each way to work and you've automatically obtained for yourself a 10 hour day job minimum. And sure you can listen to your choose F-I podcast on the way and on the way back. And that's a great choice but that's a lot of time to spend at work and in the car commuting.
2131 - 2139 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I used to complain because my car would warm out by the time I got to work so it was really cold. I'm driving to work still. First world problems for sure.
2139 - 2189 Jonathan Mendonsa Yes. What a tragedy. You know just as an aside it's interesting to me that Brad and I over the last six months and over the last year to some degree we've kind of been following this progression of yours and something that I know that we've commented on to each other is just that we'll see a blogger somewhere do something very interesting make this unconventional choice. And then shortly thereafter we'll see we'll see fiery millennial. You know we'll see Gwinn go ahead and tackle this object and it's something that maybe both of us were to some degree intimidated by and you just go ahead and you just do it. And it's it's very inspiring. And the reason I wanted to talk about this is just because I know that you have actually tackled house hacking and to me that is just this really cool adventure that's got to stretch you. And I'm just I'm incredibly curious about how you landed on this idea and also just what your experience has been.
blogger, househacking
2189 - 2232 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well I saw everybody else doing it so I decided to do it to a living. So I talked to a bunch of bloggers and people that were house hacking or had rentals and said Well you know what I can do that too. So I went out and I bought a property for $85000. I got a twenty three hundred square foot triplex and it's beautiful historic house and I live in a studio. So I've definitely made some sacrifices in downsizing. But they pay me, my tenants pay me to live in this house. So my housing costs are literally net positive every month instead of net negative like everybody else's.
blogger, househacking
2232 - 2240 Jonathan Mendonsa So $80000 is what the total thing cost to you. I mean you obviously didn't pay. I don't believe you paid for that cash. I mean you put a downpayment on it.
2240 - 2248 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz There was an $8000 down roughly thereabouts. I had a V.A. loan so I didn't have to put down the full 20 percent. I also have no PMI.
2248 - 2254 Jonathan Mendonsa So you do have 8 thousand dollars invested in it and your mortgage payment how much is your mortgage payment on that.
2254 - 2276 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz My mortgage payment is $705 every month and your tenants are they covering just the $705 or is there extra on top of that leftover there's extra leftover buy one is a one bedroom and that goes for $500 and the other one's a two bedroom. That goes for $600. So that's eleven hundred dollars in rent. I get to pay $705 in my mortgage every month just on the face.
2276 - 2287 Jonathan Mendonsa What a win. I mean you went from before with the past Sonera you were paying eleven hundred dollars a month the $900 a month respectively for the other two places now are they paying their utilities as well that they some of the utilities.
2287 - 2294 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz But the ones that I pay for heating water so after utilities maybe cost me 50 bucks a month if it's cold outside.
2294 - 2301 Jonathan Mendonsa All right well I mean obviously you're a landlord so you are responsible for for maintenance but in general it sounds like you have some cushion there with your numbers.
2301 - 2318 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah definitely. And I didn't spend all my money on the down payment. I could have put down a bigger downpayment but I knew this house needed a bit of work. So I decided to put down less money on the down payment and save some for all the work that needed to be done which as I have gone through this has been quite a bit more than I expected.
2318 - 2338 Jonathan Mendonsa One thing I really want to focus on there is aside from the fact that you're actually bringing some amount of money in so you maybe even after you do your maintenance you may you maybe make it a little at a profit. The biggest win there is that your expenses have now been decreased by almost a thousand dollars a month because you don't have to pay to live somewhere. your housing costs are just gone.
2338 - 2355 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah it's been a real lifesaver to my budget which then allows you to focus that on your savings rate. I mean ultimately what we talk about a savings rate I am curious like can you walk us through this process like maybe the journey the progression of your savings rate where was your loan. What was your high did you track that range to any degree.
2355 - 2363 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I don't have the the actual amounts right in front of me but it historically averages about 45 percent a month or in-time exist.
2363 - 2365 Jonathan Mendonsa And do you make six figures now.
2365 - 2371 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I earn so I started out at like $66000 now I earned $77000.
2371 - 2391 Jonathan Mendonsa So you're hitting just shy of a 50 percent savings rate. And the reason that you're able to do that is one of the things that's allowed you to do that is you've totally crushed your housing expenses which gives you a huge leg up and then you're maxing out all of your tax deferred vehicles which has allowed you to get all the way up to like a 45 percent savings rate. Tell us a little more about this house and the pros the cons. Tell us a bit more about the experience overall.
housing, savings, tax
2391 - 2431 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well I mean I'm gaining equity every month. So you have to count that into the math as well. So they're not only paying me to live here but I get to keep part of that money that they're paying me in the form of house equity. I may have moved a little faster. This is the second property that I looked at and I ended up buying it. So I thought I knew what I wanted and it's worked out ok so far but I could have probably scouted out the area that better. I didn't think that it was as bad as it might be. It's definitely OK to people's reactions when I tell them where I live in town or like ooh where you live there. Like isn't that a bad area. It's not that bad. It could be a lot better for sure.
2431 - 2463 Brad Barrett So Gwen what kind of research did you do before you purchased this property. You know how well do you know the area. How you said you bought the second property. Was it that it's such a hot housing market that you were worried about losing it. You mentioned Paul apan before like you know she talks about like her 1 percent rule like Did it fit the initial requirements that you were looking for and therefore OK I checked all the boxes I'm going to put an offer on that certainly. Talk us through the decision making of why you ultimately purchased the second place that you looked at.
2463 - 2512 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So after I finished my second rotation in the program I got a fulltime job and move back to the first town that I lived in for the first rotation. So I knew the area fairly well already and I took a couple of months to familiarize myself with the area again and actually lived in my friend's basement for $400 a month. So I'm looking at all these places I'm keeping an eye on what's going on the market. I know what I'm looking for. I told my realtor I'm not even looking at the property if it doesn't meet the one percent rule and he owns several rental properties so he knew exactly what I was talking about and we were able to window down the available market and to only the ones that were going to work for me. So then this one was just a really good deal and I can pass it up. Also I got a little bit emotional and I fell in love with the house. So I really wanted it. So that might have clouded my judgment a little too.
2512 - 2523 Jonathan Mendonsa Let me ask you this if you had been able to keep your emotions out of it now that you have six months in the area if you had just let it ride a little bit longer would you been able to find something some more that would have been as good of a deal.
2523 - 2537 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Absolutely. There's good deals all over this town. So I'm not going to say where I live just because I want to keep all the good deals for myself so I am going on Facebook and looking it up here right now.
2537 - 2543 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Does that imply that you are going to purchase more properties and become a landlord. Is that is that your plan.
2543 - 2557 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yes I would absolutely love to buy more properties even if this one started off a bit rough. I have learned a lot of lessons and I feel like the next one will go even better because I've learned so much but I'm not going to buy another property until probably next spring.
2557 - 2566 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So probably for another six months or so is that to save up additional money is that to do more research. Why are you putting that arbitrary time line like is there is there some takeaway.
2566 - 2580 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah I actually thought that I was going to buy another property around this time. But then this house has required a lot more repairs than I thought and I've sunk a lot of money into it. So I probably won't have enough money saved up to do a proper down payment until next spring.
2580 - 2601 Brad Barrett Gotcha. That makes sense as as I see it from the conversation we've had you are certainly maxing out your 401K. which is going I assume into whatever type a low cost index funds your company offers is most of your I guess taxable savings are your traditional savings going towards future down payments are you doing other things with your money as well.
401k, indexfunds, savings, tax
2601 - 2609 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I'm maxing out my 401k my should say and my Roth IRA while I'm trying to say about money for a downpayment.
401k, ira, roth
2609 - 2618 Brad Barrett That's that's fantastic. You really hitting both sides with the real estate with the the taxable savings and then all you're maxing out all those different buckets.
savings, tax
2618 - 2635 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yes. Yeah. And I could definitely speed up the whole down payment thing if I cut back on the taxable investments but I'm not sure that I want to do that just based on how much longer it would take me to save up money and I don't want to give up that space in the taxable investment accounts because you only get it once.
2635 - 2653 Brad Barrett Right. So that the pretax 401k and HSA. Right. And once you get past that calendar year or in many cases you've got until April 15th of the following year to max it out but once that deadline passes you can never go back and put that money right with you doing all that.
401k, hsa
2653 - 2662 Jonathan Mendonsa It seems to me that your savings rate would be so much higher. Like if you don't have to pay for housing and you're doing everything that you're describing I'm kind of surprised you're not over 50 percent.
housing, savings
2662 - 2671 Brad Barrett Yeah that's my eggs. Jonathan my exact thought I was I was trying to do the math. I'm like her living expenses zero. She's maxing out all this stuff like how is her savings rate not 90 percent.
2671 - 2686 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So so far I've spent. So it's yes. Fifty two hundred on the first contractor that didn't work out and then adds another $5000 on this contractor and I still have more to go. So basically like I'm spending a ton of money on this house.
2686 - 2711 Brad Barrett So it's like extraordinary expenses for. But if you didn't had that crap like and you did this House hack where your living expenses are zero. Because like yeah my thought was that delta of eleven hundred from what you're spending previously to zero. Now that's a huge amount. Obviously that should Gousse if you're making in the 70s like that in and of itself should raise your savings rate by 20 percent. Right. Like if not more is since we counted after tax.
househacking, savings
2711 - 2720 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. I mean like sometimes I get up to like 70 or 80 percent savings rate but it's offset by those negative 30 percent months you know.
2720 - 2732 Jonathan Mendonsa OK so basically you're saying the theoretical math says I can hit 80 percent but in reality Murphy's law what can go wrong does go wrong especially when you're a landlord. That's just nail and you or your wallet is and it's dropping you back down.
2732 - 2740 Jonathan Mendonsa Exactly. OK. All right. That makes sense. But frankly the way I see it going with the moves you've already made.
2740 - 2761 Jonathan Mendonsa You could go back to just being average for the next 30 or 40 years and you're still going to be a multimillionaire. That's the power of just doing a few things right early on. But is there anything else that you want to hit us with things that you've tried things that you've optimized based on what you read on line strategies that maybe you're contemplating or that you see yourself in enacting over the next several years. Where do you go from here.
2761 - 2799 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Honestly I am really really struggling to stay fully employed and I really want to be my own boss and go the kind of the entrepreneurial route. I have so many hobbies that I want to try and get into. But I just don't have the time especially now that I'm a landlord and working on my blog and working full time I just don't have that much mental energy. So I've started doing some hobbies I quilt and I do stained glass and I would love to get into those more. So I could potentially monetize that because there's definitely the potential to make some money there but I just don't have any time to work on my skills yet.
2799 - 2807 Jonathan Mendonsa You know what's so striking to me about that is that it's so perfectly harmonizes with what we've just been talking about over and over and over again.
2807 - 2833 Jonathan Mendonsa It's that idea of creativity flexibility and ultimately what we're pursuing is trying to get time in our back pocket as a tool that we can use because if you have time and you're not operating from the scarcity mindset and you can invest in these hobbies and these side hustles in these projects without worrying about how you're going to put food on the table it gives you the freedom to just go all in on it. And inevitably when you're operating from a place of strength the monetization comes to you.
hobbies, hustle, mindset
2833 - 2857 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. And so I've been doing this all by myself. I've had boyfriends here and there but none of them panned out. But I am actually dating somebody now. So he lives five hours away from me and you know long distance is just a struggle. So there's like this clarion call it's like quit your job move to Minnesota. And it's it's it's rough to not just be like OK well I'm done by and go up north.
2857 - 2869 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah it's kind of that it's that F-you money component that we talk about. If you were to be in a situation where you were to step away from your job you'd have years before you would have to go figure it out. Even if you didn't hit your FI number just because of your incredibly high savings rate.
Jonathan_Catchphrases, myfinumber, savings
2869 - 2890 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah it gives me options which I really appreciate. If I wanted to be a stay at home parent in the future I could totally do that. I wouldn't be dependent on my future husband for everything I'd have my own money coming in I'd have my own money to live off of. Should things go south. You know it just gives me the freedom and the flexibility to do basically whatever we want in the future.
2890 - 2905 Jonathan Mendonsa So when you know that we did the episode a while back episode 21 talking about the pillars of FI. But I'm just curious for you think through some of those pillars of FI which which other ones have you pulled that we haven't talked about yet maybe your car cell phone travel hacking anything else really stand out to you.
2905 - 2912 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. So I kept the same car that I got as a junior in college. And I have it to this day. It's a 2005 Pontiac Vibe.
2912 - 2916 Jonathan Mendonsa I don't know if I would call it econo but certainly a hatchback That's a nice ride.
2916 - 2924 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah. It's come in handy it fits eight feet boards so I can definitely go up to Menards or home depot and pick up some lumber if I have a project.
2924 - 2933 Jonathan Mendonsa Solid choice. I remember looking for those for a while they were very hard to find in the Virginia area at the time that I was looking for use but it was on my radar as one of these great options.
2933 - 2961 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz They're still difficult to find since they are one of the few hatchbacks that is actually being made in that time period. OK good to know. So then I also cut down my phone bill. I was paying $90 a month to Verizon for a grandfathered unlimited data plan and they raised it to $120 a month and I said I'm out I can't I can't pay for that anymore. And so I went to Google fi and now I pay about 35 40 bucks a month.
2961 - 2979 Jonathan Mendonsa So you drop the cell phone as well you know it's amazing to me it is the little things isn't it Gwen. I mean yes absolutely house hacking is huge. Not everybody is going to pull that lever but it's consistently doing these and making these slightly more optimized choices over long stretches of time that add up to you being able to go into cruise control in your early 30s.
2979 - 2982 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Exactly. The little cuts here and there really add up after a while.
2982 - 3007 Brad Barrett So looking at the math you're somewhere in the vicinity of 26 now you have house hacked your way to having $0 of expense for housing every month your savings rate when you don't have some kind of crazy Bill for your for your new house is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 plus percent. You've done every single thing right. Like where where do you go from here. What are your what are your plans for the future.
househacking, savings
3007 - 3017 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I really want to focus on some entrepreneurial and creative endeavors in the future. I don't think that I'm longed for the corporate world it's a little stifling for personalities like mine.
3017 - 3067 Jonathan Mendonsa It is amazing how once you start to go down this rabbithole and first you just you start by just maybe just some people may just get into it for frugality and then maybe they find FI as a way of validating their prior choices other people have this lightbulb and full awakening. But either way once you're on the path and more options become available there's a part of your personality that comes to life that maybe you had kept suppressed because it didn't serve you because when you're in the grind the day to day grind it doesn't help you to dream about the future. But when you start getting farther on this path and you realize that it is a possibility you may actually be able to do this. The ideas start flowing and you can't turn it off. And then at some point you're ready to give it a shot. And who knows what that looks like. I loved it for you. It might be quilting. It might be stained glass. It might be podcasting landlord. Geo arbitrage. Who the heck knows. There's so many different places you could land.
frugality, geoarbitrage
3067 - 3069 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz The possibilities are endless.
3069 - 3075 Jonathan Mendonsa Oh the Places We will go. Now I'm excited because where we're going next is the hot seat. Are you ready for this.
3075 - 3090 Announcer Oh I am so ready. OK. In a world, Drowning in debt and rampent consumption. Trapped by the change of lifestyle inflation.
3090 - 3109 Announcer These questions highlight the secrets of those who have broken free. Welcome to the choose F-I hot seat.
3109 - 3113 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I've listened to that like 30 times and it still gets me every time. I love it.
3113 - 3118 Brad Barrett It's just a beautiful thing. I like Gwen. Question number one your favorite blog. That's not your own.
3118 - 3131 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I would definitely go with our next life. She's very thought provoking and every article makes me ponder it for a long time when usually I read an article on a school and then I go on hers make stick in my mind that's very cool.
3131 - 3144 Brad Barrett Yeah I read their articles every now and again but it's definitely a blog that's been on my radar that I need to just subscribe to once and for all. Sorry I think that I definitely did it for me. I'm going to go subscribe after we finish recording here.
3144 - 3149 Jonathan Mendonsa I highly recommend it. All right. Question number two your favorite article of all time.
3149 - 3165 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz I would go with the mad fientist guinea pig article. I'm actually in a race with Mr. guinea pig. He has this fictional guy and it's a what if. Your life is perfectly optimized you don't have any crazy expenses. What would it look like. And we're definitely really close to each other so that's exciting to see.
3165 - 3180 Jonathan Mendonsa You know explain to me how the guinea pig works and we do we have time for that. Can you give me like the short summary I am I am at the periphery aware that mad scientist does this guinea pig exercise but describe how he set that up and what you're competing against.
3180 - 3217 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So the mad fientist has this series called The guinea pig and he provides periodic updates and he has one guy who is just doing the normal stuff putting money into his taxable account. And then he has this other guy this guinea pig that is fully optimizing every opportunity possible maxing out their 401k at just say you know all that stuff. And I compare myself to the guinea pig and try and see if I can I can beat that number. Unfortunately the guinea pig earns a bit more than me and doesn't have a house that eats money like it's going out of style. So he's a bit ahead of me. But I will catch up eventually.
3217 - 3226 Brad Barrett I will enjoy you that's not going to work. I know the reference. I don't know the reference you want to add. Sorry. Millennials man.
3226 - 3230 Brad Barrett All right Gwen. Question number three your favorite life hack.
3230 - 3232 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Definitely house hacking.
3232 - 3236 Brad Barrett Yeah we certainly talked about that a lot today so no. No need to expand on it.
3236 - 3239 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. Question number four your biggest financial mistake.
3239 - 3262 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Well they're pretty small in the grand scheme of it. They are going to include two. One was they including the 401k match and my first year. So a $5000 on the table that I could have put in there and I didn't. And then the second one was starting the search for an internship to wait. So I missed out on that summer whereas I could have been working and could have gotten a year's credit towards my service at this company. So I kind of regret that I missed out on that.
3262 - 3266 Brad Barrett Now is it service towards a pension or what. What does that mean.
3266 - 3296 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz So the company that I'm at. You get one year's worth of service credit towards your 401K and your pension vesting per year that you do as an intern. So I did one summer and I count it as one year there were interns that I was with that had been there for three or four years because they went on to graduate school. And so by the time they came into the company as a full time employee there 401k was already an already vested and they were very close to getting their pension vested and which do which you vest at three and five years respectively.
3296 - 3302 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. Question number five the advice you would give your younger self Don't wait.
3302 - 3305 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Just go out and do it. Don't sit on the sidelines and mull over things.
3305 - 3313 Jonathan Mendonsa Just do it and it will work out like he's going to come after you for infringement Bring it.
3313 - 3316 Jonathan Mendonsa But take action right. I mean that's cool right.
3316 - 3353 Brad Barrett Yeah I mean that's what we always say here right. Just take action. Don't just be a passive observer to this podcast or the blogs you read. Like actually put it into plan. I post this every single week on our Facebook group which is what's the one thing you did this past week that caused you to save money save time make your life easier or more optimize healthier etc.. And I mean we get hundreds of responses every single week but it just starts with taking a little bit of action. So yeah Gwen I absolutely love that. Hey Gwen we have a bonus question so what was your favorite purchase made on Amazon.com last year.
health, hotseat-purchase
3353 - 3390 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz OK. So I asked again too because they're just incomparible. One is called Cedar cide and it's cedar oil and a spray and it's a really good insecticide. So I use that in my war against ants this spring and was very victorius to that. So definitely recommend that cedar side and then another one is also a liquid. But this one is like an order killing one. It's called Odoban and it really helped me when I was cleaning out my vacant unit across the hall. When my tenant left me a gift of a raw T-bone steak in a cupboard in July or two weeks what a giver. Yeah it was great.
3390 - 3395 Brad Barrett Wow. I am speechless. Why on earth did they do that.
3395 - 3399 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Cause I I ended his month to month lease and he didn't like it.
3399 - 3423 Jonathan Mendonsa Are you ready to go get that next house. Sign me. Yeah I agree. This has been a lot of fun. I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your time with us sharing your story. I think there's like these little gems that we can extract from the decisions that you've made over the last five to 10 years it really helped crystallize some concepts for me. But I know our audience is going to want to dig into your content. They're going to want to learn more about what you have done and what you will be doing. How can people connect with you.
3423 - 3445 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yeah they can find me on pretty much any social media channel. I'm on Twitter and at fiery millennial with no s. And then my web site is fiery millennials dot com and I'm also on Facebook. And I was starting a podcast soon which is called the fire drill podcast. So look for that to be launching soon and get even more background and entertainment.
3445 - 3447 Jonathan Mendonsa Now do we have a launch date for that yet.
3447 - 3460 Gwen "Fiery Millennial" Merz Yes it is going to launch any day and we're really excited to delve deeper into some stories and entertain as well as in struct. I am on the Choose FI Facebook group so I will for sure let everybody know when we launch it.
3460 - 3467 Jonathan Mendonsa Well thank you so much for sharing. The fire is spreading my friends and we'll see you next time as we continue to go down the road less traveled.

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