Phia from [Financial Independence Forum, EP.001]

My guest this week is runs a blog on with her partner Mike.  Achieving FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) came about organically and they took sensible steps to think about retiring early.  First they diversified their income streams and built that foundation to allowed them to truly consider early retirement at 33 & 34 years old.

Podcast Transcript

Eugene / Host: (00:00)
Awesome. Okay. So for live. Okay. that’s great. So yeah, so I, I have here today, Phia, she runs a blog on with their partner Mike. She achieved FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) (Financial Independence, Retire Early). They issue FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) kind of in an organic way, and they took reasonable steps and sensible steps to think about retiring early. Firstly thought about diversifying their income streams and they built that foundation, which allowed them to truly consider early retirement at age 33 and 34 respectively. So, Phia, welcome to the Financial Independence Forum podcast.

Phia: (00:40)
Thanks so much for having me on Eugene. It’s great to be here and we’re here today.

Eugene / Host: (00:44)
Awesome. Thanks so much. You know, one of the things that you know, we try to do in the forum is we try to bring people into and share their experiences and to tell their stories. And the first thing that I as I was going through your blog and thinking and reading about your story, that we actually have a few things in common. We both live in Canada. And some of the posts that you had had written about that you and Mike had written about where a lot of interests that are common to ourselves, like I think you had a couple posts about how to sleep better. I’m thinking about how to eat better and tried and tried different diets that I I’ve also tinkered with myself and and also a post about like personality tests as well and doing different things. So maybe you could, you could start by me, tell me a little bit about yourself because it seems like some of those areas are are kind of complimentary to, you know, finding yourself, but also figuring out what works for you.

Phia: (01:49)
Yeah, for sure. I think for Mike and I, we kind of stumbled into our journey to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). It wasn’t a, was wasn’t really a full blown movement when we decided to that we’ve wanted to make a change in our lives. And so we really started that process by looking at debt and how to pay down our debt. But we really didn’t start with that kind of big picture idea of where we wanted to end up. We thought this is great. We just want a lifestyle, more choice and more freedom. But there wasn’t a point where we sat down and said to each other, what do we want to do? Do with that freedom? What do we want to do with that choice? So for us, we kind of just figured it out as we went along. And when we finally reached financial freedom, it was amazing.

Phia: (02:37)
But we got to this point where we said, Hey, we figured we just figure things out when we got there. But it was a lot to figure out all at once. So it kind of started this journey and these interests into exploring other areas. What did we really want to do with this freedom? No, we had it. And that kind of led us down the rabbit hole of examining different aspects of our life where we optimizing things as best we could in terms of lifestyle, health, fitness, and then, you know, I’ve always had a passion for personality tests and kind of exploring that. So that was a branch off of that tree that we kind of explored down is what are our, what are our personalities in terms of how we’re going to interact in this post financial freedom journey and how is that going to impact our life choices as we move forward. And maybe our personality having a better understanding of our personality can inform those choices and optimize them a little bit better.

Eugene / Host: (03:38)
Cool. That sounds, that sounds like a, that’s a, sounds like a great, great journey to be on, especially now that you have time to have some self exploration as well. Did you think that that self exploration came before or during, or do you think that was something always innate in you to kind of you know, for lack of a better term, sort of knowing thyself and then from there also informing how you would have chosen your professions before you reach FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)? And because I think a lot of the, the people that I’ve spoken to part of their journey into reaching FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is kind of knowing where they could lean into their strengths. That had a lot to do with some of the stories that I hear. Do you think that was in the same cases as you and Mike and in your life before FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)?

Phia: (04:30)
Yeah, I think it was to a degree. I don’t think we were in tune quite as much as in hindsight. I wish we could had been with that aspect of it on our journey to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I think that we slowly unraveled kind of,

Eugene / Host: (04:46)

Phia: (04:47)
The understanding that we needed to look a little bit harder at our life circumstances with a bit more intentionality. We had both found our way into our careers at a pretty early age. And you know, we got a lot out of those careers. But I think in our later years we started to recognize that perhaps if we had taken a harder look at who we really were and what our strengths were and what our tendencies were and what our needs were, that maybe we hadn’t made the best career choices for individual personalities. And that slowly became more clear to both of us. When we kind of hit around the 10, 11, 12 year Mark of our careers, realizing that maybe this wasn’t the optimal environment for us to be working within and that maybe our strengths would take us down a different path. And so when we started our journey to financial freedom, it actually wasn’t at all about retiring. And that wasn’t our goal at any point during the process until literally at the tail end. We had some circumstances that allowed it to be an opportunity in a consideration for us. And so it was only at that point that we started to really ask each other, maybe it’s time to leave these careers and change things up and enjoy retirement and see what that’s like and maybe it will be a transition to a new path down the road.

Eugene / Host: (06:09)
Awesome. And you mentioned you mentioned that part of your thinking was diversifying some of the income that that came into. Maybe you could tell our listeners a little bit about through the thought process behind that, like, and the chronology of how that happened too. Was it, was it sort of something that you leaned into after when you were more seriously, you and Mike were more seriously considering retiring early? Or was that something that I started a little bit before, once you’ve kind of figured out that maybe your day jobs, the nine to five job, so wasn’t as I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but like, maybe it wasn’t as [inaudible] you just wanted to think about diversifying your, your sources of income.

Phia: (07:01)
Yeah. So I think that for us, the diversity occasion of income started before we ever really pursued financial freedom in one aspect. And that aspect was in terms of investing in real estate. Both Mike and I, before we ever even met each other, both had really strong interests in real estate and we both saw that as a viable investment opportunity moving forward. For me, I had bought my first, my first condo and I turned 19 years old. I actually took possession of it the day I turned 19 years old. I couldn’t wrap my mind around. It was a really, it was a really great opportunity. I’m not quite sure what, what burned me on to want to buy a condo at [inaudible] the time I was 18 and took possession of it when I turned 18 but there was just something about owning my own property and having those monthly payments going to pay down my principal.

Phia: (07:56)
That really drew me to investing in real estate. And so that was the first step and it really never left my mind. I felt like that was always an area that I wanted to get, go further in and learn more about and do more of whether that was investing for the long term investing to flip. I just, it all intrigued me. So that started very early on in my life and similarly, Mike had a pretty strong interest in real estate as well. And so when we came together it became clear that that was probably something we were going to [inaudible] as well together. And so we, we did do that before we even thought about the prospect of financial freedom and really truly looking at nicer diversifying income. So that was a cornerstone in our journey for sure. It kind of launched us forward and gave us something to build from.

Phia: (08:51)
And from there it came down to, okay, we want to, we don’t want to just be reliant on real estate. In the future. We want to make sure that we have different options. So let’s start looking at our investing strategies and how are we going to invest with our current capabilities. We didn’t know a lot about investing at the time. How can we get into the market in a way that it’s going to be beneficial over the long term but doesn’t overextend ourselves or our skills in this department. So it was just a really slow, slow learning process, big learning curve, and we ultimately decided to pursue a strategy of investing in index funds and ETFs which matched our personal personality and comfort level quite well.

Eugene / Host: (09:40)
Right. Do you think that you talked, you talked about the real estate part and you had that inkling that that intuition or you said you don’t know where it came from. Do you think that if you were to look back, do you think that it some of the foundational pieces came from your earlier experiences too, or, or people that were influencers in your life that were adults in your life that, that kind of set that mindset for you to, to invest in your own property early on?

Phia: (10:10)
You know, it’s funny, I’ve really tried to break it down a number of times and reflect on where that strong desire came from. And I really can’t pinpoint one influencer in my life or even a handful of influencers in my life that made me feel so strongly about why I wanted to get into owning my own property at such young age. But I think, I think it was just a real desire to, to build my own independence. And that seemed to me at the time, like a first step where, Hey, when I ran the numbers, certainly the real estate market was quite a bit different back then. But when I ran the numbers on what I would be paying for a mortgage versus what I’d be paying for rent, they were so similar that I just couldn’t get past the prospect of, of paying for somebody else’s property for them to own that property. And so the more I thought about the numbers, the more I felt it was the most logical choice to move forward. So, so honestly, I, I can’t really say w what, why or who that desire became so ingrained in me. But I would imagine that it was a totality of everyone in my life, seeing people who own properties, seeing people who are financially secure, seeing the life decisions they’ve made, and just taking all that information and kind of filtering it down to this is a good idea. I should do this.

Eugene / Host: (11:34)
That’s, that’s great. And I think, you know, it’s, it sounded like even as a 19 year old, you had a good sense for the numbers because I think you know, I think that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to a lot of people or especially when it comes to like figuring if one thing is more of value than, than another thing. So it seemed like you had, that you had that mindset pretty early on. Like, do you think that was sort of a trait that, you know, in thinking about the steps, you know, once you and Mike, I had sort of decided after you come together that maybe this was something to to think about or at least work toward having a goal of paying off your mortgage in an X amount of years. And that the other things that came along to either other sacrifices, other things that would would weigh against that goal. Do you think that that, that delayed gratification, Oh, those other things that, that I came along. Do you think that was sort of ingrained in you and Mike too as well? Understanding both the value for money, but also that, you know, setting goals, meeting them in a financial way with something okay. Ingrained in you guys or were other experiences that you had during the journey that, that that came out of the, came out of the journey as well?

Phia: (13:01)
Yeah. I think that the tendency for delayed gratification was something that was pretty strongly ingrained in both Mike and I from a pretty young age. We both come from families whose experienced you know, not, I wouldn’t describe us as financial difficulty, but perhaps financial strain growing up. And so we knew what it meant to okay. We knew what it meant to, to be in difficult financial positions. We knew what that felt like. We knew that it had put stress on our parents. We knew that it was challenging. So I think in growing up in that environment, you start to really appreciate the value of a dollar and just the value of having that money on hand should something go wrong or should it be needed. And so that really started to build an, a, a desire in both of our parts along before we ever knew each other to get jobs.

Phia: (14:02)
Early on. I think we were both in, I think I was nine when I had my first technical job and I think Mike was not much older when he started working and earning his own money. And that ability to have your own money and the sense of freedom that that brought was huge as a child. And then it just cultivated our are habits and tendencies towards money from that point. And so the more we were able to work and gain independence as kids and through our teams, I think the more we were able to see the value of delaying gratification and delaying the things that weren’t essential to, to be able to have that security net and that feeling of security with our own money and with where we were heading. And so that was something we just slowly, steadily, each of us independently, slowly built up our financial means to a point where eventually we were able to get into careers that worked out well for us.

Phia: (14:57)
And then with those habits at that point were just so well ingrained that they continued to have us forward. And so when Mike, Mike I think has always wanted to be in a position where he did and Oh a penny, he didn’t have a mortgage, she didn’t owe any debt to anyone. And when he proposed the prospect of paying off our mortgage, I was really resistant. I, even though I’d had those habits of delaying gratification, to me, the prospect of paying off a mortgage seems like it would just be a lifestyle of drudgery and sacrifice and that you’d be giving up the next 10 years of our life. And it could be, to me it didn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t we choose to invest that money elsewhere? So he had to really work on me to get me on board with that idea.

Eugene / Host: (15:44)
Right. And in reality, you know, as you were, you know, once you were convinced and you were on the same page and on towards the same goals of paying off the mortgage within, I think it was seven years or eight years that you mentioned on your blog was it w was it as frightening as you had originally thought that the Saxon with those sacrifices that you, I’ve had to make in the, the quality of life, was it as constrained as you might have originally thought,

Phia: (16:19)
Not even a little bit. It’s ironic looking back now of course on this end of the spectrum, it’s easy to look back and say, well that was actually not that hard and it was not that difficult. But at the onset it felt overwhelming. I, I couldn’t wrap my head around where we were going to find all this extra money to pay off our mortgage, how we were going to find more income to increase our payments or save up additional money to make lump sum payments. It just didn’t make sense to me until we really started to step back and analyze our lifestyle and ask ourselves the hard questions of are we spending money that’s bringing us back a strong ROI? Are we getting value out of where our money is? [inaudible] And there was a lot of places where we weren’t, money was just going, we were working a lot, long hours, traveling a lot.

Phia: (17:08)
So there was a lot of money going out the door on food, eating out work, clothes, all sorts, all the things that we all spend money on. But yeah, it was just, we weren’t doing it in an attentional way. So as soon as we started to get a handle on that and really think about what am I spending my money on that’s making me feel good, that’s bringing me strong ROI, bringing me value. Then it started to become clear that a lot of what our money was going on was really non-essential. And not only was it not essential, but it wasn’t doing much for us. And so we started to really refining our expenses, cutting away that excess, and just keeping the really the really big things in of the ROI and the value. And what ended up happening is we ended up freeing a substantial amount of money to increase our mortgage payments. And at the same time, our lifestyle to me actually felt like it improved. It was the last hectic or starting to cut out things that we just felt where w we weren’t getting the value from. We were starting to cut out expenses that were just bringing us nothing. And so in hindsight, it actually, rather than having a feeling of drudgery and sacrifice, it actually became a feeling of empowerment and a sense of freedom before we had even really gotten anywhere in our and paying down our debt. But it came quickly.

Eugene / Host: (18:35)
Yeah, that’s, that’s incredible to hear. I, I resonate with some of those things that you and Mike kind of went through. You know, figuring out what things or products or services that I’m using now that I really resonate with and that I find value or joyful to do. I’m not to bring up, I think, I think there’s that famous book probably by now everyone knows like Mary condo and her book about you know, tidying up and, you know, holding that item if it does have joy to you or not, and then using that as a metric for figuring out, is that something that I should keep or I should let go. It’s not a book I’ve read myself, but I see that in, in a lot of things that, especially as I change my mindset too. Two more about FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)s. Like are these things that, that are needed and is it providing the real value in that, like you mentioned the return on investment as well. I liked it turn now to talk a little bit about the, the five steps that you’ve laid out on your site. Maybe tell me a little bit about how you’ve, you’ve set them up. Is it, is it structured and mapped out sort of in a, in a similar way that you and Mike had discovered or came to the, the FIRE journey yourself?

Phia: (20:02)
I would say that it’s similar to what we did, but slightly more refined version. We were definitely stumbling our way through the process and so it didn’t look quite as concise or clean as I’ve laid it out on the website. But I think that in the grand scheme of things that it captures kind of the heart of what we tried to do, whether intentional or unintentional at the time. That worked really well for us. And so the, the first step by I always tell people, and I think its the big gas and I think it’s the one I would say out of all five that we did the least of in terms of specifics. And that is identifying [inaudible] the, the [inaudible], the that you want to lead working actually from the end to start at the beginning. So going all the way to the end goal of where you want to be, but digging way, way deeper than just something like, you know, I’d be wanting to be debt free and have more freedom in March voice, which is kind of what we did, right?

Phia: (21:04)
We just, we looked at each other and said we’re not happy with where things are at right now. How can we change it? Well we want to have more choice, we want to have more freedom and but what we failed to do at that point I think, and what I really encourage people to do is to dig deeper than that and go, okay well why? Why do you want the freedom? What is it that the freedom can bring you that you want to achieve or do or experience and then get to those deeper answers because those are huge driving motivators, I think for people in their journey. And when you have those, it reminds you on the days when maybe you feel like going out for lunch as to what’s, what’s at stake in terms of making these day to day financial decisions. I can eat lunch out today or I can actually move $10 or $15 into my savings account towards my goal of a, B, and C. So for step one, I think that’s always the, a big part is to just defining what it is you’re after so that you know how to structure your financial plan, you know what you’re aiming for, you know what you’re going to need in terms of an investment or an income income stream.

Phia: (22:07)
And so it makes it that much more clear when you’re actually stepping back and trying to figure out the numbers that you have this underlying why of what you’re trying to achieve.

Eugene / Host: (22:18)
No, that’s really good advice. Like and I love that, that line that you said working from the end. Do you know where you’re, you know, to know how to begin the process? I’m curious to, to also, know, I guess a few more things is, you know, did you and Mike at any point, I know you sort of came at it organically and like you said, you sort of had something situation, life situation happen that that made retirement even sort of a possibility before you decided that it was, but did you, was it something that you guys came to think about on your own? Or did you have also a professional help, a financial professional to help you with making sure that that it was possible or at least to corroborate, you know, just to verify that that’s something from the numbers side that it was, it was possible.

Phia: (23:19)
So I think for us the concept of retirement kind of started to float in really at the very end of our journey. We had been really focused on paying down our mortgage, increasing income streams, cutting or lifestyle expenses. We’ve been focused on all those things and the prospect of actually retire from our jobs, it just really didn’t come up for us. We were at the relatively happy in our careers. We kind of anticipated that we would do this [inaudible] achieve our financial goals and we would continue working and continue building wealth. So I think what ended up happening is a bunch of circumstances kind of came together. We had experienced some health issues and those kind of made us take pause and take stock of where we are at. And then those health issues led to an opportunity and an option too exit our careers and particularly for Mike to exit and take a a pension without the penalty.

Phia: (24:21)
So it was a significant option at the time. And and it was kind of the first point where we started actually thinking maybe is this something we should consider as just something we should do? So we didn’t actually go and see a financial advisor, although we have seen financial advisors in the past. But we really just sat down and crunched the numbers ourselves and looked at our overall plan and move where we’re wanting to head and asked ourselves, do we have enough? Is this going to be enough? Are we happy with our lifestyle? Are there going to be future wants that, you know, maybe we don’t exactly know what they are right now, but is this going to leave us in a position where we’re cutting it close on a month to month basis where we might not have a lot of options down the road.

Phia: (25:01)
And for us, as we started running the numbers, we realized that everything we had been doing over the last five years had really culminated in the ability to give us more freedom than we’d ever thought possible. And that included leaving your jobs in retiring. So it was only actually at that point that we really looked at each other and said, maybe this is something we should do. And at that time, it just so happened that I was also, we just found out I was pregnant with our youngest child. And so there was that additional motivator of maybe this is a good opportunity for both of us to be able to spend some significant time with our kids, raising our kids and experiencing life as a family together.

Eugene / Host: (25:41)
Yeah. What an incredible goal like to be able to, to do that and be able to achieve that. That would, that’s amazing. In in the fifth step that you mentioned you talked a little bit about the, the side hustle. I think that’s, if I’m remember correctly, I think that’s the step number five. Maybe you could share with us, with our listeners too about, you know, how did you and Mike go about identifying things that you could do as your side has all I assume, Is one of them. But are there any others you can share with us and any, any kind of the things that you would like to share that you think is important for people to find their own side hustle? As they are approaching financial independence and retiring early but also well into it about they’re filling their time. That’s something that, that maybe helps pay part of the bills but also

Phia: (26:42)

Phia: (26:44)
Can fulfill them in, in a, in a professional way as well. Yeah, for sure. So yeah, step five is all about increasing income. And I think a ideal way to do that in this day and age with all the options and opportunities that are out there is through a side hustle. So we did have a side hustle for quite awhile. We did it for a few years while we were in the midst of our financial freedom journey. And it was actually a really simple side hustle in the grand scheme of things. But Mike, some of his strongest skills are, he’s a wonderful negotiator and a, an incredible salesman when he wants to be. And I have none of those skills but I do happen to be quite a crafty DIY or, and I like working with my hands and I like renovating things and fixing things and creating things.

Phia: (27:33)
So we, when we were kind of trying to identify how, how can we increase our income streams here, how can we bump this up to another level? And at the time, neither of us wanted to work more hours at work. We were both pretty maxed out with our hours of work. We were thinking, how can we do something that’s different? Maybe something we can do together that will take advantage of our individual skillsets but that we can come together and make some extra cash with. So what we ended up doing was we actually ended up looking on Craigslist. We live in a pretty large metropolitan area here in greater Vancouver. So lots of options. I will kegs list and we started just looking for pieces of furniture that were either free or really an expensive and Mike would arrange everything. He would negotiate a price if there was one.

Phia: (28:17)
A lot of times they were free. And he would go and get them and bring them home for me and I would go to work on them and refinish them and make them look [inaudible], well a whole lot different. And then he would look, list them on Craigslist again and sell them. So it was a side hustle that had almost no overhead in terms of a cost to us. It was very, very minimal. It was essentially the cost of a piece if it costs us anything at all. And then some painting supplies or finishing supplies, but really it was our butter times. So we started to look at the return on investment of our time and it was actually a really worthwhile side hustle. We would, you know, pick up a table for free that somebody just wanted gone and I would finish refinish it and you know, a few hours time and make a turnaround, sell it for five, 600 bucks on Craigslist and a week or two later.

Phia: (29:05)
So it was a really worthwhile a side hustle for us. We really enjoyed doing it. We did it really hard for about two, three years while we’re in the midst of it. And then slowly since then as we’ve started to kind of want to reclaim our time, we’ve dialed it back substantially and I’ll still, if I get kind of the inkling to do piece, I’ll still do one occasionally and often more in the summer than then more inclement weather seasons. But it’s still something that I enjoy doing here and there. So Michael find a cool piece for me on, on Craigslist and bring it home and I’ll, I’ll get around to finishing it, whatever I do. But it’s, it was an empowering thing to do for us because it showed us that we were able to really take nothing and create a really small business that was quite profitable for us.

Phia: (29:49)
And so it gave us a lot of confidence even when it later came to that decision about retirement, that Hey, we have these skills here and if we get into a binder or if we get into a situation where there’s something we want that maybe we don’t have the funds for, we’ll be able to find ways to create those funds and so I think for people who are considering their own side hustles that’s probably the biggest place to start is by just identifying the skills that you already have. What skills do you possess that you could turn into either a service or a marketable product or whenever you have that you can already take advantage of. So you’re not looking at necessarily investing a bunch of money into educating yourself or giving yourself the tools or skillsets. Because that’s going to put you behind the eight ball before you really even start.

Phia: (30:33)
And I think adding to that, the other consideration is to use it. Use what you have. Like for me, I already had all the tools that we needed to be purchased for these types of things. I like to DIY and craft. So that was something I had made those, I made those purchases as something that I got value and enjoyment from and now I was able to use them to create income for us. So kind of looking at what you have and your house, is it space, is it tools, do you have something you could rent? You know, all sorts of options in terms of what do you already have. And then I think a big thing for us and a big thing for other people was starting to factor in how that equates from a tax perspective. Side hustles could be really advantageous if you are running them out of your own home.

Phia: (31:17)
You can find a lot of different options for write-offs. Things that you’d probably already be spending the money on. Things like property tax, mortgage interest hydro utility, bills, internet, all sorts of things like that. So those become great write offs and very advantageous come tax season. And I think, you know, when you, once you started to kind of identify those areas of what could give you the biggest advantage and from a tax perspective, what can you take advantage of from your own home and what do you have in your own skills? It really gives people a good idea of maybe what direction they should head and what will make their side hustle the most profitable for them. Because at the end of the day, we want to love doing it and you’d want it, but you want to make it profitable as well.

Eugene / Host: (31:59)
Awesome. I think that’s, that’s really good advice is thinking about not just on the income side but also on the expensive side about, in thinking about tax optimization too. That that’s something that that I think people approaching it don’t actually, I, you know, certainly it’s not something that comes to mind at first, but it’s, it’s a very good point that you bring up. I have a few last questions here just to, to finish it off and then it sort of a standard list of questions I would ask all I’ll guests that we will, we’ll come to you. But to, to sort of, to, to start that off is you mentioned about your, your why, you know, that being a very good North star for anyone to take to better understand why they’re doing it and it would also help people in keeping to the journey and the goals of that journey along the way and the actions that they need to take. I’m curious to know if that Y kind of changed for you and Mike once you achieved it when she achieved retiring early and any kind of things that were surprising to you once you actually did it. That was a, once you actually retired, that was sort of different than what you had you had a envisioned in your minds.

Phia: (33:16)
Yeah. So I think our why did, did a fall a tiny bit. I think in the grand scheme of things though, the heart of it was always about being able to spend the time with our boys while they’re still young and while they’re growing up and be there as, as influences for them. We were both we’re in a position where during the first few years of, of our oldest son’s life, he spent a lot of time, he had a nanny for a while. He spent a lot of time in, in daycare and childcare and we were working really long hours and traveling quite a bit. And, and with the benefit of, you know, some time to reflect on that, it became really clear to both of us that that wasn’t what we’ve wanted. That wasn’t what we were aspiring towards in terms of having a family and having that quality family time and how are essentially, you know, having our kids raised by other people.

Phia: (34:07)
Well, it was not our ideal scenario. But it’s sometimes it’s hard to recognize that when you’re in the mix of it and you’re in, you know, you’re, you’re working, you’re, you’re, you’re, you know, your Cyrus surviving, right? Like you’re in the rat race of life and it’s hard to lift your head up for a moment and really see that sometimes it just feels like that’s what people do and that’s the norm. And so as we started to kind of question that norm in that standard, it became obvious to us that that wasn’t what we wanted. And particularly really when we found out I was pregnant with our youngest son, it became clear to us that we wanted to pursue a different path. So that that was really at the heart of our why and instill is today in terms of why we, why we made those choices.

Phia: (34:53)
It might be different what we did. I think we both agreed that, Hey, if we really want to, we can always go back to work later in life, but you only get these years once. And so we wanted to make the most of it as much as we could with the time we have. So [inaudible] that was our, our, our major core why I think are our standard answer to people when we were kind of pursuing this journey and people were eye rolling at us thinking, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure, you’re gonna, you’re gonna pay off your mortgage that in five years or seven years, it’s not going to happen. But what we were telling people is we just, we just really want our freedom. We want, we see our time is our most valuable currency now and we want it back and we want to spend it intentionally how we want to spend it.

Phia: (35:35)
And we want to make the choices about how we spend it. And if that’s at a job, so be it. But we want it to be our choice, not to have to want to. And so that was kind of our blanket why, that was like our blanket answer. And now that we’re here and we have the time back and now we’re looking at how do we want to spend it. I think maybe that has been one of the biggest things that I didn’t expect but very much should have had I given it some serious thought is how do we want to spend our time? And that’s an answer to be honest, that we’re still working on.

Eugene / Host: (36:08)
That’s fantastic. I mean both as an answer but also it’s also good to know, I think for those of us who are also on the same journey and, and trying to hit the same goals is that it’s also, you know, two things. One I think is to to prepare for that also to, to have that you know, in the back of our minds. But I think also just achieving the goals for its own sake. I’ve always thought that it’s fine on its own, but I think knowing the why you’re trying to achieve it and then what you’re going to do after is an important part of of, of figuring out what that is. Cause it also keeps you it sort of lights the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), so to speak, no pun intended, to, to the goals that you’re trying to achieve.

Phia: (36:53)
I couldn’t agree with you more, Eugene. And I think that that is honestly my biggest takeaway from now being in a position of financial freedom is that knowing that why is such a huge component. And I think sometimes we do get lost in just the goal of reaching it and we forget about what comes after. And we certainly did. We thought we were taking care of that component, but I think we didn’t realize just how much thought and how big of a transition it was going to be to make that change. And so knowing your why and having a solid wise, I think, I think it’s an integral part of the overall plan.

Speaker 3: (37:31)

Eugene / Host: (37:31)
Awesome. So I’m just gonna end it off with, with three questions that I’m going to ask every guest. One of the questions actually unapologetically I’m going to steal from one of my favorite podcasts by Patrick O’Shaughnessy called invest like the best. I have an interest in investing. But his podcast is, is actually quite it spans the gamut of anything to do with investing in life in general, in business and entrepreneurship. So and so I’ll, I’ll start off with one of my own questions is [inaudible], you know, what is the one item or service that you’ve purchased in the past that you thought had the highest value, the return on investment for you? What’s that one thing?

Phia: (38:15)
Oh, that’s it. That’s a tough one. Highest return on investment.

Speaker 3: (38:22)

Phia: (38:23)
You know, Eugene, I’m going to cheat a little bit and I am actually going to forecast into the future a little bit, but I think it’s actually something I’ll plan to write a post vote very soon. It’s something that actually contemplating purchasing now rather than something that we’ve purchased in the past. And we’ve been ruminating on it for actually a number of years in terms of how we’re going to go with our next real estate purchase. And often we feel like we should buy another investment property and get back into that. But recently we’ve made the big decision that instead of doing that, we’re actually gonna buy a secondary vacation property for our family. And so when I really step back and look at value and ROI, I anticipate that that will probably be a purpose that we’ll make where we will, that will probably be our biggest ROI. Just the memories, the ability to go there, spend time with our family, bring larger groups of our family and friends there and just build those childhood memories with our kids. To me, that’s probably going to beat everything else in terms of so ROI.

Eugene / Host: (39:29)
That’s a great answer. The second question is, and this is the one I, I S I S I’m going to steal from Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s “Invest Like The Best” podcast is what’s one of the [inaudible] things that someone’s done for you? I know some of these might, you might, you might need to think a little bit more, but I think, yeah.

Phia: (39:54)
Hmm. That’s a tricky one. I am fortunate to have a lot of kind people in my lives, so,

Speaker 3: (40:01)

Phia: (40:02)
It’s tricky to pick out just one moment in particular that I can think back to.

Phia: (40:12)
But I would have to say that the kindest thing anyone’s ever done for me is, is a big one. And that is that when I was a kid and when I was 16, 15, 16 years old, I was a a, I was a competitive hockey player and I really wanted to pursue my dreams of playing on team Canada and going to the Olympics, which unfortunately didn’t happen for me, but it was an interesting journey nonetheless. But I wanted to go and play at the Olympic oval in Calgary. And my first year I was only 15 years old. And so my mom gave up her job at least temporarily as a paramedic and went out to Calgary with me to facilitate me being able to play there and got a job working interesting at a local pub to make sure that I was able to do that. At the age of 15. So looking back, I would say that’s probably the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me in terms of giving me an amazing opportunity. And that opportunity led to so many others in my life that I would have to say that’s the one

Eugene / Host: (41:18)
That’s an incredible answer. And his team Canada’s lost that if you weren’t part of them. And the last question is, you know, what, what’s next for you and Mike and, and, and also where can people find you and follow you on your journey beyond just

Phia: (41:38)
Yeah, for sure. So what’s next for us is we’re actually kind of in the midst of a 52-week journey that I’m journaling on the blog about optimizing our life and kind of re-examining everything that we have in our life currently. And looking to see, reassess how much value those aspects of our life are bringing in. I think it’s something that I didn’t really think to do in post-retirement, but because everything’s changed post retirement, it’s an opportunity to really sit back and reflect on what pieces of our life are bringing us the most value, what pieces we could put potentially leave behind and make room for new opportunities and new experiences. So that’s something that we’re doing right now, and it’s been a lot of fun and it ventures off into areas that are much beyond just finance, but there’s always kind of an underlining financial component to our thought-process. So that’s what we’re up to. And you can also find us on Twitter, @Freedom101Phia, and then we’re on Pinterest as well, and that you can connect to our Pinterest account through the blog. I’m technically on Facebook, but I don’t recommend people find me there because I’m horrible at Facebook.

Eugene / Host: (42:50)
Okay. That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. So we have Phia from With us. Thank you so much for coming on our program.

Phia: (42:59)
Thanks so much for having me, Eugene.

Categories Delayed Gratification Financial Freedom Financial Independence FIRE Mortgages Podcast Primary Residence Retire Early Side Hustle

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