I started my blog January 2015 to catalog my journey to early retirement. At the time I calculated that it would take me 10 years, but, by decreasing my spending through domestic geo-arbitrage and increasing my salary through job hopping, I cut that time in half. Now, I will be leaving the workforce in September 2020 at 30 years old. My blog is called “A Purple Life”. I came up with the name “A Purple Life” a little randomly. To me, “A Purple Life” means a slightly different life, a life that involves constant questioning instead of going with what you’re given. It’s doing what makes you happy even if that makes you stand out or seem weird to people. It’s following what’s in your heart no matter what. Check out our Q&A with A Purple Life here.
Come read about how you can live a different, better life – A Purple Life.
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, A Purple Life. During these weekly features, we are hoping to provide a way for you to interact and learn more about different blogs in the personal finance space. Below, you can read more about the story behind A Purple Life, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips to help you improve your financial situation. A big thanks for A Purple Life for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.
Tell us about A Purple Life
I started writing my blog in January of 2015 to catalog my journey to early retirement. At the time I calculated that it would take me 10 years, but by decreasing my spending through domestic geo-arbitrage and increasing my salary through job hopping I cut that time in half and will be leaving the workforce in September 2020 at 30 years old.
I started the blog to keep myself motivated and accountable and it was actually a private blog until I took it public in July 2018 at the suggestion of a blogger I met for coffee. I mentioned that I had been writing on a private blog about my journey for 3.5 years and she helped me see I had nothing to lose by putting my words out there in case they could help the community so I did!
I came up with the name “A Purple Life” a little randomly. That same night after meeting that blogger for coffee I bought my domain name on a whim. I’ve always been obsessed with the color purple, love having purple hair and have even gone as far as having purple contacts at points in my life. To me, “A Purple Life” means a slightly different life, a life that involves constant questioning instead of going with what you’re given (such as brown hair in my case). It’s doing what makes you happy even if that makes you stand out or seem weird to people. It’s following what’s in your heart no matter what.
What makes you and your blog unique?
The personal finance space has a stereotype based on the larger, OG FIRE bloggers that it’s dominated by white male programmers. While the above would pretty accurately describe what PF meetups looked like when I attended them 5 years ago, it’s definitely not accurate now. I thought I could provide another, different example to help crush that stereotype further.
I’m a black woman who works in marketing and I’m here to help show that this space is more inclusive than people might think and that the path to financial independence is open to everyone. Even if your situation doesn’t allow you to save enough to retire early there are almost always steps you can take to improve your financial health.
I try to carry my slightly different perspective into my blog and highlight other ways I stray from the beaten path in case others can relate, such as the fact that I am never getting married (despite having a partner) and do not want children.
What does “being good with your personal finances” mean to you?
To me being good with your personal finances just means that you’re willing to learn. I don’t see being “good” with finance as an end destination, but a never ending pursuit. The financial landscape is constantly changing in response to new companies, products and the changing world around us.
A willingness to learn and be honest when you don’t know something is invaluable. I don’t even claim to be an expert on finance or even know what I’m doing half the time, but I’m happy to learn, change direction if I discover I’m wrong and keep going.
What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?
For me, looking at my personal finances and analyzing them regularly is key. I personally find data fascinating and it helps me to be hands on with my money. I enter everything I spend and make into YNAB by hand (instead of it syncing automatically) because it helps me to understand and internalize the money I have spent and on what. And for groceries, for example, I write out everything I bought with its price so I can go back and compare prices across different stores later if I want to.
Being this close to my finances also helps me realize where I should further optimize. For example, my HSA fees were too high so I recently moved to my HSA to a better provider with less fees. I’m going to do the same with my 401K as soon as I quit in September.
I also look at my investments daily to practice exposure therapy to the hills and valleys of the stock market. This has been very helpful because when I started saving seriously five years ago I started by seeing small dips since I had less invested and now I see my net worth go up and down more in a day than I spend in a year and as a result of this strategy I don’t bat an eye at it.
What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?
What Does “A Purple Life” Mean?: This post details exactly why I call my blog “A Purple Life” and my obsession with the color purple that’s persisted through my life.
How Pursuing FIRE Has Changed How I Act At Work: This post documents how inching towards financial independence has changed my behavior at my jobs. It’s not just about the destination. Based on my experience, just pursuing this goal can drastically change how you perceive and act at work. A follow up piece to this explaining how my actions have changed further is going up on my blog in March.
Why I’m Never Getting Married: My blog is not a finance blog, but a lifestyle blog so I talk about whatever I’m thinking about that week. This post is about why my partner and I are not opting into the tradition of marriage despite the societal pressure to do so.
For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?
In the short term my advice would be to figure out where your money is going by analyzing your spending, fees etc. Then make sure that where your money is going aligns with your values. If there is fat to trim that doesn’t add to your life, trim it and reallocate those funds to places that will make you happier.
In the medium term I would suggest making a plan: Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years and what do you need to do to get there? Make a plan and start down the path so you don’t look up when you’re 40 and wonder where your life went.
For the long term my advice is: Invest! Start saving and investing now to make sure you will be set in the future with an emergency fund, savings and investments in case something unfortunate happens. Make sure you will have enough to live on if you can no longer work when you’re older.
What are your favorite personal blogs and bloggers you have been inspired by?
My favorite personal finance blogs right now are:
1. Millennial Revolution: I find their blog absolutely hilarious and also very informative and creative in how they explain investing concepts. They also provide details trip reports of everywhere they live, which is very helpful for my future nomadic plans, while being very transparent about all their numbers and separating out any income they make in retirement from what they originally saved so readers can see if their original plan (with no extra income) would have worked
2. Bitches Get Riches: These ladies are absolute geniuses who also happen to be side splittingly hilarious. They provide wonderfully in-depth articles about everything from salary negotiation to the gender pay gap. Learn about the unfairness of the world and how we can combat while laughing your face off.
3. Rich and Regular: This blog is an inspiring look at the journey of a young couple on the path to financial independence. They take up along on all their adventures from owning a rental property to writing a cookbook. As of recently they have also both quit their jobs to work on their own projects full time and continue to inspire in that way.
What are your favorite personal finance books?
My favorite finance books are:
1. Your Money Or Your Life: This was one of the first books I read when I started down this path to financial independence five years ago and its message hit me right in the gut. The main concept of the book is that when you spend money you’re not just spending pieces of paper, but the amount of your life that you spent to get that piece of paper. That idea changed everything for me and helped me really examine what mattered to me because it’s my life that I’m trading for it.
2.The Millionaire Next Door: This was another one of the first books I read and it taught me that my idea of what millionaires look like is completely off. Oftentimes the people that flaunt wealth actually don’t have much of it. It’s the quietly saving, frugal working people in middle class neighborhoods who are actually the millionaires. There is actually a more recent version of this book with updated data that I also enjoyed called The Next Millionaire Next Door.
What is your favorite investment class and why? (stocks, private business, bonds, real estate, crypto, precious metals, etc.)
Stocks – specifically broad-based stock index funds – are my personal favorite investment class. I’m (hopefully) looking at a 70 year retirement and as a result longevity is a concern for me.
Bonds, while wonderful at smoothing the roller coaster that is the market, are also a drag on a portfolio, especially over longer retirement time frames. That’s why I own 100% stocks in my portfolio. I don’t kid myself into thinking that I have some type of expertise others don’t that I could apply to buying specific asset classes or even specific stocks.
If you received a $5,000,000 windfall tomorrow, what would you do with the money?
If I received $5 million dollars tomorrow I would pay the approximately $2,500,000 of taxes that would be due on it and then quit my job and retire 6 months earlier than planned and then figure out how to best distribute that money to improve the world.
Instead of trying to sell most of what I own and prepare for a nomad life while also working full time and maintaining my blog I would just do all that stuff without the stress of work on top of it and then start my world travels in the fall as planned. I’m taking off to visit Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Thailand so a total of 4 months. It’s interesting to realize that even that large type of a windfall actually wouldn’t change my life very much.
What’s a non-money related interest you have and what do you love about it?
I love to play the video game the Sims. I’ve been a fan since it first came out two decades ago and am a huge fan to this day. I actually live stream my games with a fellow blogger when the urge hits us over on Twitch. We’ve created a game with just people from the personal finance community (with their permission), which is silly and fun. I also live tweet some of my game play over on Twitter.
I love the storytelling aspect of the game. While some players love building houses or creating people I could honestly care less (and appreciate that other players upload their beautiful designs for us to use!) I want to see what these personalities can get up to and what kind of stories I can create. It’s the ultimate sandbox game to me and takes customization a few steps further than other sandbox games I’ve played with their complex human-style interactions. It’s a fascinating game that is different every time I play it.
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