Know Your Blogger Series
Life Outside the Maze
What would it mean to try to escape that system entirely and live life outside the maze?
I created this site shortly after realizing that I was in a position where I could stop working for other people to get money and start working for myself to get happiness. I wanted to share what I know that had gotten me to a level of financial independence. I also wanted to keep myself accountable while researching and exploring what a life might look like beyond traditional employment.
Check out our Q&A with Life Outside the Maze here.
Come read about how you can escape the maze of working and get on the path to early retirement!
Each week at Personal Finance Blogs, we publish interviews from amazing bloggers from the personal finance space. This week, we are featuring the blog, Life Outside the Maze.
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 Life Outside the Maze, learn about the author, and learn personal finance tips from Life Outside the Maze to help you improve your financial situation.
A big thanks for Life Outside the Maze for this interview! Now, we will turn it over to the author for this interview.
Tell us about Life Outside The Maze
Coming from the startup world, I spent my career pushing others to raise the bar and sprinting to get ahead.
One day while we were pitching an extremely successful entrepreneur and angel investor for funding, he went off on a tangent lamenting how his money and lifestyle had complicated his relationships and actually made him less happy.
He paused and looked around our tiny box of an office and said “this is the happiest you will ever be. Remember this time.”
It kind of floored me. Drinking loads of diet Dr. Pepper and listening to a co-worker have yet another mild emotional breakdown in a windowless office did not seem like it was that great.
We were working our asses off and feeling like we were failing every day. “This time” that the investor had fondly spoken of actually really sucked. He had created and sold startups many times over but still he seemed unfulfilled. I started writing 30-40 pages of ideas just to work through it.
Those pages became the first 10 posts of Life Outside The Maze
What makes you and your blog unique?
How much is enough, and what is the real correlation between money, success, and happiness?
The angel investor I mentioned earlier had lots of money and success but seemed to be running on a hamster wheel.
What would it mean to try to escape that system entirely and live life outside the maze?
I have never had expensive tastes and have aggressively saved and invested. I created this site shortly after realizing that I was in a position where I could stop working for other people to get money and start working for myself to get happiness.
I wanted to share what I know that had gotten me to a level of financial independence. I also wanted to keep myself accountable while researching and exploring what a life might look like beyond traditional employment.
Over time, 4 categories have emerged: Financial Independence
, Building Happiness
, Adventure / Travel
, and Successful Habits
. Currently the blog has no ads and I make zero profit from this endeavor. I write to be part of a community and to help others on the path.
What are some habits you practice to keep your personal finances in order?
Investing a dollar and getting $1.07 back after a year sounds boring to most. When I started a Roth IRA as a teenager, my friends literally laughed out loud that I was talking about retirement before I could legally drink a beer.
However, compounding over 50 years at those boring 7% annual returns, $8,000 saved up by age 18 becomes over $235K by retirement. This blew my mind and I got hooked on saving money and investing money early in my life.
I have always been frugal by choice and lived on less than half of my income. I pursued aggressive pay increases in my career, real estate side hustles, and I fully used employer benefits and retirement plans in every creative way that I could.
At some point, I made a spreadsheet that included all of my accounts totaling up to a net worth. Along the way, I updated it once every month or two for the past 15 years. This was depressing at first but over time it became motivating. Eventually it became rewarding to open it up and look at the sizable nest egg building up.
Early on someone gave me the great advice that people work to pay bills, but people invest to become wealthy. “You can either earn the compound interest if you can get ahead of your expenses and invest, or you can pay it with rolling credit card debt,” he told me.
Long term investing through this last bull market created lots of wealth for those who were invested. The current situation with COVID-19 is challenging for all of us and the stock markets have fallen as well.
However, there will soon be another opportunity for more to copy this same path as this market recovers.
What are your three articles people should read to get to know you and your message better on your site?
Here are three posts which you should definitely check out to know more about me and my blog:
For someone looking to improve their financial situation, what’s your best advice?
I love this question.
In the long term, I think about trajectory. I believe it is so important that I even made this short video to illustrate the concept
. If you can do something to change your trajectory early in life, and that thing is applied over time, your life looks dramatically different over the long term.
Things that can change a financial trajectory are getting a college degree or piling up specialization certifications and credits early in your trade or career. Starting investing 10 years earlier than everyone else is also a good example.
In the medium term, improving finances comes down to only 3 things: making more money, spending less money, and investing the difference. I aggressively applied all 3 to make work optional for myself in my 30s and I write quite a bit about tactics and specifics.
In the short term, most would say “get rich quick” is for fools. However, what if you are 50 with no savings and you know that you have 10 years of hustle left in you at most? What if you are 20 and prepared to sprint like crazy to be wealthy in one decade?
I put this guide and examples
together for those who want to become wealthy as quickly as possible while also not taking on inappropriate levels of risk In the short term, I know it is possible, but it is going to take some extraordinary effort to get those extraordinary results.
What’s an area of your life which has benefited from improving your personal finances? Have there been any areas of your life which have suffered?
This is an interesting one because the whole reason I ever started thinking about money was ironically so that someday I’d never have to think about money. This is perhaps the biggest benefit of personal finance for me is having a safety net during challenging times. With the COVID-19 pandemic, right now is a really hard time.
While money can’t buy happiness, it can prevent unhappiness, stress, and hardship in many cases.
What is your favorite investment class and why?
I don’t have a favorite because it is always about what asset class has the best risk adjusted returns at any given time and how these fit together into a balanced and cohesive portfolio.
I invest in stocks and bonds as well as buy, rehab and rent real estate. I have invested in some crazy stuff over the years including real estate loans and notes, swing arm oil wells, angel/venture capital, and more.
For the vast majority of people, as much money as possible parked for a long time in broad index funds with low expense ratios is the perfect mix of easy, safe, and has historically provided a great return. However, I delve quite a bit deeper into investing
What’s a non-money related interest you have and what do you love about it?
Back when I was working in corporate land, I hung 5 photos in my cubicle. Today those same 5 photos hang in my office: Kurt Vonnegut, Socrates, Isaac Newton, Bob Dylan, and Leonardo DaVinci. Put these people together and that is kind of who I wanted to be when I grew up.
In addition to that Tom Hanks movie, DaVinci had another code. He championed this idea of the renaissance man, where you could be a master at lots of things. He was an inventor, sculptor, painter, philosopher, and more. I have always aspired to this.
I love entrepreneurship, write and record music, am an inventor, and I maintain a silly little blog. I practice Muay Thai kick boxing, like to cook, brew beer, and have traveled to over 25 countries. In short, I like to try things. I have found that being at the edge of comfort is often surprisingly fun and is where lots of learning comes from.
Why do you believe learning about money and caring about personal finance is important?
1 in 4 families are living paycheck to paycheck in the USA. When something happens like the loss of a job or the elephant in the room today that is COVID-19, the lack of an emergency fund is devastating. Several surveys have indicated that money is the thing couples fight about the most. Around 38% of Americans have revolving credit card debt. This culture of debt acceptance is choking our financial futures. Especially during times like this where many of those who have credit card debt are the same ones losing their jobs.
Believe it or not, the average American household brings in over $2 million dollars after taxes over a lifetime of working. If even 25% of that could be saved each year, the average household could retire with $3.4 million dollars (check it out
I want to educate and inspire others about how to change their earning, saving, and investing habits for a better life. There has never been a better time to make a change, take control, and start seeing finances as something empowering rather than something stressful or boring.
How You Can Contact Life Outside the Maze for More Information
You can learn more about Life Outside the Maze at https://lifeoutsidethemaze.com
, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lifeoutsidethemaze
, and follow them on Twitter at @OutsideMaze
Thank you for reading this interview, and thank you, Life Outside the Maze, for providing us with some great personal finance tips!