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It’s Not Your Money, It’s Your Future Self’s Money w/Many of us have had the benefit of growing up in households where our parents taught us about money, saving, and investing. Angela Rozmyn was raised in one of these households, and when she wanted something like a bunk bed, her parents got her to work so she could split the cost of it. Clearly this has helped her even to this day as she pursues financial independence and runs the Facebook Group “Women’s Personal Finance (Women On Fire)”. Angela

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Many of us have had the benefit of growing up in households where our parents taught us about money, saving, and investing. Angela Rozmyn was raised in one of these households, and when she wanted something like a bunk bed, her parents got her to work so she could split the cost of it. Clearly this has helped her even to this day as she pursues financial independence and runs the Facebook Group “Women’s Personal Finance (Women On Fire)”.

Before she was on her financially independent journey, she had to get rid of her student debt. She did so by working two jobs before getting into a full-time position and paying off small amounts of the loan as quickly as possible. She paid off $24,000 in student loans in less than 4 years, a huge accomplishment! One of the biggest factors that pushed her to pay off her loan so early was when she calculated how much she was paying in interest on a daily basis. This lit a fire under her to become debt-free.

Now, Angela writes on her own blog Tread Lightly, Retire Early where she shares her money journey, mistakes, and tricks to hitting financial freedom. Angela prides herself on having such a strong community and blog position in a niche that tends to be led mostly by men.

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, show number 191 where we interview Angela Rozmyn from Tread Lightly, Retire Early and talk about preparing for your future financial self.

Angela:
Starting that blog and having the accountability of sharing what I was doing, publicly, really helped change my mindset to be a lot more focused. And for whatever reason, I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but for me at least, the community piece is really, really big. So once I’d immersed myself more offensively into the community, I started to really look closer at our own finances and what we could really do. And I’d say in the last four years, we have made much bigger strides because of that focus and intention versus just kind of floating along.

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen. And with me as always is my Robert de Niro look-alike co-host, Scott Trench. I’m talking to you, Scott.

Scott:
I don’t even have to do anything today. This is great.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable no matter when or where you’re starting.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, start your own business or simply prepare your financial position for your future self. We’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so that you can launch yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, I am so excited to bring Angela Rozmyn on today. She has a very interesting money persona and that she talks about money frequently with her spouse, and also has this disconnect with her financial future and that she doesn’t believe that the money for her future self is touchable in any way, which means that she’s not borrowing from it, she’s not counting on it and most importantly, she’s not concerned when the market dips. And some of the things that she says today are just really eye-opening.

Scott:
Yeah. I think it was a great episode. I think it was very, very helpful. I think it’s a different perspective. She is not earning the big bucks and those types of things, she’s just consistently making good decisions and keeps her expenses low, and I think that that results in a really low stress financial journey.

Mindy:
And not only that, but she doesn’t consider the money that she is saving for her future to be hers in any way. It doesn’t exist to her, which is really the best way to consider that money because it doesn’t belong to her, it belongs to her future self. Angela Rozmyn from Tread Lightly, Retire Early, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you today. How are you?

Angela:
I am good. Thanks for having me this morning. I’m looking out and it’s not raining, so it’s a good day in the northwest in March.

Mindy:
Oh, not raining on a March day in the northwest is a good day.

Angela:
Exactly.

Mindy:
I am actually in a hotel room in Las Vegas and it was raining all day yesterday, which never happens here. So I’ll take that.

Angela:
We had sunshine yesterday.

Mindy:
I took your rain and we swapped it out. Today, we’ve got sun so now we’re swapping.

Angela:
Yeah.

Mindy:
Or now you’re taking back what you should have.

Angela:
It is supposed to rain later today. So we’re swapping.

Mindy:
So before we jump into your money story, I want to know the name Tread Lightly, Retire Early. Where does that come from?

Angela:
It just popped into my head one day basically and it sounded good. Well, the tread lightly part is basically because the core of all the pieces of my life are centered around sustainability and equity. So tread lightly very much fit there. Then Tread Lightly, Retire Early just sounded good to me. Since I was starting a fire blog, it seemed to make sense to to let people know that it was a fire blog. However, I am very much more focused on the financial independence part and less about the retire early. So I’ve definitely got some interesting media questions about, “Oh, so you’re retiring early. Can you tell us about that?” I’m like, “Well, actually, my goal is to be financially independent by 45, but at this point we don’t have any intentions of actually retiring at that point.”

Mindy:
I love that mindset because so many people focus on the RE part of fire and don’t really recognize that the FI part is the most important part.

Angela:
Yeah. The FI piece is that I want to be at a place where money is taken out of the equation and so when we’re making decisions, we’re making the decisions that are best for our happiness and lifestyle, and not about chasing the next dollar.

Mindy:
Well, and in this sustainability arena, that’s not the most lucrative place to live, right?

Angela:
No, it’s not.

Mindy:
It’s like saying you want to be the millionaire educator. How are you a millionaire when you’re a teacher? That’s not where you go when you want to make millions and millions of dollars. But it is where you go when you want to change the world. So I love that you’re thinking ahead.

Scott:
That was a reference from Mindy too when we actually interviewed the millionaire educator because it is possible to become very wealthy while working in jobs that are, hey, not the highest income earning, but really doing good work for society that we need and that’s that’s making an impact.

Angela:
That’s true. I could definitely be working other careers that made me more money than what I’m doing right now. But I’m very pleased with where I’m at, and I also get to work 80% time, which is also something that is very high on my list.

Mindy:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, let’s look at where you started out in order to get to financial independence at age 45. Where does your journey with money begin?

Angela:
So my dad… Well, really, both my parents raised us with a pretty decent idea of money. One of my earliest memories as far as like specifically understanding the money piece is that when I was like nine or 10 years old I really, really wanted a bunk bed, so that when friends came to visit, we would have places to sleep and my parents said, “Sure, you can get a bunk bed but you have to pay for half of the cost of the frame. So I think I had to save like a hundred dollars or something back. It would have been more than that now. So I cleaned cabinets and weeded out doors and did basically all the extra chores that they were willing to pay me for so that I could save up the hundred dollars for the bunk bed.
My parents could have just purchased it for me outright. I grew up in a pretty comfortable place financially, but from early on, they made sure that we were invested in those decisions. We every year had like a back to school clothing budget, which could be, you buy two fancy pairs of jeans or you shop sales and go to the thrift store and you get a whole wardrobe. So early on, I had a reasonable sense of things and when we went to college, my dad had this whole big long spreadsheet of, if you go to this school, this is how much you owe and if you get more money then you owe less. It was just this big giant ridiculous spreadsheet that I think I would understand a lot better now, but I understood enough then to have his help to fight for more financial aid, merit aid and scholarships and to really be pushed to graduate early because I was able to graduate with a lot less debt that way.
But they made sure that we also had skin in the game. Not so much that it would overwhelm us, but enough for us to appreciate the money that was being spent. So then I graduated college with $24,000 worth of student loans in 2009, which is not a particularly good time to graduate college especially when you move across the country to a small town in South Carolina to move in with your now husband. So I got a job initially as a naturalist out on a barrier island in South Carolina making $750 a month because they don’t have minimum wage in South Carolina and so they were able to give me a stipend, which even in South Carolina is not really enough to get by.
So I ended up getting a second job at PetSmart and we had a cheap apartment and I was able to start paying off my student loans but it was really treading water until I got a full-time job the following year. And then I calculated how much interest was being accumulated every day with my student loans and that like lit a fire under me that I was like, “I need to just get these gone because this is stupid. I don’t like interest. So three and a half years after I graduated, I paid off those student loans.

Scott:
Did you merge finances? How did that work with… Assuming over these three years, you either got engaged or married at that point.

Angela:
Yeah. We got married pretty early in that three and a half years. No, we’ve never fully merged finances as we’ve made about the same money. Initially my husband was making more and so he would pay more of the rent. Then once we got married, we had a joint account for our basic bills and whatnot, but we’ve always had separate checking and savings accounts also, which I feel pretty strongly about. I know some people really like the fully combined thing, but it has been a really good thing for our marriage long term to have our own spending money.
It means that when my husband wants to buy a fancy new bow and arrow set, then go ahead, buy the fancy arrows because that’s something you care about. When I decide on women’s personal finance to randomly pick a winner for a $200 money class giveaway, then he doesn’t have to tell me that he thinks that’s ridiculous. So it’s been really good for us to have our own money as well as our combined like long-term goals.

Mindy:
Okay. Boy, I have like 500 questions on this. I’m going to go back to the student loans really quick. How did you calculate the daily interest? Because you’re not the first person I’ve heard say this. And Scott and I are at a disadvantage here because neither of us had student loans coming out of college. How do you calculate the daily interest?

Angela:
I think I probably use like a bank rate calculator that’s generally like the bankrate.com has a lot of like really good interest calculators. I mean this was back in 2010, so my best guess would have been there, or I might have done an Excel spreadsheet. One of those two. Seems likely. But in that process, I found a couple of blogs namely Punch Debt in the Face, which he is no longer blogging. But one who is still blogging is onefrugalgirl.com. So those were some of my very first intros to money bloggers and got me really… I was basically like, “How do I pay off my student loans faster?” And found personal finance bloggers, and started reading those and got really jazzed up and paid off my student loans thanks to that point.

Mindy:
Do you remember what your daily interest amount was?

Angela:
Oh, gosh. I don’t know. My student loans were $24,000 at 6.8% interest.

Mindy:
So that’s not insignificant?

Angela:
No, it wasn’t. I don’t remember what it was, but I mean-

Mindy:
Like five or six bucks a day.

Angela:
It was enough that… Especially when I was, I mean, not making very much money. When I got a job at 14.50 an hour, it felt like a huge like “oh my god I can do things” number. So even five bucks a day felt like a significant number.

Mindy:
That’s a lot.

Angela:
Yeah.

Mindy:
I don’t want to just pay $5 a day for something that happened three years ago.

Angela:
Yeah.

Mindy:
Okay. So if you’re listening to this and you have student loan debts, we will get a link to a student loan debt calculator and run your numbers, see what your daily interest payment is and really look at that in the context of how much money you’re making. When you’re a doctor and you’ve got $5 a day, that’s a little different.

Scott:
And that’ll be at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow191. That’s where you find the notes for a link to something like that.

Mindy:
Yes. I can’t remember who the other person was that ran there, figured out their daily interest rate, but they said the same thing. It was huge. I could not believe how much money I was spending on interest every single day on this.

Angela:
And that was where I was like, “Okay. Well, where can I find $5, $10 a day to just toss at my student loans.” So I was not doing like a pay whatever I can monthly, I’m the kind of person when I have a really like focused goal, it’s like, “Oh, I have an extra $5.” I’m going to make a $5 payment today. I’m going to make a $10 payment today.” I think I was able to find more money by doing it like these micro transfers than trying to do one big lump sum at the end of the month.

Mindy:
That’s very interesting. We just spoke with Tiffany Aliche a couple of weeks ago and she said the same thing, “When I was at rock bottom…” And not that this is rock bottom, but “When I was at rock bottom, I said this is my goal. I want to make $500 a month. How can I do that?” Okay, now I want to make a $1,000 a month. How can I do that? Start small and look for ways to generate the income when you’re wanting to pay off your debt.” I love that. Now, my question is with the separate finances.
My husband and I have combined finances and always have because it never occurred to me that you couldn’t. So with regards to combining finances versus separate finances, and you said that you have a bank account where you both put money into, how do you handle retirement, because you are clearly on the financial independence path. Is he also on the financial independence path?

Angela:
He is. He’s even more on the FI versus RE than probably even I am. I don’t think he has any interest in ever retiring. He doesn’t see what that would look like for him. I’m definitely the one that’s more focused on FI, but I’m also the one that mostly runs the ship when it comes to our finances. Piece of that really is like we kind of have an agreed upon this much money is going extra to our mortgage and this is going toward our general emergency fund, and this is going to our sons college, etc, etc.
We also have a current goal of like wanting a travel trailer and that’s really like he’s the driver there so he’s putting more money monthly directly into a savings account for this travel trailer. But I’m the one actually like moving money from our joint account into the other ally savings account specifically for that.
And basically, after I’ve calculated all of our spending for the month, then I tell him, “Okay. Now take X dollars and transfer it to your own account.” If that makes sense. We’ve got a baseline and then he will sometimes be like, “Okay. We’ll throw half of that into my retirement account and I’ll take the other portion. But really, it’s just once we have this set guidelines of like what we want as a minimum, then the rest is up for us to do what we will with it.

Scott:
So you paid off these loans in about three and a half years you said. So we’re saying 2009, you graduate. That’s probably May, April, sometime there, June. And by the end of 2012, you’re…

Angela:
It was august of ’12. I have a screenshot of when I paid them off. I think it was August 10th.

Scott:
All right. So now your daily interest in the student loans is zero. What happens next with the journey here?

Angela:
I wish I could say that I put all of that money directly into a Roth IRA and was like super gung-ho about financial independence at that point because I’d been reading about it for years at that point, and I should know better, right? Our next goal was we had also purchased a house during this time period. We bought our house in 2011. Thanks to a VA loan, we didn’t have to you know come up with a down payment and really hit the housing market well. But our next goal was to eventually have a kid. So I had a focus of having stuff set up financially for when he arrived, and we had paid for some housing improvements.
We’d gotten a super energy efficient furnace put in and a new gas water, hot water heater and some other stuff. So we had a zero percent loan on that and paid that off and then basically just wanted to save up for him. Then I really kind of just floated. We did fine financially. But I was kind of just dabbling, putting a little bit into retirement accounts, putting a little bit into savings, paying down our mortgage very slowly, but we weren’t really doing anything with any kind of direction. And the change in a big way really happened when I started my blog in 2017.

Scott:
What was the trigger for that? Was it starting the blog or was there something that… Did you just decide one day, “I’m going to start this blog and get regressive about this”?

Angela:
I mean, I’ve still been regularly reading personal finance blogs. So like people talk about things that happened in the personal finance world in 2011, 2012. I’m like, “Oh, yeah. I remember that blogger and that thing that happened.” But I was very passive. I never, ever left comments. I pretty much just like read and didn’t rack up credit card debt. I’ve never had credit card debt, that kind of thing. I’ve never had a car payment that sort of thing.
So I was doing well, but I wasn’t being very intentional with what I was doing. I was just reading and getting information and knowledge, but not really doing a lot with it. One of my early favorite blogs who he’s still blogging is Retire by 40, and he had published one of his, you should start a blog post. For whatever reason, it finally clicked like, “Yeah, I think I do want to write about my story. Let’s let’s do this thing.”
Starting that blog and having the accountability of sharing what I was doing publicly really helped change my mindset to be a lot more focused. And for whatever reason, I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but for me at least the community piece is really, really big. So once I’d immersed myself more offensively into the community, I started to really look closer at our own finances and what we could really do. I’d say in the last four years, we have made much bigger strides because of that focus and intention versus just kind of floating along.

Scott:
So let’s get into the specifics. What did you start doing? It sounds like you probably got better about saving, but where’d you start investing and throw in the money?

Angela:
Well, I’ve now maxed out my IRA for the last three years in a row, which for a lot of people maybe is not huge, but for me it’s felt really, really big. We’ve got pretty average incomes for our area. We very much receive the full stimulus check. We’re at a good income level, but we’re not wild income that a lot of people in financial independence seem to have. So maxing my IRA every year has been a big deal. Then just having a really big cash buffer has felt really good especially in the last year with the pandemic.
It doesn’t seem like there can be a big enough emergency fund. Then I have kind of a special different deal with my work. I work for a company that builds, owns, and operates affordable sustainable housing in the Seattle area, and I am able to basically be a minority equity partner in our communities. So it’s kind of like a self-directed REIT, I would say is probably the most easy way to describe that, but it’s also the company I work for and what I really believe in. So that’s where part of our retirement stuff goes as well?

Mindy:
How secure is your job? It sounds like sustainable affordable housing is going to only explode with the way that the market’s going right now? So it seems like your job is pretty secure.

Angela:
Yeah, it’s funny. When I was graduating high school, we had a senior project in high school and I decided to do mine on a sustainable home. So clearly this is something that has been my interest for a while. But I remember thinking like, “I think I want to go on to like environmental science and stuff, but I don’t know if there’s going to be any jobs by the time I graduate because we’re going to have this stuff all figured out.” So clearly that is not the case.

Mindy:
I wish you were right.

Angela:
I know, I know. But books I read in high school, I read again in grad school and it was painful to realize how little things had changed. But also as far as my job, I actually work with my dad. It’s his company.

Mindy:
Oh, nice.

Angela:
Yeah. I’m pretty involved in things. We’re a small company, but he’s been building and developing pretty much all of his adult life. But in the last 15 years or so, really pivoted more significantly toward the sustainable housing piece.

Mindy:
Okay.

Scott:
What do you guys think about it in terms of your timeline to reaching fire kind of goals there? What’s the next phase your journey?

Angela:
I mean, just kind of keep on keeping on. We have a six-year-old. So I don’t know how much I see our lives changing particularly very much in the next 12 years as long as he’s in school. I kind of feel like we’re in those almost like doldrums when it comes to five, because we don’t have any plans to uproot our lives and move somewhere else or quit before he’s done with school or anything like that. At this point, it’s kind of like just keep doing what we’re doing and as raises happen sock more money away.
We refinanced our loan last fall and so we’re putting more money toward our… We just kept our same payment and so putting more toward the principal. So at this point, I feel like we’re in a pretty decent spot financially. So it’s kind of like just making sure we’re paying attention to keep doing what we’re doing, which is not all that exciting, but that’s-

Scott:
No. Money shouldn’t be exciting.

Angela:
Yeah, that’s true.

Mindy:
Your financial retirement plan, your financial plans in general should be as boring as possible because the boring is less risky. And the exciting, amazing…

Angela:
Get rich schemes?

Mindy:
Yeah, get rich quick. The sexy, exciting things are where you’re have a lot of risk like Bitcoin and GameStop and all those crazy things that were happening in the last few months.

Angela:
I loved reading and watching it.

Mindy:
But did you invest in it?

Angela:
Get in it? No, no. It was very fun to read and watch.

Scott:
Well, there’s volatility and there’s risk, right? And there’s difference between the two. So the stock market index funds, which we all love and think of as highly diversified. They are volatile as well. Last March, around this time, Mindy to the day predicted a gigantic stock market crash, jokingly, but got it right. Kudos to Mindy.

Angela:
For once.

Scott:
Yeah. And it crashed like 30% last year, right? So we all watched that. Then it went right back up and none of us knew that was going to happen. I was ready. I can honestly say that I had invested so much time in reading and learning about this. I just continued like, “Okay, yep. This is exactly what happens every five, 10 years in stock market investing. This is volatility.” Over 30 years, the market will as Jim Collins, we’ll quote him, says, “The market always goes up over the very long run and will recover, but was that recovery going to be in a month like it happened last year or was going to be a year or two years?”
With that, I mean, you look back and you’re like, “Oh, one year ago we’re at the bottom of this market crash and now I’m up 60%.” Well, who knew that is going to be the case, right? No one knows this and so that’s volatility versus risk. The market is volatile, but long term I believe it’s lower risk because it will go up. You have no idea on things like Bitcoin or GameStop. My belief is that without being a stock picker to too much degree like GameStop has to change something about the way they conduct business in a general sense because they’re a retail business fundamentally.
Is that going to change long term? I don’t know. I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the short run. It may be really volatile in the short run. What happened was it went way up and then went back down, and its long-term trend seems to be continuing unless they take some sort of pivot from a strategic or operating, or the market changes, or something like that. Then Bitcoin, look, that’s a whole can of worms and we need to get a ex-Bitcoin expert on the show. We are still hunting down the guy I want for that, but soon, we’ll get there and we’ll have a long discussion on that, but there’s lots of reasons why that might collapse to zero and there’s lots of reasons why it might be the new currency of the future. And where’s that probability risk spectrum? I don’t know. I’m getting on a rant here.

Angela:
Whenever I update my husband on our net worth, he and I are always joking about the Monopoly money we have because it really feels like Monopoly money, especially anything that’s not in an actual checking account, things that are in the market. I found it didn’t bother me to watch last March and I think part of it is like this disconnect that it doesn’t feel real in a way.

Mindy:
Oh, interesting.

Angela:
It just really feels like Monopoly money in a big way. I don’t know. Maybe not everybody feels that way but he and I have joked for years about our Monopoly money, because that’s how it feels like to us. So I think it’s been easier to just kind of let it ride, because it is what it is. When you don’t need the money for like decades, there’s at least for me a disconnect of like, “Well, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t need it. It’ll be there someday. I’m stashing this away from my 60-year-old self, and my 33-year-old self has no need for it so it kind of doesn’t exist.”

Scott:
It kind of reminds me of the whole like dead people are the best investors story where they’re like, looked at a bunch of portfolios and it’s like, “Oh, the ones that perform the best are people who are dead because they never made any moves and just stuck with it the whole time.” With the way you’re describing Monopoly money makes it almost like that mentality like, I’m just completely detached from this and just going to leave it, and keep shoving coins in one by one over the course of many years.

Angela:
Yeah. Maybe that part of that comes from how many years I read personal finance blogs before I got more directly active and stuff myself. Just like my early adulthood was just saturated with this stuff and graduating at the bottom of the market in 2009 and going through the Great Recession. It feels kind of surreal to be where we’re at now.

Scott:
Internalizing that philosophy impacts behavior it sounds like.

Mindy:
How frequently are you looking at your finances? Specifically your retirement finances because you said it didn’t feel real, and you didn’t really mind the drop in March, which is like the best position to be in. But we interviewed the mad scientist right as that was dropping and he said, “I always thought I was comfortable with risk and I always thought I could take a big hit and be okay with it, but it turns out that this really freaked me out. So I’m writing down my feelings now. I’m not making any rash decisions, but I’m writing down my feelings now and then I’m going to go back when things calm down and revisit and see how I can change my asset allocation so that should this happen again or when this happens again, it’s not such a oh my goodness, what am I doing? Am I going to be okay, scenario?”
I always thought that was really interesting because he’s so calm like in general. So for him to be like, “Oh, this really affected me.” But I also think that he’s one of those I check my money every day people. So how frequently are you checking in on your retirement?

Angela:
See, I’m not a generally calm person. I’ve written and talked about this enough, but I’m on daily anxiety medication and I literally go on runs to combat regular anxiety, and I don’t sit down a lot, and I get a lot done because of that anxiety drive. But for some reason, it doesn’t connect as much. Now, if I don’t have a lot of money in my cash savings account, that for me is anxiety producing. So I’ve put a lot more in cash savings over the last year with everything that’s gone on and to me that’s like the only portion of my money that feels like particularly relevant to me right now because I don’t see retirement funds as funds that I can touch.
So they really don’t exist in my 2021 life. They kind of already exist in like 51 or later, if that kind of makes sense. It’s a very separate piece. So if it’s my house, my monthly credit card bills that I have to pay off and what’s in my checking and savings, that feels real. The retirement stuff feels very much like this is for my future self and it doesn’t even exist for my current self.

Scott:
Yeah. We had Tiffany Aliche on recently and she had a comment to this effect that was like you have to build wealth for yourself and you have to build wealth for your future self. So she calls her future self, Wanda I believe.

Angela:
Yeah.

Scott:
Yeah. And my future self, I look like Robert de Niro, some people tell me. So I refer to him as Robert. Whenever I do that, I’m talking to me with that. But that’s a way to kind of think about the investing there with separating those two things like one’s for me and one’s for Robert with that or Wanda, whoever you name 75-year-old self.

Angela:
Apparently my 80 year old self needs a name. I don’t-

Scott:
That’s right.

Mindy:
Does your 80-year-old self needs a name because you are saving for her? But I think your approach is fantastic because you’re right. The money that you’re going to use in 2050 does not belong to Angela Roszmyn in 2021, it belongs to Angela in 2050 or let’s see. Let’s name Angela’s future self, Helen.

Angela:
Okay.

Mindy:
It belongs to Helen. And you can’t spend Helen’s money any more than I can spend Angela’s money. I think that’s a really smart way to think about it. You’re the second person in a very short time frame who has said that. So if you’re listening to this now, who are you going to… What is the name of your 60-year-old self and that’s who you’re saving for.
So 60-year-old self doesn’t exist for X amount of years. It’s okay if the market dips a little bit because 60 year old self doesn’t need it right now. They don’t need it for 30 more years, or 10 in some cases.

Angela:
Yeah. I know Amanda Holden, Dumpster Doggy talks about this too, about being like the bad granny self of her 80 yourself, 80-year-old big ball and granny is who she’s saving for. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever like fully explain this to myself out loud before. So you guys are the first getting it like out of my brain into actual words. I think my husband has the same kind of perspective. Again, that’s that whole like… I think his… He feels like our net worth is even more Monopoly money than I think I do because he doesn’t even really touch the money, he just kind of like trusts that I’m figuring it out for future selves.
But as long as I know what our like worst case scenario for right now is, I think about like what if we lost… If we both had no jobs, and what is our base that we need to live on? I don’t even consider like, “Oh, well. We could pull out of our retirement stuff or sell off whatever.” It doesn’t even factor into my contingency preparedness planning. We have a very low mortgage for our area especially and we do have a roommate, but it’s like, “Okay, in worst case scenario we could also rent out our family room to more people and I could up the time in my garden and our finances could exist at a very, very, very low level if we had to.” But I think about it as like current self and I think it really is. It is Helen’s money. It’s not my money. It doesn’t even factor into my day-to-day living. It’s like once it passes the threshold of going to retirement, it’s a one-way door. It doesn’t come back.

Mindy:
I love that you think like that. I’m trying to find my list. I was making a list this weekend like setting yourself up for success and I said the biggest hack to your finances that you can have is that you don’t want stuff and you’re not spending a ton of money. And that doesn’t mean you don’t have things, it means that you’re not pursuing stuff that means something to somebody else. So you can live on a very low amount of money. Oh, wait, no. Oh, crap.

Scott:
She’s house hacking as well.

Angela:
Yeah, I am.

Mindy:
Yeah, she’s house… And that’s fabulous, but edit that part out, because I’ve said it wrong.

Angela:
Yeah. We’ve had our same roommate for like… He’s lived with us for more than seven years now.

Mindy:
Can you walk us through at the high level like what that looks like?

Angela:
Sure. Well, when we bought our house we were 23. So we were the only people we knew that owned a house. So we had friends that needed places to live. And our current roommate went to middle school with my husband and they ran into each other. Again, my husband went to college after the military. So when he was in school, so was our roommate and they ran into each other in the machinist program at the school they were both at.
He was commuting via bus and ferry and bus again to get to school because even a decade ago, the Seattle area is pretty expensive. We had a roommate move out and we were like, “Hey, do you want to move in? We live in the same city as your school.” He was like, “Heck, yes.” He didn’t drive. He doesn’t drive either, so being close enough for like a single bus to school was a big deal. So he moved in and our original plan was that at the point we were going to have a kid that we were going to ask anyone who was living with us to not live with us anymore because we were just going to have our family and that be that.
But when I got pregnant, we were like, “You know what, he’s really a pretty easy guy to live with. Do you want to stay? We’re going to have a newborn for a while. They might cry.” But he’s kind of an absent-minded professory kind of fellow in the best way and he was like, “No, I’ll stay.” That was coming up on seven years ago at the pre-baby talk and we came home from the hospital and that first night, he made us dinner. So I was able to like nurse my son in the recliner and have my roommate come and bring me dinner. Now, he’s been unemployed because of COVID. So he actually helps homeschool our son at this point as well.

Mindy:
That is worth its weight in gold.

Angela:
Yes.

Mindy:
Oh my goodness.

Angela:
We are hardcore getting the better end of this deal.

Mindy:
Yes, you are.

Scott:
Wow.

Angela:
So he was a good roommate, pre-COVID. I can never speak highly enough of him now because like I’m able to go into my office on Tuesdays because he has our son the whole day. He homeschools him and they go to the park together and they go do whatever. It’s been a really, really, really big deal this past year.

Scott:
Does that change the economics with the context of COVID, and prior to COVID was this a big chunk of your mortgage that was being paid by the rent?

Angela:
No, because we’ve not really raised his rent. Even pre-COVID, he was paying like very little compared to what we could actually rent a room for. It was more fair when he moved in and we’ve just like barely moved the needle because he’s just been such a good roommate and he’s more of like a household member. Could we get like double or more what we’re charging him in rent? Probably, but it works for us and it works well for him. It’s a chunk of our mortgage, but that’s because our mortgage is not huge.

Scott:
Thank you for sharing that. That’s really interesting.

Mindy:
Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be this like totally cash flowing thing. You’ve got somebody who is homeschooling your child. You have somebody that you are comfortable leaving your child with, comfortable having this person spend time with your child. I mean there are people that I would rent a house to that I wouldn’t let anywhere near my kids. Money’s not the most important thing. And being able to be secure in knowing that your son is taken care of is so huge. Anybody listening who’s saying, “Oh, well you need to get more money in it.” You can go rent your house to whoever you want, but Angela’s doing just fine the way she is. I wanted to-

Angela:
[crosstalk 00:41:16], I think.

Mindy:
Oh, well, great.

Angela:
At least on my end. When he doesn’t come on vacation with us, which our last big pre-COVID trip was to Iceland for two weeks and he came with us, but I know. When he doesn’t come travel with us, he watches our animals too. So we have a couple of big dogs and a cat, and a snake, and we can just like leave for the weekend and it’s not a big deal because he’s there.

Mindy:
Yeah, and it works for you and that’s all it needs to work for. Just you.

Angela:
And thanks to my endless badgering of him over the last few years. He is financially in a place that even though he’s been unemployed for a while because of COVID, he’s fine. And he’s able to wait. It looks like his old job is finally going to be coming back this summer and he’ll have been able to just kind of hang out and not find a job that puts him at risk of COVID, and he’s been able to make the money thing work. It took years of like you need to put more money into savings. You need to do this. You need to… But he finally listened to me and it’s working well too because he’s able to stay home and wait until he can get his old job back.

Mindy:
Okay, Angela. I really, really love your story. It sounds like you and your husband have a lot of conversations about money. Just it’s part of your marriage. It’s part of your life to have these conversations.

Angela:
I’d like there to be fewer.

Mindy:
Of course, he would. But just like marriage in general, it’s work every day, but if you work at it every day it’s going to be a lot easier. Your finances are work every day, but if you put in the work every day, you’re putting in like three minutes, five minutes, 12 minutes. You’re not working on it 24/7. But the reason that I brought you on the show today is to talk about women’s personal finance specifically, and you have created this group where there is a safe place for women to come and ask questions, have conversations about money because typically, traditionally women don’t necessarily run the finances. There’s a lot of women who feel that they are unprepared, so they just step back.
There is a place for you to come and have conversations and you know we want you to learn about money. Angela wants you to learn about money. She wants you to make smart financial choices. So let’s talk about women’s personal finance for a little bit.

Angela:
So I want to push back a little bit on the idea that women don’t do the finances and they aren’t comfortable and they don’t feel prepared because, holy cow of the 27,000 plus women in the Facebook group, a lot of them are the financial driver in their relationships. Or they’re single or they are in a relationship with a woman. There are a lot of really smart women who really get the financial piece. And I think there’s a lot of traditional bias in the belief that women don’t get money. And that’s kind of where all of this women’s personal finance stuff as far as I’m concerned started from.
So early on in my blogging career, I had been reading a larger male bloggers blog roll of all of his favorite fire blogs and he had listed one woman and then in the comments someone was like, “Well, I’d really love to read more women’s stories. Can you point me to some others?” And he listed one more. I was like, “Well, okay. I’m a new blogger, but I’ve been reading personal finance blogs for like close to a decade at this point. There are a lot of women out there.”
So I created a post meet the women of the financial independence community and it absolutely blew up. I think originally it had like 30 or 40 women on it. Well, more than two? But it now has well more than a hundred and there’s bloggers that are fire specific, general finance, podcasters, authors, money coaches. I mean, the list is very long. And out of that, I realized we were really missing a community place to have these conversations around women and money. So from there, I started my women’s personal finance Facebook group.
So I realized that we really needed a community space and with that I created the Facebook group. Initially it was a fire group because that was the post that launched it and those were the women that initially join the space, but very early on, I realized I didn’t want it to be fire specific. My goal has always been for it to be a community for all women regardless of their money stories. I’ve gotten some pushback on that because there are a lot of women who do want a fire specific space just for women. So there were quite a few women early on who really wanted it to be a fire specific space. There are a couple of FI specific Facebook groups for women, but they’re not as robust as women’s personal finance. But I’ve always wanted it to be open to all women and my goal there is that we have some really, really smart financially savvy women in the group, and we have women in the group that literally for the first time are even thinking about money, and I want it to be a place for everyone.
I don’t want there to be a gatekeeper saying that if you don’t have this money thing sorted out already, then this isn’t the place for you. If you want to talk about money or if you just want a community of women that is going to be very supportive and welcoming and inclusive, come join us, even if you’re not sure you want to talk about the money piece yet.

Mindy:
Yeah, I think that there’s a person out there who is talking about money, who speaks your language. And just because I read XYZ blog, doesn’t mean that Angela is going to resonate with XYZ blog or Scott is going to resonate with XYZ blog and it doesn’t mean that XYZ blog isn’t a good source of information, it just doesn’t speak the language that you want to hear. So part of the reason that we have this podcast in general is to bring people on and share all these different money stories because there is something to learn from everybody. But I want to introduce my listeners to different voices, so they can find the voice that resonates with them the most. And this women’s group, women don’t traditionally toot their own horn.
For that woman to say, “Are there any more women out there? Oh, here’s one more.” Women aren’t out there saying, “Read me, read me, read me.” They’re just consistently pumping out the content. There’s a lot of great voices out there and I love your article because I learned about a lot of women on that article. I mean, you update that frequently don’t you?

Angela:
Yeah. I need to do another update. But that’s constant.

Mindy:
Yes. Well, we will link to that in the show notes as well, which can be found like Scott said at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow191. Angela is there anything else we should bring up before we get to our famous four questions?

Angela:
I guess as of last month, we also launched womenspersonalfinance.org. So we now have branched out beyond just the Facebook community. The Facebook community is absolutely wonderful and I adore it. As long as Facebook decides not to be like wonky as we know it can be, as long as it’s available to me, that community will stay and continue to grow and be accessible for all women. But we have since created a website so we are paying bloggers, specifically women bloggers to write for that site and we’ve got some resources up there.
Then we also have a private Discord community, membership level now that allows for kind of the smaller community conversations. Then we have exclusive events coming up once a month for those members. So that’s new as of last month and we’re still figuring out all the things we can do with it, but getting to pay women to write about money is basically like a dream come true for me. And of every nine paid memberships, we give away one free to women who cannot afford the monthly cost. So that is a near and dear piece to my heart that there’s a lot more that you can do once you create a membership community and have funds to pay people, but then it also becomes a bit more exclusive to people who can’t afford it. So the goal is to always have it be a place that women can apply to be a part of even if that cost is not in their budget.

Mindy:
I love that. I love that. Okay, Scott and Angela, are you ready for our famous four questions?

Angela:
Let’s go.

Mindy:
These are the same four questions we ask of all of our guests. Angela, what is your favorite finance book?

Angela:
I am going to go with Work Optional by Tanja Hester because it really talks about the like why and really helps you shape what you want your life to look like outside of money. It’s not an early retirement book as in this is the way you do it just so that you can never work again, and let’s forget about what you do afterwards. More than half of it is focused on the like why and the what and the how is really secondary to that.

Scott:
Great, great book and great example of a woman who is a pioneer and thought leader in the financial independence and personal finance space. So we actually had the privilege of interviewing Tanja on episode, I believe it was 190… Or sorry, episode 97 if you want to go and check that one out. All right. What was your biggest money mistake?

Angela:
I don’t know that I have a huge one, but it’s more of a like low-key burn one of once I paid off my student loans, I didn’t really do anything special with my money for another five years. So it wasn’t a big like I invested in some company and the stock went to zero or something like that, or I never bought a fancy car and wrecked it or something like that. So overall, I feel like I’ve I’m pretty content with the way my finances have gone, but I missed five years of like focused growth and during this like gigantic bull market would have been a good number. But it at the same time, I don’t think I regret it because I may not have done some of the fun stuff that I did in my early to mid 20s, had I been hyper focused on FIRE.

Scott:
Make sense.

Mindy:
What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?

Angela:
Open a Roth IRA account and deposit even $5 a month into it, even if that’s honestly all that you can find, find $5. Then when you can find $10, find $10. It is more a habit than anything else. When I was paying off my student loans, I wish I had still saved five bucks of the money that was going to my student loans and put it into a Roth even if it meant you know I might have paid off my student loans a month or two later. Just the habit of starting to put money into your finances and your retirement finances as soon as possible.

Scott:
What is your favorite joke to tell at parties?

Angela:
Gosh, I don’t tell jokes.

Mindy:
I have one for you.

Angela:
Yeah, okay. My husband is like full on dad jokes all the time and I think I just [inaudible 00:54:23]. I don’t have any left.

Mindy:
Because you do sustainable housing did you hear about the last remaining unit in the apartment building? It was last, but not leased.

Scott:
Oh, that’s a great real estate joke.

Mindy:
Somebody shared it at our.

Scott:
I can imagine listeners listening and having a vacant expression on their faces after hearing that joke.

Mindy:
Okay. And we kind of already covered this, but Angela where can people find out more about you?

Angela:
So you can find me at treadlightlyretireearly.com or womenspersonalfinance.org. And that site will also link you to the Facebook community as well.

Mindy:
Angela, I think you have a wonderful look on money. I think that your story is fantastically boring and you will absolutely reach financial independence when you plan to… Probably way before you plan to. Helen will appreciate all the work that you have done and you are just going to continue to crush it. I think that focusing on the FI instead of the RE is really the way to go and I just am so thankful that you took your time today to share with us. I really appreciate you coming on.

Angela:
And I really appreciate you being part of women’s personal finance too. I love having you a part of that too.

Mindy:
I help moderate the group and it is a lot of fun helping keep the conversations on track and keeping the spam out. Unfortunately in any Facebook group you have spam.

Angela:
The larger it gets, the more you have to be ban hammer occasionally.

Mindy:
Yeah.

Angela:
But I’d say 99.9% of the women in the group are absolutely fabulous. I think there’s a reason why quite a few people say it’s the one reason they’re still on Facebook.

Mindy:
I agree. 100%. Okay. Angela, thank you so much and we will talk to you soon.

Scott:
Yeah, thank you.

Angela:
Thanks, Mindy. Thanks, Scott.

Mindy:
Okay. That was Angela Rozmyn with Tread Lightly, Retire Early. Scott, what did you think?

Scott:
I thought it was helpful. I learned a lot of good information about this. I kind of need to listen, when the topic of women and money or some stuff that I can’t understand as a man necessarily as well comes up, and I think that that’s really interesting and I think it’s great that there’s places and that we’re making women who are prominent in the financial space more prominent, giving them more of a place for people to find them and to discuss those issues that are more appropriate there. So I think it’s great and definitely go check out that Facebook group.
I also think on that note with the Facebook groups, that Facebook is an amplifier of whatever, and they’ve been criticized for this around the way that they’re politicizing certain folks or whatever because the extreme content gets all the more interaction that kind of stuff. Well, it’s an amplifier for me on Facebook because I’m just in all these Facebook groups. I’m in of course BiggerPockets, Real Estate Rookie, BiggerPockets money, but I’m also in some other ones like Mustachians in Practice for Mr. Money Mustache fans.
And one called Choose FI. I would just encourage you to go out there and like if you’re on Facebook, you find yourself getting sucked in down that rabbit hole, how do you create a world in which you’re getting sucked into the healthy rabbit hole of personal finance and investing in these types of things in these kinds of groups rather than in stuff that might be unproductive or distracting or make you mad or angry or those types of things. There might be a good way to go about it. So go join our Facebook group and go join Angela’s Facebook group, and maybe a few others.

Mindy:
Yeah, you really want to immerse yourself in the financial space, especially when you’re just getting started. Like Angela did, she read all the blogs and did all the things. It’s so important to get different perspectives because you are going to learn from everybody. But there might be somebody that really, really speaks the same language that you do. And the Facebook groups are a great place to start. People will recommend other bloggers, other podcasts all the time and it’s fantastic. We just want you to learn the information. And however, you can find that information is the best way to learn it.

Scott:
Absolutely.

Mindy:
Okay. Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
From episode 191 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott Trench and I am Mindy Jensen saying after two, kangaroo.

 

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