Spreading The FIRE**

An on-going discussion in this blogging community is how do we go about spreading the word.  I’ve been privy to several discussions about how to breech the subject with people outside of this community.  How do you get them interested and bring up the topic, with out sounding like one of those crazy Southern Preachers?

FI/RE is my rattlesnake, Hallelujah … Ok, Crazy!

Everyone has tried various ways, and most times it basically turns into. “Well, I’ll just let them ask.  We’ll slowly start talking about it as they ask more and more.”

It Doesn’t Always Work Like That

These discussions got me wondering.  What exactly is it that resonates with people when you have that first discussion with them?  Is it something with them, or something that you can say?  I mean some really buy it, and some just shut you down from the beginning.

Well, I decided to ask.  It turns out one of my team members at my old company became a convert.  And not casually, he bought it hook, line and sinker.  Everyday at lunch, devouring content.  Even got his girlfriend on board.  So, I asked them… What was it?  How did you become interested and what stuck?  Here are their answers:

When were you introduced to FI?

GF – My boyfriend and I were introduced to FI in the summer of 2016 through his boss, Mr. Wow.

 How were you introduced to it?

Mr Wow has basically taught us everything we know about FI and has been a huge resource for us–Whether we’ve needed advice on investment strategy or best credit card rewards programs… or have a question on how to cut our phone bill in half or stream our favorite shows for free.

Aside  from that Mr Wow has taught us to be smart with our money, what I’ve appreciated most is that he doesn’t preach or push the lifestyle on us or others. He isn’t the vegan uncle giving you nasty glares from across the table at Thanksgiving as you shovel turkey in your mouth, or the religious dude on the street corner shouting bible verses. Instead, he simply showed us the door, and we chose to walk through it.

What topic was it that sparked your initial interest?

GF – There were two points you shared with us that stuck with me most.  One was pertaining to figuring out how much money you’d have to have saved to support a habit. For example–to maintain getting a coffee every weekend after retirement, you’d need $8,400 saved to support that one habit alone. 

The second point was seeing a purchase not just as a dollar amount, but costing you time. For example, rather than seeing a sweater as $65. See buying that sweater as putting you 4 extra hours away from achieving FI.

BF – Well for me, I’ve always been a saver and I just didn’t know where to put my money. I didn’t know anything about stocks so index funds/Simple Path to Wealth helped me. The idea of F-You money and not having to work until 65 also kind of pushed me over to the FI-side.

***I should add that I asked another person that has started down this path.  The part that really resonated with her was options.  Giving herself options.  Just talking about the idea that you don’t have to be tied to a desk, if you don’t want to.  You can if that’s your wish, but you have the option.***

What were the first steps that you took on your path?

GF – I started asking myself questions and re-thinking my choices up until this point. I learned in college about the tactics retailers use to pull consumers in and get them chasing the latest products and never being satisfied, yet here I was.. a total hamster on the wheel. I wasn’t saving much money. I was blowing my paycheck on clothes and shoes I didn’t need. I would go to the mall weekly and always had a package on its way to my doorstep. I was also living in an apartment where rent that took 50% of my income.

My first step was adopting more of a minimalist mindset. I realized I was buying to get a “high” and it wasn’t actually bringing me joy. I realized any extra items beyond what was necessary were not leading to an increased quality of life. If you’re able to realize that you don’t need, or even really WANT a bunch of clutter in your life, the challenges of adopting the FI lifestyle really fade away.

I stopped going to the mall “just because” and I lost interest in retailers online. So much so, that my credit card bill which was usually around $1,200 a month dropped down to $400 or $500. 

In addition to buying less junk, we set up an excel sheet for expenses and set up roth IRAs and 401k accounts through work. Investing was initially super daunting, but once we learned the lingo and realized you can just “set it and forget it” – it was a breeze. 

I’m now maxing out my roth every year and contributing 30% of my income to my 401k. Any leftover money is going towards the principal on my car payment. I fortunately don’t have student loans.  My goal is to pay off the 5 year loan in under 2. Once that’s done, I’ll up my 401k contribution to at least 45%.

What are you excited about going forward?

BF – Currently, I am a little over 1 year of FI mindset, and my net worth is up over 100% from where I started. It’s definitely easier than expected, but again, I’ve always been a saver. It is a bit boring, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I think.

GF – Right now, I’m excited about this Southwest Rapid Rewards offer they have going on for CA residents. Up until now I’ve been a big fan of Chase Sapphire Preferred…but I think I’m going to abandon ship and hop onto this deal. We have a few trips we’d like to take in 2018 and it would be awesome to have that pass!

Big picture, we’re just excited to continue along the FI path, valuing every dollar saved for the freedom it will eventually buy.

Conclusion

Take-aways on how to bring up this topic for me:

  1. Don’t Talk Money!!  – Talk time, talk passions,  talk options, any auxiliary benefits.  Those things people can relate to.  Money is complicated, taboo and bad.  Everyone has a passion, and everyone can relate to wanting to engage more with that passion rather than slaving away at a job.
  2. Don’t Be Pushy – People need to come to things on their own terms.  And they may never come to see the world your way, everyone has their own movie.  Simply be available to talk and a resource and make it abundantly clear that you won’t judge, nor push anything on them.
  3. Natural Savers Find This Easier to Understand – Usually, they are doing these things anyway.  FIRE just gives them a reason they never had before.  It’s really just re-enforcing a current behavior.
  4. Start Incrementally – Telling someone they have to cut their expenses by half or more is an immediate turn off.  Help them with their first step.  Maybe a phone bill, or a student loan or credit card bill.  Beyond that just let them make it their own.  They might figure out their own ways that help you.

I’m stopping.  This sounds like a recipe for an episode of Intervention:

Anyway, since this discussion always comes up among bloggers, it’s always a little bit like preaching to the choir.  We all know we are on the same page, and just can’t seem to understand why everyone isn’t on that page.

I wanted an honest outside opinion.  So, I asked and they were gracious enough to oblige.  THANKS GUYS!!!

Both of us have since moved on from the company where we worked together, but we stay in touch.  Just a few weeks ago, we were texting about international exposure in retirement accounts.  I like to think that I’ve had a little impact on their lives, hopefully for the better.

Have you ever converted anyone? I seem to remember a story about converting an Uber Driver.

Or, are you a convert?  What resonated for you?

** I would like to mention that Miss Mazuma used the title before I did.  So, I wanted to reference her article as well.  It was inadvertent, but here you go: https://missmazuma.com/2017/08/11/spreading-the-fire/ **

27 Comments

  • Miss Mazuma December 13, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Nicely done!! And, to answer your question – YES! I have indeed converted someone…best feeling ever!!

    PS – For anyone reading this – the WoWs are title stealers… 😂

    https://missmazuma.com/2017/08/11/spreading-the-fire/

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 7:50 am

      That’s right… you’ve converted folks too. In the middle of hugging fish if I recall.

      The title theft wasn’t intentional. I apologize. maybe I should change it to Spreading The Fire Further? Or Spreading the Fire Again? Spreading the Fire Second? Or Maybe: Introducing people to fire… because spreading the fire was taken?

      Thoughts?

      Reply
      • Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto December 13, 2017 at 1:55 pm

        Word’s all over about the WoW’s stealing titles. Tsk Tsk.
        Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto recently posted…Should You Take Social Security At Age 62 Or 70?

        Reply
        • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 8:49 pm

          yeah yeah… I know…. I should have searched the entire internet for the combination of the three words “fire”, “spreading” & “the” in that specific order. I learned my lesson.

          Reply
          • Miss Mazuma December 14, 2017 at 1:12 am

            The asterisk is a good look… I think I may be converting my blog to Miss Waffles on Wednesday. It has a nice ring to it plus it will further help us with our thriplette title for next years FinCon. Thoughts?

          • Mr WoW December 14, 2017 at 10:36 am

            I’m not so sure what Mrs Wow thinks of this. or me for that matter. But, Mistress Wow has a decent ring to it, feel free to take that and do what you wish.

            Glad you like it. Gotta give credit where credit is due. That is such an eloquent way of combining those three words. I don’t know how you ever came up with that, I know I struggled for months looking for the perfect title. Then I came across a post of yours from 6 months ago, and thought… That’s it!!! I’m stealing it!!

          • Mr WoW December 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

            Also, you, of all people, should have noticed the reference to the “walking on sunshine” girl? No?

  • Mr. PIE December 13, 2017 at 6:09 am

    About 3 months ago, I was (surprisingly) asked about investment strategies by a work colleague who occupies the office next to me. Cold question, don’t know to this day what prompted it, but that is immaterial.

    Anyway, on my white-board, I rattled off my 401K, our taxable account portfolio allocation along with every fund ticker and performance YTD. I think I completely shocked him in a good way. He came back to me two days later and asked about fees. I pointed him to the PoF post on fees which he absolutely loved. A week later, he said he had a heart-to-heart with his financial adviser and was moving a sizeable chunk of his high fee (~1.25%) mutual funds over to VTSAX and VTIAX.

    I take that as a WIN. One more person taking action and on a slightly better path to protecting his family’s future. To be honest, that whole interaction felt better than watching our own portfolio grow this year. Isn’t this stuff so cool?!
    Mr. PIE recently posted…COBRAs and Elephants, Oh My! Navigating the Healthcare Zoo in Early Retirement

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 7:47 am

      That’s awesome. It’s great to help other people out. That is one of the reasons I love coaching. “One more person taking action and on a slightly better path to protecting his family’s future. To be honest, that whole interaction felt better than watching our own portfolio grow this year.” Resonates with me. It’s one of the reasons I love to talk about this, but needed to figure out a way to make it more palatable for folks.

      Reply
  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 13, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Way to go A & D! I don’t think I’ve ever converted anyone, but I do have people more openly discuss their finances with me I think, and have had some nice emails in the past saying “they like my work.”
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…November Rewind: Gettin’ Dir-tay

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Every little bit helps!! Even just openly talking about finances and making strides in the right direction is a great feat in and of itself. Keep up the great work.

      Reply
  • Mr Crazy Kicks December 13, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Congrats to you and your friends! We always want the best for those closest to us. Not to mention someone to hang out with when also FIRE’d 😉

    I didn’t talk to many people about FIRE before I quit my job. Only my best friends knew. I only ever pushed one good friend on it, and he liked to push back by forcing us to go to fancy restaurants and bars. We still play that game, but he has started investing and saving a lot more now. Though he doesn’t admit it, I think he would like to have more time for other things than work 🙂

    Now that I’m not working, a lot more friends are starting to ask. I’ve also met a lot of new friends locally through the blog. It’s been awesome finding more like minded people to party with!

    *PS If your friends read this… Depending on their situation, they might consider looking into maxing out pre-tax 401k before ROTH contributions. If there is one thing I’d have done differently early on, it would have been maxing out pre-tax contributions before anything else 🙂
    Mr Crazy Kicks recently posted…Geoarbitrage – Retire Early in Belize, Central America?

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 10:49 am

      We definitely don’t bring it up all the time. But when it comes up we discuss it.

      Good advice! My thoughts were to kind of let them figure it out. I figure Roth vs Traditional conversations are more important once you’ve gotten to the point where it makes a difference. At the beginning just stick it somewhere other than Amazon.

      Reply
  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials December 13, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Oh yeah…. I prosthelytize FI all the time. Usually the results are positive when I explain what I’m doing and how that’s helping me. I converted a guy who was sitting on the plane next to me one time!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Right on. And did you follow up? Did he stick with it?

      How did you bring it up?

      Reply
  • Mr. SSC December 13, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I don’t know that I’ve converted anyone, but I did have a reader email me about becoming a convert after reading our blog. He was the one that also kept recommending me over and over to Choose FI, to get on their podcast, lol. So, maybe him? Lately, I’ve had my mentee up his/her savings to max out their 401k, and she/he has actually started a taxable account. Maybe not a convert, but better than she/he was.

    i found money tlak goes in and out of ears, but options and freedom – that’s where it’s at. It’s not about “saving money” it’s about giving yourself options and the freedom to choose what YOU want to do with your life when this job gets old and boring. That’s my approach.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Why You Should Never Settle.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Well then you have officially converted one person. We have yet to have that happen to us. But, I have to imagine it’s a great feeling getting that email. Options, freedom, time. All that stuff is what resonates I think. Money is just too complicated to make anyone truly care.

      Mrs Wow definitely has had the impact on her interns. Her new tradition is to give them each a copy of “The Simple Path to Wealth” at the end of the internship. Hopefully it helps.

      Reply
  • veronica December 13, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I don’t know if I’ve managed a conversion, but about a month ago our intern at work asked for career advise on staying with our employer (I wasn’t singled out, he was asking this of all the staff). I answered that I would not give him career advise because I had such a low opinion of our employer, but I would pass on two tidbits of information that I wish I had received at the beginning of my working career.
    1. If he did choose to stay with our employer, I told him he should sign up for the employer’s self-funded leave plan. In a nutshell the employer holds back part of your salary so that you can take a year off. Basically I only work every 3 out of 4 years.
    2. I told him no matter where he ended up working, he should strive for FIRE. Since he had never heard of FIRE, I send him the links to three websites to get him started: MMM to learn how to optimize your spending, JL Collins Stock Series to learn what you should be investing in (and about F-You money) and Millennial Revolution investment workshop to learn the mechanics of how to DIY invest. I said there were many other personal finance blogs out there, but these 3 were a good introduction.

    I received a very emphatic thank you email in response. I’ve not spoken to the young man about it since so I have no idea if any of it stuck. But I did my best to plant the seed.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      That’s amazing. I truly believe one of the best parts of life, is having a lasting impact on someone else. It’s the part I love about mentoring and coaching. I can only hope that I am leaving a good impact, and that’s what I strive for. It certainly sounds like you accomplished that.

      You did your best, you showed him the door. It’s now up to him to walk through.

      Reply
  • Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto December 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Great lessons to us all, and a fascinating “Case Study” of a way that worked! I love the “time” analogy, and the 4 hours that $65 sweater REALLY costs. I’ve been fortunate to have folks approach ME at work for my advice on their retirement readiness. Word’s out about my blog, and folks are seeking me out. I love it!!
    Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto recently posted…Should You Take Social Security At Age 62 Or 70?

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      That’s great that people approach you. You are the head honcho when it comes to this stuff. Everyone can learn something from you. So, I can only hope that what you are saying sticks.

      Keep it up!

      Reply
  • FIRECracker December 13, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    “He isn’t the vegan uncle giving you nasty glares from across the table at Thanksgiving as you shovel turkey in your mouth, or the religious dude on the street corner shouting bible verses. Instead, he simply showed us the door, and we chose to walk through it.”

    I love this! That’s a perfect analogy to describe how we should avoid pushing FIRE on others. Once they detect you don’t have an ulterior motive, don’t want anything from them, and are simply showing them a way out, they have the option to choose to embark on that path or not.

    Great article!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 13, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks! That’s really the way that I approach it. Everyone has an opinion, especially when it comes to money. I try my best not to roll my eyes when they talk about how houses always go up and they need to invest in this company or that. I keep telling myself, “At least they’re interested.” If they want to know my opinion on what to do, they’ll ask.

      I also think if you can avoid talking money as long as possible, people will listen and it will make more sense to them. Money tends to make people lose interest fast.

      Reply
  • Mr. Groovy December 14, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Wow, Mr. WoW. Or should I say, “Wow, Reverend WoW”? Such a wonderful topic. How do we spread the word without being off-putting? I must admit that I’ve never even tried outside my blog. I guess I’ve become too jaded watching how political discourse is carried out in this country. Both sides can make excellent points, and both sides can advocate until they’re blue in the face, but no one’s converted. But if I ever try to do some subtle proselytizing, I’ll definitely start with your number one takeaway: “Don’t talk money, talk auxiliary benefits.” Very sage advice, Reverend WoW. Thank you for a sharing the story of your former co-worker and his girlfriend. It was very encouraging.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Egotrage: Taking a Step Back Socially to Advance Two Steps Financially

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 14, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Political discourse is something completely different. That just sounds pretty awful, but I’m always game for a spirited discussion! I guess blue or red in the face as the case may be 😉

      Thanks. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to use it. I’m sure you’ve had to have mentioned something to someone.

      Reply
  • Mr. Need2save December 18, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve dropped some not so subtle hints to colleagues at work, but nobody has really taken the bait yet. One fear from that has come up a couple of time is health insurance when you are no longer ‘working for the man’. I need to come up with some clear and concise talking points on health insurance.
    Mr. Need2save recently posted…HOME: Investment or Just A Place To Live?

    Reply
    • Mr WoW December 18, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Yeah health insurance is a mess. Especially in this country. I’m not sure how to breech that one. It sucks that healthcare is tied to a job.

      Reply

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