A Wise Teacher, a Friendly Coworker and a Misguided Friend

Whether it’s a moment of realization, a quote in a book, a passing comment, or a blog article, we have all had those “epiphanies” that sends us down the rabbit hole and change our lives forever.  For me, I had three specific people in my life who pointed me in the direction of Personal Finance, Financial Freedom, “FIRE” and all the rest!

Money Influence #1- The Wise Teacher

I went to a very small country town high school with a graduating class of a whopping (get this!) 22 people.  As a result, starting in 7th grade, we had the same teacher for each “subject category” all the way through 12th grade.  Same English/Lit teacher, same Math teacher, same Science teacher, etc.  This could be either pretty incredible when you had an awesome teacher… or fairly sh*tty when you had a not-so-hot teacher.  Well, having Mr. F as my Social Studies teacher for 6 years made up for any hardship with the teachers I didn’t get along with.

Mr. F was AMAZING.  No no, you don’t get it… he was FANTASTIC.  And I hated him for the first 3 years because he pushed us hard, he challenged us, he made us think, and he raised the bar high (totally not cool in my tweenage mind).  While I learned a lot about the subjects he was paid to teach us about, he taught us so many little “life wisdom” gems which he repeated over and over during our 6 years in his class.  Well, one of those little gems stuck with me…

Mr. F introduced me to the magic of compounding interest and how important it was to start investing when we were young.  He would get on a roll, take out a calculator and run scenario after scenario showing us that, when you take compounding interest and market gains into account, investing early and often would result in massive financial payoffs.  He even showed us the simple math to becoming a millionaire.  Now remember, I was a small town Midwest girl who thought $1MM only existed in Hollywood or big business, a lofty dream-like goal.  Yet Mr. F kept insisting that saving $1,000,000 was not only a simple task, but it was also an attainable one.  Un-FREAKING-believable!

I sat in my desk, in awe, and scribbled down his instruction to start investing in the stock market as early as possible.  I had no idea how I would start or how this whole “investing thing” worked, but I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity like this!  While I didn’t start investing until I was 22 when I had my first job, I distinctly remember hearing Mr. F’s voice in my head as I elected to contribute to my 401K plan.

Money Influence #2- The Friendly Co-Worker

I have great co-workers.  I mean it, I am extremely lucky to work on a team comprised of smart, supportive, collaborative and friendly individuals.  One of my co-workers just so happens to be one of my major money influences!  I don’t even remember how we got onto the topic, but we were chatting one afternoon and my co-worker mentioned something about being financially responsible.  I liked the sound of it and asked for any advice he could offer.  He took the bait (thank goodness!) and loaned me two books.

Financially Stupid People Are Everywhere: Don’t be One of Them by Jason Kelly

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley

I blew through these two books and started to google “personal finance”.  From there I found Budgets are SexyMad FientistMr. Money MustacheJL Collins, the Frugalwoods, Paula at Afford Anything and others.  These bloggers not only confirmed that ordinary people on ordinary salaries could become millionaires… they were taking it one step further.  They were positing (and proving through their own actions) that ordinary people on ordinary salaries could RETIRE EARLY!  What the heck!?!  How had it taken me 22 years to find this out?  Why was “Retire Early 101” not a required class in college?  Again, my mind was blown and my eyes were opened.  I began to devour personal finance blogs, religiously reading the articles from Rockstar Finance and learning as much as possible about the world of personal finance.

Money Influence #3- The Misguided Friend

Oh, this is the funny one.  Here I am, the “new girlfriend” sitting next to my boyfriend (now husband) at the house of one of his best friends.  Let’s call him Bob.  Bob and his wife invited the future Mr. and Mrs. Adventure Rich over for dinner one warm California evening.  I have no idea what we were talking about, but somehow we stumbled on the topic of debt and Bob emphatically stated the following:

“All Americans are destined to be in debt for the rest of their lives.  It’s just how it is today.”

My heart beat a little faster, my face flushed, my blood boiled… I was angry.  To this day, I can’t exactly explain why his statement pushed me to the point of physical annoyance.  Maybe it was how generalized his statement was, not allowing any room for options.  Maybe it was the way this smart young man CHOSE to resign himself to a lifetime of slavery (er- debt).  Maybe it was that fact I could see how agreeing with this statement would allow one to just live in a life of debt, never challenging the norm or radically changing their life for the better.

Ultimately, I think my reaction was a result of the fact that HE WAS WRONG.  I knew it, but I had no idea how to explain it.  At that point in my life (maybe 4-5 months out of college with both student and car loans), I didn’t know how to prove that debt-free living existed.  I had no argument, no evidence, but I could not imagine living a life resigned to such a dismal premise.  He had to be wrong, and I was going to prove it!

Thank You to My Money Influences

Someday, I hope to go back and thank each one of the individuals above (although the last one may be a little awkward…) for being one om my money influences.  Little did they know, their offhand comments, book suggestions, and side-tracked lesson plans set this woman on a journey she would never have seen a possibility without their help.

Always an Adventure,

Mrs. Adventure Rich

P.S.- It’s a damn good thing I didn’t react to violently to Bob’s debt comment.  “Bob” ended up serving as my husband’s best man in our wedding a little over a year later… 😉