Log In Sign Up
Fighting the “Hustle Culture” That Ruins The Joy of Financial Independence w/ Pete McPherson

Fighting the “Hustle Culture” That Ruins The Joy of Financial Independence w/ Pete McPherson

58 min read
The BiggerPockets Money Podcast

As a Guest you have free article(s) left

Join BiggerPockets (for free!) and get access to real estate investing tips, market updates, and exclusive email content.

Sign in Already a member?

Hustle culture” has been a term for the past decade or so. It somehow became a badge of honor to prove that you’re working the hardest, longest, and most stressful job around. You can handle it, you’re making money, putting in the hours, but what do you have left at the end of the day? This constant grind is what Mindy likes to call the “death race to FI” due to its unnecessary harshness on your free time, relationships, and mental health.

Pete McPherson foresaw this “hustle culture” taking over his life when he quit his sixty-hour week accounting job and decided to start his own business. This wasn’t the first, or second, or fiftieth time Pete had started a business, and he was driven to never set foot in an office again. He wasn’t making phenomenal money the first year, but he made enough to provide for his family, and that was enough for him.

Mindy and guest host Sarah Putt from OT 4 Lyfe talk with Pete about the rarely discussed downsides of chasing early retirement and financial independence. Make no mistake, even if you decided to work twenty hours a week, like Pete, you can still make plenty of money all while being able to watch your favorite movies in the middle of the day or spend time with your kids!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast show number 277, where we interview Pete McPherson from Do You Even Blog and talk about leaving your job and jumping into entrepreneurship with both feet.

Pete:
I talk to my wife and I tell her, “I just need to change. I really want to try entrepreneurship. I really want to try starting my own business.” I mean, I started 50 plus blogs and online businesses and stuff like that over the past decade, and none of them worked, right? I didn’t make that much money, but I wanted to do it so badly, and I was like, “I got to figure out a way out of this.”

Mindy:
Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and from time to time, Scott schedule just doesn’t have any room for me. Rather than let my listeners down, I’m calling on my friends to join me. Today, Sarah Putt from OT for Life is joining me with a rather unique perspective on Pete’s story. Pete helped Sarah launch her podcast, which is all about occupational therapy for OTs, by OTs, all about OT. Sarah, thank you for coming on the show today to help me out.

Sarah:
Thanks, Mindy, for having me. I am super excited to be here, and honestly, I cannot wait to jump into this conversation with Pete. He has been such an inspiration to me, and I know so many others, and also a wealth of knowledge. Money pun, totally intended, even though Scott is not here, it doesn’t mean that the puns don’t have to be, too.

Mindy:
I love it. I love it. Thank you for taking over as Scott. We’ll call you Scott Lite because he’s a lot bigger than you. Sarah and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else to introduce you to every money’s story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone no matter when or where you’re starting.

Sarah:
Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate or maybe start your own business, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so you can launch yourself towards your dreams.

Mindy:
Sarah, I am so excited to bring Pete McPherson in from Do You Even Blog. He is a very interesting story of entrepreneurship. He started and stopped more than 50 blogs and podcasts, all of which failed, and then when he lost his job, he decided, “Oh, I’m going to do it again,” without having another job. I think that’s very interesting. I don’t recommend it, he doesn’t recommend it, but it worked for him. Today, he’s here to share his story of exactly how he did it.

Sarah:
Yeah. I think whole journey into entrepreneurship or even the idea of entrepreneurship can really be glorified a lot. I do think it takes sitting down with somebody who has been in the weeds, and Pete’s been doing this for years. Like you said, he started a lot of different endeavors, and it’s going to be great to just hear his insights and just hash out all that happened, and hear really how this intertwines with his money story.

Mindy:
Yeah. Also, we coin a new phrase today, hulture. You’ll have to listen to find out. Pete McPherson is a tall drink of water with a silky smooth podcast voice and a flaming hot passion for digital media and online business. What? He was an accountant, a CPA with an amazing salary, and he walked away from all of that to start his own business because you can’t keep an entrepreneur locked up working for the man. Pete, welcome to the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast.

Pete:
Thank you so much for having me here. This is absolutely without a doubt the number one podcast I’ve ever been on. So I am honored to be here as a guest. Thanks for having me on.

Mindy:
I told Pete to say that.

Pete:
She did, literally word for word.

Mindy:
Yes, literally word for word. I wrote it down for him. So Pete, I am really excited to tell your story to our listeners because you did leave a very lucrative CPA job to start your own business, and I know that there’s a lot of people who may have at age 18 we are expected to make these lifelong choices on what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives, and let me tell you, 18-year-old Mindy did not know what she wanted to do. I didn’t even go and get a CPA license, but it sounds like CPA-ing is not what makes your heart sing.

Pete:
That would be correct. You want me to start at the beginning, the most-

Mindy:
Well, skip the whole “I was born in a small town in Southern Illinois” part, but yes, I want you to start-

Pete:
Oh, man! That’s where I was going. I was going back from my lineage long term. No. Let’s start with a piece of paper because this is the very beginning of my money story, not a piece of paper like a piece of money, but a piece of paper. I still remember this clear as day. I remember exactly where I was. I was crossing a street in downtown Rome, Georgia. I was going to work as a barista. My coffee shop was across the street. I was holding this piece of paper and I literally stopped dead in my tracks. There’s no cars around, really, but I was right in the middle of a road just looking at this sheet of paper that would undoubtedly change my life, which it did.
To spoil it for you, the piece of paper was an offer letter from my first big grownup job, $52,000 a year, and I didn’t necessarily grow up poor, but I was looking at that number just like, “There’s been some sort of mistake. They’re going to offer me a job.” I’ve worked 50 plus odd jobs, part-time jobs. Never had a full-time job offer. It was in accounting, which we’ll get to, and $52,000 a year. I was just mind blown, right?
So of course, I accepted the job, moved to Atlanta, CPA. I got my CPA license over the next two years, and pretty standard corporate America, 50-60 hours a week to begin with, just accounting work. It’s not that I hated it. I didn’t love it either. I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was just they’re paying me money. This is great. It’s the only money I’ve ever made really in my entire life. So I do that for a year. I do that for two years.
I ended up getting another job in accounting, corporate America. There’s nothing exciting happening during these years except for the fact that they keep paying me more money. I’m a good employee. I’m not a great employee. I’m a good accountant. I’m not a great accountant, but that’s just the way the corporate America world works for me. They’re giving me more money and more money and more money and more money.
So four years in, I got to tell you, I’m board to tears. I am starting blogs and podcasts and trying to start side hustles while I’m at work. My boss knows this. I mean, I’m just doing everything and I’m bored, bored to tears. I don’t see customers. It’s not forward-facing. I commute two hours a day to my job. It’s a typical story of people getting burnt out of their career, and that was me. So I was getting bored.
So the story transitions when I talk to my wife and I tell her, “I just need a change. I really want to try entrepreneurship. I really want to try starting my own business.” I mean, I started 50 plus blogs and online businesses and stuff like that over the past decade, and none of them worked, right? I didn’t make the out much money, but I wanted to do it so badly, and I was like, “I got to figure out a way out of this.”
So here was my solution. I took a job with a startup back in my hometown, Rome, Georgia. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and they were going to pay me a salary, a much lower salary than accounting, but still a salary with benefits and health insurance and the whole nine yards, and I only had to work 20 hours a week. So in my head I’m thinking like, “This is it. I’m going to start side hustles more. I’m going to grow my own business. I’m going to jump into halftime entrepreneurship while still having the nice, cozy comfort blanket of a full-time job,” right?
So I quit my accounting career. I took the startup job. We moved my family of four. Actually, my wife was pregnant with our second child at the time. She also stopped her work to stay at home with the kids. We sold our house in Atlanta. We moved back to Rome, moved into my grandmother’s house because it was vacant at the time. I was like, “Cool. Life change. This is awesome.”
Well, I went to work. I got the job. I was pretty happy with it. They gave me one paycheck and I got laid off. So to sum this up, we moved across the street. We sold our house. My wife quit her work. I quit my job. I took this other startup job. I got one paycheck and then they laid me off. They did not have any money.
So at this point where we had a decision to make, it took us about a month. We cried a little bit. I drank some whiskey here and there, and I ultimately decided that I think I have enough of a safety net, which I want to talk about here in a little while to try this just for three months, six months to see if I can make something work so I don’t have to go back to commuting two hours a day, accounting work that’s unfulfilling, all this sort of stuff, right?
That was when Do You Even Blog, my current business for four and a half, almost five years now, that’s when it was born. We can talk about building that if you really want to dive in further, but that is my money story in a nutshell.

Mindy:
Okay. I want to dive into a lot of these things. First of all, you moved across the state, you quit your job, your wife quit her job, you had one kid and one on the way, you sold your house, and you moved into your grandmother’s house. So your cost of living I’m assuming is lower because you don’t have a house payment.

Pete:
Correct.

Mindy:
Your income is lower because you’re working part-time and then your income’s even lower when you’re working no time.

Pete:
Zero was our income.

Mindy:
Zero.

Pete:
Yes, zero.

Mindy:
So did you make money sell … Oh, what year is this, by the way?

Pete:
October 2016 is when I quit the job and moved back. Yup.

Mindy:
Okay, and then you lost your job in November, December?

Pete:
Correct. Well, I got my last paycheck in November 2016.

Mindy:
Nice. Okay. So did you make money on the sale of your house in Atlanta?

Pete:
Yes. Yes.

Mindy:
Okay. Yes. Let’s talk about that.

Pete:
Yeah. So I also told Mindy this off air. I got a little lucky, and not even a little. I think I got a lot lucky when it came to being able to survive long enough to make something else happen. Number one, the house. So my wife and I, we’re into real estate and we fixed up the house, we renovated it in our time that we were living there. When we sold it, we did have a chunk of change. I’m just going to be frank with you. It was $20,000 extra that we just had. After we sold the house, we had moved, we had $20,000-ish. It’s not a ton. It’s not enough to live off a family of four for years or whatever, but it was money in the bank so we weren’t going to go hungry. That’s part one.
Then I mentioned my grandmother’s house. So when we moved in, it was a temporary thing, right? We’re like, “Oh, we’re going to do here, and we’re going to buy a house.” We’re thinking about buying a duplex in the town where we moved, et cetera. Then November happened and I didn’t get another paycheck or whatnot. I have a loving grandmother who just let us stay there. She was in the nursing home, by the way. Her home was vacant. There’s nothing there. It was just sitting there. She let us stay there without rent and without a mortgage payment. There’s absolutely no way we could have gone any further than that if we had had to go find a rental right then. I would’ve been looking for an accounting job straight up.
The only other piece of that puzzle was we also had an emergency fund that we had been saving up. It was not massive. I don’t know the exact number, but it was less than 20,000, more than 10,000, somewhere in that ballpark. We just had as an emergency fund saved up that we could also use. So right there, and given the fact that we knew we had to forget budget, we couldn’t spend any money on anything frugal, just food to survive, we at least had several months worth of figuring it out, looking for more jobs, figuring out what we need to do.
That little three month buffer right there, if we didn’t sell the house and make a little bit there, if we didn’t have the 10K, 15K emergency fund, if we didn’t have my grandmother’s house to fall back on, yeah, I don’t know. I’d be the world’s most boring accountant somewhere in corporate America. Hopefully, that answered your question.

Mindy:
Well, that is a feat to be the most boring accountant. Sorry to all of our accountants who listen. Some of you are exciting.

Sarah:
So Pete, I want to know, I feel like most people don’t just jump into entrepreneurship. They go from getting laid off or losing a job to like, “I’m going to start something on my own.” I feel like most people are going to be like, “I’ll go get another job and figure out the side hustle, figure out something that I’m doing in conjunction of that.” Also, because you said you had started 50 plus blogs and podcasts at that point, what gave you the idea that, “I’m going to into entrepreneurship right now,” and also, why did you think that this one was going to stick? Why now? Why this whole thing at this moment? Why did it happen?

Pete:
Yeah. So there’s two questions there. Number one being, what makes me tick that I might want to do this instead of going and getting another job? This is going to sound like I’m floating my own boat a little bit, which I suppose I am, but I swear this is the truth. I have always been this rebellious person who just wants to do what he wants to do. I’ve always been this person.
I don’t like taking orders. I mean this from tennis coaches in middle school and high school to teachers, to parents, to bosses in corporate America. I just like doing my own thing. Freedom is my number one value in life over money, over time per se, freedom. I love being able to do my own thing. I’ve known that well before I went into accounting, which is we could talk about this separately, but the number one reason is I did not want to go back to a “real job”. I just didn’t want to do it.
In fact, I really, really, really, really, really did not want to do it. This is a big takeaway I think for those who listen to this podcast, and that is, I would not recommend anybody do what I did. I can’t make that recommendation. I got really lucky in a lot of different ways, and I’m one of these people who just I really truly don’t think I was cut out for being an employee of any sort, and I think a lot of people think that when they first discover entrepreneurship, and I don’t know if they’re actually correct. I think it takes people a while to realize like, “Oh, maybe entrepreneurship is not for me. Maybe being my own boss is actually way harder and less fulfilling and less happy in life than yada, yada.”
I’m the opposite of that. I actually feel like I was not cut out to be an employee. So I was passionate. I really did not want to go back to a job. That’s the answer to the first part of your question.
There’s a metaphor that best explains the second part of your question about what made me think this was going to stick. Well, the truth is I had no idea and I was absolutely terrified that nothing was going to work out and that would last three months and then I’d be back on the job market for accounting. Number one, I got lucky. Number two, the metaphor I was referring to is set fire to your ships, burn your ships, burn your bridges. Are you guys familiar with this concept?

Sarah:
Yes.

Pete:
The metaphor is lost to me, but I had no choice but to make money and survive. If I didn’t, I was going back to corporate America and I really desperately did not want that. So I worked my tail off. I hustled in the real sense of the word. I don’t like hustle culture, which we could talk about later, but at that point I had no other option. So I was emailing. I was hustling. I was staying up late. I was really working my tail off because it had to work. I did not have any choice. I did not have any time. I had to make money in month one from something, and I had no idea what it was, which again, we could talk about Do You Even Blog later if you want to, but I had no idea if it was going to work or not. In fact, I doubted it was ever going to work, but I didn’t have any other choice. I was working 70-80 hours for a couple of months because I really, really, really, really, really wanted it, if that makes sense.

Mindy:
So I just want to point out that you said, “I like to do my own thing,” and then you choose a job where there’s literally no creativity. These are the laws, these are the CPA rules, and do this. Okay. So when you sat down-

Pete:
You get fired for being creative in accounting, by the way.

Mindy:
Yeah, and then you go to jail. When you sat down and said, “Okay. I just got my last paycheck. I lost my job,” did you set any parameters like, “I’m going to do this for X number of months and if it doesn’t generate any income, then I’ll go get a job,” or did you just wing it?

Pete:
Yes, yes, absolutely. I’m going to be really honest with you. I don’t think my wife is going to listen to this podcast episode. So I feel comfortable saying this right now. We did have those parameters and I never told her this, but my one goal, it was never to make X amount of dollars in X amount of months or see X amount of success. It was never any of that. My true goal was to make enough revenues to keep postponing going back to accounting.
My wife would be like, “Okay. Three months, so we need to make this happen,” and I was like, “Yes, sweetheart. I totally agree with you. I’m 100% onboard.” My only goal was to extend that three months to six months, and then at six months, my only goal was to be able to tell my wife, “We can go another six months. We could work this out,” until eventually, she started to believe in me and there’s no more parameters, but yes, we absolutely set pretty strict, I would just call them deadlines, right?
We need to see the future after three months, six months or something. I have no idea what those numbers were, but we did have those conversations where, “We’re going to try this for a while. We’re also going to analyze our expenses and budget.” We also want to retire before we’re 120 years old. So we’ll come back and have discussions about these things. Yes, we did that. No numbers, but I know we had those conversations.

Mindy:
Okay. I think you basically had the same goal. She wanted you to earn enough money to keep living and you wanted to earn enough money to keep pushing that goal out. So same goal, different ways of coming about it.

Pete:
Totally.

Sarah:
Do you think that your wife at any point was like, “I think I’m going to have to go back and get a job,” and here you are dragging it out and she’s like, “All right. I’ll step up and I’m going to have to do it.” Or was she like, “No. He’s got this”?

Pete:
So well, that’s an interesting question because my wife wanted to work. She’s in music. She’s a world class musician. She’s performed all over the world. She’s taught at really nice private schools. She’s a chorus or a choir director, a choral director. So she wanted to go back to work eventually. So that conversation has been had. She does now, by the way. She’s been at a job for two and a half years, almost three years now. She always wanted to do that, anyways. So it was just a question of when.
Another thing, and to be honest with you, I don’t feel like this subject gets talked about enough in personal finance, and that is location, small town versus big town, job opportunities, cost of living, all of this little mishmash equation of how to make your life work, where you want it to work. I don’t think we talk about this enough. Our conversations always revolved around, “We’re going to have to move.” We’re living in my grandmother’s house, which is rent-free and mortgage-free, by the way, and we can get by on $1,000 a month in a lot of different scenarios. “If you want to go get a job, if I want to go get a job, we’re going to have to move.”
So we’re looking at renting. We’re looking at purchasing a house, probably just renting, and all these other factors like cost of living. Also, my parents were next door to us, right? My grandmother lived next door to my parents. So we had babysitting there for our two kids and I like being near my family. So I loved that. So to answer your question, there were definitely freak out moments where we were like, “Okay. One of us has to go get a job sooner rather than later,” but surprisingly, they were few and far between because we knew that a big component of that equation, that question, that answer, if you will, was we are going to have to move.
So it took us three years before we were comfortable moving, again, renting and changing our cost of living, our budget, our expenses because my wife did find another job that she really wanted, and so we took that. That’s skipping ahead a little bit in the money story, but I hope that answers your question.

Sarah:
Well, now, I want to take it back a little bit because you’ve said so much, and I feel like there’s been a lot about luck and how things have lined up and how things just presented themselves throughout your entire journey, but I want to go back to that moment with the piece of paper, with you standing in the middle of the street dodging the cars, holding that piece of paper, and if you could tell yourself one thing at that moment now with all these years of everything that’s happened since then, what would you say to yourself?

Pete:
This is always one of those crazy questions. The real answer, the truthful answer is that I wouldn’t say anything. I would let those mistakes. I wouldn’t say taking that job was a mistake, but it led to some turmoil in the life and so on and so forth. I wouldn’t say anything because I’m happy with where I’m at now, but, man, you know what? That’s actually my only answer. Really, I don’t regret going into accounting. It’s worth talking about why I went into accounting, by the way, because Mindy was asking earlier, a career with zero creativity, not customer-facing. You never see the results of anything you work on. It’s all spreadsheets and sitting alone in an office, and yada, yada.
I like where I’m at now, and I have accounting to thank for that. I would not be doing what I’m doing now if it weren’t for taking those jobs and learning what it is I value in life. I did not know that freedom was my number one value until I took those jobs. I had no idea. I was working as a barista, right? I had zero experience working a full-time job, commuting, living in a big city, all the things. So truthfully, I wouldn’t tell myself anything. I know that’s a cop out answer that you hear when you ask these questions, but that’s the truth.

Mindy:
No, no. I love that answer. I think it’s a really powerful answer because I went to college in Chicago and there was one night, I’m sorry, one day where the temperature, this is unreal, the temperature was 30 below zero and windshield was 70 below zero. A few years later, I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that Hawaii had colleges, but a few years later, somebody said, “University of Hawaii,” and I’m like, “I should have gone there.”
Well, if I went there, my life would be very different. I like the life that I have now, and the struggles that you go through help shape who are now, and that’s relationships, that’s schooling, that’s classes you choose to take, that’s your money experiences. Everything that you have had in the past is shaping the person you are today. So I would’ve loved to have gone to the beach in Hawaii, but that’s not going to actually make my life that much better by attending school in Hawaii. It would just make it different, and maybe it would be better, but I wouldn’t know. I also discovered that they have colleges up in the mountains and you could go snowboarding on powder days and then have class later. That would’ve been really cool, too, but that would not make me who I am today.

Pete:
Yeah. There’s something so hard, and I just didn’t get this, by the way. So I don’t consider myself an expert on mindset in any sense of the word, but I do believe in this notion that we can always learn from our failures. We can always learn from our mistakes. We can always learn by making just bad decisions, for example, me figuring out that I actually don’t want to be an accountant even though I studied it for years and I worked in it for years and so on and so forth. There’s just no way I would’ve been able to figure out what I really wanted to do for a vocation, how I wanted to impact the world if I didn’t have that. It was always an unanswered question in my head, and I made bad decisions or not bad decisions, but I made decisions that I would later want to change.
I mean, if we’re being honest, the big takeaway is no matter what you’re going through, person hearing my voice right now, whether it’s not liking a job or having desperation when it comes to your finances or whatever it is, there’s always some lesson to be learned even if you don’t know what it is yet, right? I’m a firm believer on that.

Mindy:
Yeah. Well, because you’re right. Okay. So you said something that I identify with very much and is at a cross between what you’re doing now. You said, “I don’t like hustle culture,” but you quit a job that was steady to go hustle or side hustle or side job or start your own business. Why don’t you like hustle culture? I know why I hate it, but why don’t you like hustle culture, and then why did you go and do a hustle?

Pete:
Well, it’s the same thing we’re just talking about. I didn’t know I disliked hustle culture until I was in hustle culture, working my tail off, trying to grow my own business, trying to connect with anybody under the sun that I could get my emails in front of, and just working my tail off, and yada, yada. I didn’t know I didn’t like that until I did it, right?
So again, the truth is, so I am doing what I want to be doing. I’m very happy with how I work at the moment. I’m in my basement right now. I renovated my office. We bought this house. I am literally just going to go hang out with my parents because they’re in town after this. It’s going to be 11:30 AM Eastern. I make my own schedule. I answer to myself. I work 20 hours a week. This is the dream life in a lot of respects, but dot, dot, dot, but dot, dot, dot.
Once a quarter or so, I get really burnt out on working on anything. It almost doesn’t matter what it is. I get jealous of people who are still working really hard at things and seem driven and seem motivated to, for me it’s entrepreneurship, right? I look at my friends who also run online businesses or podcasts or blogs or YouTube channels. This is my world. I get super jealous of people and I’m like, “Look at how they’re growing. Look at how they’re succeeding,” and it also comes down to finances like, “Look how much money they’re making. Look how these people reached FI in two years because they just did this and this,” and I go, “Oh, I wish I could do that. I wish I wanted that,” and I get burned out, and I get depressed.
This happens every couple of months for me, personally. Inevitably, this actually happened to me last week, inevitably, I will come round to remembering what it is I value. I’m going to say that one more time because I think this has been a game-changer for me. I come back around to remembering, re-realizing what I value in life, and I’ve already said it on this podcast four times. I value freedom. Once I remember that, I feel so much better. I don’t like working. I don’t like working. I don’t like working 40 hours a week. I don’t really like working 20 hours a week.
I like watching Marvel movies on repeat. I’ve seen all of them a couple of times. I like watching Harry Potter movies on repeat. I like reading. I like mechanical keyboards. That is my hobby. I’m holding one up for those that can’t see it right now. I don’t like working. I’m on this cycle at the moment, I don’t mind being honest with you, where I’ll feel great for two months. I don’t like hustle culture. I don’t approve of people just working hard because they think they want that. I don’t know. I can’t speak for other people, but then I’ll reach desperation and depression and jealousy in my own business and in my own finances and in my own life, and I’ll have a week or two where I suffer from that, and then I’ll come back to remembering the values, and so on and so forth.
So to sum that up, it’s not that I necessarily disapprove of hulture, hustle culture. Did you see that right there?

Mindy:
Hulture.

Pete:
Hustle culture. That was impressive. It’s not that I necessarily disapprove of people who want to work a lot, but I think it’s glorified. I went along with it and I still do go along with it every year, every couple of months, and then I remember that it’s not for everybody, and more specifically, I remember that it’s not for me, right? One of the things I preach from my own brand, from my own podcast and YouTube channel is this idea of identifying what the heck your values actually are. What is it that you actually want out of your life and out of your work? Maybe it’s absolute growth. Maybe it’s becoming a billionaire, and maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just a little bit more time freedom in your life, whatever that looks like.

Mindy:
Okay. I love that answer and completely identify with a lot of what you just said. I do actually like working, but for a long time, I didn’t. I was in your CPA job. I wasn’t a CPA. I was doing things that I didn’t particularly like and working for people that I really didn’t like, but what I don’t like about hulture, hustle culture, is that there is this perception or this push that everybody has to hustle, everybody has to be doing something productive with their time, and this whole idea that you can’t sit around and read a book or watch a movie, you need to be generating income, you need to be doing something all the time. I think that a lot of people get sucked into this and they don’t remember to enjoy their life.
It’s 100% okay to work a W-2 job, work for the man, and collect your paycheck, and go home, and have downtime, and enjoy your life. It is okay. 100% okay to read a book that doesn’t teach you anything, and trying to get my husband to get onboard with this after he retired was difficult. He’s like, “Well, this is my time now so I need to be productive. I need to be reading books that teach me things.” I’m like, “No. You can read Stephen King, 100%. Don’t leave that book face up next to the bed, but you can read Stephen King. It’s okay.”

Pete:
Yeah. You want to hear something really funny and ironic?

Mindy:
I love it.

Pete:
Since we’ve been talking about my story, this has happened just the past two months. For the first time since I got laid off and stopped receiving paychecks and salaries or whatnot almost five years at this point, yeah, five years since I got laid off. That’s right. That’s crazy to me. Just the past two months, I’ve actually been feeling more okay with the idea of going back and getting a job, and you know why? It’s something you just mentioned. It’s like with the right job, not that I would want to go back to commuting and corporate America necessarily, but if I had the right job that would allow me to make not even great money like a million dollars or 250,000 a year, but just make a decent income and also just leave my work at work, meaning I work 40 hours a week, I clock out, I come home and I don’t think about it anymore, for whatever reason, that actually seems appealing to me now.
Part of it is because this idea of now I just get to absolutely do what I want to do with more freedom. In fact, that’s weird because it’s now 40 hours a week, but now, hopefully, I can think about work less, which allows me to spend more time with my kids and do more reading. I might have a little bit less time freedom, but I feel like there’s actually some leverage there financially to do more hobbies stuff, right? For example, I worked, two, three days ago, I worked after my kids go to bed. I don’t usually work at night anymore at all, but my kids went to bed, and it was 8:45, and I was like, “I really did want to finish this video tonight, and I wanted to do X, Y, Z,” yada yada.
So I went and I worked for two hours, and I don’t always do that, don’t get me wrong, but little moments like that that actually have me thinking like, “Maybe I could be an employee at the right job, right? It’s just interesting. It all comes back to defining and figuring out what exactly you want out of life in your work. I think that process takes a while, at least it does for me.

Sarah:
What I keep hearing, Pete, is that you keep going back to figuring out your why and realigning your values with your work, with your money, with everything, and being the occupational therapist that I am, I have to bring the OT perspective right now because occupational therapy, it boils down to occupations. It boils down and a lot of people think that’s your job and I say, “It’s not just your job.” It is everything that we’re talking about right now. It is what occupies your time. So yes, that could be your job if it’s a full-time job or more than full-time job if you’re working 80 hours, 100 hours, however many hours a week you’re working, but it’s also all these other things that fulfill our lives and bring meaning to our lives.
I think, at least in my perspective of what happens, especially when we’re talking about this hustle culture, is that it’s always the next thing. It’s the next bright and shiny object. It’s the next numbers, the next paycheck, the next whatever it is that we are always striving for, but we forget that playing a video game, reading that book, sitting on the beach with a drink in your hand, this is what actually can have such an influence on our health to allow us to get to that next step even if it looks like you might be taking that step back and taking some time off.
I think when we’re talking about this, this portion of it is so often overlooked because so many people are like, “I have to go. I have to go. I have to go. I have to keep going, and if I take a step, if I breathe, I’m not going to make it to where I need to get to next.”
I think this applies across the board from working say in a traditional W-2 job and also being an entrepreneur. We’re always faced with getting to that next step, but we always have to remember the why, what it is that we’re doing, why we’re showing up for our jobs, why we’re either neglecting the occupations that we should be doing that we want to be doing, and just making sure that it’s really working for us. So I love that you have really shared this because I think it’s such an important topic that really should be talked about more.

Pete:
Yeah. It’s funny. You hear this all the time. Nobody on their deathbed ever said, “Oh, I wish I had worked more.” We hear stuff like that all the time, right? We internalize it as being true like, “Yeah, that’s probably true. I’m on my deathbed. I’ll probably be thinking about family and stuff like that,” but then what do we do? Right? We’re all the time comparing ourselves to others on TikTok, and socials, and Twitters, and conferences, and the next door neighbors who drive a Tesla, and we want a Tesla, but we don’t have the Tesla yet, and we want to hustle for the Tesla, and all this other stuff, right? We lose sight of the truth, which is probably that when you’re on your deathbed, you won’t look back and care about your Tesla, right? That’s probably true. We know that, but we’d lose it. We lose it all the time.
One more thing. Oh, I don’t know if you guys read Ryan holiday or not. I’m pretty sure it’s Ryan Holiday. I could be mistaken on this. I’m pretty sure he has a tattoo that says, “Memento Mori”. You guys know what that means?

Mindy:
No.

Pete:
It means you’re going to die, essentially, right? You can go Google it, Memento Mori. It basically just means your days are numbered and you need to remember that. You are mortal. You don’t have forever to live and so make the best use of the time that you do have. I just paraphrased a bunch, but you guys can go look that up, Memento Mori. He literally has it tattooed on his arm, I believe. I could be wrong about that, but just an everyday reminder to remember that, remember what you probably should be focusing on in your life.

Mindy:
Okay. We have sidetracked a little bit and gotten into some very important things. I really like this conversation about the take time to enjoy your life, but let’s get back to your money story. Since becoming self-employed and an entrepreneur and doing the things that you love, what does your financial position look like?

Pete:
Yes. Thank you for that. Thank you for bringing me back on track.

Mindy:
No, no, no, no. This is all very interesting. This is all going to stay in the show, but I also want to talk money, too.

Pete:
Okay. So before I talk about it right now, let’s talk about the two and a half, three-year gap between having income go down to zero and then where it is now because there’s a three-year period in here that was a roller coaster of ups and downs both financially and emotionally and everything tied to that, and it was also that period in which I’m pushing the deadline back every three months and six months like, “Oh, I made this much money. Now, we can keep going.”
So during those three years, it was, well, I mean, it was a roller coaster if you looked at my revenue, too. So I started the business. I did hustle for quite a while because I had to make it work. I was able to pull in I think somewhere around $42,000 in the first year of starting this business that I do now, Do You Even Blog, which I consider fantastic. I was thrilled. I was over the moon. This is enough proof that I’m probably going to be able to make this work. Maybe it grows fast and takes off. Hint, it never did, but that’s enough to put food on the table. We can continue our current lifestyle. We didn’t spend a ton. We all had paid off cars. We were all pretty frugal, in general. When I got laid off, of course, that frugalness went to the next level.
The first six months told me that we could probably do this. We have enough. We’re not contributing a ton to retirement just yet, but this is enough to keep going. In fact, we’re able to not completely destroy ourselves living off credit card debt completely. There was a period where we went into credit card debt and it got paid off pretty fast, but that was the first three years. It was ups and downs. I’m not sure what’s happening. I’m not sure if this is going to work financially or whatnot.
Now, two things happened. Number one, my wife got a job. She wanted to go back and do music, and she did. She found a good opportunity. It’s actually where we live now in Michigan. We moved across the country. It’s where my wife is from. It’s where her family lives. So she got a job with a salary and health insurance and benefits. That right there I was like, “Okay. Cool. This is great,” and I don’t know if it’s due to luck and hard work or 50% of both, but my own business also started growing enough. Again, not exponential. I want to be completely honest here and say it’s been painstakingly slow, if I’m being real, but it was growing enough to be like, “Now, I am making what I would’ve been at accounting, anyways.” Right? An entry level, that $52,000 a year piece of paper that I was holding, that was year three of Do You Even Blog. I was right there. do you even block? I was like right there, and even a little bit more so.
Since then, it is still on the turtle’s pace of growth, but the business has been producing enough revenue to make it easily sustainable, contributing to retirement accounts, not a diehard fire like say 40% of my income, 50% of my income thing at all, but very reasonable I would argue. Again, coupled with my wife taking a salary job about two years ago, life has been pretty normal. Finances have been, well, normal for what I think is normal at least. I have no idea, of course, but it’s been pretty good. I don’t know if I answered your question at all during that period, but that’s what I got.

Mindy:
No. That’s great. That’s exactly what I wanted to know because I think that there’s, again, I don’t like the hustle culture, hulture. We’ll coin this term right here.

Pete:
We’re going to hashtag this. This is now going to be trending now, hulture.

Sarah:
I feel like people are going to think we’re talking about like horticulture every time we say that.

Mindy:
Hulture, hustle culture, but you said that people compare themselves on TikTok and Twitter and, “Oh, they have 52,000 followers, and they’re doing …” I like income articles when bloggers say, “Oh, I made this much income,” but after a while, it’s like that’s not helpful to see that you’re making $75,000 a month, $100,000 a month, a million dollars a month. That’s great for you, but that isn’t helpful to me when I’m just getting started, and I made my first month with blogging, I made 17 cents from Google AdWorks. That’s 17 whole sense.

Pete:
That’s good. You’re crushing it.

Mindy:
Thank you very much. Then you see an article where somebody made $100,000 and you’re like, “Well, I should just quit.” Comparison is the thief of joy. If you like what you do, and we did, I say we, my husband and I have a blog, it’s mostly his, but we liked what we were doing so we kept doing it, and we didn’t read these articles that said, “I made $100,000 a month,” which is good because we might have stopped. We might have just been like, “Oh, I guess there’s no room for me,” and if you have something you want to do, there’s room for you to do it.

Pete:
Yeah, 100%. I don’t know if there’s a question in there, but I agree with everything you just said.

Mindy:
No. I’m just talking. Sarah’s got a question.

Sarah:
I got one. I got one. I got one. One of the words that you’ve said a lot just in the last couple minutes that you’ve been talking about this word.

Mindy:
Hulture? Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Sarah:
Hulture, yes, outside of that hashtag, is enough. You kept saying enough. I want to dig into this a little bit more. What is enough to you? I understand what is enough to you might not be what is enough for other people, but I don’t think this is one thing that is talked enough about. So what is enough to you?

Pete:
I see what you did just there. So this is great. Again, I always feel a little awkward saying this, but I am going to self-deprecate a second and say that I suffer from the whole comparison is the thief of joy thing. This happens to me like clockwork every couple of months. I mentioned that already. I get super jealous, and my enough is never enough, but then inevitably, I will come back to remembering my values like I discussed earlier and then remembering my enough.
So I’ll tell you what my own personal enough is right now. Number one, having enough income coming in, which for us is about between 5,000, and this is a wide range I realized for a lot of people, but between $5,000 and $10,000 a month in revenue. We live in a very low cost of living area, by the way, by design. We chose this for this low cost of living. Our expenses are still pretty small. We could survive, we make more than this, but we could survive on $50,000-$60,000 a year, gross family income a year. That is enough for us not to be stressed from paycheck to paycheck and hating our life, right? We’ve been that. We’ve felt that. I know what that feels like. We felt that for two or three years and our enough revenue, salary numbers are around there. That’s one. There’s three pieces to this puzzle.
The second piece for me, personally, is my time freedom. Again, I don’t realize it until I get forced to doing a freelance contract or something that reminds me of doing a full-time job where I have to work for somebody else, and I have to put in 40-50 hours a week. Whenever I do that, I’m reminded like, “Oh, no, no, no. This is not what I want out of life,” and I go back to what I love doing, and I want to continue this.
So this is my enough. Number one, I make enough money to not feel stressed paycheck to paycheck, my wife and I, and make enough money, and I already told you what the number is, so that I can continue watching Harry Potter movies in the middle of the day. Then number three for me is retirement. Obviously, I don’t want to be left hanging, let alone with 65. I’m part of the FI community. I would rather be financially independent sooner rather than later. I don’t have a very specific date at this point in my FI journey like a lot of people do, but I do want to make sure that I am contributing, my wife and I both, are contributing to retirements every single month.
If I’m being really honest with you, this has actually been not a struggle but a challenge over the past year because we’re trying to make sense of our financial situation, right? We moved across the country. My wife took a job. My business has been growing and still, this is a piece of my own financial puzzle that I’m still putting together, but that’s my enough trifecta, my salary, my income, my revenues from business, as well as my wife’s job and stuff like that. There is an enough number that allows us to not be stressed, to allow me to watch Harry Potter movies in the middle of the day, and to still be contributing reasonably to retirement.
Of course, I would love to do more. I’d rather reach financial independence faster, but just being reasonable about that because I have felt what is unreasonable in the past four or five years. So I have that metric in my head, too. So yeah, I like this concept, though. I think more people should spend time doing real world research, not where they want to go, but where they’re at right now like, “In the next year, what can we change or what do we need to change or what investing can we automate? What saving can we automate? What can we slash from our expenses? What lifestyle changes can we make to be enough, happy, and fulfilled?” and et cetera, et cetera.

Sarah:
Coming from the entrepreneurial mind that you have, I feel like the amount of money that you can make is unlimited. So when you talk about enough, you’re talking about what you need to have to make you be okay at that moment or for the next three, six months, 12 months, whatever it is, but then when you look at the other end of, “I could be making X amount of money if I keep doing this and I keep hustling,” hustle culture, all that, how do you keep yourself in check? How do you balance the enough and the unlimited to make it work for you besides watching Harry Potter?

Pete:
Oh, I don’t. I stink at this. I don’t. I stink at this. I’m just being honest with you. So yeah, it’s all the time. So okay, I’ll tell you a story. I’m a skier. I like skiing even though I’m terrible at it, still a beginner. I went skiing just last year with a friend, also happens to be part of the personal finance community, also happens to be very rich person, and I mean rich as in rich, right? I’m not talking about reasonably rich. I’m talking about extremely rich.
So I’ll hang out with this person who’s absolutely incredible. Honestly, a friend, the truest person, the dearest person ever, down to earth, et cetera, but it just reminds me of the potential of what other people are making, what other people are doing, how other entrepreneurs are growing, and all this other stuff, right? Just getting reminded of that once a month sends me down this rabbit hole of like, “Oh, I should be doing more. I should be working more. I should be trying more,” all these things.
Actually, we should just name this podcast episode Comparison is the Thief Joy because I suffer from this. I stink at keeping myself in check. I’ve tried different things. I have tried ignoring what other people are doing and earning, and whether they are already financially independent or not. I’ve tried just ignoring it, staying away from social media, disconnecting with people that I wasn’t really friends with, but I would be on Facebook and see this person share results, share financial wins, share that stuff.
I tried avoiding that stuff, which it I guess worked, actually. It was helpful to stay in my own little bubble, but at the end of the day, I do value friendships and relationships, and my skiing partner, and these other people. So that wasn’t really an option, but the truth is, Sarah, I have zero answers for you because, I don’t know, I fall into this trap all the time of comparing myself to others and wanting more than above my “enough”, if that makes sense.

Mindy:
Okay. I have a comment here and this applies to finances as well as success in business, but don’t compare your beginning to my middle or my end. I say that all the time and I don’t say that enough. You are still relatively new in your entrepreneurship journey. You have defined enough as having the freedom to watch Harry Potter movies in the middle of the day. So basically, you have a job that allows you to watch Harry Potter movies in the middle of the day.
Outside of being the Harry Potter movie editor, I didn’t even think that job existed. So your enough is where you are. You are at the top of your game. You have hit it because that’s what you want to do and that’s what you get to do. Your ski partner who makes $50 million a minute, how much time are they working or how much time have they put into their job, and how many processes have they set up to be able to be here now? “Comparison is the thief of joy,” that is a C. S. Lewis quote. We didn’t just make that up ourselves, but it’s so true. Stop comparing yourself, Pete, you do great. There are people who compare are themselves to you, “I hope I can be like Pete someday.”

Pete:
It’s true. Oh, well, thank you. Just to be fair with you, I’m feeling really good about myself now in the past week. I mean, it just happens occasionally falling back into these comparison thieves, and then I generally work my way out. In fact, let me brag for a second. I made this metaphor the other day. It’s funny how people who have a lot of money, not always, but they generally, they don’t drive Lamborghinis, right? They don’t have massive mega mansions. They might have a nice house, but it’s not like when you grow up poor or lower middle class, I grew up lower middle class, we used to think that everybody who had a million dollars was just living the dream life, and splurging on everything, and drinking fine wine for breakfast, and it turns out, people who have a lot of money, they of look at that and they’re like, “No. I’m good. We have nice things, probably. I could splurge if I wanted to, but it’s not a necessity.”
I am that person when it comes to time. Every time I ask somebody how they’re doing and they’re like, “Good, good, busy,” right? We say this all the time. You ever heard this?
“How you doing?”
“Oh, I’m doing great. Yeah, busy. Yeah, busy.”
I just shake my head like that super for rich person and I’m just like, “That’s not me,” right? Yeah. I am super rich. I am incredibly wealthy when it comes to my time and how I spend my time, Harry Potter or not, yeah, I’m incredibly rich in that way.

Sarah:
I always hate when people say, “Oh, I’m busy. I’m so busy, so busy.” I always like to be like, “You know what? Busy is not an excuse,” right? That’s not an excuse for everything else that you’re doing.

Pete:
Not only that, but it doesn’t make me think more of you. I don’t think you a cooler person because you are more busy. Maybe some people might associate that with success, but not me. I’m like, “I feel sorry for you.” Yeah. Sorry.

Mindy:
Wow. I feel seen. No. We are actively stopping and ramping down. This is the issue. When you’re so busy, you’ve committed yourself to so many things, then you have to extricate yourself from that. Sometimes extricating yourself is actually finishing the task and sometimes it’s delegating it to somebody else, and sometimes it’s like, “I’m not ever going to get that done,” but many of the things that we are so busy with are things that we now have to extricate ourselves from and finish the job, but we’re actively saying no to things, and this is not something that we’ve ever done before, and it is tough.
I mean, I’m working from home. My commute, your commute is two hours, that sucks. My commute is two seconds. I walk from the upstairs, down to my office, and turn on my computer, and blam, I’m at work. I haven’t been in the office in a month. In 2021, I’ve probably been in the office six times, and it’s a 40-minute commute when I go, but that’s six times over a whole year. That’s a real low, daily commute average time, but the problem with working from home, and this came up during the pandemic is I get up in the morning. I like to drink coffee and I’m a real estate agent, and I also work at Bigger Pockets.
So in the morning, I have my cup of coffee and I go through real estate listings because I have several clients who can’t seem to find a house right now because the market’s insane. So I’ll go through the real estate listings and then, “Oh, well, I’m already on my computer so I’ll check my social media accounts,” and “Oh, well I’m already here. Let me start checking my work email.” I’m not starting at 8:00. I’m starting at 6:15, and I’m not going until 4:00.

Pete:
Hulture. Hulture is what this is. It’s what I’m hearing right now.

Mindy:
I’m going until 5:30 because there’s just one more thing. Who has a job that’s ever done? I mean, Pete, if you wanted to work 80 hours a week, could you?

Pete:
No, no.

Mindy:
You don’t have 80 hours? Yes, you do. You could easily work.

Pete:
I have two small kids.

Mindy:
Well, but you could easily work 80 hours a week if you chose not to spend time with your kids and you put all of that on your wife and you decided that you weren’t going to leave, “Oh, I just have one more thing.” I mean, how many of us have just one more thing? You have to set parameters.

Pete:
Oh, you mean like do I have the work that would take up 80 hours a week? Oh, my God! Yeah.

Mindy:
Yeah. Do you have the ability to work 80 hours? Of course, you do. I do, Sarah does. Everybody has. I mean, I can always find something to do, but I can always find a stopping point, and I think that so many people don’t set their stopping points, and I’m just as guilty of this. I’m not trying to talk smack about anybody listening or either of you two, but I didn’t set a stopping point. I have a job. I’ve worked at a lot of jobs that were like, “Eh, whatever.” I punch a clock, I leave, I don’t care, but now I have a job where there’s always something available to do. I could always do one more thing. It was creeping into nine, 10 hours a day every single day.
I drink coffee on the weekends, too. I don’t just drink coffee during work hours. So I would jump on the computer. Why can’t you just sit with a cup of coffee at the table? Why do you have to be on your computer? Why do you have to be on your phone? Why do you have to do stuff? So I’ve stopped checking my email in the mornings. Once the kids wake up and get ready for school, I go upstairs. I have my coffee with them. I talk to them about their day.
It’s changing our relationship. It’s changing our lives to just step back from the computer, but you have to do that consciously. It starts with what is your why. Pete, what’s your why? “I want freedom.” Well, then don’t work 80 hours a week, Pete, because guess what? There goes your freedom, but you have to make that choice. You trade the time for money. If you had 80 hours that you were putting in, I bet that your income would increase.

Pete:
Oh, yeah. I’m sure it would. I’m sure I could grow in all sorts of ways, but I think it’s always a trade off, right? I think a lot of people don’t analyze that trade off. What do I want and what does it cost to get there, and am I comfortable giving that up? It might be time with kids. It might be just straight up hours in a day. It might be giving up hobbies. Joining the hulture and giving up my mechanical keyboard hobby, I’d rather die. I’d rather die. So yeah, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m over here just digging.

Mindy:
What’s a mechanical keyboard?

Pete:
You know what? Unless you guys want to go another three hours to this podcast, I think maybe I’ll avoid it, but I will say that it’s my obsession for about the past year or so. I build my own keyboards, custom keyboards with mechanical switches and key caps and I loop them, and I do foam modifications, and I own entirely too many different keyboards. I literally have two or three within grabbing distance over here. Yeah. I could talk here for four hours, but I won’t do that.

Mindy:
Thank you.

Pete:
You’re welcome. If you care about your finances at all, don’t get into mechanical keyboards. It’s also the most expensive thing ever. People get in and they’ll spend 15 grand. I saw a screenshot of a guy who bought his first mechanical keyboard four months ago, and he had a Google Sheet open with everything that he’s bought and spent money on, and it’s $15,000 the past four months. I was like, “What? How?”

Mindy:
You can get them for free at the thrift store.

Pete:
That’s true. That’s absolutely true. Yeah. It’s just a hobby. It’s collecting anything, probably, collecting stamps. You don’t need to collect stamps, but people do it because it brings them joy, and this brings me joy, not $15,000 worth of joy, but it brings me joy.

Mindy:
I collect stamps because I can never find them.

Mindy:
Oh, okay. So Pete, what’s next for you? More Harry Potter?

Pete:
I’m going to hang out with my family and kids. I continue to do what I’m doing. I have some side projects that I work on outside of Do You Even Blog. It’s actually new. Just keep doing what I’m doing. Yeah. Trying to avoid the comparison trap once a month that I have historically gotten sucked down into and just keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve got my enough lifestyle, figured out, and growing would be nice, but most of the time I don’t care that much. I just care about maintaining the enough, the status quo, the fulfillment and happiness that I think I’ve set up for myself. So there’s no next. It’s just what I’ve already got rolling.

Mindy:
What does retirement look like for you? Are you pursuing early retirement? You’re part of the personal finance community. Are you pursuing regular retirement like age 65 or it’s just going? I mean, what is that stat? 40% of Americans can’t foot in $1,000 emergencies. So even thinking about retirement puts you head and shoulders above everybody else or well above 40% of Americans and there are people who are like, “Oh, I’m going to go whole hog and race to early retirement,” and it’s okay to have a job. It’s okay to enjoy your job. It’s okay to hit your financial goals and continue working. So what is the financial Pete McPherson look like?

Pete:
You just said it. You just said it, actually. So I am one of these people. I think of retirement as a very fluid thing. I have no intention of setting a retirement date period, whether it’s 65 years old or 45 years old or 85 years old. I have no intention of ever doing that because I like my work now. I like hobbies, and I’m always going to enjoy some work and some hobbies, even if it’s not exactly what I’m doing right now. I mean, over the past 15 years, I’ve gone from coffee shops and baristas and part-time jobs to accounting and CPAs, to entrepreneurship, to what I’m doing now. I guess you could call it entrepreneurship, but it’s a little different.
So the financial stuff I’m working for is just making sure that I am always pointed towards the north star. The north star is the enough number where I get to live the life I want and reasonably retire. I was going to say at any point. I don’t mean a very specific age or date. Of course, I want to get there sooner rather than later. I am one of the people that leans towards reaching financial independence as soon as possible. I would love for it to be today. It’s not today. I’m not financially independent, but I also realize the trade offs that we’ve been talking about all episode, right?
I’m not going to join the hustle culture. I even tried to screw it up on purpose and I messed up. I actually didn’t really said the right words. I’m not willing to hustle that much right now to reach a fine number in five years. I’m just not willing to do it. Again, I wish I had a very concrete number for you, but I don’t, but this idea of a reasonable enough number is my status quo. It’s my goal right now. I don’t plan on ever retiring. I’m already retired. I like the work I do in 20 hours a week.
If I had a billion dollars right now, tax-free, I would be doing the exact same thing, not roughly what I’m doing now. Well, maybe there’s one or two things now that think about it, but really, really close, a lot closer than other people. I’m doing what I want to be doing. I’m retired now. I’m just not financially independent yet. Luckily, I’ve reached my enough number where I am reasonably contributing my family towards retirement, sooner rather than late. Of course, if income grows, I’m going to try and get to FI sooner, but I don’t have a target date. I don’t plan on setting one anytime in the near future.
So I realized that’s probably a little bit frustrating of an answer to what I’m working towards right now, but I think the real answer is that I’ve somehow figured out what I’m happy doing at the moment. I know it’ll change, but as long as I’m working towards that reasonable enough retirement, I feel comfortable just doing what I’m doing, right? I guess the only other part of this is looking forward into the future and feeling reasonably comfortable that nothing drastic is going to change, right? My business could technically go caput a year from now and I make $0, but that’s probably not going to happen, right? I feel like there’s a very small chance of happening in the next year, three years, and five years. So I don’t feel compelled to change anything. So that’s the last piece of that puzzle.

Mindy:
I love that answer. I don’t think that that gets said enough in the personal finance community is that it’s okay to not want to retire tomorrow. It’s okay to like your job. It’s okay to continue on. It’s okay to not have a hard and fast retirement date. It’s okay to have not a hard and fast financial number, a FI number. It’s okay to have this fluid retirement plan. You’re still doing all of the things that we are all recommending that people do. You’re contributing to your retirement accounts. You’re enjoying your life, although there’s not that many people that are suggesting that. I think they should. You’re contributing to your retirement accounts and you’re doing the … What are the four levers that we always talk about on this show? Spend less than you earn, earn more money, invest intelligently, and start a business. You started the business, you spend less than you earn, you invest intelligently, and you’re earning more when you choose to, which is, I mean, personal finance is personal. We say that all the time.

Pete:
I like that one.

Mindy:
You get to choose what you want to. Choose your own adventure. You get to choose your own adventure, and the only people that it has to work for is you and your wife.

Pete:
Fun fact, completely unrelated to anything, but you have to be really careful using the words choose your own adventure if you create content on the internet because I tried to do a series one time on my blog ages ago when I had no audience, no traffic. I was super tiny. I got cease and desist letters from lawyers. They were like, “You need to take this down immediately,” on behalf of whatever company owns the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I literally got letters from lawyers. I was like, “I’m nobody. Why are you treating me like this?”

Mindy:
Wow.

Pete:
Yeah. Sorry. Unrelated to anything.

Mindy:
Okay. This podcast is not sponsored by the Choose Your Own Adventure series.

Pete:
Thank you.

Mindy:
However, I did read a lot of them as a kid. So that’s why I said that. Wow. Okay. That’s a good point. Yes. Don’t choose your own adventure.

Sarah:
Totally unrelated, but there was a brewery that also put out a line of beers that was affiliated with something, and they got these letters, too, and then they actually named their beers Cease and Desist and all. They literally went off of that. So yeah, I mean, I guess you could use that as your content as well.
So Pete, you were talking about not having concrete numbers, and I think for life and for entrepreneurship, and for retirement, not having a concrete number is perfectly fine. I operate the exact same way, but being on the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast, we got to get into having a concrete number. We got to get into the famous four questions right now.

Pete:
Okay.

Sarah:
Mindy, what you got?

Mindy:
Pete, what is your favorite finance book?

Pete:
Okay. So I knew you were going to ask this. So I tried to pull one that hasn’t been said. I have been influenced by Ramit, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, all the typical, even Rich Dad Poor Dad back in the day, and all the things, but that’s not what I want to recommend. I’m actually going to hold it up right here, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Have you ever heard of this book, Mindy or Sarah?

Mindy:
No.

Sarah:
No.

Pete:
You can’t see it, sorry, on my screen, but this is the book I’m going to recommend people go check out. It is one of the most unique books that you’ll ever read because it’s written in the, uh-oh, I’m going to mess this up now, the third person or the second person. It basically just says you. There’s no character names, whatsoever or there are character names, but the main character is you reading the book.
So the first page is literally, “You wake up in a dirty mud floor, in a slum somewhere in China. You do this and you do that.” It’s written that way. I won’t spoil the ending, but this book right here, it talks about the whole money journey. In fact, stuff that we’ve talked about on this podcast, the hustle culture, doing whatever it takes to make enough, to survive, but then also hustling to get rich, and then coming to terms with different values and life once you’ve gotten rich or things you learn on the way to earn money, and so on and so forth.
It’s a really interesting book. It’s by Mohsin Hamid. I believe it’s how you pronounce it. You just go to Amazon. You should be able to look it up, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It’s also incredibly short or it’s relatively short, I suppose, but the way it’s written, you’ll get through this thing in just a couple of days, and it’s fantastic. It’s really good, and you’ll probably cry at the end of it.

Mindy:
Oh, good. I need more reasons to cry. You are correct. That book has never been recommended on this show, and I’m excited to check it out.

Sarah:
Yeah. Me, too. So Pete, what was your biggest money mistake?

Pete:
So many to choose from. I feel like there could be something said for the whole quitting my job too soon sort of thing. So I’m going to go with this one. Actually, I’m going to share something else. This is my actual money mistake. When I took that startup job, startup shall remain nameless, but my mistake was not doing the due diligence before I took that job. I wanted out of accounting so bad that I would take almost anything that came up, right? I did like a little bit of research into the job, the company, the founder, who my boss was going to be, the role, some basic stuff, but if I had spent any more time doing research, I would have learned they didn’t have a good track record. People spoke very negatively about their founder, and some people actually even warned me ahead of time, not explicitly, but they made reference to it, and I ignored it. I just let it go, and I only got one paycheck and was laid off. They did not have money.
So I think not doing my proper research, due diligence in quitting that accounting job for the job I was going to take, I think that was a mistake. I think a big takeaway for anybody is, first of all, I don’t recommend anybody to go quit their job sooner rather than later. Do your homework and due diligence and have a plan and reserve. Oh, my God. It’s not just a nice to have, it’s a must have, and that was a big mistake I made.

Mindy:
I’m going to agree, but it all worked out in the end, but yeah, the lure of the job can be so much that you ignore the red flag. You’re not the only person who’s done that. I worked at a job. I got this job, and it’s like three months in. I was like, “I got to leave. I got to leave.” My boss threw a book across the conference room and he didn’t throw it at me.

Pete:
Was it How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia?

Mindy:
No. It was a dictionary. It was huge.

Sarah:
You could have read that years ago.

Pete:
I know. Yes.

Mindy:
It was like the Gutenberg Bible. It was this enormous book, and he threw it because he was so mad, and I didn’t have any money to just quit that day. If that happened to me now, first of all, I don’t work for that guy. Scott would never do that, but if that happened to me now, I would just be like, “I’m out. Here’s my computer. I’m leaving. Goodbye,” but yeah. It’s hard when you get … I was so excited to go there that it was really sad when it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to.

Pete:
Totally.

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

Pete:
I’m assuming you’re mostly referring to a financial journey. Is this correct?

Mindy:
This is Pete McPherson’s best piece of advice for people who are just starting out entrepreneurship, financial, however you want to take that.

Pete:
I want to take it the financial route, and maybe you’ve heard this in the podcast before, but I want to triple down on it. Automate as much as you can. So me, personally, willpower is a real thing, not only when it comes to eating lots of sweet food, I have a sweet tooth, but also my finances. If I want to cut down on my sweets, I don’t buy them. I, in fact, explicitly tell my wife, “Don’t buy them,” because if they are around in my house, I will eat them. I will consume them and you have no choice about it, and I have no willpower. I just do it.
It’s the same thing with my finance. If given the choice on any given day, week or month or year, I would never invest or I always say I want to invest, but I would probably just spend the money if it was there in my account. I keep my checking account balance, I don’t care how much I make this month for business, I keep my checking account balance extremely low because I don’t want to look in there and see $8,000 that I could be spending on who knows what. I want everything to be taken out. I want to feel a little hungry. For me, that’s been automating everything.
So I subscribe to the whole make sure that you are contributing to retirement accounts of any nature or whatever your saving strategy looks like on autopilot. Set it up. Go in once a quarter and increase it by 1%, 2%. Go in every time you get a raise and increase it by whatever that percent is. We hear these things all the time. I actually believe it’s more important than people in personal finance say. I mean, we talk about it a lot, but I think it’s actually absolutely critical for a lot of people.
So if you’re just getting started and you’re not investing, saving, contributing to X, Y, Z, automatically, every single month, go do that right now even if it’s only a tiny fraction of amount. You can always come back and increase it, but just have some automated thing that takes guessing and willpower out of the equation.

Sarah:
Yup, and not just that brain power that you can be using to do other things and focus your time and energy thinking about other things and not having to think about this automation process. Okay. Pressure’s on Pete. This is probably the most important question of the podcast right this second, okay? Even though Scott’s not here, we got to make him proud. What is your favorite-

Pete:
I’m Googling jokes here because I don’t have one. I knew you’re going to ask this. I tried for an hour to think of jokes to say on the podcast. I couldn’t do it.

Mindy:
Well, let her the question first.

Pete:
Sorry. I was getting nervous.

Sarah:
“I’m Googling. I’m Googling.”

Pete:
I’ve done a thousand plus podcast episodes over the past decade and I’m just super nervous right now. I’m starting to sweat.

Sarah:
Okay. Here we go. What is your favorite joke to tell at parties?

Pete:
You know the best thing about Switzerland? I don’t really know, but the flag is a big plus.

Mindy:
That one’s been told on this show before. So I am going to have one for you.

Pete:
Okay.

Mindy:
Today, I learned the creator of Corn Pops also invented Coco Pops, Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, and Apple Jacks. His tombstone just says, “Cereal entrepreneur.”

Pete:
Ooh, that’s a good one. I like that. What did the fish say when he ran into the wall? Dam!

Mindy:
Ouch.

Pete:
My wife says that one a lot. Yeah. I’m not going to lie. That was the most nervous I’ve ever been on a podcast interview. It’s okay. I’m sweating over here Googling jokes to say at parties for the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast.

Mindy:
Ah, you have to Google dad jokes.

Pete:
I should have.

Mindy:
So while we’re hearing the journey, I will be like, “Oh, they’re an entrepreneur. Entrepreneur dad jokes. Oh, they’re a medical doctor. Doctor dad jokes.” That’s where I get all of mine.

Pete:
This is how Mindy is actually funny, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the reason right there.

Mindy:
Yes, because of Scott. Okay. Pete, where can people find out more about you?

Pete:
Great question. Well, I will just point people to my website homepage, doyouevenblog.com. Pretty much everything there. So I help people build up their own audiences from the internet, really, and also just make more money. That’s what I’m about. That’s what I do. That’s what I talk about day in and day out. So if people want to follow along with that or they just want to say hi, I’ll point people to my email, too. I answer all my emails, [email protected] Anybody can email me right away or just go to the homepage. There are links to my YouTube channel, which is mostly where I hang out these days, and that’s pretty much it. There’s probably some social links there, too. I’m not really on social media a whole lot these days, so doyouevenblog.com.

Mindy:
Awesome. Well, we will include links to your website in our show notes, which can be found at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow257. Pete, this was a lot of fun. I have wanted to get you on the show for a very long time. I’m so excited that it finally worked out. This was great, and I appreciate your time today sharing your story.

Pete:
Mindy, and Sarah, this has, without a doubt, been the number one, best, most extraordinary podcast I ever been on. Thank you so much for … Well, despite the fact that I was super nervous because you asked me to tell a joke, but despite that, thanks for having me on. This has been great.

Mindy:
Thank you, Pete, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Pete:
Okay. Bye.

Mindy:
Okay. That was Pete McPherson from Do You Even Blog. Sarah, one of my favorite things outside of hulture, the new phrase that we’ve coined, and please everybody use that as a hashtag when you’re talking about this episode, but one of my favorite things that he said was, “I would not recommend doing what I did. I got lucky.” In the entrepreneurship, there is all is an element of luck. I would, if Pete was calling me up to say, “Hey, should I totally start a blog?” and even though I don’t really have a huge nest egg, I would’ve said no. I would’ve said, “You should go and get a job and do this on the side,” and lucky for Pete, he didn’t call me up because my advice wouldn’t have been something that he wanted to hear, but he does acknowledge that he got lucky, and that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s good at what he does, but that acknowledges that luck has some play here.

Sarah:
I think one of the other really important parts that he talked about in this episode is really recognizing mistakes. I’m going to use air quotes here, “mistakes”. He even said, “I don’t like that word.” One of the words that another podcaster that I listen to, Laura Park Figueroa, from the Mind Your OT Business Podcast, she calls them fail learns, and I love this term because we learned so much from these “mistakes” that we make in life and in business that lead us ultimately where we are today, and it’s without those things happening that you might be in a completely different place in your life.
I love that Pete really brought this energy and highlighted that and saying, “I didn’t do everything perfectly. Don’t do what I did,” because, again, that’s how we all get to where we are right now. Everybody is at this different place in their life with money, with investing, with knowledge, with business, with working, with life, whatever it is. We have to embrace that journey and whatever comes our way, whether it’s how we think it might go, and maybe it’s not how we think it’s going to go, but ultimately, it’s going to help us get where we need to be.

Mindy:
Absolutely. Absolutely. We talked about comparison as the thief of joy. We talked about don’t compare your beginning to my middle or end, and we even talked about how the experiences you have shape who you are. So wishing that they weren’t that way is fine, but you can’t change it. So embrace what’s happening. Embrace your failures, your mistakes, your learning opportunities. Learn from them and move on. That’s the best thing you can do when something doesn’t go the way that it’s planned.
Another thing he said was, “I want to be painstakingly honest. My growth wasn’t fast.” Goes back to that comparison is the thief of joy. You are always going to find somebody online, and it’s not even that hard to find, but you’re always going to be able to find somebody online who did it faster than you. Great, good for them. That’s their journey. Your journey is the length of time that it’s taking you, and just continue on. The worst thing you can do is stop something that’s working.

Sarah:
Mindy, do you know why clowns make bad entrepreneurs? Because they’re into some funny business.

Mindy:
Scott, would be very proud of you, Sarah.

Sarah:
I’m bringing it for Scott here.

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

Sarah:
Sounds good.

Mindy:
From episode 257 of the Bigger Pockets Money Podcast, she is Sarah Putt from OT for Life, again, a podcast, occupational therapist, by occupational therapists, for occupational therapists, about occupational therapy, and I am Mindy Jensen saying, got to go, friend. This has to end.

 

Watch the Podcast Here

Help us out!

Help us reach new listeners on iTunes by leaving us a rating and review! It takes just 30 seconds. Thanks! We really appreciate it!

In This Episode We Cover

  • The detriment of “hustle culture” and why working hard doesn’t mean burning yourself out
  • The importance of having an available safety reserve in case you get let go from a job
  • Jumping into entrepreneurship and developing the grind to make it work
  • Learning from your mistakes and seeing every failure as a lesson
  • Picking your “good enough” number and living life on your terms
  • Why time freedom is the ultimate goal of FI, not exorbitant wealth
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in the Show:

Connect with Pete: