BiggerPockets Money Podcast 39: From “Bad with Money” to Intentional Saving and Spending with Jamila Souffrant

by | BiggerPockets.com

Jamila Souffrant grew up watching her mom struggle to provide for her. She decided early on that she wanted to be a millionaire, her solution to not having enough was to simply make a lot of money. She saved like crazy, but didn’t have a plan for it.

A good student, she attended college and got into an internship program that places minority students with Fortune 500 companies and pays them well. During college, she saved 80-90% of her salary – but was still considered herself “bad with money,” buying luxury items she doesn’t remember.

Internship led to employment, and Jamila changed her focus from IT to the real estate department. But her finances stayed the same. She contributed to her 401(k), but not even enough to get the full company match in her 20s.

The switch flipped in her 30s, after an exceptionally bad commute home. She discovered FI through podcasts and blogs, and finally understood this could be her reality, too. Jamila and her husband kicked their savings into high gear and started investing.

Jamila went from “bad with money” to saving $169,000 in two years! This episode shows it’s not too late to start your Financial Freedom journey, too.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

 Scott: Welcome to BiggerPockets Money Podcast Show number 39 where we interview Jamila Souffrant from journeytolaunch.com.

Jamila: I’m willing to take that risk at the moment because I figured that life is too short and my priorities right now are my family and then just being happy in the moment doing the things that I love. We’ve changed our investing and saving strategy over the past year to accommodate this big change.

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Scott: How is it going everybody? This is Scott Trench, host of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. Here with my co-host Miss Mindy Jensen. How are you doing today, Mindy?

Mindy: Scott, I am doing fantastic. How are you today?

Scott: I am doing great. I am very excited for the interview with Jamila. I thought it was fantastic. I mean, what a great persona she’s got. What a great story. Look at the power that financial freedom, her journey to financial freedom, has given her already just two years in.

Mindy: It’s fantastic. I can’t believe how easy it was for her. How easy might not be the right word because she did still have to have the conversation and do the work. It’s not just going to happen by itself. You really have to do the work.

I love her story and how she was able to just switch the gears by thinking about what she wants her life to look like. What does she want her life to look like now? What does she want her life to look like down the road? Doing the math, one thing that keeps coming up over and over again is people say “Well, I want to go on this journey. How can I make it happen?” And they do some math and they’re like, “Oh my goodness. Look, it’s actually not that hard.”

Scott: Yes. This show is really good for you if you’re thinking about “Hey, I-“ We’re in a reasonable financial position right now. We have a good career.” She had a good career when she started this journey. Things were going well. There was some good income. But, there wasn’t much optimization on the road to financial dependence. When she really took the reins, and had the discussion with her husband and got a family on track for a more aggressive pursuit of, I-

The changes are just drastic. She mentioned many times throughout the show she’s still living the good life now and she’s going to have – still have – able to eat her cake in a few years.

Mindy: Yes, no. I like her story because she isn’t depriving herself of anything. As she says, in a few minutes, “We cut out the things that we didn’t care about anyway.”Not everything that you’re spending money on means anything to you. You might really like great coffee and it isn’t worth it to you to cut out great coffee. Or maybe you really like having a nice car and it isn’t worth it to you to cut out having a nice car. So then don’t. Do what makes you happy. Live a good life now so you can live a great life down the road. Okay.

Scott: Let’s bring Jamila in.

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Scott: Alright. Big thanks to today’s sponsor. Let’s bring in Jamila. Jamila, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. How’s it going today?

Jamila: Hey guys. Thanks so much for having me on.

Mindy: Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to us.

Scott: Yes, so let’s go jump right into it. What was your kind of experience growing up with money? Or what do you consider the start of your financial journey?

Jamila: I’d take my start with money was really just from being a child watching my single mom work really hard to provide for me. It’s funny because there was never an intentional conversation about money in my household growing up. My mom had me at 20 years old. She came here from Jamaica. Immigrated here and actually had to leave me behind as a child in Jamaica before she could bring me over. At the… herself, work and bring me at least into something where she could provide for me.

Even from that age – I don’t have specific memory at 2 years old from that – but watching her growing up working minimum wage jobs, going to school, trying to provide for me really taught me the value of money from a very early age because I saw how much she had to work to provide for me. That really just instilled this really good work ethic where I knew that if I wanted to more out of life, if I wanted to be able to provide and take care of her one day, take care of my other family members, or just when I have  family of my own, be able to take care of them, that I needed to be smart with how I earned money.

So growing up, my solution to that was I wanted to be a millionaire. That was my only goal.  I wanted to just make a lot of money. That was how I thought I would be able to alleviate this issue of not having enough. It was just to make more. My goal, even just from young, was I wanted to be rich. That was my goal.

My money story really starts from being young, seeing my mom work hard and then having this drive to want to at least make money.

Scott: How did you pursue that goal in high school and college? I guess.

Jamila: I got my first job at 14 years old and I’ve been working ever since. So working now, from 14 , 15, just throughout my high school years and then college was really important because I was able to now save money. I always say that, for me, again the goal was just to make money.

It wasn’t actually about like managing it the best way. I save but I wasn’t thinking of saving it in investment accounts at 14 or 17. It was just, “Oh, I’m saving money.” At least I had that work ethic to help me work. Then when I got to college, what really was really a good starter for me was that I got into a really good internship program. So the Inroads internship programs that I did, it places minority students into Fortune 500 companies and you get paid a good salary. My freshmen year that summer, from freshmen to sophomore year, I got my first internship.

I was making good money for being a college student. I remember I just started working and saving almost 80-90% of what I was earning at that time throughout college. I had that internship for my three years and that’s the same company that sponsored me and then offered me a full time position. Just that gave me a good head start on having money like coming out of college now. I had a good amount of savings to do things with.

Scott: So you get this really good internship. What company was this at and what college were you going to, by the way?

Jamila: I went to Adelphi University. I went to Adelphi University on Long Island and then when I was interning, I was interning in an insurance company that had an investment to it. I knew I wanted to, again make as much money as I could. My major was business management with a specialization in finance. I was working in the IT section of that whole company and I knew that I didn’t want to be in the IT section. I said “That’s not where the money is. I want to be in investments, particularly real estate investments” so I finangled my way into changing my internship into changing my internship from the IT section of the company to the real estate investment section and so I started to then intern in real estate and other positions in the investments department.

When I got hired fulltime, I got hired into the portfolio management section of the company and then I worked my way back into real estate.

Mindy: Okay. I have a thing really quickly. You just said your major was Business Management with a specialization in finance. We’ve talked a little bit about your story just to prepare for this show and you weren’t always so good with money in the beginning. I think that’s really interesting to point out that you studied finance but it still- you have to really pay attention to your finances. I studied Fashion Design in college and it’s not really all that great of a career, it’s not a lucrative career. I’m certainly not doing it now but I didn’t study finance and I wasn’t good with money for a while. I was always just really cheap. I wasn’t necessarily saving it and doing a really awesome job until later.

I think it’s really interesting that you studied finance and yet your mind wasn’t on it. When your mind’s not on something, you’re not really going to do anything about it.

Jamila: I think that’s a really good and interesting question to like to put the question around finances. I think there’s a disconnect with wanting to make a lot of money and earn a lot of money but then not realizing how it really is that you build well. I’d say that- when I say that I wasn’t necessarily good with money, someone could hear that and say “You seem to – you saved a lot. You say you saved 80, 90% of your income and I did buy my first property at 22 which is now an investment property” So if you hear that you say “Wait, how are you not good at money at that stage?” but when I look back at it, I say I wasn’t good because I wasn’t intentional about the way in which I saved or invested my money.

For me I thought it was just good enough to save money and just have cash sitting around to be able to do something with. Even when I graduated and I worked fulltime, I was contributing- I don’t even think I was contributing up to the company match  for a couple years and then I finally made it to do at least the company match. Looking back now, I think of all the lost opportunities and where I could have invested and maxed out my 401k while I was in my twenties. I bought more luxury items in my 20’s that I would never buy now.

I was never intentional in ways in which I could use the money I was getting and then build the wealth that I wanted to amass. Since finding out about financial independence, there are again so many things I would have did differently in my twenties. So when I say I wasn’t good, it was because I wasn’t intentional. I didn’t understand that there was a way to really build well by investing and saving but not just saving in a cash account but investing it into other things.

Scott: I can relate to this. I find really – I studied finance in college as well. What I noticed about a lot of the finance folks in college and then you get these internships at a big Fortune 500 company is a little bit of relentlessness, like ambition and relentlessness to go and be as efficient as possible with their work and careers in the pursuit of earning money. But what’s very noticeably absent from that is the same relentlessness- the same passion or intrigue in managing your own wealth. It’s a weird disconnect where I’ve worked in the past with really successful graduates of top business schools in the finance world who don’t seem to have some basic understanding of personal finance.

Yet, they’re willing and able to optimize really big business finances. Have you  noticed the same thing maybe with your experiences at all?

Jamila: Oh I’ve totally seen that. The smartest people that I’ve worked with and that I’ve met along the way that earn tons of money, personally, they’re not optimizing or making that money then now work for them. It’s almost like that lifestyle inflation where you almost thing that you’ve made it because of your income. Your income shows that you’ve made it because maybe you’re earning six-figures, you’re doing really well, you have a nice house, you have a nice car, and that maybe signifies to them that they’re okay but then when you really dig down, when you get into this rabbit hole of financial independence and what it all means, you realize that that doesn’t really mean much.

It means something, but it doesn’t mean much especially when your expenses are high, when you have to depend on this pay check to live. I quickly realized because I’ve always had this goal that I didn’t want to work for anyone after 30 years old. I always had this goal in my mind and I thought the only way I can do that – yes very ambitious. So when I graduated at 22, I looked around at all colleagues and co-workers and I was like “Well, I’m not going be here in like 8 years” but the reason why I said that, I thought that was because I was going to create a company. The only way I thought I would be able to accomplish that goal of not working for anyone was that I had to create some kind of big company, I had to somehow do something big. I tried a couple of things and they never really panned out.

Other than that, I had no clue that there was a way in which you could save and invest to create a life in which you didn’t have to actively work for someone else. When I found that out, I was like “Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I was looking for this whole time but I didn’t know about it.” I didn’t find out about until my early thirties and that’s when I started to really change the way I invested and saved.

Mindy: Okay so, this is interesting to me. You studied finance and you still didn’t know how to invest. I’m not dogging on you. I’m not saying that you’re a bad person but I’m just making a point. You didn’t know and you studied it. How do people who have no idea- how are they ever going to figure it out if they don’t learn it. This is why we need to teach it in school. This is why parents need to teach it but again, if your parents don’t know, they can’t teach you. I’m not teaching brain surgery to my kids because I don’t know how to do it but I do know finance. I just think that’s really interesting that it took a while for you to figure it out too and that’s awesome that you did.

How did you discover that investing is the way to go? Did somebody talk to you about this or did you just figure it out?

Jamila: For me, it came to a point where I was 31 and I was pregnant and I have a long commute so, or I had a long commute. My commute was about an hour and a half each way which is crazy, right? I used to be driving that far for work and I was pregnant. At that point, so at 31 now- I’m a year past my whole end date, I’m not working for anyone else, so at this point I’m like “Okay, I guess I am, I haven’t figured anything out. I guess this is my life. What’s so bad about it? Everyone around me seems okay to be working and maybe not 100% happy with what they were doing. Who am I to want this bigger goal?” You know?

So at 31 I had this really bad commute and I was pregnant. It took me four hours to get home. It was obviously not a normal day. It was just that all the traffic gods just they were not happy that day and it was traffic everywhere. So I was in traffic and I had this breakdown almost just like this turning point in which I said “No way. There’s no way I can do this for the rest of my life.” It wasn’t just the commute because I could’ve found a commute or a job that was closer to where I lived. It was more of this idea that I pushed away and forgot about: this freedom, this wanting to do things that I loved and not to have work in something that wasn’t fully – I was fulfilled in that allowed me to say “Wait a second. There’s something missing. I have to find something. There has to be another way.”

It took me while but I started to research and Google and I found a bunch of blogs and podcasts. That’s how typically people find out about the financial independence movement. I think I found the Mad Fientist first which lead me down to the rabbit hole. Where I find -I found Mr. Money Moustache- and all these amazing blogs talking about people who were doing – retiring early or reaching financial independence on regular incomes.

They weren’t born into money. They necessarily weren’t even making six figures- some of them- but they were saving-investing and I saw that there were people doing this. I think sometimes it’s all you need to see is that it’s possible that there’s someone like you doing something. It really just made me “Wow, if they can figure this out, so can I”. That’s what lead me to get excited and figure out how I can do it myself.

Scott: Okay. So that’s the point  at which you discovered this concept –and I’m assuming that some changes are to follow this with how you’re spending and investing your money. Before we get to that, can we briefly cover what happened in your twenties? It sounds like you graduated college with this finance degree, you get a job and you’re earning solid money and your career advances over this period of time. Is that accurate?

Jamila: That is accurate.

Scott: Awesome. What are you largely doing with the funds that you’re accumulating or saving from this career?

Jamila: Right. So I’d say that the one good thing that I did in my twenties was when I did graduate from school I had the foresight to buy a condo which was a very good investment because when I bought it was preconstruction in a neighbourhood that wasn’t really-it was good but it wasn’t that great. Now that same neighbourhood it’s DUMBO. It stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It’s one of the most expensive places to own real estate in Brooklyn or in New York City now.

I bought that apartment really because I couldn’t afford anything else. It was a studio apartment and it was relatively- when I looked at the brown stones and the three-family homes that I really wanted to buy- it was something that I could almost afford. I went into contract for that and if they would have did an all document check on when I got the mortgage, they wouldn’t have given me the mortgage because my income was barely covering the mortgage, actually. It was a really huge risk but it was my best investment decision.

I would say that’s the best thing I did but after that I really just then worked on living life. I fell into the trap too: I bought a luxury car. I thought I made it: I bought a condo and I had no kids. I was single at the time, I had my boyfriend who is now my husband but we didn’t really have much responsibilities. I bought a luxury car – which was crazy because I driving that car on my long commute putting premium gas in it and kind of just spending money. I didn’t really- I didn’t buy a lot of crazy things from day-to-day but I bought some expensive purses and definitely took some trips and vacations.

I managed to not go into too much debt so I only had my student loan debt and I was okay for the most part there but when it came to maxing out my 401k, I was not doing that. I was doing the bare minimum just to get the company match. I wasn’t doing Roth IRA contributions. I was doing just a small amount of investing- not much. It wasn’t intentional and I was usually just living and spending the rest of my money in my twenties.

Scott: And this is not a ridiculous pattern of behavior for folks that are in New York, right? I’m assuming that many of your friends locally were doing pretty similar things?

Jamila: Right. So when I looked across the aisle- when I looked to my left and right, I was doing really well compared to my friends: I owned the property, I had a nice car and I had a good job. I thought that maybe that would be enough especially because my thought process at the time was I didn’t understand how it was that I could become a millionaire or not work after 30. Since none of the businesses that I thought of were working, so I thought to myself: “Maybe this isn’t such a bad life” but deep down I knew that there was something missing and that’s all that came to a head in my early thirties when I realized that.

Scott: One more quick question about this period in your life before we move on to the next one is it seems to me that the focus during this period- the leverage point in your finances that you were applying very vigorously was your career, is that correct? Can you give us a little highlight? Were you ale to advance in that career? What did that look like? What did you do that you think enabled you to have a successful career during this period of time?

Jamila: Yes. Sure. When I graduated from school- from undergrad. I started out, I was making $55,000 in New York City which was a number of years ago. It wasn’t – it was okay, it was good. Since then I went back to school while I was working. I got my masters in Real Estate from NYU so that helped in terms of putting me up and setting me up for better positions at my career. I also got the annual raises so the inflation- that standard raise you get every year for working somewhere and then bonuses. That was really- that helped a lot. Working in corporate America- in a company, a Fortune 500 company that was doing really well- I was able to get the bonuses which I was then able to – at the time in my twenties- apply to more things like maybe buying a car or not intentionally saving for things. Now, I will say that- again, I saved money but it wasn’t intentional. I was able to do some things but if I could go back now, I would totally do it differently.

In general, I think for the most part it was just working really hard on my career, getting those annual raises, and then the bonuses really helped. Staying in my company from 22 to now 35, you can imagine just the natural course of things: I started to make more money and I raised my income a lot.

Mindy: So now you’re in your thirties, you discovered FI after a four hour commute home one day and I used to live in Chicago, I’m sorry, I used to work in Chicago and live in the farthest city west of Chicago that’s still considered a suburb of Chicago. I’ve had that four-hour commute when it snows and you’re just like “Really? I could walk home faster. This is the worst thing ever.” After you discovered FI, what was your first move? We’ve talked to a lot of people on this show who say the same thing you do. They call it a rabbit hole, they start cutting every expense and saving every dime and  “Oh we’re never going to spend another dollar on anything ever”.

How did your journey to financial independence start and how did that look?

Jamila: It started with where I discovered this and I was like “Where has this been all my life?”. I was married at that time too and immediately after even that commute home that gave me that realization that something was missing, I didn’t like immediately jump into FI. I think it took another actual year to find out more about it. I started to read more about personal finance and things but it really took maybe another year or so to for me to really get into deep down into like “Wait a second, I can do this”.

Because I was married, it was definitely going to be a different type of transition. My husband, while I found this epiphany and had all these amazing thoughts about it, he had no clue. We were living a good life. We had just bought our home that we live in now. I think I was pregnant again with my second child or I had just gave birth- I’m not sure the time frame. He was just like “What are you talking about?”. I would send him some articles. I remember sending him a Mr. Money Moustache article and a podcast and he was like “Okay, what are you trying to get at?” because some of the articles were talking about people saving half of their income and living very frugally.

Again, living in New York City, coming from a lifestyle where we were able to go out without thinking about it, we didn’t have a budget necessarily, we just went out when we wanted to, we spend when we wanted. Now I’m coming home and saying “Hey. I found about this thing called FI and there are people who are able to retire in 10 or 15 years or less depending on how aggressively they save. What do you think about this?” At first he was just like “What is going on?” so it took some talking. I came home and I said to him “Hey, what would you think? What would you want our lifestyle to be like in 15, 20 years? What do you envision for us? How can you be happy in the future and then how can we be happy today?”

That and a lot of other conversations and some spreadsheets- so I also had some spreadsheets with some projections on. “Hey, if we save this much, we can have this much money in 15 years. How does that sound while still living a good life today?” That slowly got him thinking and on board and what really helped is because he’s a teacher. My husband’s a high school teacher. He teaches Phys. Ed and Health and because he’s this teacher he has access to two pre-tax retirement accounts.

I didn’t know that this was possible but when I found out that he had access to two and then I had access to one, so he can contribute and max out a 457 plan and his 43b plan. Hearing or finding out about that really made me believe like “Wow if we can max all of this out- so his two pre-tax retirements accounts and my pre-tax plus my raw- even if we do nothing else, that would be amazing”. I think talking through that with him was the first step getting him on-board and really what changed everything was being able to max all of those out and just budget and live off all the rest. That was really helpful.

Scott: For all of listeners, people aren’t going to know some of the terms you just threw out there? Can you describe a 457 and a 403b?

Jamila: Sure. A 403b plan is a non-profit or if you work in a non-profit sector or public sector, it’s like a 401k. It’s just a 403b, it’s called that for teachers. The 457 plan is available to most government or official workers- city or state workers you probably have access to one. The cool thing about it is if you are in that position, you get to contribute to not only to your 403b but to your 457. Someone like myself who just works for corporate America, my company has a 401k plan. That’s all I can contribute to when it comes to pre-tax money but if you happen to be a teacher or some other professions, maybe a firefighter or even a police officer, it’s quite possible that you have access now to your organization, company, sponsored plans, whatever plan they offer you plus your state or city sponsored plan which should be like a 457 and you can max both of those out.

Again, I didn’t know that was possible until I heard it on another podcast of someone doing that and I said to myself “Hold on, why isn’t this talked about more? This is such a great opportunity for people who want to save more money and to even just fast forward or fast track their path”. Just doing or hearing about that allowed me to then say “Hey, how can we max all this out in our funds and do that”.

Mindy: Okay. I like to consider myself fairly financially savvy, I’ve never heard of a 457 plan but I’m also not a city or state worker so it would never have come up in my life and my husband worked for the government but he was a contractor so that didn’t count. What is the contribution limit for a 457?

Jamila: It’s the same as you r 401k. So now it’s 18,500.

Mindy: Okay. You and your husband can put in 18,500 into his state 457 plan, or his city, and you can also put in- what’s the 403b amount? Is that also eighteen five?

Jamila: Yes. That’s eighteen-five too.

Mindy: So he’s got eighteen-five and eighteen-five and you’ve got eighteen-five in your own 401k.

Jamila: and the company match. Yes all that.

Scott: You can sack away sixty-ish thousand dollars just from these three things all pre-tax.

Mindy: Wow

Jamila: Right and I say all teachers, at least a minimum. I can’t speak to all professions but I do know that mostly all teachers no matter what state you’re in have some sort of access to a 457 plan in addition to their teacher plan too.

Mindy: Okay, my sister’s a teacher and she’s never told me about this. Admittedly, I love her dearly but she’s not all that conscious of this either and she’s just starting to ask me if I know anything about investing- I might. I’m going to see if she’s got this now too. This is awesome. If you are a state or city worker and looking for more ways to save for retirement, ask if a 457 plan is an option.

Jamila: Here’s the other thing, here’s why the 457 plan is amazing for people in the FIRE movement: if you terminate your work of employment, if you stop being a teacher, you quit or change into another profession, the 457 money- the money that you contribute- you can actually take out without penalty if you sever employment ties. Typically, if you are on this path, a lot of people if they’re able to contribute to a 457, you’ll be able to access that money without the additional money without the additional penalty for accessing if you sever employment ties.

For example, my husband wanted to retire early at 45 or 40 or whatever age before his standard retirement date. He’d be able to access that money from his 457 plan without that penalty.

Mindy: Oh wow.

Scott: Yes. This is an amazing tidbit and some really good information that I did not know prior to this call here that you could do both of these things and really defer that much taxes. It seems like the obvious problem for most public- many of these public sector place- particularly teachers is that it’s going to be hard to generate enough income so you can then put all of that into these plans but if you have a dual income household, or if you have some other streams that you’re developing on the side, this is how you can really use some of these benefits to accelerate your path towards FI.

Something that makes the stakes even higher for figuring out how to generate that excess income so you can take advantage of these plans fully the way you guys are.

Jamila: That is such good point because one of the reasons why- when I did a little bit of research on 457’s and the reason why they allowed teachers and other employment people like city or a state worker to do that is to help incentivize them, to give them more ways to save because for them giving such, their time and a lot of these professions don’t pay all that well. You can substitute your income.

My husband, for example, while he’s a Phys. Ed teacher, so you think “Okay, that’s not much money”, he does have his master’s degree in education. That helps him to make then the most at his teacher salary level and he’s able to coach. He does a lot of coaching gigs which also supplement his income. He does morning school, he’ll do summer school so he does a lot of things to help increase his income. You’re right, for some people saving that much money- if you’re trying to max out a 401k for your 43b and a 457 plan but your income is not high, you’re not going to able to do that and live off of the rest but if you have a spouse where they bring in good money or maybe if you live in a really cost of area place and you’re very particular about how you spend money, so maybe you’re really frugal- you can possibly do it.

The reason why I found out about this is The Millionaire Educator. I heard about him on a podcast. He and his wife were both teachers and they both were maxing out every available pre-tax retirement account. I remember his story really well, he never really earned over six figures and he was able to do that but he lived really frugally too. I think there are ways in which you can figure out if something like that works and sometimes say “Maybe, the 457 plan has better options for investment” so you want to invest their first or its your 43b plan if you have the both available to you. If it is, I would just research to see if it’s something that is available so you can start really taking control back and realizing “Okay, what investment options do I really have available and what can I do?”

Mindy: Okay. We’ve talked about maxing it out but even just put like every dollar you put in there is a dollar for your future. You don’t have to max it out if you can contribute at some point. It’s not like an all-or-nothing thing. I think that point is not made enough on these shows is that you don’t have to max it out. You can put whatever you can into it and then- sometimes it’s easier to max it out then others sometimes it’s easier to contribute than others.

Sometimes you just can’t contribute at all but anything you can contribute reduces your taxable income now so you’re paying less taxes to the government. I’m assuming that the 457 and 403b are just like the 401k in that it’s taken out before you are taxed. It’s pre-tax investments.

Jamila: Correct. Yes.

Mindy: Okay. Okay. Just want to make sure that I’m not giving out false information. It’s a two-fold benefit: you’re reducing your taxes now and you’re saving for the future.

Jamila: Right.

Scott: Going back to the story here, you discover FI, for a period of a year you begin putting all these spreadsheets together, you convince you husband to go along with this- or I guess you come to general consensus, we didn’t talk about that process but we usually- Let’s hear about that. What was the conversation like with your husband and how did you arrive at deciding to go down that path?

Jamila: I think it’s really interesting because even now that my husband’s on board with this FI goal, he has totally different, I think priorities, in terms of how we spend. I’m the much more, I’d say, conscious about money and our budget. For me, I’m past the nice car phase. I don’t really care about that as much anymore or certain things I don’t care but I know my husband would actually like a nicer car in the future again.

In our twenties, we both had nice cars, we both were just living it up. Now, being more careful about how we spend, we don’t have that anymore.

We don’t have the nice cars which I’m totally fine with but I think that he would want one. I know that he would want one. Taking into consideration that he has different priorities and he has different values in terms of how he spends, when I came to him, I didn’t come to him and say “Hey, I found out about FI and we need to downsize everything, move out of our house, and never go out to eat again.” That would have not gone over well with him so I said to him, I literally said to him, “Hey, I also don’t want to live like that. I like to go out to eat. I like where we live. I don’t want to really move anywhere else at the moment”. Knowing that, when I did talk to him, I didn’t make it like “Hey this is what we need to do and you need to get on board because this is what I want.”

I tried to incorporate his goals and tried to make him feel heard in the journey. For example, when I asked him the question “What would make you still happy now? If we could rank the things that we spend money on, what would that be? What would be priorities? What would make you still feel good?” but at the same time “What kind of life do you want to live in the future? Do you want to have to work until you’re 65? Don’t you want to be able to possibly retire early?” For him, he can actually stop working at 55 because of when he started working in his teacher system.

I said to him “Wouldn’t you want to be able to stop working if you could at this age and wouldn’t you want to travel without worrying about money?” I think it came to “You know we still like going out to eat. We can still do that. Let’s just put a budget around that. Instead of not worrying how much we spend, let’s put a limit over on how much we spend and then in the same regard, the money that we’re saving doing that, let’s max out our pre-tax retirement or let’s now open up  Roth IRA’s.” It was that dance of “What does it mean to live good now?” and then “What does it mean to live good in the future?” and then kind of bringing that together really got him on board.

I also said to him “Listen. I’m not going to judge you for wanting a nice car. Maybe we can get a nice car one day, again. If I can afford to- if we can afford to one day, let’s buy you whatever car it is you know that you want 10 years from now.” I think that also helps him also feels heard in a situation where it’s just like “Okay. Jamila is taking into account what I want too so it’s a joint decision. It’s not just her way or the highway”.

Mindy: I love every single thing you said for the listeners. Scott and I take notes as we are doing this show so we can make sure we cover everything we want to and I wrote him a note “I’m going to interrupt her and tell her what a great approach that is and then we’ll know I probably shouldn’t interrupt her”. I love that approach. It isn’t just “Hey this is what we’re going to do”. That’s really difficult for somebody to hear unless they’re, you know you’re the boss and they let you be the boss all the time. “Hey what does it look like?” “What is-?” that’s a really great way to frame it because I know that there’s a lot of people who are discovering the concept of Financial Freedom and maybe don’t understand how they can get their spouse on board or maybe they approached it the wrong way the first time or maybe their spouse was maybe just like “Nope. I’m not interested.”

Okay well, framing it in your way is perfect. “What do you want down the road? What makes you happy now? You don’t have to cut everything. You don’t have to have this horrible life now so you can also now have a horrible life down the road when you’re living on beans and rice and peanut butter and jelly. Maybe you really like peanut butter and jelly or maybe beans and rice is worth it to you.” That’s just asking your spouse “What does it look like? What is a good life now?” and “What is a good life later?”

Jamila: And spreadsheets were a huge deal.

Mindy: I laughed when you said that because that’s the new-to-financial-freedom-do-it-yourself-guide. “Oh if I show them a spreadsheet”

Jamila: Well, and listen, and you might have some listeners who are those like “All right, I’m not good at spreadsheets”. Totally fine, you don’t even need to create your own but what I thought really helped him was that when I showed him “Hey, if we contribute- if we do what we’re doing now, here’s what we’ll have in 15 years. Which is okay. It’s not bad. We’ll still be okay or 20 years or whatever.” I said “If we do this, if we max out all of this, here is what we’ll have in 10, 15, 20 years”. When I was able to show him like the zeroes from just changing maybe how we invested and just cutting out things we didn’t care about anyway, I think that excited him.

Something like “Listen, we can legit be millionaires when we are 55, 60 years old, or earlier than that- 40 years old, depending on how aggressive we want to make this. So how aggressive do we want to be so we can have that happen but then still be happy today? That’s kind of the dance we did to get to where we are.

Mindy: Yes. That is just fantastic.

Scott: Okay. I’ve got a question here. First of all, what year was this that you go through this transition?

Jamila: So the year that we started to max everything out so that it came all to a head was 2016 and ’17. Those were the years we actually really maxed and saved as much as we could.

Scott: Okay. So within the last two or three years you made this transition. What specifically did you do to do this? Where did the savings come from? Was it eating out mostly? You mentioned that a couple of times. Where did that money come back in?

Jamila: You know it’s so interesting because the year that we did max everything out for the first time, we weren’t significantly making more money that year. It’s not like we had a windfall or I had some huge increase at work or he did. I think what happened was, one, we just maxed all the pre-tax stuff. That stuff came right out of our check. It’s funny because my husband at the time, I think he was contributing like 3% to his 403b plan so when I came home and say “Hey you have access to another one. We should max both of those out. What do you think?” and he’s looking at me like “What?”.

Literally like 50% of his check would need to go into both then the 403b plan and the 457 plan- like 50%. So he was going to have to go from three or six percent, I forgot the exact percentage, to 50% of his check. So that was again, when we talk about that dance and like thinking about it was part of it, but being to just get that money out of our check and so we only had to what was left. Maxing out everything and then getting our take-home and then saying “Okay, so now what do we budget with?”. As long as we could pay our mortgage and the necessary bills, the bills that we needed to survive on, was important.

Everything after that was “Okay, so how much threshold do we still for then going out to eat and saving for maybe a vacation here and there?”. I’d say that maxing everything out first, the pre-tax stuff first, was very key. We didn’t even see that money. Then budgeting what was left. What came home in our checks and then creating priorities around that. I knew after maxing out everything that I thought our priority should also be maxing out our Roth IRA’s which we have to factor our Roth IRA’s because of our income levels. That was another priority.

Then after that I was like “Okay, so what else do we want to do?” Our vacations right now a priority for us and they weren’t, especially with the kids. It just wasn’t. We put that on the back burner. We went through what was priority, we budgeted and we stayed in those confines.

Scott: I love it. It’s basically like “We weren’t tracking all the spending before it seems like and whatever money we brought home was basically being spent and we didn’t really even know it”. That’s what it sounds like previously and then with the 50% percent being held back you’re just like “Now we’re only going to spend what’s left and we’ll make it work and it works fine and we don’t really seem to notice it that much”?

Jamila: Right and I would say too with the pre-tax stuff so we’re saving money on taxes. Where as we weren’t contributing that much or maxing out our pre-tax stuff, the government would have taken more money out so for every dollar that we didn’t invest in our pre-tax account, the take-home was less anyway. By funnelling more money and being more tax efficient, we were able to not only save and invest in those accounts but then almost, it wasn’t like a apples-to-apples takeaway.

Just because we’re contributing 18,500 into our pre-taxes, it means we immediately saw 18,500 taken away because we got that tax advantage. I think that’s the thing people have to start to think about is that we save so much money on taxes doing it that way that it actually worked out to our benefit to where it wasn’t as much- yes our take-home definitely was less. It was a lot less but it wasn’t as less because we were getting that tax advantage of pre-tax retirement investing.

Scott: Do you have any ballpark idea of where the spending- because there was less, right? If you’re putting 18k away pre-tax, you’re still going to have somewhere in the ballpark of 10k less in cash. What do you think the room in your budget came from? Was it in child care or was it in eating out? Car payments? What kinds of areas do you think?

Jamila: Right. We were able to get rid of our- right at that cusp, I think a year before we, my husband still had a lease for a car that we were able to get rid off and we ended up just buying our cars outright, our economical cars outright that we have now. Again, the budget with eating out. All the discretionary items that maybe it would’ve been like 5 to 100 to 1000 dollars a month that we just didn’t think much about. Whether that was just going and shopping here and there, eating out-it’s just random things, even vacations.

Before the kids, we took more vacations. We spent more on those things. All that kind just went on the backburner. It’s really just optimizing those fine-line items in our budget that really helped us.

Mindy: One of the biggest challenges for working parents is childcare expenses. How do you handle childcare?

Jamila: Good question. Especially living in New York City and the cost of childcare can be very expensive. We are lucky enough to have subsidized childcare because my aunt, so I have a family member who helps watch the kids. I have a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a three-month-old. The four-year-old will start school which is helpful because were actually paying for his school at three-years-old old. Now’s he’s four he gets to go to free PK. In New York City, there’s a free PK program, which is excellence. That helps when you have kids that are four-years-old and over. They can start going to school for free.

When it comes to now childcare, because my aunt is here and she’s helping us, that is – we’re able to save money there. I’d say though, we still pay here and she actually- we have a basement apartment where we live now so it’s almost like her cash payment is also subsidized by free room and board and electricity and all the other things that if she actually had to maybe had to live somewhere else, she’d be paying a lot more for but because it’s included in her total computation, it works out.

It’s a really good deal because we get to not have to pay as much because she does have the free room and board here and she doesn’t have to pay as much if she were to live somewhere else. We are able to save on childcare expenses because of that and if we didn’t have this situation, we would have definitely paying a lot more if we had to send our kids to daycare or to some center while we worked.

Scott: Awesome. Great hack.

Mindy: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your entrepreneurship and how it’s looking to quit your job and go work for yourself fulltime.

Jamila: Sure. By the time this interview comes out it would be public that I have quit my job, I am now a fulltime entrepreneur which sounds so crazy saying it actually out loud. When I first started this journey, I said to myself “I’ve reached my financial independence mark at 40 years old and I first started at the time, at the time, it was like 33 when I officially marked it as my starting point” and since starting Journey To Launch, since chronicling my path to Financial Independence, I found my passion.

That thing that was missing all those years about not feeling fulfilled in my job and wanting to do more and use-really understanding that I wasn’t utilizing my strengths, I found through Journey To Launch. For me, it became this point where I said to myself “I can keep working and definitely meet my Financial Independence number earlier. I can reach it at 40 because I make more money, I’m earning a lot. This is a six-figure job. I’m getting bonuses. I’d be on-track to meet that but I’m also unhappy and I’m spending a lot of time away from my kids because my commute is so crazy. Even if I got a job that was closer, it still not what I really want to do in life.”

I was faced with the decision of staying on that path or following this path of my passion, entrepreneurship, seeing what was out there in the world. Because of that, I decided that, it mattered to me more to enjoy the journey. I figured that instead of working and putting my head down and being unhappy for the next seven years or whatever it was, I wanted to enjoy myself, enjoy my life, enjoy time with my kids and do something I loved. It caused me to step off that path that I first started on and create another path in which this can actually make this journey take longer. Maybe my Financial Independence journey now will take longer because now, I am giving up now this guaranteed income, this safe, cushy, job to follow my passions that-quite frankly- are not really earning much money yet.

That’s kind of crazy but I’m happier and maybe because I am going to be able to spend more time doing this and I’m able to put my passion and my talent into this, I’ll earn money or maybe I’ll earn more money so it can accelerate my journey to Financial Independence. I’m willing to take that risk at the moment because I figured that life is too short and my priorities right now are my family and then just being happy in the moment doing things that I love. We’ve changed our investing and saving strategy over the past year to accommodate this big change.

Scott: Awesome. One thing I want to- You started this thing 2016, 2017 with the idea of being able to retire within a set period of time according to your spreadsheet predictions, right? But then, now you’re going to be pursuing entrepreneurship. Do you feel that the gains you made financially since deciding to pursue FI have given you the courage or the mental power you need to go ahead and make this change right now.

Jamila: I’m so glad you brought that up Scott because it totally did. This is why I think everyone should be on the path to reach Financial Independence and not because you want to retire early or you’ll ever reach it because some people may not ever get to that number but I think just because I’ve started on  this, I would never be in a position I think to leave my cushy job when I just had a baby, have a mortgage, living in New York City, if I didn’t  set myself up and have started saving and investing so aggressively- even for those two years.

Sometimes I look back like “Oh my gosh. If I had known about this and I was able to do this for five, ten years before this, I would have been in an even better place” but just those two years of being so intentional, it’s like our retirement accounts were good in terms of how much we saved on that. We’re on track. We’re past, we’re on a good trajectory there. So even if we took a break, even if Journey To Launch makes no money, even if I pursue other things and make no money and we took a pause on investing, even if we put it on autopilot, our investment accounts would accumulate to a point where we’d be okay in our standard retirement age.

To be clear, my husband is still going to work. Taking such a leap also is beneficial when you have a spouse that can help with this because if my husband didn’t have a job, this would not be possible. His job is able to somewhat cover the expenses and because we save so much money and so the whole idea of F.U. money so you guys know what that is, right?  Like if you’re saving for F.U. money-

Scott: What’s it stand for? Sorry, never mind.

Jamila: F.U. but respectfully. I always say it’s respectfully. I’m so grateful for my job to have given me the opportunities that it did, to earn the money that I did. In a respectful fashion now, instead of saving all the money that we did towards our pre-tax retirement accounts, we started to save it in more liquid, so cash, in terms of a savings account, our Roth IRA’s, things in which we could access if we needed to. So that way, taking this break from my job to pursue my passions, we wouldn’t be desperate or on the bridge of financial ruin because we saved enough money to give me that runway.

Yes. Starting on this path, I would not be in a position to do that because if I was just doing the minimum- If we were only doing the minimum of this the whole time, we wouldn’t be in a position financially to have enough in our investment accounts, our savings accounts or even just have the confidence in our F.U. money to be able to do any of this.

Scott: I love it. I think it’s just so funny and so, not funny but it’s so ironic that our whole thing here is “How do we help people achieve Financial Freedom?” but it seems that the power in that goal is the journey and freedom that it gives you along the way for your entire rest of your life because most people it seems don’t actually then slog it out for the ten years that they need to do to actually achieve FI. There’s a much more creative and roundabout approach that involves a whole bunch of different convolutions and twists like entrepreneurship or real estate or side hussles or whatever.

It’s just about more and more freedom and power to direct your day. I think it’s so interesting that because you start with goal, you may not achieve it, you may but you’re in a position right now of power that you wouldn’t have been if you hadn’t gone down this path.

Mindy: Well she’s already reached freedom because she can go do this. It isn’t necessarily about quitting your job and never working again and just sitting on your butt and watching T.V.. That’s not really a great life goal anyway although who am I to tell you that you just can’t just sit there and watch Game of Thrones 24 hours a day? That’s your choice.

Jamila: My favorite.

Mindy: I actually have never seen it. You have reached financial freedom. You have the freedom to pursue this endeavour, this entrepreneurship and if doesn’t work out, what’s the worst that could happen? Oh you get a job. Like Joel from F.I. 180 on Episode 11, he said My worst case scenario was everybody else’s everyday life. So maybe you try this and maybe you’re a millionaire next month and you try it and maybe it doesn’t work out so you go back and you get a job. You’re just like everybody else. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to be ruined if you try this. You have reached financial freedom. Congratulations.

Jamila: Thank you. I will say so when I – obviously we gave this a lot of thought, I took my spreadsheets out and did a lot of calculations on, so taking a break for, and I gave myself two years. I’m definitely not one of those people who says “It’s all or nothing, this is going to work and I’m never going back to work”. I’m not even thinking that way. I always like to think about the worst-case-scenario so like you said, my worst case scenario is that in two years, if I’m not able to earn any income, we started seeing that our accounts are getting too low because literally the money that we’ve saved is going to help bridge now all our expenses because my husband’s salary can’t cover everything but we have enough money now to help bridge that gap.

If start seeing like “Wait a second, this is, we’re getting into uncomfortable territory, our savings are dwindling too much” then I’d go back and get a job. But I think I’m so blessed to have found this path and now be talking about it and like you said spreading the word to others because without this, without starting on it, I would not be in this position to do this.

Yes. It’s like my worst case is everyone’s probably everyday scenario or life. How bad is that? It’s not the end of the world.

Mindy: Yes. No, it’s not the end of the world at all and I have met you. I saw you speak at Podcast Movement. You just set out a goal and you hit it. You knocked-it-out-of-the-park hit it. It’s not just “Oh, I might reach it.” Jamila just knocks it out of the park. I don’t really see you having another real job again but again, what’s the worst? “Okay so I have to go work”. I work. I work at a job that I love every single day.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about your journey or about what you think other people can do before we move on to the famous Four Questions?

Jamila: I’d say this that you don’t necessarily have to max- I like coming at this from point of view from Everyone’s journey is different. Yes I was able to save a lot of money and max everything out for a couple of years. My husband and I, we had a good income when we’re able to do that but even if your starting point is that you’re paying off debt, paying off credit cards, student loan debt. That’s major. That’s a win.

I hate to downplay for people to think that their wins are not big enough and I think you should be celebrating each one because it’s so important and every step you make towards getting out of debt. Even if just putting 1% more into your retirement accounts-every step you make closer to this FI goal that you have is a good one and so you should be proud of yourself. I just want people to listen and walk away with feeling that no matter what they’re doing, as long as they’re doing a little bit better than they did before, it’s good enough. It’s good.

Mindy: So powerful. Every step gets you further and yes, everybody’s journey is different. Everybody makes a different salary, everybody has different goals. Personal finance is personal so your story is yours but this is so awesome.

Okay, now it’s time for our famous Four Questions. This is the same five questions we ask every guest. What is your favorite finance book?

Jamila: My favorite finance book is The Richest Man in Babylon which is not technically directly finance but I think it’s a great parable on just investing and saving so-

Mindy: That’s my favorite book too. I love the language. It’s written in King James Bible or Shakespearean language and I love language so that’s my favorite book.

Scott: A classic that you should go read if you haven’t already. It’s like an hour, two hours to read the whole thing.

Mindy: It’s a short book but it’s really great and it was written or it was published in 1920. I think it’s really powerful that the same things that happened 98 years ago hold true today.

Jamila: Right and you could probably get it- I think the last time I listened to it was on YouTube for free.

Mindy: Oh, even better. A frugal book.

Scott: All right, what was your biggest money mistake?

Jamila: Biggest money mistake was probably buying my luxury car that I had to put premium gas in to commute so far to work but I’d say it was also my funnest mistake because I did feel really good driving when I had it.

Scott: What kind of car was it?

Mindy: I was just going ask that.

Jamila: It was a BMW 328 xi coupe.

Scott: Oh nice. I’d love to post a picture of one of those in the show notes.

Mindy: What color was it?

Jamila: It was black but you know it’s funny because after I had my first kid, I was like “There’s no way I’m putting a car seat like struggling to get a kid in and out of that”. That was so not smart. I got rid of it immediately after my first kid.

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

Jamila: To cut yourself some slack. The fact that you’re just starting out is an accomplishment because there’s some people who never start. Getting on the journey, just starting it, is a win and just take your time you’re not going to write all the mistakes you did in the past. Don’t blame yourself for the mistakes that you made that you didn’t know any better or just start.

Mindy: I love that. That is fabulous.

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

Jamila: Oh my gosh. I’m not a joke-teller because my friends will say that I’m kind of corny with that. Can I say I don’t have jokes?

Mindy: Well, we’ve got a whole list of jokes. I’m trying to find it now. We’ve got a whole list of jokes that our readers send in, or our listeners send in because they love these jokes. Scott, I’m sure has 212. Scott, do you want to do a joke?

Scott: Let’s read one from the list.

Mindy: Gina Moses asks Why did the cowboy get a wiener dog? Because he wanted to get a long little doggy. It doesn’t have to be a good joke.

Jamila: Wait.

Scott: I don’t get it.

Mindy: A weiner dog is a really stretchy dog. He wanted to get “Git Along Little Doggy”. You’re not a cowboy, Scott, so you don’t know.

Jamila: Oh I see, Git Along Little Doggy.

Scott: Oh I see.

Mindy: He wanted to “Git Along Little Doggy” but that’s also a cowboy comment. Oh here’s one from Marvin Barrera: There were two cannibals eating a clown and while they were munching away, one of them turned to the other and said-

Scott: “That tastes funny.” Is that it?

Mindy: Yes.

Scott: Yes!

Jamila: Oh really?

Mindy: And Jaime D’Souza: Why did the jaguar eat the tightrope walker? He was looking for a well-balanced meal.

Scott: Ahh.

Mindy: See, so it doesn’t even have to be a good joke, Jamila.

Jamila: All right, so I’ll write these down and I’ll say them at the next parties I’m at to see the response I get.

Scott: Nice.

Mindy: Yes. Probably one of those-

Scott: Nice. Yes. You’d have like a huge crowd forming around you.

Jamila: Right.

Mindy: Scott tells jokes like that all day long. All day every day. Okay. Jamila, where can people find out more about you?

Jamila: Sure, so you can check out my podcast or if you listen to this amazing podcast, you can find my podcast Journey To Launch. I’m also Journey To Launch on all social media. I love connecting with listeners after they hear me if they have more questions. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as Journey To Launch and of course you could just check out my site journeytolaunch.com

Mindy: Okay and that’s t-o, not the number two?

Jamila: Yes. That’s t-o. Journey to, t-o, launch.

Mindy: Okay and we will have all of these links on our show notes. Today the show notes can be found at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow39.

Awesome. Jamila, thank you so much for your time today. I learned so much. You’re going to benefit my sister, if nobody else because I’m going to go get her into her 457 plan and get her going with that.

Jamila: Well thank you so much Mindy and Scott for having me. This was great.

Scott: Yes. Thank you for coming on. This was awesome.

Mindy: This was awesome. Okay, well have a good day Jamila. We’ll talk to you soon.

Jamila: Thanks

Scott: All right. That was Jamila with journeytolaunch.com. Mindy what did you think?

Mindy: Oh my goodness. Blew my mind and like I said at the end, I can’t wait to go talk to my sister and tell her to start investing in the 457. I’ve never even heard of that before and granted it isn’t something that I can qualify for, so maybe it doesn’t matter but I would like to tell other people. I’m really hoping that there are people who have heard it for the first time on this show too and they can go and take advantage of that or start taking advantage of it.

Scott: Yes. I bet you that it’s not all that uncommon amongst some of our listeners where their one spouse works for a non-profit or in the public sector and the other maybe works a higher-income job in the private sector. That seems like that’s something that’s very feasible across a large number of people out there.

If that’s the case, you might have the ability some of that excess household income through more multiple tax-advantaged accounts and really achieve an advantage that folks without those kinds of careers won’t have.

It’s kind of a way to turn something that’s a public sector job, which is often lower income, into a huge- I guess no, what’s the opposite of liability?- asset on your journey towards Financial Freedom.

Mindy: Yes. Before I had kids, I worked at a job that didn’t pay super well. It basically funded our retirement. On January first every day, I would go in and say “Okay I want to contribute 100% of my salary to my 401k and it took my HR person a couple of times doing this she figured out that I really truly did want to receive no income until I had maxed out my 401k because I wasn’t making that much money. My pay check really didn’t matter.

Scott: Oh yes. I did not max out my 401k for the first couple of years in the journey to FI. I think I had good reason for doing that. I house-hacked and I built up some investible liquidity outside of retirement accounts that I could spend and use to fund my journey when I switched jobs from my first jobs to BiggerPockets and some other things. But now that I am maxing out my 401k because that is the best move for my financial strategy at this point, the very first of the year- first pay check- I slide the scale right up to a 100% and I do not receive a pay check, a single dollar into my bank account until I have maxed out my entire yearly contribution.

Mindy: Wow. That’s an even more impressive story because mine was I was married and had more ways to generate income and you are not married so-

Scott: It’s not very difficult if you’ve been pursuing FI for a couple of years and save up some cash so you can live off of no pay check for a couple of months while you’re- The way I see it, mathematically, if you’re assuming the market’s going to go up, you might as well dump it all in at the very beginning of the year because now it has more time to grow in there than if you dump it in at the end of the year, right?

Mindy: Past performance is not indicative of future gains. Make sure you get that little disclaimer in there but yes I believe that the market will continue to go up eventually. It might crash. I don’t have a super lot of confidence in our current situation but it’s going to continue to go up in my opinion so I continue to invest in it.

The way that you approach your retirement planning is different than the way that I approach my retirement planning. First of all, I did not have a lot of – I didn’t have any rental income. We were flipping houses but that was just what we did. I didn’t realize that was investing in real estate until after I started working here. “Oh, yeah I invested in real estate”.

Scott: That’s the definition in investing in real estate.

Mindy: I know, right? I didn’t have these other options or I didn’t think about these other options so I like that that’s what you’re doing too. Congratulations, Scott. I approve.

Scott: Well, thank you. Yes.  Another thing I couldn’t understand is like if you’re going to max out your Roth, right? If your plan is to max out your Roth, why aren’t you maxing out Roth day one of the new year? I would go to Scottrade which I don’t think they even exist anymore. They like got bought or something. I go to Scottrade on the first business day of the year and I was always shocked that there wasn’t a line of people waiting eagerly to deposit the entirety of their maximum allowable contribution to their Roth IRA at 8 A.M. on the first business day of the year.

Mindy: You physically walked there?

Scott: Yes because it would take- it was so difficult to do it online for whatever reasons. I just like “It’s not that far away” so I literally show up with a check at their first  moment that they opened so I can get the entire year of gains investing in my Roth IRA. I was always so confused that people wouldn’t do this. If you’re going to max it out, go max it out, go big.

Mindy: You plan ahead. There you go. That’s funny. Did you call it MeTrade instead of Scottrade?

Scott: No but I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t really know how much of a difference I perceived really between all of the different brokererages and all that but Scottrade had definitely had some appeal to me.

Mindy: Okay. So Scott, at the end of last week’s episode, I revealed that I have received now two emails telling me that “Over and out” is the wrong thing to say at the end of the show so I’m looking for a new end. We do record these shows in advance so I have not received any new endings for people  tweeting me [email protected] that’s m-i-n-d-y-a-t-b-p with your suggestions for how to end the show. So today, I am just going to say from episode 39 of TheBiggerPockets Money Podcast, this is Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench and we’re leaving.

Scott: Goodbye.

Mindy: Slam. Brick wall. Hit a brick wall but we did run very long today with Jamila because she had so many good things to say so that’s the end of the show. Thank you for listening. Have a nice day. Goodbye.

[End of Recording][1:09:00]

Watch the Podcast Here

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Jamila’s background
  • Why she saves money
  • How she discovered investing
  • Her financial independence journey
  • How she convinced her husband about financial independence
  • What 457 and 403B plans mean
  • Contribution limit for 457 and 403B plans
  • Maxing out her Roth IRA
  • Biggest challenge for working parents in terms of childcare expenses
  • Her life now after quitting her job and working for herself full-time
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “Everyone’s journey is different.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Every step you make closer to this FI goal that you have is a good one and so you should be proud of yourself.” (Tweet This!)
  • “As long as you are doing a little bit better than you did before, it’s good enough.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Don’t blame yourself for the mistakes you made.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Jamila

About Author

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast is for anyone who has money… or want to have more! Join BiggerPockets Community Manager Mindy Jensen and Director of Operations Scott Trench weekly for the BiggerPockets Money Podcast!
Each week, financial experts Mindy and Scott interview unique and powerful thought leaders about how to earn more, keep more, spend smarter, and grow your wealth.
You’ll get tips for getting your financial house in order and actionable advice from guests who have been in your shoes – and found their way out.

3 Comments

  1. Miguel delaPena

    Thank you, Jamila!! My wife and I are educators, are looking to retire ASAP, and were ignorant of the 403b/457 options we had been overlooking. I can’t say how appreciative of this type of info (as well as the mention of the millionaire educator) I am!!! Thank you!!

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