Welcome to the Route 2 FI interview series. I’m starting this series to get inside the heads of people that inspire me on my way to Financial Independence.
Today’s guest is A Purple Life!
She’s a young FIRE-seeker at age 29
The blog “A Purple Life” was one of the first FIRE-blogs that really got me hooked at wanting to be FI myself, and to document my journey with a blog. Her writings are really inspiring and the posts make you think deep thoughts about life.
She is going to retire next year at 30 years old with 500.000 $. She’d rather spend time traveling, hanging out with friends/family and enjoy the simple life (which is my dream as well!).
A Purple Life started her blog in january 2015, but didn’t publish it online before july 2018. I’m really glad she did, because there is a ton of wisdom on her site.
I know you’ll find this interview interesting and might learn some things that you can put into action in your own life.
Hi y’all! I’m a 29 year old who was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. I went to college in the northeast and then moved to Manhattan to begin my career working in ad agencies. In 2012, my partner introduced me to the idea of financial independence and I’m embarrassed to say that I basically ignored him and dismissed the idea.
It took two years of job hopping before I listened to him. I was trying to find the perfect job that I had convinced myself would make me happy enough to be content to work for another 40+ years and I finally got it…and I still didn’t want to keep working.
So I joined the FI-community and lurked for years while writing my blog in private to catalog my journey. Since taking my blog public 9 months ago, I’ve met some amazing people and created real friendships within this community.
My Mom has always highly valued my education and done whatever necessary to make it a priority. For example, for most of my childhood, she had multiple jobs at once and worked to get me scholarships even in middle school.
I had a bit of a unique education. I started school in Montessori (LOVE!) and then went to an all girls’ school for high school before adding a prestigious college. I remember discussing my college options with my Mom – I suggested I go to UGA (they give you a free ride if you have over a B average and live in Georgia), but My Mom wasn’t having it. I was extremely fortunate that My Mom valued my education and that she was willing to pay for my college.
As I mentioned, I started working in ad agencies in Manhattan. Once I got serious about my FIRE plan, we realized we had to get the heck out of NYC so we moved to Seattle and during my second job in Seattle, I made the switch to marketing.
In ad agencies 60-70 hour weeks were not uncommon, but luckily now they are rare for me (though they do still happen). I’m very fortunate that my current position is mostly remote so I don’t have to commute and instead I work from home with my partner (who is remote as well).
I’m always thinking about work. This is one of the reasons I want to retire ASAP. I can’t escape it no matter how hard I try. My job requires a lot of thought and I’m not able to turn off my brain as a result. There’s no way to ‘not take my work home with me.
I’ve been trying lately to do things to distance myself from my work so it doesn’t take over my entire life anymore. For example, I’ve stopped allowing emails to ping my phone at night or on weekends. That’s helped a little.
If necessary I know I could use my skills in the future to make money. However, I’m only planning to do so if it’s an economic necessity. Instead of marketing specifically, I know some of the skills that make me good at my job, such as planning and organization will help me keep my retired life on track!
Let’s get on to it, A Purple Life!
You wrote in one of your blog posts that “A Purple Life” means a slightly different life, a life that involves constant questioning instead of going with what you’re given. Do you think you will be content with your life when you retire next year?
I’ve always loved optimization so while the goal is contentment (not happiness mind you…) I think I’ll always be questioning and improving. I think of that as a strength of an examined life. Perfection is not achievable and we as people are constantly changing so I expect to continue to change and improve until my dying breath (oops that got a little heavy…)
In one of my favorite posts you are talking about “The Lost Hours”. The hours where you are forced to surround yourself with masked people for 12 hours a day, which is something I really can relate to myself. Could you please describe your ideal day when you’re RE and have taken back your time?
Of course – I’ve actually written a few posts about the subject. But generally I want to be a vagabond for a few years. I want to travel to new places and am planning to move every 3 months or so. I want to awaken without an alarm clock, leisurely prepare breakfast and then explore the world.
I wrote about testing my actual early retirement schedule on a recent vacation to Costa Rica. One of the things I really dislike about my job (but can’t see a way to get away from) is our reliance on screens. I stare at screens during all the beautiful daylight hours of the day…and then usually stare at more screens at night to shake off the stress of said day.
In retirement, I want to be more in tune with our world instead of a screen. I want to use daylight hours to explore the world and nighttime hours to sleep and maybe check on my friends across the globe.
Your original plan was to retire in 10 years, but then you moved to Seattle and managed to raise your salary and decrease your spending, so you could retire in only 5 years! Could you tell us about your investing strategy? Will you change your strategy after you retire next year?
I lovingly call my investing strategy “balls to the wall” (a phrase that is surprisingly not about male anatomy). I am 100% invested in VTSAX and not planning to change that when I retire. I don’t need the stabilizing force of bonds since my lifestyle is so flexible and I’m comfortable with my approach. The only change I will make in retirement is obviously withdrawing money instead of depositing, but that’s it.
Most people in the world don’t have this inner drive to pursue FIRE. Where does your motivation for reaching FIRE come from? Do you think your personality type is somehow related to you being good with delayed gratification?
Me and my partner are INTJs and though I haven’t done it, I think I would pass the marshmallow test. My motivation for FIRE comes from my Mom. She retired at 55. Her parents retired from the military at 50. I had these great role models that showed me this wasn’t a crazy, untested idea. I just turbocharged it.
(Warning: Morbid Alert) Besides being shown this is possible my real motivation to FIRE is death if I’m honest. I’ve unfortunately witnessed a lot of death in my life – it’s a constant thought in the back of my head that our time is finite and constantly ticking away so I don’t want to spend any more time than necessary doing things I don’t enjoy (work) or missing out on time with the people I love. The clock’s ticking.
Do you have other life goals than FIRE? What do you feel is the meaning with life?
Tying into the last question – my main life goal is to spend as much time as I can with the people I love as soon as possible. Things change. A lot of my friends are having babies, moving, and getting married (not always in that order…). I don’t want to wait until later to be with them. No time is guaranteed. I believe the meaning of my life is to learn, be kind, and enjoy myself.
I’ve always thought of you as the perfect example of a person that follows the steps in “Your Money Or Your Life” exactly as Vicki Robin describes it. Could you please tell us about your income, expenses and saving rates from the beginning and until now?
I unfortunately didn’t start seriously tracking my spending until 2015, but here is all the info I have:
Salary: $35,000 (though I only worked half the year)
Net Worth: $5,000
Salary: $48,000 (though I was funemployed for about a month)
Net Worth: $20,439
Salary: $65,000 (though I was funemployed for about 3 months)
Net Worth: $29,545
Net Worth: $48,562
Salary: $85,000 (though I was funemployed for 2 months)
Net Worth: $89,450
Salary: $85,000 (though I was funemployed for 4 months)
Net Worth: $137,612
Net Worth: $234,822
Net Worth: $280,884
What has been your biggest challenge in life, and how did you overcome it?
Patience has been my biggest challenge so far. I’m on my 5th year pursuing this huge goal and it’s finally starting to feel real, which makes me want to stop working NOW, but that’s not possible yet. I feel incredibly lucky that something so trivial has been my greatest challenge on this journey. Currently I’m trying to combat it by not focusing on ‘what if I were retired now’ because it’s not realistic. Instead, I am taking advantage of the perks of my job, such as working from my parent’s house a few weeks a year to see them more often and for longer.
What are some of the most influential resources (books, blogs, podcast..) that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
My eating out and alcohol budgets! I’m not sure I’ll succeed in improving them though. If I’m out to dinner with friends and they want to grab a drink afterwards I’ll say yes to spend more time with them. Sometimes I suggest going back to one of our places to hang instead if it’s close, but that’s not always the case. I don’t regret the spending overall so I doubt I’ll actually lower it – though we have been having a lot more dinner parties lately!
You started blogging in january 2015. Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path? Was there a particular reason to why you didn’t want to share your content online before the middle of 2018?
I wanted to record my journey and keep myself accountable. As for why I didn’t make it public: I didn’t think anyone would care or read it to be honest. In 2018 I met an anonymous blogger for coffee. I told her about my blog and asked if she thought I should take it public. She encouraged me to go for it. And she was right. My mindset was that if I can help one person it’s all worth it and I’m so happy to report that’s already been the case!
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with “A Purple Life”?
Nope lol! The site is just there to catalog my journey and show other people it’s possible, even for a black woman from the South. I don’t have any real plans for the site other than as a record and a way to meet other awesome FIRE people.
Are there specific short-term and long-term goals you’re working towards with “A Purple Life”? Do you think you will continue writing on this blog when you RE next year?
I don’t really have any goals for my site and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m still blogging. I have no expectations. I’m planning to continue writing weekly after retirement – though going by other retired bloggers’ schedules, that might slip to monthly. I’m going to try to not let it though.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Route 2 FI’s readers to check out, what would those be and why?
-Why I Pursue FIRE Instead Of Other Options: This post answers one of the questions I receive most often on this journey – why am I buckling down at a job I don’t love to reach retirement faster instead of changing my work situation now?
-How I Made Six Figures By 27: This post contains my entire salary history and tips for increasing your income based on my experience.
-How I Spend $125 A Month On Groceries: This is obviously just for one person, but people have expressed shock at how much I spend on groceries so in this post I list out everything I ate for a month and examples of the meals I made with those ingredients.
What is your net worth and what does it consist of? Do you currently have any debt?
As of this writing it’s currently $337,545. I update that info at the end of each month on the blog and Instagram. That consists of my investments and a small cash emergency fund. I don’t have any debt.
At what age did you start investing?
I started investing right out of college at 21 in 2011 when my first employer offered a 401k.
How have you dealt with your FI-number through the years? Do you celebrate the milestones along the road to FIRE?
I celebrate every percentage closer I get to FI, which is every $5,000 added to investments for me. It helps me see that everything I do is (slowly) moving me towards my goal and helps keep me focused. I do also celebrate every new net worth high. I do feel very different every time I inch closer to my goal. I don’t feel happier, but I don’t expect to. In fact when I do retire I don’t expect to be instantly happy though I do expect my constant low level stress from my job to recede. I’m all about getting rid of negatives instead of ‘adding’ positives since humans seem bad at knowing what will actually make them content.
What has been the average rate of return on your investments? Do you have a strategy you will follow if the market suddenly would drop 50 %? Why do you choose this strategy?
According to my Vanguard account, my rate of return has been 10.7%, but that’s not surprising since we just celebrated 10 years of a bull market. My strategy is total flexibility. I will be a nomad with no roots so if the market tanks and I need to withdraw my annual amount, I’ll move to a lower cost of living place, such as Mexico for 3 or 6 months and withdraw less money. I’m also open to picking up a part time job if things are looking really bad. Total flexibility!
Do you think anyone can become a millionaire today?
I don’t. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to grow my income to a level where saving most of my paycheck is easy. There are a lot of factors that can make it difficult or impossible to become a millionaire, such as bankruptcy from American healthcare, caring for ailing parents or a large family. I don’t think everyone can become a millionaire unfortunately, but I’m very grateful I have the chance.