Today I have the first installment of our new segment here on the blog: Interviews with money experts. I talked with Mr. RME from Retirement Made Easy.
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
How did you get started in the finance industry?
I have had several jobs over the years, many of which were outside my comfort zone. I picked up my bachelor’s and master’s in math and science and proceeded to take a job right after grad school in the energy industry.
After a few years and several promotions, I was provided the opportunity to transition from a technical role to a managerial position overseeing a $1B budget!
Everything from the capital budget, expense and cash flow forecast, and general execution of a program was my responsibility. What a fantastic opportunity!
I was a fish out of water for a while, but eventually caught on, and was quite good at the financial side of things.
Later down the line, I had a chance to work a different role. On a daily basis, I was interacting with shareholders, fund managers, analysts, etc.
Again, fish out of water. I did everything I could to learn and get up to speed.
This job was my favorite of my entire career. I gained phenomenal insight into the market and how things really work. I got to see first hand what to do, and what not to do.
Over time, I became quite good at this job as well. I was fortunate to spend so much time working this side of the business.
It was a spectacular ride!
Why did you start Retirement Made Easy?
I love teaching. My mother was a teacher, and she quite literally was the best. She derived great joy from her work helping others master a concept that once seemed so foreign.
I have always had a passion for teaching and wanted the opportunity to help others improve their life. I also had a passion for personal finance. When I put the two together, Retirement Made Easy was born.
Through my site, I hope to help people see exactly how easy retirement and personal finance can be.
Most people are afraid of their finances, don’t understand them, or are clueless about how to move forward. I want to help normal folks master money and take control of their future through Retirement Made Easy.
You say that the only money lesson you were taught growing up was to save as much as you can. Anything else that sticks out?
My parents never discussed money. Never. They were big-time savers, and only preached to save as much as you could! Don’t get me wrong, this was an incredible lesson and has served me well over the years
This in itself is something that has always stuck out to me. My parents were both middle class, state jobs, and lived an average life. A very comfortable life.
Both were educated and went to college, and my mother had an advanced degree. They were well respected in their professions and did an excellent job with any task they encountered.
What I find interesting is that for two educated individuals that were highly competent at their jobs, they had very little to no knowledge of investing or personal finance. It just didn’t interest them. They never had anyone teach them the basics.
This is in large part why I started Retirement Made Easy. If my parents, two educated middle-class individuals, had no knowledge of investing and personal finance, many others are likely in the same boat.
I hope to help them out with my writing and website.
What are some common reader submission questions on your site?
The most common question by far refers to market timing. Is the market at a peak? Should I really keep investing? I just got a bonus, should I really buy stocks?
Fear is the biggest hurdle humans face when it comes to building wealth. It is an incredibly scary thing to dump your money into the market, and hope for a return.
Just 12-18 months ago, we had bonus payouts at work and a group of co-workers were standing around discussing what they planned to do with their payouts.
One of the most intelligent individuals in the group said: “I’m sure not putting any of my funds in the market today, have you seen the current CAPE ratios??! (Cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio).”
The market was overpriced then, but I still plowed ahead, using automated investing to put in a set amount each week throughout the year. Just last week I saw him and reminded him that the market returned +28% in 2017…
I pass along the same sentiment to readers when they ask that question. Stay true to your approach. Slow and steady wins the race. The market will pull back at some point, and at that time you can just buy more, but don’t worry yourself out of a potential return today by not investing.
You lay out a three-step process starting with fundamentals, further reading, and then optimization, how did you come up with this method?
Spot on. On my site, I have broken the material into three levels in the Ultimate Guide to Early Retirement. The Basics, On Your Way, and Optimization.
I created the site in this manner to make it easy to consume for the readers. There is so much spectacular content out there today regarding personal finance, but I wanted to make it even simpler for people to consume.
Not everyone has our background with money, and I wanted to make sure that my content was easy for anyone to understand.
- Start with “Level 1 – The Basics,” build a strong foundation for what personal finance is really about.
- Then move on to “Level 2 – On Your Way” and gain a more in-depth understanding of each concept, and what specifically the average individual can do today to make a positive change.
- Lastly, the reader can move on to “Level 3 – Optimization.” This level is for those that really have a desire to reach financial independence ASAP. This level will explore the finer details of how to not only achieve but accelerate your goals.
Also, I plan to publish the material in Levels 1, 2, and 3 in sequential order, so readers can follow along in a narrative format, such that content builds week after week, hopefully making it more fun to follow along!
What’s some advice you hope to pass onto the next generation?
- Save as much as you can
- Invest as soon as you can
- Live life with no regrets
Have I followed my own advice?
- This one is a home run. I have been saving since I was six years old.
- I missed a few years in my early career due to fear. We were fresh off the bottom and I was nervous. BIG missed opportunity. Thankfully I fixed that pretty quickly and have captured most of the recent bull market!
- I only have two real regrets to date. I wish I would have done study abroad during college. What a great experience that would have been. Secondly, I had a month after finishing up grad school and before I started my full-time job. My wife and I had a trip to Alaska planned, but we decided not to go. Missed opportunity to maximize time and life experiences. I’ll always regret it.
I’d like to reiterate some key points you made. You stress to save early and save often. Start investing as soon as you can and do it regularly, don’t try to time the market. Correct?
You got it. I am a strong advocate for dollar cost averaging. With all the automated investment options out there, people can invest without even thinking. This allows people to invest on a regular basis without letting the fear of investing get in the way. Just start as soon as possible!
When do you post to your blog?
Right now I am still working a full-time gig and only post once or twice a week. I always post on Monday morning, so be sure to check it out!
Any plans to cut back or retire in the near future? Would you blog full time if you stepped away from your current job?
I wish I could cut back! Unfortunately, my current employment is full time only. It’s a MegaCorp and flexibility is low on their priority list.
We do have plans to make a change in the next 2-3 years. At that time, we will likely relocate and pick up part-time employment in a different industry, which will give me more time to hike and read, and of course, more time to work on the blog. 🙂
What’s an app, book, and podcast you would recommend to anybody wanting to improve their finances?
Jim Collins more recently published The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life. It’s about as good as you get and is written in a way that everyone can enjoy.
It’s hard to beat the Personal Capital app. It’s a remarkably seamless way to view your assets, liabilities, spend, and net worth. For those just starting out, Personal Capital is your best friend! https://www.personalcapital.com/
When it comes to Podcasts, I have always enjoyed the Financial Independence Podcast, hosted by Brandon at madfientist.com. He interviews people regarding their journey to financial independence and shares lessons learned along the way. I’ve found it very helpful as I continue on my journey.
I’d also strongly recommend “How I Built This”, an NPR podcast focusing on well-known brands and people. It is remarkable how normal folks persevered, believed in themselves and their vision, and changed their lives (and ours too!) forever.
It has always inspired me, and also reminded me that anyone can build something special if they are dedicated to the cause. This goes for building a business or mastering your finances. You are capable of anything, and this podcast just reinforces that! Give it a try!
Where can people get in contact with you to learn more?
Also, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
That concludes my interview with Mr. RME. I hope you gained some new insights into how to improve your Financial Health and grow your Wealth. Come back next week for my interview with Michael Dinich from Your Money Matters.
So readers, what was your favorite point made here? Anything you want me to follow up with Mr. RME about?