Choose Wealth! Be A Millionaire By Midlife: A Review

Many of us in the PF community are choosing wealth by making the conscious decision to save, earn more, and have our money work for us. Financial independence and early retirement are common terms that many of us take seriously. What about those that aren’t in our community, though? So many people are living life without the ultimate goal of saving. My own parents barely have enough saved up for retirement.

Choose WealthMarie Phillips, author of Choose Wealth! Be a Millionaire by Midlife (affiliate), and founder/blogger at Family Money Values, is trying to get the word out that achieving millionaire status IS possible, even for the average person. Her goal with this book is to help you avoid becoming part of the 75% of people who have less than $500k in net worth by the time they are 45.

In the PF world, we are surrounded by people with lofty savings goals. Many of those that I follow want to be millionaires like Marie. However, I don’t personally know any. Before blogging, I never had any aspirations like this. I thought I would live the same paltry existence as my family, albeit with more savings, but never amounting to such wealth. Through the words and examples of others, I have seen that this is very much possible! I get excited to think that at 40, I might have quite the stash of money built up. Before? I never gave it a second thought.

I really admire Marie for putting a book like this out there. Others deserve to have their eyes opened, too. I still get weird looks from my family when I tell them I have hopes of retiring early! No one else has done it, how will I?

The fact is that the journey is quite simple. Sure there are struggles, there are times we will want to give up, and there will be times when the light at the end of the tunnel is dim. It gets brighter with each step we take, though. I’ve outlined before the steps I want to take to reach financial independence. In her book, Marie provides a framework that anyone can use to start building their wealth.

Stop using excuses, anyone can do it

Marie starts off by asking the reader “what keeps you from being a midlife millionaire?” Well, if you’re already at the midlife point, it might be a little too late, but it’s never too late to start saving. Reflecting on the financial decisions you’ve made over the years is sure to provide you with some good insight.

Marie provides some common reasons as to why people think being a millionaire is unobtainable. She then goes on to list excuses that we’ve all heard (or even used) before. This was one of my favorite excuses – “I’m going to enjoy life while I’m young!”, or YOLO. What’s her response?

“Remember though, that all those brand name clothes, fine furnishings, cute little decorations, and fancy auto accessories will be dusty old unwanted things when you are in midlife. Things tend to accumulate in our lives and houses, crowding out enjoyment. Spend your youth wisely!”

A beautiful explanation as to why conscious spending is important. I always try and practice this, especially with big purchases. “Will I still want this in two years? Is this really going to bring me happiness past tomorrow?” I can look around our apartment and find more than a handful of wasteful purchases that I regret. Spend with purpose, ideally on things that will bring you closer to your goals.

Marie lists other excuses, each time showing that they’re nothing but a small roadblock. You can get over them if you want it badly enough. The average person does not think it is within reach, but it is, and Marie is here to tell them why.

Marie’s journey

I particularly enjoyed reading about the epiphany Marie had regarding her finances. I could certainly relate to her story. She “bumbled along” much of her early life, doing what everyone expected her to do. As a result, she was unhappy. Her husband was working 10 hours a day, watching the kids on the weekends while Marie worked a low paying job. In addition, her husband hadn’t received a raise in years, yet he continued to work hard.

Marie finally decided “I wanted more. I wanted more earning power, I wanted control over money and I wanted a better life.” And she took action. She began researching well paying careers, what she had to learn in order to perform the jobs, and realized she would have to go back to school. Her liberal arts degree wasn’t going to cut it.

What did she do? She obtained a license to have a day care in her home, and she stuck with it for three years until she had the money to fund her education. She attended class at night and on the weekends, while still watching her children during the day. Finally, after two years, she had earned her associate’s degree in data processing and landed a job after two interviews.

Marie made a better life for herself by working hard, and continued to work hard until retirement.

Framework for wealth

I’m going to quickly go through the chapters:

  • Dream big for the life you want. Marie lived this one, and is proof that if you want your dreams to come true, you have to work at it. Before, she was going through the motions, and realized that the life she was living was not enough. I have to admit, I’m not a huge dreamer. I very much related with her bumbling through life. I’ll have more on this in a future post.
  • Wake up and start your wealth engine. Here, Marie tells us why it’s important that we break the mold. Be the person we truly want to be, not who other people want us to be. It’s important to experience life in every capacity you can, otherwise you won’t know what’s out there waiting for you! This spoke to me as well. I’m an introvert, and I don’t like getting outside my comfort zone. That’s not going to get me anywhere, though. Marie also lists some fantastic resources in this chapter in regards to finding what you truly want to do in life.
  • Break your bottlenecks. What’s holding you back, and why?
  • Money-fy your life. One of my favorite chapters. Marie speaks a little on educating yourself about your finances, as well as talking openly about them. There are some great questions listed in this chapter that really make you think about your financial history and habits.
  • Leverage time and money. Simply put, if you’re not making enough, you might not be able to save enough. “If you keep letting that minimum wage job suck up your time, you will be treading water forever, never getting where you want to be.” Yet another chapter I enjoyed. I watched my mom do pretty much the same administrative job her entire life, with different institutions. While my mom was content with this, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted for myself. You have to have confidence that you are worth more; make yourself valuable.
  • Use the most powerful force in the world and Maintain hope. “Persistence.” Marie highlights this many times in Choose Wealth! Many of us know that the road to wealth is a long one. It’s a marathon, not a race. There’s not much in the way of instant gratification, and that’s a problem for some people. She lists a variety of ways to keep yourself motivated on your journey. Her next chapter ties into this, as it is crucial to maintain hope. There will inevitably be bumps along the road, and you must be able to keep your dreams in sight at those times. Don’t give up!
  • Find help. Marie talks about finding a millionaire mentor to help coach you along. Find inspiration in the stories of others. Those of us with blogs receive help when we need it in the shape of support and encouragement.

Conclusion

I hope by reading my review, you are inspired to check out Choose Wealth! Be a Millionaire by Midlife (affiliate). It’s a very easy read, and even though I’d like to become a millionaire by midlife and know how I want to get there, it was still very informative. I also think this would make a great gift for any high school or college graduate out there – quite timely, too. While this book is mainly aimed at the younger crowd, I think those in their 30s and 40s would benefit from reading it.

I was not compensated for this review. Marie offered me a copy of the book to review, and I sincerely enjoyed reading it.

How I Plan to Reach Financial Independence

Lately I’ve been hearing about some terrific plans that others have made for early retirement and financial independence. Even though I’m still fairly young, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be dreaming of the days where we are no longer beholden to the chains of a 9-5 job. If anything, thinking about the future gives me extra motivation to save!

I thought I would share the details for how I plan to reach financial independence, as this goes hand in hand with early retirement for me. I’d like to go the non-traditional route, where I reach financial independence, still work, but not depend on the income.

Having the freedom to do what I like, when I like, is very important. There are so many hobbies I’d love to explore that I don’t have the time for right now, and I wouldn’t want a miserable job to get in the way of that. If I make money doing what I love, great. If not, still great! I want to be in control of how I spend my time. After all, we only have so much left.

Step one: get out of debt

Financial independence - more time to hike?

Obviously, I need to pay off my student loans before any of this can remotely become a reality. I have been working hard at this all last year, and I am really hoping to be able to pay off these loans early next year. I don’t have a specific date because as frequent readers know, so many things are still up in the air for this year.

I’ve already made a few extra payments this month, and I’m planning on putting most (if not all) of my tax return toward my smaller loan. It’s getting close to the $3k balance, and if I could have that one loan paid off by the middle of this year, I’ll be thrilled! Then I can proceed to roll over the extra payments I was making on that loan to my bigger loan. Exciting!

Step two: move and reduce expenses

You all know that I’m planning on moving to lower expenses, mainly rent. The main goal of this is to accelerate payments to my student loans (anything I manage to cut goes toward it), and after those are paid off, to accelerate saving.

R is pretty much going to follow the same path as I am. The only reason I’m centering this more around myself, is because he doesn’t seem very enchanted with the idea of early retirement (yet). He thinks he would get bored and doesn’t mind working longer than I plan to.

We are willing to continue living frugally in the spirit of getting these nasty loans taken care of. There will be no lifestyle inflation until that occurs, and even then, there’s not much more that I can think of that we truly need. Ideally, once the loans are done, I’d continue saving the amount I was putting toward them.

Step three: advance in careers

The ideal scenario: we move, R receives a promotion, gets more bonuses, and in a year, possibly gets promoted again. R was hired on as a manager trainee, and the company encourages employees to move up the ladder.

R has an amazing work ethic, and I’ve always admired that about him. He worked at a grocery store for 4 years (during college and after), in hopes of getting into a full-time management position there. They were taking too long and making empty promises, so he left. I have no doubt he would make great management material, and he is willing to take on the long hours for the big bucks.

We’re hoping this will allow us to essentially live off of his income alone, saving mine and maybe part of his. This probably won’t be a reality for another three or five years, but we can dream, right?

Financial independence means peace

In case you’re wondering about me – I’m still undecided as to what I want out of a career. I’d love for a law enforcement opportunity to crop up for me in our future destination, but if not, I want to try freelancing or making income online. I wouldn’t turn down a regular full-time job if the pay, location and people were right. It just depends on how things turn out. I would feel much more comfortable giving freelancing a go once we could live comfortably on R’s salary.

Step four: create multiple income streams

I would really like to get into rental properties, and R has interest in remodeling a home. While both are very far-fetched right now, they could be future possibilities.

Investing is the other choice avenue, specifically dividend investing. I’m still new to all these ideas, but I’ve heard great things about putting your money to work for you, and fully plan on doing that.

I would also like for R and I to develop a side hustle that we can do together, like flipping furniture. My dad has all the tools, it’s just a matter of having the space and time for it. Working on the blog gets lonely sometimes. R is a horrendous writer (his words), so I doubt he will ever have interest in it.

Step five: save aggressively for retirement

I am happy to say I finally opened an IRA this month. I knew I would regret it a lot if I didn’t start “early.” Time really is on my side, and I need to use that to my advantage. Sadly, I’ve never worked at a place that offered a 401k, so I am technically starting a bit late.

R has a 401k with his company. While he doesn’t like seeing the money being taken out of his paycheck, I’ve managed to convince him it’s for the best. Even though it can’t help him out right this second, it will be there in the future, so it’s not going to waste, as he likes to put it. 

Being able to live off of one income would be huge for this goal. I admire those that can put one salary toward savings goals. Any extra side income would go straight to this as well.

Step six: relax and enjoy

I don’t have any “set in stone” plans for early retirement, nor do I have any numbers. I have no idea where or when R and I will end up settling down, and we probably won’t be buying a house until then. Considering he currently plans on working until 45ish, I’m perfectly fine being able to pursue my own interests while he does that.

We both have dreams of traveling around, and while I would like to go sooner than later, hopefully he’ll have acquired a decent amount of vacation time in 10-15 years for us to be able to take some nice trips.

That’s about it in a nutshell! Pay off debt, save, find a career path, save some more, create several income streams, live off of one salary, put more toward savings, and then enjoy the efforts we made early on.

Do you have any plans to retire early or become financially independent? What steps are you taking to get there? If neither of these interest you, are you taking a traditional path to retirement?

Reflecting On Early Retirement

Hello everyone! I am looking forward to this week as the only full day of work I have is Monday! Like most, I am off Thursday and all the other days my bosses graciously decided to let us leave a little early.

My Mom Has “Retired”

This post was inspired by my mom, who just had her last day of work on Friday. Since my parents are moving quite a distance away, she put in for her retirement a few months ago and has been counting down the days since.

On Wednesday, her former boss took her out for lunch, and her two coworkers took her out to dinner, so she had free meals galore. On Friday, her workplace had an office party for her, and even invited old coworkers she hadn’t seen in a while.

The reason I have retirement in quotes is that my mom is most likely going to continue to work once they get settled into the new house, but only part-time and on a schedule she enjoys.

As I’m hoping to aim for early retirement, this had me thinking about what it must feel like to work your last day. It must be kind of crazy to reminisce on all your working years: the various jobs you’ve held, people you’ve worked with, and companies you’ve worked for.

It is incredible to think that my mom (along with most others) has been working for thirty-something years straight in essentially the same job. While her work places may have changed, her job duties essentially stayed the same. If that were me, I’m sure I would have grown bored long ago, but what works for some people doesn’t work for others.

It wasn’t an easy journey considering my dad lost his job several years ago, which meant her income was all we had to depend on.

It was stressful for her – neither of my parents attended college, and while my dad had a better paying job at the time, they never came close to $100,000 combined. I had been contributing where I could since I started working, and somehow we managed to make it through.

As it stands though, I’ve only been working full-time for a year and a half and I think of all the years I have ahead of me being “chained” to a desk…not pleasant. This is where the idea of early retirement or financial independence comes into play.

Retirement

I’m Just Starting Out

I felt pressured into getting a job right out of college to help out my family, and I had to take what I could get as soon as possible.

My first job didn’t pan out at all – I left after six months when I realized the job I had originally applied for wasn’t the job I was going to be doing.

I had a job lined up that also didn’t work out – nothing like it was advertised, and the department was so overworked that they didn’t have time to train anyone, which didn’t help.

After I left there, it took about a month of emailing resumes out and interviewing for me to land my current job. It was a basic receptionist position, but I had to start somewhere. I was promoted after three months, which I am grateful for since I’ve been able to learn a lot more about the company and industry.

However, after seven months of doing the same thing, it’s gotten to be kind of routine. I love being challenged and I love learning new things, and that hasn’t been happening lately, hence the start of this blog.

Reading about extra income and side hustles got me thinking that my day job isn’t the only opportunity I have, which is why I started this project! Now I get to learn about the world of blogging, while meeting great people and writing about the journey I’m taking. I am excited to see where this will take me.

My loose plan for now is to continue working in my current position until R is eligible for a transfer elsewhere, and save, save, save for the move so that we will be okay if I don’t find a full-time job right away.

I would love to move right now, but going to a different state with neither of us having a job is a risk I am not willing to take. It took R about a year after he graduated to find an “actual job” and it ended up being seasonal; it was another four months after he started looking to find his current job.

Ideally, I would like for us to be able to live off of his salary so that I could get a chance to work on freelancing and blog income, but I know these things take time to build, so it will be a gradual process. I am prepared to practice living off of his income alone when the situation arises – I’m curious as to whether or not we can do it. It will be an interesting challenge!

Retiring to the Beach

The Next Chapter

In any case, I am looking forward to my parents being mostly worry-free as they embark on their journey toward retirement.

My dad is planning on doing what he used to love: woodworking. Whether or not he will make any income from it is up in the air, as he needs to get back into it, but it’s something I would encourage him to consider after he is done with all the projects in their new house. Hopefully it will be fulfilling as it seems he’s given up hobbies over the years (the other being photography), which is never a good thing. You need to find time to do what you enjoy!

Watching my parents in their last stage of retirement planning is definitely inspiring me to appreciate the journey you have to take to get there, as all the hard work will pay off in the end. You just need to keep the end goal in sight and have a positive attitude throughout.

Trying to enjoy the journey as it is happening has been a little difficult for me, though. Sometimes I find myself too focused on the next chapter. I get caught up wondering where we will find ourselves in a year: if we will be happy with relocating, better off financially, and what opportunities may come our way with these changes.

I need to keep an eye on the present and be happy with what is happening in our lives right now, otherwise things might start to pass me by! I plan to write another post expanding on why I’d like to retire early and what being financially independent would mean for me.

What are your plans? Are you hoping for early retirement/financial independence, or are you currently focusing on other things? If you love your job too much to leave, please share!

Photo Credit: First Picture, Second Picture