[Fellow Dukes: we have a new honored guest joining us at the Kingdom’s finest dinner table this week! Our friend Rob, who blogs at Mustard Seed Money. Rob is an accountant for the federal government with a passion for all things personal finance. He created the website Mustard Seed Money and the course Reaching FIRE, both of which emphasize sound financial education and advice. Take it away Rob!]
If you reflected on the very moment you’re writing this post today, tell us your story – how did you get you get where you are?
I still remember having dinner at my Grandma’s house one evening when I was five years old. There, my Grandma asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I proudly told her that I wanted to be a toll booth collector because I thought that I would be able to keep all the quarters. Everyone around the table got a good laugh at that. Clearly, I knew from an early age that I wanted to make money.
Growing up, I didn’t really need to spend any money to have fun. I was content playing outside with my neighborhood buddies, and all of my other needs were taken care of by my kind parents. Because of this, I’ve always been an exceptional saver. That has basically transpired through to where I am in life today.
I don’t have too many vices. I’m not really into cars, fancy food, or even expensive vacations. Reading a book from the library brings me just as much joy.
Today, I save 65% of my take-home pay, as my wife and I sprint towards FIRE.
From Chris -> I’m with you here Rob, nothing like getting lost in the world of a new fantasy book!
When did you have an epiphany moment to get in gear towards building a financial kingdom for yourself and your family?
Fortunately, I have always had a long-term outlook. I knew that I wanted to have options later in life, and I didn’t want to be a slave to a job I didn’t like in my 50s. However, it wasn’t until I bought my house at 23 that I really became laser-focused on getting rid of debt and building my financial kingdom. Living with roommates was enjoyable in the beginning, but after a couple of years, the experience started to wear on me. I was ready to drop the roommate situation. Although, I knew I couldn’t get rid of my roommates until I was more financially secure. That’s when I started to put all my time and energy towards paying off my mortgage debt as soon as possible.
What are your big motivators for building a financial kingdom and achieving FIRE?
My future was a huge motivator. I wanted to have flexibility when it came to how I spent my time. Too many people dislike their jobs and can’t leave them because they have not planned properly for the future. I wanted the ability to pursue my passions later in life and not be stuck in an undesirable job. Instead, I want to have the option to work a job that may pay less money, but I would be doing something I absolutely loved.
From Chris -> Love this one! We’d rather make less and enjoy our life than focus solely on money too!
When looking at the kingdom roadmap, which milestone are you currently working towards?
I am currently “Decorating My Kingdom” according to your Kingdom roadmap. I’ve completed all the other steps along the way, and I am thoroughly enjoying this milestone. 🙂
Have you faced any challenges while working towards financial stability and how did you adapt to them?
While working for the government, I was convinced that I didn’t need an emergency fund. I had a stable job, and I didn’t think anything could go wrong. Little did I know that my car engine would blow up and that I would have to take out an $8,000 loan from my parents in order to buy another car.
That’s when I decided that even with a decent job, I couldn’t neglect my emergency fund.
If you met someone who was just starting out on their journey towards building their kingdom – what would be your advice to them?
My advice is simple: Work backwards. Figure out how much money you want to retire with. The easy way is to get use the Trinity Method, using 25 times your expenses. From there, figure out how long it will take you to retire based on this rate. If you’re not happy with the age that you would retire, adjust the plan. Start saving more, etc.
It’s never too late to get on the right path.
What differences do you see between yourself now and yourself 10-years from now?
Now that I am almost completely financially secure, I am driven less by money and more towards my passion, which is financial education. If you asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to do, I would have hemmed and hawed. Now that I’m older, I know that I want to maximize my impact and my giftings to share the financial wisdom that I accumulated over the years. Unfortunately, I was not born with the gift of gab. I am an extreme introvert. However, personal finance is the one area that I feel like I become an extreme extrovert.
I’m hopeful that in 10 years from now, I will be doing something within financial education full-time. What that looks like exactly, I’m not sure at the moment. I just know that by then, I want to be able to focus on my giftings instead of focusing on a paycheck.
Blogging / Writing Questions
What motivated you to begin writing about personal finance and starting a blog to share with the World?
This is going to sound silly, but I read a post from Sam of Financial Samurai. He said that creating a blog was the best thing that he ever did. It got me thinking… why not give it a try? So I set one up and went at it. I have learned a ton about blogging since starting, but more importantly, I have improved my writing skills. On top of that, initially, I felt pretty confident in my financial acumen, but after starting a blog, I feel like I have taken another step forward.
Since I started my blog, I have also created the Reaching FIRE course to help provide personal finance education to those who may be struggling or are overwhelmed with their financial situation.
What are one or two top lessons or some advice you could share on building a great blog like yours?
The three most important things are:
- To join a community of bloggers in your field.
- To write great content.
- To market your content well.
I’ve found that without doing these three things, you may experience a halt in your progress, which might cause you to quit before you are able to see the fruits of your labor.
From Chris -> #1 has been the biggest unexpected joy I’ve had from blogging so far, so many great people all in the same mindset as you!
What was the process like when publishing your first course and how long did it take you to do so?
I started writing the Reaching FIRE course last summer. It took a good three months from start to finish to put it all together. Next, I piloted the course at my church this past fall. Funny enough, it wasn’t until I guest posted on another site that I thought about putting it up on Teachable. So, the process took about nine months from start to finish. There was a lot of writing, reading, re-reading, and edits along the way. Creating a course is no small feat!
Have any other ideas, thoughts, or advice you would like to share with our readers? The floor is yours!
Like I always say, personal finance is personal for a reason. What may make sense for someone else may not make any sense for you. So, don’t compare yourself to others. Make a plan, focus on staying on track, and keep your eyes on the prize!
And that takes us home Dukes! Rob – thank you so much for sharing your story with us and with our readers. We’re looking forward to learning more as we grow in the community together!!