My wife and I love our lifestyle. And we didn’t arrive here accidentally. I’ll describe our life a bit later, but first I want to tell you what it is not.
Our lives don’t include yachts, sprawling oceanfront homes, multi-car garages filled with exotic cars, Apple Watches, and globe-hopping five-star holidays. Nope. Not even close!
“What?! You mean you’re not rich! What kind of personal finance guy are you? Why would I waste my time reading your stuff when you clearly don’t know what you’re doing? There’s a book right beside yours that lays out a plan for me to become RICH!”
Ah, yes, more than a few people and businesses sell The Dream of conspicuous wealth. The irony is that the people who seem to achieve the Dream are almost always those doing the selling, not the buying, of the many Dream blueprints on the market.
But back to our lifestyle, and what it means to us.
My wife, Laurie, and I are Americans living since 2009 on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. Why here? We first came to Vancouver Island for a visit in 2004, and we fell in love with it on first sight. Our community offers a mix of spectacular scenery, moderate climate, a manageable cost of living, abundant wildness and wildlife, and a restorative rather than draining pace of life. (Don’t get too offended that we crossed an international border to live; at least not until after you’ve visited Vancouver Island!)
We live in a modest house but with very nice ocean and mountain views in a lovely neighborhood in a diverse, park-filled community with a charming downtown and gorgeous waterfront. Laurie and I are both able to work part-time, mainly on pursuits that we find rewarding. We devote our surplus time to hiking, kayaking, cycling, gardening, and exploring this beautiful Island together. I work at Money Counselor, volunteer for the local carshare cooperative, practice Tai Chi, study nutrition (I eat a whole food / plant-based diet), and pursue my favorite avocation: learning about anything new and interesting to me!
Does that sound all right? It is!
Would you like a similar lifestyle, or another that better suits you? You can have it!
In 1980 I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois. I continued straight away in U of I’s MBA program, earning over the next two years an MBA degree with a concentration in Finance. Though they have morphed into little more than a pass to a higher salary, MBA programs were invented to complement technical undergraduate degrees. The combination indeed proved powerful for me. A financial analyst can more effectively produce a useful and comprehensive discounted cash flow analysis of a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant if the analyst understands why BTUs matter and how the plant works. Duh.
After 20+ years of diverse business experience, I gravitated to entrepreneurship, and played a key role in the planning and launch of four small businesses, including Money Counselor, which grew from a stint as a Certified Credit Counselor I took on to give back by helping others work toward financial security. The Simple Guides to Debt, Credit, and Wealth are rooted in my experience working with hundreds of clients grappling with money challenges.
Laurie and I have been debt-free since 2003 when we paid off our mortgage many years early. When I say we are debt free, I mean we have no debt, so we are free. We got to this place in our lives by making (mostly!) good money choices, like always living well below our means. Though fortunate to have earned steady upper-middle class incomes, we have never earned huge salaries. Whatever financial success we have managed has grown mainly from sensible spending and saving, not outsized earning. Not a very sexy story, I’ll admit, but that’s all it has taken to make it possible for us to live the lifestyle we have today. Is it a glamorous, globe-hopping lifestyle? No way. But we like it, a lot.
In 2011 I launched the Money Counselor website (mymoneycounselor.com) where I have published hundreds of short articles on a huge range of money topics. The Simple Guides cover the topics I’ve learned are most in demand by the site’s target audience: people who want to make better money choices.
But here’s the thing (and this is the important part): I am not some kind of financial genius, not even close. I am a regular person, probably very much like you. You do not have to be extra smart or special or super dedicated to understand and adopt the ideas in this Guide and on the Money Counselor website. All that’s required is embracing the idea of stepping off the treadmill.
As I look around, I see many people running on that treadmill trying to keep up. And someone—employers, creditors, marketers, or whoever—regularly turns up the pace another notch every so often. Many are running as fast as they can, tiring more, and still not getting anywhere.
I want to help you join me in life off the treadmill. It’s great!