The secrets of financial freedom: An interview with the millionaire next door

Today is the last day of Financial Literacy Month. To tie everything together, I thought it would be fun to share an interview my real millionaire next door, a man we'll call John. He used the basic tenets of money management to build wealth and to retire early. Here's how I described John when I first wrote about him last year:

John is a 71-year-old retired shop teacher who lives in a modest ranch house on half an acre, the same house he's had for over forty years. He has an old barn filled with salvaged lumber, outdated appliances, and who knows what else. When he's around, he drives a junkie 25-year-old station wagon. But most of the time, he's not around.

He spends his winters in New Zealand helping friends on a dairy farm. His summers are spent fishing in Alaska. For a couple of months each year, he's home, puttering in the yard. Year-round, he rents his house to boarders. He leads a very active retirement.

John's story was popular with Get Rich Slowly readers, and many of you asked me to interview him. I had to wait for him to return from New Zealand, but earlier this month, the opportunity finally presented itself. John agreed to sit down for a chat.

“I want to take you to lunch at the Chinese place up the street,” I told him.

“What the hell for?” he asked.

“Just to be nice,” I said. “To thank you for taking the time to speak with me.”

“I don't need that,” he said. “Save your money. Let's just sit at your dinner table.” And so we did.

In the Beginning

Before John left for New Zealand just after Christmas, I mentioned the idea of an interview. He liked the notion, so on his flight home at the end of March, he made some notes about his financial philosophy. “These are my secrets to financial freedom,” he told me, showing me what he had jotted on the back of an envelope. “This is what I did to get where I am today.”

“I'm ready,” I said. I had a yellow legal pad and a Bic pen. I motioned for him to continue.

“It was interesting to do this,” John said. “It's really the story of your web site. The real secret is to spend less than you earn. I don't care how much you earn, you spend less than you earn.”

I laughed. “My readers aren't going to like that,” I said. “There's a vocal group that complains that personal finance writers are always preaching ‘spend less than you earn'.”

“It's not funny,” John said. “Because that's the secret. They don't have to like it, they just have to do it.”

“Right,” I said. “There are no magic bullets. There are no special shortcuts. Now, before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about your background?”

“Well, I'm retired,” John said. “I'm 72 years old. I spent twenty years as a shop teacher at a junior high school. I retired at 58. Before that, I did other things. I worked as a carpenter for eight years, and I spent six or seven years working in the juvenile court system.”

“Did you have good financial habits growing up?” I asked.

“Yeah, I really did. My family had a lot of money. We owned a big hardware store. But I saw money wasn't the key to happiness. There were other families that were happier that had far less. But I'm grateful for having grown up with a solid financial background.”

On Frugality

“What advice do you have for people who want to spend less?” I asked.

“Well, I made this list,” John said, pointing to his old envelope. “I listed all of the things I do. First of all, people should learn what a kilowatt hour is. A kilowatt hour is a thousand watts burned for an hour. All of these appliances left on standby draw power. And don't leave your lights on.” John gave me a look.

I was sheepish. The lights were on in the bathroom and the kitchen, but we were sitting in the dining room. I got up to turn them off while he continued speaking.

“Learn to figure your own power bill and know why it is what it is. People should learn about electrical use. That's a drain on your monthly budget. Every penny saved on electricity is a penny you can use for something else.”

“No smoking or alcohol consumption,” he continued. “This has nothing to do with morals and health — okay, maybe health — it's all about the money. I see people with a cigarette in their mouth, and I think, ‘That's 25 cents!'” I laughed.

“Don't have a credit card without autopay. And if you have a credit card, you should benefit from it. I use a credit card for everything I can, but I get things back from that.”

“Like air miles?” I asked.

“Exactly,” John said. “Air miles or a cash rebate. And I have my bank automatically pay the bill every month.”

“Next is food,” he said. “I think people's eating habits are hell-bent on spending money.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I offered to take you to lunch while we talked.”

“I know, but I don't need that gesture. I appreciate it, but that's money that could be spent on other things. Like your new car!

“You don't have to spend a lot on food,” John continued. “When I go to the grocery store — which is rarely — I don't know how anyone could afford to feed a family on that stuff. It seems outrageously expensive. People need to learn to cook from raw ingredients.

“But where do you get the raw ingredients?” I asked.

“From the farmers market! Or Costco! You don't need the little individual servings. That's crazy. You have to be creative. Part of the problem is that you need to buy a freezer. Or look,” he said, waving his hand at Kris' seedlings. “Over there are your tomato starts. Those cost you what? 50 cents? You'll get 50 dollars of fruit from those! Plus I buy what I can in bulk.”

“Eating in-season food is important. It's less expensive and it's better quality. I also like this eating close to home thing. That's neat.”

“Kris makes her own granola,” I offered.

“Yeah,” he said. “Exactly. But nobody advertises that. Nobody advertises ‘make your own granola'. Again, it makes sense to own a freezer. The electrical use of a freezer is pretty tiny. That'd be an interesting article for you, J.D. How much electricity does a freezer use versus how much you save by buying in bulk? People don't understand about electrical use. They have a foggy notion about it.”

“Yeah, I have this device called a Kill-a-Watt,” I said. “It measures electricity use. But I've never checked our freezer.”

“Here's another thing,” John said. “It's okay to buy used. There's nobody advertising to be thrifty. There's nobody advertising to go to Goodwill. That's not where the profit is. People have to get permission to buy used from somewhere else, because they're not going to get it from advertising. I buy all sorts of stuff used, but especially cars. I bought my minivan off Craigslist.”

“How did that work?” I asked.

“It worked great,” John said.

“I bought my Mini Cooper used,” I said, “but I didn't do it as well as I could have. I didn't take it to a mechanic, for example.”

“I took my car to two mechanics. I wanted to be sure.”

He rattled off a few more tips. “Do your own home repairs. Use the library more — movies and books, and it's totally free. I think that's great. Remember: A dollar spent will never produce dividends. Money spent is gone and will never earn you anything.”

On Investing

“That's a good transition,” I said. “Let's talk about your approach to investing.”

“I advise people to look for good investments. Take some time to do research. And think outside the box. I just re-opened my account with Reliable Credit. They offer 4%, which keeps up with inflation.” Reliable Credit is a nearby consumer finance company. But it's not a bank. They take deposits from people like John and they loan them to high-risk clients. They do a lot of used car loans.

“The thing that worries me about Reliable Credit is that they're not insured. There's no FDIC insurance,” I said.

“Doesn't bother me,” John said. “I'm not putting a whole lot in there. It's just part of my money.”

“What would happen if you lost it all?”

“Not a big deal. I own my home. I have a guaranteed pension. I have no debt. That's the key. Because I've done these other things, I can afford to take some risk. A lot of people can't.”

“What about your other investments?” I asked.

“If you're going to do stocks, diversify your stock holdings,” John said. “But for me, no-load mutual funds are the only way to go. To give anybody 3-4% of your money off the top is insane. It used to be I wasn't aware how much I was paying. Once I figured it out, I thought, ‘Shit, I can make these mistakes myself. Why should I pay anybody to do it for me?'”

“I invested in small-cap funds at Columbia here in Portland. What a great move that was. Those did very well. I tracked their growth in the newspaper. Every week I drew a graph. I plotted the weekly high and the low and where it closed. I had to keep making new pages for my records because it was growing so much. I didn't mind,” he said, laughing. “Back in the olden days, if I wasn't getting 20% a year, I looked someplace else. But I can't hold that up as an example — although it may happen again if things get turned around, once this economy corrects itself.”

“Does this economy worry you?” I asked.

“No. I don't have to worry about it. I don't need the income. I'm debt-free. If I was retired and had a mortgage or other debt, or if I had health problems, it would worry me. To my mind, even if you invest and it goes to hell, it's still better than nothing. The odds of that are pretty slim, though, especially if you diversify.”

“What are your financial goals?” I asked.

“I used to say that when I reached $100,000 I would have arrived. But I got there so fast, I just kept going. Some people plan for retirement, but I didn't plan. I did go to investment workshops — free workshops — that were put on for the teachers, and I learned from them. You'd be surprised at how few people showed up to them. Nobody cared.”

“When did you start to save?” I asked.

“It must have been 30 or 35 years ago,” John said. “And I'm glad I did. I think there are people who still don't take advantage of tax-advantaged savings and investments accounts. I did this as soon as I could. I was amazed at how many teachers didn't take advantage of this. That's crazy.”

On Choosing a Lifestyle

John looked back down at his list. “Here's another thing,” he said. “Volunteer to help others. I really think that's an important personal lifestyle choice. It feels good to me. I used to do scouting. I had a Boy Scout troop for fifteen years.”

“You know, scouting was important for me when I was a boy,” I said. “I think it can be a great experience.”

“Sure it can,” John said. “When I was growing up, a lot of people shared things with me. It feels good to be in a place to be able to share myself now.”

“What kind of things do you share?”

“Well you know I rent the house, but it's basically at cost. I don't charge much at all. I host guests on my boat [in Alaska] at no charge. I do my work in New Zealand. Earlier today I picked up some sheet metal. I went and bought some scrap sheet metal and I took it in to Franklin High School. I took it to their metal shop. They can really make use of that.”

“What do you splurge on?” I asked. I've seen the things John owns. They're very functional. He doesn't have a lot that I would consider “fun”.

“Some people would say that buying a boat is a splurge,” he said. “But I bought that boat right. I bought it for less than market value. I've taken care of it. I'll get a lot more use out of it.”

“I guess I could eliminate a couple thousand dollars airfare getting to New Zealand and back, but I spend very little money when I get there. If I spend a couple hundred dollars in New Zealand, I'd be surprised.”

“How do you keep your costs so low there?”

“I work on farms. I'm part of Willing Workers on Organic Farms. You travel to someplace and do work on their farms for them. They provide room and board. Sometimes they take you to do local stuff. This year I got to see sheepdog trials. That was fun. Anyhow, I do carpentry work. I build stuff and fix things. There are four farms I go to, about three weeks at a time, and I do what needs done.”

He paused for a moment and smiled. “But Alaska is just for fun.”

“How long have you been doing this now?”

“I've been doing this for about fifteen years, ever since I was retired. Back when I was 58.”

Reader Questions

We'd come to the end of John's list, but we weren't finished yet. “I told some of my readers that I was going to interview you,” I said. “They sent in some questions. Would you be willing to answer them?”

“Sure. Of course.”

“Annie Blue wants to know how money affects your daily happiness.”

“Well,” he said. “I can buy whatever I want. Not need, but want. I just don't want very much. I always have $100 in my pocket, but I don't piss it away. I don't stop for coffee. I seldom eat out.”

“I understand why people buy things,” he said, “I like to buy things, too. There's a certain satisfaction in looking at the things you've accumulated. It's like an affirmation that you're doing things right. So you surround yourself with things that make you think you're doing well — but they're not necessary. That's one of the advantages of being older. People just leave you alone to do what you want.”

“Next,” I said, “Suburban Dollar wants to know what advice you'd give to a 30-year-old.”

“Spend less than you earn. This is true whether you're on welfare or a millionaire. And remember: wealth is created by investing money, not by working longer and harder.”

“Here's another thing,” he said. “Remember that when you're raising kids and stuff, that's really hard. The demands on your money are so great. But you've got to be willing to say no. So much money is pissed away to keep kids happy.” (John has grown children. He's speaking from experience.)

“Here's a final question from Bill in Detroit,” I said. “He wants to know if outer wealth causes inner wealth. Or is it the other way around? Or are they completely disconnected?”

“There's a lot of personal power from personal spending,” John said. “If I'm feeling down in the dumps, going out and buying something gives me a lift. But I'm aware of that. I'm aware of how it makes me feel and it helps me to not do it.”

“I think it all has to do with how you feel about yourself,” John said. “I learned long ago that it was okay to spend less than I earned. It wasn't going to kill me. And I learned that by doing so, I felt really good about myself. I still do. I'm happy. I feel really comfortable.”

I thanked John for answering my questions, and we walked out to look at the vegetable garden. He admired our onions and peas and asparagus. We discussed whether it was time to rototill. At last, we shook hands and said our farewells. I was headed to California in the morning, and he was off to Alaska. He'll be there until about the time his grapes are ready to harvest in September. I'll miss him while he's gone. But if I'm lucky, I just might get to spend a week with him on his boat this summer, catching a glimpse of what early retirement is like.

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Aman@BullsBattleBears
11 years ago

great interview. He showed that there is no real magical way to financial freedom. So many people buy books/DVDs when the underlying message is the same…live within/below your means and amazing things will happen….for one, you will be debt free…you will also have left over money that you can save/invest/clear off debts…heh..unbelievable that some have never hear of this concept.

Fish Finder
Fish Finder
11 years ago

It always comes back to the basic, do it yourself ways. Giving back also goes hand in hand with wealth. Nice interview…like the boat!

Baker @ ManVsDebt
Baker @ ManVsDebt
11 years ago

“I can buy whatever I want. Not need, but want. I just don’t want very much.” What an awesome, awesome story. I love hearing the straight talking words of wisdom from an older generation. I was surprised he said he had only been investing for 30-35 years, I thought he was going to say 50. That’s inspiring for those people who think it’s too late to start investing. Anything matters. This is my ultimate goal. To be debt-free, recession proof, and to have to the ability to buy, but not a big want to buy. He’s simply an inspiring example… Read more »

Writer's Coin
Writer's Coin
11 years ago

This was great! Thanks JD. Spending less than you make has almost turned into a cliché, but that’s because it is the magic pill.

Jeff Kinney
Jeff Kinney
11 years ago

JD, Great interview. Very matter of fact. Your neighbor has figured it out. I am both proud of him, and somewhat jealous. I would be interested if he had a defining moment that steered him down this path, or if it was just reflective thinking and his own priorities?

Beth @ Smart Family Tips
Beth @ Smart Family Tips
11 years ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. So many people think that spending less than you earn and being frugal is about having to go without the things you want. It’s great to read this interview and see that John, though he’s made a habit of both, is very content and has everything he needs AND wants. He also has the freedom to DO what he wants.

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

Great interview! Thanks for posting this JD! I really appreciate the point John made: “wealth is created by investing money, not by working longer and harder.”
This gives me some much needed affirmation that it’s good, no, SAVVY and SMART to live on less so I can save more. That sure goes against the grain of what’s advertised to us on a daily basis.

Will Crowthers
Will Crowthers
11 years ago

Awesome interview!! I love the distinction between need and want so many people see this as a blurry area, but its pretty straight-forward if you site down and think about it. Speaking of the Millionaire Next Door, its also an outstanding book: http://www.twentysomethingsense.com/2009/01/book-recommendation-1.html

The other part I liked about the interview and the book is that it truly shows that the fundamentals work. If your expenses are less then your income – you actually save money! 🙂

Holly
Holly
11 years ago

Just as I suspected…someone like my own father who retired at 52…travels, has a pension, saved for a rainy day, and didn’t give in to the whims of his wants (or the kids’ wants). It’s nice to be in a place where you have no pressure to keep up w/the rat race. I guess this explains why I’ve always said to my mother that I wished I was a senior–so that I could let my hair go gray, wear whatever was suitable/comfortable, and have the satisfaction of living for a larger purpose than the pursuit of the almighty dollar!

Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson
11 years ago

Great stuff, J.D.! John is a great example of someone to aspire to be.

Excellent post and I enjoyed every bit. I could have kept reading forever and I’m sure you could talk to him for a long time…he certainly does know/understand a lot about a lot!

Britt
Britt
11 years ago

Awesome post. He reminds me a lot of my grandfather in his financial philosophies.

Jason B
Jason B
11 years ago

One thing he touched on was health, which you’ve talked about previously. He may be retired, but he’s active doing carpentry, working in the yard, and helping people out. His lifestyle is one that uses his body, so he stays healthy. Eating all that fresh, local food helps too!

Wise Money Matters
Wise Money Matters
11 years ago

Great interview. This guy obviously knows what he’s talking about. It’s funny that the simplest way to get rich is spend less than you earn. We all know that but few of us practice it.

Kevin
Kevin
11 years ago

Great Post! I seldom read blog posts this long, but I read every word of this one. Your neighbor lives the way I try to live. (I’m 38.) I’m not as handy around the house as he is, but this post confirms for me that I’m on the right path. Of course I still have lots of areas for improvement. And I never get tired of “spend less than you earn.” Most people just can’t earn more at will.

Nice job.

Keith
Keith
11 years ago

Loved the interview. What a compelling story. Inspiring to a 30-year old starting on the the path!

Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook
Todd @ The Personal Finance Playbook
11 years ago

Thanks for your time John. Great interview J.D.

Dave Farquhar
Dave Farquhar
11 years ago

Brilliant. I especially liked the part about electricity usage. I know that’s my weak point and something I really need to work on. I’m probably wasting at least a dollar a day. And he’s right about the status symbols and not worrying about what other people think. People think I’m nuts for driving a six-year-old car (it’s paid for) and shopping at thrift stores and estate sales. But I’m 34 years old and have no mortgage and no car payment. They can laugh all they want, because my single biggest monthly expense is probably that stupid electric bill. Thanks for… Read more »

Snowy Heron
Snowy Heron
11 years ago

This is one of the best posts I’ve seen. I wish I had known this stuff when I was younger. I wasn’t crazy or anything, but I wasn’t as smart as this guy was. Thank goodness for people like John!

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

Another great article. It may be old news for your readers; but, you can never be reminded enough. Especially from someone who is a role model and has the t-shirt.

KS
KS
11 years ago

Fabulous! Thank you for posting this. When I’m grumbling about something or other, usually money, my husband points out, “Hey, just think: we have the money to do ANYTHING WE WANT.” And he’s right – we just don’t want very much! This post was a good reminder of that.

I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.
I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.
11 years ago

Outstanding example. Great interview. I could read stories like this all day.

KC
KC
11 years ago

You are lucky to have a neighbor like that. He has some good advice that applies to just about anyone – like live beneath your means. But my favorite part was referring to load mutual funds ‘Shit, I can make these mistakes myself. Why should I pay anybody to do it for me?’” Great advice!

MoneyBeagle
MoneyBeagle
11 years ago

Great stuff! None of the advice is new but to hear it in action from someone that put it to the test is great. And it also shows that you don’t need to make a ton of money to build wealth. It’s all about using your head.

Thanks for putting all the hard work in writing this up. I think it will help a lot of people.

seawallrunner
seawallrunner
11 years ago

“First of all, people should learn what a kilowatt hour is. A kilowatt hour is a thousand watts burned for an hour. All of these appliances left on standby draw power. Learn to figure your own power bill and know why it is what it is. People should learn about electrical use. That’s a drain on your monthly budget. Every penny saved on electricity is a penny you can use for something else.” Excellent advice !! Last year I did just that. I reviewed the previous year’s hydroelectric bills and made small behavioral changes (turn off the lights in rooms… Read more »

Alison Wiley
Alison Wiley
11 years ago

I admire John’s disciplined and focused life. U.S. households in particular have a great deal to learn from him.

I disagree with him, though, on “A dollar spent will never produce dividends. Money spent is gone and will never earn you anything.” Not the case. I just made a $400 discretionary purchase that will yield dividends for me and four others for years: http://www.diamondcutlife.org/the-best-400-we-spent-this-month/

Michele
Michele
11 years ago

Loved the interview. I feel like I live a similar life, although I am only 41. My basic philosophy is to live on less than I earn and to save/invest the rest. I try to tell people that I have no secrets to having saved a lot of money. It’s all living on less than I earn. It sounds like your neighbor is living the good life.

Leah
Leah
11 years ago

I love this post — I’m even sending it to my boyfriend! Especially key is the part about electric. My roommates leave lights on all the time (we don’t pay for our electric), and it drives me crazy. Just because they’re not wasting our money doesn’t mean they aren’t wasting money in general. My proudest frugal moment was receiving a monthly power bill for $15 last summer. My roommate at the time and I decided not to use AC, we unplugged all appliances when we weren’t using them (microwave, TV, etc), and we opened up the blinds on our picture… Read more »

michael
michael
11 years ago

Well this is how I live too.. always have for some reason.. and I have acumulated quite a bit.. however, this guy has a huge advantage over what those of us working in industry dont have.. a graunteed pension.. probably some sort of health care too.. (retired teacher) I dont have that and never will.. therefore I feel stuck.

scott
scott
11 years ago

Excellent interview . I really like the part about electricity. I didn’t recognize how much I was wasting electricity/power until my old grandpa corrected me. He’s a guy that grew up in the depression in west texas in a family where he had to share shoes with his brother and sister. Amazing paradigm shift when you’re raised in that environment. Great job.

Alex
Alex
11 years ago

What a great interview. It’s always nice to have the opinion of real people rather than financial “gurus.” Very practical advice. Thanks for the post!

No Debt Plan
No Debt Plan
11 years ago

One of the best posts I’ve read in a while. Great interview.

So the obvious question is, as bloggers we get the “what else can you do other than spend less than you earn” … nothing. Spend. Less. Than. You. Earn.

Grrrr…

Wilhelm Scream
Wilhelm Scream
11 years ago

Wow, this is a fantastic post. John is fascinating.

Jessica
Jessica
11 years ago

Very interesting read. Thanks to you and to your neighbor!

partgypsy
partgypsy
11 years ago

He is an inspiring guy. He reminds me of my greek grandmother, who was a big influence to me. Like John she was very frugal (in the 1950’s she saved $40K while working in a sweatshop). She wanted for nothing yet had no wants. The second thing was she kept busy doing worthwhile things with her time, cooking and cleaning, church, her grandchildren, gardening, visiting her sister. I think that’s a key to a healthy and happy long life.

Kevin
Kevin
11 years ago

Thanks, J.D., I really enjoyed this interview. That said, he clearly had several advantages that our generation will not have (largely because his generation ruined the party for us). 1. He has a guaranteed pension. Like Michael (#28) pointed out, pensions are the exception nowadays, not the rule. Our generation has to save up a MUCH bigger pile of assets to make up for the disappearance of pensions. 2. Cheap housing. Sounds like John paid his house off long ago. Good for him, but I’ll bet his mortgage was never in the 6 figures, even at the very beginning. Housing… Read more »

Linear Girl
Linear Girl
11 years ago

Thanks to your neighbor for sharing his story. It’s great to see that my philosophy toward getting rich slowly has worked for someone else. I hope to be where he is in another 30 years. I spent a summer working on farms in Washington and California with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and there are WWOOF organizations all over the world doing the same things. I met people from France and Denmark, learned a ton about farming and gardening, and it was incredibly low cost. The Danish women I met take a one month vacation every year to a… Read more »

Moneymonk
Moneymonk
11 years ago

“wealth is created by investing money, not by working longer and harder.”

Wow, I have to use this one

SystemError
SystemError
11 years ago

@#michael I was going mention something about the pension as well. Since the private sector has abandoned pensions for speculative 401k and other options, it’s hard to have this kind of security in other places besides government workers (and some union jobs). So a choice to work 20 years for low pay for the govt. or military, and then get a guaranteed pension for life, or perhaps even for your spouse may be a good financial decision in the long run. It’s a good advantage this person has. I don’t think he would be in the same position if he… Read more »

Garry - thisimprovedlife
Garry - thisimprovedlife
11 years ago

Great interview.
It is amazing that the simple rules are the ones that work, like spend less than you earn.
I think buying local produce is a great idea and it is one of the things my wife and I do regulary, we have certainly noticed how much less we spend as compared to going to the supermarket.

Michael E.
Michael E.
11 years ago

Nobody mentioned this, but has ‘John’ ever been married?

Rita Bradley
Rita Bradley
11 years ago

This might be your best article yet. Thanks so much JD.

RenaissanceTrophyWife
RenaissanceTrophyWife
11 years ago

What a fantastic interview!

Good insight from #35 kevin, I was thinking along the same lines… however the distillation of his financial success into a few simple guidelines is quite helpful to hear. PF bloggers say the same thing, because it works. Not necessarily sexy, but true.

I particularly like his point on giving back to the community. Even as a poor student it made me feel good to be able to help someone else, whether with a small donation of money, items, or time. You can’t buy that. Thanks for sharing this with us, JD!

Jason
Jason
11 years ago

GREAT stuff … I really enjoyed this interview. Ill come back to this as a reference in the future.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

The guy’s pension is HUGE advantage. A $20,000 after-tax pension payment is like having a half-million in the bank. A smart investing strategy for the future is to have one spouse try to get a job that comes with a pension.

PT Money
PT Money
11 years ago

Facinating read, JD. It’s not that often I get to enjoy an article like this one. Well done. He seems like a great guy. Cudos to you for getting to know him and talk to him about his success. I definitely want to be where he is one day. Maybe not doing those exact things, but pretty close. That’s why I’m working hard on getting my finances straight and living my life right. Loved the name of the boat too: Prime Time!

KS
KS
11 years ago

Just wanted to say I liked @alisonwylie’s comment that a dollar spent can bring dividends – investing it in a cause you believe in, or helping out someone who could use it, etc. Wish there was more here and at GRS in general about that kind of “investing” and what it means for personal finance.

Erica Douglass
Erica Douglass
11 years ago

Hi J.D., First, this is a great interview, and I’m not meaning to take away from it. BUT…my practical side says that there is far more to that pension than he is willing to talk about. Many people of his generation not only received more in their pension than they put in (plus a reasonable rate of return), but are actually receiving more than their total salary ever MADE in their entire lifetime! I would really liked to have seen you drill into these numbers. Without them, it’s a feel-good emotional story, but to find out how much he made… Read more »

KF
KF
11 years ago

Regardless, your neighbor would be financially secure because he’s figured out the basics, he can distinguish needs from wants, he avoids acting based on pure consumerism and marketing, he spends less than he earns, and he doesn’t live to make others (his kids, strangers, etc) happy via money. However, I wish this interview had gotten more into the numbers. For example, I wonder how much of this man’s wealth came from family/inheritance. I wonder if he got out of the market at the right time and locked in unrealistic gains of 20% + annually or if he, too, has taken… Read more »

Nick
Nick
11 years ago

Great article. I disagree with the people who are claiming that he had an advantage over them with a pension, paid off house, etc. I think these are the sort of people that will always claim things are out of their reach instead of saving sensibly in a retirement account or saving up for a down payment on an AFFORDABLE house. It was a good read because it also reminded me of a couple things. I bought a used book off Amazon for $6 this past week and thought it was a pretty good deal! When reading the bit about… Read more »

Snowballer
Snowballer
11 years ago

Well we can’t begrudge him for taking advantage of the unique circumstances his life presented him. But that’s life people. You can’t control if you catch the breaks or the skids. All you control is how you react to them. Plus, we don’t know what else this man has been through. I’ve met some people with a lot of money who live miserable lives (such as a woman who will live in horrible, terminal pain until she dies). That’s obviously not the case here I’m just saying walk a mile in his shoes. This is still a good story though… Read more »

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