It’s been about a month since I’ve published anything on my blog–life got really busy both personally and professionally. I’m really hoping to get back into my 6am writing blocks regularly again. On the Lifebrarian front, I was able to present some financial literacy lectures to a couple classes last month for a mutual friend who saw that I had started a finance-related blog. A big motivation for me and this blog is to educate others so they can live a more financially independent life… What better population to talk to than college freshmen.
I also attended a retirement seminar at my workplace last month and I was by far the youngest person in the room. My company was refiguring its retirement options so I took advantage of attending the presentation face-to-face to ask all of my questions (rather than just reading the information packet that was mailed to me). When that seminar was over and I had asked my questions, those in the room seemed both surprised and impressed that I had known so much about my options… A colleague from a different department heard about my desire to “Retire Early” at this seminar and had recommended that I read this book. Here comes the review (finally!).
I finally got the chance to read Quit Like a Millionaire by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung (owners of the site Millennial Revolution), and let me tell you–this book changed my whole perception on things personal finance. This book made me feel like I could pursue my own version of financial independence (FI)–and that I didn’t have to be a six-figure salary earner to someday achieve it. This book is also where I learned about the FIRE movement (short for financial independence, retire early) and where to access additional resources. These resources alone were invaluable to me.
Kristy Shen’s book begins by talking about her childhood, where her entire family subsisted on $0.44 per day in China…that’s $160.60 USD per YEAR. She grew up with a Scarcity Mindset and talks about how no one chooses to live with such limited resources…but they do so because they’re forced to. Growing up with the Scarcity Mindset allowed Kristy to develop skills that would later serve her well…including being more creative, resilient, and well…I don’t want to give too much away. All in all, she talks about how growing up with the scarcity mindset taught her to view money as something precious instead of pushing money down the road via debt payments and that later set her up for success.
To give you an idea…Shen tells several stories from her childhood, both in China, and after she and her family were able to immigrate to Canada for her dad’s PhD program. When she received her first can of Coke (that was all hers), she made that drink last for an entire week. She was so proud of it that she displayed the empty can in her room like a trophy. She also told her dad that she didn’t need a $5 toy, but would rather get a $0.50 toy so he could send the rest of the money back to family in China. Those two stories are the Scarcity Mindset at work.
Shen talks about how our world is set-up to pump dopamine into our brains for making impulse purchases….causing us to keep buying and chasing that high of a box waiting for us on our porches when we return from work. She talks about her own small stint with “Keeping Up With the Jones'” by way of designer bags/purses, and how it’s easy for people to fall into working to finance their debt instead of their lifestyles.
One concept she talks about that I WISH I knew before graduating from college is about each given major’s POT Score (Pay-Over-Tuition). Kristy advises selecting a major that will yield a fairly high score and foregoing the major’s that won’t promise a much higher salary relative to the cost of the degree. I 100% get the math behind it, and I’ll leave the specific formula she presents for those who buy her book. I can see the “wait to do what you’re passionate about much later” concept not sitting well with some readers, though.
Krisy and Bryce also talk a lot about the tips and tricks to making the most out of retirement accounts, the types of equities (cough, index funds, cough) that should be purchased, and how to effectively tax optimize retirement account buckets (which just means different types of accounts; ROTH, 403b, 457b, Traditional IRA, etc.). She breaks down how to effectively access retirement accounts without paying penalties before age 59.5 and she also talks about how the super wealthy are able to pay the least amount of $$ on their income (legally) and how this can be replicated for the everyday person.
She provides examples and transparency via her own finances for how she was able to achieve FIRE…and how she was able to successfully travel the world for less than it cost her to maintain her home when she was working full-time (geoarbitrage, for the win)!
Quit Like a Millionaire, No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund Required by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung taught me that it’s not about bashing myself for my past financial decisions (hey, student loans and delayed entry into the workforce!), but rather learning more now so that I can make wiser decisions going into the future. The tips and tricks from this book allowed me to feel confident enough to take some big financial steps in my own life, including maxing out my ROTH account for the first time and starting a pre-taxed retirement account (not that I’ll ever come close to maxing this account) to increase my savings percentage rate. This isn’t just a book for me; I view it as a blueprint to set and achieve my future financial goals.
Thanks for reading this! Now go read the book.