Momentum Series Interview: Fly To FI – Carving Your Own Path To Financial Independence
This marks feature #38 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice that others can take value from and insights about their blogging journey. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing career earnings, the road to financial independence or other strategies for financial and blogging success.
This week’s Momentum Series interview is with Cody from the personal finance blog Fly To FI. Cody is on the road to financial freedom while carving his own path through his entrepreneurial efforts, mastering his money and doing things on his own terms.
In today’s interview, Cody shares his financial journey, top money resources, business ventures, plans for the future and much more.
If you want to connect with Cody from Fly To FI:
Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy the Momentum Series Interview: Fly To FI – Carving Your Own Path To Financial Independence.
Hey what’s up Momementumites(?), I’m Cody — a 22-year-old entrepreneur and life optimizer. I’m obsessed with travel, fitness, personal finance (of course), and my amazing girlfriend Lauren.
I write over at Fly to FI about how to achieve rapid financial freedom. Topics I cover include side hustles, increasing income, cutting expenses, investing, frugality, travel hacking, money philosophy and more!
I also co-host The FI Show podcast where we focus on similar topics in an interview style format. We feature guests each week and uncover the tips, tricks, and strategies they used on their journey to financial independence.
I have a BBA in Finance and a minor in Economics. This has helped me tremendously in my analytical and Excel skills.
Although I’ve only been working at my corporate banking job for 5 months, I will be quitting in January 2019 to pursue entrepreneurship full time.
Has taking control of your money and mastering your personal finances always been your mindset as an adult? Can you share the coles notes version of your financial journey?
From an early age, my parents instilled the value of savings into me. Up until age 10, my dad would match my bank account contributions from birthday parties and what not. $20 from grandma turned into $40 overnight (Good luck finding those types of returns in the real world)!
At age 10, I got my first “real” job working at the snack shack / lost and found at my uncle’s disc golf course. I made $5 per hour. The bank-of-dad match stopped immediately after this job started.
For the next few years, I worked this job after school and on the weekends. Then, in high school, I dabbled in some more “real” jobs spanning from retail to restaurants to education.
During college, I continued to work odd jobs and also picked up a job as a Teacher’s Assistant earning nearly $400 every other week (not too shabby).
I read the 4-Hour Workweek at age 19 (recommended from my Mom) and after realizing that money and time didn’t have to be linearly related, I looked into further optimization tactics and stumbled into the world of financial independence.
Since this discovery, I have started multiple side hustles which I’ll discuss later in this interview.
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your life to best set you up for financial success?
I track every dollar I spend and every dollar I earn. I almost treat money as a game. I know how to earn, save, and control money.
If I need to spend $100 on this fun weekend trip I have planned, then I have to earn $100 through various side hustles to “cancel that out”.
This has helped me tremendously in building a cash cushion and has allowed my after-tax savings rate to hover between 85 and 90% since starting my corporate job.
Once you realize that money can buy time, not just material things, your whole financial worldview will change and that flashy car and that enormous house might lose a bit of their shine.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
I have not made any “major” financial mistakes. The one that comes to mind is the purchase of my Volvo sports car at age 16 for $12,000. Although I did drive this car for 6 years and it served me (reasonably) well, my financial, compound-interest hungry brain just thinks about how much that $12,000 would be worth now if I put it into the suppressed 2012 market!
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I guess I’d have to say entrepreneurship but it’s tough to beat myself over the head at such a young age. I’m at a point where my entrepreneurial ventures and side hustles can support the cost of my lifestyle with nothing left over for savings.
It would be nice to scale them to a point where I can maintain a healthy savings rate.
If you could send a memo to every 18-22 year old in North America about better managing their finances and understanding money but it could only be 3 sentences long, what would that memo be?
Start a side hustle now because you have more room to fail than you’ll ever have for the rest of your life. Live like a college student as long as possible because the power of saving is a godsend for the compound interest on your investments. Never stop learning because each additional skill that you gain will make you that much more valuable in the workplace or in your own ventures.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
- Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier. Set to release on February 5, 2019, this book is the perfect roadmap for someone just beginning their journey to financial freedom.
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Although you have to take Ferriss’s “it’s-so-easy” attitude with a grain of salt, this book revolutionized the way I thought about money and work.
Oh, c’mon you know I have to do it! The FI Show is a podcast dedicated to financial independence and all things related. We cover entrepreneurship, side hustles, earning, saving, investing, travel hacking, career hacking, frugality, minimalism, and so much more in an interview-style format.
Although he doesn’t post too frequently anymore, I’m a huge fan of the Mad Fientist because he covers advanced financial topics such as tax optimization and various investment strategies and accounts. Yeah, I’m a finance nerd.
Apps or Services
I’m definitely a huge fan of Award Wallet because I am a travel hacking junkie. I don’t remember the last time I paid full price for any vacation. Once you get started with travel hacking, you’ll wonder why you didn’t discover it earlier.
Can you give a synopsis of the business you launched?
As of this writing, I currently run three businesses that I’ve launched.
- Arsenal Discs. In June of 2016, I co-founded a disc golf manufacturing company with my business partner, Jim. We manufacture premium flying discs for the sport of disc golf and sell them all over the world.
- Fly to FI (my blog). Discussed in blogging section below.
- The FI Show. This podcast was born in late August 2018. Although it’s only been around for a few months, this podcast is packed with awesome content on everything related to financial independence! I have a very high standard for audio quality as well.
How did you get started with entrepreneurship? Did you have a mentor or has it all been learning first-hand along the way?
All of my entrepreneurial ventures have involved first-hand learning. This route inevitably comes with many failures, but I have learned so much through each of them.
My “mentors” have been Google and YouTube since I started this journey. Man, those mentors know everything!
What advice would you give to someone who might have a business idea or want to test the waters with their own entrepreneurial venture but doesn’t know where to start?
Just get started. You’re never going to advance or gain new skills if you get hit with analysis paralysis. Get in the trenches, fail a few times, and get back up even stronger than before.
With that being said, don’t throw your life savings into a new venture with the hope that you will become rich. Test the validity of your idea to make sure that it sells before investing any serious capital.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I first started blogging in late April 2018. The launching pad for my career as a content creator started down at Camp FI Southeast in Gainesville, Florida.
This is a ChooseFI-related event where dozens of like-minded individuals spend an entire weekend together. I didn’t think I was special whatsoever, but everybody else did. They commended me on the things I was doing at my age (although that’s a factor I have no control over) and suggested that I start a blog. 3 months later, I did!
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with Fly To FI?
Despite the hundreds or maybe even thousands of financial bloggers on the internet, there are still people out there taking payday loans, maxing out credit cards, and saving nothing for retirement. Until no such person exists, I will always have work to do.
At this point in my life, I can connect deeply with high school and college-age students because I look like them and I was in a similar position several years ago. I can give them the tools to minimize their money mistakes and dominate their financial journey.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
Since I’m quitting my corporate job in January 2019 I need to start ramping up the blog income and continue to persistently produce quality content.
Over the next 12 months, I will be leveraging my existing talents and networks to earn money. For example, with the blog as my foundation, I can branch into paid speaking, sponsorship opportunities, and online courses.
Expect big things out of Fly to FI in 2019!
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
Ooh this is a tough one.
- Is Financial Independence a Blessing or a Curse? – In this post, I dive into the paradox of financial independence. Although it’s a fairly newer post, it has quickly become a fan favorite.
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Online Business – After receiving several requests from my readers, I created a step-by-step guide for starting your online business. The tutorial spans from buying your domain to creating your first product or service. It’s great for anyone looking to diversify their income streams with a new online venture!
- Vanguard 101 – Vanguard is one of the most highly regarded investment platforms in the personal finance community. However, their prehistoric website is difficult to navigate (to put it nicely) for a new investor. In this extensive free guide, you will have access to all the information you need to know about investing on the Vanguard platform.
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Stop analyzing, heck, stop reading this blog post right now and go work on a side hustle, self-improvement exercise, or anything to make your life more efficient!
Even within this hyper-driven community, I have noticed that people still get stuck with analysis paralysis. Once you let go of your fear of failure, you will improve and gain skills faster than you knew was possible.
Any special shoutouts?
I’m going to give a huge shout out to Grant Sabatier, founder of Millennial Money and author of Financial Freedom. This is the first time I’m mentioning this in this interview, but the reason why I’m quitting my job in January is to help Grant with the launch of his new book, Financial Freedom.
I will actually be joining him on a 3-month book tour around the U.S. and Canada as his Tour Manager and Co-Speaker! I am beyond pumped about this opportunity and I can’t wait to change the lives of thousands of people. Chances are, we’ll be rolling through your city so hit me up if you have an awesome venue or if you’d just like to meet up!
Thanks for reading.