Momentum Series Interview – Life For The Better: Finances, Mindset & Tiny House Living
This marks feature #30 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.
My name is Tim and I’m currently 25 years young.
I blog over at Life For The Better
I have a Bachelor’s degree as well as an Associates degree.
I am an Air Force Officer.
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?
I believe it’s always been my mindset as an adult to master my finances. I’ve always heard stories of those who wish they would have started earlier so I took their advice and ran with it. I started saving for financial independence at age 17 believe it or not.
I was just a senior in high school when I joined the Air Force and with the paychecks coming in and little to no expenses, I started saving it. I didn’t know where to put the extra money so I started researching more and more about personal finances and now I’ve ended up with a 225k Net Worth at Age 25.
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your to life to best set you up for financial success?
I’ve always paid myself first. I’ve set my finances to be pretty much automatic anywhere I can make it. This is from putting my bills on autopay to investing in my Thrift Savings Plan and Roth IRA.
I don’t have to think about how much I need to save or worry about where to put my investments. I simply check up on them from time to time and move on with life. I also don’t have to worry about lifestyle inflation with any extra income because the money is already set aside to investments or travel instead of a fancy new object.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
I’d like to think I haven’t made a single mistake because I believe one can’t call it a mistake if they learn from it. However, to get at your question, I set aside $1,000 once and put it into penny stocks to learn how the market went. I made almost $2,000 in profit but thought “this is easy!” and kept going with it. I ended up losing it all after I thought I knew everything. This thousand dollar lesson is something that one could call a mistake.
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I think we can always improve. I try to consistently improve my knowledge of personal finances. Once one thinks they know it all, they really know nothing. If I can learn something from a blog, book, news article, or anything for that matter, I’m going to take the opportunity. One thing people can’t take away is your education.
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?
Spend your money on what makes you truly happy in life, find out what makes your happy and go for it. Learn every chance that you can from mistakes to positive encounters along the way. Try to teach another peer about finances, if you can’t teach them keep learning.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
- Extreme Ownership
- Your Money or Your Life
- 4 Hour Work Week
- Tools of Titans
- Millionaire Next Door
- Bogleheads Guide to Investing
- A Random Walk Down Wall Street
- Early Retirement Extreme
- Building Wealth and Being Happy
- Simple Path to Wealth
And more leadership books than I can count! I love leadership books because it gets into the idea of learning about someone’s thought process and personality type. It’s not just about how to be a “rah rah – in your face leader” but to listen to another person and see how they’d like to be led.
- Abroaders Podcast
- Afford Anything
- Choose FI
- Countdown to FI
- Mad Fientist
- Fire Drill Podcast
- Hidden Brain
- How I Built This
- Impact Theory
- Jocko Podcast
- Operation Self Reset
- Planet Money
- Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know
- Stuff You Should Know
- TED Talks
- The Charged Life
- Joe Rogan
- Tim Ferrsis
- The Mastermind Within
- The Minimalists
Too many to count! I follow the financial independence subreddit and learn consistently from there. There are many blogs I follow on Feedly about personal finance but some of my favorites are derived from the podcasts I’ve listed. From there I’ll go to the guest on the shows page and learn more.
Zenhabits.net is also a really good blog about simplicity in life as well as minimalism.
Apps or Services
Feedly for sure. I can put all the blogs and news articles I want to follow in one location and it auto populates new posts so I don’t have to go find them myself.
In what ways has being in the military influenced your financial journey?
The military is great for a steady paycheck. You won’t become rich by being in the military but you’ll have enough to survive and a little more. There is also a lot of resources available to military members for free or little cost. I can also see towards the end of my 20 year career of having health care paid for plus a pension.
If you could give advice to someone just entering the military to help them take advantage of the opportunities available to them, what would that advice be?
Start investing now. You hear that advice all the time but take advantage of the Thrift Savings Plan. I talk about how one can Max Out Their Thrift Savings Plan on my blog. I’d also give them advice to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and Get Paid To Attend College. Having a steady income to invest and having a degree paid for is huge in the long run. This sets individuals up for the long haul because 1 out of 6 military members stick around for the 20 year commitment for a pension. Always have a backup plan.
Can you explain the thought process to deciding to pursue a tiny house? Have the benefits exceeded your expectations?
L and I wanted to live in a tiny house because of the adventure. There is something exciting about trying something out of your comfort zone instead of never stepping into it in the first place. We knew that our costs would be low going into tiny house living and that would help us set ourselves up for the future with financial independence. Also, we wanted to live simpler lives by minimalism. This allows us more time and freedom to do the things we want to do in life. The benefits of going tiny have exceeded our expectations ten fold.
If someone is considering a tiny house, do you have any resources or recommendations for them to explore the concept further?
We have talked about What We’ve Learned About “Going Tiny” on our blog and will continue to post new things we’ve loved or hated along the way. Another great resource is Tiny House Giant Journey. She has so much information about tiny house living. I’d also recommend Tiny Houses on Reddit. This is a great place to learn from others on their journey.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
We started blogging in December of 2016. We wanted to become better writers, help others, and document our own unique journey. We thought that having a blog could do all of this for us. Also learning along the way and expressing those thoughts in written word is a challenge. Normally, I’d consume information use a piece or two and move on with life. Now I like to stop and form a complete thought around an idea. This helps us on our journey to financial independence to connect with other bloggers.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with Life For The Better?
Our purpose is simply to help others. We feel as if we have a unique story to tell and others can learn from us along the way. If we can help just one person throughout our entire journey of blogging, that is a success in our minds.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog(s) over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
Our specific goals with our blog over the next year is to write more consistently about living a better life. We have plenty of ideas written down but we’ve moved across the country four times this last year and have a fifth trip plan in the near future. We plan on interviewing others around the web on how they are living a better life as well as doing interviews like this. We feel that making strong and real connections with our “internet friends” is something we want to be apart of. By helping others in their journey it will help us in our journey.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
Not to sound conceited or anything like that but to get to this point in my life and to have a net worth of 225K has taken a lot of determination and careful planning. I feel as if those who want to learn about determination and hard work can see that in my path of financial success.
For those looking to live in a Tiny House this is a great place to start by learning from our mistakes and successes.
This to us is a huge concept of what financial independence means to us. We want to be in control of our lives – not money.
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Always continue to learn about yourself and about topics that fascinate you. Also always help others any chance that you can get because it’s what makes the world go round. How cool would it be to have 7 billion hands working together instead of for themselves?
Any special shoutouts?
Thanks for allowing us to be apart of this interview! It was really fun! Your questions were thought provoking and provide the readers with something to think about in their own journey.