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Coast FI at 24 and a $99K Net Worth Thanks to a Few Years of Pure Hustle


Could Coast FI be your BEST path to financial independence? Maybe you don’t want to retire early—not yet, at least. Hustle for a few years, invest your money, and watch it snowball instead! This twenty-four-year-old saved nearly $100,000 with this strategy, and in today’s episode, she’ll show you how to do the same!

Emma von Weise was determined to take control of her finances at a very early age, getting her first job at just fourteen years old and saving money at every opportunity. This allowed her to not only escape college debt-free but also build a $99,000 net worth, a figure that will make her Coast FI until retirement—which isn’t on the radar anytime soon! Using her newfound financial freedom, Emma has built her “dream” life by working in a field she loves and taking plenty of time off to travel.

In this episode, Emma shares about all of the different jobs and side hustles she took up to supercharge her savings, as well as several creative “hacks” she used to help fund her college tuition. She also talks about some of the pivotal moments that shaped her views on personal finance, such as discovering the power of compound interest and finding an entire support system through the FI community!

Mindy:
This show is for anyone who is trying to take their first step forward towards financial freedom. You do not have to earn a lot to make progress. Hello, hello, hello and welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. My name is Mindy Jensen and we at BiggerPockets have a goal of creating 1 million millionaires. So Scott and I are here to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you are starting. And joining me today as always is my highly educated co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
Mindy, you took that intro and took it to the third degree. Wonderful to be here with you. It is graduation season here in the US and many young graduates will be leaving college burdened with student loan debt and the general financial responsibilities of entering into the world of adulthood, which is very depressing here for most, except for Emma. Emma Von Wise was our guest today on the show, and she at the age of 24 has been working hard and financially supporting herself for a decade. She is coast by already and you’re going to hear an incredible story of hard work, perseverance, and overcoming obstacle after obstacle. On today’s show. We couldn’t be more excited. Emma, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast.

Emma:
Hi, Scott Minnie, thanks so much for having me.

Mindy:
I’m so excited to talk to you, Emma. Okay, so Emma and I met on a cruise, Amberly Grant’s, fintechs Cruise. This past January we went with 63 other five folks. And so Emma, I know a bit about your situation, but for our listeners, I would love to go back to a little bit past your birth and start talking about your journey with money. Where do you think your journey with money begins and how did that happen?

Emma:
I think it’s really hard to pinpoint a specific period. I think I’ve always been hyper independent, very always in tune with what I needed to do to be successful. Always a high achiever. And so money was just, I felt like looking back another box for me to check and another thing for me to understand and learn about it was so important to me to start working and start making money so that I could be financially independent and that I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents or anything because they weren’t in the position to financially support me either. And so just kind of counting down the days until I turned 14 to legally be able to work.

Scott:
Were there any moments that you remember here that catalyzed this interest in personal finance that stand out?

Emma:
I really think it was just as I started working and making money, just what do I do with it? And that took me five to eight years to really find concrete answers. I think there’s so much information out there on the internet, but it can be really hard to find actionable information that you can actually take things away from. And so it took me a while to get there, but really just working and just saving. I remember hanging out at my friend’s houses, I checked my bank accounts religiously and I’d be transferring hundreds of dollars into my savings. I’m like, oh, let me just get that out of my checking. As that built up, it was just what do I do with it? What did you do with it? And I think we’ll get into this a little bit later, but just saving up for a car college.
But it ended up where those things didn’t cost as much as I had saved for. And so I remember one day walking into a bank and saying, okay, what do I do with this? And banks do not help you invest your money apparently. And so someone, they put me in a CD for 18 months, so I had my 3%. I was very proud of my 3%. And then I remember in college somebody tried to sell me whole life insurance. They sent me this whole thing how I was going to get guaranteed 4%. Now 4% was a lot better than my 3%, so I was like, wow, this dude knows what he’s talking about. Fortunately, I did not buy a whole life insurance policy at that time, but I had a really great mentor who sat me down and kind of explained, okay, here’s how this works. And that was my big aha moment and he showed me Vanguard and a Roth IRA and just how to invest.

Scott:
So starting at the age of 14, you began working. I imagine there are numerous jobs between then and college. Could you tell us about what that was like, how much you were able to accumulate there? You stuck it in a 3% yield. You’re way ahead of most people at this point in time and coming from a complete lack of financial education, it seems like in this context, this is kind of like an innate journey that you’re going on. So really impressive here, but could you correct anything I said there and tell us about the jobs that you had here to generate this income?

Emma:
Yeah, so 14, there was an ice cream shop by my house that I really wanted to work at. They did not want to hire a 14-year-old, but I had found out that legally they could, they didn’t care. And so I ended up working on my aunt’s salsa stands and she was selling salsa that she created herself. And so we’d go to different farmers’ markets and I’d sell the salsa offer samples. I think that was $5 an hour. And so I did that for maybe about a year until I was able to get a job at a local Mexican restaurant down the street from my house and it was walking distance, so that was super nice. So after a year or two, I ended up working full-time. A lot of weeks I would get overtime. And then from there, just multiple side jobs. I remember working at a rec center, that was actually probably my worst job performance to date. That was at the time probably the third or fourth gig that I had picked up, and it was once a week and always a different day. And there were two times within six months of me starting that I actually totally forgot to show up. But it

Mindy:
Sounds like you had a bunch of different jobs all at the same time at age 14, 15. What’s going on that you feel that you need to have so many different jobs?

Emma:
I didn’t really have a guiding purpose. It was just get as much as I possibly could because you never know what’s going to happen. Like I said, I needed to pay for a car. And so that was kind of my first goal. And then I knew school was coming up and I knew those things were going to be more than I could ever save for. So it was just get as much as I possibly could.

Mindy:
Emma, how much were you making at these jobs?

Emma:
So I think until I started my first big girl job, salary job out of college, it was probably most I ever made was $12 an hour. Now there were a couple serving jobs in college with tips and everything that ends up being more, and I donated plasma for three years. But wage wise, hourly wise, I was never paid more than $12 an hour until I graduated college. And through that, when I was 2021, I had saved up about $50,000 and that was just socking everything I could away.

Mindy:
You saved up $50,000 by 21.

Scott:
It’s unbelievable.

Mindy:
Yeah. Okay. That’s not my same story.

Scott:
This is unbelievable. I think that thinking back to my high school days, this was not something that was on my radar. It was not. This need to accumulate was not there. And I’m wondering if we can dig a little deeper there and see what was going on with your family that might’ve triggered this need to work this hard and to accumulate this cash at this point in time.

Emma:
So looking back, and I had this conversation with my mom a few months ago, so I found out that around 2008 when the housing market crashed, my dad was in real estate, great place to be in 2008, and I guess he came home one day and told my mom, Hey, FYI quit my job and I’m going to go start this business with my friend fixing houses. And I don’t think that lasted very long, but I think after that he started working as a pizza delivery driver for several years. And I think there was just a lot of scarcity around that time. And I was also watching my sister on the evenings and over the summer, and so my mom would pay me for that, just babysitting money, 10 bucks or whatever. But I would remember that at the end of those two weeks when her paycheck was about to come very often she would ask for gas money.
She gave me that allowance, but then she didn’t realize that, oh, she was going to need that. And so that happened regularly. There was a time at Walmart, I remember we were checking out to buy some stuff for a birthday party I was doing with friends and their card declined. And by that point I was working and so I was like, oh, I can pay for this. And so just feeling the need to be that backstop and to see where maybe they weren’t making the right decisions, I just wanted to make sure that I was set up for myself and also for them to make sure that they were going to be okay in the future.

Mindy:
Emma, how did you spend your 18th birthday?

Emma:
What a fun question, Mindy, to give you a little bit insight on what a super nerd I actually am as I’m looking for all these answers, I was like, all these rich people, they have really great credit scores. I was like, so that must be super duper important for me to have a good credit score building block to a good credit score is to get a credit card. I don’t stay up late, you guys. I’m like a 9:00 PM bedtime kind of gal. But on my 18th birthday, I stayed up until 1201 and I applied for my very first credit card with Discover because I was so excited to build my credit score. It’s pretty good right now, just saying, but

Scott:
That’s awesome. So working on the 800 credit score from 12:01 AM that’s phenomenal. So you couldn’t get it done right at exactly 12:00 AM

Emma:
Oh, I’m just a slacker, Scott. I think always a little bit behind procrastinating. Yes.

Mindy:
Everything about your story so far has been that of a procrastinator who is a slacker. Alright, I want to hear more about how shouldering your financial future pushed you to care more about money as an adult. And we will be right back after this quick break.

Scott:
Welcome back. You just heard about Emma’s work ethic and how she procrastinated by waiting one minute after turning 18 to get her very first credit card and how she saved $50,000 by age 21. Emma, great to have you back here on the BiggerPockets Money podcast. Can you tell us about how, I think you alluded to this earlier, your first car and your college came in way below your projection. I would love to hear about both of those items and how you made that happen.

Emma:
So I’ll briefly touch on the car. So that ended up being two cars. My first car, I was very proud. I bought a 2009 Honda Civic for about $5,500.

Scott:
That’s your second mistake here. The Toyota Corolla is so much better value from that year than the Honda Civic. It’s like, oh my gosh, that’s another at least 2% error.

Emma:
Where were you when I was buying my car? So that Honda lasted me eight weeks might be being a little generous. I did total it very quickly. It wasn’t totally my fault, but that’s what they all say. And then the next one after that ended up being more of a junker. It was 200,000 miles an oh five Ford Escape for $2,000 and I just got rid of that last year. So that lasted me quite a while.

Scott:
Now you have the Corolla, right?

Emma:
No, not quite. I have a nice little 2 20 13 Nissan Murano. The fire car people would probably be mad at me for that one.

Scott:
Well, you’ll get there soon. You’ll get there soon. You’ll make the right choice one of these years on that front. Okay, so those are the cars and it sounds like, did you do anything special to get these deals? Because in my experience, people don’t work as hard as you do and then just willy-nilly buy a vehicle. There’s a tremendous amount of research and optimization that goes into finding the right opportunity. Was that true in your case?

Emma:
Yeah, so at the time I swore by buying cars on offer up, it’s like Facebook marketplaces crusty or cousin, but I did not have Facebook at the time, and so I had offer up just because buying from a private seller I think makes so much sense. They’re trying to get rid of it. They don’t have the higher dealership costs, but then you also need to do your due diligence there to make sure that it’s passes inspection and everything. But I had a lot of luck with

Scott:
OfferUp, a lot of luck after. Sounds like a good amount of self-education on how to buy from private sellers and do your own due diligence.

Emma:
Of course.

Scott:
How many hours would you say you put into doing that due diligence across these three vehicles in terms of just generally learning and then actually conducting the due diligence? And do you have any resources that you would point listeners to if they’re trying to repeat that

Emma:
Resources? No, not at the time. I was not the most experienced of car buyers. I think I probably got very lucky with my first one. It was a salvage car and it was just cheap. And I was like, great. I’ve been told to buy a Honda or a Toyota. So that’s what I’m going with.

Mindy:
Okay. I have a resource for buying used cars, especially if you don’t have somebody in your life who is really knowledgeable about cars. You go to car talk.com/mechanics-files, and this is a great place to find a mechanic that the car talk guys like that can go through the car and give you an honest assessment of what’s going on with the car. Hey, this car’s awesome because it’s a Corolla Scott and you’re going to love it. Or Hey, this car isn’t doing so well, the transmission’s about to go and it’s got four bald tires and whatever. And you’re like, Hey, that sounds great. I’ll buy it anyway. But the car talk guys, I don’t know. Scott, did you ever listen to Car Talk on NPR? Nope. Oh my goodness, you don’t even know what this is. These are two guys who are MIT professors or something and they just happen to working on cars and people would call up and be like, Hey, my car makes this noise ka kaung. And they’re like, oh, I know exactly what that is. And it was always that thing and it’s a great show, but they still have this really great list of mechanics that you can go to help out with your car. So definitely go check that out.

Scott:
Yeah, this is just an experience I lack because I’ve only bought two cars, a 2014 Toyota Corolla and a 2022 RAV4, so neither of which has broken down. I think my biggest issue besides standard maintenance in the Corolla is a $10 tire patch when I hit a nail. So that’s in 10 years, aside from replacing the tires after whatever miles. So anyways, sorry, I’m digressing here. This is not an ad for Toyota. I don’t know why I’m saying all this here. I’ve never been this excited about the car, but I guess I’m just having fun.

Emma:
I’m just going to call you Scott next time I need to do car.

Scott:
Let’s keep moving here. So it sounds like you bought a used car from a marketplace direct from seller, did some exercises to find a little bit about it, got a little bit lucky, but generally kept your costs very low here. Let’s talk about the bigger one, which I think is college. How did you finance college and come out way ahead there?

Emma:
I picked my college based off which one gave me the most money and I was a pretty good student, so I had a little bit of scholarships from the school that covered probably 35% of my costs and then it was already a more affordable school. But big thing was just I was intensely curious about the college process because I was paying for it myself. So learning all about the FAFSA and learning all about just all the forms and everything that comes with it. One of the most impactful things is you always hear, oh, you can go to a two year community college, but I didn’t want to go to a two year community college. I wanted to leave home and go somewhere else. That was very important to me. So while I could have saved money living at home and paying lower tuition rates, that just was not an option for me.
And so once I got to school, it was within my budget I had planned, I wanted to spend I think $5,000 a year or something. That was my goal. It was an arbitrary goal. It wasn’t based off what I had. I was just like, I think $5,000 a year would be good for college. And my first bill came and that was around three to 5,000 for the first semester. And I was like, that’s not my budget. My budget was five for the year. So I was like, okay, what am I going to do here? The first thing I did that kind of jumpstarted, this was over the summer after my first year, I took a couple classes through the community college was like, why don’t I just speed this up a little bit? I’ll take a couple over the summer. And then I did that and they were super easy.
First of all, some were online. I remember taking a biology lab online and it was literally click this beaker and fill it with 40 milliliters of liquid and I just click it and it’d fill with 40 milliliters of liquid. And I was like, oh, this is pretty nice. So I had probably the easiest biology class of any college person you’ll ever meet, but I was like this, it gave me so much time flexibility, and I did the math and I was like, I’m saving a thousand dollars per community college class that I take. And so I reached out to my school and I was like, Hey, can I do this while I’m in the semester too? And they were like, yeah, no reason why not. As long as you get 30 credit hours from our school, it doesn’t matter. You still get your degree from us.
From there, I just started transferring in as many community college classes as I could. It was a lot of work to, I was in the course catalogs comparing the class titling what the summary is, the description compared to the community college one, I’d find similar ones. I’d email the success coaches, I’d be like, Hey, can I transfer this one? Does this count for this? And sometimes they’d say yes, and sometimes they’d say no. I would have to get approval from department directors sometimes to transfer one in that was similar but not quite right. And overall, I think I transferred around seven to 10 classes in, and so each one equates to about a thousand dollars of savings. On top of that. I was getting the time flexibility in that I was able to take some of those classes online or over eight weeks instead of 16. So after that I was really only taking two classes at any time in any eight week period. And that allowed me more time to work and do other things because I was still taking 18 to 21 credit hours a semester, but it was just so much more spread out than a lot of my peers were.

Scott:
That’s a really impressive hack. I’ve never heard of that one and I think it’s fantastic. I do understand that this is only one part of your way you Cashflow College. And another major component to this comes from I think something involving pushups, uniforms, and perhaps footwear with literal straps that you use to hoist yourself up by here. Could you tell us about that part of the journey here?

Emma:
Yeah, so you wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I spent two years in the Army ROTC program, and that was another little loophole I found out about. Our school was a military heavy campus. I went to Park University. They had one in-person campus, but about 41 military campuses. And so if you had military background in your family or whatnot, you got a reduced tuition rate. I had a friend actually told me about this. She was like, oh, I’m in ROTC. And I was like, you don’t seem like ROTC type. And she was like, oh, well I’m not actually joining the army, but Park had a program where if you just joined the ROTC program without the intent of joining the army, you could still get a reduced tuition rate and that was about half of the actual tuition rate per credit hour. And so I talked to the ROTC program director, I was like, Hey, I’m not going to join the Army, but I see this is an avenue to get a lower tuition rate.
Is that acceptable for me to do? And they were like, yeah, we just want people to get exposed to the program. And so I did it for about six months full force. I put on the uniform, the boots, I wore my little hat, I jelled my hair back. I would show up to PT a couple times a week, 7:00 AM with my ruck sack going on hikes, running around with my rubber duck gun. It was a fun site to see. Every once in a while I would get calls from the officers and they’d be like, Hey Emma, we saw your PT results. You did four pushups, you need like 25 to join the army. And I was like, well, my goal isn’t to join. I’m just here to hang out. And that’s when I found out that I didn’t even need to go to pt. So I was like, sweet, I’m not going to PT anymore. I just need to show up to class. And so the last year I just went to class and they were okay with that and I learned so much about the actual army. I have so much respect for the people that do go into that path. I met so many amazing people. It just was not the path for me, but it was very amazing that they had that as an option.

Mindy:
I am so astonished that you took this information and then pursued it. I can’t tell you how many people I talked to and they’re like, oh, give me all this information or do you know about this? And I will give them information and I run into them a little bit later and Oh, hey, did you ever do anything with that? No. Your friend told you about this program that you didn’t really want to join, but you looked into it further and discovered that you could in fact get reduced tuition just by joining this program. I think that’s awesome that you took the initiative as well as the community college. Unlike Scott, I actually have heard of this hack. I did it myself a hundred years ago when I was in college because of biology class is a biology class. I mean, they didn’t have the internet when I was in college, so I didn’t do it online.
I actually had to go to the class and pour 40 milliliters into the beaker. But I mean, I don’t think there’s any benefit to being in person versus doing it online and saving a thousand dollars per class. First of all, let’s not even go down the rabbit hole of how expensive college is and how ridiculous. It’s so expensive. But the fact that you took these ideas and ran with them, I know so many people who are like, oh, I guess college just costs a thousand dollars a class, so that’s what I’ll pay. And they don’t even look for different ways to reduce their costs. Emma, you’re my hero.

Scott:
I can tell by the shared example of filling up the beaker that you guys are both glass half full people. We understand that you had a mentor that really helped change your financial future, and I’d love to hear about that right after this break. Welcome back to the bigger BCUs Money podcast. We’re here with our non Toyota car buying friend here. Emma, I understand that at one point you were introduced to a mentor that changed your trajectory with finance. You accumulated a lot of wealth and sounds like I’m hoping this is where investing begins to come into your journey. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

Emma:
I joined college as a math major. I was always good at math. Coinciding with that is I was also getting super into my personal finances and helping my friends and learning how to budget and just doing all the things. And so I joined our school’s business and investment club. And at one point we had somebody come into the class, his name was Rob Jones, and he talked about the financial planning program at our college. And at that time I was listening. I was like, oh, this seems like exactly what I’m doing and what I want to do. I didn’t know this was a thing. I’m like, you mean I can do my hobby as a job? And I was very suspicious at the time. I was like, this seems too good to be true. Seems too niche financial planning, who does that? I was like, I’m a math major, I can do whatever I want with that.
And so for a while I was just very apprehensive, but I went and I met with Rob and we talked about it and I ended up joining the financial planning program. And part of that is I was like, okay, you are a financial planner. Where am I supposed to be investing? Because I’ve been on all the top 10 stock websites and this doesn’t feel legitimate to me. And he took me to his firm’s office and we sat in the big conference room and he explained two things that have changed my life. First thing he showed me was the stock market generally trends up. It’s volatile, but over the course of time it goes up. And I was like, okay, that’s pretty cool. And then the other thing was he’s like, okay, so if it goes up, but we don’t know which companies are going to go up, so we buy all the companies and that’s it. And so of course he was talking about index funds and the power of holding thousands of companies rather than one. He showed me, we opened up a Vanguard Roth IRA at that time. I fully funded the Roth the minute we opened it.
At the time he put me in a target date fund. He was, okay, so the stock market’s generally trending up. We’re going to buy this target date fund that has these indexes in it that hold all the stocks and your job is to not touch it. And so that was just super impactful for me. And I remember he showed me a compound interest calculator and seeing that I just felt this weight lift off my shoulders. I was like, oh, if I keep doing this, I’m going to be okay. And I just felt so much more peace and I was like, wow, I want to do that for others now too.

Scott:
So how old are you? What year in college? How much have you had in savings at this moment in time and what changes?

Emma:
I probably was maybe, I want to say 20, I want to say this was October, 2020.

Scott:
And so at 1201 on your 21st birthday,

Emma:
So it would’ve been October, 2020, so that’s when I put that full Roth amount. I think it was $6,000 at the time. But at this point I had saved up a good chunk of money, so I probably got $10,000 of refunds from my school just from fafsa. And just because I got my tuition cost so low that any other aid was refunded to me, I probably saved up about $35,000. And for the next three Januarys, after that, I fully funded my Roth, but I didn’t want to just put it in Roth. I at that point had gotten more sophisticated in my personal finance journey. I found good resources in Choose Fi and other podcasts. And so I knew the power of the taxable brokerage account and the flexibility that it affords. And so this wasn’t intentional, but it’s kind of turned out that way where I matched pretty much exactly what I’ve put in my Roth, I’ve put in my taxable brokerage account.
And both were just kind of over the course of maybe a couple years as I got more and more comfortable with investing and putting that cash that I had in the market. I did big chunks, but just slowly as I got comfortable. And so I’ve put probably about 25,000 principal into each account now, and then they’ve grown to about 35 each. And so right now they’re about equal, which is super nice. And just that having that brokerage account just to me, my, I can leave a job whenever I want, whenever I’m not happy and I can take a year. That has been my goal for a while to just have the flexibility. Now, I love my job. I’m going to be here for a while, but just to have that flexibility to take a year just gives me so much peace of mind that I didn’t want to lock it all up in retirement accounts.

Scott:
Love it. I completely agree with that mentality here. I do have an important question here. Did you go with the Toyota or the Honda of stock market index fund ETFs?

Emma:
What’s Toyota and what’s Honda here?

Scott:
I just want to see if she picked the Vanguard.

Emma:
Oh yeah. No, I was all vanguard for years. I promise I was all Vanguard. B-T-S-A-X and Shield baby.

Scott:
Love it. Awesome. So great. We’re rocking and rolling here on this. I completely agree that look, the retirement accounts are great, but especially for someone in their early twenties, if you’re maxing out your retirement account, if you’re like Emma or I’ll say like me when I was 23 or whatever, trying to really get ahead from the fire journey. If you’re maxing out your retirement accounts, something’s wrong because you’re going to use that optionality for something really important in the next couple of years. If you are taking the steps that Emma took and really trying to get ahead here, you’re going to be able to buy a business with that or take a year off or buy a rental property or do something that has the potential to be dramatically more impactful to you than VT Saxon show. How did the journey go from here?

Emma:
Really, it’s been building over the last couple years. Right out of college, I started working in the industry as a financial planner, well, financial planner assistant. They don’t put me in charge quite yet, but I got my first job out of college making, it was probably about $45,000 a year, and I knew day one at that company that it probably wasn’t a good fit. I was like, okay, do I stay for a year, get my CFP or do I wait until or do I just switch companies now? Do it then. And I ended up six months after joining that company, I started with my current firm and that was one of the best decisions that I ever made. Not only was it a major personality fit, but I didn’t realize that when you’re right out of college, you get paid entry level price. But the fact that I had spent six months at another company made me not entry level anymore, gave me experience.
And so my next company, whereas I started my last one was 45. The next company started me out at 72. And that was a huge increase that I didn’t expect because I wasn’t entry level anymore. They paid me more money and they didn’t treat me as entry level. And that has also accelerated my path here at the firm because if I hadn’t had that prior experience, I might’ve started at a lower level and it would’ve taken me even longer to get where I am now. But because they had that trust in me from that prior experience, it’s just accelerated everything.

Mindy:
So at what age did you discover the fire movement?

Emma:
That’s interesting. So in my personal finance journey for a while it was looking for resources. And my first resource, everyone’s loudest, most favorite uncle was Dave Ramsey. So I for a while went full force into the saving, budgeting, everything. But as I’m listening to Dave, and I mean it took me four or five months before I was answering the questions for him, I think we all get to that point where we’re like, oh, I can answer this one. I did that for a while and probably pissed off some friends in the process. They were like, oh my god, Emma, this budgeting thing is getting a little out of hand. Probably my mother a little bit too,

Mindy:
I can relate.

Emma:
But I very quickly was like, okay, I don’t have debt. I’m investing. This doesn’t really apply to me. So looking for other answers, and I don’t a hundred percent remember how I found them, but I found she was FI and I was like, oh my god, this is it. And that’s when I switched that target date fund to V-T-S-A-X. And then it was a couple of years ago, Jeremy Schneider from Personal Finance Club posted about economy and he was like, Hey, there’s this really cool personal finance conference if anyone’s interested, totally recommend signing up. And it was a month from when it started. So I think that was November, 2021. And he posted probably October. And at the time I knew that my school had a conference budget that nobody ever used. So I did get my school to pay for me to go to my very first economy in 2021.
And I am there and I met a friend in the hotel lobby first morning, and he invites me to have breakfast with them. And we walk to the conference together and we go to check in. And if you’ve been to economy, you know that the check-in is almost like a little family reunion. And he knew everybody. And I was like, how do you know all these people? This is a conference. I’ve never been to a conference and known this many people. And he was like, oh, well, I go to camp with them and I’m like, camp here are 35 years old. What are you doing at camp? Do they know you’re at this camp? That’s a little weird.
And that January, I went to my first Camp Phi in Florida and I met just the most amazing people. I was like, it is the kindest, most supportive, most intelligent community of people that I’ve ever met in my life. And to just have so many like-minded people where for so long I didn’t have really anyone to talk to about money and to learn from and to share ideas with that. It was just transformational for me. And since then I’ve probably been to six or seven camps. I’ve got a couple more lined up. We went on that cruise last year. I just got back from a trip to St. Louis where I just went to hang out with some of my best five friends. I really just have the most amazing community of people now just built from attending these in-person fire events. I

Mindy:
Love that so much. I want to shout out who introduced you to camp as a 30 5-year-old? Who was that?

Emma:
That would be Alex Wong. Everyone loves Alex.

Mindy:
Everyone loves Alex. I love that you connected with him right at the beginning. He is, yeah. He knows everybody in the PHI community. And what I love so much about this is Dave Ramsey isn’t wrong. He’s just not right for everybody. And he’s really great to get you from a negative net worth up to zero. But then afterwards his principles may apply to you or you may start to feel like this doesn’t really work for me. And then just finding more things to look at. I love that Jeremy Schneider, I love that he posted something about economy and you went, not only did you go, you knew that your college had money to send you there, and you’re like, Hey, could you pay for this? And they said, yes. That’s awesome. There’s so many people who would be like, oh, I can’t afford to go, so I’m just not going to go.
You don’t take no for an answer, and I love that so much about you. Camp Phi for those who are not familiar is the website is camp phi.org and it’s run by Steven Boyer. He was on episode 474 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast talking about the camps and the different options that are available. Scott and I have been to the one in Florida. We’ve also, I’ve been to the one in Rocky Mountain. My husband’s been to the one in California and the one in the Midwest. It kind of travels in a bunch of different places around the country. So there’s going to be one closer to you than maybe Florida is if you’re not in Florida. But yeah, it’s an awesome time to just go and spend with people who are in this journey along with you because where do you live? I live in the mecca of phi. I forget that not everybody is completely surrounded by other people in this community. And it can be a little bit hard to stay the course when you’re not surrounded by like-minded people. So going to Camp Phi can really help remind you that yes, this is not a weird thing to do, or maybe it is a weird thing, but there’s other weirdos too, and you can all hang out together and have a great time.

Scott:
I have so many questions here. I want to hear what’s next. I to hear how your journey is going to progress from here when you’re going to get the Toyota of cars and your future when you’re going to make your annual pilgrimage to Longmont, as Mindy alluded, the mecca of PHI and all that. But before we go there, I would love to hear a quick overview of what is your current financial position and how do we sum up this success that you’ve had on this journey so far?

Emma:
Yeah, so currently still building, I am at $99,000 net worth. I was really hoping I could eek it out to a hundred before at this call, but couldn’t make it happen. And so really everyone asks me what my FI number is, when am I retiring? Fortunately, I have found a career that I love. I turn my hobby into my job. I get to do financial planning every day with amazing clients and amazing teammates. And so I see that going for a very long time. So I have no plans to retire. What I do plan to do is do my job differently over time. And by saving and accumulating and having that taxable brokerage account, it gives me the freedom and flexibility to make changes as my life changes and as my needs change. My goal is not right now necessarily financial independence. I almost feel financially independent now just because I’ve set myself up financially in a way that I have a lot more choices than most.
I save 25% of my gross income, and I don’t see that drastically increasing, that savings rate drastically increasing. At the end of last year, I got a pretty substantial raise. I put the entirety of that into savings. I felt like since starting that first $50,000 a job, I’ve had a sufficient amount of lifestyle creep because my expenses have gone up a little bit. I have just set myself up in such a way where I don’t need to have put everything away and I don’t need to scrimp on the things that I care about. Instead, I scrimp on the things that I don’t care about. I don’t go out to eat all that much. We cook food at home. I don’t spend much money on bars or anything, but I spend where it’s really important to me. And travel is one of those. And seeing my friends is one of those.
And so it’s really just building and also working on my emotional health and finding hobbies outside of work and doing all those things where I am creating a life now where I’m not going to want to retire from it. And I think that’s been my benefit of joining the PHI community when I did is there’s been a huge shift over the last few years as people are retiring and they’re like, okay, now what? I’ve been fortunate enough to get to learn from those people and take their ideas as my own. And so I’m doing that now as building a life outside of work that makes me happy and fulfills me full of people and activities and so that I can just keep working and just work differently. I

Scott:
Love that perspective, and that has been a major shift in the PHI community. If that was there 10 years ago, I might’ve pursued my journey differently because the goal was financial independence, not whatever comes after that or whatever. It was just ama the money and get to that, get to the finish line there. And so I love the fact that at 24 you have this perspective on it, which I think is much healthier.

Mindy:
So I just want to highlight at the beginning of the show, I said that Emma is Coast Fi and she just revealed that she has a net worth of, I’m going to round you up because you round up when it’s nine. Her net worth is a hundred thousand dollars at age 24. So that means by the time she’s 32, according to the rule of 72, which says very loosely, you can expect your assets to double about every eight years or so making like 9%, which is very reasonable. So at age 32, you would have $200,000. In age 40, you would have $400,000, age 48, 800,000, age 56, 1 0.6 million and age 6 4, 3 0.2 million. Now if I mess up any of that math email, I don’t care. Tell me something else.com. But that and past performance is not indicative of future gains, but this is a highlight of what Coast Fi means. And this is if she never puts any more money into her savings accounts in her retirement accounts, and by the past few minutes of her story, you know that that’s not going to happen. She is going to continue to put money into her accounts and that will allow her to live however she wants because she has retirement now taken care of. Now she can start to shorten her retirement time if she chooses, or she could continue to work and just have a net worth of 400 million at age 64. I believe in you, Emma.

Emma:
Thanks. We’re going for 400 gajillion though.

Mindy:
400 gajillion. You heard it here first. Emma is going to be the first 400 gajillionaire in America.

Emma:
I do want to take a moment to share a little bit about this organization, third decade that I’m a part of. I think a lot of us in the personal finance community, we have all this knowledge and we see this need, but we don’t know really where to plug in. And third decade is a really amazing nonprofit that pairs with young people from 25 to 35, and it gives them financial education and then pairs them with a coach. And that coach as a coach, you spend two hours with them going over their situation. So it’s very plug and it’s a very easy way to give back and share your knowledge if you are looking for an opportunity to be a financial coach, but also if you have a young person in your life that may need some guidance in that area and they don’t want to listen to you because what do you know? They’re looking for mentors and they’re looking for mentees.

Scott:
And this is a nonprofit, correct?

Emma:
Yes. It’s a 5 0 1 C3.

Scott:
Awesome. So these coaches are volunteering to help out with young people who want to learn from them on there. What a wonderful way to impart knowledge and what a wonderful resource to point young people too. So this is awesome. And can you remind us the name of it one more time and the website?

Emma:
It is third decade, three rd decade.org.

Mindy:
Awesome. Emma, thank you. I have never heard of third decade before, so I’m super excited to go check that out. But also, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. I think it is really important for people to hear that you can still reach cofi, lean Fi, fat fi, whatever, fi, even if you were only ever making $12 an hour before you turn 21. You just have to have the drive and the insatiability to want to pursue this. And I love your story so much. So thank you for joining us today.

Emma:
Thank you guys so much for having me. It’s been fun.

Mindy:
Holy cow, Scott, that was Emma and that was delightful. I love the curiosity that just kind of rules her life. Curiosity about money, savings, finances, how to get somebody else to foot the bill for her economy conference. I love her so much. What’d you think of the show?

Scott:
I’m scared for millennials because the Gen Z folks seem like of everything that’s going on, and it’s not just like her as an outlier getting her credit card at 1201. It’s like all the Gen Zs. So this is a generation that’s going to take over the world and save America from US. Millennials here.

Mindy:
Hey, not all of us are millennials. Some of us are from Gen X.

Scott:
Yeah. So I actually have a fun fact about that one because I was like, she’s completely right. She has a hundred grand saved up if she just does nothing else but invest that if she’s going to have well over a million dollars by the time she has a traditional retirement age at 65, fun fact that average Genzer has $33,000 saved for retirement according to Fortune. That means that they have saved an average of $113 a month for their entire life to this point. And if they just do that and just continue to save $113 a month and invest, they will have $1.8 million by the time they retire without doing anything else in inflation adjusted wealth. So that’s a pretty remarkable statistic here, and these guys are going to have it all set up from a very early age. And I am really intrigued to see the lifestyle and contributions that these guys make as a generation here.

Mindy:
What was that number, Scott? 32,000.

Scott:
$33,000 saved according to this random article I found on Yahoo Finance,

Mindy:
I found another article. You said 33,000 for Gen Z. I’m like, oh, I wonder what Gen X has. Gen X is a little bit older. We have on average $40,000 in retirement savings. So Gen Z is in their twenties saving for retirement. They have slightly less than Gen X who’s in their fifties and sixties needing the retirement money. That is, I think that’s a pretty good assessment, Scott, that Gen Z is going to take over the world.

Scott:
Okay. Yet another random internet source declares this is USA today that millennials have amassed $62,600 in retirement savings.

Mindy:
Oh, good for them.

Scott:
Better than Gen Z? I don’t know. I think Gen Z’s ahead given the age gap there. So I think mostly here on BiggerPockets money, talk to folks from the millennial, maybe Gen X generations. But this Gen Z generation, we want to make sure that financial independence is attainable

Mindy:
For everyone, no matter when or where you’re starting. And Emma is showing that yes, you can Gen Z can, millennials can even Gen X can. Gen X needs to kick it up a notch.

Scott:
And what we’ll probably spend most of our time talking about how to achieve financial independence and build wealth well, we’ll spread across the generations. Boy does it help to get started in high school and get going on this journey and begin saving and coming out of college with no debt and a plan. Wow. Rocking and rolling. That’s going to have a lifetime of optionality there.

Mindy:
Yeah, and that’s the whole thing, optionality. You don’t have to quit your job, but now you have the flexibility to take reduced hours, to take an extended vacation, to take a sabbatical or to quit your job if you choose. And it just starts with a little bit at the beginning, the younger you are, the less it has to be. Alright, Scott, I had such a great time talking with Emma, but it is time to go. That wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money podcast. He, of course is the Scott Trench, and I am Mindy Jensen saying, stay afloat. Mounting goat

Outro:
BiggerPockets money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, produced by Hija, edited by Exodus Media Copywriting by Nate Weintraub. And lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

 

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.



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