- Kiersten and Julien Saunders retired at 40 and I want to follow their example.
- Their new book encourages people to reexamine why they want to become financially independent.
- I am reviewing my financial plan and adding 3 tips from their book, including talking about money with other Filipinos.
Since I have $ 96,000 in student loan debt, I never thought it was possible for me to retire earlier, until I read “Cashing Out: Win the Wealth Game by Walking Away” by Kiersten and Julien Saunders.
The book outlines the exact strategies they used to pay off $ 200,000 in debt, retire at 40, and create a lifestyle filled with ease and purpose. I had the pleasure of talking to the Saunders a few weeks ago about their wealth creation journey and the idea of ”cashing in”.
The couple said: “It’s completely counter-cultural, somewhat controversial, when it comes to ‘cashing in’,” which they describe as having enough cash on hand for emergencies, while investing the rest in the market to secure retirement. They also describe the term “cash out” as being able to work as little or as much as they want on projects that align with their values and serve the communities they care about.
Speaking to the Saunders it was as if I had just had a comforting conversation with the older brothers who were encouraging me on the sidelines and giving me generous advice on future wealth creation challenges. Here are three simple changes I’m making to my financial plan after our conversation and reading their book, “Cash Out.”
1. I am reassessing in the first place why I want to achieve financial independence
As a reporter who talks all day to people who have made big money milestones, it’s hard not to compare myself to others who have paid off six figures of student loan debt in less than two years, or people who have made their fortune by investing their money in stock market.
In their book, the Saunders state that assigning purpose to your income helps you build wealth. They write, “If you don’t give your income a purpose, someone else will. And your purpose for your income may not be in your best interest.”
Personally, I’m not trying to build financial independence so I can buy a villa or brag about a branded car. After a deep inner search, I have learned that I want to achieve financial independence so that I can:
- Become a stronger writer
- Travel the world with my blood and my chosen family
- Give back to the causes I believe in, especially for the queer and trans community
- Pay six-figure annual compensation to black and indigenous communities and encourage other wealthy non-black and non-indigenous people to do the same
The Saunders also write: “The act of building wealth is not just a way to enjoy the good things; it allows you to leave the world in a better condition.”
2. I’m increasing my donation budget by $ 10 per month
Early in their wealth creation journey, the Saunders slashed their living expenses, saving at one point 70% of their income from their corporate early retirement jobs. However, the couple have consistently given back to the black community, whether it was by donating money or giving their time and energy to help others.
Equipped with the knowledge that part of my motivation to build wealth is to give back to my community, I realized it would be powerful to increase my donation budget incrementally, starting at $ 10 per month, so that I could have a taste of what it would be like to spend my money when I reach financial independence.
3. Talk to other Filipinos about money
In their book, the Saunders write, “Over the years, we have learned that your greatest defense to avoid being trapped in consumerism is to have a solid foundation of values, a community you can lean on for support and strong beliefs that they drive you are thinking about money. ”
The Saunders also organized a series of virtual dinners called Money on the Table, in which they talked to the black community about their relationship with money and their financial goals for the future.
Coming from a community organizing background, I can understand why opening these conversations helped Saunders stay motivated to achieve their financial goals. To follow in their footsteps, I intend to spend more time talking to my Filipino friends and family about our collective relationship with money.
There is a text from Jay-Z that says, “Around here, we measure success by how many people are successful next to you. Here, let’s say you’re broke if everyone is broke but you.” That sentiment has always stayed with me, but the Saunders gave me the blueprint to actually incorporate my values into my wealth creation plan.