Spending Money Where it Matters | Chris Mamula

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In today’s episode, Cody and Justin are joined by Chris Mamula who is about to release his new Choose FI book.

Chris has a great and relatable story that we really think everyone could follow.

His story was also met with a lot of the same mental struggles we all face on this journey.

Chris and his family are now financially independent in Utah.

Listen and follow along with the summary below and make sure to check out the links at the bottom of the page.

Episode Summary

  • Chris and his wife have always been financially aware
  • He was able to get through college debt-free
  • His wife started working a year prior to him but she was carrying $20k in student debt
  • Chris got his masters in physical therapy while his wife focused on math and operations research
  • When they graduated Chris and his wife were both making in the mid 30k range
  • They eventually got their income up to the 80-90k range each 
  • From the start, they were saving ~50% of their income
  • Making a move to a rural city would eventually really increase their income
  • Interesting note that medical professionals can often earn more in small markets
  • Chris did end up utilizing a financial advisor that was really taking advantage of him with fees
  • They would go on to pay their house off in seven years and really start investing
  • In 2012 they discovered they were going to have a child after not thinking it was possible
  • Chris admits that he was a touch depressed at the idea of having a child
  • It just seemed like all their financial plans were going to fall apart
  • But just a few months later, he was all in after seeing that sonogram
  • Around this time he discovers FIRE and starts really getting smart on investing
  • He decided to start handling his own investments and how to restructure his $400k nest egg
  • You can check out Chris’ full portfolio at his blog Can I Retire Yet
  • That strategy has obviously worked as they got to retire a year ago
  • Then Chris discusses how they would decide where to live in retirement
  • They ended up landing at Ogden, Utah (skiing was big criteria)
  • In reality, his wife was offered a remote job that allowed them to keep insurance with few hours and Chris got a book idea
  • Chris had no idea what writing a book would entail but knew he wanted to do a series of interviews
  • Being able to tie all those chapters into a cohesive story turned out to be a challenge
  • The biggest thing he learned in the writing process was that designing a life you want is much more important than actually retiring
  • He also calls out what a difference it can make to turn saving money into a fun competition versus it feeling like a chore
  • Chris isn’t sure he’ll ever actually stop putting in work but certainly isn’t worried about pay
  • Then we transition the discussion on how Chris is raising his young child in regards to money and educational path

Key Takeaways

  1. Saving fixes all: They didn’t make a ton of money, they got cheated by advisors, they had a kid…but they retired early
  2. Mental is tougher than money: Several examples were covered about psychology and those mental hurdles are so much tougher than an equation
  3. Relief not retired: The main focus should be on building a life you love not simply retiring because that’s where the happiness really comes from

Call to Action

Chris has such a love for the outdoors and so do we. This week we just want you to lower the stress and back away from the computer and get outside.

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Learn More About Chris!

Pre-order the Choose FI Book Chris wrote

Contact Chris:

Via his blog Can I Retire Yet

Learn More About Your Hosts:

Fly to FI (Cody’s Blog)

Saving-Sherpa (Justin’s blog)