Hello Everyone. Thank you for your patronage to my blog.
My name is Eric and I started this blog in 2014, at the age of 29.
I grew up in the Midwest; born in North Dakota, then Iowa, then spent my formative years in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I had a very good upbringing. My mom was of the stay-at-home variety and when all us kids (older sister and younger brother) got in school, she cleaned houses to keep us well fed. My dad worked for the Boy Scouts for what must have been a decent salary, because I had my own room, a Super Nintendo, and a big backyard.
Today I realize that we were firmly entrenched in the middle-of-the-middle class, but life was good. I could regale you with trumped-up stories of adversity from my childhood–but I assure you they would pale in comparison with perhaps your own and certainly most others. My parents stuck together. We had more campouts than I could count. Every summer meant a two-week Griswold-style roadie to every corner of America. Life was very good.
I started working at McDonald’s three weeks after I turned 15. I quit a year later only to quickly realize that I really needed money. Two years of working for the Colonel (KFC).
At the age of 17, I was sitting in our basement when I got a phone call from an Army National Guard recruiter. Not having a great sense of direction at the time, I made what was probably the most prescient decision of my life–joining the Full-Time Army.
I left home with $2,200 of the Colonel’s money in my pocket and I remember telling my dad I had more money than I knew what to do with. The next seven years were spent in standard Army fashion. Basic Training in Oklahoma, two years in Alaska, a tour in Iraq, and four years at the NSA in Maryland. I finally decided to leave the military in 2009. I spent a few months finishing my Degree at University of Maryland before I started working for defense contractors. During this time I met, dated, and married my out-of-my-league wife, Natasha. I also went on to complete my MBA and a Master’s Degree in Finance–both of which are sitting in a box somewhere. I couldn’t say exactly.
My wife and I did the smart things. Bought a home, had a baby, made her a stay-at-home-mommy (just as we both had).
In the spring of 2014, I had a revelation. A trio of inaugural posts covers this in greater detail, but in summary, I began to question the whole work-life structure that I grew up understanding. While I was looking at a man standing in his boat on a Tuesday afternoon, I realized that only one of us was truly living–and it wasn’t me.
I set out that day on a mission to retire from the normal grind of work before my daughter goes to her first day of school. I’ve made a high level plan (now updated) to accomplish this goal, which is essentially building a huge three-legged stool of 1. Expense Optimization, 2. Passive Income Creation via Dividend Growth, and 3. Side Hustlin’ (financial writing and maybe even a little money from this blog).
The timeline is aggressive, the goal is aggressive, but the drive to succeed is within me. This blog will be a diary of these efforts, as well as a conduit to meet others in the financial independence community and an outlet to voice my rants on random topics. Thanks for reading.