It’s that time of year again where everyone gears up and announces their goals. I decided this year I was going to be more vocal and public with my 2020 financial goals to keep myself accountable. With the beginning of the new decade, I have seen a quote that has been thrown around quite often saying “People tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year but will underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.”
I’ve had many, many ideas floating around in my head of extremely lofty and distant goals, or rather aspirations of things I would love to accomplish. These aspirations often seem too big, or too hard, or too far off into the future to think about in the present. It’s one thing to have these goals in my head but it’s a whole other beast to speak them out loud. Just the thought of writing them down for people to read puts a little flutter in my stomach, but it’s that feeling I have that knows it’s right to put those thoughts out there. So that’s what I’m going to try to do, put these goals out into the universe and constantly refer back to them when I need the motivation to do something I may not want to do at the moment. These goals may not be accomplished this year or next year or even in 5 years or even ever but at the end of the decade I would like to see my progress towards them. Taking little steps each day, making progress towards a goal, and getting just 1% better each day will hopefully allow me attain these goals.
Obtain a Rental Property
Real estate can be one of the quickest ways to obtain massive amounts of wealth if done properly and correctly. There are several avenues within real estate that can bolster your net worth and there are plenty of ways to get started with little to no money down. I recently bought my first house in August 2019. Check out how I bought a house in 7 hours, if you’re interested in that story. Now that I am finally feeling all settled in the place after the holiday season, I can set my sights on what’s next for me in real estate. Right now, I can’t do whole lot because I am in the process of saving up capital for a down payment for my next property. I have a couple of ideas in mind but as I get closer to having a down payment, I will need to work out the logistics. The first possibility I have entertained is just looking for another single family home to rent out. I could either move out of my current residence into the new place or just keep the new property strictly as a rental unit.
Another idea I have for real estate is to buy a property close to the college campus in my hometown. My brother will be going to college in the next couple of years and my thought is to have him and his buddies rent out rooms to pay my mortgage. There are a couple of downsides to this plan as I see it. The first is renting out to family and friends could be a problem. Would I sacrifice my cash flow to give my brother and his friends a good price? If that’s the case, then the plan doesn’t make sense financially. If I want to get into real estate as an avenue to achieve financial independence, then I would want to treat my real estate investing as a business to get the most rate of return. Luckily for me, I know what fair market prices should be for the off campus housing because that’s where I lived when I was at school and splitting the rent between multiple people makes it much more reasonable. It all comes down to the numbers and if it makes financial sense then I would have no problem renting to my brother. Another potential downside of the college property investing is the turnover. My bother could only be living in the property for 3-4 or possibly longer if he decides to go to grad school at the same location. When he’s ready to move out or move on, would I sell the property or would I try to find other tenants? There are many questions and lot of unknowns in the equation that would make me uneasy about off campus college investing.
As of right now, these are the top contenders for me getting into real estate. There are still many logistics to work out and can be scary to get started. I think it could be a great learning opportunity to see if I want to use real estate as a vehicle to launch me towards financial independence or to use it as an option to diversify my investments.
Achieve FI Before 40
Most people in the FIRE community want to hit a certain dollar amount before considering themselves financially independent. I have an arbitrary number in my head I would like to hit before the age of 40, but there are so many things that can change by the time I’m 40 making that number obsolete. So, for now, in my current state of life my FI number is $1,000,000. Like I said, this is an arbitrary number that can fluctuate, but it is a nice round number that will get me to the double comma club. My main vehicles for achieving FI are maxing out my retirement accounts (403b, HSA, and Roth IRA) and funneling any extra money into my brokerage account. I also may add some real estate to diversify but even if I don’t I should hit my number with those four accounts. My ultimate goal for achieving FI is not to have a certain amount in my bank account, but to create a lifestyle that makes me happy each and every day. Among many members of the FIRE community I have noticed a shift in mindset over the year I have been a participant. The retiring early is not as much of a goal for myself because I am fortunate to love what I do. That’s not to say there are aspects of my job that aren’t always the most enjoyable but financial independence can give me the security to pursue any sort of passion I want. I won’t necessarily be working to get a paycheck anymore but I will be working pursuing a life that brings me fulfillment.
Financial Course for College Students
One of the passions I have found over the past year is wanting to spread financial independence especially financial literacy to as many people as possible. Thinking back on all my years of school, I can’t recall many times where financial education was even mentioned. There are only two times where I can actively recall being “taught” personal finance. The first was in in 7thgrade where we learned how to write a check and balance a check book through the Junior Achievement Program. At the time, I didn’t see the necessity of learning it because I didn’t see the value, but when it came time to write my first check, I knew what to do. I never have actually balanced my check book but it was an introduction into tracking expenses, which now I do religiously and is a pillar in the financial independence community.
The second instance of personal finance education I received was in pharmacy school. I took an elective called Financial Realities mainly because I heard through the grapevine it was an easy A. Looking back at the syllabus of the course, it covered all the topics I would have wanted to cover knowing the things I know now, such as budgets, loans, insurance, investing, retirement accounts, and real estate investing. However, it was presented in such a way that made it seem that learning personal finance was future Steven’s problem. My ultimate goal is to hopefully create a course that covers those same topics, but in a way that students could act on right away and have the resources to return to in the future.
Tanzania Mission Trip Preceptor
During the last year of pharmacy school, 9 one month rotations are completed to gain experience in the different areas of pharmacy. I was fortunate to have one of my rotations be a medical mission trip to a small village in Tanzania on the banks of Lake Victoria. The mission trip combined two of my greatest passions: travel and pharmacy. The trip was a collaboration between physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and students from each profession to run a clinic for a week to provide medical care to the people of the village. The clinic happens every year and people from other towns travel from several hours away to seek medical care. That week of working in the clinic was the absolute best week of my entire life. It was an extremely life changing and life altering week that I will never forget.
The trip was an overwhelmingly humbling experience because many of the people we treated lived with next to nothing, however I saw some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen by those same people. The amount of gratitude they showed when we helped them was awe-inspiring even when we were treating something simple. The medical mission trip helped me become a much better pharmacist not only because I was exposed to many diseases I had never heard of before but also made me realize the need for help is universal. Going on the trip inspired me to want to give back more and one of the best ways I can think of doing that is to become a preceptor for this rotation to go on the mission trip again.
Travel Medicine Course
After studying and being exposed to the different diseases from the medical mission trip, I have a greater appreciation for the epidemiology of disease. Trying to understand why some diseases are only present in certain areas of the world is fascinating to study. This led me to thinking about creating a travel medicine course focusing on diseases rarely found in the United States but have much more prevalence throughout the world. I would love to create this course and present it to the College of Pharmacy to make it an elective in the curriculum. The medical mission trip I went on is just one of many study abroad opportunities for students through the College of Pharmacy. Creating a course focusing on the different areas the students could possibly go to would be a great way to get earlier exposure rather than getting a crash course prior to leaving for the trip. There are other schools that have courses like this one that have plenty of resources I could use to create a course of my own. Even if I make the course and the College doesn’t add it to their curriculum, it will still be a great learning experience for me.
One thing I noticed while writing this post and thinking about my future long term goals is my biggest barrier to entry is just getting started. As I said earlier, small baby steps towards a goal will eventually snowball and compound over time then eventually the goal will be achieved. These goals aren’t meant to be achieved tomorrow or even a year from now but that doesn’t mean I can’t start working towards them today. Carving out small areas of time to focus on these goals will hopefully lead to me checking them off. So, see you all in the next decade where I can say that I am substantially closer to accomplishing these goals.
Steven | Rx for FIRE