From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – Money Stir
Today, I am excited to share with you the tenth interview in the From Broke to Financially Woke series! The purpose of this series it to give hope to those struggling to escape from the not so secret group Broke Phi Broke. A group whose chant is, “We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke! We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke!”
To help me accomplish this goal, I have invited the best and brightest of the financial independence community here to share their stories. As you read their interviews, pay close attention to the mistakes they made. Take mental note of the success principles they used to turn things around.
When trying to apply these principles to your own life, realize that success in life is rarely linear. You will encounter some struggles. But stay persistent. Keep moving forward.
Our special guest today is Chris Roane. He pours his heart and soul out in this interview. He is brutally honest about his financial and emotional struggles.
Let’s see what he has done and is doing to turn his life around…
Introduce yourself. Where do you blog? What are some of your interests outside of financial independence?
Hello! My name is Chris Roane. I blog at Money Stir. I like to talk about how to use our money to achieve our goals, and learning to get the most out of life through our relationships and employment.
Pursuing financial independence has been my primary passion starting last year. But over the last 4-5 years, I started watching more TV dramas. What I like about these shows is seeing other people’s perspectives and how they tackle problems. All of us have different experiences, desires, and struggles, and I’m learning that I have more in common with most people than I thought.
I’ve also had a love/hate relationship with nature. Part of me enjoys experiencing the natural beauty of our world, but my mind struggles with disconnecting from my normal “to-do” list. It is like I’m addicted to technology. This is one area I want to work on this year. Learning to turn my mind off and enjoy the quietness of the moment.
Tell us about a time where you were a member of Broke Phi Broke. How did living paycheck to paycheck make you feel as a person? At your lowest point, how much debt did you have?
Most of my adult life I have been a member of Broke Phi Broke. I’ve spent so much time getting into debt, and then trying to pay it off. I couldn’t seem to break the credit card debt cycle. I got so used to being financially miserable, that it became the “norm” in my life.
I love to think about why we behave the way we do as humans. Because if we look at our behavior, there is usually always something deeper going on behind the scenes. It is not like I was going through this death cycle for no reason.
I’m going to get candid and honest here. Part of what I am learning about myself is that I am a very insecure person. I want people to accept me for who I am. I’ve responded to this feeling of inadequacy by focusing on things I wanted to buy, that I didn’t have. I would then also get passionate about paying off that debt and then end up starting the credit card death cycle all over again.
I’m still working on my security issues, but I’ve stopped pursuing Broke Phi Broke because it has only made things worse. When I realized where Broke Phi Broke was taking me, I decided that being broke, lonely and depressed is not the destination I want for my future.
Over the last 15 years, I probably paid off $100,000 – $150,000 of credit card and consumer debt. It’s a rough guess though since I’ve gone through so many cycles it is hard to keep track of what happened. I’m motivated to learn from my financial mistakes and pursue the life I want.
My experience taught me that more income can mean more debt unless you take a close look at your spending habits and eradicate financial waste from your life.
What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?
My biggest financial mistake is actually not directly related to money. It is about taking advantage of the relationship I have with my wife, Andrea.
You see, I got lucky. People always tell you that you need to marry “up,”, and that is exactly what I did (unfortunately that isn’t the case for her). She has lived through putting up with my “financial shit show” of bad habits and still loves me. My spending habits put a major strain on our relationship and caused many contentious arguments.
My biggest mistakes are how central I made money in my life. It is about how my financial decisions required me to always have to focus on money. That is the interesting thing about credit card debt. Your life becomes bound in trying to manage that debt. Some people try to ignore their credit card debt, but it will get to a stage where it can no longer be ignored.
I’m learning to let my love for Andrea flow through my veins by constantly showing her affection through my words and actions. We’ve been married for over 14 years, and I care more deeply for her than the day we married. My relationship with Andrea and my two girls are the most valuable thing I have, and I’m going to fight for them like my life depends on it (because it does!).
Describe your upbringing. Where did you grow up? What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?
My dad married my mom very young, right when he started college to become a doctor. I was born when my dad was 19 years old. I don’t remember seeing my dad very much, but I do remember the conflict that seemed to be a common occurrence in our house. In fact, I don’t honestly remember much about my childhood. My mom is bipolar, and there was mental and physical abuse in our home.
The only financial thing I learned growing up was that not having much money sucks. We couldn’t afford to do much. But even worse than the money situation, was the amount of relational conflict I witnessed growing up.
When I became an adult, I developed a coping mechanism in handling any kind of stress and conflict by purchasing things I couldn’t afford. For a brief second, it allowed me to ignore my current situations. But it always left me feeling empty, lost and financially behind.
I’m excited to open up more about my past in future posts, but I’m working through the mental struggle in sharing that aspect of my life since I’m still working through that pain.
The main thing I want to focus on is having my girls experience the love, security and affection I missed out on growing up. I don’t want them to not remember much of their childhood because it caused so much pain. I want to set them up for success as much as I can, so they can avoid my mistakes.
How important is becoming financially woke to you? What steps have you taken to increase your financial knowledge?
I’m sick of feeling financially depressed all the time. I want to enjoy life and not have to stress about money.
The one thing I’ve done exceedingly well is excelling at my job. I work as a remote employee building websites. I’ve gotten promotions and raises over the years, and focused on increasing my value as an employee. But this in itself did not cause me to become financially woke.
Thinking about why I spent money the way I did is what caused me to see the light. Seeing how the future could look if I could change my behavior gave me hope. Realizing that if I didn’t figure this out, I risked losing the love of my life.
Pursuing financial freedom is allowing me to become who I am. Instead of depending on my spending habits to get me through life, I am looking at how money can be used to bring me lasting fulfillment and focus on what matters most.
What are some of the key principles you have used to improve your financial life?
Cut through the mental bullshit barriers I’ve set up for myself. I’ve been working against myself for far too long. The time to turn things around is right now!
Instead of feeling anxiety when I think about the future, I see hope and possibilities. Thinking about how I want the future to look has motivated me to get to the bottom of what is happening behind my bad financial decisions.
I hope sharing my story gives others hope that they can turn things around too. It’s easy to look at a big credit card balance and feel hopeless. But that balance is screaming “Is this over-spending making you happy? Where is this going to lead your life?” Often, we can work through our debt much faster than we think when we take a serious look at our spending and figure out what makes us happy.
How often do you consume personal finance information? Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.).
I’m fairly new to the FIRE community, but I’ve found that reading blog posts that are shared through Twitter have given me hope to not give up, and has shown me that I’m not alone in my struggles.
I’m currently reading “Meet the Frugalwoods” and am inspired by her experience and knowledge. Last year I read the Millionaire Next Door, which opened up my eyes in what being wealthy really looks like.
This year I want to start listening to podcasts and reading more books. It’s overwhelming to see how much incredible content is out there, and I’m excited to get more integrated into the community and “possibly” adding to the conversation.
Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?
Over the last year, we paid off over $50,000 in consumer debt. We are currently working on building up our emergency fund and are figuring out what we are going to do next.
We are in our mid-30’s and are excited about the progress we can make over the next 5-years. This year I’m going to be maximizing our retirement accounts, and we either will focus on paying off our mortgage early or dump that money into long-term index funds.
It’s a bit early to know when we might be able to quit our day jobs, but we are hoping to get here by our late 40’s or early 50’s. I know some people are pursuing to get to this point sooner than us, but I’ve determined to not let that discourage the progress we can make based on where we are at. I also think the amount we want to live on means we will probably need a larger nest egg.
Sharing my story and thoughts on Money Stir has helped tremendously in keeping my focus on what to pursue in our life.
Is there any advice/encouraging words you can give those who are struggling to escape Broke Phi Broke?
The more you can architect your life to not have to focus on money, regardless of whether you are pursuing financial freedom or not, the better.
Money works best when it plays a supporting role. We learn that buying stuff is not going to make us happy. At best, it can make our lives more comfortable, but it can also complicate things. The true power in money is how much it can free up our time to focus on the most important things in life.
How can the readers contact you?
I’m most active on Twitter, and you can also contact me on moneystir.com (click the contact link). I love connecting with new people, and I also love it when people challenge my ideas!
Questions to Ponder
- Has there ever been a time where you struggled with overspending? What role, if any, did your emotions play?
- How can focusing too much on money have a negative impact on your relationship with your spouse?
- Would you like to share your story of how you escaped Broke Phi Broke? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more interviews in the From Broke to Financially Woke Series.
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Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.
If you are having trouble saving, he recommends that you join the SaverLife Savings program where you can get a $60 reward after six months (no income requirement). All you have to do is put a minimum of $20 a month into a savings account. Easy, right?
For a fun read, check out his article 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict to see if you are a personal finance nerd.
Before you go, check out the new From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series.
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