MustardSeedMoney.com started less than a year ago and since then has quickly become one of my favourite FIRE blogs. The author (who has chosen to remain anonymous) has been writing new and interesting articles almost every other day like clockwork on a variety of topics, like student loans and diamonds. How he finds the time to accomplish all of this while working a full time job and raising a kid is big mystery to me! I might even be a little jealous 😉 !
As a side story, I actually approached Mr. Mustard Seed (let’s call him that) a few months ago to do this interview for my blog and he kindly obliged. Unfortunately life got in the way (on my end) and things sort of fell on the back burner for a while here at GoGoAssets. But now that things seem to be returning back to normal, I thought I’d post this interview for everyone to read. Hope you enjoy it!
So here’s the interview:
Q: Your blog is a little different than your typical FIRE site (no portfolio, dividends, etc). How would you describe your blog? What themes do you like to talk about?
A: Initially when I set out the goals of my blog, I wanted to lay down the basics and then build from there with my audience. As I started to write and respond to the readers, I found myself generating content about whatever topics would pop into my head.
In some ways, I feel like my blog is my financial diary entries for the world to read. I try to make sure that while reading, the reader will feel that it was worth their time or that they actually learned something new. If not, I feel like I have failed.
Q: What motivated you to start blogging about financial independence and early retirement?
A: Honestly, I’ve been talking about creating a blog since my wife and I got married over four years ago. I’ve always had a desire to share my financial knowledge, but between finishing my MBA, traveling and having a baby, I never set aside the time to do it.
Q: “Mustard seed” has biblical references. Was this intentional? Why did you choose this name?
A: One day the name, Mustard Seed Money, popped into my head. At that point after years of delaying the blog, I finally took the plunge. I wish I had an awesome story about how I came up with the name, but unfortunately, I don’t. I do think that the name is very fitting though. A mere mustard seed is tiny and unimpressive at first glance, yet this seed grows into a large, flourishing tree under all the proper conditions. Likewise, I believe it only takes is a small investment in time, money and faith to lead to tremendous results.
Q: How would you say your faith has influenced your blog?
A: I try to provide a common sense perspective in my blog and weave in applicable stories that have occurred in my life. If that happens to include something overtly Biblical, great and if not that’s okay, too. For me, faith is part of who I am, and it’s not something I am ashamed of. I think too often Christians get lumped into a box of only speaking about perspectives one specific way. I personally believe there is, and should be, differing opinions and perspectives within the body of Christ. And the beauty of it all is being able to share and exchange ideas in a civilized manner.
Q: How has your experience been while blogging? Any highlights yet?
A: I have had a great time interacting with people in the Personal Finance community. It feels like I have finally “met” people that love to talk about PF as much as I do. My wife tolerates my sometimes singular focus when it comes to finance, and outside of two friends that like to talk about the stock market, I didn’t have too many people to converse with about it.
One of the biggest highlights was being given the opportunity to guest post on Northern Expenditure. I was brand-new to the blogging world, and Maggie asked me to write a blog post based on one of the comments I had left. I took a week to make sure it was as good as it could be and was so thankful for the opportunity to gain more exposure.
Q: How do you juggle working full time, being a husband and being dad while blogging? Is it difficult?
A: There are definitely times that I don’t keep my time in check, which I’m sure annoys my wife. When I first started out, there were a million things that I was trying to do in order to optimize the blog. Now I’m feeling much more comfortable with the website, so I have started to relax. Before, if I didn’t have a certain number of daily page views, I would get in a sour mood. My priorities were definitely out of whack. Now I try to spend time playing with my son, and then while he’s eating dinner, I try to catch up on comments and read through couple of blogs. It’s definitely not easy, but my wife is amazing and fully supports me.
Q: Where do you get the inspiration to write your articles? Are there any topics in particular that you enjoy writing about?
A: Normally a lot of articles come to me when I’m zoning out. Whether it happens while I am driving in the car driving or showering, ideas will pop into my head all of a sudden, and I try to quickly write them down because I have a tendency to forget. If you ever saw my Google Docs folder, you would see a dozen of ideas just waiting to be explored.
Q: How did you first learn about the concept of FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early)? What are some obstacles you’ve needed to overcome?
A: This is going to sound nuts, but I didn’t understand the concept of FIRE until just recently. I use to read Get Rich Slowly and Financial Samurai but never saw either one of them talk about FIRE or if they did, I wasn’t paying attention.
You know what’s really crazy? Until I started my blog, I never read a single Mr. Mustache Money post. I heard others talk about him, and I knew that he was interviewed a bunch. But, I never took the time to explore. That is probably one of my biggest mistakes. I wish I had taken the time to soak in his wisdom while I was “growing” up financially.
My biggest obstacle right now is not knowing what I want to do once I reach FIRE. In many ways, I’m pretty simple in that I like to spend time with my family, and I enjoy blogging. Outside of that, I watch sports and like to be active. But I wonder what I would do between 9am-5pm every day. My wife doesn’t want me at home being a couch potato, and I’m sure I would like to continue to make an impact in my community, but I’m a little unsure of what that will look like. So I guess only time will tell if I will retire once I reach FIRE.
Q: Could you describe your idea of FIRE as it applies to you. How close would you say are you to realizing your fire related goals?
A: My idea of FIRE is finally being able to pursue what you are passionate about in life. Too often, people stay in jobs that they are unhappy with because of debt. I am lucky to not be in that predicament anymore, yet I am still in a job that I don’t particularly enjoy. But, I would like to do something a bit different when I reach FIRE
I have always been a diligent saver and was practicing FIRE before I fully understood the topic. Right now, I am about 60% of the way there and am hoping if my wife and I continue on this path, that we may hit FIRE in the next 5 years.
Q: How have you been investing? Do you have an investment strategy?
A: I’ve been investing since I was 20 years old. I originally started out trading options. My parents had taken a course, and I read through as much of the material as possible until I thought that I understood everything. Looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking. Options are as risky as they come. Somehow, I didn’t lose any money, but when I graduated from college, with less time to trade, I slowly transitioned into passive index funds.
Q: What is your investment strategy in 50 words or less?
A: Warren Buffett has said that when he passes away, that 90% of the money that he leaves to his wife will be in the Vanguard 500. If it’s good enough for Warren Buffett’s wife, it’s good enough for me.
Q: Is there a book in particular that you would say influenced your way of thinking with respect to FIRE. Do you have any favourite books on the topic?
A: I have read a bunch of financial books over there years, but a book that really stood out to me is I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit Sethi really breaks down the basics and then equips the reader with very helpful financial tools and information.
Q: Any other books you would recommend?
A: Two of my favorite books are Chasing the Lion by Mark Batterson and The Alchemist by Paulo
Coelho. I would highly recommend both.
Q: Do you have any favourite FIRE blogs? Which are they? What kind of articles do you enjoy reading?
A: Oh man, there are so many awesome blogs out there, and I definitely don’t want to snub any. Financial Samurai is probably my favorite right now since he writes on such a variety of topics that I usually come away from his blog garnering some new information.
Q: What is something interesting about you that your readers don’t know? (doesn’t need to be FIRE related).
A: Up until a couple months ago, I hated writing because I have always considered myself a terrible writer. I never anticipating having a hobby that included writing, let alone being a blogger. I give a lot of credit to my wife who has learned to morph my incoherent sentences into the posts you read today.
So that’s the interview! Before I sign off, I want to thank MustardSeedMoney.com for collaborating with me on this post. As those of you who have read these posts before know, I really enjoy doing these interviews since they’re a great opportunity to learn about people who share similar goals. Finally, I also want to thank Mr. Mustard Seed for his patience while I worked on publishing this article. It took a while, but we finally got there!
On that note, be sure to check out his site when you have a moment. Have a good one!