From Financial Integrity
Steve Scoles, case study from Chapter 9 of Your Money or Your Life and South Whidbey Hometown Hero. Steve was asked "12 Questions" so we could know more about his story. (By the way, he didn't answer them all, because he didn't have to. This is for the fun of it.)
> How do you describe yourself at parties: retired, FI?, something else? Or do you just change the subject?
"It depends on who I am with. Sometimes I say that I was a general contractor and we got lucky with Calif. real estate and I was able to retire at age 39. I might explain how our sweat equity ballooned with the real estate bubble there, and I cashed in my chips and traded for income property in Washington. I usually say that I have been a community volunteer since we moved here 20 years ago, donating about half my time for that. I have also rebuilt our house and 2 rental houses on our property. If the person is open to hearing about it, I will explain that my life path is a spiritual blessing. Not many will follow my ideas in this regard, so I don't bring it up very often. Ultimately, life is about the spiritual lessons we learn from our circumstances, good and bad."
> Was there a day that you celebrated as meeting the goal of financially independent?
"June 19, 1990. The day we closed escrow on our first big income property, a self-storage in Port Orchard, WA. From day One, it provided enough income for us to live on."
> Who first inspired you to consider your financial philosophy?
"In 1988 I found the new book by Paul Terhorst "Cashing in on the American Dream -- How to retire at 35." This book, like 'Your Money or Your Life' a few years later, inspired me to actually visualize and work towards this possibility. The latter book I read after having retired. The main difference was that Vicky's book called for T-Bill investing and I was already into income property. The long run has shown real estate to have been a very good choice."
> Do you know anyone else who tried your strategy? How did it work for them?
Did you develop any tools, exercises or habits that haven't been captured in a book?
> What movie, story or music if any, inspires you?
" Brother Sun, Sister Moon" "My Dinner with Andre" "King of Hearts" "Koyaanisqatsi"
> Were you worried or affected during the recent economic contraction?
"Not too much. Business is down, but this happened before in the early '90s. Tighten the belt and hold on."
> What advice would you give your 20-year old self?
"Enjoy life and freedom, explore the world. But start studying, working, and investing, too."
> Would you give that advice to a 20 year-old now?
> Have you changed your strategy as you've learned or aged?
"Trying to be more generous and less frugal, as we can afford to. With investing, I am taking less risks in the stock market. I am long on gold, and a couple of blue chip stocks. Short on the Dollar and Treasuries. Inflation and higher interest will be back before long, perhaps with a vengance. There are some great bargains in real estate now, if one can buy them."
> Are you drawn to tell others about your experience, or are you more likely to keep it quiet?
"People who know me know my story. I am happy to talk about it. But it can be awkward with relatives who are struggling financially. They can be jealous."
> What should I have asked?
"Lets get together with like-minded people and compare notes."
Who else would you like to hear more about? Submit suggestions -- or let us know if we can interview you -- at firstname.lastname@example.org.