This is the fourth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finances, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.
This time, I bring you ESI from ESI Money. I hope you enjoy it.
Who is ESI?
I’m an early 50’s guy who’s been married 25 years and has two kids (son, 20; daughter 18). We live in Colorado (and LOVE it!).
I enjoy exercising, hiking, soccer, chess, and money — not necessarily in that order. 🙂
I reached financial independence a few years ago, retired nine months ago, and now share the steps I took to develop a multi-million dollar net worth.
[So many people living in and loving Colorado.
You’re one of the first people I interviewed who has already achieved financial independence, this will be fun!]
What did you do for a living and what did you like the most about it?
My 28-year career was spent as a business executive, initially in marketing and then in general management later in my career.
After college I got an MBA, then worked for a combination of Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller businesses.
Eventually I became the president of a $100 million company with 800 employees.
I enjoyed the challenges of business the most. There are always obstacles with multiple ways to potentially solve them. Selecting one and then working on it to meet company objectives was a blast.
[It sounds like you had an awesome career and I bet it helped you reach financial independence much faster!]
Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?
My site, ESI Money, is a blog about achieving financial independence through earning, saving, and investing (ESI). There’s a bit more to personal finance, of course, but if a person concentrates on these three areas, they will do quite well financially. As such I focus on the few topics that will get readers the most results.
What makes the blog different is that it’s written by someone who is wealthy taking about what he’s done to amass a sizable net worth. I combine this knowledge with concise, practical, and proven tips. If I can do it, anyone can. But they can do it better as they can avoid the mistakes I made along the way.
For those who are interested, I’ve written a free ebook on how to reach financial independence that gives the highlights.
[Indeed, that makes a huge difference. I didn’t know you had this ebook, I am certainly going to read it!!!]
Any big plans for your blog for the near future?
My goals are all long-term. I just started blogging seriously a few months ago (when I retired). Over the next two to three years I just want to write good content and have it impact people’s lives.
Eventually I’d like to get to the point where the blog delivers $10k-$20k per year in profit. Doing this will allow me to diversify my retirement income which is currently heavily weighted on real estate.
[I will follow you as much as possible, because I know it will be awesome. And I second you on creating another source of income and diversifying your income streams!!!]
What do you do now that you’re retired?
I provide regular retirement updates to my readers (here’s my six month update) to keep them in the loop, but here are the highlights so far:
- I run ESI Money. As you know, a blog takes a lot of time and effort and I probably spend four hours a day on some aspect of it.
- Exercise. I do cardio three times a week and weights three times a week. In addition I walk at least 10,000 steps a day (I’m training to hike up Pikes Peak). I’m in the best shape/health of my life.
- Spend time with family. My kids are still both at home so we regularly go out to eat, catch a movie (Tuesdays are reduced prices and no one is ever there, so that’s when we go), and explore nature (lots of hiking trails around here). I walk a couple times a day with my wife for 30 to 60 minutes each time.
- Volunteer. I’m on the board of a local non-profit that helps the homeless.
- Read. I read a ton — blogs, magazines, and books. Now that I have the time I can read for enjoyment as much as education.
- Travel. It’s been mostly driving trips so far, but we’re headed to Seattle, Portland, D.C., and Dallas later this year. Next year we’re looking at spending the entire month of January in the Caribbean (see below for how many islands there we love).
- Taking life slow. My stress levels are at all-time lows and I enjoy letting each day simply happen. It now annoys me a bit when I actually have a meeting or appointment scheduled. 🙂
[Love how close you are with your audience – I do the same. Indeed, blogging takes up A LOT of time, if you want to take it seriously. Sounds like you do a lof of the same I think about doing once I retire myself.]
What investments do you like the best and why?
While I was growing my net worth, low cost index funds were my main choice. For years and years we socked away a good amount in them, investing with Vanguard.
In 2010 shortly after the real estate crash, I bought 14 rental units which I still have today. I knew I needed retirement income and these places provide 70% of our income now, allowing us not to have to spend any of our assets in retirement. Because I bought near the bottom of the market, the places have performed well both from an income and appreciation standpoint.
[I’ve come to think that ETFs are really the best investment if you are not a hands-on guy. 14 rental units is HUGE. Many congrats!]
How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?
Here they are, not in any particular order:
- Colorado Springs, CO — We live here now and it’s AWESOME! The weather is great and there’s so much to do in Colorado.
- Nashville, TN — We lived in Nashville for five years in the mid 90’s and loved it. It’s a lot more fun and a lot less “country” than most people think.
- Michigan — We lived in West Michigan for 14 years and it’s where my kids still consider “home”. Winters are brutal but summers are great.
- Washington, D.C. — Been there several times and headed back this fall. Love the city — so much to see and do. My daughter will be attending college nearby starting this fall, so we’ll get there even more often.
- Chicago — Love the vibe and stuff to do in the Windy City. Oh, and the pizza is to die for!!!
- Moscow, Russia — We have been here three times and love the history and culture.
- St. Martin — We’ve been to many Caribbean islands and this is one of our favorites. Clean, safe, and beautiful.
- St. Thomas — One of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s an awesome spot to vacation. It’s centrally located which makes it easy to get from here to several other great islands. This is our leading candidate for our January stay next winter.
- Barbados — The clearest, warmest water we’ve seen in the Caribbean.
- Antigua — We have been on a catamaran that spent the whole day going around the island (we did this twice). Simply beautiful.
- Aruba — Went here with my parents before we had kids and want to get back soon.
[St. Martin, St. Thomas and Barbados… you’re into the good stuff! Never been there.]
What are your goals for 2017?
My blog goals are detailed here. The site had its first post in November of 2015, but I didn’t begin posting regularly until August 2016, so I still consider myself less than a year old. My main plan is to simply keep writing great content that readers want to read.
As for personal goals, I break those down into categories — family, finances, fitness, etc. There are too many goals to share but suffice to say I have both daily tasks and annual goals I want to hit in every area.
[Awesome, enjoy the post-financial freedom road!]
What do you like most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?
I like 1) that you live outside the US (it’s good to have different perspectives), 2) that you’re young and starting out (so interesting to see how people make their way), and 3) you have a big goal (retiring at 36.)
My advice would be to earn, save, and invest as much as you can as soon as you can. Everything else will take care of itself if you do those three.
[Thanks for the tips, and thanks for the interview bud! All the best.]