Join us today for the Saturday Night Special with Chris Mamula author of Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence...

In this episode Chris Mamula and I talk with you about why financial independence comes with benefits and challenges...

In tonight’s Saturday Night Special I interview Chris Mamula.  I ask Chris to share his journey to financial independence without having to win the lottery or have a massive startup.  I also ask Chris to share why financial independence and early retirement are really misunderstood by many people.  Chris also talks with you about the benefits and challenges that come with focusing on financial independence.

Join in on the Chat below.

SNS 103: Saturday Night Special – Interview with Financial Independence Expert Chris Mamula
[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: [00:00:00] Welcome to tonight's Saturday night, special episode, 103.
[00:00:04] Chris Mamula: [00:00:04] I'm Chris Mamula. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to take control of your money is key.
[00:00:17] And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this, the inspired stewardship podcast with my friend, Scott.
[00:00:23]oh, we mentioned like how people get so focused on retirement. And so we did reach our goal and I did, I guess I retired, I left my career as a physical therapist. I haven't worked since it's been about three and a half years now as a therapist. But I think again I think a lot of people think that this is magically going to.
[00:00:40] Be the answer to your problems. And what I like to encourage people to do is just look at the trade-offs like, what are the positive things that come from work
[00:00:48] Scott Maderer: [00:00:48] welcome. And thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcasts. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent [00:01:00] and your treasures for your true calling and the inspired stewardship podcast.
[00:01:05] We'll learn to invest in yours. Invest in others and develop your influence so that you can impact the world.
[00:01:14]And tonight, Saturday night special, I interviewed Chris Mamula. I asked Chris to share his journey to financial independence and how he did it without having to win the lottery or have a massive successful. I also asked Chris to share why financial independence and early retirement are really misunderstood by many people and what they mean instead.
[00:01:35] Chris also talks with you about the benefits and challenges that come with focusing on financial independence. One area that a lot of folks need. Some help with is around the area of productivity, getting not just more things done, but actually getting the right things done can be really tough.
[00:01:56] I've got a course called productivity for your passion. [00:02:00] That's designed to help you do this and then to hold you accountable and walk with you so that you can tailor productivity, not just to be getting more done. But actually getting the right things done. What's more, we take the approach of looking at your personality and how you actually look at things in the world and tailor the productivity system to your personnel.
[00:02:25] Cause the truth is a lot of the systems that are out there are written really well for somebody with a particular personality type. But if you have a different approach to things, they just don't work, but there's tools and techniques and approaches that you can take that will work for anyone. And we help you do that and productivity for your passion.
[00:02:45] Check it out over@inspiredstewardship.com slash law. Chris Mamula used principles of traditional retirement planning, combined with creative lifestyle design, to retire from a career as a [00:03:00] physical therapist at the age of 41. After poor experiences with the financial industry early in his professional life, he educated himself on investing.
[00:03:09] And tax planning. Now he draws on his experience to write about wealth building, DIY investing, financial planning, early retirement and lifestyle design at can I retire yet? Chris has been featured on MarketWatch, Morningstar, us news and world report and business insider. He is also the primary author of the book.
[00:03:30] Choose five, your blueprint to financial independence. Welcome to the show, Chris.
[00:03:37] Chris Mamula: [00:03:37] Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure.
[00:03:39] Scott Maderer: [00:03:39] It is great to have you here. So this is one of those topics that know I've touched on before on the podcast. And it's talked about a lot around this idea of financial independence retiring early, and, it's obviously something that you hear about a lot, but can you take us through a little bit of your personal journey [00:04:00] to how you actually reached financial independence and how, how it came about for you?
[00:04:05] Chris Mamula: [00:04:05] Yeah. My story, I was a physical therapist and I left my career. I early retired at 41 years of age. Quote unquote like overnight success story that took about 25 years in the making. My wife and I we were both first graduate first generation college graduates. And we.
[00:04:23] Both came from pretty modest backgrounds. And we didn't certainly have any grand plan that we were going to, save in a certain way and invest in a certain way and retire when we were 40, I would have kind of thought that was absurd. If you would have told me that was even possible back in 2001, when I was getting out of grad school and we were starting.
[00:04:40] But for myself, my mom and dad my mom, especially, she was really good with stretching a dollar and she taught me how to be frugal and how to live a good life without needing to spend a lot, because that was really our only option and for my aunt and she was very anti debt. And then for my wife she had a very different experience very similar income, [00:05:00] for their household.
[00:05:00]But she had three brothers and sisters and just their family struggled with money and it was a pain point for her. And so she was also very motivated to do better for different reasons though. And so when we were going to get married she had to put herself through school completely. And she also she was working full time.
[00:05:17] I'll go into school. So she had a small car loan and she didn't have a lot of debt. And I knew why she had debt. Like I knew she was responsible, but it still freaked me out because like I said, my mom like was so anti debt and that was just our household thing. And so it scared me going into a marriage with any debt.
[00:05:31] So we talked and we agreed that in that year, To when we were going to get married when I was finishing grad school and she was starting to work, that she would basically support us. We would live off of her income. And then I was also working part-time and anything I was making, I was just paying everything towards getting her out of debt.
[00:05:48] And then my first paycheck or two, I continued to do that of my real job when I became a physical therapist and we were debt-free about a month before we got married and we were still living that college lifestyle and our we'd never inflated it. [00:06:00] And so we just decided let's keep doing this.
[00:06:02] And so we kept living off of her salary and we started saving my income too for a down payment on a house. And then over time, we just continued that really for, like I said, 15, 16 years of living off of one salary and using the other one either to pay off our house quickly or to buy investments. So always instead of spending that second income, putting it towards appreciating assets in 15 years later, we were financially independent and in a position to change our life drastically.
[00:06:27] Scott Maderer: [00:06:27] So a couple of things I want to call out there. Do you mind sharing, w was either one of you, a doctor, lawyer kind of salary, or was it, what was the kind of money quote, unquote that y'all were making during that time? What did it average do you mean?
[00:06:40] Chris Mamula: [00:06:40] No, I think that's a great question.
[00:06:41]So we started, my wife had a bachelor's degree in math, so she had a very entry-level job at an actuarial firms. She was making it up. Mid thirties. And I was coming out as a physical therapist and for a physical therapist, I had actually a very low salary because we were in the Pittsburgh area and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they have three physical therapy schools right in [00:07:00] Pittsburgh.
[00:07:00] And then we also have the UPMC medical system, which kind of is this big behemoth. And they were driving down salaries. So we were both starting to like in the mid 30, low 40 range. And then over the course of our career, we about we each about doubled our salaries. So we both maxed out. 80 to maybe 90 ish thousand dollars.
[00:07:17]So we both grew our salaries for sure. And having a dual income household that helped. So we had an above average household income, but yeah, definitely not a physician salary and neither of us ever cracked six figures by any means.
[00:07:29]Scott Maderer: [00:07:29] And that's kinda what I wanted people to hear, because I think a lot of times and you do hear them, their stories of the person that founded a startup and then they sell it for, $13 million.
[00:07:39]Now they're financially independent. That's like. Duh, of course they are, to hear it from somebody that's making a quote average income, 90,000 is above average. But again, that, wasn't what you started at. That's what you ended at in the arc. And I think it's fair that most people don't, most people don't continue to make [00:08:00] $30,000 their entire life.
[00:08:02]Know, most people, it goes up. So that's fair.
[00:08:05]Chris Mamula: [00:08:05] That's why I really started sharing my story is again, if I would've heard people. I never saw anybody doing anything like what we ended up doing. And we were, I write about now. And so to me, it was just like, and you see these stories of, it's either the startup founder who cashes out and makes $5 million or more on an exit, or you have these people, like the extreme for gallery people are like recycling sandwich bags.
[00:08:29] And yeah, For, I'm a hippy kind of outdoors, like environmentalist person. So if you want to recycle for the sake of recycling, that's great, but you'd have to save a lot of sandwich bags to be able to retire at 40. Yeah, I want to present a realistic view of how you can actually do this, that helps normal people making, working normal jobs and show that this is feasible and is.
[00:08:50]Scott Maderer: [00:08:50] And you, yeah, let's dive into that a little bit, because I do think when people hear, quote fire which is financial independence retire early, Personally, I don't like [00:09:00] that. We always cram those together, but we can talk about that later. Because for me, I'm like, I don't want to retire.
[00:09:07] I love what I do. So I'm okay with just financial independence part. People get these ideas about what that means. And we just talked about a few of them. Oh they must. Sold a business or done something like that or that only works for people that have a really high income or, this doesn't work for quote normal people.
[00:09:26]You've gotta be quote, live in a cave and only come out on, triple coupon Tuesdays, and other than that, no, nobody can live a normal life and do that. So what is different from. You know that picture that people have and what you're trying to show people
[00:09:43] Chris Mamula: [00:09:43] to do. Yeah. So what I really like to focus on, or the big thing is getting the big decisions.
[00:09:49]And so what are those things? I think that basically, so I wrote a book about like how you do this quickly and there's really three levers. You can pull, you can spend less, you can earn more and you can [00:10:00] invest better. And so on the spending side, you hear so much about the latte factor, like cutting out your latte or stuff like that.
[00:10:07] It can be like, if you're really struggling to, from paycheck to paycheck, any little thing, you can do it, it matters. I'm not discounting that completely, but if you want to really build wealth, you have to get the big things. So the big things are housing. So I mentioned like when we came out, like the first thing we did is we saved for a big down payment on a house and we really wanted to have a house that.
[00:10:25] If anything happened, if we had a child and one of us wanted to stop working, if one of us became sick or disabled, if one of us passed away, if we split up, if anything happened, we could live off of one. And we built our lifestyle on that. So most people you go to a realtor, they say, you need to get pre-approved.
[00:10:40] They tell you how much house you can afford. And then magically you go to the top of that price range with the realtor. And there's so many incentives from the people lending you money and the people selling the house for that to happen, but we just thought differently and we thought, Grew up again, we had fairly humble beginnings and we started looking at these houses do we want to live this way and be strapped paycheck to paycheck for the rest of our life.
[00:10:58] And we didn't. So how's it going
[00:11:00] [00:10:59] Scott Maderer: [00:10:59] plus coming along with that bigger house is bigger upkeep, bigger maintenance,
[00:11:04] Chris Mamula: [00:11:04] big taxes. Yeah. Just that pressure to keep up with the Joneses next door and all that stuff. So housing is one, the second biggest expense for most people is cars. And again, like I know coming out of grad school and this isn't a judgment thing.
[00:11:15] Like whatever, if you love cars, And that's what you want to do then by all means do it. But for us, we're not car people. So like I know my college roommate, like the first thing he did I remember him showing up at my house and he had this brand new pickup and he was so proud of it. And then the one girl who I was good friends with, she came with her Audi and she was so proud of it.
[00:11:33] I just kept driving. And I had this car that my grandmother she ended up, she had lung cancer and died like a, in my parents' house and she cleaned houses for a living and she had this old old beat up. I can remember the model Chevy and I, that's what I drove in grad school to get to my clinicals.
[00:11:48] And that's what I kept driving for the first couple of years. And, that was our choice and that's always been our mantra. Like we just drove these older, used cars in the car for us as a. Thing to get you from point a to point B and nothing more, not a status symbol. [00:12:00] So housing and cars are really the two big things that are going to drive most household spending.
[00:12:03] And we really optimize those again, not because we had this master plan, it just made sense to us. That's the way we grew up. And then once you start doing that income taxes, especially as we mentioned, our income went up as your higher earning professional, like we were in that 80 to $90,000 range tax.
[00:12:20] The tax code is very unfriendly. The more you earn. And so we focused on how do we control our income taxes through just using simple retirement accounts, a simple investing strategy where you're not paying a lot of capital gains. So that's a big thing. And then we took control of our investments.
[00:12:33] So as you start to build on your investments, investment fees matter, and they matter a lot. And so we took control of those and cut those out and we manage our own investments. And those couple of things is big things. Most people, I think just go with the crowd and don't think about that was really how we did it on the spending side to spend less.
[00:12:50]And that made a huge difference and allow us to get to where we are.
[00:12:53] Scott Maderer: [00:12:53] Did y'all do anything intentionally on the, earning and investing
[00:12:57] Chris Mamula: [00:12:57] side as well? Yeah. So I think on the [00:13:00] earning side we just really focused on a more traditional I know it's. Out of style to say you should go to college and stuff, but we really focused on our education and learning.
[00:13:10] And so I mentioned I was a physical therapist, so I got a bachelor's and a master's degree. And then I ended up going back to school and getting a transitional, a doctorate of physical therapy. And then my wife also has three degrees. She has a bachelor's in math. She has an MBA and she has a master's in operations research and kind of, but what we did differently I don't think it's wise to just.
[00:13:29]Go get a college degree at any cost. So for me I worked through undergrad and grad school. My parents were able to help me cause they save diligently. I look for scholarships. I got a large scholarship for grad school that paid probably over half of my master's degree. For my wife. She worked full time while going to school full-time for her undergrad.
[00:13:47] And then for both of her master's and my doctorate degree, our employers. Probably 90% of that. We just leveraged employer benefits. So we were always constantly looking to learn, and it doesn't have to be a formal education. You asked about investing. [00:14:00] And I really took a deep dive on investing and that's what got me started writing about it after we had some bad experience with using a financial advisor initially.
[00:14:08] And so I started writing about that and not only did I learn about investing, but I started learning about blogging and writing. And so I think we just have this mindset of being lifelong learners and developing skills that are going to pay.
[00:14:19] Scott Maderer: [00:14:20] And again, the part I want to call out about that is you're not really asking anyone to do anything that is. Extreme or dramatic. And like you said, y'all use fairly traditional investment vehicles. You took control of them, but you didn't go do some fancy options, trading, crypto, whatever, and again, it's not that those things are bad.
[00:14:47] It's. That's not the route you took, y'all took a more traditional and safe route. Why did y'all pick that kind of strategy as opposed to doing something like starting your own business or something else that could [00:15:00] have been cause again, people do successfully do this with those routes too.
[00:15:03] So it's not like there's one size
[00:15:05] Chris Mamula: [00:15:05] fits all. Yeah, I think again, we certainly, we didn't have a master plan, so we both both of our parents kind of emphasized education and I know particularly for my parents, that was like my, neither of my parents, they just weren't able to go to college.
[00:15:19] They didn't have the means to do that. And they really wanted that better path for me. So that was emphasized forever that you're going to get. And I'm certainly going to be able to college.
[00:15:29] Scott Maderer: [00:15:29] Not
[00:15:31] Chris Mamula: [00:15:31] sure it's a horrible student. They may, they probably would have bent on that. But I was, I accepted.
[00:15:36]Academics from a young age. And so that was something that came naturally to me. So that was just the path before me. And but again, like what they emphasized is, like my parents saved as much as they possibly could with the means that they had and what they did is they said, this is what you have.
[00:15:50] We really want you to go to college, but this is what we can do to help you. And then, so anything you have leftover, you can keep it. And if you can't make it, then you're going to have to take loans on your own and we're not [00:16:00] signing or going in any debt for this. And so that was I guess the, they sent me down that path and honestly, there wasn't a lot of thought on my part.
[00:16:07] It was just what you do. And I think for my wife, it was probably pretty similar.
[00:16:11] Scott Maderer: [00:16:11] So once you turn that quarter and you begin to reach financial independence, let's paint a picture of that for folks, because obviously you did a lot of things, different, you drove an old car, you bought a smaller house, you did other things different.
[00:16:27] So what is the drive behind it? What are some of the benefits that come along with financial
[00:16:32] Chris Mamula: [00:16:32] independence? Yeah for me again, I was a physical therapist. It wasn't a horrible job by any means. I wasn't like I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. I wasn't in the steel mill in 110 degree weather with chance of, being dismembered.
[00:16:45] I wasn't underground digging coal, like a lot of people in my community. So I don't want to come across as like somebody that's whiny like, oh, job was so hard. Life was so hard. Like I was well-paid and I had a relatively rewarding and easy job, but. It was just boring. Like I [00:17:00] was doing the same thing over and over.
[00:17:02] And our healthcare system is just so much bureaucracy and it just seemed like the paperwork just got worse and worse. And I just didn't see a way to develop that time. Freedom that I desired. So for me, I think the biggest desire was time freedom. I, my wife and I got into outdoors. We rock climb. We ski we've gotten into mountaineering and I just wanted more time to do those things while I was young and healthy.
[00:17:22] And so our initial path, we were really we embraced that outdoor community where, you hear the terms like ski bums or in the climbing community. They call them dirt bags. And we just wanted that lifestyle where people do that and they pursue their passions. But by the same token, those same people, we've seen people, they, you're skiing and your tear, your ACL you're climbing.
[00:17:40] And I had a friend who had a bad fall and had a fracture in his neck and they have no life insurance or no health insurance. And, they're set up for disaster or even something as simple as a car breaking down. It's so stressful. And we grew up not having a lot of money and we knew we didn't want that.
[00:17:52] So we were just looking for a way to. Pursue our passions, but have some financial security that we didn't see. And then we didn't really get [00:18:00] serious. What got us serious. It was, we didn't think my wife was able to have children. And so in 2012, we were probably a decade on our path and we found out she was pregnant and surprised so we could have kids.
[00:18:09] And that made me get really serious. So that's when I got I started learning about investing in tax planning and retirement planning and really getting into the technical aspects that prior to that I thought was inaccessible to me.
[00:18:19] Scott Maderer: [00:18:19] Yeah. I think kids can. Then a lot of people overnight, that was
[00:18:26]Chris Mamula: [00:18:26] Many panic attacks that first month or two, after that
[00:18:28] Scott Maderer: [00:18:28] suddenly it's oh wait, now I have to be an adult.
[00:18:30] What happened? There's a little person that's going to be depending on me.
[00:18:34] Chris Mamula: [00:18:34] Yeah. I remember the first the first time we saw that ultrasound with a heartbeat. This is real. Yeah. That changed everything that day.
[00:18:41] Scott Maderer: [00:18:41] My wife and I had a very similar experience where we didn't think we were going to be able to get pregnant.
[00:18:45] We'd actually had several miscarriages and had given up on the idea and I just had a son graduate high school. It's and we all looked up and went, oh, okay. Wow. What do you know? It does, it did happen. And very much the same [00:19:00] experience. Caused us to reevaluate and get serious about some things that may be where we were not taking so serious before.
[00:19:06] So I think that's not an uncommon feeling. I
[00:19:08] Chris Mamula: [00:19:08] think it's very common. I think the one advantage, we had a lot of the habits of saving and doing things. We had that established. So we weren't starting from when I say like in 2012 like we, we already had a decade of saving. We had to redo a lot of things.
[00:19:22] Cause our strategies were pretty poor. We, at least we had a lot of the fundamentals and the foundation. And you
[00:19:27] Scott Maderer: [00:19:27] still had a, you were still, you weren't starting from zero, you were starting or worse yet negative net worth which a lot of people are starting
[00:19:33] Chris Mamula: [00:19:33] from.
[00:19:34] Yeah. That would be a tough situation. So we were very fortunate there.
[00:19:38] Scott Maderer: [00:19:38] So let's talk let's flip it on its head. So we're painting this picture of the, time, freedom and other things that are. Good reasons. Why, what are some of the challenges or difficulties or things that come along with financial independence that maybe people don't expect or don't think about it?
[00:19:57] Chris Mamula: [00:19:57] Yeah. So that's a good question. I'm going to give you a couple [00:20:00] of common things that I hear like from readers. And I hear people talking about that, honestly, weren't our experience, but I think a lot of people it's just hard to start. Cause it's like this goal that you think about retirement and particularly so when we talked about fire what people typically use as a benchmark to start with is what's called the 4% rule, meaning.
[00:20:16] 4% of your assets on the start retirement. So let's say you spend $40,000 a year. You would need $1 million to start. Cause you have to multiply that by 25 to get the inverse and wow, that seems overwhelming. If you're starting from scratch again, we didn't have a goal. So we were just saving because it felt good.
[00:20:32] And we didn't know we were doing. That wasn't really a problem for us. Another problem that I think a lot of people have is one spouse will find this. Maybe like somebody is listening to this today and you think we could do this. And then you go to your husband or wife, and they're like, you're crazy.
[00:20:45] Like we're not going to save half our income. So to get that other partner on board, and again, for us, it was very different reasons for me. I just I didn't want to have debt cause that was pounded into me and also not having a lot of money. I always wanted a more adventuresome lifestyle.
[00:20:58] Like I like to travel. We did a little bit [00:21:00] when I was very young and then my dad changed his career and we weren't able to do that. And I just didn't want to feel trapped for my wife. It was security, but so for very different reasons, but we both love savings. So for us, that wasn't a problem. But for a lot of people that is, is getting your partner on board.
[00:21:12] And then I think the third really big challenges I see over and over is people will find this message and they see, okay, we got to just get our expenses low and save everything, and then we can retire and they get so focused on the goal. They make themselves pretty miserable and they start depriving themselves and they start putting things off.
[00:21:29]I'll do this when I'm financial independent, I'll do this when I'm retired. And it really doesn't work that way. Like you got to you don't change who you are overnight because you hit some magic number on a computer screen or on a paper. So you have to develop that, those patterns and those habits and find happiness on the way and figure out what you want to do and work that into your lifestyle versus thinking that, I can do this and that.
[00:21:50] It's going to magically change when I retire. So I think those are common ones. And again, those aren't really ones that I faced. I faced different challenges and I can go into those, like personally, if you'd like. Sure. What were some of the
[00:22:00] [00:21:59] Scott Maderer: [00:21:59] challenges you all
[00:22:00] Chris Mamula: [00:22:00] faced? Yeah. So for me for one thing like you said, you don't ever want to retire and I would agree with you now.
[00:22:05] Like I, but I did want to retire. So the blog I write now is called, can I retire yet? And when I found it was started by somebody else and I literally found it. I need to get out of this career. Like I'm burning out. I need more time. And now I have this kid coming and I wanted to retire and I a little bit fell into that idea of, things will be better when, and so then you hit financial independence.
[00:22:27] I left my job and it's you have to look in the mirror and okay, why am I not doing these things? I said I was going to do. So one of the things for me. Like we always were. I loved your kind of theme of stewardship. We always were very into giving on along the way. Like as much as we were saving, we still gave of our money, but I really never gave up my time.
[00:22:45] I was very selfish with my time and I was like, I don't have time to do this. I barely have time for my own self. And when I retire, I'm going to do this. And I look back at the end of my first year and I think I volunteered six hours. And I was like, where did that year go? And it's again, like you're not going to magically change.
[00:22:58]Another thing, like I mentioned, [00:23:00] like we were into the outdoor stuff, right? I got better at a lot of these sports, but rock climbing, I love climbing, but I always just kinda sucked at it. And it was hard where we live. There wasn't a place to go and it was an hour drive. And so we moved to the mountains of Utah.
[00:23:12] It was in my backyard and I'm like, I'm going to climb all the time. And then after a year, I heard climbed this year and I'm definitely not any better than I was the year before. And so again, like I think all your excuses go away and now you've realized that you're the same person. And so that's a challenge.
[00:23:25] And I think people need to realize that and accept that and go in with eyes wide open that, you're not going to magically change because you're financially independent or because you retire from a job and along those same lines, You have to determine what is next and there's times where, and even to this day, like I've been three years since I left my job of figuring out what is next, what do I really want to do with my time?
[00:23:45] And so that's, I think a big challenge. And then the other big challenge, my wife and I face, like I mentioned for most people getting that partner on board is really hard because people have different backgrounds for my wife and I, we had very different backgrounds, but our goal was the same.
[00:23:58] We wanted to build this security one to build this [00:24:00] independence, but then we got to that goal. And all of a sudden, for me, that was what, that's, what we were shooting for. And I was ready to be done. And for my wife, it was all about that security. And she loved having that high savings rate and it made her feel good.
[00:24:12] And now, like it was terrifying, like the idea of spending down these assets, we worked so hard to build. It was terrifying. We were poor college students and we got along great. We were getting out of debt and we got along great. We were just building our careers and we got along great. Now all of a sudden we have more than we've ever had, and we're fighting about money all the time.
[00:24:27] And to the point where it took us sitting down with a marriage counselor to get at what drives us and what motivates us and what makes us tick right. Really going deep. And there was a lot of fights and a lot of tears and a lot of time and money spent to figure that out to get back on the same page.
[00:24:43] But again, it goes back to that money is going to solve your problems. And that's as old as time. But I think we fell into that trap a bit that, like we're, we'll be, things will be different when and they weren't, and they actually got worse for us because we took away what was working for us.
[00:24:56] And so we had to adjust them.
[00:24:58]Scott Maderer: [00:24:58] And I've worked with [00:25:00] several clients over the years that have been financially independent by yeah. Regular sense of the word and have lived, and often they have a struggle with now spending because, they've had the habit of save save.
[00:25:15] And now all of a sudden it's wait a minute. Now you can go do some of these things. You can spend some of that money and you're not being irresponsible. You're not doing anything bad. You're not going to. Run out of money, and those sorts of things you're doing it wisely and yet it's a real mental struggle to be able to go do that because you are changing your behavior and your habit to something new which isn't easy.
[00:25:39]Chris Mamula: [00:25:39] Yeah. It's definitely a challenge. And yeah it's something we had to work on.
[00:25:43]Scott Maderer: [00:25:43] So I've got a couple of questions that I like to ask all of my guests, but before I go there what else are, is there anything else from the idea of y'all's journey or financial independence that you really think it's important for folks to hear?
[00:25:57] Chris Mamula: [00:25:57] Yeah. I think we mentioned like how people get [00:26:00] so focused on retirement. And so we did reach our goal and I did, I guess I retired, I left my career as a physical therapist. I haven't worked since it's been about three and a half years now as a therapist. But I think again I think a lot of people think that this is magically going to.
[00:26:14] Be the answer to your problems. And what I like to encourage people to do is just look at the trade-offs like, what are the positive things that come from work? So for a lot of people purpose, a lot of people connection to other people just the idea of a paycheck. There's we I think.
[00:26:29]Poo the idea and even downplay, like it's a bad thing that you're getting your paycheck and I'll hear people say you're a slave to your paycheck. That's ridiculous. Like a paycheck is how you are able to do things that bring you joy. That's how you can use money to have impact in the world. And so to have a paycheck, that's a positive thing.
[00:26:43] So what are you going to do when you lose those things? And what, how are you going to replace them? I think is a really important and really important question. So every decision you make is going to have trade offs and that's. Not to pursue financial independence, obviously I'm writing about it and I'm encouraging people to do it.
[00:26:57] I think it's a great thing. And it's not to say not to retire. Like for [00:27:00] me it was the answer to leave my career. And I think it was a good decision. But for my wife, she ended up she works part-time still and I ended up taking on other things like with the blog and with my book that are bringing in money and it provided me some of those other things that I lost from being a physical therapist.
[00:27:14] So I think. Figuring out what you really want, rather than just assuming that retirement is the answer. And then as you start to consider these paths, every path is going to have trade-offs. So ask yourself, if I choose this, what am I giving up and compare the alternatives because nothing is without, without sacrifice or giving things up.
[00:27:31]Scott Maderer: [00:27:31] Consider the opportunity cost at the end of the day, there's all, there's always an opportunity, time or money. It doesn't matter. There's always an opportunity cost. So you mentioned a stewardship earlier and of course that's my brand and kind of the lens that I talk about things through. So how would you define stewardship and what has that impact been on you?
[00:27:54] On your life and your journey.
[00:27:56] Chris Mamula: [00:27:56] Yeah, I think for me, stewardship is just the idea that, everything [00:28:00] you have is a gift. And I don't know that it's necessarily mine. It's what am I going to do with it to help others and make the world better. And honestly, from it's just a selfish standpoint.
[00:28:10]I think probably the thing that you can do to give you the most joy with your time or with your money is to help other people. There's really nothing that you can do that has comparable return on investment as far as what you can use your money for. And as I mentioned for us, we've always been.
[00:28:24] Giving money. What I'm really trying to focus on in this stage in life is now what am I, what do I want to do with my time? And how can I help people? And part of that is the blog and the book and through educating people on a mass scale. But I do miss, like having been a physical therapist, I do miss that.
[00:28:40] One-on-one where you can. When you're writing. You can reach a lot of people, but you're going an inch deep. Whereas if you're one-on-one with people, you're really limited with how many people you can impact, but man, you can go deep and you can really change somebody's life. And so I enjoy the writing aspect, but I'm still thinking do I want to maybe do some financial coaching?
[00:28:58] Do I, maybe I'm [00:29:00] kicking around getting a CFP and I'm whether I use it or not. I'm kicking around doing that just for my own personal satisfaction starting this fall. So I really want to figure out a way, how can I give of my time? Along with giving them my money to pay it forward and help other people.
[00:29:14]Scott Maderer: [00:29:14] So if I had a magic time machine and I could pick you up and take you, a hundred, 150 years into the future, and you were able to look back on your life, what impact do you hope you've had on the world?
[00:29:29] Chris Mamula: [00:29:29] Wow. That's a hard question. That's a great question. I think the first thing that I want to do is just we mentioned our backgrounds with my parents and all they've done to pour into me.
[00:29:39]My first goal was to I want to create a daughter that's going to have positive impact on the world and And so just really pouring into her and starting at home and then just reaching people in my community. I just changed the community that we live in to make it a better place.
[00:29:53] And then through my writing hopefully we'll, I'll free people from that day-to-day grind that most people are stuck in through [00:30:00] teaching these simple principles. And it'll be neat to see like how many people will find these principles through my writing and yeah. And then what will they do going forward?
[00:30:07] And that's what really excites me, like on that big picture. You really don't know like what your work can do as things, go out exponentially.
[00:30:14]Scott Maderer: [00:30:14] So what's coming next for you, Chris, as you continue on this journey and figure out the path that you're living and what your call is and how you're doing things what's coming next.
[00:30:25] Chris Mamula: [00:30:25] Yeah. So as we plan, I think looking long longterm gets really overwhelming and it's almost kind of nonsense cause there's so many things out of your control that you can control. So what I really focus on is like this next ten-year block. So I just turned 45 years old and I have an eight year old daughter.
[00:30:39] And so the next 10 years, what I really want to do is again, first and foremost, I want to be a dad. This is the time that she's here and I know so many people. That time, just whizzes by and they look back and they wish they had that time with their kids. As we talk today, actually we're setting off later this afternoon, we're doing a cross-country trip.
[00:30:54] We're going to take a whole month off and we're going to just do some sight seeing across the country for about nine [00:31:00] days. We're going to spend about two weeks with our family back in forth Sylvania, and then we're going to spend about another nine taking a different route, coming back. And hopefully hopefully it will be a good trip that we remember for the rest of our lives and being trapped in a family.
[00:31:09] We won't kill each other. You'll definitely
[00:31:11] Scott Maderer: [00:31:11] remember it,
[00:31:13]Chris Mamula: [00:31:13] but stuff like that, just building memories. Again, like now that the world's opening up, so as we're recording this the whole COVID pandemic has hopefully winding down and I was starting to get more involved in our local community and I want to do more of that.
[00:31:25]And just seeing where I can combine my passions. Like one of the things that I'm really excited about that I was starting to do prior to the pandemic and I'm starting to get back into is like adaptive sports. So my background was as a physical therapist and I mentioned my love for outdoors, climbing, skiing, biking, hiking.
[00:31:39] And so we have a couple great adaptive programs in the area where I live and I'm starting to get more involved with those. And then on a bigger scale again, with my writing, I continue, I want to continue to spread this message of financial independence and and just seeing where that goes.
[00:31:51] And that's Third priority. Cause I feel like I have a lot of time to gradually build that out and it's a hobby business, but I do want to have impact. And so figuring out what's the way [00:32:00] to have the most impact is what I would look to figure out over this next decade with that.
[00:32:03]Scott Maderer: [00:32:03] You can find out more about Chris over at his website. We mentioned earlier, which is, can I retire yet.com? You can also find him and follow him on Twitter as at, can I retire? Underscore yet, Chris, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener?
[00:32:21]Chris Mamula: [00:32:21] No. I would think just depending where you're at in your journey.
[00:32:23]I really wrote the book for people that were skeptical that maybe have seen this whole idea of fire. And they think that you have to be ultra frugal or you have to have a huge income. And I w what we did is we took a variety of people from this fire community and shared their stories, but we broke it down into the principles.
[00:32:39]So you can take little bits and pieces from different people's stories that apply to you, and then you just throw the rest away and you create your own adventure. So I would love if people would check out the book and then at the blog, we or more writing to people who are further along, down the path and who are contemplating, they're ready to make life changes, but maybe they get hung up because they don't know if they have enough money or they don't know what's next.
[00:32:58] And so that's really the audience that I write to there. And [00:33:00] that's at the blogging. And can I retire yet? And for either people, if you want to reach out to me, that's the best place to find me. And I love to connect with readers.
[00:33:06]Scott Maderer: [00:33:06] thanks so much for listening to the inspired stewardship podcast as a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoy this episode. Please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes rate.
[00:33:34] All one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed until next time, invest your time. Your talent and your treasures develop your influence and impact the world.


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People get so focused on retirement but I think that a lot of people think that this is magically the answer to your problems, but you need to look at the tradeoffs. - Chris Mamula

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Helping people to be better Stewards of God's gifts. Because Stewardship is about more than money.

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