The Prairie FIRE Story
This is what happens when you Google “financial independence.” You get the crazy notion that everyone needs to hear about it, and then you create a personal finance blog. Most people understand the power of the internet and the impact it has on our day-to-day life. But man-oh-man, Google did a number on me.
Introducing the Prairie FIRE Family
Before I get into the details of how I got to this point in life, let me introduce you to the Prairie FIRE Family. There’s me, Mr. Prairie FIRE, my wife, Mrs. Prairie FIRE, and the two little FIRE Starters.
Our Dream Home
Before we got married, Mrs. Prairie FIRE and I had grand plans to fill our household with the best people in all of space and time… our children.
When we first moved into our current house in June 2016, we believed we had found our forever home: A four-bedroom split-level house in a great neighbourhood. Lots of parks, schools nearby, and super friendly neighbours. An older couple living four doors down were enthusiastic that our young family moved into the neighbourhood, and they were even gracious enough to play substitute grandma/grandpa when we had child care emergencies. Life was going well.
Making Just Enough
Financially, we were in a good place. We were a single income family, but my salary was enough to cover our cost of living. We owned two rental properties with my father, and that income was being used to tithe and pay off my wife’s student loans. At this stage of our lives, we were close to being debt free (not counting our house mortgage). Money was tight, but we were making a go of it.
Tragedy Comes in Threes
All was well with the Prairie FIRE family. Dream job, dream home, cute kids. Then, some major setbacks happened in rather short order.
Tragedy 1: Dream Home to Sleepless Nights
First, we discovered that we had some serious air circulation issues in our attic. Long story short, we required the top of our house to be removed and spray foam insulation installed. Just like that, we were $15,000 in the hole. Then I received some bad news at work.
Tragedy 2: Same Work for Less Pay
Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I found out my work was going through a “re-org.” There was a chance my job would not exist anymore, and if it did there would be a serious pay cut. Thankfully it was the latter, but I saw a 9% reduction in my pay slated to occur December 2018. I love my job and the company I work for, and I fully understand the reasons for reorganization. So, despite the bad news, I still believe I am in my dream job, but the pay cut is a hard pill to swallow.
Tragedy 3: Not So Passive Income
The third and final blow was with one of our rental properties. After an unfortunate chain of events, I ended up with a bad tenant and some major repairs to deal with. To add insult to injury, a major downpour caused some water seepage, resulting in serious property damage. We had to repaint throughout the suite, do a full bathroom reno, remove a wall, and replace the flooring in one bedroom. We also decided to upgrade the shower and kitchen while we were at it. It was due. Estimated costs were coming in around $20,000. Needless to say, we did not have that kind of money on hand.
After all was said and done, this seemed like a perfect storm: increasing debt (~$35,000), decreasing income (~9%), and no plan to address it.
“Adversity is the mother of progress.” – Mahatma Gandhi
To say the least, I was a financial and emotional wreck. Sleepless nights, depression, and anxiety became regular friends of mine. I felt I could not share my worries with anyone and that I was the only one in the world that felt that I had absolutely no control of my financial life.
One sleepless July night in 2017, I started Googling about personal finance and creating multiple streams of income. By chance, I came across the concept of financial independence. Instantly, I was hooked and explored all the rabbit holes around this concept.
In my desperation to find a solution to my problems, I stumbled onto (and humbly moved into) a personal finance home and community fondly called the Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE) movement. It was a welcoming and diverse community made up of bloggers, IT specialists, stay-at-home parents, and all-around very regular folks who freely shared their worries, questions, achievements, and support.
The FIRE Within
Discovering FI has lit a FIRE under my butt, and the Prairie FIRE family has taken control and ownership of our financial life. Mrs. Prairie FIRE has always been frugal, but now we realize that as our home manager, she plays a central role in ensuring our savings rate. I’ve become the family educator and share my knowledge about personal finance blogs, podcasts and books I’ve come across.
The Prairie FIRE family now has a budget that allows us to live off one income and still save for retirement. And guess what?? We even know how much we need to reach our Financial Independence number!
Things are looking up for the Prairie FIRE family and our path to FI is built on a solid foundation – The Prairie FIRE Financial Independence Policy Statement.
This is what happens when you Google Financial Independence
Ever since settling into the FI community, I’ve told friends, family, neighbours, and total strangers about the tenets, rules, and paths to FI. I’ve become the friendly neighbourhood FI evangelist in my community. So many people are now coming to me for guidance on where to start. It has actually been very exciting to see how hungry people are to know more, and it has been fulfilling to meet that need with people I come across in real life.
I decided to take my passion online and in February 2018, I launched this website, Prairie FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) Canada. The blog is a personal journal of my discoveries, learning, and application of my path to FI. It is also a place where you can take the information I’ve learned from the FI community and discover what can be applied to your life.
My hope is that you will read my story and be inspired to do the same. I want to pass the torch to you so you can take the knowledge, use it, and share it. Explore as little or as much as you want. Light your own FIRE! Use this blog and it’s resources to start your own journey and spread it to others.
Thanks for visiting and thanks for reading my story. Flame on my friend!
Mr. Prairie FIRE