I hope you’re doing well. I really do. But it is ok if you are not. The reality is when it comes to our finances, most of us are a wreck 1These are my handy side notes. Throughout my site you will see these little clickable numbers. Here you will find some additional commentary, tips, definitions and even more resources to help you on your way to FI. Thanks for clicking <—click on these.
I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on my heart and my mind for a long time, ever since I began this journey towards financial independence (FI). Where do I start? I think the best place to start is back at the beginning. A time when the Prairie FIRE family was going through our biggest crisis yet. It was a series of untimely events that led to a financial quagmire. If you’ve read my story, you will know that three events hit our household:
- First, I found out that I was getting a 9% pay cut at my work. That was a significant blow to us, because we have chosen to be a single income family 2Mrs. Prairie FIRE is the most adept and skilled to manage our home and I had the most earning potential. Furthermore, having someone at home investing time and energy into making the best people this world has ever seen is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our kids and the world. It’s our way of compounding the good in the world. .
- The second big blow was a roof issue at our dream house. We had some really bad circulation issues in our attic and we had to literally take the roof off our house and re-insulate the roof. All in all, it cost us $15,000 to get it done right.
- To add even more pain to the situation, we had a mini-flood at one of our rental property units, and it cost us dearly: a $20,000 repair to bring the unit back to life 3This is not including the additional vacancy costs associated with it being empty. Seriously I am not going to go into it, because it is so depressing. .
Just like that, we had a trifecta of bad luck events that resulted in a reduction in pay and $35,000 in debt. To say the least, I was beside myself. This created so much worry for me that I was losing sleep, became depressed, and I was desperate for someone to solve my problems. I felt alone. Sure, my wife and my family had my back, but I felt like I could not really talk to anyone who truly understood where I was coming from or ask for advice.
A Common Story
You know what? I learned that many of my fellow Canadians are going through the same thing I am. Facing life’s money pressures around out-of-control spending, encountering unexpected expenses, living paycheck to paycheck, dealing with the heavy burden of debt, and lacking confidence in managing their finances. They are in a place where they just don’t know what to do. Let’s look at the stats – shall we? Caution, the stats are staggering!
According to a recent study from the Financial Health Index:
- 47% of Canadians surveyed agreed money worries cause extreme stress
- 42% agree that they lose sleep over money
- 75% are worried about not having enough to retire
- 60% lack confidence that they have the skills and knowledge to manage their household finances
- 71% are worried about not having money available for an unforeseen expenses
The worst thing is that they are facing this all on their own. In the same study, it shows that:
- 50% keep their worries to themselves
- 38% don’t discuss money issues with anyone
- 9% have no one to talk to, even if they wanted
- Those in rural areas are less likely to share (49% – rural, 37% – urban, 38% – national average – do not talk at all)
- 44% of men and 32% of women aren’t sharing with anyone
- During financial hardship, 1 in 5 turn to friends/family
Does this sound too familiar? Does it hit close to home? This was me a few months ago.
Finding the Solution to My Problems
People are facing very personal issues with their finances and feel alone and don’t have anyone to turn to. They don’t have a community, a friend, or a counselor with whom to have an open and frank discussion about money problems. This is especially true for those who live in rural areas in Canada. They feel even more alone and have to take on these burdens on their own. THIS IS A PROBLEM, PEOPLE!
So I was going through the same thing. But I was lucky. I discovered a world of personal finance and the subculture of the Financial Independence Retire Early community, or more affectionately known as the FIRE community. This community provided me the foundation of knowledge, comradery, and diverse views necessary to get started on my journey. But more importantly, it was a place where I could get help. It was a huge relief.
An Oasis in the Desert that is Personal Finance
Close your eyes and imagine wandering in the desert and going for 6 days without water 4 Technically, you can survive up to 10 days without water. I would not recommend it. . You then stumble onto an oasis and take your first drink of life-giving water. That’s exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon the FIRE community.
The community brought more than just relief. It gave me all the things I was looking for. I found out how someone did the impossible and paid off over $100,000 in debt in a few years. I heard about people with such excellent budgeting skills that they were able to give tips to others so that others can benefit from their experience to reach their FI goals earlier. I encountered an not so average guy by the name of Pete, who was so adept and dedicated to living differently and being frugal that he had a 50% savings rate!
We are Desperate for Community
This was all amazing stuff, and my first thought was that everyone needs to know about this. But there was another revelation that came to mind. That as human beings, we are desperate for community. We need community because that is how we are built and how we as a collective have done well. It is not rugged individualism that has brought us this far, but collective progress that has made us great. We are not supposed to live this life alone. We are supposed to live life together.
Just like how we need friends, family, and community to deal with all that life has to throw at us, we need someone to go to, to engage with, have a good laugh with – just so we can deal with the challenges of getting our financial houses in order. The research is showing us that there is nothing out there right now for us in the “real world.” Not yet at least.
What was lacking in the real world, I sought out online. I delved into the FIRE Facebook groups, blogs, and podcasts and not only did it bring me relief, but it built my confidence to approach my money issues in a logical and tangible way.
The FIRE Movement
So let me tell you more about the FIRE movement. The FIRE community is made up of diverse, interesting, and regular people like you and me. They are stay-at-home parents, IT professionals, bloggers, ex-military, students, and young professionals. All focused on reaching FI early in life, so that they can live debt-free and have more freedom. The FI community prescribes to some core tenets of living such as being purposefully frugal, not buying things new (e.g., house, cars, clothing, etc.), passive investing, and eliminating debt. They use different tactics to increase their income AND their savings rate 5Wrap your mind around this. There are actual households out there that when they receive a pay raise or additional income, the don’t spend it. That’s right, instead of splurging on themselves they save it away in their retirement fund! and plan their way to getting to their FI goal faster. The great thing about this community is that they are also focused on supporting each other, sharing their knowledge, and creating a safe place for people to talk about money and making the FIRE movement accessible for the average person.
A Love Jones for FIRE
I am going to be totally honest. I have fallen head over heels in love with the FIRE movement. It’s been a whirlwind romance. The movement has provided me the community, information, and knowledge to build up my confidence to take control of my financial life. I was blown away at how freely people talked about their money worries and shared their stories. I was even more blown away by how people rallied and comforted each other with encouraging words and ideas to help out.
It’s About Connecting with Community
In the end, I love to help people and I do not want it to be about me. Let me take that back. I want it to be about me, by exercising my true self – being your friendly neighbourhood community builder. I want it to be about community and I want it to be about me helping you connect to community – be it in real life or virtually. I want people to come to me and say, I’m a doctor and need to figure out how I can retire early. And I’ll say go check out Physician on FIRE. Or, we are a single income family and need to know how to reach FI. I’ll say me too! Here are some great things I’m doing and go check out Budgeting Wife.
That’s what Prairie FIRE Canada is all about. Exploring the FIRE subculture, reporting back to my readers what I’ve discovered, and documenting how it can apply to our lives post by post. I hope you are able to call my site your home for financial literacy and independence. And, I am more than happy if you find a different community to make your own. Just as long as you start your journey today.
So What Now
Thank you for coming this far in my post. It has been a long one, and I want to reward you for hearing me out. Are you feeling like the majority of people out there who are up at night worrying about your finances and have nowhere to turn to? It’s time to face things head on.
Take Some Tangible Steps
Go ahead and take some tangible steps to your path to financial independence. Find out how to calculate your Financial Independence Number (AKA how much you will need to retire). Then take steps to develop your Financial Independence Policy plan. Feel free to check out my own plan to use as an example.
I want you to connect to some of my most valuable and favourite FIRE Facebook Groups.
- ChooseFI – Canada
- ChooseFI – Toronto
- ChooseFI – Manitoba
- ChooseFI – Vancouver
- Canadian Mustachians
- Socially Conscious Mustachians
Remember to check back on this post for updated Facebook Groups that I think are worth exploring. Or you can sign-up for my monthly newsletter and get the latest updates and resources on how to navigate the FIRE network.
Build Your Knowledge
Do yourself a favour and check out my resource page. Listen to a podcast, check out a blog, or read a book. You will not regret taking the time to better yourself and take control of your financial life.
If you think this post was useful, please share it with at least one family member or friend in real life (NOT ONLINE) 6Research shows that the best way to learn and do something is to talk about and teach it to others. If you do this the likelihood of you starting your both increases significantly. . Hopefully it will create a meaningful conversation, a better relationship, and a community that you can lean on in real life.
You Are Not Alone
I want you to know that you are not alone. I am here, the community is here for you, and we are all in this together. I would love to hear from you about your story or if you have any questions on where to start on your journey to financial independence. Feel free to comment below (or follow me on Twitter/Facebook) and share your story, a question, a great resource, or simply express how you feel. I want my site to be a safe place for everyone to connect.
Mr. Prairie FIRE