Ok, here is the deal. I….LOVE…..THE…..FI…..COMMUNITY. The online Financial Independence (FI) community has been central to my quick progression into personal finance and getting my financial house in order.
Before I encountered the FI Community, I really had no idea what I was doing and little to no control of where our family’s money was going. When we hit financial headwinds, I was stressed, depressed and desperate. Luckily I found a place I could learn, ask the dumb questions and get a ton of resources.
Through my struggle I discovered that I, like most people, am a social animal. I am built for community and connection. And so are you!
Hello and welcome to Prairie FIRE Canada. You’ve discovered my handy dandy drop box. You’ll find these boxes throughout my site. In each drop box you will get more info on a particular topic, or definition. Click the white “+” button on the right on each drop box to reveal insightful content. Enjoy!
We Are Lonely & Disconnected
Technology and social media platforms have allowed us to connect with almost anyone and everyone in the world. But, the facts are telling us that when it comes to personal finance and connecting with others, we are more lonely and disconnected than ever before:
Canadian millennials spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on their mobile devices, which is equivalent to almost a whole day out of a week. 88% of mobile digital time is spent on social media apps, with instant messaging and social apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat taking the lead according to data released by the CRTC.
We Are Suffering Alone: (Click me)
Over 50% of Canadians are tackling financial stress without anyone to share it with, not even their partners. That means many of us have no one to talk to when it comes to advice, sharing the burden and getting support.
The irony here is that we are more connected than ever thanks to technology and social media platforms. But we are wasting our most valuable asset, time, trying to escape our lives through our mobile phones, making us more and more isolated. I can clearly relate to this. Before I was Financially Enlightened, I wasted a lot of time on social media and very rarely talked openly about my finances or struggles we were going through as a family. I still find it a challenge, but now I am leveraging social media to better myself, create connections and learn from others.
The FI Community Provides
The FI Community has helped in a number of areas when it comes to education, finding good deals and resources. Below are just a few examples of tangible benefits I’ve received by being part of the FI Community:
50% off Loblaw Groceries (Click Me)
One small hack someone shared with us was a mobile app called FlashFood. This is an app that allows you to access food from your local grocery store at a 50% discount. The catch is that this food is approaching the “best before date” and the store wants to move it fast. The savvy consumer is wise to the fact that the best before date doesn’t mean that food is gone bad. One major grocery retailer, Loblaws, participates and you can get all sorts of groceries at a huge discount (in most cases 50% or more!). This can save you a ton of money especially for more expensive items like mean. click here on my referral link to get the app for your mobile phone and a $5 credit to your next purchase.
50% off Home Insurance (Click Me)
One key theme in the FI Community is to find ways to cut costs. Specifically when it comes to housing. It finally clicked with me that I may be spending too much on insurance. So I published a post in my local ChooseFI Facebook group and voila I got several suggestions on where to find more affordable home insurance. I was able to go through my old university, where they had great group rates for alumni. In the end my insurance went from $209 to $93 a month for my personal home and from $163 to $87 a month for one of my rental properties. Just by asking a simple question to my fellow FI online community members, I am now saving $192/month or just over $2,300/year!
Running My Rental Business: (Click Me)
If you have followed my story, you will know that I was not the best at managing my rental properties. I treated it like a side-gig instead of a real business. My view and approach to my rental properties changed over time by joining real estate Facebook groups like Bigger Pockets, ChooseFI Real Estate, and other forums, where people asked questions and community members provided feedback. I even built up the courage to ask my own “dumb`questions. This eventually led to listening to real estate podcasts, reading books and joining my local real estate investors group. All this has led me to run my rental properties in a very different way that is more efficient and increased our cash flow by more than $500/month. All because I observed and listened to what was being said in the community.
By immersing myself with like minded individuals focused on bettering their financial lives, I began to change. This was the source of my financial enlightenment. I was exposed to new ideas and a culture that changed my consumer mindset to an investor mindset and treat my personal finances like business.This was the most crucial benefit of all!
Leveraging Social Media
Social media is like any other medium. It is a tool you can use to waste time or be productive. It`s not reasonable to expect a modern person to disconnect and go cold turkey from social media. Instead it is important to meet people where they are at and see how we can leverage social media to better our lives.
In my case, I inadvertently hacked the social media algorithm by slowly re-focusing my attention and interests to all things financial independence. After a while all the cat videos and memes disappeared and were replaced with informative posts and insights into personal finance.
Here’s the thing. You do not have to take the long route to hacking your social media like I did. Instead, I can help you fast track by outlining a few actions you can take to bend the social media algorithm to your will. Below are some of the key things I did to change my social media feeds – in order of level of engagement:
Level 1: Join & Follow a Community (Click Me)
In this case, Facebook gives you the ability to join groups and forums with large communities. These communities are very active, so they naturally appear more frequently on your Facebook feed. As a result you will be exposed more to FI community discussions and less crazy political memes.
Level 2: Follow a Thought Leader (Click Me)
The FI Community has a number of thought leaders. You can follow these personal finance experts and geeks individually on their social media (instagram/Twitter/Youtube) or blog. These thought leaders sometimes create their own Facebook communities that are open to those who are passionate about FI.
Level 3: Like/Comment/Share (Click Me)
As you get more comfortable, you can move from an observer to a participant. An easy thing you can do is like something if it resonates with you, comment if you have an idea or want to be encouraging to someone, or share an interesting article or post that you think the community might like.
Level 4: Post a Question (Click Me)
Here is your chance to tap into the wisdom of the community and ask a question. The first time can be a bit nerve wracking due to the fear of being judged, but by this point you will get a good sense of how to shape your question. Make sure the question is relevant and provide as much detail as you feel comfortable sharing.
Level 5: Share Your Wisdom (Click Me)
If you are deeper into your FI journey and feel connected to the people in the Facebook group,two, you can engage by answering peoples questions directly or sharing a really good resources. I encourage you to do this, as this is your opportunity to give back.
WARNING! WARNING! DANGER!
Please note, once you start getting fully engaged through social media, be prepared to see some major changes in your social media feeds. No longer will you be getting notifications about someone taking a personality quiz. Instead your feed will start to fill up with information on TFSAs, budgeting, what best used vehicles to purchase, and other frugal tips.
Find Your Tribe
My hope for you is that in your journey you will be able to find your tribe and place to call home. We all need a shoulder to cry on and safe place to be ourselves. There is no shame in reaching out, connecting and asking questions. We come into this world from a place of ignorance. But by asking the dumb question and building your knowledge, that will eventually lead to financial enlightenment.
You can get started by checking out some of my favourite Facebook Groups, thought leaders and Best Financial Friends (BFFs) (click on each tab to see more):
Follow My BFFs – Best Financial Friends (Click Me)
My financial community has grown so fast, and I could not have gotten to where I am without my BFFs (Best Financial Friends). Take some time to follow some of my fellow bloggers who have great insights, resources, podcasts, and their own unique approaches to financial independence:
We cannot take on our financial challenges alone. We are in the end social animals and we are desperate for community. My last piece of advice to you is that when it comes to community, your relationship with it is a two way street. Though it is great to get all that useful info to use in your life, don’t forget to give back as well. This rule applies to both the virtual and real world.
So next time you are online and you decide to join a Facebook group or follow someone, introduce yourself to the group and tell them Mr. Prairie FIRE sent you.
Best of luck and feel free to look me up online on my Facebook Page, Twitter or sign up for my newsletter.