Hey, I’m Johnny.
I was born and raised in Illinois, the second-flattest state. I grew up racing BMX bikes and my passions include: family, personal finance, travel, and helping others succeed. My personal finance story started with having a goal to be debt-free and have my future wife stay at home with our children.
My current goals include traveling for free as a family, owning real estate, and having the option to retire by the age of 45.
Early 2011 – A new career
At my first job I was making $42,000. As a recent grad, I was also $53,000 in student loan debt. Like most college grads with a new full time new job, I went out and bought a brand new car. This upped that debt to $70,000.
Inspiration from my Father
Inspiration for this original goal came from my Father. My father was always a hard worker. It was normal for him to put in 12-16hr days and he was away from home most nights and Saturdays. He decided to make a career change and become a financial advisor near 2006. With his passion for finances and newly found career, this would also allow him to spend more time with our family. Little did we know that the markets would crash in 2008 and make this career change a bit more difficult than planned. This didn’t stop him from working hard and building a book of business until his death at age 59 in early 2015.
Mid 2015 – Let’s add some more debt
My wife and I have dated since high school and did not wish to get married until after college. Once we were wed, our finances became one. That meant that her student loan debt of $28,000 was now added to our total pay off amount of $98,000. Just before leaving for our honey moon, her car decided to never start again. So, as a financially savvy couple at this point, what did we do? We went to the dealership and bought a mid-sized SUV for our future family. Que another $23,000 in debt to pay off in order to reach my original goal. Up until now we had been making mostly minimum payments on our loans with some extra payments here and there.
As a couple that loves to travel, we were determined to vacation multiple times a year. We both had our careers, a new home, and felt that we were living the “American Dream”. Whether it was Florida to visit family, or Mexico for an all-inclusive, we would put the trip expenses on a credit card and always said we’d pay it off after the trip. Without even realizing it, our lifestyle was paycheck to paycheck. We were not going into debt further, but we also were not following a path to meet my original goal. If having my wife stay at home with our children was important, we needed to make a change in our spending habits.
2017 – Starting a family
My wife was a teacher for 4 years before becoming pregnant with our first daughter. We had worked hard to try and pay off what we could and we began to crunch numbers to see if she was going to be able to stay home once the baby was born. By this time, we had paid off the majority of my student loans and she was aggressively paying on hers as well.
Tracking our finances
YNAB stands for You Need A Budget and we absolutely needed one! We began budgeting our money more intentionally and set goals to pay off certain loans in order for my wife to stay home.
In addition to budgeting, we began tracking our net worth with Personal Capital. This is a completely free resource and if you sign up using this link, you’ll get a free $20! Personal Capital allows you to link your financial accounts to get cool graph of your net worth!
Mid 2018 – Debt-free!
With hard work, we paid off all of our student loans and made sure that our only debt payment left was my wife’s car!
My wife took off 12 weeks after the birth of our first daughter and only returned to work for a couple months to finish out the school year. She has not returned to full time work since. She stays registered in order to substitute teach when she chooses to and it helps to keep her skills current.
2019 – The now!
I took a leap and started this blog to help log the rest of our journey and help others along the way! We’re now a family of 4! Our newest daughter was born in the summer.
- As a family, we vacation on a zero dollar budget thanks to credit card rewards.
- We’re in the process of purchasing two rental properties.
- We have ZERO debt outside of our home mortgage.
Goals for the future
- I enjoy the idea of retiring early and often. With my wife at home with our two girls, I would love to spend summers off work with my wife and girls by the age of 35.
- I’d like to volunteer 10 hours a month. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and I feel it’s the right thing to give back.
- Help at least one person through this blog!