Their Rich Journey
I'm really pleased to have another Reader Profile for you today. I came across Amon and Christina a few weeks ago on the Rockstar Finance forum, and found their story so interesting that I immediately asked them to write a guest post for us. If you enjoy this post, their Youtube videos are really well done too :)
1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves
We’re both from the Bay Area/California. We have two younger daughters and we’ve have been living in Japan for almost two years. Our oldest daughter plays basketball for a very competitive all-Japanese team. She’s been playing on the team for a little over a year and it’s been an eye-opening experience! We’ve learned so much about Japanese culture and practice through being on the team.
Although we’re learning more and more about Japanese culture, this is actually the second time we’ve lived in Japan! We first moved to Japan about twelve years ago and lived here for about four years; then, we moved to southern Spain; to Los Angeles, California; to Oakland, California; and then back to Japan! We currently live a little less than an hour outside of Tokyo.
2. How did you get started with personal finance?
Our first time delving into personal finance and investment was probably right after we got out of college. We had absolutely no savings, we weren’t making a lot of money, and one of us (not naming names!) had terrible credit at the time. Despite these (serious) shortcomings, we wanted to buy property. At the same time, banks certainly weren’t lining up to give us a home loan!
At the time, we met an investor who was willing to set us up with an option-to-buy lease on a 3-bedroom property. We lived in the property and rented out the extra rooms, which allowed us to live rent free. After a while, the property value increased and we ended up selling our option for a pretty hefty profit. We eventually used the profit from the option-lease (and our rent savings) to purchase a different condo. We later purchased more real estate and we became more deliberate about investing in the stock market.
While in Japan, we’ve been accelerating our savings and investing plan. Our investment portfolio is fairly diverse – with our investments spread out in real estate, stocks, and bonds. Our goal is to retire within the next 3.5 years! We’ve been on a journey towards financial independence and early retirement and started documenting and sharing the ways we make, save, and invest money in our new YouTube channel: Our Rich Journey.
3. What are you doing at the moment?
Right now, we’re continuing to max out our retirement accounts, invest in the stock market, and manage our stateside real estate – all with the plan of retiring in the next 3.5 years. We’re saving and investing almost 70% of our paychecks. Our stock investments are deducted automatically from our checking accounts, so they’re pretty much on auto-pilot. This way, our money is automatically invested each month and we’re not tempted to spend it!
4. What books/websites/companies do you recommend?
First Recommendation: Ben’s Retire Japan site, of course! We really like reading the blog posts and love the forum page because it allows Ben’s readers to ask and answer tons of personal finance/investment questions.
Second Recommendation: Our YouTube Channel (Our Rich Journey)! It’s a new YouTube channel where we post two videos a week on making, saving, and investing money – all with an eye towards financial independence and early retirement. We have videos that discuss: how to travel for free; how to live rent and mortgage free; how to retire early; how to get a job abroad; creative ways to invest in real estate with little or no money down; how to become a millionaire with ten dollars a day; and side hustles that people can start right away - just to name a few!
Third Recommendation: a podcast called “ChooseFI”. The podcast is geared towards all things related to financial independence. In addition to the podcast, there’s a large Facebook ChooseFI group and smaller local groups, including a ChooseFI Japan group.
5. What's your plan going forward?
Our plan is to continue our financial independence journey, to document our journey, and to ultimately reach early retirement in 3.5 years!
6. Any other thoughts?
Our biggest piece of advice is to invest. Simply saving your money (without investing it) is not an efficient way to become financially independent. Look for ways to invest and get creative about your investments. If you have kids – get them investing early! With the power of compound interest, the earlier someone begins investing, the greater potential for much greater profits. We have been a family of four living off a single income for quite some time, but we made it a priority to save and invest. Now that we’re both working, we’re able to save and invest a huge part of our paychecks. The point is – you don’t have to be a dual-income wealthy family to reach financial independence. Prioritize saving and investing and you could be on your way!
Thanks, Amon and Christina! Completely agree about just getting started with investing. Even if it is just a small amount to start with, dipping your toes allows you to learn by doing, and any mistakes will be less consequential with small amounts of money.
I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your journey. Good luck!