An Interview with Derek Sall from Life and My Finances

Jump in for my interview with Derek Sall, the founder of the Life and My Finances blog which now helps thousands of people every day with their money and finances.

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life and my finances blog, derek sall is a blog that was founded back in 2010 as a hobby to help a few people with their personal finances. It has since grown exponentially and there are now a team of financial experts behind the blog, who help thousands of people with their money problems, with explaining legal regulations, with choosing financial products and investing info.

This is an interview with Derek Sall, the founder of Life and my Finances, so jump in, he was super interesting to interview and was very open about all things finance!

“LifeAndMyFinances strives to provide you with objective, well-researched educational content. We take complex ideas, break them down, and explain them in plain English. Although we like the occasional pun, we adhere to strict editorial guidelines.”

My interview with Derek Sall

A bit about you

Captain Fi: Ok, Derek, a bit about you.. Can I use your name or are you anonymous?

Derek: Name is ok! I’m Derek Sall.

Captain Fi: Can you tell us a bit about you, personally, please Derek, if you’re comfortable to share?

Derek: Sure, I’m 38, I’m married with 2 young kids aged 5 and 7, and I live in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.

Captain Fi: So, tell me about your family, and How did you learn about finances?

Derek: I had a great childhood but I grew up in a lower middle-class family. My mum was good with money, so that taught me to be frugal and save. My parents were really hard-working though and were able to provide a decent life for me, even with lower education and a low per-hour rate.

I later learned a lot as a Finance student, and I learned quite a bit of personal finance from Dave Ramsey and his podcast.

Captain Fi: How do you think differently than the average person when it comes to money?

Derek: First, I’m content. I enjoy debt freedom and the flexibility it offers. I’d so much rather have that than a fancy boat or car. Second, I realize that great wealth can be made through investing over time and via the right avenues of work (ie. self-employment and scaling).

Captain Fi: Do you have any favourite money tools and resources you recommend (books, podcasts, apps etc)?

Derek: Yes! The Free debt snowball spreadsheet is one of the free tools that I created.

life and my finances, debt snowball spreadsheet

Your working career

Captain Fi: So, what are your finance qualifications, and what is your current working situation?

Derek: I have a BBA in Finance and an MBA, and currently, I’m running the LifeandMyFinances blog which I founded!

Captain Fi: How have your earnings grown – What was your starting income, how did you grow this and where are you now?

Derek: Started at $33k a year in 2008, grew it consistently to where it is today, more than $100k per year.

Captain Fi: Would you recommend people to pursue the same career path? Would you choose a different job if you could go back?

Derek: Pursue what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what you can scale.

Captain Fi: What tips do you have for others who want to grow their career-related income?

Derek: Move around to various companies. I stuck with one company for 12 years. It was too long and my increases were meager at best. If you’re going to have a traditional job, always keep looking for better opportunities to grow and increase your title and income. If you really want to grow your income, start your own gig and scale it.

Captain Fi: What’s your work-life balance look like now?

Derek: Right now, horrible. I’m a founder with more things to do than I have time for. The idea is that I can pull back in a year and start to slow down. Manage more and do less myself.

Captain Fi: Do you have any sources of income besides your blog/ career?

Derek: Just my spouse’s income and a single rental property we have. The plan is to expand into more rentals, but for now, we’re just piling up cash, looking for the best investment in the next 1-2 years.

Your Spending

Captain Fi: What is your family’s spending like?

Derek: Pretty minimal. We spend less than $5,000 a month/$60k a year. We have absolutely no debt, which makes this possible.

Captain Fi: Can you break-down the main categories this spending relates to?

Derek: Sure!

Private school = $15k/year

Food = $10k/year

Taxes/Insurance = $15k/year

Gas = $2k/year

Other randoms (giving/clothes/fun/pets/etc.) = <$18k

Captain Fi: Do you have a budget? If so, how do you implement it?

Derek: Not really. We used to, so we still spend roughly to those old budget numbers. We’re both frugal and spend very little on ourselves.

Captain Fi: What is your savings rate and how has that changed over time?

Derek: At least 50%. That’s always been our target. 

Captain Fi: What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Derek: Family vacations!

Captain Fi: Do you give to charity? Why or why not? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?

Derek: We do. We give to our church, to our friends (missionaries), and to anyone in need that pops up out of the blue. We give roughly 5% of our income. We intend to ramp this up to 10% soon.

Your Investing strategy and net wealth

Captain Fi: What has been your investment strategy/philosophy?

Derek: Index funds and real estate. Super simple.

Captain Fi: What has been your best investment?

Derek: Rental property. Including cashflow and value, it has returned at least 25% each year. It’s been crazy.

Captain Fi: What has been your worst investment?

Derek: Silver a few years back. It gained 20% in 12 days, then tanked for a couple years. I finally sold it at a 20% loss.

Captain Fi: What’s been your overall return?

Derek: Roughly 12%

Captain Fi: How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?

Derek: Once a year. I don’t get into the details too much. I’m doing what I love already, so there’s no real drive to increase my portfolio by 100% or something. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.

Captain Fi: What is your current net worth?

Derek: $1.2 million

Captain Fi: What are the main assets that make up your net worth?

Derek: Primary house = $500kRental = $200kRetirement = $300kNon-retirement investments/cash = $200k

Captain Fi: How did you accumulate your net worth?

Derek: Working a career, having side hustle income, marrying a like-minded individual, living far beneath our means, and continuing to save and invest (real estate, index funds).

Captain Fi: What has been the biggest contributor to your net worth?

Derek: Real estate. Buying when prices were low, and managing tenants well.

Captain Fi: What has been the biggest detractor to your net worth?

Derek: Slowing down the FI journey to enjoy life today. We bought our “forever home” pretty early on. While it has increased in value well, we could have earned more if we stayed in our small home and bought more rental properties. Definitely no regrets though.

Captain Fi: What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your net worth?

Derek: Living far beneath our means and stashing cash. When work becomes stable, we’ll invest and then really take our foot off the gas (when it comes to growing my website).

Captain Fi: What money mistakes did you make that we can learn from?

Derek: I tried to pick individual stocks when I was broke and in debt. I made 25%….on $100. And then I paid $75 to process the forms for taxes… Don’t do that. First, focus on paying off debt, then invest heavily.

Captain Fi: How has your spouse or family impacted your net worth?

Derek: Spouse – tremendously. She’s a saver, so we never have to worry about being tight on cash or unprepared for expenses. She’s awesome. We hardly budget, we just make money, save it, invest it, and repeat.

Your Plans

Captain Fi: What are your FI goals?

Derek: Retire by 45. I may still work, but have the option to stop if I want to.

Captain Fi: Do you have a target net worth or passive income you are trying to attain? Will you quit working when you reach this?

Derek: Passive income that exceeds our current income of roughly $100k/year. Either that, or amass a $3 million nest egg at the sale of a company.

Captain Fi: What are your retirement plans?

Derek: Flexibility. I don’t see us moving to Florida or anything like that. We’ll just be more involved in our kids’ lives, continue to work out our purpose in this life. And probably travel abroad a bit. We’ve got the Europe bug lately. Such great history there!

Captain Fi: Is there anything about retirement that concerns you?

Derek: Yeah, we don’t sit around well. We’ll keep working. I bet it will be similar to what we do today, with just a few breaks in between for travel.

Captain Fi: Ok, Derek, we’ve covered a lot here! Thanks so much for your time and transparency today!

Where can readers find you, the blog and are you on socials?

Derek: No problem, thanks for having me!

life and my finances blog
Derek’s blog Life and My Finances can help with all things personal finance. His free tools are really useful too!

My blog is

You can also find me on:

Linked In, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and CrunchBase.

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