Episode 3 of the Captain FI podcast features Shang from Savemycents. Shang hit her (7 figure) FI/RE number and reached ‘Work optional’ status at age 31, making her a Millionaire after only 11 short years in the workforce.
Shang graduated from Harvard University and is an MBA. She now lives in New York, where she balances her free time between passion projects (like being a money coach and finance blogger) with being a new mum. She is a woman of many talents; in addition to her writing and media skills she is also a very talented musician. Shang is the author of savemycents.com, and is a bit of an Instagram influencer now that her channel has nearly 30,000 subscribers for @savemycents. She has been covered by Forbes, Fox and the New York Post, as well as numerous podcasts such as Journey to Launch and A Sunny Side up “The crucial link between mental health and financial health”.
In this Episode we explore Shang’s background and motivations for FI/RE, as well as the steps she took to reach it; including how she was able to shake self limiting beliefs and adopt a mindset of abundance and gratitude. We cover the common stumbling grounds of frugality and self deprivation vs delayed gratification, as well as stock picking vs index funds.
Shang is also an experienced travel hacker, ruthlessly racking up points to fund around the world travel with her young family; we discuss how she was able to cover 95% of the cost of a 3 month long all-around-the-world family trip using only points. Shang delivers some valuable insights for those on the path to FI/RE, including her favourite blogs, authors and her top three tips for financial independence.
Save my cents
Shang is the author of www.savemycents.com, a financial independence blog where she aims to share her knowledge in a “no-nonsense, non sugarcoated way”
Shangs Travel hacking recommendations
The points guy
The Points Guy (TPG) is a US based point travel hacking blog which can be found at https://thepointsguy.com/. TPG has over 350,000 followers on Instagram (@thepointsguy) and his feed is full of great travel hacking tips.
One mile at a time
One Mile at a Time is a point hacking guide written by blogger Ben Schlappig. Ben has over 85,000 Instagram followers (@onemileatatime) where he details his point hacking exploits and the latest tips and tricks
View from the wing
Gary Leff has been described as an ‘Air Genius’ and an ‘Airline industry brainiac’. He shares great tips about gaining points through the best credit card and point hacking deals, as well as how to use them. His Instagram @garyleff shows off all of his luxury exploits!
New York Post – Here
Forbes – Here
Fox Business – Here
Journey to Launch Podcast – Here
A Sunny Side up Podcast ‘The crucial link between mental health and financial health‘ – Here
Shangs Top FIRE books
The Millionaire next door | Thomas J. Stanley
Whatever your income, always live below your meansThomas J. Stanley
The Millionaire Next Door explains the incredibly simple financial habits that the affluent have which leads to an accumulation of wealth and reaching of financial independence. Stanley shows how with some basic planning, living below your means and avoiding being stupid with your money can lead to becoming a Millionaire.
Stanley outlines three rules to become a Millionaire:
1. Save [and invest] responsibly from the moment you first earn an income, 2. Ensure you stay above the ‘financial curve’ (Age multiplied by gross income divided by 10), and
3. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘economic outpatient care’ (that is to say, don’t expect any handouts such as from the bank of mum and dad)
The Millionaire Next Door is full of practical tips about modern frugality, mindset and how and where millionaires invest there money. He highlights the trap of inheritances and handouts, and also highlights what most Millionaires excessively spend their money on (its not what you might think!)
The Power of Habit ‘Why we do what we do in life and business’ | Charles Duhigg
The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.Charles Duhigg
Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ is behavioural psychology book and a New York Times best seller. Duhigg challenges you to view the the way you go about life and behave; your habits. He explores scientific studies of how habits are formed in our brains, and showcases different examples of how this can be beneficial or negative, and how habits can be be broken and rewired.
For people looking to change habits which are difficult to break, Duhigg’s observations are a game changer. He explains how implementing keystone habits has led to the success of people like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and heroes of civil rights like Martin Luther King, Jr. He also shows how businesses like Procter & Gamble and Target have used the power of habit to earn billions of dollars in revenue.
Before I crack on with this transcript – if anyone knows a better way to do this than just typing it out by hand, let me know. I have experimented with Google Speech to Text, but with some pretty hilarious results. So I’m just sitting here, with a big plate of fresh micro-greens from my germination trays, munching and typing away.
Captain FI: Ladies and Gentlemen this is your captain speaking, welcome aboard Captain FI – the financial independence podcast. Welcome to another episode of Captain FI – the financial independence podcast where I open the cockpit to some of the best and brightest in personal finance as well as those who have reached or are on there way to financial independence
On board today we have Shang from Savemycents. Shang reached FIRE aged 31 after only 11 Short years in the workforce. She has the ability to work optionally and her Passion Projects include being a money coach and finance blog was travelling the world with her young family. Shang has always been a disciplined and frugal investor learning the power to save and invest from her very first paycheck
She grew up in America but originally came from a very humble farming family in China. Her parents survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Shane and her parents arrived in the US when she was only 10 years old. She takes a lot of her inspiration from and credits her father, now a famous Professor and himself a self-made Millionaire for teaching her great money hurts from an early age. She is also a woman of many talents including a very gifted musician. Shang graduated from Harvard University and also the University of Chicago Booth School of Business where she met her husband.
Llike most people, Shang discovered the FIRE movement through Mr Money moustache. She already had a great savings in excess of 30% but after reading a Mr Money Mustache she rapidly adopted ‘Mustachianism’ to cut her spending even further. She mastered the science of low cost index fund investing both directly and also by maxing out her tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
These days when she’s not travelling the world you’ll find her living in New York City. Shang is the author of savemycents.com and is also a bit of an Instagram influencer with nearly 30,000 followers which is actually how our stories met. So Shang – welcome to the show!
Shang: Thank you so much for having me on here I am so excited to be on here today. You have done quite a good job introducing me but I would say perhaps what I would add to that was that this entire time of saving more money and investing has been quite a personal journey for me going from a person who was originally somewhat negative into someone who is now all about positivity, about the power of mindset and about changing habits and that truly came from a passion that I had for behavioural psychology and understanding how our brains work. That curiosity is something that has followed me throughout my formal education years and that actually drives a lot of what I write about and share online today.
Captain FI: You clearly have a very distinguished resume with your academic qualifications and I must say that whole concept of mindfulness and gratefulness that was how I really discovered you and savemycents and I have learned so much already.
Shang: Thank you very much, if you guys hear any children babbles in the background that is my newborn son, I am a new mother as well so very exciting times
Captain FI: Wow Congratulations! Yeah I can’t imagine how much work that would be!
Captain FI: So getting started, I was a bit sceptical about the whole FIRE thing at first – when did you figure out FIRE was actually a thing and how did that make you feel?
Shang: Yeah FIRE really came to me in my mid to late twenties when my husband and I decided that we would learn to live off the lower of our two income (assuming there is two incomes for the rest of our lives), and along with that we inadvertently created a very high savings rate. The math does not lie – as long as you assume a certain return from the markets and have an incredibly high savings rate you can maintain that lifestyle or even a cheaper lifestyle for the rest of your life. It is possible, and the math pencils out – for me being a very quantitative and analytical person that makes sense to me. The reality of that though did not hit me until it finally came true. For the longest time for me it wasn’t necessarily about FIRE it was about work optional. The fact that one or both of us could take long breaks or could have breaks in our career without it hurting our ability to live the way we live – that was the most attractive part of FIRE to me.
Captain FI: I have heard you have some pretty funny stories behind that really high savings rates and the frugality, what can you tell us
Shang: Oh I would say the one place that you can really save really save money is housing! Especially for me living in the city (New York City) people are paying thousands of dollars each month for a market rate apartment. You can find cheaper ways to live!
We found a rent stabilised apartment in a very attractive neighbourhood – it was passed to us by a friend who’s family actually outgrew the apartment. It was 420 square feet and oh it has so many stories to get up to it. The landlord lost our lease, the bathroom was never perfect – there was always something wrong with the bathroom, you had to walk four flights of stairs to get up to it and these days I am always carrying big bags of groceries for the family and you know I am huffing and puffing all the way up haha!
There was no laundry in the building not even in the basement for us our best bet was a laundromat down the street which opens up to the public on Sundays for self service. One week it was my turn to do the laundry and it was freezing cold outside and I remember being so frustrated with having to do laundry outside the building. I had dressed up in something like my warm puffy jacket and I just sat on the bed and threw a tantrum at my husband saying “I really cant take this anymore! I can not wait for the day when we have laundry in our building because then I will know we have made it financially”
[Incoherent laughter from both Shang and Captain FI]
Captain FI: Wow that’s an interesting reflection, it reminds me a lot of Mr Money Mustache’s blog; he talks not about self deprivation but about stoicism and how sometimes it’s really rewarding to go through those hardships – because you really appreciate what you now have
Shang: Oh yes! I have a laundry in my building right now and it is LUXURIOUS
Captain FI: Ha-Ha! Ok so I have a funny frugal story for you. My computer had actually completely crapped itself right when I hadn’t backed up some really important stuff. I could get into the BIOS system and it was showing me a RAM error (I’ve got really old PC right) so anyway later that night I went to empty my trash into the dumpsters and I noticed a PC tower – like a desktop computer tower, in the bin. I put two and two together and thought hey this thing probably still has perfectly good components inside of it. I set out to scavenging them, but it was when I was super embarrassing when I was half in the bin and someone caught me haha but you know it saved me $100 and my computer is faster than it ever has been!
Shang: Oh yeah I mean it [frugality] is worth it, but it can definitely come across as quite odd to people who dont understand what your doing
Captain FI: Back to you Shang, can you tell me about your upbringing? How did you learn to be so smart with my and particularly how did you adopt such a positive mindset when it came to finance?
Shang: Oh I would say the ability to spend less than I earn that came from my father, and the positive mindset actually had to come from a lot of personal work I did later and throughout my life.
Lets talk about my father first. when you introduced me you did mention my father is a self made millionaire which is true. Growing up, I had no idea my father would be rich someday because he was so frugal. All I saw was how frugal he was and that he always negotiated for any service that he wanted hire or anything he wanted
Captain FI: That is SUCH an important skill to have
Shang: He negotiated you know for every car he bought, all the TV or phone plans he would constantly threaten the providers that he would cancel. My mother also had to shop at many different types of wet markets and ethnic markets to save on food
I saw my father keep a ledger – he literally budgeted using a pen and notebad: expenses down one side and income down the other. My father taught me by example. When I started earning money in College through my scholarships he told me ‘you learn to keep a budget and we’ll see how you do’ you know he told me how to save money so I really really credit him for doing that
Captain FI: That super important isn’t it, tracking your expenses. Its so good. I already like your dad already.
Shang: Ha-Ha absolutely! The positivity mindset came a lot later. I would say I was a bit more of a perfectionist growing up. My parents put a lot of pressure on me academically, to succeed and get a great job and all of that. The positivity mindset had to come when my husband and I committed to living off the lower income. I was the one who really had to bring down my discretionary spending. I ate out a lot, I liked my pretty clothing, I had designer goods and I really liked luxury travel.
Even though I still had a great savings rate before I met my husband, because I had such high income I was able to afford really great experiences. To go from 30% to a 50% savings rate that’s when you give up these nice things. At first oh it was so miserable for me. Because I had staked my identity on all of these material things. I staked my identify on being a foodie, and all of that stuff. I remember the first year doing this new budget all I could think about was what I gave up, what I couldn’t do, what I couldn’t have and I couldn’t re-frame it into ‘oh but this money will come back to you’. All I could think about it feels miserable.
And then one day it hit me, my husband was trying to drill this into my head – why cant you focus on what you already have. and that’s when a light-bulb went off in my head. You know what I may be staying at a hostel for a vacation but I still get to travel. Or you know I couldn’t go out for a steak dinner but i get to learn how to make steak at home. That is sort of how the positivity mindset was born. I also did have some help I went through therapy fro some of the issues related to being a child of perfection. All in all, that journey was key to achieving FIRE.
Captain FI: I don’t want you to open yourself up to any liability because I know you guys in America love to sue each other, but can you tell us about your investing strategy?
Shang: Ha-Ha yes. In the United States for as far as I’m concerned I always say you have to max out every tax advantage that you have before you go off and invest in a plain, you know trading/brokerage account. We have our pre-tax accounts and also have our Post-tax accounts and my husband and I basically took advantage of all of those. Not just the typical 401K but also IRAs / HSAs, and in our case we also started whats called a 529 which is made more for education but it just afforded us another tax saving vehicle.
Once we Max those out there, anything else that we have remaining goes to our brokerage account. For my husband and I, we don’t have a lot of time when it comes to investing our money. Its also a very high hurdle to invest in real estate in the New York area, so we of favour and invest in low cost index funds.
Captain FI: Index funds are fantastic – I actually started my investing journey trying to pick stocks which was a dumb idea. How did you discover index funds as opposed to the traditional concept of say, just buying google shares or picking other stocks?
Shang: Ha-Ha yes. I worked for a management consulting company and you know was involved in many business topics that are very sensitive. We had access to Proprietary data. I remember on day one of our training someone from legal came up and said “do not trade in stocks you are allowed to do mutual funds but do not trade stocks you might get in trouble that way” so because of that advice I never did not do any sort of day trading or stock picking because I knew that it would imply a lot of you know unwanted risk into my life.
So from the beginning, I already started trading in mutual funds at that time I did actively managed mutual funds because that’s just what I knew and I did some Googling and all that. Later on was actually my husband who introduced me to the idea of low cost index funds. Overtime I moved my portfolio to that as well. My husband did a lot of the researching and made recommendations. For us how we did our research this is really funny because people on Instagram know me for this – hashtag GOOGLE IT! We just Googled everything
Captain FI: Haha yes so good! We literally have the world at our fingertips these days so really there is no excuse is there?
Shang: Exactly, so we Googled everything and same thing, for maxing out tax advantage vehicles and all of that – same concept. Just google it! Did we hire a CPA? Uhh I might have done so in one or two years of my life, but my husband is the more value based one and he really try to learn everything as cheaply as frugally as possible. So even to this day we have not had a CPA prepare our tax for us – we still do all of our taxes ourselves, which gives you the advantage of forcing you to learn about taxes – and the tax situation in the US is quite complex it is a lot to wrap your head around. The reason I think that I’m able to explain a lot on Instagram and put a lot into the content is because we have had years of doing nothing but this during out free time to really try to hack our way to more savings and more wealth building.
Captain FI: That is fantastic. You just dived in headfirst. Now that you have hit FIRE, do you think it has changed you at all?
Shang: Yes it has. Now one very common critique of my journey is that I’m still working. To any potential future employers out there that might hear this Podcast – I’m always interested in working Ha-Ha! Because I do enjoy the type of work that I do. The freedom of FIRE means that if something should happen or occur in my life where I can no longer make work a priority, I have the ability to say ‘ok I need to focus on something else’. That’s a big reason why I’m able to take a full years maternity leave – I’m not getting paid for a whole year! My maternity policy right now at work is we get paid 16 weeks and then our health care insurance stops sometime after that as well, so I still have to make up the rest of the year that income from somewhere else well we don’t need that income and FIRE is the reason for that
Right now I am working to generate extra net worth – I’m expected to help support my family and in-laws when they retire so that’s the reason for that. Also one other thing that has been on my mind that perhaps I didn’t think as much about when I was building my way towards FIRE is how difficult and how costly health care is in the United States. It’s not so much across other parts of the world and I recognise that United States has relatively lower taxes because of that, but healthcare is I think one of those hard to predict but highly risky situations to be aware of. Should you choose to fully FIRE in the United States, you do need to have a plan for how you intend to pay for health care.
Some people choose to do it internationally, some choose to self pay, some go through ministry healthcare options but that is something that I’m now starting to learn about more that I wasn’t fully aware of when I first started FIRE and I only focused on a high savings rate.
Captain FI: I guess being relatively young with fit and well functioning bodies, it is hard to imagine being at a later stage of life where healthcare costs do really come up. So as you’ve journeyed towards FIRE there have been a few things that have popped up but ultimately you have just tackled them in the same way you tackled those initial problems on the way to FIRE
Shang: Yeah exactly – Hashtag Google it! You Google it and you’ll learn and you make mistakes and you’ll learn some more
Captain FI: Absolutely. Its so Important in your journey and self education not to give up. You have to learn from your mistakes and pick yourself up and keep going
Captain FI: So Shang, your a bit of a traveller. I’ll admit, despite being in the aviation industry I know very little about travel hacking. Could you tell a little bit more about what travel hacking is and how you have used it to your advantage?
Shang: Yes, and also I believe that travel hacking is easier in the United States Where the credit card industry is much more robust than many other parts of the world. So travel hacking is using loyalty points, loyalty miles or credit card points to help you take care of some of the costs of your travels. So you could reimburse these Miles and points for free airplane tickets, free Hotel nights and even car rentals and experiences and tours.
Captain FI: So how do you actually do it though? Does it take up a lot of time?
Shang: The simplest way of travel hacking is you earn points using credit cards or your earn loyalty points by flying frequently with an airline or staying frequently with a particular brand and then you redeem them for Free Travel. However that is the basic level of travel hacking – where my husband and I are at it is much more time intensive. Not only do we use earn and use these points, we also look for lucrative credit card signups that offer you a lot of bonus points. We have to manager our credit very carefully
Captain FI: When you say manage your credit, what are the implications of having multiple credit cards? Is that a bad thing?
Shang: In the United States (and this is a very complex topic) if you open up too many cards at once or if you close to many cards at once it really only matters if you’re looking to borrow money. Right now we are not in a hurry to borrow any money but in the year leading up to when we were hoping to purchase our current home now, we needed to qualify for a mortgage and really had to pare back on the constant opening and closing of credit cards in order for our credit file to to maintain a high score.
in the United States your credit score allows you to to qualify for loans. In the time meeting up with pared back on our constant opening and closing of credit because that activity could lead to some lenders to question you are credibility and your ability to pay off a loan, so that that’s really where it matters. During normal times when we are not applying for loans we do have greater flexibility in doing so – but it’s also because my husband and I know what we are doing. For people who are new to to travel hacking and credit cards, or perhaps those who have just gotten out of credit card debt before, if you’re not careful about the cadence of how they sign up for these cards it can mean a decline in their credit score which may or may not be desirable to get a mortgage
Captain FI: Wow so that might even prevent someone from getting a mortgage?
Shang: Well no it wont prevent you from getting a mortgage but it will influence the rate your able to secure, you might not be able to get the most attractive interest rates. Again, the act of opening and closing cards is just a temporary ding to the credit score, its not there forever and its not permanent and as bad as not paying off your credit cards on time and in full but again it’s travel hack is not something that I recommend for people who just got out of credit card debt, but for those who are detail-oriented , have not got a card debt. For those who can stay on top of the details it can be a really great way to save money
Captain FI: So travel hacking or credit card hacking can be a bit of a double-edged sword – it can be a really useful tool but if you don’t manage it effectively you can get bitten
Captain FI: So you’re saying in the US, depending on your credit score you could qualify for a a cheaper loan
Shang: Yes absolutely. In the US the credit score helps deduct points from the interest rate
Captain FI: Wow I didn’t realise that in the US your credit score could influence the price of a loan. In Australia the banks basically just look at your serviceability for the loan. Maybe this is related to the sort of cultural weird thing where Australians seem to think property can never go down. The bank is pretty much happy to loan to anyone against the property and you can meet the interest repayments and serviceability which I think is calculated in the background at around 7% so.
So anyway back to travel hacking – what’s the best travel hack that you have ever done?
Shang: So as I was referencing a little bit earlier the real time sink when it comes to travel hacking is getting even more value for your points than initially thought. What most people will do is take some points and redeem them for a hotel, or take some points and trade in it for an economy ticket. That’s basic travel hacking – the advanced travel hackers not only are they signing up for credit card bonuses, and getting extra points for your purchasing gasoline or purchasing groceries or whatever will get them point multipliers, but then when you redeem the points – you redeem them for business class flights, for upgraded hotel rooms etc.
Those redemptions are harder to get right without spending a ton of points. So what my husband and I do, is we’ve now started to fly business class – it’s quite nice – you know lie flat seats and actual food and wine and stuff you don’t get in economy, especially not in the United states. Once you do that you have a spend a lot of time searching the right flight combination that will get you a low Point Redemption but also a really nice experience.
So to give one example from late 2018 early 2019 my husband and I went on a luxury trip to Hong Kong and Japan. We flew business class essentially the entire way and it was so nice. We basically used of variety of points from American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, but then you book a flight through a partner airline – so we booked on Cathay, JAL and Garuda Airlines. That is more advanced travel hacking because you can get a lot more for your points – that way you play the region’s and the different Airlines correct.
All in just say we spent maybe $1,000 on the entire two week trip but the value the retail value of the entire trip After All Is Said and done was priced at around $20,000 USD.
Captain FI: Oh my gosh. That is incredible Shang! Wow. You were able to save what is that… 95% of your travel costs
Shang: We never would have paid that full price. If you were to ask for me to pay that in cash I would say no, that’s just not how we live. But Im saying you could get a lot of value out of your point if you play it right.
Captain FI: That is incredible, I feel like I have been doing this whole FIRE thing wrong, I should be sitting in business class with you, sipping champagne. I think that’s such a good reflection on FIRE – people think frugality is all about self deprivation, but really it’s just about being mindful about where you put your time and energy. Actually I’m really glad you spoke about that because you’ve definitely little bit of a fire in my belly to learn more about point hacking, particularly I’m interested to learn more about how I can do the point redemptions for things like hotels and and experiences. What got you into Travel hacking?
Shang: My husband. I had loyalty points I had accumulated over time and I knew I could redeem them for free flights and I had done so, but this advanced travel hacking and the getting into business class or getting upgraded and things like that, that expert is not me. My husband spends hours of his life and then sometimes a lot of hours are lost if you have changed itineraries, studying this topic and reading the blogs. There are several American based blogs that help you discover deals like These
We just got out and do the tasks that are required to hit the bonuses and reap the rewards when we travel. I personally don’t teach travel hacking I simply record like we’ve done just because it is such a complex topic and it deserves multiple websites on their own. The three blogs that we really enjoy reading are ‘the points guy’, ‘one mile at a time’ and ‘view from the wing’ – these are all focused, and dedicated to travel hacking, Point hacking and they do get a advertising fees from their blogs and do sometimes write sponsored blog posts. Still, more or less if you read these three blogs and you follow what they are saying and what they recommend you can get a lot of value out of travel hacking
Captain FI: That kind of goes back to the original SavemyCents mindset doesn’t it of ‘Just Google It’.
Shang: HaHa exactly.
Captain FI: So your website savemycents.com and your Instagram they are pretty inspirational. For anyone listening you should definitely hit up save my cents on Instagram. Shang you are posting some really great stuff almost every day. I noticed now a lot of your posts and a lot of your time is directed towards helping others, your Instagram page is chock full of useful question and answers and practical advice. Can you tell us a little bit more about your philanthropy and the financial coaching that you doing
Shang: Sure thing and thanks so much for your compliments.
After hitting FIRE my husband and I travelled around the country. In some aspects we travelled as part of the election year in 2016, and we visited some areas of the country that were very poor. So while the media coverage was all about in a cultural issues in the United States, to me if became very apparent that there are very poor parts of the United States. Not every person needs to stay in poverty if only they just got a little bit of help in financial education which is unfortunately not really taught in the American education system
Captain FI: The kind of education that is able to break that poverty cycle
Shang: Yes. Almost all of the richest companies in United States economy are financial institutions- banks – and they profit off peoples lack of knowledge when it comes to finances. So now I’m going up against some really big guys, but that’s when the concept of coaching other people to get out of consumer debt, out of student loan debt, and save an investor way to financial freedom was born.
I ran the math for many of what is considered to be average American households, and they can do it – they can reach financial freedom. They can retire on your own terms they do not need to rely on Social Security. If only someone took them how. And it’s not a math question, the math is not hard when it comes to personal finance – it’s the mind-set. It’s changing your view of money and not believe things like ‘oh you know things like I will never retire‘ or ‘I don’t know how to manage money‘ or ‘investing is only for a rich’ and so that’s why a lot of the content you see on particularly my Instagram, is Changing People’s mindset and habits to retrain them into believing and inviting in abundance. I’ve done the math and I know that it can be realistic and possible for many many people
Captain FI: That’s fantastic Shang I really enjoy seeing your content and feeds.
Captain FI: There are loads of great personal finance books and published self help books out there. Do you have any personal favourites? Have you read any books that have changed your life or that you would reccomend?
Shang: Yes. There are two books that come to mind. The first one that I reccomend to everybody is ‘the Millionaire next door‘.
Captain FI: YES, such a great book
Shang: Yes. Such a great book and it actually also speaks to FIRE in some ways – not completely FIRE because FIRE is more about early retirement, but the Millionaire next door focuses on what appears to be ordinary Americans who are Millionaires by the time that they retire, but did so without any splash of pizzazz. They’re not you know, the people you hear about on the news but they live below their means. They lived differently to their neighbours and saved and invested over time. Those are the same concepts that FIRE is all about, it is abotu adopting a very mindfull approach to how you choose to spend, save and invest your money. So thats my first book.
The second book is not a personal finance book. Its actually a behavioural psychology book but it really influenced the way that I believe anyone can change the way they live and behave. Its called ‘The power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg. The Power of Habit goes into scientific studies of how habits are formed in our brains, and also showcases different cases of how habits can be broken or rewired. Its really cool the way that he builds up the scientific studies behind the way habits form. In personal finance, especially for people getting out of credit card debt or for people who really want to go from one savings rate to an extreme savings rate, then habits need to change
Habits are very difficult to break once they are ingrained in. If you think about the billions of dollars that are poured into data driven marketing to get You to buy things, there is study behind that. People study behavioural science to trick us into buying more than what we have planned to do we go to the store
I took inspiration from The Power of Habit to help the people that I coach and help people who read my content at large learn how to break those habit and form new ones that are healthier for the wallet.
Captain FI: Wow I actually feel like when I go shopping that I am going to battle with the shops, sometimes. I have a pretty strict budget, I write a list, I make sure I never go shopping when I am hungry. Despite my best efforts I always end up with something that I didn’t need or hadn’t budgeted for
Shang: Ha! see!, I used to joke that I would challenge anyone in the United States to walk into the Target store and come out with the hands empty
Captain FI: Haha yep we have Target in Australia too and another one which is probably even worse than Target is Kmart. Its I guess is like Wallmart – they have everything. You go in there for like a toothbrush or a lamp or something and somehow end up coming out with a trolley full of things and no money left in your account.
Captain FI: Before you get off the hook, one of the things I ask everyone on the show is what would be your three top tips for anyone who’s on the path to financial independence?
Shang: OK – the number 1 tip is ‘I get to’ because if you have a grateful heart everything comes a lot easier. Everything becomes a miracle: I get to go to work, I get to eat food, recognising that you are nourishing yourself too many other things – it is a game-changer, I really recommend that you guys try it
The second tip it just sounds so simple, but it’s so hard. Just spend less than you earn and invest the difference – even if it’s just $1 savings, every little thing matters. The reason why my username is save my cents it’s because to get to the very high savings rates, I was literally picking away and try to optimise every cent that I had to move it out of spending and into savings and investing. That’s a concept which my father taught me and a concept I took to the extreme
Captain FI: Wow yep my granddad used to say to me ‘look after the cents and the dollars will look after themselves’
Shang: Exactly. My final tip, and this is more for those of you who invests. Dont panic! Recessions are a given, its not IF a recession occurs, its WHEN will the next recession happen. As long as you have an investment strategy that you’ve done your research, that you focus on then try not a panic when recessions happen. The worst thing that you can do is sell off everything when the prices are low. If you are in a buy and hold kind of investor you have to also reign in your emotions when of markets are volatile.
Captain FI: Great absolutely, you only lose if you sell
Captain FI: Shang thanks so much for coming on the podcast today. From discovering discovering you online through the hashtag ‘I get to’, to chatting online for quite some time to now being able to have this awesome conversation I’ve really enjoyed it – so thanks so much!
Shang: Thanks for having me on the show
Thanks for listening to another episode of the Captain FI financial Independence Podcast. To read the transcript of check out the show notes head over to WWW.CaptainFI.com for all the details. If you have a question for the captain, make sure to get in touch – you might even make it on the airwaves. You can reach me online through the captain FI contact form or get in touch through the socials. I am acticve on facebook and instagram as well as a number of online finance andc investing forums
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