I recently realized that I had submitted some questionnaires and interviews to other websites that were never published. Nearly 3000 words that I had taken the time to write that might perhaps be interesting to some of my readers. So I have decided to publish them here.

I have cleaned up the format as best as I could considering they were for multiple different websites so I apologize if this seems a little disjointed.

What follows are some answers about questions regarding my blog, my financial history, my personal life and just some silly questions for fun. I hope you enjoy

Describe your target audience. Who are you writing for?

The target audience for Early Retirement Earl is anyone who has been under educated or un-educated about personal finance.  That was me and as I continue to learn and grow, I like to share my experiences. I like to think I write for everyone but in the end the truth is, I write for me. Writing my blog accomplishes two goals, it helps to reinforce what I have learned and it makes me feel good that I might help others along the way.

What makes your blog different from other blogs in the personal finance blogosphere?

I think we are all covering the same topics, just from different perspectives,  What makes me unique is that I can speak from personal experience from all ends of the spectrum,  I know what it is like to be completely poor and also know what it is like to blow your entire paycheck on a weekend of partying.  I have sacrificed and lived off of pop tarts in en empty apartment with no tv or cable and have worked 75 plus hour weeks.  I have come to my conclusion that FI is best from years of many different experiences.  I like to think I am the slacker student who went on to become a teacher.

What have you struggled with the most since starting your blog?

Just getting noticed.  I still work plenty of hours and have a horrible commute to work,  I have made a commitment to reach full financial freedom within the next 3 years and I intend to see it through. I am not about to stop this close.  Consequently, this leaves me barely enough time to just keep up with regular posts let alone marketing the site.  So I am happy when I see I have even a few visitors or a post ranks in the top 50 on google.

Do you publish your net worth on your blog? Why or why not?

I do not.  I don’t feel comfortable disclosing that information.  Also, I’m not even sure I agree with the way most people calculate this.  My concern is simply, what is my liquidity.  I have seen people include their home equity as part of their new worth but to me this makes no sense.  A friend of mine was recently bragging to me that he had over $300,000 in home equity. My response was, “That’s great. Can I eat it?”  The way I see it, if you can’t spend it tomorrow, it isn’t part of your net worth.  Now if you are earning a monthly cash flow from that house, then we are on to something. I also think it is wrong to pay off your mortgage instead of investing so what do I know?

Have you monetized your blog (ads, affiliate marketing, etc)? Why or why not?

Yeah I really suck at this part of blogging.  I had adsense but took it down because all it did was slow down the site.  I have a few affiliate links on the site but I don’t earn crap. I stopped wasting time with this. My focus is on improving my writing and putting out useful content.

Would you rather be loved, hated or controversial? Explain, please!

Loved!  I would love to be loved for the help I was able to give to people who are like I was.  I had a misplaced loyalty towards a job I hated and did not understand that it was even possible to earn my financial freedom.  If I can effect even one person, I’ll be happy.  

Who would you be horrified to know read your blog?

Horrified is a strong word.  I would prefer certain people not read it.  Like people at work, definitely my boss, certain friends and family.  I just don’t feel like answering questions.  Lets face it, FI/RE is a bit unorthodox even if you are not taking it to the extremes.  Most people don’t understand or agree with the things we might sacrifice today in order to have a better life tomorrow.  For example, My whole life I have been judged for the piece of crap cars I choose to drive.  I don’t care. It runs fine and I don’t have to make monthly payments. I don’t feel I should need to make justifications to other people about my choices.  If you want to know why I do it and we can have an open discussion about each others views then great.  If you just want to judge, I don’t have time for you.

What’s your most favorite, least favorite and most embarrassing post on your blog?

Favorite: I have become fascinated with dividends and the possibility of living off dividend income alone.  I did quite a bit of reading up on this and once I was able to collect my thoughts I wrote Living off Dividends in Retirement: The Passive Income Dream. This remains my favorite article.   Probably not my best, but my favorite https://earlyretirementearl.com/living-off-dividends-in-retirement-the-passive-income-dream/

Least Favorite:  My least favorite post is the one I wrote about all my reasons for being burnt out at work.  I just felt I needed to get it out and figured it would also help others who might be feeling the same way.  Looking back it was not fun to write and probably wasn’t very helpful and certainly had nothing to do with advancing anyone’s progress towards financial independence or early retirement.  It was titled Work is killing me! Why I need to be free and can be read here https://earlyretirementearl.com/work-is-literally-killing-you-why-you-need-financial-independence/

Most Embarrassing:  My most embarrassing is easily 20 Life changing personal finance books. https://earlyretirementearl.com/20-life-changing-personal-finance-books/ Even though I am sincere in my recommendation of these books, this is clearly a full on affiliate page where I am trying to make a buck.  It also took longer than I care to admit to put all those links and images on the page. 

Explain your writing process (how long it takes, how many edits, beg a spouse to proofread, etc).

I’m all over the place. I still work a full 50 plus hours a week plus 1.5 hrs a day commute each way (hopefully not for much longer) plus I have 3 kids and my wife works as well.  That leaves little time for writing and at odd hours.  I might have an idea today that doesn’t become a full article for a month. I usually will write the title and a bunch of ideas or subheadings, almost like an outline so that when I do get interrupted I can just jump write back in later.  Instead of writing one long article it is like writing 7 or 8 small ones. This process can take days, weeks or even months sometimes if I lose focus or move on to a different topic that has me more motivated at the moment. I also tend to hold the article for much longer than I should before publishing.  I proof read and make tweaks and edits all the time.  I then just sit on it until I think it is ready to publish.  Sometimes I just say F it and hit the publish button even though I don’t feel I have put in enough effort.  Like I said, i am all over the place.

What is your favorite blog in the PF blogosphere (other than your own!)?

   I have become more and more fascinated with dividend stocks so I have been reading alot of Divvydad.com. Dividenddiplomats.com is really cool too.

Why should people read earlyretirementearl.com

Because earlyretirementearl.com is the best personal finance blog in the history of the internet.  Actually, it probably ranks 476,492,292,928. However, I do feel I offer a unique and authentic perspective on personal finance and the quest for early retirement and financial independence.  We are all pretty much covering the same topics, just viewed through a different lens.  In my lifetime I have been homeless and a millionaire, I think what I write could have value to the vast majority of folks who want to secure a brighter future, but like me many years ago, simply aren’t sure how. 

What is one post that you’ve written that you wish would have gone viral?

All of them, duh.  But if I could pick just 1 it would have to be the article I wrote explaining the 4% rule. https://earlyretirementearl.com/how-long-will-my-savings-last/  I wish I had learned about this sooner in my life and taken action towards its implementation.  If I could pick one article to reach the most viewers, this would be the one.

Why did you start your blog?

When you become passionate about something, you want to share it. Especially something as impactful as the savings and investing techniques we apply in the FI/RE movement.

What has surprised you about blogging?

What has surprised me most about blogging is how difficult it is to build an audience.  I have been doing this 8 months now and I feel like I am writing to a ghost town.  Hopefully things pick up.

Do you rent or own? What are your thoughts on home ownership?

I own my home in an area where property taxes are way too high.  I see home ownership as somewhat of a necessary evil.  You need somewhere to live and renting seems like a total waste so what are we to do?  I am however fortunate that we got a great deal on our home and our mortgage is reasonable, but the taxes, I absolutely hate.  I am somewhat in the minority but I believe in saving and investing above paying off the mortgage.  All other debt needs to be eradicated but the Mortgage is just too big and too many gains are lost in making paying off the mortgage a priority. Cheap plug but I actually wrote an entire article on this very topic. https://earlyretirementearl.com/invest-or-pay-off-mortgage-smartest-decision-for-early-retirement/

How old are you and do you have a family?

I am 45, married, 3 kids and I am about 3 years away from full financial independence though I may opt for a reduced work schedule (and of coarse pay) sooner than that.

Is your goal financial independence? If so, where are you on the journey?

My goal is to have enough money to tell my boss to go to hell!  I am burnt out on work but I have put in 25 years in the same company and I am making good money.  I am about 3 years away from Full Financial Independence. I started late or I would have been done by now.

Are you leanFIRE or fatFIRE or fartFIRE?

I absolutely hate these definitions and labels.  Life is a journey and at any given point in that journey my commitment. I wrote an entire article defining FI/RE and if I can briefly quote myself from that article here are my thoughts…
“Achieving financial independence is not about sitting on a beach somewhere for the rest of your life. It is about taking control of your life through your finances. It is about obtaining the freedom to choose how you will spend your time.

I discovered that I had the ability to shape my financial future decades later then I wish I had. I wasted alot of time and money, like most people, believing what I was taught by school and life. That you must work for wages and slowly save your money and hopefully you won’t die before you can retire.”

How much effort I decide to put in to FIRE at any point in my journey can vary for any number of reasons from life events to my whims.  Putting a rigid label on it confines you to feel obligated to fit within that label and will lead to disappointment. Is Flexible FI/RE a thing?  If so, that is me.  You can read the entire article here  https://earlyretirementearl.com/financial-independence-retire-early-fi-re-explained/

Do you tell others of your FIRE plans or are you in the closet?

Everyone knows I can’t wait to be done with my work obligation forever. I am so burnt out it is hard to hide at this point

What is your favorite money management tool?

I have been using ETrade for over 15 years.  It is my favorite and I am so glad they just went commission free.  I also use robin hood but the graphics hurt my eyes.  I do love how earnings calls just pop up on my phone with the Robinhood app and I can just press a button and listen in.

Do you track your spending? If so, how?

I use credit/debit for almost everything.  I carry very little cash so the bank does it all for me and catalogs it in nice organized files I have access to via an app on my phone. Technology is great this way.

What is your worst money mistake?

Every car I ever purchased that had a monthly payment.  I only drive used cars now and I have no monthly payment and it feels glorious.

What is your splurge?

I love Steak.  Nothing compares to a  well seared cowboy ribeye.  I have spent upwards of $100 on a steak many times in my life.

Your best friend tells you that he just got a raise at work and is going to buy a new car to celebrate. His current car is in perfect working order. How do you react?

You are a freaking idiot. 

What is one thing you firmly believed 5 years ago that you no longer believe?

Government sucks and not only can we change it but it is our responsibility to try.  I still believe government sucks but I’m pretty sure it will never change for the better no matter how hard we try.  I have decided I need to stop giving it energy and learn to live within their rules as best as I can.

What is one thing you believe that most others do not?

Hmm, aliens, there is no god, we are living in a simulation.  Just kidding. Or am I?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I am who I am because of my faults as well as the things I love about myself.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  Except I wish I were taller, more handsome and fit like the Rock.

What was the worst or best phase of your life?

Worst was being homeless.  I think the best is yet to come but being carefree, young and naive was pretty fun I have to admit.

What do people misunderstand about you?

People sometimes think I’m an A-hole. Truth is I’m just tired of tolerating stupidity, laziness, and excuses.  I spent most of my life sucking it up and figuring it out which I guess hardened me a bit so I expect others to put in some effort of their own instead of waiting for things to be handed to them. In reality, I do have people’s best interests at heart, I just maybe need to learn to soften up the way I express myself.

What is your greatest strength and/or weakness?

They are one in the same and that is my resolve.  It has allowed me to succeed at work and overcome many many obstacles in my life.  It also caused me to spend much more time then I would like to admit working at a job that does not fulfill me.  

What is something you read that changed your life?

Here is a list, take your pick

Name one living person that you look up to. Tell us why.

This is going to sound super corny but Tony Robbins.  The man has carved out a life for him like nobody else.  He doesn’t let anyone else tell him what to do or influence his decisions.  He has helped countless people and seems to have a huge heart.  The guy is just so authentic and sincere and it shines through in every one of his speeches, interviews, books, etc. I actually went to one of his seminars many many years ago and walked on fire and it was exhilarating.  I can’t say enough good things about this man and if you have never listened to any of his speeches or read any of his books, I highly recommend you go do so immediately.  

Elon Musk: Crazy megalomaniac or a brilliant guy who is changing the world?

Both, but name one person who changed the world who wasn’t.

What album can you listen to straight through? Best album of all time?

  I’m a Gen Xer, how could it be anything but Nirvana Nevermind. 

What is the best movie you’ve seen recently?

Avengers Endgame.  What an ending to an incredible 10 year, 20 plus movie journey.  I don’t think it will ever be duplicated.  Infinity War was a far better movie, but endgame was the most satisfying ending to any movie or tv series bar none ever in the history of entertainment period end of story.!

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