3 simple tips to improve my financial plan from the book ‘Cash Out’
- Kiersten and Julien Saunders retired in their 40s, and I want to follow their lead.
- Their new book encourages people to re-examine why they want to become financially independent.
- I am revising my financial plan and adding 3 tips from their book including talking to other Filipinos about money.
Because I have $96,000 in student loan debt, I never thought it was possible for me to retire early – until I read “Cash Out: Win the Wealth Game by Walking Away” by Kiersten and Julien Saunders.
The book outlines the exact strategies they used to pay off $200,000 in debt, retire in their 40s, and create a lifestyle filled with ease and purpose. I had the pleasure of talking to the Saunders a few weeks ago about their wealth building journey and the idea of ”cash-in”.
The couple said: ‘It’s completely counter-cultural, somewhat controversial, when we talk about ‘cash-in’, which they describe as having enough cash on hand for emergencies, while investing the rest on the market to ensure their retirement. They also describe the term “cash-in” as the option to work as little or as much as they want on projects that align with their values and serve the communities they care about.
Talking with the Saunders felt like I had just had a heartwarming conversation with older siblings who cheered me on from the sidelines and gave me generous advice on the challenges ahead in creating wealth. Here are three simple changes I’m making to my financial plan after our conversation and reading their book, “Cash Out.”
1. I reassess why I want to achieve financial independence in the first place
As a reporter who talks all day to people who have made big money milestones, it’s hard not to compare me to others who have paid off six figures of student debt in less than two years. , or to people who have made a fortune by investing their money in the stock market.
In their book, the Saunders say that assigning a purpose to your income helps you build wealth. They write, “If you don’t give your income a purpose, someone else will. And your income goal may not be in your best interest.”
Personally, I’m not trying to build financial independence so I can buy a mansion or brag about a brand name car. After some deep soul-searching, I learned that I wanted to achieve financial independence so that I could:
- Become a stronger writer
- Travel the world with my blood and my chosen family
- Give back to causes I believe in, especially for the queer and trans community
- Pay six-figure annual reparations to Black and Indigenous communities, and encourage other wealthy non-Black and non-Indigenous people to do the same
The Saunders also write, “The act of creating wealth is not just a way for you to enjoy beautiful things; it allows you to leave the world in a better place.”
2. I increase my donation budget by $10 per month
Early in their wealth-building journey, the Saunders drastically reduced their living expenses, at one point saving 70% of their earnings from their corporate jobs for early retirement. However, the couple have consistently given back to the black community, whether through monetary donations or by volunteering their time and energy to help others.
Equipped with the knowledge within myself that part of my motivation to build wealth is to give back to my community, I realized that it would be powerful to gradually increase my own donation budget – starting with 10 $ per month – so I can get a taste of what it would be like to spend my money when I achieve financial independence.
3. Talk to other Filipinos about money
In their book, the Saunders write, “Over the years, we’ve learned that your best defense against being caught in the trap of consumerism is to have a strong base of values, a community you can lean on, and strong beliefs that guide your thinking about money.”
The Saunders also hosted a virtual dinner party series called Money on the Table, where they spoke to the black community about their relationship with money and their financial goals for the future.
Coming from a community organizing background, I can see why opening these conversations has helped the Saunders stay motivated to achieve their financial goals. To follow in their footsteps, I plan to take more time to talk to my Filipino friends and family members about our collective relationship to money.
There’s a lyric from Jay-Z that says, “Around here, we measure success by the number of successful people next to you. Here, we say you’re broke if everyone is broke but you.” That feeling always stayed with me, but the Saunders gave me the blueprint to really incorporate my values into my wealth building plan.