Episode Number: 170

Episode 170- How to Coast to FI: The Slow, Intentional, and Balanced Approach to Reaching Financial Independence w/ The Fioneers

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Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey to Launch Podcast How to Coast to FI: The Slow, Intentional and Balanced Approach to Reaching Financial Independence.

Recording 0:14

Welcome to the Journey to Launch Podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest, and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey to Launch to Financial Freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:41

Hey, hey, hey journeyers! Welcome Welcome to the journey to launch podcast. Every week, every Wednesday I drop a brand new episode. And as I am always excited, I'm really excited to bring to you this content. Now you know, I'm always thinking about you-how I can make the concept of financial independence and freedom more accessible to everyone. This moon goal, this moon goal, but I call it the big goal that we want to accomplish. Because if you're listening to this podcast, that's probably what you want to do, right? Never have to work again, ever a day in your life have enough money saved and invested. But really, it's about choosing what you want to do for work, right? Who does not want that? And then when you think about how much money you need to reach that goal, it can be overwhelming. So I always try with the content with my guests to break it down in a way where you can say, Aha, there it is, I can do it. You know, this is achievable. I can do this. And so when I saw what this week's guest, what she was about what she was writing about online, through her blog,, I was really excited. Because she was talking about a concept of reaching financial independence, that one I'm actually doing myself. And I don't call it the same name, but I love how she has coined the term Coast FI. So how do you coast to financial independence? How do you take a slow, intentional path to financial independence? So maybe it's not that you reach it in five years, and you're doing all the sacrifices and all the things. If you want to do that, that's fine. But what about a more balanced approach to reaching this big goal? What if you can put it on autopilot to where you are designing a life, enjoying your life right now, whether that means taking the vacation, buying things, but also setting up yourself to live a financially independent life in the future. So Jessica from the Fioneers we're going to talk all about how to Coast to FI, all the concepts. I'm really excited for you to listen in tune into that.

If you want the episode Show Notes for this episode, go to or you can click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode to get the full episode show notes. Now if you are a new listener to the podcast or an OG journeyer, I've created a jumpstart guide to help you on your journey to financial freedom. It includes the top episodes to listen to, the stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources to help you, and so much more. Get it for FREE by texting "launch" to 33777 text "launch" to 33777 or go to to get your guide for free right now. Okay let's hop into the episode.

Hey Journeyers! Okay back with what I always say for every- I always sound like a broken record Jessica every time- because I'm so excited to speak to my guests and then I always say back with another special interview that you'll love when I think you will love this guys. Because- I was made aware of Jessica and her amazing blog The Fioneers like through Twitter, I'm like, like I just watch on Twitter because it's hard for me to like catch and keep up with all the content. But what really drew my attention to your work, Jessica with the fioneers is that I love the way you break down the actual journey to financial independence because I find that it's so similar to what I went through and what I'm going through. And then I think having other people understand it and hear it from you will be amazing. So I'm really glad that you're here. So welcome, Jessica.

Jessica of The Fioneers 4:16

Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

Jamila Souffrant 4:18

So one of the things that I first noticed or really drew me to be like, "I need to get Jessica on the podcast" is this concept of Coast FI. And we're going to get to all of that Coast FI because people are like, "Okay, what does that mean?" Like, I've heard of maybe fat FIRE and lean FIRE which by the way, for anyone new that is not really understanding the acronyms we're throwing out. FIRE stands for financial independence, retire early. And you had this post and you have content around this thing called Coast FI. And I never seen it said in the way you said it. And I realized that that's exactly what I'm doing. And what I've done, and I was like, people need to hear this. So can you describe what Coast Fire or FI means?

Jessica of The Fioneers 5:02

Absolutely. So for me, I would say that Coast FI is , right? It's another one of the many acronyms but I think FIRE doesn't necessarily, like the general concept doesn't always align with the things that people are doing or the ways that they want to live their life. And so there were many things about regular FI that just didn't work for me. And so when I learned about this topic called Coast FI, basically it means that you have enough saved for retirement. So you have enough saved in your retirement accounts that if you don't touch it for the next however many years until a traditional retirement age, it will grow to provide you with a comfortable traditional retirement. So there's a lot of assumptions that sort of go into the number right it is based on, you know, expected market returns the time window, and what you have is really the most Important, and then what your expenses are and what you expect them to be over time. But the great thing about cost by is actually, if you get there, right, if you get to the point where you have enough in your accounts that you wouldn't need to touch them, it means you could decide to only cover your actual costs of living. So you could take a step back, and you would be able to work part time like I'm doing. You might be able to start your own business like you're doing or decide to find a job that might pay less that you enjoy more. There's really endless options for people who decide to say, let me use this financial freedom that I've gained already to build the life that I love right now.

Jamila Souffrant 6:46

Yes, I love that. And I'd like to, you know, maybe just put it in numbers and these are not going to be accurate because I'm just like throwing them out. Just want to give someone an idea what it means. So for example, let's just say you are 30 years old. And you have saved up $200,000 in your investment accounts. And you're saying to yourself, "Okay, if I don't touch that money, or I don't put any more money towards your retirement account." And it just sits at $200,000, and you're 30 years old, and you just let it compound over time with the market returns. So that's with, you know, the good market returns, bad market returns, but your traditional retirement is at 65, let's say. So over the next 35 years, that $200,000 without you putting any more money into it, let's just say, I'm just throwing that number out grows to $800,000 or a million. And I don't know if the numbers right or work on that, it would depend on the return. But that's the concept that Jessica is talking about, where it's powerful because that's what happened for me and allowed me to take this risk of quitting my job because I realized that we had built our retirement accounts and investment accounts to a point where we didn't have to invest in them anymore and we would be okay by the time you hit traditional retirement. So that meant right now I could focus on living life and enjoying life the way you know, that fit what I wanted to do. So I think it's important to like, think about it that way, because so many people will hear about the fire movement like I did. And it feels like all or nothing thing, like, you know, you got to like, do it like for the next 10 years, save more than half your income. And, you know, it's not until you reach early retirement like this early age and you're, you're sacrificed so much that you can enjoy it. But it's also like, what's your coast number? Like, if you can figure that out to where if you never had to invest again, you'll be okay, then you only have to worry about covering your current expenses. So I think that's great.

Jessica of The Fioneers 8:38

Absolutely. I actually did just did the math.

Jamila Souffrant 8:41

Okay, good

Jessica of The Fioneers 8:42

While you were talking there, and so if someone is 30, and they spend $35,000 a year, their Coast FI number would be $181,000, which is actually pretty low in the grand scheme of things right? It would grow to be about 2 million at retirement age actually, if they had 181, saved right now with a 5% inflation adjusted growth rate and an expected 3.5%, safe withdrawal rate. So it's actually a lot higher than the numbers that you were throwing out. It's really surprising.

Jamila Souffrant 9:17

Yeah. And don't worry, if this is the first time you're hearing about withdrawal rates, or neither, I'm going to link some of Jessica's blog post. So think of this as like your intro, if it's all new. And then you can do your reading and research and then you'll come back and listen, and then it will all make more sense. But I think it's interesting. Maybe we should just define a little the whole 25 times rule and withdrawal rate, which I've talked about before on this podcast, but I feel like it's okay to keep talking about it. Because sometimes like, the more you hear about it, the better it is. So can you just explain the withdrawal rate concept and then the 25 or whatever times concept that we typically hear or talk about in the FIRE community?

Jessica of The Fioneers 9:53

Sure. So there's a famous study, the Trinity study, which basically has said that for people with a 30 year retirement, that they could plan to withdraw about 4% of their assets each year without depleting them. And without getting down to zero or running out of money before. It's not it's kind of morbid, but before they die, I guess. So, if you do the inverse of that, that is basically 25 times your annual expenses is what you need to have saved. Right? So 100% divided by four right is 25. And so that's where that 25 times your income comes from, right? Because if you have that saved, then 4% is one year of your expenses, and then it won't deplete it because you're expecting there to be continued market growth.

Jamila Souffrant 10:51

Right. Great, great.

Jessica of The Fioneers 10:53

And for me, I talked about a 3.5% just because I feel like a lot of people who plan to retire early have more than a 30 year time window. So for me, I feel much more comfortable thinking like, "Oh, I would do a 3.5% safe withdrawal rate" just because I think in some ways I'm a little risk averse, right? And that just makes it a little bit safer and means you need a little bit more money to be able to call yourself FI or decide to retire early.

Jamila Souffrant 11:23

Right? And I like that you said that, because I know some of it too is just like it depends on your risk tolerance. And some people they don't want to save just 25 times what they think they're going to spend they're like, "I'm gonna save 30 times or you know of what I think I'm going to spend or I'm going to withdraw less on my portfolio so I feel like it can withstand market fluctuations and things happening like you know? Crazy things happening like they are now in terms of just the market." So I think this concept is great right? And I don't so even though we use the number 30 years old and that was I feel like for 30 year old to have that much like especially with the state of things now with you know, student loan debt and and just like life and inflationm it's it may be hard for some people to grasp that. If they're just finding out about this movement and about Jouney to Launch, I want to make sure that this what we're saying is, you know, accessible and not only accessible, even if it's maybe not at the moment that you're listening to this, that I'm taking into consideration the people that have so much more like on their plate that you're dealing with that they weren't able to accumulate that much. But I think the cool thing is that if you're listening to this, no matter what age though, you can start the process. So even if starting now and learning now and getting everything together, and it takes you 10 years to reach you know your Coast FI number and it's at 40-45 that you do that, that puts you in a better position to have more options to do more. So no matter like what age or how much you have right now, just knowing about this stuff, I think can be life changing because it was for me.

Jessica of The Fioneers 12:48

And Jamila I actually just put an age of 40 into the calculator, which I will totally share with you so you can share with your audience in the Show Notes. For someone who is 40 who wants to retire at 65, and their annual expenses are 35,000, they need less than $300,000 to reach their Coast FI number.

Jamila Souffrant 13:08

So they would have to have less than $300k at the-at 40 years old.

Jessica of The Fioneers 13:12

At 40 years old. So like 295, at 40 years old to be considered Coast FI, which is much lower than what what one would expect, at least for me much lower than what I would expect. And I often think about Coast FI as you know, like Coast FI doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to scale back and only cover my expenses, right? I could do that. But it basically means now any money that I save, is no longer money that I'm saving for retirement. It's money that I'm saving for early retirement, and like more freedom now.

Jamila Souffrant 13:49

Right. It's for us, you can do that, like for specific goals that you can spend and use to your benefit now. Yeah, I like that. Okay, so Jessica, do you want to dive more into your story because I think there's a lot to be learned from you. How did you come across the financial independence movement? Like how long ago did you realize that this was a thing and that you wanted to get on board with it?

Jessica of The Fioneers 14:12

Yeah, so, just a little bit of background. I'm 33 years old, and I learned about financial independence when I was 30. And I actually learned about it from my husband. He has been, you know, really into finances ever since? Well, I really forever and I wasn't, and he introduced me to it. And he sort of every year for like the last probably six or seven years, he would sort of discuss the possibility of retiring early, like slightly earlier than the traditional retirement age and then be like, "Let's just plan to save 5% more this year." You know, and I and I always was like, "Why would we do that? Like I want to live my life. I want to travel. I want to spend money like I want to go out to eat, I want to do fun things, right?" It felt like we had, we had started our careers with really low incomes. And we were like starting to make actual money for the first time in our lives. And all he wanted to do was just save it all. That didn't make sense to me until three years ago. And so in late 2017, he actually gave me a copy of a book called Your Money or Your Life, which is, I think, a pretty foundational read in the in the FI space. And he's sort of proposed it as a like,"I just want you to understand, like, where I'm coming from, you don't have to buy into it. Like I just want to understand, I want you to understand my thought process and why I push it right?" And so it wasn't him saying like, you need to be all in on this kind of thing. So then I read the book. Fascinating. You know, like, I was definitely skeptical at first, you know, but I was intrigued by a couple of things. One of them was it was really the first introduction, that I had to like, realizing that there are people who choose the way that they live their life that they aren't just like following society's script and, you know, following the default and realizing that there's a way to actually live differently. I think I had sort of idealistic goals. And then when I got out into the real world, I was like, "Yeah, this isn't actually possible for people." And so that shifted my perspective a little bit. And then the other thing was, it was the first time I actually understood the finances of retirement. I think prior to that, I had really thought, like, you just save sort of as much as you can, and then hopefully, maybe you can retire someday. And be okay. So seeing the math and being like, Oh, this is like, based on some sort of formula and this is a real thing. You know, it was definitely intriguing. But I still at this point, like I think this was like the start of the turning point. But I wasn't ready to commit to it. I still felt like FI or FIRE was sort of this, this journey of deprivation where you're working a super high income job that you probably don't like, that has a long commute. You know, there are some things that are definitely similar about our stories, where you're trying to spend as little as possible, save as much as possible and then you like ride off into the sunset once you hit your FI number. That wasn't exciting to me. I was already in a pretty toxic job if I was at that point, making a pretty high income. And I didn't want to do that for another however many years and that's what I felt like FIRE would require of me. And so it took about six months after that of conversations of talking about our finances and thinking about you know, one of the core questions of the book, The Your Money or Your Life book, of what would I actually want to do if I didn't need to work for income? You know, I'm really, really exploring that idea. And then having conversations and starting to read, you know, financial independence content about people who had reached FI and said, I wish that I had gone slower and enjoyed the journey more. And so that, you know, was really sort of life changing perspective and sort of perspective changing for me to then say, "okay, we can do this, but we can also prioritize the journey as well." And once we sort of decided that and got on the same page, like I was ready to say, "Yes," I'm ready to go all in on this.

Jamila Souffrant 18:48

Yeah, I love that. You broke that all down. And so a couple things stick out- how your partner got you on board, which really, it wasn't pushy. It was more just like here. I just want you to understand this and I think for a lot of people, if you're listening to this with your partner, that's amazing because you both are already on it. But if one person is listening, and that's this is a new concept and their partner is used to living a different type of life or just has different goals, which is fine. I think some people think, "Okay, how do I get them as passionate about it as I am, because if we're both working towards it, it's gonna be way easier to get this done." And I like that you said like, it's really like him just saying, "Here's why I'm into this and just check out this book." And I think it to maybe help some people with how they can approach bringing this to their partner.

Jessica of The Fioneers 19:33

Yeah, definitely.

Jamila Souffrant 19:34

And then when it comes to I think this "all or nothing approach" that you talked about looking back and wanting to like, enjoy the journey, I think that's really important, right? Like, when you could go all out and work as hard as you can for that short period of time to earn as much as you can, to save as much as you can. But I always relate it back to, then what's the difference between let's just say and that's kind of where I was where I could have kept working in my corporate job for the next five years, and I earned my six figures and just stuck it out. But then I felt like how is that different? I mean, it's a shorter timeframe. But how is that different from waiting for standard retirement and just bearing with it? If everyday I'm not like, happy or living what I want to be, like my life, but now as I, you know, think about it, it's, it's interesting, because if you do place a lot of blame on your situation, like this, you say, like, it's the job, it's this. I sometimes feel like that also is not healthy, because it will always be something else. Like it's, um, it's an internal journey first, because I also find that if I had to work where I worked...There's some people right now, they don't have the option to quit their job yet. So they're in it. So we have the options because we did all these things. And we were earning good income to do what we did. But there's some people who don't right now have that option, and I don't want them to feel like well, I can't quit my job. And so now I'm miserable. It's like, "No, I think there's an internal journey that happens first, that you have to be okay with wherever you are, and know that you're situation, you are in control of it." So I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that.

Jessica of The Fioneers 21:03

Yeah, definitely. So I mean, I guess one thing that I would say is like, I think there's a difference between a job that is generally fine, right that you need to like stick it out for a certain amount of time and a difference between a job that is completely toxic and like ruining your mental health right? If it's a job that's completely toxic, I don't necessarily think that's an it's an inside job for that but i think that's a pretty extreme scenario. But for people who are in you know, situations where you just need to chug along a little bit more to get you know, your numbers where you want them to be, like there are so many ways to make things better while you go right? And so as you continue to gain you know, more savings and more financial freedom or what I might call FU money, would you or your, your listeners familiar with the idea of FU money?

Jamila Souffrant 22:00

If they've listened for a while, they do know. But if they're new, they might be like, what is that? So you can explain it.

Jessica of The Fioneers 22:05

Yeah, so the idea is of FU money is like that you have enough in savings. That one, you're able to either sort of get out of a toxic situation or two, you start to be able to realize and feel like the own- your power that you have in a situation, to be able to like negotiate for things that you want or need. And so that could be things like working, negotiating a work from home arrangement once a week or a couple times a week or even talking to your boss or supervisor about doing more interesting work, right? So there's like a ton of small shifts that people are able to make within their jobs and outside of their work, right? So it could be setting better boundaries around your work so you have more time for things that you want to do in your personal life and in your family life. And so it's it's definitely not this this all or nothing concept like there's small shifts that we can make every day.

Jamila Souffrant 23:08

Right, right. So when you did now, get on board with you realize that you could make financial independence work for you. Right like at first, you thought this concept was something that was going to just be too extreme and wouldn't make you happy. But then you figured out that it didn't have to be the way maybe a lot of people talked about it, you can create your own kind of path. What were some of the things that you started to do differently to help now fast track you?

Jessica of The Fioneers 23:32

Yeah, so it's interesting. I wouldn't actually say many of the things fast tracked us. I think they will be fast tracked us to happiness more so than fast tracked us to FI. So first things first. So a week after we were like, "Yes, we're all in. We want to but we're like committed to enjoying the journey to FI but like we're doing it." One week after that, my job, my already toxic job got pretty bad. And I started having panic attacks and really severe anxiety, you know? And so this perspective of saying "We want the journey to be as remarkable as the destination" was really tested a week in, right? To say, "Okay, I'm starting to I'm having these panic attacks. Anytime I think about work or like open my work computer, what am I going to do about that? Right? Am I just going to quit the job? Am I going to try to take a leave of absence and go on disability? Or am I going to try to stick it out, right?" And I think like, two years ago, or two years prior to that me, probably would have felt like I had to stick it out. But then, you know, for me at that time, it was really the first time that I really understood like the power of finances, right? And the ways that it could help us, you know, today rather than just like some time off in the distant future. And so you know, and it was really my first time looking at finances in that way and sort of looking at it to say, "Okay, I need to figure out a decision that I'm gonna make today." Realizing by looking at it, I could just quit and never go back, right? If I wanted to, because I realized we had a certain, you know, amount in emergency savings and then realized we were already saving, you know, a good portion of our income. And so then realized, like, most of our expenses could be covered by one salary. And so because of that, it felt like an easy decision to say, of course, I wouldn't put myself through continuing to work through the anxiety and the panic attacks. And then it really became a decision of like, "Okay, do I want to just quit or do I want to like, see if I can get the disability ?" Like, "Am I willing to put in sort of like that much effort, you know?" And ultimately, I decided that that I did. And then after that, you know, I ended up quitting, I ended up not going back to that job, right? And so that that was also a hard decision because that was definitely a decision that was made for happiness, definitely not a decision that was made to like accelerate our FI journey. And then about six months later, I decided to actually go back to work part time. So working three days a week in a nonprofit organization, whose mission I really believe in, you know, it, right? And that also was not a decision that was made with our sort of Fi timeline, you know, accelerating that in mind. It was a looking at it and saying, "what are the trade offs?" Like, if I work part time, you know, we, we ran the numbers and we realized, okay, like, if I do 60% for six months, and then go up to 80%, like it'll only add two to three years onto our FI timeline or something like that, which is, you know, less than we thought it would be.

Jamila Souffrant 26:56

And this is why awareness is so important because then it gives you better options. Because as you were talking about, you knew that taking this break or going down in salary would impact the tail end of your journey by this amount of years, right? Like, that's helpful to know because it puts you in a better position to make a good decision because you know exactly what that decision cost you in the future. And same thing when I made the decision to quit my job, and I had my spreadsheet and I'm like, "Okay, if this is not making money, I have to go back to work or a traditional job in a couple years. How far off does that put us even though we're on Coast FI? How far does that put us off fin terms of early retirement or getting to our more aggressive financial goals? And I was like, okay, worst case, this pushes us back five years." I can deal with that. If that means that today I'm going to like have this time freedom. So that's why I think it's so important that we think about ways and for people to think about not just this far off goal 10, 15, 20 years from now, but like, what does it provide for you right now to get everything in order to understand the concepts? Even if you're in tons of debt, or everything's still just like new to you. What does it mean to start understanding like your financial life? Because it does make an impact today, it can help you right now.

Jessica of The Fioneers 28:10

Mm hmm. Absolutely. And I think about that, too, that isn't just your FI or you're not right? Like there's so many different levels of where people can be on sort of the spectrum of financial freedom that can give them so many more options. Like debt freedom gives people so many more options when their monthly costs are much lower. Right? They can stop working a side hustle, they could decide to quit a super high paying job that they don't like to do something that they enjoy more, right? There's, I think, an incredible amount of freedom with like, every additional dollar that you save.

Jamila Souffrant 28:56

Yeah. And then it's to it's like creating a life where you don't feel like you have to retire from or you know, a lifestyle where you love the work that you do. And it's like, "Look, I don't have to even do this work, but I'm doing it and it makes money like great, right?" Like, it's, I don't need to like, think about that I have to quit this because I enjoy it so much.

Jessica of The Fioneers 29:13

Mm hmm. Yeah. And that's actually a great segue. I love things like that's, I feel like the grand experiment that I'm trying right now. So like one thing, you know, I realized, like, my ultimate goal is I would love to be a location independent entrepreneur, right? And then I realized, like, "Oh, I don't actually need to be FI to do that, right?" And so on the side, I've been building up my blog, the FI years, I actually do some lifestyle design coaching, and some other personal projects. And I think the grand experiment is can I make money doing things I would want to do anyways, if I were FI? And then if that's the case, I can transition to that lifestyle so much earlier, whether that be if I make enough money to cover my full expenses, whether that'd be more of a Coast FI, or whether that be more of a semi retirement kind of thing later.

Jamila Souffrant 30:17

Yeah. And I love that because it also if you, if you can, if you have the capacity to, you can try those things now, even if you have a job. And I know that's hard. I'm a -I'm a mom of three. So I get it like, you know, sometimes it's just like, "Where, where do I have the time to try all these things and these side hustles while with my full time job kind of thing." But if you do have the capacity, you can test out on the side or for even a couple hours a week, doing the things you enjoy. Testing it out, just to see where it takes you to see where your joy takes you. And you may be surprised that it actually, there's some money at the end of that not more than you thought it could be and that can also help you get to your goals faster or just get to your goals.

Jessica of The Fioneers 30:58

And that's one thing I love about working part time, I think that I actually feel like more people than do would be able to work part time. I think if employers allowed it, but also if we sought it out, especially for people who want to start businesses, or to sort of work on their own projects on the side, I think it's a really incredible option to continue to earn an income to help you cover your expenses while trying out some of those really exciting and fun projects.

Jamila Souffrant 31:35

Right, right. And I feel like you know, there's so many reasons like why maybe somebody can't take advantage of that now, right? Like so there's the health care I don't know, you know, the health care's is such a big concern for some people, if you have kids, you know, and just expenses but I think it's not. It's not horrible, though, that even if that might not be what you can do right now, you don't think that, that may be possible for me in a couple years, right? Like we're in so Just don't maybe discount it just because right now it's not an option, but it can be maybe, maybe.

Jessica of The Fioneers 32:04

Yeah, absolutely.

Jamila Souffrant 32:06

Talk a little bit more about you said, fast tracking your way to like happiness. Would you consider yourself like super frugal, because we talked about like the spending number of $35,000 a year previously, right? And so I know for some people, I know for me, like, maybe when we don't have the responsibilities of the kids anymore, and a mortgage, that probably number would be still too low for us, like living in New York City. But you know, I can see some people saying,"Okay, that number seems really low for like, the life I want to live." Is it that you were already and I don't know that if that's your annual, like, expense number, but...

Jessica of The Fioneers 32:39

Oh, it is not okay.

That that is an example from a calculator that we provide on our website, expecting that someone is single.

Jamila Souffrant 32:50

Okay, so Okay, that makes like, yes. And you got to take that into account, right? a single person spending that versus someone...

Jessica of The Fioneers 32:56

And that is pretty low, right?Yeah. So that is definitely not our our annual expenses. We also live in Boston, so a higher cost of living area. And I wouldn't say we're super frugal, we definitely go out to eat, we like to go on vacation. I think that we really prioritize the values based spending. So like what are the things that bring us a lot of value, and we feel good spending on those, and then try to spend less on things that don't add value to our lives.

Jamila Souffrant 33:29

Right, right. And I think that it's important to note because what also is the theme that I see from my own experience from you, from other people who have reached this level is yes, there's some, there's some aspects of obviously intentional spending and being somewhat frugal, right? Like I may I think, in certain ways, I'm frugal, but in other ways I'm not right. I'm just like, I'm not gonna worry about this like $5 right now. I'm just gonna spend it kind of thing. That's my like approach sometimes. But a lot of it too while the expenses are important, it's the income. And so that's why I always think like, because cutting back has a limit, your income can be limitless. And thinking about how to encourage or help people earn more money, like not just cutting back, but how can you earn more money to support the lifestyle you want, to support saving and investing more aggressively? So for you guys, was it that you always in the beginning when you were working were on the track to having high income? Or did you intentionally, like do things to help your income increase over time?

Jessica of The Fioneers 34:30

We were not on track to have high incomes right away. And so we actually, my husband and I have both worked in nonprofit organizations for the vast majority of our career. I think I never ever in my life expected that I would make six figures. And that you know, so we started out one of my first jobs was with AmeriCorps and I lived in northern New Jersey, so New York City metro area, and I made $11,000 dollars a year. So that was tough. It was very, very challenging to do. And I think, you know, I learned a lot from that experience. And it sort of helped to launch my career in the nonprofit space. But I did realize that people in nonprofits also if you sort of work your way, up the ladder, you can, you know, continue to earn a higher income over time. And so in that time, I actually did get a master's degree in Public Administration, which then allowed me to move into HR, which then a lot, you know, helped me to increase my income by about 100%. So doubling it over the course of like a four year time span. And I think that ultimately, that was a big part of what enabled me to scale back, right? To be able to take a 50% pay cut because I doubled my you know, I I was able to double my income. So taking a 50% pay cut was my income of what I had been doing full time four years ago, right? And so that's what made it possible for me to be able to do that.

Jamila Souffrant 36:14

Yeah. And I love that because it also gives people the incentive or idea that yes, even though I might not be a higher income earner now, I might feel like I'm in an industry that's typically not for high earners. It's like, actually, no, there are some people no matter what industry it is that are making money. So how do you find out who those people are and what track they took to get there? And time and time again, I know it's about relationships and who you know, and networking and getting that advanced degree as long as it doesn't put you into further debt that you can't pay.

Jessica of The Fioneers 36:45

Mm hmm. Yeah, first so for me for the first school I actually went to a state school at night while I was working full time, so I went to school part time and was able to pay for the degree you know, using my own cash flow. So for me, I found that to be totally worth it. Looking back, if I had taken out loans and like not worked during that time, I might regret it.

Jamila Souffrant 37:10

Right, right. So when it comes to anyone right now, right, they're like, "Alright, I found out about this financial independence thing. It sounds amazing. Because if the idea now is that I have enough money where I can quit the job that I don't like, or just do something I enjoy without worrying about money, because I'm at Coast FI, I got enough money saved," that seems like a really great deal for them. But then they're also thinking, but if I just stick it out, and I hustle for the next 5-10 years, like, let's not even do Coast FI. Let's just get to the FI number, which is would require a lot more in a shorter amount of time. How does one decide between the two or what things should people start thinking about to design their own life? Right, like because it works for them, not just because someone on the podcast is like telling them?

Jessica of The Fioneers 37:55

Mm hmm. Yeah. I think there's a couple things that I would say. So I think the first one is that early retirement and Coast FI are not necessarily mutually exclusive, right? So you could say, I want my early retirement date to be 50 or 55. And then you could do the same calculations, and then say, I want to get to a point where maybe in my early 40s, then I can just coast right to that early retirement data 50, right? So it's not so cut and dry, right, that it's either one or the other. And I think there's, you know, there's a spot in between the two as well, which is that what I call semi retirement. So it's to a point where you have more you could start to pull out of your retirement accounts, but you would still need to generate some active income. So for example, I have a friend who, when I first met her, she said, "You know, I'm planning to fully retire in 2023. And I'm gonna, like, you know, do all of these things, move to a ski town." And I started talking with her about it. And she found, you know, one of the calculators on our website and worked through it and realized that if she left her job, actually, this year, she would only need to generate $5 to $10,000 of active income a year to supplement anything that she pulled out of her retirement accounts. And she was like, "Wow, I could get a random part time job or like, do a couple consulting gigs a year or I'd be able to walk dogs right to be able to cover that difference." And so she ended up deciding to quit the job she didn't like, and was really dreading thinking about being there for another three years this year, right? And so she actually decided to quit that and is now figuring out you know, what are the fun side ways she wants to generate income. So it isn't just right, one or the other. And I think it depends on your, your comfort level too, like do you want- when do you want to feel like you're set? I think there's a couple things that I would start to focus on, like figure out how to do work that you enjoy, right? And I and again, I don't necessarily think that there's sort of an all or nothing concept between like, a job I don't like and the like, absolute thing that I love, right? I think there's ways that we can adapt what we're currently doing to build new skills to try out new things that we want to see if we want to pursue that in the future. And there's ways to like make those little shifts as we go and to help us like build up the things that we would want to do in the future. So yeah, so I think I around work, I'd start there. But it's not just all about work, right? I think a big part of it is saying like what do I have in my personal life that I want to be focusing on and that brings me meaning and fulfillment. And I think that's really, you know, I think there's so many ways that our jobs might not be the place where we get that. And I think it's a sort of myth that people are looking for that always from their jobs, like, I don't think it's necessarily going to give that to us. And so building up lives that we love outside of work, I think plays a huge role in our level of satisfaction within our work as well.

Jamila Souffrant 41:32

Oh, my gosh, it's I'm so glad you just brought that up. It reminds me of being in a relationship. Like if you put all everything on your partner to make you happy, and to be the end all you know, then you're going to be pretty disappointed because that's just not how it usually works. And building up yourself and doing all the things that make you happy, in general, will make the relationship better because you're focused on your own happiness. So I think that's a great point. And what I what I think is amazing for people is like what your friend, like she had so much freedom, she didn't realize the freedom she had already accumulated or her options. She didn't realize it until she saw the numbers. And she took stock of everything. Like she thought she was more stuck than what she was. And I think a lot of people are in that. Well, I know times are hard, you know, with the pandemic, and just the social uprisings and everything happening and so- everything for people going on right now. I know mentally and emotionally, things are hard for a lot of people. So I want to acknowledge that. And I also feel that you may have more freedom than you think at the moment. So I'm hoping that this inspires people to really like confront the numbers, even if it's, you know, seems bleak at first, but to really look at them, because you may surprise yourself. You may be like, "Wow, this is not as bad as I thought. you know, like, I'm kind of on track here."

Jessica of The Fioneers 42:51

Mm hmm. Yeah, definitely. And yeah, I think understanding the numbers was such a difference maker for me. And I stayed in a toxic job for years longer than I needed to because I didn't realize that I could decide to make a shift.

Jamila Souffrant 43:13

Yeah, yeah, I love that. Okay, so I, I'm gonna get all like the really like, cool articles you've written and like the calculators for me so put it in the show notes so people can like check those out because I know they're just like,"Okay, now how do I like figure this out?" So, Jessica, please tell everyone where they can find out more about you, follow you on your journey, and all your social media contact.

Jessica of The Fioneers 43:33

Absolutely. So my blog is the Fioneers. So you can find that at You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @TheFioneers. We do have a Facebook group for people who are interested in this idea of slow FI or Coast FI and wanting to make the journey to FI be as remarkable as the destination. It's called Slo FI Enthusiasts. So if you're interested in that you can go to

Jamila Souffrant 44:05

Right. And I'll link all that in the episode show notes. Thank you so much again, Jessica, for coming on sharing your story and just more about like these amazing concepts that I think everyone should know.

Jessica of The Fioneers 44:16

Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.

Jamila Souffrant 44:22

Okay, Journeyers. I really hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jessica. Again, if you want the show notes, I'll be linking all of the blogs that we had mentioned that Jessica talked about. And then just some other resources in the episode show notes. So wherever you're listening to this, there should be a read more or description, or go to the site And I really hope in terms of when you're thinking about how you can reach financial independence, that you realize you can craft the path all on your own, or all of your own, I should say. So meaning you don't have to necessarily follow what you hear other people doing if it does not resonate for you. If you don't want to be super frugal, and you want to focus more on growing your income, you can do that. If you want a more balanced approach where it takes you longer because you value more time, your current time, then do that, right? I talked about this in the interview with Jessica that, for me, that's that's how I felt when I intentionally left a well paying job to do this full time to have more freedom in my day to day schedule with my kids, is I chose to walk away from that so that I can be more intentional about how I'm actually living my life. So I want you guys to really think about this. Think about how you can lead a more intentional life to FI. You know, I was assume that a lot of people who listen to the show, Journey to Launch, want a more balanced approach, because maybe it's just because I just I have a balanced approach to financial freedom and money. I'm not all one way or the other. You know, I support anyone, you know, whatever works for you, works for you. But I just want you to just recognize and realize that you have the power. There's so many ways to think about this. So I hope this allows you- one more you know tool that you can put in your toolbox to help you get to your goals.

If you want to check out the episode shownotes that's where you can get links to anything that's mentioned, find out more about our guests, and even get a transcribed version of this episode that you can read, go to or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. Now you can also still grab your free Journeyer Jumpstart Guide by texting, "launch" to 33777 or go to If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this in Apple podcasts, rate, review, and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @JourneytoLaunch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it. Until next week, keep on journeying, Journeyers.

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Jessica and Corey are coasting their way to financial independence (FI), and have found a way to create more time and freedom in their lives today. As a dual income household with no kids, they currently live in Boston, a high cost of living city. Also, known as the Fioneers, Jessica and Corey are showing people how to calculate their financial independence number and design a more balanced life before the traditional retirement age. 

In this episode, Jessica and I talk about the different paths to financial freedom, how to determine your FI number, entrepreneurship, and more.  

In this episode you will learn:

  • What is Coast FI and how to start coasting now
  • How much you need to retire early 
  • Ways to encourage your partner to join you on your financial journey
  • Hacks to fast track your way to happiness
  • 4 things to consider when designing your own life
  • What is a location independent entrepreneur, and more

I'm listening to Episode 170 of the #journeytolaunch podcast, How to Coast to FI: The Slow, Intentional, and Balanced Approach to Reaching Financial Independence w/ The Fioneers! Share on X

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One Response

  1. Jamila! Thank you for another wonderful show. You always bring golden nuggets to our door and I personally am so blessed to have found your podcasts. As a near 60 year old, I can’t help but wonder if a ‘you’ existed or was accessible to a 20 yr.old me but, that’s forever a wonder. I’m happy to have you now and strive to make the most sense of my financial decisions, options and spending options moving forward.
    Peace and blessings,

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