Finding Joy, Wealth & Freedom on Your Journey To Financial Independence w/ Kerry Ann Rockquemore

Episode Number: 329

Episode 329: Finding Joy, Wealth & Freedom On Your Journey To Financial Independence With Kerry Ann Rockquemore REWIND

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🔄 EPISODE REWIND🔄 Can you believe we have OVER 300 episodes on the Journey to Launch podcast!? 🤯

With that being said, this summer I’m releasing a few episodes from the “vault” that I think Journeyers need to hear.

THIS WEEK: 

Kerry Ann Rockquemore, former Sociologist Professor and FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) Movement member, joins the Journey to Launch podcast to discuss what led her and her husband to retiring early, the power of community, and how the financial independence journey redefines your goals and identity. 

In this episode, you’ll learn more about:

  • What breaking point led Kerry and her partner to chase the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) Movement
  • How the book, “Your Money Or Your Life,” + the community based around it changed Kerry’s life professionally and financially
  • Why it’s essential to take the financial independence journey one step at a time
  • The blueprint for creating your own in-depth annual planning process to optimize your personal and financial goals
  • The importance of networking, an abundance mindset + recognizing the privileges you have that others do not on your journey to financial freedom + more
I'm listening to episode 329 of the Journey to Launch Podcast, Finding Joy, Wealth & Freedom On Your Journey To Financial Independence With Kerry Ann Rockquemore REWIND Share on X

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Kerry Ann Rocquemore 0:02

If we could have what we wanted, what would it actually look like in detail? Ultimately, we take a pause before we go into goal setting, to really ask ourselves what would stop us from having what we want? And in our case, certainly, there's all the external constraints on there's all of the problems with the world. But for us, we always try to focus on what we have control over. And for us, most of the time, what would stop us is some limiting belief.

Intro 0:29

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who wants her talk, she helps brave juniors 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.

Ad 0:51

Hey, hey, hey, real real quick, it's Jamila, here and I have some exciting news to share with you. My first book, your journey to financial freedom, a step by step guide to achieving wealth and happiness is finally available for pre order. That's right. You can pre order my book right now. Today, the book is officially out December 5 2023. But you do not have to wait that long to get some resources and information to help you. If you preorder the book. Today, I'm giving you some fabulous bonuses that will help you with your financial freedom and independence journey. I'm giving you the Financial Toolkit for free. When you preorder the book, you'll get the debt payoff matrix workbook, the goal fuel worksheet, the financial goals workbook and the retirement account questionnaire, my most effective and FE resources to share with you for free, go to journey to launch.com/book To get your copy to pre order that book today.

Intro 2:00

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes, so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journey to launch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Hey, hey, hey, journeyers welcome to a special episode of the journey to launch podcast, I am giving you the best of rewind episodes of the journey to launch podcast, I have gone through the archives, you know, we have over 300 episodes so far of the podcast, I can't believe it. And some of these episodes. If you're just listening and finding out about the podcast, you may not have heard it yet. Or if you're a longtime listener, hey there, and you've been down with me for a while, maybe you need to re hear these episodes. So I've selected from the archives, some of my favorite conversations that I want you to re listen to. So this one that you're going to hear I picked it special for a reason. I would love for you to listen to it for the first time or listen to it again. And let me know what you think the show notes for these episodes will be updated with current contact information for these guests. Because since it may have been a year or a couple of years since I've spoken to them, they may have updated their information. So if you want their new information, look for wherever you're listening to this podcast episode and in the description. It will have any updated links that you need. And of course, the episode shownotes are at Journey to launch.com. Stay tuned. I have so much amazing content, new content, new episodes, a lot of updates for you about my new book coming out December 5, you can go to journey to launch.com/book to learn more about it and any of the preorder bonuses, you can get that for free by pre ordering right now. And just what's going on with the business with me. You'll hear a lot more of that really soon. So I can't wait for you to hear this episode. And as usual, follow me at journey to launch on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And let me know what you think. All right, juniors, let's get into it.

Jamila Souffrant 4:34

Hey, Jerry, yours. I'm really excited to have today's guest on the podcast Carrie and Rockmore Hi Karianne

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 4:41

Hi, how are you?

Jamila Souffrant 4:43

Good. Good. And so I gave a little background of you before we started this separately, but I want to have you come in I was so excited to get to talk to you because I saw you first on Instagram and went to your site the best chapter.com And I was just like amazed by one want like the way you describe your journey, the fact that you are actually financially independent. And then like the processes that you have created to basically, like, get to where you are. And then like review that, like, so you have this, like annual review that we'll get into, because I definitely want my journey or my people to, like, get that and to hear that. But first of all, just welcome to the podcast. Welcome to the show. I'm happy to have you here.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 5:24

Thank you, thank you.

Jamila Souffrant 5:26

So what stood out the most. So I went through your site, and what I loved about it was I went to your about page, but then you said here is kind of a bit why I'm different than most fire bloggers. And I'm just gonna list these things out. And I'm gonna list these things out, and I want you to kind of, and that's how we're gonna, like dive deeper into your story. But you're basically you say, I'm a woman of color living in Detroit, not a white guy working in tech, you loved your job before you did retire early. And you both you and your husband retired at the same time. So your retirement is not based on a spouse working and earning a six figure salary. And you had a couple more, but I love that. So tell me a little bit more about yourself. So women of color living in Detroit, who loved their job? How did you get on this path to FYI?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 6:14

Well, it really started. You know, I think probably lots of people have this moment, right? When you, you know, you've been sleepwalking through life and through your finances, and then you wake up, right. And, you know, my moment was in 1999, my husband and I had moved to Los Angeles, I had my first job after graduate school. And, you know, we were both working professionals, and you know, living in an awesome city. And then one day, I went to pick my husband up, and I pulled up like I did every day. And he was standing outside with a big brown box. And I thought, Oh, that's weird. And the closer I got, the more I could see his face. He's typically a very affable person, he had this very stern look on his face. And he got in the car and threw the box in the back and said, Just drive, thought, oh, Lord. And if you've ever had a brown box, you know what that means he got fired. So we're driving home on the LA freeways. And I just remember this moment of like, Wow, I feel terrible for him. And I want to be a good partner and be empathetic and really listen to what he's going through. Because he's certainly never been fired from any thing in his life. But I really didn't concentrate. Because in my gut, I was absolutely panicking. panicking about how on earth we were going to make it how long we could make it with that paycheck. And also just this wave of shame. Here, we were two professionals with five degrees between us. And we were living check to check. And I just didn't know how we were gonna make it. It's a pretty awful moment, we got home. And we've just started to have some really candid conversation. And the realization we had from that moment was we can't allow ourselves to ever be in a situation again. And while we don't control everything in our lives, and there's plenty of things that we don't control, we do control our spending, and we do control our saving. And so I think for us that was, you know, we just had a rude awakening, and everything, you know, turned out, okay, if you got another job, and everything was fine. But we weren't going to be the same after that. And so we really had to figure out without knowing absolutely nothing about finance, how are we going to learn? And how are we going to get control of our money so that we never have to have a moment where I don't know how we're going to pay our bills

Jamila Souffrant 9:08

Right now. So can I just open an axe what you guys did at that time as professions?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 9:13

Sure. Sure. My husband was a consultant working at a large consulting firm, and I was a professor. So I had just gotten my first job out of graduate school and I was assistant professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Jamila Souffrant 9:30

Nice. What were you teaching? Oh, what did you teach?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 9:33

I'm a sociologist by training. So I was teaching in a social science division.

Jamila Souffrant 9:38

Okay. All right. So then just to kind of go back and set this stage, you guys were living your best lives, it seems in LA, and then the rug was basically pulled out from under your feet when your husband was fired. And so then what was the next step? So after that, kind of like shame, and that's that realization that you did not want to feel that way again. I know you said he got another job. What was the next step in realizing okay, like, what did you do next to put yourself on this trajectory to actually be financially independent? today?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 10:09

Well, we started reading, right. And I think the book that changed for us was your money or your life, which is such a radical perspective for us both in terms of kind of learn, you know, the steps of that particular book, right, like figuring out, you know, what do you really make and tracking your every penny, and most importantly, sitting down on a monthly basis? And really asking yourself like, is what I spent on any particular thing worth the life energy it cost me? Was it fulfilling? Right? Is it aligned with my values? And if I didn't have to work? Would I be doing this? I'd be spending on these things, would I be living my life this way? And so I think for us, really, we didn't go much. We didn't really read anything else at that book. And it's rich, the process itself is so complex, and so fruitful, right, it's like, any process, you go through the steps, but it's really about how the process itself changes you. And we were very changed over time. And I think more than anything, a real pivot point for us was, I got a different job in Boston. And we were part of there was a your money in your life group, like a meetup group in Boston. And we met up once a month. And certainly that was lovely. We had a potluck, and people shared, you know, the tips and tricks and hacks and whatnot. But what mattered was that that group had, what they called accountability groups. So you could sign if you had been doing at least six months of tracking, you could sign up for an accountability group and the accountability groups required a one year commitment. It was six households. And we met face to face once a month. And every month, one household was on the hot seat. And that meant that everybody in the group went through your data. And everybody in the group asked you powerful questions about the gap between your data and your goals. And it was brutal. I either got pissed or cried every single time. But the reason I mentioned it is because you know, to state the obvious, I have the privilege of having a spouse, two people working on this good move faster than one, we asked each other powerful questions. But even in that situation, there's some questions, you're not going to ask each other. Right? There's some things that happen in a group group is really going to drill down and ask you the things you're just not going to ask each other. So I think for us, once we got into community, that changed everything, and it changed everything, both because we could see actual real live people who were already retired, we could see a range of people a range of people by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status in terms of their income, right? A lot of times we don't see people with lower incomes, figuring out how to be financially independent. We saw people with all kinds of family structures, right? People have kids without kids single, married, divorced, widowed, it just was a really diverse group. And so being able to be in real community with other people, it really was a game changer for us.

Jamila Souffrant 13:46

I love that. And as like, I'm nodding my head as you're talking because Robin, the author of the book, your money, or your life was on episode 39 of the podcast. And she had her she redid and had the book, updated in 2018. So that is also a book that a lot of people cite as, like they're a game changer for them or the first time so see if they kind of been in the game for a little bit like to this world. And what I love about where we come since that because release is that, you know, this online space like so the community is so important. And so the fact that now we have we're able to connect online is even better, because you know, not necessarily everyone's going to have that in person community they can go to and then with like podcasts and blogs, and so many people sharing their perspectives, you're able to get that, that at least one seeing someone else who maybe you can relate to that looks like you're doing something which gives you the confidence that you can and then being able to like kind of join communities and kind of get into the mix where this kind of stuff at once which you didn't even know existed or was not normal becomes normal. So I love that. I love that you're mentioning that. So how how long ago was this that you you started to go to these scripts and to really get like into the over this,

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 15:01

I would say we, you know, we had our turning point in 1999. We were in this group probably in 2000 2001. So quite a long time ago.

Jamila Souffrant 15:15

So my, my question here is at that point where you guys are in a lot of debt, where you kind of out of control with spending, what was your financial picture, then?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 15:28

Hot Mess. Yeah, we were living above our means we had $55,000 in student loan debt, we probably had another about 10 to 15, and just consumer data on credit cards, and we're just spending, then once we started working through that process of your money or life, you know, there's nothing like tracking to raise your awareness. You don't No matter, you know, I think a lot for lots of people. It's like, oh, I kind of know how I spend my money. Well, not really, because when you track your money, it's just like tracking your time you think you know how you spend it. But there's just something amazing about data, right? And when you see the data of how you're actually spending it, it can be stunning, and upsetting and shocking. And, you know, it's also an invitation because it's just data, right? It doesn't have to mean anything. It's also an invitation to really see what can change here, right? It's an invitation to get creative about how can I get the same outcome by doing something that doesn't cost as much or it is really an opportunity to just ask yourself, like, What the hell am I after? Right? And a lot of times, we're consuming things, not for the faint, but for the feeling we get right. And so, you know, I think for us, just adding reflective, and getting curious about how we were spending, looking at that data, analyzing the patterns, and really asking ourselves that most powerful question that took a really long time to sink again, if I didn't have to work, would I be doing this?

Jamila Souffrant 17:19

Right. So you started tracking your spending started to evaluate the data and make changes how quickly from like the start of that? Did you start to dig yourself out of debt, and do other things with your finances?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 17:34

Yeah, it took us two years to get out of that. It took us two years. And I think in that two years, we were really learning to live below our means while paying off debt while becoming financially intelligent and getting our finances in lines with us aligned with our values. And I have to be honest, like, it was really thrilling to get out of debt. And it was simultaneously a little depressing. I remember because our, our accountability group in Boston, like kind of threw a party for us, right. And I can remember eating the cupcake, because they wanted us to celebrate, you know, getting out of debt. It's a big accomplishment. And I can remember eating my cupcake and being mad because, yeah, it's a huge accomplishment. I'm so glad I did it. I never thought I could. And yet now I'm starting from almost zero, right. And I'm glad I said something in the moment because the person in our group was like, all of those strategies that you use to get out of debt are about to become the turbo booster of your wealth.

Jamila Souffrant 18:43

Yeah.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 18:45

All that discipline, all of the conscious decision making all of that's going to start now building your wealth. And you're going to be amazed at how much more quickly things accumulate now that you're not weighted down by this debt, right. So there we started building building building. And honestly, it took us 15 years from the start to actually hitting the number we had set for ourselves. And by the time that we did that, we weren't ready to retire. So we kept working for another three years. And we just retired last year

Jamila Souffrant 19:25

at how old

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 19:27

46. We're both 46.

Jamila Souffrant 19:30

Yeah, okay, that's awesome. All right. I want to step back a bit. So you talk about getting out of debt in two years, and then using the same sort of discipline and strategies to then build wealth and grow your investment. Did you see like After tracking like what were the steps did you like stop going out to eat? Were you very frugal, did you focus on increasing income? What were the major triggers and levers that you pulled to get to these goals?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 19:58

So I'm not super great at the for ballpark. So

Jamila Souffrant 20:02

a lot of people aren't. You know what, I love that you said that? Because I'm not? I'm not that frugal either, honestly. And so love that you said that so sorry, good.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 20:12

Well, I appreciate the people who eat the brown bananas and couponing and doing all these things is just, I am much, I think, just naturally more focused on how do I increase my income. And I suppose it's also a form of privilege to be able, because of my education, because of my professional experience. And because I'm part of a couple with a lot of education and a lot of professional experience that it just feels easier to me to be able to focus on, more money coming in, than it is to get down into the minutiae of detail of like, you know, putting my soaps together at the end of one bar and the beginning of another. So, for me, the frugal piece has never been a huge emphasis. We were much more interested in how do we generate more income. And so for us what that looked like, I should say, once we got out of debt, our biggest dream was that we would be able to live on one person's salary. Right? So we weren't kind of in it from the beginning to retire early. Because that felt like a too big of a thing. Even though we saw people doing it. This was so far outside of how we grew up, and felt, I don't know, it felt possible, but we needed something a smaller goal to work towards. So our big dream was, we could live on one salary. And, you know, we have a unique situation that I was a professor. So basically, when we asked ourselves this question about if we didn't have to work, would we be doing what we're doing? I was like, Yes, I love teaching. And I would be, I would teach even if it wasn't paid for it, because I just love teaching, and I am a teacher who I am in the world. My husband, not that much. If he didn't have to work, he wouldn't be a consultant. So because I love the professor. And because I had the opportunity to win tenure, which means having a, you know, set salary for life, we really leaned into me, winning tenure, and also working so that we could live off my salary. And so we hit a point where my husband quit his job, and we lived off my salary and was interesting was like, a really great time in my life, because our agreement was that if we lived off my salary, that he was 100%, in charge of all household labor. So it was amazing, because all I had to do was go to work, and you took care of everything around the house, did all the cooking, all the cleaning all the everything. And of course, our life was so greatly enhanced, because when I came home from work, the house smelled like fresh baked bread and there was homemade, we were eating better, and the house was clean. And he was reading and writing poetry. And he's quite a renaissance man. So he had plenty of interesting things to talk about. It was great, it was really what we had dreamed of. And then of course, as often happens, your dreams get bigger, right? Because I saw how he was living. And I thought at the same time I was getting disenchanted and kind of outgrowing my job. So really, I wanted to also be retired, and it now seems possible. And you know, we some really started to realize, yeah, we could both do this. But it's going to take something different.

Jamila Souffrant 24:06

How far into the journey that you started to want to live off one income, were you able to accomplish that?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 24:15

Probably get mine? Probably about seven years,

Jamila Souffrant 24:20

seven years now, were you able to still invest aggressively and save at that point that you did that or was it primarily? Okay?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 24:29

We did not at a high rate, but we were able to invest? And at that point, we were living in Chicago. So we also had a we had a real house with a downstairs apartment. So we also had the benefit of having a renter living in our building.

Jamila Souffrant 24:49

So you basically also were able to hack one of the most expensive points of anyone's budget is housing to save money. Yeah, right which is which is key. So I love that you talk about how your goals change and evolve, because that is really important. Same thing happened to me, I'd say is, you know, I recently quit my job, you know, it's a bit different. So I quit my job, my husband is working, he's a teacher, we're living off of his income, but his income doesn't cover everything. And so I saved the buffer amount to help kind of bridge that gap until I started making money through my entrepreneurial pursuits. But the plan, yeah, but the plan is still to reach financial independence, and then decide what we want to do from there. You know, he likes his job. So he thinks he's gonna stay working. But you know, who knows, right? Like, who knows what happens, hopefully, in five to 10 years, if we're able to accomplish like this, maybe he will have the option to open up so much more that he may want to quit? I don't know. So I love that you talk about, you know, you started to dream a bit bigger as you got along in the journey.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 25:57

Yeah. And what became clear was, for both of us to do this, we spent two years sort of living that way right with me working and him not, for him working doing the labor of the household, I don't want to make that sound like it's not work, but doing the unpaid labor of the house. So when we started to dream bigger, we were like, Okay, well, we're going to need, we're, we're going to need to do things differently in order to set both of us free. And so at that point, he started a business. And, you know, he started a business and I got to watch what it looks like for someone to just out of the blue start a business. And what was interesting is that he was suddenly making a lot more money than he ever was working for somebody else. But he had complete autonomy and flexibility over his time. And that looked really attractive to me. Maybe a year later, I started I quit my tenure track job, which is unheard of, to start a business. And I had watched him do it. So I felt like if he can do that, I can also do that. And so I started a business. And as it turned out, we were both pretty good.

Jamila Souffrant 27:23

So I'm curious, I'm assuming his consultant has it was probably based around what he did previously, or was this a totally different skill set in business? Okay.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 27:31

No exact same skill set? Just doing it for himself under its own umbrella.

Jamila Souffrant 27:37

Right, right. And I'm amazed I mean, you know, there's, I love that you did bring up privilege before because there is a level of privilege here with the kind of education and skill set that you guys had to be able to, like, do that. I mean, and the confidence level, right? Like, first you have to be if you can, you two could do this, but I think it's you guys were set up really nicely to take these kind of jumps and pivots in your life. But then that's not to take away from even that you did it? Because there are a lot of people who are in your position who would never take that leap.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 28:04

Yeah. And also, you know, let me add one more, which is, we often don't consider our network, part of that privilege, right. But it is, right, because it's also, you know, when you start a business, it's also about, you know, do you know, other people who started businesses, right? Do you have people that you can call when you have questions and concerns? Do you have a Rolodex of clients, right of potential clients? All those things are also I think we don't always acknowledge that that's a benefit. Right? And it doesn't mean that I don't certainly know people who have started businesses without those things. But let's be real also that that makes it easier.

Jamila Souffrant 28:53

Right. Right. And can I say this? And I understand it's like a sensitive topic. But also, it seems that you guys have done this without kids.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 29:02

Yes. So, you know.

Jamila Souffrant 29:05

Yeah, we don't have to get into why or whatever. But, you know, I would, I would assume that to like not and, you know, not having children also affects it. I mean, I have three kids. So, you know, our journeys are definitely my husband. And I like the way we think about our money and putting things away from them. It impacts our journey to financial independence, too.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 29:26

Yeah, I mean, in ways that I can only imagine, right, because I don't face. You know, again, I just think it's important to acknowledge like, it's a completely different life experience, but also different sets of questions that go along with it, right, anything that he and I are deciding the consequences are for the two of us, right? Any choices that we're making any risks that we're taking, they're going to be different for two people than they are for one person with children or two people with children. Or even you know, one person with elder care that is significant. So, again, I think sometimes people get a lot of energy around this instead of just saying, hey, let's talk about what's real for us. Right? And what it's okay to acknowledge these things without it being

Jamila Souffrant 30:17

an attack on you're able to accomplish. Yeah, no, I totally, I totally get it. And I think too, I mean, I think we can all learn from each of each other's journeys, like they don't have to look exactly the same. And so, you know, yeah, maybe there are some differences in our starting points, or there's some differences and like, are the factors kids or no kids, single or not, but I think what it comes down to, though, is the like the skill sets, which again, can can be different depending on your educational background and family background, even your, you know, socio economic background. But I think if you have a growth mindset, like these skill sets that you that you've seen other people that you admire, you can also develop and so you know, becoming better, whatever subject matter you you're in, right, or whether career you choose becoming better in that becoming a better people person, and having that social intelligence to be able to network, all those things you can improve upon, to help increase your chances of reaching financial freedom.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 31:19

Yeah, and I love sort of the thinking about the skill sets, right? Because it's also, you know, if you have a growth mindset, it's also true that you can learn skills, as you said, so, you know, for my husband, he didn't have to acquire a huge number of skills to start his business. The difference for me is that I had always been an educator, I had always been a professor. I had never even really worked in a business much less started a company. And I did have to acquire a number of skills in order to be able to do that, right. But well, those skills are achievable right there, you can learn them, they are acquirable. And being able to learn those, I mean, frankly, building the company was like this was one of the biggest growth periods of my life is just shifting from the mindset of being a teacher to the mindset of being an entrepreneur. And it, frankly, was the hardest thing that I've done.

Jamila Souffrant 32:25

And so one of the blog posts that you have, and I will try to link every, every other blog, every one of the blog posts that we mentioned here is that you talk about like you quit your like, you quit your job. So you reach financial independence, and you like quit, not only did you quit your tenured, safe, teaching job, Professor job, you started this business, which did really well. And you also walked away from that, to actually retire early, which a lot of people actually don't do, like, so in this space, you know, you'll see people who enjoy their work or don't enjoy their work. And even if they hit their financial independence number, they still continue to, like, actively work. And so can you define kind of like, what financial independence like means for you? Like, like, are you actually living off of your investments? Do you bring in money to both of you? How does that look?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 33:13

Yeah, we live off our investments. And, you know, for us, you know, I don't think I'm not part of the retirement police that you have to have X y&z indicators in order to, you know, legit, be retired, but for what it means for us is that we're not working for pay. And, you know, that's the ability to do that, to hit that sort of crossover points. That for us feels like freedom. Now, as much as I loved my job, right, right, we did.

Jamila Souffrant 33:52

But you had the options, you know, to explore and do things the way you want to. So can I get more technical about just like, what that looks like? Because I think what a lot of people love, like when they hear stories, like this is like, wow, like you can actually, you know, save enough money to like live off that money. But how does that look? Is it through Pat less? It's through your real estate investments? I'm not sure if you know, if you have portfolio, is it through your like, actually like index investing? Is it through your actual retirement accounts? How are you? What does that look like that portfolio?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 34:21

Yeah, for us, we have a wealth accounts. And we have a heavy bond portfolio, which I realize many people find ridiculous and it's conservative nature. But it is reliable interest and we live off that interest. We have a little bit of real estate, but nothing significant. That's really our core thing.

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Jamila Souffrant 35:37

Is most of that invested in like non retirement accounts? Because that's the other question people have is like when you first start, you know, you want to be tax optimized, you want to, you know, you're pulling a lot of money into your maybe retirement accounts, your 401k in your Roth IRAs, and then the question becomes, but if I retire early, then I'm not able to directly access that money necessarily without penalty. And so then you're taught to invest in non retirement accounts in addition to so what does that look look like for you?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 36:04

Yeah, it's the ladder. I mean, for us a wealth account. It's not including those 401, k's and our retirement accounts. It is its own thing.

Jamila Souffrant 36:15

So basically, it's outside of your retirement account. It's really things you can draw down on today, like your tax, not taxable account. Okay.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 36:22

Yeah. So again, if I thought about myself back in that car, picking my husband up with his box, unfathomable, right. Certainly, if I think back to my childhood, I think back to being at school, unfathomable, right. But I think the key piece is like, it doesn't have to be everything at once. Right? Like this was a journey, a true journey of steps, right? That waking up that getting out of debt, that saving that moving towards a smaller goal, right of just one of us working, and then get really the sense that we could do the whole thing. But it's going to take a significant, significantly larger amount of money, and being able to say, well, how can we do that? Well, what was available to us was to roll the dice and try to build two companies that would enable us to do that.

Jamila Souffrant 37:28

Yeah, focusing on the income really, like just turbo boosted your journey. So your FY, now, one of the questions that I have is like and maybe some someone else is thinking this as you like, walked away, though, from both of you to like, quit your jobs quit your companies walked away from like, the continual, like amount of income that you would have actively like had, and so you have to be okay with, like, leaving that money on the table. Right? Like, it's like, Alright, I'm gonna walk away from like this well paying company, because time matters to me more and doing what I want in this assay matters.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 38:04

Yeah. And look, just to be perfectly transparent. So my husband, my husband didn't just like, shut it down, he sold it, right. Which, of course, just adds gas to an already, you know, if you've already hit your number, and then you just put more on top. That's fantastic, right? For me, I hired a CEO of my company to take over, I still earn from that. So you know, I don't consider it like I'm getting paid to do something. But certainly that is also part of what we bring in. But it just adds on top. So we had an unusual situation and that both of our businesses worked well. Both of them grew, both of them were profitable. But the walk away part was more about for me, you know, when I was a professor, I felt like I kind of outgrew that job. It became something that felt more like it was keeping me from growing. But in my business, the business outgrew me. I was the right person to start it. I was the right person to do the kind of foundational work and do the startup phase. But when you start a business and it grows, you also have to know when you've hit a moment where you're actually the thing, standing in the way of the business becoming really what it can be like your leadership moment is over. The organization itself, it needs more it needs a new person with new skills and your team. They need a new leader. And so for you know that's not exactly happy moment for a founder. But you have to be able to say and realize and notice that what's required for the company to keep growing, just needs a new skill set that you don't have. And you can choose whether you want to try to acquire it. But in my case, I had built an awesome team, and it was ready for a new leader, I was happy to find that person different, just the right person who stepped in and continued to move forward.

Jamila Souffrant 40:35

And what I admire two is that you know, when we talk about building an investment account, building a portfolio and creating passive income, if you're building a business, this would be like a dream to have built a business in a capacity where you still have to build a business as part of your portfolio that you don't have to actively work in, but you still are able to profit from or in the case of your husband, you build it up to a point where you can sell it, and the benefits in that regard. So I love I love that. So now let's talk a little bit about the like, the planning process, because that's one of the things that really drew me to your story. And what I wanted to learn more, what I want you to share is that you guys have a really in depth annual planning process, like where you look back at what you accomplished, what you're looking forward to doing. You even had a blog post about the whole how everyone's jumping on the bandwagon of like that word, having a word for the year. And like I raised my hand, you know, stats, me too, but I love how you like you frame questions around that. So let's first talk about the annual planning process. What that is, like, how can someone create that in their own life?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 41:46

Sure. So you know, you know, the essence of it is in that moment of, you know, one year flipping to another, or some people around their birthday, but most of us have a moment in a year when we've naturally pause right, we take a step back, we think of our life, and what we want to be different in our next year. And, you know, for us, we took a natural pause, around Christmas. And in part, we took that pause because we we were so tired of the consumption around Christmas and the excess, that we decided to just leave the country every Christmas. We realized that all the money that we were spending on, you know, decorations and gifts and parties and Christmas clothes, we could actually travel for the same amount of money quite for quite a period of time. So because we left the country during Christmas, we realized this is natural time of pause. And so all the planning is is really giving structure to the pause. It's just asking questions that enabled you to look back to look within and to look forward. Right. So I have all the steps in that particular blog posting was welcome to get them. But it starts off by looking back at the previous year looking at you know, and asking some reflective questions. You know, what worked? What didn't work? Did you meet your goals for the previous year? And if not, why not? Right? Not in a judgmental way. Or it's not an invitation to go into self flagellation. It's just an a way of getting curious, right, if I didn't meet them with why, and really looking at our peak experiences, you know, what's happened in the past year, that would qualify as a peak experience, what were our unexpected blessings. And if just taking time to ask those questions, we start with that because it generates so much positive energy it generates, you know, when we start talking about our unexpected blessings, we feel so grateful, right? It has this energy of gratitude. And when I think about what I want for my life, and when I think about planning for the future, I want it all to be grounded in that energy of gratitude, right? Because that's when I'm most expansive. That's when I'm most creative. That's when I'm most likely to create things that don't currently exist. So we take a look back at the previous year. And then we certainly think about what's going to be the framework that we examine our life and plan forward. So most people just think about work everything else. Two buckets, or they think about work and family at work and home. We sort of have a larger set of domains that we look at so we look at our health. We look at growth, we look at our purpose we looked at when relationships, so that we're not just looking in this dichotomous way at our life. And then we really drill down in each of those domains. And we spend time talking about and writing out, like, what do we actually want? So if I think about my health, what do I, you know, if I think about my life, and I imagine what it looks like an optimal form, what do I want my physical health to look like? What do I want my emotional health to look like? What do I want my spiritual health to look like? Right? And we do the same thing with each of those domains, right? If I think about my purpose, what kind of work do I want to be doing? What kind of what do I want my money and my relationship to money to look like? What do I want my legacy to look like? And we just sort of rotate around that framework, but really not saying what do I want next year to look like? But ideally, what do I want my life to look like in this particular domain? And, you know, it's just about envisioning and as you can imagine, can create some interesting conversations, because we do this separately, and then we share it with each other. And some things are aligned, and some things aren't. And it's certainly an interesting thing as a couple of explore why that is. But the point is, we use our kind of creative muscles, right? We try to build out that ability to see what we actually want to ask ourselves what we deeply desire, not in the context of constraints, right. But if we could have what we wanted, what would it actually look like in detail? Ultimately, we take a pause before we go into goal setting, to really ask ourselves, what would stop us from having what we want. And in our case, certainly, there's all the external constraints on there's all of the problems with the world. But for us, we always try to focus on what we have control over. And for us, most of the time, what would stop us is some limiting belief, right? Some idea, something that maybe it was true for us in a previous stage, that isn't true anymore. And we try to really surface what those limiting beliefs are, and really shift them. Really ask ourselves, is that true anymore? ask ourselves if that's is that belief supporting me and moving forward. And then finally, we just sort of get into the concreteness of if this is the big thing that I want, if this is, ideally, what I want my life to look like, what are the specific goals I can have for this year? And it doesn't mean that I'm going to go from this moment, straight into my optimized life, it means how can I move forward in this year, what's something concrete that I can set as a goal that's going to help me to move forward towards that? And of course, you know, all the planning in the world is great. But unless you set it into your daily practice, it's really difficult for that to come to life. So for us, we create some affirmations, we pick our ONE WORD, and we really use on a daily basis. Yeah, I mean, that's the overview.

Jamila Souffrant 48:10

Yeah, it sounds like intense, and I will definitely link this this in the show notes. But I, you know, it's one of those things where, too, like, it involves work. And I think for a lot of people, even including myself, it's like, you know, you, you want the outcome of this work, like so like, I just like, can I just like fast forward and get everything you just said, but you have to do the work? Like you have to sit down, answer the question, sit down, if you have a partner, do it with them, even if you have children in their range of age where you know, they can, even if it's like a modified version, you can kind of sit down and do it with them is important. And so as you're talking, I'm actually thinking, you know, look at you from what I see. And we know, we didn't get into too many numbers here in this interview, but from what I can tell, you guys are probably living a really comfortable life. And you seem to be very happy. And you know, you I think you also say you travel a lot still now that you I mean you're you're quote unquote, retired now. So you can you have all the time in the world. Yet you still like sit down every year and you to do this planning, you still do these daily mantras, and it seems like what got you here are those actions but because you've gotten to this place of freedom, you have not stopped you continue to do it. And I think the biggest gap for a lot of people is you we want that life. But the work that it takes it takes the work to do it and the continual work to do it. And so I like that, you know, it's like you're actually living like that, like, you're living that truth. This is what it takes to keep it up. This is how I got here, but this is what I'm gonna keep doing.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 49:40

Well, it's interesting to like we've been doing this particular process for 12 years, right? When we started doing it. Our life was very different than it is now. Right? And your vision grows, your vision expands your dreams expand right but the work to do it is still work. So it's never just gonna happen, right? It's never like magically going to drop in your life. It really is work.

Jamila Souffrant 50:13

Yeah, yeah, I love that. And so, you know, before I let you go, I want to talk about just one other thing that you had, that I really enjoyed, and it was called something called Joy habits. And you were able to actually, like, implement this more in like a like a daily, like, weekly kind of actual like, process. He talked a little bit about what that is and how we can we can include Joy habits in our lives.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 50:40

Yeah, so for me, I start by saying, I have a bias here that a I think joy is different than just happiness, right? Happiness is sort of an emotion. For me, Joy is like a state of being. And I, my biases, I think it's our default state of being right. It's just that the world is kind of designed to separate us from that. And so if we want to be in that joyful state, if we want to get back to that state of being, for me, I have to do things, right. Because if I'm just sort of living in the world, everything's feels designed to separate me from joy. You know, for me, it's like, I have to have certain things in my life, that remind me that, you know, that really keep me in touch with that reality. Otherwise, I'll just forget. And so we certainly have things we do on a daily basis, we have things to do on a weekly basis. But there are things that help to unplug from all everything that's set up to keep us from that, right. So maybe a really simple joy habit is that we love to watch the news. But once it's dinnertime, TV is off for the rest of the night, right? We sit down and look at each other and eat. Have conversation. We read write, it's really something very simple, but is a powerful kind of just unplugging and unplugging from all these overwhelming messages about mystery. It's also the case that we take a really long walk every Sunday, we take a long walk, even when it's really cold. In order to have a different type of conversation, right? We call it our Craig top lock. But it's just a walk where we have one type of conversation, which is what do we want? How would we serve? If we could TEDx what we're doing? What? What needs to shift for us? And again, how would we live if we didn't have any constraints? Right? And that's not to, it's not to dismiss that we that there aren't constraints in the world, and we don't have them. It's an opportunity for us to really build that muscle of envisioning and to say out loud, what do I really want? You know? And oftentimes, the best things in our life have come out of those conversations, right? Because when you say to somebody else, what you really want and what you would want if you had no constraints, and the other person takes it seriously. And starts, there's no judgment allowed. There's no criticism allowed. There's no kind of, oh, well, let's get real. Now. The point is, it's just a space to walk, keep your body moving, so it doesn't get in the way and just talk about possibilities, right. That's how we built our growth mindset. That's how we built really getting in touch with what we desire. They're just little things, right? I have a daily daily gratitude practice, right? It's just taking a pause at the end of the day, to city thankful, right? And we don't have a perfect life. Things go wrong. But reminding ourselves and ruminating on what went well, instead of what went wrong. It just shifts our energy. Right. And that's the energy that connects us that opens that door to joy.

Jamila Souffrant 54:23

Love, love. Love that. And so my final question for you. I mean, I can I can talk to you forever. But my final question to you is, what does your life look like now? So now that you you're retired and financially independent, what is what is your husband? What do you do all day? What do your husband do?

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 54:43

Well, it's funny because I think people conflate paid employment and work, right? So I think people imagine Oh, I'm going to retire early. I'm never going to work again and everything's going to be easy and I sit on a beach and blah, blah. That's really not what it looks like. Definitely, I think for most people, when they retire, there is a honeymoon phase where they, you know, don't have an alarm clock, and it was structured the day and they do whatever they want, and they travel and, you know, there is that honeymoon phase, and everyone who was tired should have that, right. But then at a certain point, you have to decide, what is this chapter of my life going to look like? What is my life going to look like? And, you know, I think the thing we never want to talk about is that that's kind of work, right? The reality is that for early retirement, and you know, probably for regular retirements, there is work to be done, you have to have a massive shift in your identity. Right. And that takes an intentional process, you have to create a new structure for yourself, you have to create community for yourself. You have to really be reengage, redefine what your purpose is, and what success looks like for you. And so, you know, maybe the way to say it is like, you have to figure out, what does a meaningful life look like, right? And it's gonna involve structure, community purpose. And dare I say, work, not the kind of work that you're paid for, but really digging in and doing something meaningful with your life. And so, you know, it's kind of funny, because people are always like, Oh, my gosh, what is it like? And I'm like, freedom is awesome. And freedom. And it's also challenging, because you do, I don't feel I don't want anybody feel bad for me. But there is a challenge of like, how do I create a meaningful life, now that 40 5060 hours a week are no longer filled with work, I no longer go to a place I no longer have those relationships. And I no longer have that identity. So that's a long way of saying that our daily life probably doesn't look anything like what people imagine, like we get up in the morning, we sit down, we both write. So we sit down from 10 to 12. Every day, and write. It looks kind of like work, right? It's just rewrite, and we're not paid for it. We write my husband is working on a young adult. novel I am I write from my blog, I do a lot of different types of writing. But we write for two hours, we take a walk every day before lunch, we have our lunch at a leisurely pace. And then in the afternoon, we do our own forms of work. Again, it's unpaid labor. But for me, I, I love to serve as a mentor now. And because I was a successful entrepreneur, I leave time every afternoon for calls with other entrepreneurs. I certainly continue to have a number of leaders across various sectors who want to have a mentoring call a confidential mentoring call, I love doing that. Because I can do deep work with people on on, and I don't need to charge for it, I don't need to make money from it. I don't have a long term commitment these people, but I'm available for that type of work. It is for me credibly meaningful, incredibly fulfilling. It's also the case that I serve on a number of boards, I advise a number of groups. That's the kind of work that I do in the afternoon. In the evening, you know, four or five, it's time for yoga. I'm blessed to have a hot yoga studio right around the corner from my house, I can walk to my husband goes to work out, we have dinner, and we read it in the evening. It's just kind of sounds really boring. But this is what we choose, right? For us that creating that life of meaning is about having relationships with friends and family. It's about having time for that. It's about having time to give back in ways that are aligned with our gifts and talents. It's about keeping ourselves physically healthy. It's about doing things like cooking, right, that we didn't have time to do when we were both working intensely is really I think what matters for people is to start thinking now about the life part. Right? So, you know, with your money or your life when I read lots of fire blogs, it's all about your money. It's all about the minutiae of detail about your money. And I think we also need to be thinking about the life part. Right? So we want to be building that before. We sort of have this crossover because if you don't know what a meaningful life looks like, It's not again, just gonna pop out of the sky. It takes work. And it takes work for you to define what it is. And to create it for yourself.

Jamila Souffrant 1:00:08

Right, right. Yeah, I love I mean, I love that. And I mean, I loved I loved you going into detail about what your day actually looks like, gives people an idea of like, what they can dream of like doing like if they really had no constraints for time and money. So Karianne thank you so much for this like wealth of information. Can you please let people know where they can find you? If they want to just learn more read about your blog, you have an Instagram account too. So share that please.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 1:00:34

Yeah, so the blog is thebestchapter.com and my Instagram is running into fire.

Jamila Souffrant 1:00:44

Right and I will link that again in the episode show notes for this episode. Thank you so much again, Karianne for coming on the show and sharing your perspective and life story.

Kerry Ann Rocquemore 1:00:53

Oh, you're welcome.

Outro 1:00:57

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