Episode Number: 362

Episode 362: From Corporate America to Coast FI + Van Life With Jessica From The Fioneers

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From Corporate America to Coast FI + Van Life With Jessica From The Fioneers

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Jessica, co-author of award-winning blog The Fioneers, speaker, and lifestyle design coach, joins the Journey To Launch podcast for a second time to discuss how her and her partner transitioned from corporate America to van-life entrepreneurs. 

We chat about unconventional paths and balanced approaches to Financial Independence, tips to reach FI, navigating feelings of fear and scarcity surrounding money and FI, and more! 

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • How Jessica and her partner saved money and diverted funds from retirement to afford entrepreneurship and the flexibility of van-life
  • Why you need to implement a strategy for the future as you transition away from your traditional career into self-employment 
  • What surrounding yourself with a community of people can do to improve your mental health as an entrepreneur
  • What the definition of Coast FI is, What “Guac Level” Jessica identifies as, the strength of having a partner aligned with your financial goals + more 

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Jessica 0:02

I Think of financial freedom as a much larger umbrella concept that every single dollar we save every single dollar of debt we pay off, right? Every single dollar we invest provides us with a little bit more financial freedom that we can use to make our lives better, and design the lives that we want.

Intro 0:28

T-minus 10 seconds. 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 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

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 in OG journey or are 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.

Jamila Souffrant 1:41

Hey, hey, hey, Jaron yours. Welcome to the journey to launch Podcast. Today, I actually have a returning guest, and I'm excited to have her back on. Her name is Jessica. She's a full time adventurer and part time writer, speaker and lifestyle design coach. She's the co founder of the award winning platform, the fine airs, which focuses on using the financial freedom you build, to design a life you truly love. Jessica was on episode 170 of the journey to launch podcast where she talked about Coast fit, which we'll get into and where she was at that point. And so I'm happy to welcome Jessica back on because a lot has changed since then I think we recorded that in the pandemic. And you were actually anonymous back then Jessica. And now you're you're out in the front. So I just I'm looking forward to having you not only share what you've been up to since then, but then all the insights that you have about our favorite topic, financial freedom. So welcome back.

Jessica 2:44

Thank you, I'm so happy to be here.

Jamila Souffrant 2:47

So go check out after you listen to this episode 170, because you'll get a real deep dive into how Jessica got to where she got to and more of a background. But I do want to just give a brief intro of how you became the finance how you started the blog, and then we'll catch up to where you are now.

Jessica 3:07

Sure. So I learned about financial independence, actually from my spouse in late 2017 or early 2018. And at that point, I wasn't actually all that excited about it, it seemed like it was a lot of deprivation, to then get to a point where you could just live a life with a lot of deprivation, but didn't have to work. Right. And so I needed to like learn a lot and learn about different people doing different things along that path. And I did I started to hear about people taking more unconventional paths, and that the focus wasn't necessarily just like, cut, cut, cut everything out all the spending. So I started to be more interested in like, what could a balanced approach look like? You know, we originally sort of created this philosophy that was like, we want the journey to find to be as remarkable as the destination. And that's sort of why and how the pioneers came about. And at the time, we originally thought that, you know, we weren't going to pursue the hardcore fire, but we were going to do it in a balanced way. But then we ended up learning a whole lot about financial freedom and how we could apply it to improve our lives all along the way. And so I would say we're no longer hardcore fire adherence.

Jamila Souffrant 4:37

So I love this because we I think our philosophies align in many different ways. So my book that just came out, it's called your journey to financial freedom. And you know, that's what I talk about to like how do you enjoy the journey and obtain freedom on the path to financial independence and also like you I changed my mind about how intense I wanted to be on the journey. You know, once you start, it's it there is a lot of sacrifice depending on how intense you want to go. And I think your name, your brand, like the pioneers, really sick signifies the journey itself. So a lot has changed since you came on the podcast a few years ago, back then you were anonymous. I think were you still working? Or where were you when you came on? And then we could talk about what has changed?

Jessica 5:27

Yeah. So in 2020, I was working part time at a traditional job. And I was working on the side, on the FBI in years. And I think I had just around the time that we talked in 2020 was starting the coaching business that I run today, too. So yeah, a lot has changed since then. I yeah, I started my coaching business. I, you know, when I started, I was originally thinking, maybe this is something that will eventually allow me to semi retire someday, maybe I'll make like 20k a year and that would be awesome. And I sort of went about it, like asking myself the question like, What would I do if I didn't need to work for income. And then if I happen to generate income doing it great. And about nine months after launching my first group coaching cohort, I quit that part time job. So I had like, basically replaced my income from that. So I've been fully self employed now since early 2021. So it's been three years now, which is crazy. So but my husband was continuing to work full time for a couple of years more. We also started thinking like, What would our Pope What would our like, ideal life actually look like? And could we figure out how to make that a reality? You know, and I was starting to do that through entrepreneurship and being able to work when I wanted and where I wanted and on the things that I wanted to. And he was still happy in his full time job. And, you know, feeling like, oh, I want to get to this net worth milestone before making some sort of transition. And so we started doing some experimentation to say, Okay, well, if you want to stay in your job for another three to five years, like, let's figure out what that would look like after that. And one thing that we got enamored with during the pandemic was van life, and started watching like all of the van life, YouTube. And so we decided to rent a camper van, because maybe we would want to build one out three to five years down the road. And we loved it so much that we decided like, we don't want to rent a van next summer, we want to buy a van, we want to do this. So we sort of took that that sort of coast fie approach. But while my husband was still working, the first steps in that Coast via approach were spending more. So deciding like, Okay, we are going to, like use the money to buy this camper van to allow us to have the life that we want in the future. And then a couple of years later, really, I would say probably about a year after we had the van fully built out, you know, things changed at work for my spouse, and he was ready to say like, okay, maybe I'm ready to transition and try out the self employment thing too. And, you know, he definitely said that, making that decision was a direct result of like us doing that experimentation with the van because he wasn't leaving his job, saying like, I've just moved like, this is the thing I want to move away from without having a vision of what he was moving toward. He had a clear vision of what, like life would look like post, you know, his particular job. And so, in early 2023, he joined me as an entrepreneur, so we're both working on the pioneers now. He's focusing a lot on YouTube. And we traveled the first six months of last year in our campervan.

Jamila Souffrant 9:28

Oh my goodness. Okay, now we have to have many questions. I'm sure some of the listeners do too. So take me back just a bit. Do you mind sharing kind of where you guys were stationed or where you live before traveling?

Jessica 9:41

Yeah, our home base is in Boston, Massachusetts. So we've lived here for about 10 years now. And we have a home here. And so we were traveling for six months. We still kept our home and came back to it.

Jamila Souffrant 9:57

Did you rent it out?

Jessica 9:58

We consider renting it out and then decided not to, you know, it was something that we would consider doing in the future, as well for for larger trips, but we were, we were felt a little crunched to get everything done before we left on on our big van trip last year. And so we ended up just leaving it, bank it and having friends check in on it while we were traveling.

Jamila Souffrant 10:28

So you guys decided a few years ago, he was still happy in his job. And I think that's the beauty of the financial freedom and independence journey is that your mind changes like you don't know what you don't know yet, until you get better information as you start. So you quit your job. He's still working at this point. Where were you financially? So if you don't mind, maybe sharing that point. And then maybe that will give us better context to why you're able to quit your job. And then eventually him quit his job.

Jessica 11:00

Yeah, that's great. So sometimes people will like look at our lifestyle and be like, You must be fire already. And we're not, we're like about 40% of the way to full financial independence. But when I decided to quit my job in 2021, we had reached Coast financial independence. And so Coast phi, which I know you've talked about on your show a whole bunch, but just to give people an understanding of that is the point, I think of it as the point where saving becomes optional, like work is not optional, yet, you still have to work. But saving for your future, that now is optional, because what you've already saved and invested will grow to provide you with a comfortable traditional retirement at 6065. Right, whatever age that you choose. And so we had reached that point, which meant that all we needed to do was cover our actual costs of living, or if we wanted to save that we could put any savings toward short or midterm goals. You know, at the time when, when I was still working, we were saving a little over 50% of our income. And so for me to, you know, quit and you know, I had replaced my part time income with with income from my business at that point, I was able to make that decision. And it didn't have a tremendous impact on our finances. At that point, it sort of reduced our you know, our savings rate probably would have gone from like 50% to 30 or 40%. But then that same year, we decided that we were going to buy and build out the campervan. And so then really embrace that Coast fie approach, where we reduced our savings right down to like around 20% or less.

Jamila Souffrant 13:11

And this was when he was still working. Your partner was still working.

Jessica 13:15

Yeah, yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 13:15

Okay. So by the way, so we talk more about cosa fi in the original interview that we did episode 170 on journey to launch podcast, and I talked about this in my book, Your journey to financial freedom, pages 46 and 47. And lay out the calculation for you to figure out when you could reach FY, depending on your age, and your current investments are your target investments where you want to be in the future. But what I'm hearing from your story, and I think sometimes I'll get this question and because we were able to reach hosts, FYI also, and then I was able to also quit my job, but I had the privilege of having a partner who still works, but back then worked right. So that covered our health care. And then there is a level of security there for me as entrepreneur to go out there even though his income doesn't cover our all of our expenses, because we are not super frugal living in New York City. So with that, do you find that you're reaching co Stephi? Or like in our my case, two is that those those advantages of having a two income household and potentially I'm not sure what your salary was, or his was, but it was, you know, a nice amount to be able to buy a house to afford the mortgage and to still reach your financial goals. Would you say that's a big factor in you being able to do what you've done so far?

Jessica 14:32

I would say yes. I definitely think that having a partner who is aligned with you financially, and like moving toward goals together really can make you unstoppable. At the same time, I've worked with people and heard a lot of examples of people where they were in a partnership that made it more difficult for them to make decisions like this. And actually a few people, plenty of people who've said that they actually needed to get divorced, to be able to actually move toward their financial goals. So I think if you have a partner who is really aligned with you, that partnership can really be a privilege that supports you on your journey to financial freedom. But if you have a partner that isn't aligned, doing it as a single person may actually be easier.

Jamila Souffrant 15:34

So the fan part, it seems like you've re allocated the money that you were saving investing to now buying a van. Did you always enjoy that adventure? Or did you did you like camping because you know, someone like myself? It sounds really nice. Like, I tell my husband all the time. We need to like I would love to do a trip with the kids. And then I started to look up bands like, or campers. And then like, we'd be driving somewhere. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, just seems so like complicated and how we're going to do this, but I didn't grow up in that life. And neither did he. So it really would be just it would take some research and it'd be a stretch. How did you guys decide that? That is something you wanted to do? Did you kind of grew up in that as a thing that you did camping?

Jessica 16:15

Yeah. So we both did some camping, when we were kids, that was often my my family's like frugal summer vacation. So Cory and I were the unicorns that you know, lived outside New York City, but we're married at 22. And had like, no money at all. And so our vacations that we would take would be like, we're gonna go to like the Delaware Water Gap and go camping because this is literally all we can afford to do. It's just being out in nature. And doing that is something that we've always enjoyed doing. And it was a part of our lives. You know, and hiking is like definitely a hobby of ours. And so, you know, we had an inkling that we would like it but also knew, like, we need to experiment with this. Like, I'm definitely a huge fan of experimentation, I was not going to like, buy a van without having like, tested it out to see if it was something that we actually liked versus just something that looked glamorous on YouTube. So we did a campervan rental. For I think it was about two weeks. And it's funny because I remember almost being like, Ah, it's too expensive. Like, I don't want to do it. Because it can be expensive to you know, you're renting a vehicle that has your bed and your bathroom and your kitchen and like all of the things in it. And, you know, I remember almost being like, we should just do car camping because that's cheaper. And then I was like, No, this is an experiment to see if like, this is a thing that we would want to do in the future. You know, and we had thought about like, okay, maybe we do this two week and then the next summer maybe we do like a full month we rent a van and you know, all of that. And after that, you know, first experience we just knew it's interesting because I don't know like sometimes you have to be in it to be like, This is exactly what I want to do. But we we found that like, for us traveling around in a camper van felt really easy. You don't have to plan anything in advance like your your because your bed and your bathroom and your kitchen are just with you and the beginning of the day, you can just be like, where am I? Where do I want to go today? But you don't have to plan out like what do I need to bring with me and you know, all of the things you just get to like go there and you have everything that you need with you. And like it's funny that that's like one of my favorite parts about van life is just like it feels so easy. Which I'm sure would not feel there's certain things that aren't easy about it for sure. But just the ability to like go with the flow and be where we are for as long as we want to be and not having to think about where we're going to go to get food or you know different things throughout the day. Like we just get to be fully present where we are you yeah so we found that that was something that we we really loved. So

Jamila Souffrant 19:35

you you guys both now are full time entrepreneurs, how did he plan it? What was it build up to then now leave the job his job and that security so that you can do this like Did you know save up X amount months of expenses did what did you put in place financially to make that happen?

Jessica 19:56

Yeah, so So when he was starting It feels like okay, work is shifting. I'm not that excited about anymore. So what we did was we actually like, closed off the tap of the money that was going into his 401k and instead redirected that money into the emergency savings. Because we knew that when he made the transition to entrepreneurship, that it was going to be like a sabbatical, right. So he would be exploring things, testing things out recovering from burnout. And we wanted there to be like no expectation that he needed to, like generate any income in that first year, because he had been working, you know, at the same company working his way up for 10 years without a break. And so really, really needed that time. And so we did end up saving a buffer of about a year's worth of expenses, that would give us the feeling of freedom or this comfort level to allow him to not work or not generate income over the course of the year. And the income for me that I was generating, as in the business was almost covering all of our expenses, right, so covering it, but like not healthcare, if that makes sense. It was like it was like close. And so we knew that, expecting that to grow over time, as well. But we knew that we would likely be using right some of that runway over the course of the year. And we did and that's a hard thing to do is like save a runway and then actually use it. And we certainly had our freakout moments of like, Oh, we're taking more money out of savings. I really like Tran Jen's you know, moving Mike money from savings to checking and, you know, working through the, the feelings and like the fears of scarcity and needing to sort of continually remind ourselves that like, this is what we saved the money for. We want to keep moving forward with the plan as we have it, we don't need to start freaking out and he doesn't need to go and find a new job tomorrow. This is what we saved for. And we're going to choose a particular day where we're going to reassess things, right and decide, Okay, do we need to adjust our plans? Versus having that feeling always of constantly thinking like, do we should we should we adjust? You know, sort of that that frantic feeling. So that was important for us to is to really put a timeline in place to say, when are we going to readjust this. So we didn't have you know, those feelings of fear and scarcity at the forefront all the time?

Jamila Souffrant 22:59

I relate to that totally. Because I felt that when I quit my job, and you know, this is the money, we saved it for this because we knew that my husband's income couldn't cover everything. So we would be taking from it every month. But as it dwindles, you know, you start to wonder, Am I making the right decision. It's always so interesting with money, that when we really use it for its purposes, right, paying for our living expenses, and the joy we want, we want to have, or saving us from something like an emergency. We're using it for its intended purposes, like we're supposed to use it in this way. But it always it doesn't always feel good. But I do like this tip. And I think this can apply to anyone where no matter where you on your journey is that you can go back and readjust a plan. So sometimes I'll worry about things that I cannot change in the moment or it's already set in motion. And instead of like ruining my whole day about it, it's kind of like think about that in four hours when it when you can, why better your whole day worrying about it when you can't really change it. Let's reassess them. So I think that's a great point for anyone is that if you have the systems or the money in place to help you to set a date or a time in the future, to sit down and adjust when you need to, instead of worrying and the whole time and then not enjoying anything you're doing.

Jessica 24:17

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I feel like I have this mantra that I've created that whenever I get into that, that like sort of scarcity mindset or those feelings, that I just try to remind myself like you are a resourceful problem solver. How often have you gotten into situations where like, stuff is out of control? And I have figured it out? Right? And I feel like we all have evidence that when things weren't going the way that we wanted them to in the past. We figured it out. And we've adjusted and we've you know, we're resourceful problem solvers. And so that's also a thing that I remember I myself that's like, Okay, we're gonna look at this again in May. And until then, I am a resourceful problem solver.

Jamila Souffrant 25:07

Yeah, well, and I think that even comes up as an entrepreneur, if you haven't built out like this consistent revenue source that's reoccurring. And so even for myself, I always try to buffer in like six months to a year of my salary. And even with that, I'm always thinking ahead, like, okay, even though I'm good for a year, even if I don't make any money, what about next year? And so that's where I'd be like, Okay, you will, you will deal with that. Next year, obviously, I'll deal with it before then. But that kind of thinking that can get us into almost over saving, or not utilizing our time and money in the way that serves us, I think it's really important to check in with yourself. But for you as an entrepreneur, did you feel or do you feel the pressure of I need to earn money or make money in the business? And how does that feel differently even with your partner, than when okay, I was gonna get a Garmin teen check. And now it's like, it's us on our own? We have to make money.

Jessica 26:02

Yeah, yeah. So it's interesting, because for like, a few years, I was like, Great, I'm an entrepreneur, I want you to quit your job. So that we can, like, go off in our campervan, and have all these adventures, right. And that and I knew like, okay, when the, like, you know, for the first few years of my business, it was like, I want to generate income, but do I need to less so right. And so I knew that when that came when he quit his job, and it did actually matter, that that was going to cause some stress and anxiety. And so I really tried to like, I had a goal of really working on my mindset over the course of the last year, those scarcity, mindset, flare ups, and the fear did come around more often. And so it was really important for me to have the strategies to be able to identify the fears, to be able to work through them, have my mantras of like, I am a resourceful problem solver. And I will figure this out, and have a community of people around me to be able to support me through that process. So being able to have, you know, just open frank conversations about it with my spouse, even when we were both feeling like, wow, right, what are we doing, we made a terrible choice, right. And then we would turn that around or whether that be, you know, in therapy or with in a mastermind with other entrepreneurs, I definitely feel like it was vital to have that support from other people during the transition. Because if I were just in my own head, right, trying to work through that, that would be a very fast downward spiral. That would be hard to get out of. Yeah, so that's, I think it's so incredibly important to have a community of people surrounding you as you're making any sort of big transition.

Ad 28:14

Jamila here, host of this podcast and author of the book your journey to financial freedom, a step by step guide to achieving wealth and happiness. Just a few years ago, I was in a job I didn't like with a long commute. feeling stuck, I knew there had to be a different better way. Then I found the pathway to financial freedom and financial independence. Today, I have more money, options and freedom than I ever thought was possible. And in my book, Your journey to financial freedom. I'll show you how you can achieve that too. You will learn how to spend and save responsibly, all while enjoying that spicy Margarita and extra side of guacamole. To determine where you are on the journey and evaluate your spending and saving goals accordingly. Quit your job, retire early, or reach financial independence. My book your journey to financial freedom a step by step guide to achieving wealth and happiness is out now and available on Amazon bookshop.org, Barnes and Noble and more, you can leave and listen to the audiobook narrated by me. Go to your journey to financial freedom.com to get a free bonus when you order the book and see all the places to buy it. Once again go to your journey to financial freedom.com

Jamila Souffrant 29:28

I didn't actually this in the beginning, but I think it might be helpful to just understand where you are on the spending scale. Because oftentimes, you know you'll hear someone's story and Okay, both partners quit. They travel in the van and it's like wow, that seems cool. And you're like wait, but how much do they spend because I have like walk lifestyle levels and you hear about this in different talks in the fire movement. It could be like lean fire or fat fire quote unquote where it's like you spend a certain amount if you're super frugal, then it looks different for someone who actually wants to spend and more money. So for you, where are you on that spending scale? And if you want to talk about, for me, I have kids. So that changing, we live in New York City. So that changes what our expenses look like. So for you, what does that look like in terms of your expenses?

Jessica 30:14

Yeah. So we're dual income, no kids, and living in a high cost of living area. In Boston, I actually really love your Glock levels. And I was looking at them. And I would say, we're like we're squarely at, and happy at Glock level three.

Jamila Souffrant 30:35


Jessica 30:36

So what does that mean, right, we live in a smaller home than we can afford. We have one car, right. In addition to our van, which we now have, right, we have one paid off car that's older, we do most of our cooking at home, although we will, you know, go out periodically. And most of the things that we like to do, are free, we do a lot of hiking, we like to do a lot of things outdoors. You know, we spent three and a half months last summer over, like traveling in our camper van. For like everything travel related. I think we spent about $10,000 on like a three and a half month vacation, which is like, I think we started out this conversation by saying like, I didn't want to be super frugal. But I think in practice, like we've ended up in a place where we're really happy to spend less, right, we're not I don't feel like we're depriving ourselves. And we're not saying like, Oh, no, our friends invited us out to dinner. And we have to say no, because we don't, because we don't want to spend the money. But the kinds of things that we're doing just are like, tending to cost less. And I have this also thought around the trade offs as well. But it's like, I could, you know, do these things and spend more, but like, I only want to do that if I'm generating the income with ease. And the trade off to like spend more money wouldn't feel worth it to me, unless I easily generating the income that would needed would be needed to do that. Does that make sense? That

Jamila Souffrant 32:31

It does. And I think it's really important to reflect in that way on how much you spend and the trade offs. And if it's an alignment and so for anyone who may be just started listening or didn't read the book yet, but in gwoc levels, I talked about this five levels. So cuaca, level one walk level 234 And five, one is the most frugal, and you would never buy guacamole out side, you'd make guacamole you make your guacamole at home, and guac. Level five is the most extravagant. You have a Glock factory, you have a Glock shaft that comes in to make Glock whatever that looks like. And if you don't like walk, replace it with something else. And so what Jessica is talking about is kind of being in that middle. And I say in the book that some people are living like a loric walk lifestyle level to get to a certain point. It's not like it's something they naturally desire or like so they may say, Okay, I have to sacrifice and do Kwok level one and two, until I get out of debt, or until I'm able to quit my job. But I really desire o'clock level three, or four or even five, which by the way, there's no wrong walk level. And then I feel like you though, have reached this beautiful place of alignment where the clock level you're living is the one that is sustainable, and that you actually would live if you reach financial independence like this, there's not a disconnected gap. And so if you are living in or just kind of sacrificing to live a walk level so you can reach your financial goals. There's nothing wrong with that. Because I often say if you're at the beginning stages, then you need some more sacrifice in those beginning stages to get out of it. But that the reason why it may be so hard to reach some of your goals is that you're not realistic with what you truly want. But as long as you understand so the person who wants to let that walk level four or five, like I hear celebrities and people who have a lot of money say you know I'm making all this money but I can't enjoy it because I have all these things I have to buy but it's just like, as long as you understand though, that that's still you know, a choice like the trade off of your you working hard to be able to afford that jet is this is what that cost versus someone waking up and saying, You know what, I no longer want to work that hard to afford that jet. So I will do something differently and go down. I just think that if we thought more like that, then we can make more conscious decisions about what our day to day lives look like.

Jessica 34:46

Yeah, and I think like it's interesting because I also feel like it's like not necessarily that across the board to like, on average, maybe we're Glock level three.

Jamila Souffrant 34:56


Jessica 34:56

but I love like what roommate set these About like spend extravagantly on the things that you love. And mercifully cut costs on the things that you don't write, like, we spent $150,000 on this, like luxury camper van that we're going to travel around the country in for like the next 15 years. And that was totally worth it to us. And in some ways, like that was a walk level five decision, you know, but I cut my husband's hair, he cuts my hair, I do not care about going to a salon. Right to to do that, like, and that's we've just always done that. You know, and so that's like a Glock level one decision, right? And so like some of these decisions on on average, you know, like, average out to probably be Glock level three. But it's also knowing like, I'm gonna, I'm not gonna spend money on the things that I don't care about and that aren't adding value to my life so that I can spend extravagantly on the things that I do really love.

Jamila Souffrant 36:02

Yeah, that's a good point. You can have different Glock levels, depending on your know your preference and what you want. And let's get back to the campervan. So you have to send me pictures. So I can post along with the with this blog post. But you spent you said 150,000. So was that all cash? Or did you finance it? What what did that process look like in being able to do that?

Jessica 36:23

Yeah, so we ended up paying cash for it. So interestingly enough, we were thinking, you know, before the pandemic hit, we did a refinance of our house, and we did a cash out refinance, because we were thinking about investing in real estate, to, you know, shorten our timeline to reach fi, and then the pandemic hit, and we were sort of like, oh, like, we aren't really sure we want to do this. And so we did have some cash just waiting to be used. And then we were able to cash flow it the rest of it by saying, we're going to reduce the amount of money that we have going towards savings and investments for the like, it was over the course of a two year period of time. And so we, you know, would basically shut off the tap going to this place and turn, you know, and redirected the water elsewhere. And so we were able to, to buy that and build that out with cash

Jamila Souffrant 37:27

Talk to me a little bit about financial freedom. So what for you? Is the definition of financial freedom versus financial independence? And how are you using it now, on your journey?

Jessica 37:43

Yeah, so I think of, I would say financial independence in probably the more technical sense, where financial independence is the point at which you no longer need to generate active income, because your passive income will cover the costs of your lifestyle. I think of financial freedom as a much larger umbrella concept, that every single dollar we save every single dollar of debt we pay off, right? Every single dollar we invest provides us with a little bit more financial freedom that we can use to make our lives better, and design the lives that we want. There's a few different stages on your path between, you know, getting started and full financial independence that unlock really new and unique lifestyle designs. The first stage I think about is debt payoff, right. So every time we pay off a debt, it lowers our expenses. Right. And when we have lower expenses, there's a couple things we can do with that we can either one send more money, more money to savings and investing, and or we could choose to generate a lower income, right or a combination of the two. And if we can generate a lower income, then we have some more options to say, Do I want to work in a different job, even if it pays me a little bit less? Or I'm in this like, pretty toxic job now can I take a little bit of time off between to you know, find something that would be better? Or to negotiate some flexibility, right? So I feel like that, that freedom that comes and empowerment that comes as we're paying down that debt can provide us with the ability to do a lot of things to design our lives. Then the next stage I think of as like fu money, which is like your emergency fund plus, right. So what what is that money that you have that's pretty easily accessible, whether that be in savings or you know, some sort of liquid investment account that would allow you to either get out of a bad situation or take advantage of an opportunity. And so for me, I used fu money back in 2018, when I was in a toxic job, and I started having severe anxiety and panic attacks, and use fu money to take a six month career break. So to quit that job, and then, you know, find something better after I recovered. And then also, I would say, we thought of fu money, like the fu money is sort of the reserve that we used for my husband to quit his job, and then build up the income streams and you know, the business that he wanted to run to. So that was an example of using fu money to take advantage of an opportunity versus to get out of a bad situation. So I think of that as like, the second stage is like you have this fu money that can allow you to take a sabbatical or a mini retirement or start a business and have your runway in place. And then I think of the third level as Coast financial independence. So that's the point where, as we talked about, you no longer need to save or invest another dollar for your traditional retirement. So you know, if you're saving 20% of your income 30% 40% of your income. Imagine, you don't need to save that anymore, like how much less income could you decide to generate? And how much more freedom that could that give you in the amount of time that you have to do other things. So that's how I think about financial freedom is that it's, it's, it's very incremental, it builds over time and can provide you with more options over time.

Jamila Souffrant 41:55

Yeah, you can obtain it on the way to financial independence, you don't have to wait. And your your stages, just the way you break it down is very similar to how I break it down, I have five, but it definitely hits on your points. And so we are definitely coast, FYI. But I still want to achieve early retirement and financial independence. And so, you know, I definitely have slowed down on the way I look at saving and investing. But we still save and invest. Because even though my goal was to do it by 40 years old, which you know, that's that didn't happen to reach financial independence, I'm like, I still can reach it by complete financial independence by you maybe in five or 10 years. I think it's interesting, because I when you were talking, I'm like, okay, so if we like stopped investing all the money that we're investing now, that would require less, you know, of us, that we need to generate income, and we could even be more comfortable. And then I think, though, back to where we currently are in the stage of our life, the ages of our kids, and the fact that we do enjoy a typical, like walk three, four lifestyle. And so there is this back and forth, that I am constantly thinking about, and we are thinking about as a family. But I don't think that I think for people who also experienced this, that you you can change your mind. And it depends on the stage of life you're in and everyone's situation is different. So it's okay, if you know, in this stage, you decide that okay, I'm spending more now or I'm working more now for this reason, because in a couple years or months, or whatever that looks like that, that more than likely will change.

Jessica 43:31

I love that point. Because I think sometimes people think like, oh, I don't want to make this decision, because I'm making a forever decision. You know, whereas like, it can be a short term decision. Like I actually have a friend. So he used to run the platform and the podcast, the Coast fi guy. And like, his story was awesome. He had two young kids and had scaled back to do seasonal tax prep work and some some freelance work, just to just cover their expenses. And then once the kids got a little bit older, he was like, Oh, I'm ready to like, go back into the workforce and learn some new things. And we're not making a forever decision, necessarily, right? We always get to have that moment where we get to assess and adjust and decide if this is the path that we still want to be on. Or do we want to shift it?

Jamila Souffrant 44:31

And there's no wrong decision, either. I think the beauty about being on the, on the path is that it's who you become, you know, it's the tools you pick up. It's the resources you gain in the community that you find that then allow you to hopefully even if you are insecure about certain things, or you don't know, right, like we don't I don't know everything. I'm the first to admit that you know, sometimes I'm just like, I don't know yet, but having that confidence based on what has happened in the past and what I know to be true about myself is that it's something I can deal with whatever that is, no matter what happens.

Jessica 45:07

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And it brings me back to this thing that I just continually tell myself like, I'm a resourceful problem solver. Like, if life changes, if I decide I want something different, no matter what happens, like, I will one, like, be aware of that and honor that. And I will figure out a solution. Will it be easy? Not necessarily. But will I find some sort of solution? And like, get to a place that where it works? Yes, I feel confident in that.

Jamila Souffrant 45:43

Just to say, you know, someone's listening, and whether they're just starting, or maybe they're a little bit further ahead, what are some actionable tips or advice that you would give them, whether that is geared toward finding out what they want in life to know, okay, here's what I'm retiring or wanting to reach financial independence for? Maybe it's a financial thing or strategy they should start to do in order to put themselves in this position to have options and more choices.

Jessica 46:13

I think that the first thing that I would say is that it's really important to figure out what you actually want, and what your values are. I think of often, Julian KEARSON Saunders, in their book, cashing out, like they're like, give your money a job. But you need to know like, what that job is like it could be early retirement. Or maybe the reason why you want to retire early is so you can move to Colorado and ski all the time. Like, is there a way that you could move to Colorado and ski a lot earlier than reaching fi? I would say, starting to figure out like, what is that North Star for you? And then asking, like, what's actually required to do this, I think is a really important first step. Because I think there are so many people that, you know, I'm thinking of an example of someone recently who felt like he had to reach fi before he could request to work part time at the job that he liked. And then sort of realizing through the process, it's like, oh, I don't necessarily actually need to be fully financially independent to do that. I think sometimes we think of this type thing as all or nothing. And so figuring out what we want and asking, really digging deep to say like what would actually be required to do this is a really good first step, expanding

Jamila Souffrant 47:43

what you think is possible, because I think it's also good that you don't know everything. And there might be something you think you want to do, or a life you want to live. And you're just like, oh, I can't do that. And there's someone who is doing it, who may not have as much money or resources, or smarts and they're doing it. Right now. It is just a matter of figuring out how to create that life for yourself. Jessica, this was amazing. This conversation, please tell me more about what's going on with you right now. And where we can find out more about you.

Jessica 48:17

Yeah, so people can find me on my website, which is the pioneers. In the last year, we actually also started a YouTube channel. And so people can find us at youtube.com/at pioneers. And then a couple other things that are going on. So we ran our first slo fi focused retreat in 2023, which was a blast out in Colorado, and then we're running one this year up in New Hampshire. So for people who are interested in designing the life that they want along the path to phi. And then I also do some individual and group coaching programs to help people dive deep and figure out what it is that they really want. So that you can then figure out how to experiment and start making that possible in your life. And then personally, a couple of things that we're focusing on. So we are taking a four month trip and our van from April to August this year, which we're excited about. And then I think the next frontier for us is figuring out how we can better make home a destination of choice.

Jamila Souffrant 49:32

I love that. So you mean like making your home somewhere where you want to be all the time.

Jessica 49:38

Yeah, yeah. So So I think we often feel like we want to get out of Boston, but what would it feel like to live in a place where that felt like a destination of choice like somewhere that we're really excited to be and get to do you know the things that we want to on like a daily basis versus, you know, in Boston feeling like we got it drove two hours to go. Do like a nice hike.

Jamila Souffrant 50:03

Yeah. Yeah. I love that. It's kind of like how do you make your life a daily vacation or experience that, like, you know, you're not waiting to experience joy in six months or a year? It's like every day, how do you make this something where you're like, I love my life, right? Like, how can you incorporate something like that. So I'm looking forward to seeing that and maybe having you back on the show in a couple years or sooner to talk about what your life looks like. But thank you so much for coming back on the show, wishing you much success on your journey, Jessica.

Jessica 50:35

Thanks so much for having me. This was a blast.

Outro 50:41

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this. And you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to launch.com/jumpstart. 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 and Apple podcasts, rate review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review number to follow me on my social media accounts. I'm at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with journeys. They're 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 for 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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