Overcoming Poverty, Divorce, and Achieving FIRE with an Over $1 Million Portfolio w/ Jackie Cummings Koski

Episode Number: 373

Episode 373: Overcoming Poverty, Divorce, and Achieving FIRE with an Over $1 Million Portfolio w/ Jackie Cummings Koski

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Overcoming Poverty, Divorce, and Achieving FIRE with an Over $1 Million Portfolio w/ Jackie Cummings Koski

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This week on the Journey to Launch Podcast, we have Jackie Cummings Koski, author of the award winning book “Money Letters 2 my Daughter” and her new book, “F.I.R.E. for Dummies”. Jackie overcame poverty, divorce and single motherhood and despite having a late start and making less than six figures, she reached Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) at age 49 in 2019 when she officially retired from her corporate job with a net worth of over $1 million. Jackie shares with us the importance of mindset and reframing attitudes towards money, strategies for managing retirement finances, & how you too can reach financial freedom even if you are starting later in life

In This Episode you’ll learn: 

  • How Jackie used the 25x rule to get her FI number, and what financial habits helped her reach FI in 10 years, despite being in a difficult financial situation after her divorce. 
  • How shifting your mindset from saving for retirement to investing for financial independence, can make it exciting to save and invest.
  • Why she initially struggled with the emotional aspect of withdrawing money from her investment accounts in early retirement, and how her net worth increased to 2.8 million by 2024, even after making withdrawals 
  • Example of retirement planning strategies for early retirees, including Social Security benefits and tax-free withdrawals 
  • How Jackie’s daughter has been her biggest cheerleader and how her views on work and retirement differ from Jackie’s as she is part of a different generation, Gen Z. 

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Hey, hey, hey journeyers Welcome to the journey to launch podcast, I have a special guest. I feel like you're special to me, Jackie, because this is the third time you've been on the show. But let me give just a recap. So after overcoming poverty, divorce and single motherhood, Jackie still reached financial independence and retired early in her 40s, making less than six figures. Even with a late start. She officially retired from her corporate job in 2019 at the age of 49, with a net worth of over a million dollars. She is also the author of the award winning book money letters to my daughter and she just released her new book fire for dummies. She holds her certificate financial planner and accredited financial counselor credentials and earn her master's degree in financial planning and financial therapy from Kansas State University. Just for reference, Jackie was previously on episode 40 of the podcast. So way back when in 2018, where she talked all about HSAs. So I get some questions about what to HSA, which is a health savings account. I always point people to that episode, because that's how I first heard about you, Jackie, I think we're in a Facebook group. And you talked about how much money in a comment you mentioned how much money you had saved and invested in the HSA. And I was like, what is that I need to share that with my audience. So you came on episode 40 of the podcast, and shared about that powerful investment and retirement account. And then Jackie came back on episode 150 In April of 2020. So this is like right, as the pandemic is happening to talk about how she retired right before the pandemic and how she was still able to withstand and survive through that market turmoil. So I definitely recommend to check those episodes out. But I want to welcome you back on the podcast, Jackie, because there has been so much going on since you last appeared. And I just want to catch up. So welcome. Yeah, Jamila,

Jackie Cummings Koski 3:30

thank you so much for having me. I feel like we're just old pals getting back together. Honestly, the first time I appeared on your podcast, I was still working, talking about the HSA. And that was one of the very first podcast I'd ever done. You invited me on and you made me feel really special. I'm like, Oh, I know, something that everybody else might want to know. So I appreciate that girl that meant a lot to me. Yeah,

Jamila Souffrant 3:55

you know, I always find like the guests from back then like, I have a special just connection to because that was when I first started the podcast. You know, at that point, I felt just more excited. Not that I'm not excited now with the podcast. But it was newer. And it was like fresh conversations around these topics that I was learning about. And that I was excited to introduce my audience to. And then I was a lot more online in like Facebook groups and in the know, more than I am now. And so I'd see like just regular people making comments about what they were doing. And that's how I found out about you just you were just commenting on something. I was like, You know what, like, I would love to have her on the show. So I think that's pretty cool that I was one of the first podcast you're on and you've done so much since then. So I don't want to go too much into it. But I do think just for people who've never heard your story or the podcast I previously mentioned, to talk to us a little bit about your journey to financial independence and reaching it if you can kind of give us a you know, a few paragraphs or sentences of that. Yeah.

Jackie Cummings Koski 4:54

So for me the short version. You know, I grew up in poverty. That's all I really knew growing up I was raised by a single dad with six kids who was amazing. I don't even know how he did it. But he did. And right after I graduated from high school, my dad had passed away about three months before I graduated from high school. So I was kind of on my own at that point, but went to college managed to graduate from college, even though I pretty much work, you know, full time the whole time, ended up getting married, having my daughter, and then after about 12 years, I ended up getting a divorce. And that was my big wake up call. When we were looking at the retirement accounts, there was a huge disparity. He had $120,000, in his 401k. And I had 20,000. And I'm in my mid 30s. So there was $100,000 disparity. And after you know, emotionally, you know, getting through the divorce and all the anxiety and the stress that that presents, a couple years later, I finally woke up and said, Hey, I need to do something different. I want to make sure that I'm never thrust in the property. Again, I want to make sure my daughter is okay. And so now what I thought was a shared journey was not a solo project with my daughter in tow. And that's what I pulled things together and started digging into all kinds of things, including finding fire financial independence, retire early, I felt like that was the first people that were making it very, very simple so that anyone could do it. And you know, I can do math 25 times your expenses. So once I kind of heard about fire, it just opened my eyes and made me start doing running my numbers doing my net worth doing my fire number and I finally saw that it was possible. And I started refining things to plan my exit from my corporate job. Even before I left my corporate job, I was very much into financial literacy, financial education, pulling double duty. And finally, I found a way to be able to retire early to be able to focus on what I really love to do. And that's like, my big goal was creating a financially literate society. So that's a nutshell.

Jamila Souffrant 7:02

Wow. Okay. So I want to understand so you discovered it in your 30s financial independence? Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 7:09

um, I was probably my early 40s. I woke up with my finances before fire. I was 38. Before I did my first net worth statement, and that was after my divorce. I found fire right around 2014 2015. And I might have been in my early 30s. At that point, my math is not so great. Your early 40s.

Jamila Souffrant 7:30

Okay, got my early 40s. Yeah, early 40s. Okay, so it sounds like from the time that you woke up with your finances, so kind of pre fire, which is fine. I think that actually is a great ramp into the financial independence world is just basic personal finance knowledge. How long would you say it took you from waking up and getting more educated and serious about your finances until you were able to retire early? What was that timeframe,

Jackie Cummings Koski 7:56

it took about 10 years to reach my financial independence number. So I would say my starting point was right at 38. And I started tracking my numbers and my net worth and all of that. And I reached that 25 times my expenses when I was around 4647. But I hung on to my job and continued working a couple more years, because just mentally, I wasn't quite ready to step away. So I officially retired at 49. Okay, so

Jamila Souffrant 8:22

Jackie is referencing the 25 times rule that we both talked about in our books, where and just in general, this is a concept where you could figure out your financial independence number, you multiply your expenses, by 25, your annual expenses to get this what we call FY number. And that's where at the point in which you can draw down on that portfolio and, quote, unquote, not run out of money. But there's more details of that. But once you just mentioned that someone was wondering what that was,

Jackie Cummings Koski 8:49

yeah, so the 25 times your expenses, and those are your expected expenses in retirement, because that could look a little different. Let's say if you had a mortgage and you paid your mortgage off, or it might be more, because you expect to do a whole lot more than you were doing before you retire. And then on the back end, if you want to use this at least as a reference point, that 4% rule where you can take out 4%, annually adjusted for inflation, and your money should last you to the rest of your life. Now there's a few more nuances. And so people think it should be three, three and a half or whatever, but you got to start somewhere. And that would be your starting point. And there's all kinds of things like you know, if you're still make maybe doing passion projects, and bringing in a little bit of income, that means you don't need to withdraw from your portfolio as much, then you know, a lot of people don't think so security will be there. It'll be there in some form. So that's the backstop and your older years, you know, even though we've retired early people retiring 30s 40s, but still, you got to live in your 60s, you got to live in your 70s your 80s. So So security is that little backstop to say Okay, once that's turned on, I don't have to withdraw from my portfolio as much. So there's a lot of little adjustments that you make. I want

Jamila Souffrant 9:59

to talk about just that 10 years, and then we'll kind of get to more recent activities just because I just know someone is listening who's at the earliest start of their journey or who wants to start and 10 years doesn't seem that bad, right? Like, wow, that's a doable timeframe, I can sustain a 10 year journey. Where were you at the start of that, in terms of how far off you were from the Fit number. So I understand that after your divorce, you didn't have that much. But for a lot of people, they're like in a lot of debt, or their number. When they calculate that FYI number, it's very high because of the expenses of the lifestyle they want to live. And so it takes them maybe longer. So for you, what was your starting point? And then how did you get that done in 10 years? Was it because you didn't really expect to spend a lot, or you had a great income? Let's kind of dig in that. Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 10:42

I mean, I feel like all of those moving parts are so important to me Look, because for me, I lived in a lower cost of living area, because when I talk to people in New York and California, they're like, would your mortgage was a level 100. So I live in a lower cost of living area, but this is where I was. So that was kind of a superpower. Because somebody that lives in New York, they could be paying $3,000 a month, their numbers are gonna look different. You got to have all the pieces together for your life. So for me, I was not the best budgeter. Okay, I know that was like my weakness. So I sort of did the backwards budget, I was a much better saver and investor. So the way I figured out how much I spent or what my expenses were, I backed into it by saying, Okay, how much albums am I saving? How much is going to taxes, and then whatever's left, that's what I live off of. And that's how it came to roughly 40 to 45,000. So I was doing it comfortably, because a lot of people will ask me, Well, what did you cut out? What did you do different. And I really didn't do much of anything different, because I just wanted to see what that number was, I didn't go back and say, Oh, that's way too much. I need to cut this, this and that. And another really big piece Jamila is your debt load. So even though I grew up in poverty, I learned a lot of good financial habits from my dad, and he was debt averse. And so when I was going through college, I just did what he taught me to do. And that was work hard. So I was freaking working two jobs 50 plus hours a week, trying to get through college pay my way through. And it might have been smarter for me at that moment to take student loans, because I almost flunked out of college. And I don't know that I did it the smartest way. But I got to college with very little debt. I think by the time I was a senior, I did take a little bit of loans. So I didn't have crazy student loans. I didn't have high credit card debt, I didn't have a really big mortgage or big car payment, those things alone could add up to a lot. So I didn't really acknowledge this is still as to until I started reflecting to say, maybe that's what helped me be able to live off of 40 to $45,000 a year, because I didn't have a whole lot of debt. I didn't have the student loans. I live in a lower cost of living area where my house housing one of the biggest expenses was relatively low. So all of those things, as far as my income, I was making roughly about $80,000 a year. And so I was saving about 40% of my income. But I was doing that comfortably. And honestly, this was a big turning point for me, when I used to contribute to my 401k when I was really young, and I was at least during the match, and I think I got to 10%. So at least I saved something. So I didn't start at zero. But the money didn't feel like mine, I felt like it was something way off because it was considered a retirement account, you couldn't touch it until you were 60. And I just didn't even count it as my money. So mindset shift was from saving and investing for financial independence. That's only 10 years away. It just reframed everything. For me. It's like, oh, wow, you know, I can start living really good off at this money. This is my money that I'm saving for my wealth. When I change my thinking about that it became a lot more exciting to save and invest this money.

Jamila Souffrant 13:57

Okay, I love that the mindset, I mean, it's a big piece of being able to attempt this and withstand all the ups and downs that come with the journey. So you reached financial independence or able to quit your corporate job in about 10 years. And that's when you kind of came out you came on the show again after that to share your experience of quitting your corporate job. So now I feel like let's talk about what you were planning to do after reaching independence. Because I think for so many of us, we're thinking about, okay, when I have enough money of what my amount is, you know, is the true goal or what what do I actually want to do? Do I not want to work ever again, some people choose that and they live more of a life of leisure, or what I see happen is that you actually still work but now you're choosing what you do for work. It becomes more flexible, it's optional, and you are still earning money. So for you What did you envision that you do? And then let's talk about what you ended up doing. Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 14:52

boy, those things change really fast. I can tell you that so so my goal, I was already doing financial literacy and financial education. ation and getting so much gratification from it. But I was doing double duty, I was working full time and I was doing that. And when I saw that it was possible for me to just focus on the thing that I loved the most, that really pulled me in and away from working. So once I did that, I just thought I would teach people about financial literacy and education. A lot of high schoolers, a lot of young people share my journey openly without worried about, you know, I never talked about financial independence retire early when I was working out of respect for my employer, so I didn't have to worry about that anymore. And one of the things that came a little bit later on or right before I started to tie I decided, you know, I hate it I did so poorly in college and undergrad, and I wanted to go back to school, right? And I said, Okay, I don't want to get my MBA, I don't want some boring classes going to start looking at a description. I'm like, Oh my God, that will put me to sleep. So I found this amazing program that I fell in love with called financial therapy at Kansas State. So I'm like, Oh, I would love to do that. So that was my first big endeavor afterwards. And honestly, that's all I wanted to do. Like, when I looked at it, basically, that was the first tent first time in my life where I didn't have to work and go to school at the same time. So even though it was 30 years later, it really felt good. I was immersed in my program. And you know, my fellow classmates, my professors, it was a really good experience. But as I'm doing this, obviously, there's all this new stuff coming at me. And I ended up in order to get your master's at Kansas State, there was this piece of the six classes that were that would fulfill the education part to sit for the CFP and I'm like, I'm not sitting for the CFP, you know, I'm just taking this because it's with my financial therapy program. And somewhere down the line, I changed my mind about taking the exam and going down that road, I never thought I would get the experience hours, but I did. So getting the CFP wasn't a part of the plan. Working with some of the amazing people, I get to work with content creators, other people in the financial education space, I think about the people that I've been able to be in the same spaces with, and the new friends I've been able to make since I retired, that makes my life so rich, because a lot of people will say, Oh, I wouldn't have any friends if I left my job. Okay, so the friends that you meet at your job, that's kind of a default, and it's kind of curated for you. But I say I would have missed out on meeting all these other amazing people I met since I retired. I mean everybody from my professor to you to all the amazing people that's going after the same thing trying to educate people about their money, and personal finance.

Jamila Souffrant 17:40

And during this time, so being at this point removed from the traditional workforce, introduced to the audience how you were paying for your expenses, was this now like a true endeavor of financial independence where you were drawing down in your portfolio or your savings? Or were you living off of some earned income? Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 17:57

so I wasn't as smart as some people like you. So I was drawing off a line that says I wasn't making a lot of money. And you know what, those first two years my main focus was school. So I was paying out money. So yes, I was withdrawing off of my portfolio, but it was mainly from my brokerage account, like I had already pegged the pots of money, I would, you know, start tapping early. And I did have roughly about $40,000 in mind. So that was a hard part. Because I'm like, How often do I pick the money? Yeah, what do I decide to pull from? So I had to figure all that stuff out myself, I don't get that, you know, regular automated paycheck in my bank account every two weeks. But yes, I was drawing off of my portfolio. I love

Jamila Souffrant 18:39

that I feel like that is my goal one day, or if I can avoid that, because I have passive income or income from what I'm building here to pay for expenses. But I think ultimately, that's what we tell people is the end goal is that, you know, you save up to have this number in your accounts between retirement and brokerage accounts and taxable accounts, you can touch, but very few people get to that point, and then are actually drawing down on that money to live, you know, usually, okay, I'm earning money, so I don't have to touch it, which is great. But I actually think like, it kind of shows that it does work. Like it is something that can be done. I guess the question would be if you did decide not to work again, and would that be sustainable for you to say okay, and, and emotionally too, I think what we forget, well for me, is that mathematically, you have this amount in your accounts, and it says you can draw it out because you did. You did the calculations, you did the rules, but emotionally as you were taking that out, is that something you feel like what you'd been okay with doing for the rest of your life where you would have felt like nervous about, you know what, I gotta get some more money.

Jackie Cummings Koski 19:44

Right? I, I had to get used to that. That was a very hard shift, taking money out of my accounts versus putting money in. I've gotten comfortable with it now. I typically will do it quarterly I don't want to do it annually, because you never know what the year is going to look like. And doing it monthly is I don't like to see my bank account down to $1,000. But I know my board, you know, so quarterly seemed to work for me. So you find your group. So I found my group. And there's like two main things that helped me mentally to feel better about this whole thing. And I'm still every day, I still say, I don't need to take certain projects, I don't need to work around people, I don't want to work around or whatever. And if I don't have a penny coming in, that's okay. My plan is to pull from my investment. If I don't have to, because I made some money this year, then domestic great, that's great. But worst case scenario is I pull for my investment. So two things that helped me feel better. The first one is that even with the 4% rule, trying to go by that it obviously fluctuates, and you don't know how each year is going to go I in 2022, we had a really rough year, even pass COVID We had a rough year, I lost 21% of my investable assets that year I tracked it, it didn't feel good. But 2023, the market bounced back 2024. It's fine. So when I retired in 2019, my net worth was 1.3 million. It went up a little bit, it went down in 2022. It bounced back. So today, I sit at about 2.8 million, so I have more money in my investable assets than I had when I retired, even though I've been withdrawing money. So I'm like, okay, that that feels pretty good. Because 2020 was scary. 2022 was scary. It's okay, I had a you know, there was a couple years where I did have some money coming in where I didn't have to withdraw 100% of what I need it from my, my investment accounts. And then the second one was I admittedly was overly pessimistic about Social Security. And I don't blame people for feeling that way. Because I did. And the reason is, because you hear a lot of talk about it not being there. And it's awful, I'm not even going to count on it or whatever. And I did not include it in my numbers at all. Okay. So when I finally retired, cleared the cobwebs in my head, I started digging into myself, because I was curious from a different perspective. Most people talking about security that talking to 60 year old. For me, I'm like, You know what, I want to see how this impacts an early retiree, someone that only worked 10 years or only worked 15 years, but 20 years, like does it blow the whole thing up. And frankly, it doesn't, all you need is 10 years, and more than likely, you'll qualify for about $1,000 a month for the rest of your life adjusted for inflation. And it's guaranteed by the federal government who can print money. So so as long as you have young people working, and they're paying that FICA line item that funds a portion of it, and that's going to always be there. So it won't look like it looks today, they will have to make changes. So I started thinking of that as my backstop in my older years. So even though we're retiring people retiring in their 30s 40s 50s, you still have to live in your 60s and your 70s and your 80s. And to know that social security will be there, even if it's only $1,000 a month. That means that 4% That you banked on, you don't need to necessarily take out that much. Because now you got this secure passive income from Social Security that you earn, by the way. Right.

Jamila Souffrant 23:20

So a question to now just for planning purposes. For someone thinking and wanting to retire early? The biggest question I get is How can I access that money if part of the strategy is putting it away and maxing out retirement accounts? But then also, you know, taxable accounts, too, that you can invest for you? What's that strategies? A lot of pulling down on your taxable accounts? And then what is your drawdown strategy in the future for when you can touch your retirement accounts?

Jackie Cummings Koski 23:46

Yeah, so my drawdown in these early years where I, you know, I'm still under 59 and a half, so I can't get to in the traditional ways, okay. So the brokerage account, no age limit attached. So those were my first pots of money plus, I had some employees stock that I had, but I had already pegged that as the first pots of money I would touch, the other ones would be, you know, have a really large health savings account. So for medical stuff, that gives me a peace of mind that if something happens with my health, I don't really have to worry about that. I'm able to cover deductibles max out of pocket, or mostly, you know, what I would need from my HSA that's completely tax free. So that particular piece scares a lot of people. So I got that covered. The rest, I look at my Roth IRA, because I've been contributing to a Roth for nearly 20 years. So I got a lot of contributions, and then I'm okay, drawing off of the contributions because that's completely tax and penalty free, you can take it out anytime just to contributions, not the growth. And then the other part. I think I may set up a little mini, what's called a 72 T. And that's just basically where you have to set up equal you can segment any part of your IRA to do this. Okay. head. But basically, the IRS has a provision where you can set up regular annual or monthly payments to yourself out of that IRA that you set up through the 72 T. And you do not have to pay the 10% penalty. I recently had a friend that did that. And he's like, yeah, it's way easier than everybody was saying that it was. And when I was digging into it, I'm like, it is kind of easy. But everybody was saying that it was complicated. And so now, I'm not scared of that. And I'll segment maybe an amount that it'd be cool to get like maybe an extra five to $10,000 a year out of my traditional IRA, that I don't, won't be penalized for, you have to keep that for five years, or until you turn 59 and a half. So there's there's several other ways that you can do that. But the big takeaway is that there's many ways to set this up. But this does take a lot of forethought, and planning to be able to make sure that it works for you.

Jamila Souffrant 26:01

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Jackie Cummings Koski 28:40

Yeah, I think that is really a hard line to draw. For me. Like when I retired, I tried to give myself sort of a whiteboard. And at the center of that whiteboard was financial literacy and education. So I felt lined up around that, I'm more likely to do it. Even if in the short term, it was hard, you know, like writing the book. Even in the short term, there was a few things I wasn't too crazy about doing. I'm thinking about the end game. So the money doesn't drive me like it used to because before I needed the money to pay my bills. Now I got my bills paid, I needed the money to make sure my daughter was okay I needed the money to make sure I can retire so I've met all those goals. And I guess you just have to kind of what is your enough? And I've gotten to that point where it's enough if I would have you know what if I stayed at my corporate job for five more years, I could have a net worth is double what it is right now. But I just said when was enough enough? The way I look at it I feel like I have I have recognized that I'm at enough my cup spill is over. So now I'm at the point to where I want to spread it to more people I'm at this point I'm in legacy building mode. So if I can build a legacy and that would be things like mentoring other women or other people sharing my knowledge as freely as I possibly can Being transparent, I'm trying to make room for myself or other people that I represent, you know, at the table, and just being able to make marks that matter to me. And the people that come behind me where hopefully they can say, oh, yeah, I remember she did that, or it somehow had an impact on something bigger than me.

Jamila Souffrant 30:24

One of the things that I know is very important to you, and as a fellow mom, myself is just fact that you are a mom. And so your daughter was a big like motivation, even your first book was dedicated to her. So I don't know like exactly like her age, if you don't want to share it, that's fine. But I know that for me, as a parent, they are a big part of planning and what I'm doing even with the workload, and especially the season of life, and the ages right now, what I'm allowed to do or what I can do, how did that fit into your journey? Did it also benefit you, I think she's a bit older, that she was older and maybe not as dependent, that it helps you then be able to have more choices to do more things. I would just love that as a perspective of a parent who may also be listening and is wondering how their kids fit into this. Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 31:07

that's been very interesting. So at the time that I got divorced, my daughter was nine. So she is in her late 20s. Now, which still sounds so unbelievable, instead of like, playing with dolls with her now, we're going out to drink martinis. So it's very different now that she's an adult, but you know, your kids are is such a cute age. I love the cute my my daughter's baby pictures, because those were such special ages. But I think now she's able to see through a different lens than she was when she was, let's say, a teenager, she's seeing the things that I'm doing what's important to me. And I was able to change the the narrative around money, and wealth versus poverty and things like that, like I never wanted my daughter's NO to NO property the way that I did. And so all of these things was to change that legacy to build a legacy for her, like for a good example is she learned a lot about investing from me, mainly because she was curious. And I was freely sharing all of that with her. Well, her longtime boyfriend, she taught him about investing, as you know, men typically, you know, think they know more about investing than women. But she's teaching him so I'm able to see and you'll be able to see this too, as they get older, the things that stuck, the things that didn't, and the things that she picked up on when she when I thought she wasn't listening. So it's kind of cool to be able to see all of that and to see how it's formed into who she is. She's not exactly like me, she's not into some of the financial stuff like I am, but she appreciates and values the fact that I do. I remember when I was close to, you know, firing, she was my biggest cheerleader, like, it felt so good. So she was basically an adult at the time, and to have your daughter to be your biggest cheerleader. Just meant so much like even my retirement dinner that I had, because I was at my company for 21 year. So they did you know, throw me this great party and everything. And, um, she came and she's a graphic designer, she made these cool candy bars that said, she's retiring. It's like, no, she's firing. And so she has these crazy ideas or whatever. But she was celebrating with me the whole time. And I'm glad that that got to be a part of growing up with her mom, because I'm not going to be here forever. You know, we're all going to, at some point be gone. So what legacy did you build? What memories did you build? When someone talks about you at your funeral? On one day, we're all going to have it? What do you want them to say? What do you want the thing for them to remember? And I know mine is financial literacy, financial education. And I think my daughter will say that I think my friends will say that the professionals that I've worked with, and that means something that means that's going to live on. I'm going to be gone one day, but that's going to live on.

Jamila Souffrant 34:07

Now. I'm just curious. So is she on the fire journey to sounded like she's not as interested but just I'm just like, how could she not be if she sees like your mom being able to retire early? Does she do that too?

Jackie Cummings Koski 34:18

Here's the thing, Jamila, so I guess so she's barely a millennial kind of Gen Z. Okay. Her thinking and a lot of her friends is completely different. The idea of working even till you're 40 is ridiculous. And the other thing is that their whole idea of working is very different. She would never ever apply for a job that wasn't remote. Okay, so she gets a lot of agency over her time already. And from day one, she's a graphic designer. From day one when she was working a job. She has always had her own LLC, her own book of clients and I'm learning from her on how to run a business. So it is only a matter of time to where she We'll be done with the day job. Already, it's almost half and half. So you know, she's barely out of her 20s. And she doesn't necessarily need to depend on that. Now she's starting to build, you know, wealth and everything. But what her working life looks like is so different. But the idea of like, you know, even your 50s or 60s, retirees He's like, he's like, No way. I wouldn't wait till that low turnout. So I've made it normal to retire in your 40s to her, but I feel like a lot of her friends that are her age, the whole thinking of work until you're in your 60s, a traditional job just doesn't even make sense.

Jamila Souffrant 35:38

Yeah, it's funny how the different generations view things and how things are more normalized. And even the pandemic switched around, like how we can have more just Remote Jobs and work from home and which provides more flexibility for a lot of people versus when I remember going to work every day commuting how hard that was. So alright, I'd love to get a little bit more into the book, can you tell me a bit more about it, I know that it's for beginners, correct.

Jackie Cummings Koski 36:07

It's for anyone that, regardless of where they're at in their financial journey period, is for people that don't even know what fire stands for. Even high schoolers could do this, I'm actually working with a few high school teachers, where they could follow this book, and be able to figure a lot of this financial stuff out. However, also, if you're on the journey already, or you're close to ending your journey, there's some really cool nuggets there. Because I really, you know, writing a book, you get to flesh out some things that you can't do on a one hour podcast, or that you can't do any YouTube video. So being able to reach so many different people with this book, is what I enjoyed doing because I went back and I thought about my early days, then I thought about my departure, then I talk about post retirement. So I've hit you know, every stage of financial independence, and the book covers that. So the way that it's written, each chapter actually stands alone, there might be certain ones that you need because it is hitting your face that you're currently in. And you can go to that chapter it'll cite to any anything that's talked about, that's flushed out somewhere else. It'll it'll have have a reference to it. But I would say this is for beginners, but it's also for people that may be already on the journey or more advanced and they want to fill in some gaps. Yeah, I

Jamila Souffrant 37:39

think you with your now education and breadth of experience, I love that you're just cuz your credentials from the psychology to the technical like CFP. I'm sure it's reflected in the book. So I think for like high level, maybe what seemingly complicated things, you probably most likely break those down. So we mentioned a couple things earlier, like the 70 to 80 to 25 times rule 4% rule, like all that, I'm assuming is covered in the book.

Jackie Cummings Koski 38:03

Yes, all of that is covered in the book. And the great part about the book is that Wiley, my publisher, they allowed me to choose a technical editor, to make sure that some of these technical things were reviewed by subject matter expert, and I ended up using a fire friend, a lot of people know him Cody Garrick. So he has a CFP. He's from the fire community, and I couldn't think of anyone else that would be better than him to do this. So he was the editor that looked at all of that stuff to make sure it was on point that it was making sense and all of that. So I appreciated having that because I know these things. I have my CFP, but you know, I'm not perfect either. But the readers deserve as much accuracy and up to date information as possible.

Jamila Souffrant 38:50

All right, talk to me a bit about the psychology and mindset behind this journey. Because we both know how important that is. But I know so many people want to jump into the action and the numbers and paying off debt, increasing income, but a lot of that starts from within and even believing you can do it and having that mindset. So anything you can share about that to help encourage someone who's looking to move forward.

Jackie Cummings Koski 39:15

Yeah. So Jamila, we know, one of the biggest questions is where do I start? And I used to always say, Well, you need to open up an investment account, or I immediately would jump into that, like you said, but as I was writing the book, you know, I had the big ideas of wealth building you know, really nothing new under the sun, you know, live on yet less than you earn and invest the difference. But then I started saying because I had to flesh out the Table of Contents. I'm like, Okay, so that's all the book needs to be and I started thinking I'm like, wait a minute, they need to work on their mindset and the psych psychology part because my financial therapy program, it really did a deep dive into that my main professor. She was a family and couples therapist by trade. And it was just so amazed. Having her I learned so much. And one of the biggest takeaways was that, you know, as a professional, we're not there to make people change. So if anybody's trying to make a change, it's not going to happen. We are there to help inspire change, we are there to allow them to talk, and share their feelings and thoughts around money without getting cut off without being judged, you know, given them the free space. So give yourself that free space to think about your money. If you feel certain ways about money that you might feel are negative, why is that? You know, so give yourself the grace to reach back, even think about your childhood and think about what experiences did you have to help form your opinions and your thoughts about money, just acknowledgement goes a long way. So the psychology part is huge. So I knew that I had to put that early in the book before you started hitting these things hard, then the next piece that I discovered was really critical is knowing where you're starting. So organizing your finances, you know, knowing your numbers, like doing your first net worth statement, pulling all these things together so that you can see, oh, these are the things I'm not so great at, that I need to work on. And these are the things that I have a superpower, and I'm doing really good. So then you kind of get a sense of where's the best place for you to start. And a lot of times it may be start with the thing that excites you the most. Because if you're kind of frozen, and you're having trouble just making that first step, if you do something fun, or something that you enjoy, like, for me, that was investing, I wanted to learn about the stock market, that probably wasn't the best place for most people to start. But all of this personal finance stuff is intertwined. So once I quench my thirst for learning about the stock market, then I backtrack, I'm like, well, I need to figure out my expenses. I need to be maxing out my 401 K and my Roth IRA and I learned about HSAs. So then only after that, can you really feel good about beginning that journey and knowing where to start? What's going to be most impactful. And where are your deficiencies that you want to work on that, you know, is a challenge. Sometimes you might have a sense of that, sometimes not. But when you finally look at your numbers, and figure out where you're starting, that's going to be the magic. Yeah,

Jamila Souffrant 42:24

like you said that like being interested and motivated, not because of what you think you should be doing or learning or excited about. But just you know, I would say I think I said this in my book, be honest, was what excites you? Or is your motivation. So if it is to maybe buy a car or a nicer thing, or take that nice vacation, it can be also what they call superficial or luxury items that is your motivator. And that might start out that way. And then we start running the numbers, you're like, well, hmm, getting this trade off. So that so it's not that I can't have it. But now I got to understand if I'm going to do this, this is what the extra things that may require of me. So I just I love that. Jackie, can you talk just a bit more about where people can find the book, it's needed, especially fire for Dummies, but tell people the name of it again, where they can get it and then follow you on your journey because I feel like you're far from done with your work in this world. Yeah,

Jackie Cummings Koski 43:19

all kinds of crazy stuff. So fire for Dummies is the name of the book. It's part of that iconic for Dummies brand that's put out by Wiley Publishing. You can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your independent bookstore or wherever books are sold. If you get the book, I'd love for you to take a picture shared on social media, pretty much on all the platforms. I'm at Jackie Cummings kowski. On Instagram, which is where I see a lot Jamila, my daughter came up with a really cool name. So my favorite poet is Maya Angelou and her iconic poem is fine. I'm on a woman. And so my daughter came up with my screen name of phenomenal woman spelled with an F i at the beginning. So I'm on Instagram, but you know, I am also corporate girl. So I do spend a lot of time on LinkedIn as well. I feel like I get the less trash on LinkedIn. But I'm there, please feel free to connect with me there. If you're on LinkedIn. And one of the other projects I'm working on, you can't time these things. I would rather not have them fall at the same time. But I just started co hosting a podcast called catching up to five because I myself was a late start. I started 38 And I was running running so hard that I ended up getting to my financial independence and retiring early like way sooner than I ever imagined because I was trying so hard to catch up. And this podcast is designed to help other people catch up because you can get behind for a lot of different reason. Maybe you know you're an immigrant that's coming to the country and you're starting late. Maybe you're a bit older and you're realized I haven't saved anything I have a ton of debt. Or maybe you know you have There's so many different reasons that people are starting late. So this podcast is kind of dedicated to you. A lot of people are my age, maybe a little bit younger, maybe a little bit older. But I think it's almost this lost generation. Like, I feel like everybody's talking to the baby boomers or they're talking to the millennials. Baby Boomers got money, the millennials are basically the bulk of the workforce. And we're in this middle trying to figure it out. So my co host on that is Dr. Bill Yan. He is an emergency room physician, which is crazy. And I always say when he's not saving lives at the hospital. He's podcasts are with me. Oh, I love that. Yeah, it's a lot of fun. And again, I'm doing it because I enjoy it. I totally love bill. I've known him for a long time. I don't even know what he did for a long time. I thought he was an engineer, like all the other, you know, fire people. So that's been great. I love the footprint that we're making and the people that we're helping. So those are mainly you know, where you can find me and love to, you know, connect with you or check out the podcast and, you know, check out the book. Yes,

Jamila Souffrant 46:02

we will leave all those links to the podcasts of the book in the episode show notes wherever you're listening to this. Jackie, thank you once again, for coming on the show. I'm excited to have you on it. I know that this is going to bless someone and inspire someone to reach their goals. Well

Jackie Cummings Koski 46:18

thank you Jamil. This meant so much to do this third episode with you and congrats on your book and all the success that you're having with it. So this was this was a treat. Thank you.

Jamila Souffrant 46:28

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.

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