Introvert Interview No. 12 is with the man behind the blog My Sons Father. He describes himself as the co-founder of two boys, a lucky husband to one amazing wife, a financial independence seeker, an aspiring minimalist when he’s feeling optimistic and a failing minimalist when he’s not, a part-time vegan, awkward runner, nomadic homebody, and misanthropic introvert.
He also tongue-in-cheek calls himself the world’s worst blogger. But we know that isn’t true because he’s developed quite a reputation as a very funny guy on Twitter who write relatable content about family, finances, frugality, and more. Here is what he has to say about introversion, career, and financial independence.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 38, married for 11 years (together a total of 17 years) with 2 boys (ages 8 & 7). I grew up and currently live in the Midwest.
Why do you identify as an introvert?
I joke that I’m a socially awkward misanthropic introvert. But it’s not really a joke because it is mostly true. Outside of my wife and kids, I have very little need for human interaction…that made me sound like a robot didn’t it?
My definition is the classic definition: I am recharged by being alone and drained by being with others.
While I generally don’t like spending time with people, I am far more comfortable one-on-one. I have a strong aversion to crowds of people, which makes FinCon my worst nightmare. Which is probably more social phobia than it is introversion.
In new social situations, I tend to keep my mouth shut, which I think many extroverts interpret as arrogance, but it’s just the opposite…insecurity. Once I get to know people I usually am more outgoing, but it tends to take a long time to get to that point.
Where are you in your FI journey?
We are probably 7-10 years away from FI. We hit debt freedom (sans the mortgage) a couple of years ago and have been maxing out our 401(k)’s ever since. Our net worth has doubled since I started tracking it in January of 2016.
That kind of growth has been possible because we achieved debt freedom and no longer have to pay for childcare. However, our FI journey will be slowed, as I’d like to provide a decent college fund for our two boys.
The next goal in our journey is to reach mortgage freedom. We still have just over $125k left on our house and about 10 years left on our mortgage term. While it’s mathematically not the best choice, I would like to pay off our mortgage early (hopefully in the next 5 years).
After the mortgage is paid off, we’ll likely spend the next 2-5 years topping up our various accounts (savings, brokerage, HSA, etc.) with the extra cash flow.
Most days I’m pretty happy with my job, so I don’t think I’ll retire when we hit FI, but I will likely work less. Maybe 1-2 days a week, which will help in continuing to bring in money and allow our retirement accounts to continue to compound.
Do you think your introversion motivated you to pursue FI?
Absolutely. My job requires me to spend all day with people. Most days it is rewarding, but as an introvert, it is also very draining. I have less energy to give to my family as a result and my biggest motivators for FI is spending more time with family.
Tell us about your career.
I haven’t actually revealed my job yet, so I’ll do my best to answer these questions while maintaining some level of ambiguity.
I used to work as a Director, but demoted myself a couple of years ago to obtain a more flexible work schedule. There were some bumps along the way with that transition, but looking back I couldn’t be happier about it.
I’m now able to spend far more time with my kids and even work much shorter weeks during the summer to be a summer at home dad. While there was a financial cost to this decision, it was somewhat mitigated by not having to pay for after school or summer programming for our kids.
My income is variable, so it is hard to say the exact financial impact, but I probably make ½ of what I made in my director role. Which isn’t a bad trade-off when you consider that I am probably working 15 hours during the summer and 20-25 hours the rest of the year.
Does your introversion have an impact on your occupation choice?
Yes. I think if I was an extrovert, I would be far more entrepreneurial. Although, having said that, my current role isn’t suited for introverts, as it requires I interact with people all day long. We did a workplace Myers Briggs Personality Test a few years ago and I was definitely the outlier in our group. I was one of very few “I” (Introvert) and “T” (Thinker) in our group of 25-30 people.
In previous jobs, I’ve intentionally avoided promotions because the new role would require far more interaction. If I were an extrovert, I’m sure I would have jumped at those opportunities.
Does your introversion have an impact on your professional network?
Haha, what professional network? My wife (an extrovert) has a huge professional network. I’m not completely anti-social in work environments, but I’ve never gone to an optional work event. If it isn’t required, I won’t be there.
Summer picnic? No thank you. Christmas Party? I’ll skip it this year (and every other year).
Once I leave a job, you’ll never hear from me again.
This level of avoidance makes it hard to build up a professional network. So, I think it is safe to say that my introversion has hindered my development of a professional network.
What advice would you give to someone more introverted?
I don’t think it is a secret that extroverts are more likely to be rewarded in a professional setting. Their more assertive social style will stand out, while an introvert’s passivity will work against him/her.
So my advice is to stand out in other ways. If you’re looking for career advancement, work your way onto the boss’s radar by coming in early, staying late, volunteering for that project no one wants to do. Work harder than everyone else and make sure the work you do is better than everyone else’s.
What is your FI strategy?
It is still very much a work in progress and seems to change every few months. The current iteration looks like this:
- Reduce bills down to bare necessities (energy, cell phone, internet, etc.)
- Allow retirement funds to grow untouched until age 60-65
- Support FI lifestyle with separate funds and significantly reduced workload. If my blog ever makes any money, which I’m not counting on, the income from the reduced workload can be replaced by the income from the blog.
I’m an index fund investor. 75-80% of my investments are in Index funds at this point. The only investments that aren’t in index funds are investments that I made prior to discovering index funds and just haven’t taken the time to switch them over.
What does your ideal day look like?
Ideally, I’d love to spend our summers traveling with our kids. Move somewhere for 6-8 weeks and really get a feel for life in a different country (or state).
During the remaining 9 months, while our kids are in school, my ideal week would probably involve some form of work. Maybe one day a week at my current job. The remainder of the week would be dedicated to blogging, staying healthy (exercising & eating right), and some form of volunteering or giving back.
After our kids are graduate and off living their own lives, slow travel tops the FIRE goals. A handful of 1-2 month long trips throughout the year sounds perfect to me.
What are three things you want to do more of when you reach FI?
What are three new things you want to learn when you reach FI?
- How to be a Better Writer
- How to be More Adventurous – One day I want to start a YouTube Channel called ‘MSF Tries New Things’, in which I document my attempts to try the things I’ve always wanted to try but have found excuses not to.
- Learn a second language.
What should extroverts understand about introverts and vice versa?
When introverts are nervous or insecure they tend to retreat into silence. When extroverts are nervous or insecure they fill the silence by talking. Because these opposite instincts are so antithetical to one another, they are frequently misinterpreted.
Introverts view the talkative extrovert as the epitome of confidence and find it hard to imagine they would be nervous or insecure. After all, if they were nervous or insecure they’d clam up, right?
Similarly, extroverts often see the introvert’s silence as judgment or arrogance. Why aren’t they saying anything? Do they think they are better than me? Or too good to talk to me?
What action has had the most impact on your FI journey?
Immerse yourself in what you want to become. The best way to make any change in your life is to surround yourself with influences that support that change. I motivated myself to get out of debt by inundating myself with every book, blog, and podcast I could find on the subject of debt freedom. I’m following the same path to Financial Independence.
What money mistakes have you made that others can learn from?
I’ve made my fair share of financial mistakes, but if I had to boil them down to just one lesson it would be this: be intentional with your money. Life moves fast and it only seems to get faster the older you get. If you aren’t intentional about your money or your time, both will evaporate and leave you wondering where it went.
Thank You My Sons Father!
If you want to be interviewed for the series, contact me and tell me why you’d be a great subject! Be sure to sign-up for email updates to never miss an insightful interview.