Welcome back to the Introvert Interview Series! Last time, we had Little Miss Fire from across the pond (the UK). Today, we have our second international interviewee. We are lucky enough to have Kara from Down Under in Australia. She blogs at The Flawed Consumer. Kara says that throughout her 20’s, she made a lot of stupid financial mistakes that are costing her in her 30’s (right there with you Kara!). In order to help others, it is her mission to pass along her financial learnings so that others can make smart money management choices and get their personal finances under control. Welcome, Kara!
Hello! Thank you for being part of the Introvert Interview Series. To start, tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Kara from The Flawed Consumer. I’m 31, have been married for almost 4 years, have two fur children and live in Brisbane, Australia.
Why do you identify as an introvert?
I identify as an introvert for a number of reasons. Firstly, in any personality test, such as Myers Briggs, I always rate in the 90th percentile for introversion. Secondly, I find conversations and just generally being around people draining and exhausting. The only way I can recharge is to get some time alone. And, thirdly, I internalise most of my thoughts and processing, rather than externalising it.
Where are you in your FI journey?
I’m only a year into my FI journey. I had an epiphany about our spending and debt habits just after my 30th birthday and realised that we were on a really bad trend of Lifestyle Creep. As a result, we drastically changed our lifestyle through frugal living to increase our savings rate from 5% to 25% within 6 months, and are currently focused on knocking out our car loan and credit card debt. I am now scheduled to pay off our car loan by the end of June, which is two years ahead of schedule. I will then be able to focus on clearing our credit card debt.
Once these are cleared, I’ll free up an extra $800 a fortnight for savings, investments and home improvements. This will enable me to move towards my ultimate goal of saving 50% of my income in order to achieve financial independence in my mid-40s.
Do you think your introversion motivated you to pursue FI?
I think it probably did. My internalisation and over processing of thoughts led to an epiphany that put us on a FI path. I’m not sure if I would have had this epiphany otherwise.
I work in the environmental conservation and law space, doing my bit to try and ensure as much remnant vegetation and habitat is protected as possible within my State particularly. I started as a graduate in corporate policy and made my way across into conservation, which is where I wanted to be. I’ve performed a lot of different roles within this space over the last 5 years and am climbing my way up the ladder at a pace that suits me.
(FIIntrovert Note: Angela at Tread Lightly Retire Early and Introvert Interview No. 3 are in this space as well. FI appeals to environmental conservationists. Makes sense because of the optimization of resources.)
Did your introversion have an impact on your occupation choice?
I think it did. I studied law and had intended to become a lawyer. However, as I progressed through my degree, I realised how much I didn’t want to practice law. Mock trials made me so nervous and the idea of having so much attention on me in a courtroom made me anxious. I decided that legal practice just wasn’t for me and decided to pursue policy instead.
Does your introversion have an impact on your career?
Earlier in my career, my introversion prevented me from jumping at opportunities to advance my career because I didn’t want to have to establish new networks. Whilst this still applies a little bit now, I’m more open to jumping at opportunities than I was earlier on. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get anxious or nervous anymore, it just means that I force myself out of my comfort zone more.
Does your introversion have an impact on your professional network?
Yes, both positively and negatively… Because of my introversion, my networks are small and it takes me a long time to establish relationships. But, they’re also close, with deep, lasting relationships being formed. As a result, those that I have formed a relationship with genuinely care about me and have sought out opportunities for me as a result.
Has your introversion impacted your professional relationships?
Same as the above really. I don’t have a lot of friends at work, but those coworkers and clients that I have formed relationships with really look out for me, respect me and seek out my assistance, advice and company.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to someone more introverted?
If you’re an introvert, put yourself out there and don’t second guess yourself. Extroverted people won’t hesitate to jump at opportunities and will get ahead of you because of it, regardless of whether they’re great workers or not. Just because they appear more confident and capable through their outward expression, doesn’t mean it’s true.
My FI strategy is simply to earn more, spend less, save and invest. My earn more strategy is primarily through career progression. For me, career progression is the method most suited to my lifestyle. I like spending too much quality time with my family to be able to make side hustles work effectively. Whereas, career progression allows me to earn extra money, with only an extra couple of hours spent at work per week.
From a savings perspective, we’re cutting spending through frugal living in order to increase our savings percentage over the next 4 years, with a target of saving 50% of our income. We’ve already moved from 5% to 30% in the first year and are constantly looking for and implementing new ways to cut costs whilst still enjoying our now. We’re also on a mission to pay off our car loan and credit card as previously mentioned, as this will not only reduce interest payments, but will free up more cash for saving.
What does your ideal day look like?
My ideal day would involve a sleep in until around 7 am, then a cup of homemade coffee and something yummy for breakfast. I would then head out into my food garden for an hour or so, before heading down to the bayside to walk my dog and go for a run. After this, I’d have some lunch and a home-brewed beer. Then off to do some reading, before relaxing with my family with a glass of merlot and some more yummy food.
What are three things you want to do more of when you reach FI?
- Spend more quality time with my family.
- Look out of my kitchen window into my backyard and think “how lucky am I?”.
- Explore places without stressing about time or money.
What are three new things you want to learn/relearn when you reach FI?
- How to just be, without the stresses of the daily grind.
- A language just for the sake of it.
- How to truly let go and relax.
What is one actionable that extroverts should understand about introverts?
That introverts need time away from people, crowds and noise in order to de-stress, refresh and recharge. If an introvert’s job forces them to be around people and noise all week, then they’ll need substantial time on the weekend to rest and recharge. So, don’t book in lots of social activities for them!
What is one actionable thing that introverts should understand about extroverts?
Just like introverts need their alone time, extroverts need their social time. However, don’t be mistaken by thinking that work time, and the social interaction that comes with it, suffices! They need proper social time with friends and family, to get out of the house and do something, and to have fun. So, figure out a way to make it work for everyone.
What is the financial move that has had the most positive impact on your journey that others can learn from?
Investing with Raiz (formerly Acorns AU). Raiz sends weekly newsletters related to personal financial matters. It was one of these articles which triggered a financial epiphany and resulted in us changing the entire way we approach money, savings, debt and expenditure. It was definitely the wakeup call we needed to get control of our finances and I’m so glad it happened.
What money mistakes have you made that others can learn from?
If I had my time over, I would avoid car loans as I now believe that so much liability on a depreciating asset is incongruous. Unfortunately, I became a sucker of Lifestyle Creep and got sucked into the cycle of updating cars unnecessarily via the means of car loans every few years, which resulted in the payment of many thousands of dollars in interest to the bank, in addition to inflated insurance premiums as a result of having finance on my cars.
What is the one thing you wish you had known when it comes to introversion?
I wish I had known that humility and self-doubt are simply traits of introversion. I think if I had realised this, I wouldn’t have held myself back from the spotlight at work for so long. I now know my own value and abilities and don’t undersell myself out of fear of appearing arrogant.
Do you have any questions for me?
Do you have any regrets as a result of behaviour/inaction/action which resulted from your introversion?
Oh yes! As you alluded to above, I had tremendous self-doubt through my twenties (and still do) both in my professional and social skills. The doubt held me back for so long and I retreated into online poker and eBay selling as a way to try to escape the social world of work that I did not understand. Once I finally started to understand myself and manage my energy and relationships, my career took a more positive turn, though I am still learning and watching myself and how people react to me. Communicating more often with people is my biggest area of need for self-improvement.
Do you have any questions for our readers?
Do you read my blog? You should, it’s awesome! But, seriously, what is your FI strategy?
Thank you, Kara! I love reading these interviews. They are incredibly validating and valuable for me to hear your perspective.
- I think Kara’s observation that extroverts generally are not energized enough by work interactions similar to how introverts are drained. Neither of us is getting what we need from work relationships! Extroverts, do you find this to be true?
- The close connections are a recurring theme. It is not the quantity but quality of connections. This goes for professional relationships as well.
- Another recurring theme is that introversion holds us back from attaining career advancement earlier. I hope that introverts are reading this series and see just a little strategic extroversion will pay off for career advancement and ultimately their FI goals.
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.