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The Educator on FI/RE series features stories of educators from a variety of roles, all along the career spectrum, who are interested in taking charge of their finances. The stories range from those just starting out on a debt paydown journey, to others who have already reached financial independence.
Each one provides valuable insight and shows how we can make progress while still working in the career we love.
Today, I’m thrilled to feature the story of an elementary PE teacher pursuing financial independence. I think you’ll enjoy the energy and enthusiasm here.
Learn about his story below, then make sure to check out Mr. Clark’s PE.
Tell us about you.
I live in New Jersey with my wife and 2 awesome kids. I have a lot of energy and have a hard time sitting still (just ask my wife) and have put a lot of that passion and energy into creating and building positive and meaningful experiences that include:
- Teaching Elementary PE
- Learning about and helping others learn about Saving/Investing/Wealth/Personal Empowerment
- Helping others Buy and Sell Real Estate while
- Creating and running a Game Time Summer Camp (to help parents from going crazy)
- Building a strong Health and PE online presence by offering my Health and PE resources to others
I love anything health and fitness-related, traveling with my family on adventures, and learning about how to become more Financially Free! I try to attack each day with purpose to achieve my goals of becoming healthier and wealthier every single day!
What do/did you like most about working in education?
I love the fact that I get to do something that I am passionate about and I get to share the power that health and fitness can have on our lives with future generations. I understand the importance of taking care of your body and mind and I have a strong intrinsic motivation to teach it to others.
What do/did you like least?
Sometimes the other areas of education get in the way of what I enjoy most…teaching and connecting with my students. The constant changing of programs, the political agendas from those outside of education, and the disconnect from what our students need and what they actually get, drain on my energy. It seems like we are doing so much more with so much less and it can be overwhelming and frustrating. We need to all value quality and meaningful education and I think we are running our teachers into the ground physically and mentally. We work with human beings and this career is so important to our outcome of our society, our future, and our world!
What is your Why of Financial Independence? (Why are you learning about or seeking FI?)
I want to live the life that I want instead of having to live a life that has been chosen for me! What I mean by that, is I want options, freedom, and the means to focus and be mindful of what brings me and my family the most happiness. Financial Independence isn’t the end all be all of this, however it is a strong piece. I have always respected, and valued money and I understand the power it holds when it is used with care and respect. I want to make money my servant and not my master!
- FI Curious – Just learning and becoming interested in financial independence
- Future FI – On the path, but still learning. Destined for financial independence!
- FI Success – Financially independent!
I would say that I am between Future FI and FI Success because I am always learning and every day we are getting wiser, wealthier and most importantly healthier. My wife and I have worked hard to get in the position we are in life and we have sacrificed, adapted, and we believe in each other and our future. These next 5 years are going to be the years that set us on FIRE! We have continued to be smart with our financial decisions and we have a strong belief and value system that works for us and our money. With that being said, we are extremely thankful and blessed for all we have in our lives and we respect the fact that they can all be taken away in an instant.
Share any financial numbers you are comfortable sharing.
We have very stable positions in education and we also have time and energy for side hustles and investments. Our income is shy of 200K a year.
We have our money working in a lot of different ways. We both have 403b’s, Roth IRA’s, Savings Accounts, a few investment accounts, and we have a few rental properties as well.
Our net worth is increasing every single day! =]
Tell us about your path to FI.
What are your successes/wins?
Our path began with a lot of great opportunities. We didn’t come from wealthy families, but we have very supportive, loving, and encouraging parents that believed in us and our dreams. We both were RA’s in college and we both graduated with little to no student debt. This is a huge setback for a lot of people and can literally make the difference between failure and success when it comes to financial security and stability at an early age. While in college, we worked in the restaurant business in very high-end restaurants that had us walking each night with crazy amounts of money with little to no expenses. We also each purchased homes after our first year working and worked to pay off the principal while entering the real estate game. But, the greatest/success we have is the investment we made in each other at an early age. Hands down knowing we wanted to be together as a team has made all the difference and that has been the path that has made all of this a reality.
What are your challenges?
The energy we put into this adventure definitely takes hard work, dedication, and discipline. This isn’t easy! It especially isn’t easy when you throw 2 young children into our world! Sometimes the whole concept of finances and the future can get overwhelming, and the slow and steady game plan can become frustrating and easy to lose sight of the big picture on it all. I also become a little antsy and bored with routine and I find myself overthinking things. Running has been my answer and so has traveling. Cold winters in NJ have us spending money on travel and escapes that could definitely be invested, however what good is money if you can’t enjoy it to better your life? Overall, we have the same human challenges as everyone else and we definitely make money mistakes, however they are few, small enough to even feel and we learn fast! It is all about perspective and when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change! We have changed the way we look at money and our money has changed.
What is your long-term goal? Do you have a FI target?
My goal is to eat tropical fruit and read on the beach after an early morning run. I want my health, my mind strong, and my money working for me while I play. But before that goal, I want my kids to be set-up with a strong and stable environment that values learning, and that is built on love, trust, and fun! I want to make sure they have the best childhood because I know that being a kid doesn’t last forever. My FI dates revolve around making sure they have successfully graduated high school and that they are on their way to bright and successful futures as they find their happiness and path in life. Once I know that has happened, I want to stay as young, vibrant, and active as I can for as long as I can.
If you become financially independent will you:
My career allows me to retire at 55 and collect a pension based upon my income over the course of my last few years. I would like to set myself up to retire whenever I would like between now and then, knowing that I still want to work/do something that brings me happiness and purpose each and every day.
Continue to work in education? (How/why?)
I will always be involved in something that involves learning whether I am retired or not. Teaching my son how to work out, teaching my daughter about different investments, volunteering with a local youth sports program will still be an integral part of who I am. I may not get direct pay checks from my work, however I will be given life dividends!
Do something different?
I do have a hard time sitting still and have a lot that I venture in. With that being said, I could see myself doing real estate either working as an agent or buying and maintaining investment properties as a new career. I also love the potential of the web and reaching a massive audience at any given time. As long as my time is filled with being active, around people I love and care about, and that brings me purpose and satisfaction than I will be happy.
Tell us about a short-term goal you’re working towards.
Paying off one of our rental properties. We have a few years left on the mortgage that we are slowly attacking. We have made some solid returns on our stock market, so we have backed off hitting the acceleration button for now.
Who/what inspires you?
I get inspiration from a lot of people. My wife, my kids, and my friends inspire me. When I read a story, or stumble across a website (like Principal F.I.) I find value and motivation to achieve and help others achieve great things. I am driven and I have learned more and more about my inner workings as I get older. I love motivating myself and have learned to not compare myself to others, but rather compare myself to what my best self looks like. We are all start on different places of this board game called life. The fact that we get to be on the board game is a win within itself that is easily forgotten. We must prepare for what life brings, appreciate and savor the good times, and work towards achieving our dreams because we only get 1 shot at this! It’s now or never!
What’s something you want to say to other educators about financial independence?
Learn from an early point in your career to take care of your health, your mind, and your wealth. This career path isn’t a sprint, but rather a marathon. Some miles will be easier than others, and some will challenge you to your core, however keep moving and learning with each step. Savor the memories and the moments that validate your career choice and shrug off the days where the process drains you. Make it a habit of packing quality lunches, surrounding yourself around positive and invigorating colleagues that help you bring the best out of yourself, and learn to live on a little so when raises come you can pretend they didn’t even come as you automate them into debts, savings and other investments. Lastly, remember you have time in this career to have mini-retirements and you have your youth. Appreciate the balance this profession allows and find a plan that works for you when it comes to your income throughout the course of your journey.
Is there anything you’d like to get feedback on from the community?
I am always looking for feedback and want to make sure I am offering the most value when people come to my website. I would love to share my journey with whoever wants to be a part of it and I really appreciate and find motivation in the idea that my words could inspire and help others from anywhere in the world. You can find my thought tsunamis on Mr. Clark’s PE and I am just an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to shoot me a question or message.
Thank you Educator FI for this opportunity and platform and I wish you the best of luck on your adventure!
I love the relentless energy and positivity in this interview. With investments and rentals, Mr. Clark and family are on a strong financial foundation. Make sure you check out Mr. Clark’s PE!
Don’t forget to check out our last EFI interview with Rachel and you can find all the educators here: