They’re on a Mission to Bring FIRE to the Black Community. ‘It Is Harder, But It Is Still Possible’ – NextAdvisor

Financial independence

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Julien and Kiersten Saunders are on a mission to bring more education about the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement to the Black community. 

“Whether or not people decide to pursue the FIRE life or not, or to what extent, is not really up to me,” says Julien. “But I certainly want to make sure people in our community, the Black community in the United States, are aware that FIRE is a viable option.” 

Julien first learned of FIRE in college; Kiersten learned about it from Julien when they started dating in 2012. After a trip to Panama in the summer of that year, the couple broke up. Part of their reconciliation process involved an agreement to pay off debt, start investing for their future, and work toward achieving FIRE.

Over the next five years, they paid off $200,000 in debt, quit their jobs (Julien in June 2018, Kiersten in April 2020), and launched a brand called Rich & Regular to share their journey with others. Here’s the Saunders’ advice for anyone curious about pursuing FIRE — and why financial independence can be about more than hitting a specific number.

It Started With a Breakup

The Saunders met in 2012 when both got jobs working for the same travel company in Atlanta. They started dating, and that summer they went on vacation to Panama for 10 days. 

While they were away, Julien learned that Kiersten had put the entire trip on her credit card.

“I had about $30,000 of consumer debt and a problem with spending,” says Kiersten. “The honeymoon phase went real quick for us.” The couple broke up after that trip, but eventually began talking again and reconciled. They agreed that if they were going to make it as a couple, they had to agree about their finances. 

Julien shared with Kiersten his passion for the FIRE movement, and together the couple calculated their FIRE number: the net worth benchmark at which you can become work-optional. A ballpark FIRE number can be calculated by multiplying your annual expenses by 25; the Saunders settled on a FIRE number of $1.3 million.

They Saved and Invested Half Their Income

Between 2013 and 2017, the Saunders buckled down. They lowered expenses by cutting cable, not having a car payment for Julien (because he drove a paid-off 2008 vehicle), and shaving expenses wherever they could.

“I couldn’t sell the luxury vehicle I had, so I just refinanced it,” says Kiersten. “I also had a fancy midtown Atlanta apartment I downgraded into something much smaller in a less sexy part of town. I had a …….

Source: https://time.com/nextadvisor/financial-independence/rich-and-regular-fire-success-story/

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