Tell our readers a little about yourself, your blog, and your early retirement.
My name is Jim Wang and I started Wallet Hacks a little over three years. I got my start blogging back in 2005 with another personal finance blog called Bargaineering. I did that on the side until 2008 when I went full-time.
When people talk about early retirement, I've felt like I've been "early retired" since 2008 when I left the corporate world even though I've been "working" on my business. I think the way I've structured my life and my day is such that it doesn't feel like work, even though I'm making money and spending time on the business. I could see myself doing this, or something similar, for quite some time.
Tell me about the early days. How did you get started?
I started at a time when there weren't many blogs making money and people didn't think that being a blogger was a viable career. These days, you have vloggers, social influencers, and all these alternate careers that serve as models. I just kind of stumbled into blogging because I wanted to write about personal finance, connect with other people who were interested in the same, and it expanded from there.
As the site earned income from advertising, I saw that this might be something that could be more than a hobby. Eventually, I quit my job and focused on it full-time. A few short years after that, I sold it, was fully retired for a few months before starting other online ventures that I felt were interesting - like a meal plan subscription service and a marketing agency. I was "retired," in the sense that we were financially free, after the sale but I needed something to fill my days. So I started other businesses for kicks and, once I was permitted, got back into personal finance blogging.
What roadblocks did you hit along the way? Any mistakes we can learn from?
I didn't really hit any notable roadblocks, or at least any that stuck out in my mind. I think the thing to remember is that you're playing the long game and you need to do whatever it takes to keep your head in that game.
What advice do you have for people getting started?
It can be, at times, a lonely pursuit. The number of folks who are interested in either entrepreneurship and/or FIRE is relatively small and probably not too many in your geographic area. To the extent that you can, try to find your tribe online. That's where you'll be able to share ideas, commiserate, and work through questions you have that your friends or your colleagues won't be able to help with.
What's the biggest misconception about FIRE?
That early retirement is a finish line. It's not only not a finish line, it's the start of a completely different race with different rules and expectations. Retiring early is not a panacea, it's just the next stage in life and is as difficult to navigate (if not more) as the one you're in now. If you get to the point where you don't need to work for money, you still need to do something fulfilling and that can be very difficult to find.
What books, tools, resources do you recommend to others?
I don't know of any books, tools, or resources that stand out (beyond the basic recommendations that everyone has) but I do recommend reading FIRE blogs to get different perspectives. Everyone's situation is different and if you can read a lot of other viewpoints, you can borrow a lot of those ideas and integrate them in your life.
What's next for you?
I'm going to continue working on Wallet Hacks, it's a nice fun little side project that keeps me connected with the great personal finance community in a domain I really love.