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016: Matthew – Knowledge Today, Wealth Tomorrow

Jonathan welcomes Matthew from the Time Value Millionaire Blog to the show to discuss the FIRE Movement, side hustles, and how Matthew turned a passion for personal finance and data into a passive income stream. Matthew is currently 13.2% financially independent and today he talks about why money shouldn’t be taboo, explains Time Value Money and shares how anyone can take control of their situation and start earning more today.

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Key Takeaways

01:09 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Matthew from the Time Value Millionaire Blog, who joins the show to share his career trajectory and his goal to shift money from a taboo topic to something we talk about openly

09:49 – The FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) Movement

16:45 – Why side hustles are crucial

20:57 – What Matthew has learned from running his business

23:30 – The origin story of the Time Value Millionaire Blog

28:35 – Tips and best practices for launching a blog

31:08 – How Matthew measures success

35:36 – Tools that are key to Matthew’s success

45:02 – Playing in the ‘Google Sandbox’ and turning blogs into revenue

51:22 – Ads, affiliate marketing, and other sources of revenue

56:14 – The Time Value Money, explained

1:01:46 – The last thing Matthew changed his mind about and one thing that he would like people to know about him

1:06:37 – Jonathan thanks Matthew for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to follow him

Tweetable Quotes

“I guess the big lesson I learned from childhood was that talking about money shouldn’t bet a boo.”(04:33)

“The whole idea behind financial independence is building the life you want and then saving for it.” (10:45)

“A ‘Time Millionaire,’ as I define it, is someone who measures their wealth in terms of how much free time you have to do whatever you want.” (14:57)

“I think that’s the biggest thing is just always having the long term in mind. And, if you do that you’ll always win as long as you’re consistently executing.” (23:19)

“You’re totally right. Whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons or beekeeping, there’s always something that people are searching for. It doesn’t matter what topic. As long as you’re passionate about it and you like writing about it, you’re good to go.” (42:01)

“I think that’s the other business model that a lot of people can pursue, which is developing your own products and selling them directly to your readers.” (55:43)

“So, it’s really doing the due diligence on our part to understand what our specific data is telling us, using those historical averages from reputable websites to understand what we can expect. And then plugging the formula into a calculator and we get a realistic number on what we need to achieve our goal.” (1:01:05)

Guest Resources

Time Value Millionaire

Matthew’s Email

Matthew’s Twitter

Mindful Money Resources

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Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Hello and welcome on this, the 17th episode of the Mindful Money podcast. Our, uh, first episode of season two, where our focus is going to be on the first rung of the money ladder earning. I wanted to talk with someone who found a passion and is already in the middle of creating a side business based on that passion. Now, I happened upon Matthew, the creator of the Time Value millionaire blog, in my regular sort of fire blog readings. Matthew’s not in the financial services world, but his writings really resonated with me. And on his blog homepage, I found the following comment, and I totally agree. Talking about money should not be taboo, and a little more knowledge today can translate into more wealth tomorrow. So here’s to offering a little bit more knowledge. Matthew, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Matthew: Great to be here, Jonathan.

Jonathan DeYoe: All right, I’m excited to have you. So just real quick to get us kicked off. Um, where are you connecting from?

Matthew: Yeah, so thank you again for having me on. I’m connecting from south Florida. We live in a small coastal town, um, about 2 hours south of Orlando.

Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. And did you grow up there or did you grow up someplace else?

Matthew: So I come from a military family. I’ve actually lived all across the United States, and we actually lived in a couple international countries as well. But we’ve lived in Missouri, Michigan, a couple cities, different cities in Florida. Spent the majority of my life in Florida, but we also were in South Carolina, and one of the countries my father was stationed in was Japan. So we spent a little time there, too.

Jonathan DeYoe: Cool. So naval air force. Air force, yeah. My dad was a civilian in the air force, and because he’s a civilian, they didn’t move us around. But he was at Ellsworth Air Force base basically from when I was 15 till when he retired.

Matthew: Okay, awesome.

Jonathan DeYoe: Um, yeah, he, uh, cleaned up spills next to air force bases because he was an environmental engineer. Anyway.

Matthew: Right. My dad, I think he did more support for all the different planes, so they would be stationed at the plane. You learn everything about the plane, and then you would go ahead and fix the plane after any type of mission that they had going on.

Jonathan DeYoe: Did you have any unique, do you think any unique money lessons as a child tied to moving around or tied to your dad being in the air force?

Matthew: Well, actually, no, because growing up, being in the military family, it was very command oriented. It was a very militaristic driven household. You had your chores, you did your chores, no questions asked. It’s kind of like that. And we actually didn’t talk a lot about money growing up. I would learn about a little bit of budgeting or how to balance your checkbook when that was still a thing. But it was mostly I didn’t know much about money until I actually went to school and got my bachelor of science in finance. But prior to that, I had no idea what was going on, didn’t know what the stock market was, didn’t know how to invest, didn’t know what a dividend was. It really was a blank slate.

Jonathan DeYoe: I totally understand the command structure. I get that very well. But your experience as a kid with your parents, did they talk about money in front of you? Do you remember any experiences that sort of formed a foundation of your early money story?

Matthew: So that kind of goes back to what I have on my home page on the blog, where growing up, money truly was a taboo topic. Back then, we really did not talk about it at all. And I think I’m one of the lucky ones because I did go to school for finance specifically, so I’m a little bit smarter than I was back in the day. But it really was, I guess the big lesson I got from childhood was that talking about money, it shouldn’t be that sensitive a topic. We just had our, uh, newborn enter our family a couple of months ago, and we’ve already set up an account for her. We already have talked about how we’re going to be very candid and explain financial concepts to them once they grow up and have that honest conversation, because I think a lot of the problems nowadays is, I think, personal finance as a course, it’s only taught and mandated by 14 different states at this point. And so I think a lot of people, they don’t have, whether you go to college or not, or whether you, no matter what career path you choose, money is always going to be that factor, that thread that ties everything together. Everyone’s going to do taxes, everyone’s going to have to learn how to budget. Everyone’s going to kind of know how to set up their retirement. And so I guess where I’m going with this is there wasn’t a lot of education growing up, and we kind of hope that with our kid in particular, we’re able to give them the knowledge they need so that whatever path that they take, they’re financially prepared and they’re not getting their financial advice from TikTok or some random post on Reddit. That’s always the fear is, hey, buy the stock and put all your lifetime savings in it, and then it’s a pump and dump scheme. And so that’s really the lesson, is to always be open and honest. Kind of what I didn’t get as growing up as a kid, to just have that open and honest conversation. It really doesn’t need to be the taboo subject. I think that it used to be 1015 years ago.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Just briefly, can you give us a sketch of your career path? I realize you’re still kind of in the early parts of it, but, uh, just tell us briefly about the main gig. And then how did you decide to start a fire blog as your side gig?

Matthew: Yeah, sure. So, six years ago, I graduated from the University of Florida. I always thought I was going to go into medicine, and one day I went to go take a biochemistry test, and I got the lowest grade I could possibly ever imagine. I got a twelve, which I think, statistically speaking, if you were randomly guessing on each question, you’re at least guaranteed a 25. So, uh, I kind of took that as a sign from the universe that was right after, or, uh, that was leading up into winter break. So I had a good long talk with myself, and I’m like, what do I want to do? What really interests me? And I think I remember when I went home, I think that was when Wolf of Wall street came out and, uh, I watched that movie, and I’m like, not that lifestyle interested me at all. It was just the whole, that kind of introduced me to what the stock market is, or at least a section of the stock market. So I’m like, yeah, that’s interesting. And then having that introspection with myself, I’m like, I really don’t know that much. So I said, hey, even if I don’t go into finance, even if I don’t go into financial services, I could at least graduate, get a degree in finance, and I kind of know what I’m doing. So I switched my, uh, degree to finance, and I never looked back. I fell in absolutely in love with the topic. But about the time when I, um, graduated, there wasn’t a lot of financial jobs that I was interested in Florida, because I really wanted to stay in, you know, my home. I’ve spent majority of my life, you know, I went to a career fair one day and know the company that I work for now. We had a good interview. They said, hey, we’ll bring you on as a project manager. And so upon graduation, I took everything that I learned from the last three years and washed it down the toilet from a career perspective and went into a completely different field. So then I’ve been in project management since 2016 and, uh, for a relatively large company. And it was that first month that I remember going there, and I was so excited and so happy. And then I just realized this is just a know, going in, day out, going in the cubicle day in and day out. And it just really wasn’t sitting with me. So I was on Yahoo. News one day, and sometimes they do those showcasing articles, and I saw this one blog post by a blogger by the name of, uh, my money wizard, I think his name is Sean, who runs it. And he was talking about how he saved $100,000 by the age of 25. And he was talking about the income he made. He was talking about his expenses. And I read that article, and I’m like, him and I were pretty similar in age. We’re pretty similar in income. We got pretty similar expenses, similar lifestyle. I’m like, if he was able to do it by 25, why can’t, uh, a regular guy like me do it? So at that point, I put excel on my computer, started building out some models, started tracking out my expenses, and that’s when I really fell in love with the whole idea of financial independence and being able to kind of this idea of buying your freedom back and you being in control of your freedom, your destiny. So at that point, it was so much fun to look at your different savings rate, look at your investments, look at the dividends you have coming in. What percent fire are you this month versus next month? And how does that track for months and months and months? So I did that for a couple years, I think from 2016 to 2019. And at that point, I’m like, I want to share what I’ve learned. I want to share the similar passion, similar to how Sean shared or was showcased in that one article. So from, um, then I’m like, let’s grab a domain. Let’s start writing about some of the stuff and never looked back since.

Jonathan DeYoe: So in a minute, I want to talk about some of the business of content. But before we get there, the reason I originally reached out to you is because of a series of blogs you put, uh, posts that you did in January of this year you sort of defined. So I’ve been watching the fire movement for a long time. I’ve been reading tons and tons of different blogs. Mr. Money, mustache, j. Money. I’ve read all these guys for a long, long, long time, a decade plus. And you did something that I thought was really unique in that you actually described and compared four different levels of fire, barista, coast, lean, and fat. Could you just, uh, summarize those for us?

Matthew: Yeah, absolutely. So I think the big thing that turns a lot of people off from the idea of financial independence or early retirement is people kind of look at it as a static equation where there’s a static number of variables, and the variables are going to be the same no matter what you look at. But at the end of the day, there are different. You can tweak it to whatever your life is. The whole idea of financial independence is building the life you want and then saving for it. You don’t have to do it the same way John down the street does or Jane on Facebook does it. There’s many different variations of it that you can actually pursue that better fit your lifestyle. You don’t have to go for early retirement. You don’t have to retire when you’re 30. It’s really about, again, building that life that you want to live and then saving for it. And so that’s the kind of idea with those series of posts, is there are many different variations of financial dependence that might work better for others to go into them. Right. There’s lean by, where. That’s where you have enough investments just to cover your essential expenses. I like to think of it like a basic safety net so that if you were to get laid off, you don’t have a problem meeting your, uh, basic budgetary requirements. And if you’re more of a minimalist or you’re more of, uh, a nomadic lifestyle, you might not have that many expenses. So lean fire might be hey, I just need to cover my essential expenses. Then you have regular phi, which that’s the one that everyone automatically thinks of, where that’s just covering your expenses associated with your lifestyle today. And again, maybe your expenses in retirement will be more than what they are today. Maybe they’ll be less. You kind of don’t know until you’ve had a few years of data what your lifestyle inflation rate is. So if it’s less, hey, it could be more. A lean fire approach. If it’s more, well, then you’re getting into the fat fire realm, where that’s saving enough money to cover expenses with a higher standard of living. A lot of people associate that with luxury and being able to travel. But someone who’s pursuing lean fire, right, they might not want to have a $20,000 vacation every year. Maybe like a one time 2000 vacation works for them. Whereas a fat fire lifestyle is, you have a lot more money to spend again, whether that’s travel or whether that’s. You’re in an area, uh, that’s in a higher cost of living. And then you get into the other types of fire, too. You have barista fire, where that’s where you’re really just trying to cover. It’s having enough investments to cover your expenses and kind of supplemental and supplementing your income by having a different type of job, a lower stress job. So let’s say your burn rate is 40,000 a year, right? If you can cover $20,000 in expenses from your investments, well, you only need to make 20 grand to be able to cover the rest of that. So instead of working that 80, 90 hours work week, go do something that you enjoy. It only makes 20 grand, but you’re pulling 20 grand from your investments. And if your burn rate is 40, mathematically, you’re able to work it out. And parishify is for those folks who really want to quit the rat race early and be able to maybe pursue a passion that doesn’t pay 100% of the bills, but they get that enjoyment out of it. And then I think the last one we talked about in those posts was coast fire, where that one’s kind of interesting, too, where you save up to a specific amount, and then because of the power of compound interest, you don’t have to save anymore to hit whatever your fi number is. You can invest for ten years from age 22 to 32. And maybe you say that you want to be financially independent by 65. Well, you save really hard in those ten years, and then you don’t have to save another nickel. And through the power of compound interest, you’ll be able to hit whatever your financial independence number is by whatever age you want. And there’s these newer kinds out there that a lot of people are talking about, like chubby fire, flamingo fire. I’m not really into a lot of these variations, but really, those are the four or five ones that those are the, I would say, the four to five main variations of financial independence.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. And then sort of to cap it off, and those were all January. And then, I think the last post in January, you said something like, the post was. What was the post? It was something to the effect the ultimate goal is becoming a time millionaire. And, uh, you say achieving financial independence can result in recouping millions upon millions of seconds back into your life bank. Now, I got to tell you, when I read that, it got to me. So what is a time millionaire?

Matthew: Yeah, no, I mean a time millionaire, as I define it, as someone who measures your wealth in terms of how much free time you have to do whatever you want. Right. I think, again, when we talk about financial independence and we have that conversation on achieving financial independence, we usually talk about money, and we usually talk about we need a million dollars by 40 or we need $5 million by 55. We talk about money. Money. And that’s an important, again, piece of the equation. But really, that’s kind of. Again, a lot of people, they’ll chase the number, but then they won’t ask themselves, well, why am I chasing that number? What’s the point? When I hit that million? $5,000,000.01 day, what is it all for? And really, it’s all for to have the time that you want to do. Right. I think in that post, I did the math on my current age, and let’s just say I live till I’m 79, I’m working 40 hours a week, and I’m working till I’m 65. And I think I did the calculations where even though I’m 26, I think, um, well, I’m 27 now, even though I was 26 at the time of writing, that if you take out sleeping, if you take out all the chores that I got to do, if you take out all the traveling between work and all that, if you take all of that out, despite me being 26, I’ve already lived half my life. And so that was really an eye opening calculation, eye, uh, opening post for me, because I’m like, wow, you think you have all this time, and you really don’t. And again, we’re talking about in the context of a lifetime. What’s the point of having the money if we don’t have the necessary time? You retire at 65, 70, but at that point, what do you have, like, a year left of actual life? And then what’s the quality of that life? So try to get as much time back as much as possible and to be able then to use that time to live the life that you want. Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, how important is it, in your opinion, that people have their own gig, whether it’s a side gig or whether it’s the main stage gig in the process of building wealth for themselves and for their family? Do you think that’s an important thing?

Matthew: Oh, absolutely. I think when you think about your traditional w two job, how much control, if we’re talking about, like, a non sales gig, and on, you’re not selling anything. Right? If you’re talking about your traditional eight to five, how much control are you really, in terms of how you’re able to grow your active income? Right. So active income being, hey, I spent an hour of my life doing something, and I’m being rewarded $7 an hour, $10 an hour, $15 an hour, whatever our ability to increase that number, our per hour rate is, at the end of the day, you don’t have control over that. You might have a good quarter. You might completely bust your ass at work. You could be delivering 100 times more widgets than before you were there. But at the end of the day, you don’t really see a nickel of that money. I mean, you might, but again, you’re kind of hoping and praying that, hey, my boss saw what I was doing. I hope that the budget is good. I hope they give me the money. And honestly, I think in terms of building wealth, active income is nice. In terms of having a nice foundation, you’re saving your 20, 30% every month or year. But I think really where the money. I think the important thing that a lot of people need to really look at is earning passive income with a side gig. Right. Uh, I told my wife and I told a couple of other folks right when I started time value millionaire, one of the goals, you obviously want to make a little money off of it. I’m not expecting to be a millionaire off it, but I told my wife when we were in the hospital, when our kid was a couple of hours after they were delivered all, uh, healthy, I’m like, we were earning money from our website, and I was there experiencing the life of the birth of my first child, and that really resonated with her. And she’s been a real big proponent of having me work on the website, because, again, the fact that I’m not trading my time for money, I was there to witness the birth of my child. And I look at my account and I’m like, oh, I got paid that day. I got paid for work that I’ve already put in the work for. It’s a tremendous thing. And I think that type of wealth, that kind of side gig versus active income, it’s exponential. The money that I’ve earned from the blog since I’ve started it, it’s an exponential growth pattern. And the only thing that’s stopping me is me. Right? I’m the one who says if I want to make 10% more, well, if I put in the work, I can see that, versus if I had a w two active income job. There’s nothing guaranteeing saying that I’m going to get a 10% bump in my salary.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right. You’re sort of at the whim of your boss or your management or the company didn’t do well this year, so we’re not doing any raises. Even if you’re killing it, even if you’re putting in the 80 hours a week and you’re doing the best job you can, you can’t actively boost your own income. I think, though, if we’re honest. Right. I ran a business for 25 years before I merged my firm into a larger firm. But my additional hours of work didn’t always translate into higher income. Some of the additional hours were spinning my wheels, frankly. I tried a bunch of stuff that didn’t work, but the idea is you learned, you shifted your direction, you were flexible in the approach, you learned a little bit more, you tried something new. And ultimately I was able to increase my income. And I think that’s kind of what you’re getting at. It’s in your control. You’ve got to push through the challenges, but it’s in your control.

Matthew: Absolutely. And I look back at some of the original blog posts I’ve written, and I’m like, I seriously wrote that. And, uh, sometimes you don’t do the correct research or you don’t write something that really jives with people. And like you said, you kind of rinse, learn and repeat. I think the important is being agile and being agile to the data that you have to make those better decisions. Because again, I look back at what I wrote versus what I write now, and I know that what I write now is definitely, it can be better. But you’re constantly improving the kind of content that you’re putting out.

Jonathan DeYoe: What have you learned by running a business?

Matthew: Well, so, to be honest, I honestly think that blogging, uh, I think that represents the ultimate business model, in my opinion. I mean, if you look at it, or if I look back at my business, right, I have like a 99% profit margin, right? I have domain hosting once a year that I have to pay. Other than that, I get all the revenue associated with whatever money that I earn. I’ve learned that a lot of people are chasing social media. They’re trying to do the quick hits of trying to get huge, nice short term results, but then they’re putting their heads in the sand on what their long term strategy is, right? So you might write a guest post for somebody else, or you might share something on social media and it goes viral. And again, uh, it’s nice to see that everyone loves seeing increase in hits, but a lot of people, I think, don’t look at the long term strategy of learning proper SEO or search engine optimization. So if you’re just playing for the long term game like I am, I’m not really huge on social media, but I can guarantee that I’m going to get x amount of hits per day. Because since the beginning, since I’ve been writing on the blog, since 2019, I’ve had SEO, I’ve had long term, the long term strategy in mind, and that has paid huge dividends. So I’ll see some bloggers say, oh, we had a huge drop in traffic this month, and I’m like, didn’t really impact me. So it’s nice to have that free recurring traffic because as I have a consistent, stable viewership, then you have income from ads. And then also a lot of people don’t talk about is the fact I have zero employees. I’m the only employee. So again, I don’t have to pay any overhead, I don’t have to pay any employees. I write everything. So again, all that money is coming directly into my pocket. And then again, I think with blogging in particular, from a scalability perspective, it’s definitely a close to infinitely scalable business, where again, if I write one post a month, right, I might not do the best, I might not grow as fast, but if I put in the work and put five to ten posts out, I can scale it up or down based on the level of effort I put into it. So in my opinion, I think, uh, a lot of people should consider starting their own blog. But when I say that, uh, SEO is really a long term game, a lot of people it’s evolution, right? If you don’t see instant results, you’re going to pivot to something else. Whereas, I don’t know, I think that’s the biggest thing is just always having the long term in mind. And, uh, if you do that, you’ll always win. As long as you’re consistently executing, it doesn’t matter. I think you’re always going to pull that ahead.

Jonathan DeYoe: Got it. I think that’s all a very good backdrop. And I mentioned sort of before we started that, uh, I’ve worked with wealthy people my whole career and I started mindful money to kind of share the lessons I’ve learned with those that are just starting to build wealth. And this season at the Mindful Money podcast is really about that earn rung of the financial ladder. So can we go into a little bit more depth about the business of the time value millionaire? I kind of understand how you selected fire, but did you. By the way, fire is a, uh, finnish independent. Retire early for anyone that doesn’t know what that acronym stands for. Did you consider anything else at all when you were starting the blog?

Matthew: Are you talking about choosing the topic specifically?

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah.

Matthew: Depending on the niche that you select, there is different profitability. One niche might be more profitable than the other. So as an example, if someone wants to start a gun blog, a lot of advertisers, that would be considered a sensitive topic, and a lot of people won’t want to advertise on your website. So with the sensitive topics like alcohol, gambling, firearms, those types of blogs are actually very. I mean, unless you have the high volume, um, unless you have the high traffic, it really doesn’t make any sense to go into like a sensitive topic deemed by Google to do stuff like that. Now, there are definitely more profitable blogging niches and financial independence. The whole personal finance one is a profitable niche. It does tend to pay some of the higher ad rates in the business. A lot of the health. Health is another big one, uh, that actually didn’t have anything to do with me starting the business. I was just passionate about financial independence at the time. And then once I did my research on the ad payouts and ad networks, I’m like, wow, I guess I lucked out that I really like money because it tends to pay more than usual, more than what the ad average is.

Jonathan DeYoe: So when you started, you had the topic, your topic was already in mind. You weren’t doing this to make a bunch of money. But it was nice to figure out, hey, if I write about fire, which is something I want to write about. Anyways, I’m going to make some money. So how did you start out? What was the process of take us back to, I guess, 2018, 2019, when you were like, I’m going to write about this stuff, like this guy I read on Yahoo. How did you begin?

Matthew: So my initial vision, again, I didn’t really have money in mind when I started. The initial vision was I wanted to provide a resource on the Internet to people who, I wanted somebody to be able to read something and say, wow, I relate to that, or I didn’t know about that. And also, I started the blog kind of as an accountability to the readers. So if I spent a lot of money one month or if the market went down, just really kind of show that, hey, I think a lot of people, they’ll go to a personal finance blogger and they’ll say, oh, they’re already 100%. I’m just discovering them for the first time. I can’t really relate to that. But to have consistent accounting of somebody who is close in age, close in income, close maybe in the same state, and to see how they’re doing it in the baby steps they’re doing it, that’s kind of what I was wanting to go for, was have those financial updates that show it’s a process. A lot of people, I think you just wake up and these people, they won the lottery. But for me, I have been dollar cost averaging since 2016, and that’s all I’ve done, right. I’m not into those get rich quick schemes. If you are consistent with some of these small steps that you can do today, put $100 in your IRA or up your 401K contribution, I think showing things like that over time, it helps show people proof that, hey, instead of saying, uh, yeah, I got a million dollar net worth, it’s okay. No, this guy did small things. I can track it from when he first started documenting it in 2019. And if I do something similar, it’s really not that difficult. So I started the blog with that accountability in mind and to show others that I think it gets intimidating when people say, again, I have a million dollar net worth. I make $500,000 from the blog a year. I think those types of unrealistic expectations, if I were to see that, I’d be like, well, I can’t really relate to that versus how you are slowly and consistently building wealth, because that’s how you do it, right? I mean, sure. Could you win the lottery? Sure. But if you’re talking about a surefire way to be wealthy one day, it’s doing those baby steps, the non sexy stuff that you don’t see in articles. You always see the clickbait stuff that says, oh, yeah, we got this big inheritance. It’s like, no, if you take it slow and steady and you trust the process, you’ll be rewarded one day.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, and I’ve noticed that as a feature of many fireblogs is they will once a month, once a quarter, sometimes they’ll have, uh, an active graphic on the website that just talks about their percentage fire or their report back. This is our current net worth, and I’ve noticed that as a feature across many of these. And I’ve always sort of hesitated to do that myself just because it’s like reporting on your net worth or reporting on your percentage fire. It’s almost what’s very private. I mean, you and I talked about, the reason we’re not on camera is because there’s a desire to remain a little bit anonymous behind the blog. And I totally get that. So I want to go back to that question. When you said, I’m going to start this blog, what were the steps you mentioned? Picked a URL, then what, what did you do next? How did you get going?

Matthew: Yeah, so, I mean, starting a blog has never been easier than it has in the last couple of years. You just go to any website, any domain host. I use Bluehost. That’s who I’ve been using since 2019. There’s other ones, like Siteground and some other bigger ones that when you have a lot more traffic, that helps in terms of performance. So, yeah, I just went to Bluehost. I grabbed myself a URL for, I think it was like $12 a year or something at the time. And then from there, I installed, uh, WordPress, which is the most popular and the easiest to use kind of blogging software, onto the URL. And then from there, you pick your theme, you build your logo, you upload your logo, and then you kind of do all that web development where you’re kind of building it to what you want to do. And then from there, WordPress, there’s a big old plus button, and you just create a blog. And then once your blog post, once you have it done, then you hit publish, and then you rinse and repeat. I think blogging as a business, though, I think a lot of people, and myself included, I definitely made the mistake in the beginning. You care about what font do you use or what size do you want to use, or if you tweak the logo to look like this and people are really going to care about that. And I’m not saying that have an ugly blog, but if you get something that is decently looking, I think a lot of people like to focus on the business. The fun part, I mean, I consider that fun stuff. But once you create it, your success or failure is going to be determined by how many times you hit that plus button and then publish, plus publish, plus publish, plus publish. That is the single factor in terms of whether you’re going to succeed in blogging or not, if you can consistently publish again. I, uh, made the mistake. I booked time value millionaire back in 2016, I think is when I booked the domain and I sat on it for three years because I was so scared of, oh, it’s not perfect when you click here. It doesn’t look right. And I think in 2019, when I published my first post on November 30, the week prior, I’m like, you know, enough is enough. I told myself, I’m going to do this blog and I’m going to share the accountability. I’m going to execute my vision for it. I’m not going to let these little minor things hold me back. And then I started, but that’s, uh, really how it began is I sat on it for three years. I was scared of failure. I was scared of people not liking what I had to say. Uh, and then in 2019, again, I had enough. And then I hit published on my first blog post and I haven’t looked back since.

Jonathan DeYoe: So what do you use as like, the metrics of success now? What is it that you measure?

Matthew: So that’s the other thing is for me personally, I measure success in terms of how much I’m able to publish. I think when people start blogging or people want to start a content related business, I remember telling my parents about the first time and they’re like, well, how many hits did you get? And I’m like, oh, well, not that many. But that’s not a metric I can control, right? I can’t control whether I’m going to have 10,000 page views. I can’t control whether I’m going to have 15,000 sessions. I can’t control my. Those are things beyond my control. When you’re doing an SEO focused strategy, a lot of people like to focus on the page views, the sessions, when in reality those are outputs of the process, which the process that you should be measuring yourself against is something within your control. So from my perspective, I measure my success on how many quality blog posts that I can publish in a month. That is the only thing that is within my control. And so that should be the only thing I grade myself against. I mean, there was a huge may update, may Google core update, and my page views got cut in half and I got really bummed out. And I’m like, well, did I do something wrong? What happened? And I just kept publishing. I’m like, you know what, whatever, I’m just going to ignore it. Let’s see what happens. And I kept publishing, and my page views went back to their normal levels. They’re actually a little bit above before that, uh, before the May core update hit. And so a lot of people would have looked at that 50% decline and been like, wow, I really suck. I did a terrible job with this blog, and then they’ll quit. But you need to compare yourself to the metrics that you can control. There’s going to be fluctuations. It is what it is, but at, uh, the end of the day, you can’t control how many hits that you have in a month. It should be focused on the output that you can control.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, so I preach this to clients all the time. The things you control your savings rate, you don’t control markets, you control your savings rate, you control your sort of reactivity to markets, you don’t control markets. Right, but I love that. But does that mean that the only thing you do is you hit plus and then hit publish, hit plus, write something good and then publish? Or are you also saying to these other fire bloggers, hey, check out this new post. Are you doing anything to spread the word? Or is it just you write and people find you?

Matthew: So I have a small twitter, and by small I mean I think I have like ten followers on there. And I just started getting active on it a couple days ago, actually. But I publish. The thing is, I don’t just blindly do the plus publish, plus publish. I think when you’re writing a post, like 80% of it is doing your research up front to make sure that it actually fits in with your long term strategy. It’s fitting in. So from an SEO perspective, is this something people are actually searching for? Is this something that can actually provide me that free reoccurring traffic on a monthly, yearly basis? So to be honest, yeah, I don’t do any form of outreach. I just started this program where I’m really big into data visualizations. I use a program called Tableau and I’ll make data visualizations for folks, for other firebloggers who want to visualize data a certain way. But in terms of outreach, that’s about it. Because I know that based on the research that I do, in six months from now, I should be able to hit a certain amount of increase in page views just based on my research. So one part of blogging is you want to write with your passion, but then the other thing that you have to keep in mind is you have to serve the SEO master. You have to keep that in mind. Otherwise, if I posted a post saying why I love my golden retriever, uh, I guess if you like golden retrievers, you would like that. But that’s not the type of content that provides value to a customer. I mean, when you’re writing for SEO, when you have somebody hit your website, you want them to go away and say, ah, they have that aha, um, moment. They learned something, they have something that they can apply to their lives. And so there’s definitely a lot of research that goes into it. But yeah, I don’t do any outreach, I just strictly focus on SEO and it has worked substantially, uh, since I’ve implemented that.

Jonathan DeYoe: So it blows me. I mean, I’m kind of impressed with myself right now because I found you, and maybe it’s just because I read a lot of fire blogs, but you’ve only been doing it for three years and I somehow ran across you maybe probably a year, nine months ago. So I’m impressed with myself to have found you. I’m still a little shocked and frankly just a little doubtful about the ability to just write great posts. So I guess here’s my question. I’m trying to formulate this. You talked about WordPress, you talked about tableau as tools. You’ve also mentioned that the SEO is really important, or writing for SEO is really important. What are the tools you’re using to determine what that SEO is like? How are you researching to determine, hey, these are the kinds of things people are searching for. How do you find that out?

Matthew: Yeah, so, uh, everyone’s process is a little bit differently, is a little bit different. What I have found success with there are tools. When I first started time value millionaire, ahrefs is a good tool. It’s spelled A-H-R-E-F-S. They have a seven day, $7 free trial where you could do that type of analysis, SEO analysis, to understand what underserved topics there are. So I used that in the beginning, but after that $7 trial, it was $189 a month. And with me trying to keep things as clean as possible, wanting to increase the profits of, uh, the business, obviously I’m not going to do that for a long term. So it was nice to get me started for a couple of months to have topics. But really, the process, it’s as simple as I think what I’ll do is I’ll have a book next to me at all times, whether I’m going to work or whether I’m just sitting at home and my wife and I were watching how I met your Mother or something like that. I’ll have my little book next to me and I’ll think of an idea and I’m like, oh, that’d be kind of interesting. And so what I’ll do is, as an example, the types of financial independence post. When I first was doing my research on, hey, what is financial independence? Uh, what all entails, that when I was first looking up stuff like that, there was nothing there. And I’m like, there’s no way that there’s nothing there. So you would go to some of the well known bloggers, like Mr. Money Mustache, my Money wIzard. I would go to a couple of these guys and I would try to piecemeal this data, but then I’d be like, I can’t be the only one with this question. What are types of financial independence? As an example? And so again, I type that in, I don’t find anything. So then I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to write the content that I know would provide value, and I know other people are searching for. And then if it’s good enough, if I write, all right, enough, if I hit it enough, people will find value in it and Google will reward me. And I think that was the second or third post I posted, and that one became an instant, was, you know, you go to Google, you’re looking for know, you might find a Reddit post, you might find something, A Quora, but there’s no website that’s covering the topic in depth. So if you, in that Specific case, I covered the topic in depth. And I think within two, three months, I was number one on Google for types of financial independence. And that brought in a lot of traffic. And so it’s really what I’ll do is I’ll go into Google, I’ll search something that, a question that I might have, like, I did one the other day, uh, I think I posted one a couple months ago about, is buying a website a good investment? I couldn’t find any database. Answers to the question, is buying a website a good investment? I ended up writing the post that I would want to read. I did the research, I did the calculations. And again, that post is doing well. So I go to Google. I see if whatever topic I have in mind is actually if it’s been written about, if it’s been written about by the Titans, like something about what is financial independence, right? You’re not going to rank for stuff like that. You’re competing against folks who’ve been in the business for 1015 years. Uh, I’m not saying that you won’t eventually rank for something as large as that, but it’s really tailoring those queries or trying to tailor those questions to things that don’t get a lot of hits. Haven’t been covered by Forbes, hasn’t been covered by Mr. Money Mustache. You look for those topics that are niche enough that people are looking for, but then also aren’t covered, because to someone big like a, ah, Forbes, why would I cover something that small? So even though that’s something people are searching for. So it’s going into Google, seeing what the results are. And if I think based on the crappy results or no results at all, then I’ll write a post about it. And that’s pretty much the process. Uh, there are tools, again, like ahrefs, but honestly, I’ve learned throughout this process that Google is the source, right? If I’m writing to appease Google, I should go directly to Google. So I’ll go into Google and I’ll do my research. I’ll search things. You go to the people also ask thing that will come up sometimes. If there’s already a featured snippet for it, which is that top above ranked, ranked number one post, you might not touch that with a ten foot full, but again, with the types of financial independence, that was a broad enough topic. I’m like, no one’s written anything about that. You write about it. And then again, people have that same search intent is what they call it. People were searching for it and no one was covering it. Uh, you see SEO for the first time working. It blows your mind. I mean, you’re not going to see it for two to three, four months. As your blog gets bigger and as your authority grows, your chance to rank number one goes up with time. However, those first couple of topics that you mean, I think there’s been research done that your peak, where you hit on Google, where you settle on Google, it’s after six to eight months of when you publish. That’s kind of frustrating from an A B testing perspective. Like, oh, did I do good research? Did I not? But I mean, really, it’s that easy. So you just analyze the Google results.

Jonathan DeYoe: I mean, the thing that’s really interesting about this to me, zooming out from the fire blog model, you can search beekeeping, you can search gardening, you can search if your interest, and this is the kind of thing I want to get across this season, is whatever the topic is that you’re interested in, it could be dungeons and dragons, it could be pick your topic and absolutely.

Matthew: I have another URL that I snagged. Um, it’s a blog that I’m eventually going to open up. It’s called tropical tree guide. Right. One of my passions is we live in south Florida, we live in a great climate, and I love growing all these exotic trees like rainbow eucalyptus, elang elang, coconut cream, mangoes. And so again, when I go into Google and I’m like, how to take care of a rainbow eucalyptus tree or how to grow or what kind of soils are like, there’s nothing there. So that’s going to be an example of a blog where that’s not fire related. But I know talking with some of the folks around where we live, I know that there’s other crazy plant people like me. I’m not the only one who has a rainbow eucalyptus or an elang elang or a Barbados cherry. So that’s an example of once I can take care of time, value, mill and air, and I got it in a self sustaining mode, then move on to the next business. But you’re totally right. Whether it’s dungeons and dragons beekeeping, there’s always something that people are searching for. And it doesn’t matter what topic, as long as you’re passionate about it and you like writing about it, you’re good to go.

Jonathan DeYoe: The deeply interesting thing about this to me is you would think, given that I don’t know what the actual statistic is, but the Internet has doubled in size every five minutes for the last 20 years. You’d think that every topic has been covered, but it’s just not the case. Like, you just talked about a specific tree that no one’s talking about, right? So how many other things could you. Even in the fire space, where there’s hundreds of very successful fire blogs, there are still topics that people don’t talk about or that no one has cornered the market on. And believe me, Mr. Money Mustache has tried. Like, he’s written about everything you can imagine, but there’s still little nuggets and little things you can talk about that he hasn’t covered fully. I guess the point is, the opportunity is still there to start a blog. It’s a little bit, maybe tighter niche at this point. But can you touch on since there aren’t the, uh, ahress, that’s not one of the tools. What are the tools that you use that help you in this whole process?

Matthew: Ahref is what I use initially. It really is just Google and WordPress.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right.

Matthew: Google and WordPress. Right. WordPress, it’s a free plugin. That’s the blogging term. It’s a free plugin that you put on your URL and. Okay, now you’ve got your basic WordPress template all set up. Now I’m going to Google, I’m searching and I do want to comment on what you just said. I don’t remember where I read it. I don’t know if it was Google actually came up with this. I think they did, but they said something like 15% or uh, it was a large percentage. It was like 15 20% of all Google searches on a daily basis have never been searched before. Some crazy statistic like that. So again, when you think there’s not enough room for me or who’s going to read about Dungeons Dragon, this specific strategy, you would honestly be surprised. But going back to your question, yeah, it really is. Just again, you could pay for those tools. I’m a proponent of trying to be lean as possible. And can it help you out? Can it teach you using a tool like mean? You know, I definitely learned a little bit more about blog authority and stuff like that. But really, at the end of the day, the thing that matters most is you go into Google, you see what information is out there, and if there’s not any information covering whatever topic that you care about, then cover it. And the beauty is you don’t have to write a 5000 word blog post if you’re looking for how to make bees dance, right? Uh, a crazy term like that, you don’t need to write a 5000 word blog post. If you can write a 250 to 500 word blog post about how to make bees dance, and you would be the leading, according to Google, you would be the authority on making bees dance. So being able to build on that topical authority, and as you build on that authority, as you cover topics, it’ll become easier to go from being able to write about super niche things like how bees dance once you kind of built that repertoire with Google, because the thing with Google is when you’re starting a new blog, there’s this thing called the Google sandbox. The Google sandbox in a nutshell is, okay, you’re brand new. The Internet. Google doesn’t trust you enough in order to put your results at the first page of Google. So what you have to do is you have to earn that trust and you earn that trust by building that topical authority, by covering these things that haven’t been talked about, right? Again, if I were to start a tree blog and my first article is how to just plant a tree, again, there’s big titans out there who have already covered that topic. But if I say how to take care of a rainbow eucalyptus tree, that’s something that may or may not have been covered. And so then in the tree example, right, if I write an article about rainbow eucalyptus and I write an article about elang, elang, things that haven’t been covered. Well uh, as those types of articles, because there’s no competition, they come to the first page of Google. Well people are clicking, Google has all the data on how long someone stay on your website. They’re like okay, I can begin to trust you. So then as your traffic goes up from covering these super low competition queries, well then you enable yourself, you’re building that authority, you’re building that trust with Google to then write about more competitive topics.

Jonathan DeYoe: And you get out of the sandbox.

Matthew: And you get out of the sandbox, you have to give them. I like to tell people know Google is an algorithm, right? The algorithm is based on the data points that you feed it. If I have a thousand blog posts covering different trees or covering beekeeping or dungeons and dragons, that gives the algorithm a lot more data to work with to see if I’m trustworthy enough to display results for. If I just publish the one blog post on a super competitive topic, there’s no way that I’m going to rank for it because what rate do I have or the trust isn’t there.

Jonathan DeYoe: Right? So can we pivot just a second to the business model? So you have this blog, you’re outside the, you get out of the sandbox, you have a little bit of authority, you’re writing for what people are searching for, how does that turn into revenue?

Matthew: Yeah. So from what I’m trying to do from an SEO perspective, let me just use as an example, let’s say that I think that a particular topic gets at least 1000 searches per month, right? So how ads work, which is the primary business model that I’m in, is I go to Google Adsense, I’ll grab their ad code, you throw it on your website. So then you have ads on your website. So how Google pays you is they pay you per 1000 impressions or they pay you per click. So impressions is just how many times somebody sees an ad and click is how many times they click through. If they click on the ad, you’ll get a larger percentage of that ad revenue. But if they just look at it, you’ll still get ad revenue, it just won’t be as much. And so going back, if I write a topic and it gets 1000 page views a month, well, so let’s just say that in the personal finance niche, your average per thousand page views, you’re going to make $5 per page view, right? So if I were to put one ad on one article and it was looked at 1000 times, that’s $5. Now if I put five ads on an article that is going to be seen 1000 times. Well now, again, assuming the average rpm, again, assuming the average rpm of $5, well then if it’s seen 1000 times and you have five ads on it, well that’s $50. And so what it really boils down to is you write these articles that you know are going to get traffic. You put x amount of articles on them and then based on how many articles are seen or clicked on, then you get money from Google saying, okay, let’s just say you had a specific ad, you had 100,000 ads served on your website. Well divided by 1000, I think that’s doing math on live. I think that’s 1000, right, 1000 times five. So that’s $5,000 right there. But really that’s what it boils down to is per thousand page views, you’re expected to make x amount of money for ads. And if you can either increase the number of ads or increase the number of posts that will get the traffic, then the more ad revenue you have coming in. And I actually did a good post, I think I mentioned it earlier about is buying a website a good investment? It kind of goes over some of that math where, okay, if you factor in affiliate sales, which that’s linking into Amazon, you’re doing a specific product. There’s the ad model, which is what I’m talking about. Either way you can make money. But my particular focus is ad revenue because Google really has been putting a beating down on a lot of those affiliate sites. An affiliate site is just those types of websites that will post articles like best couches for Florida, best camping gear for Colorado. Because the intent behind an article like that is to try to navigate you to Amazon and try to make a sale. There’s no trust, there’s no authority. I’m just trying to make a quick buck on you versus if you have an info based article that in SEO they call this, that’s called an evergreen article. Evergreen, meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s whatever season it is, people are going to search for it. It’s going to provide value. If you have an evergreen information based article that provides value to somebody, well, people are going to stick on it longer, people are going to scroll longer, you’re going to get more money per ad based on how long they look at the ad. So honestly, I think that’s the way to go. I would recommend people to stay away from affiliates wherever it’s possible. Because it seems like in recent years Google has been, if you do more affiliate stuff like that, you’re more likely to be punished by a Google algorithm versus if you’re trying to provide high quality information to a reader and then just get passive, um, ad income that.

Jonathan DeYoe: I mean, I’ve heard something similar about the affiliate world. I think what you’re talking about specific to the Amazon affiliate world where you’re getting the revenue per click is like a dollar. Not, for example, there’s like course affiliates. Somebody will have like a $3,000 program and that you can be an affiliate for them. And it’s more relational than it is. You’re trying to get a bunch of people to click on it and click through it to buy an Amazon product for $5. Right. So it’s, and maybe I could be wrong. I actually don’t know. But what do you think about the higher end affiliate world?

Matthew: So I don’t have too much insight into it. All I’ll say on that is I try to stay away from affiliates as much as possible, because going back to when we talked about starting your own side gig and being in control of your income, if you look at what Amazon has done the last couple of years, they’ve actually cut their rates on all the different commissions that you’ll get on products from across the board. So if someone might have gotten a 5% commission on a particular category, let’s just say a watch as an example, in recent years, if I recommend the same article to you a year later, two years later, Amazon has been cutting their rates a lot. So I try to stay away from it because again, I’m relying on somebody else. If I do a lot of affiliate stuff, even if it’s high end stuff, I’m still relying on a third party, something beyond my control that would affect m my potential livelihood in the future, trying to live on a blog. So that’s the only reason I personally like the ad business a little bit better. I know that there’s the rise of ad blockers and that’s just the way it is. But at the end of the day, if you have a loyal audience where you’re putting out content that helps them out, people are going to keep coming back. And I don’t know, again, my thing is I just don’t want to rely on anybody else but myself for success.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, just real quick, I know that you keep mentioning page views and there’s $5 per thousand page views. How do you tell, how does somebody know how many page views they have? How do they then verify that they’re getting the right, uh, payment from, say, google or wherever the ad revenue is coming from?

Matthew: Yeah. So when you install WordPress, I forgot to mention, it’s not necessary, but a lot of people, what they’ll do is they’ll install this program called Google Analytics to their website and uh, it inserts a little bit of code into your header of your website so that it will tell me how long someone’s been on the website. They’ll tell me what their journey through the website is. Maybe they came in organically through this one article and they clicked through to this other article and then maybe they went to Amazon or know at that point they ended. WordPress has this plugin called, I think, a sitekit by Google. Google actually makes just, it’s a plugin that Google makes that will insert that code automatically for you. Because when I started this, and even to this day, I’m not a big coder, I’m not a big dealing with a lot of that web development stuff. So I relied on that sitekit plugin from Google to insert that code automatically. And then from there you just go into your Google Analytics account and you can be able to track everything in that one convenient location.

Jonathan DeYoe: Got it. I’ve actually have been in the Google Analytics, and I guess I am less of a tech person than you are because that confuses, that confounds me incredibly. I have no idea how to read those things. So I have historically worked with some people that have helped me with that. So there’s resources out there that can help you with it. If you can’t do that yourself and they’re not atrociously expensive, you can pay a lot of money for somebody, manage this stuff for you all the time. I don’t think that’s necessary, but uh, just getting started. You may want to do some research on how Google Analytics work. You may want to do some of that yourself. You may want to actually get a coach on how to do it as.

Matthew: Well and make sure that person is from a reliable source. I’ve heard horror stories around the community where they’ll hire someone $5 from upwork or something and they’ll inject malicious code into your website. You don’t know any better because you’re not a coder. And then you’re wondering why Google then blocks penalizes you for clicking on your own ads or any type of fraud like that. And then they can get into the website, they can delete everything. So if you do go through a, uh, person, just make sure it’s somebody who you can trust. Make sure you meet them face to face or they’ve got a good reputation. They got great reviews because I’ve read a couple of those horror stories around the Internet where I’m like, gosh dang it, if that happened to me after all the hours I put into your baby, I would be really upset.

Jonathan DeYoe: Totally. Just one last thing in this line of thought, is there in terms of just business model and revenue? We talked about ads, we talked about affiliates. Is there anything else out there that people use to create, uh, a revenue source for their content?

Matthew: Yeah, sure. People can go into, they can sell their own course where they’ll go through a platform like masterclass and sell their own course that way where that’s more direct to consumer. I’m selling a digital product to you, or I’m selling a digital course to you. A lot of people will do ebooks. A lot of people will show you. I’ve seen some people do like SEO courses, like how to write for SEO, how to really up your Pinterest game. So I think that’s the other business model that a lot of people can pursue, which is developing your own products and selling them directly to your readers. Again, cutting out the middleman. You don’t need Amazon, you don’t need another affiliate program. So I know those have really good margins on really, if you’re really passionate, again, beekeeping, if you really have a course on how to do beekeeping in, you know, people will pay for that, especially if that information doesn’t exist. So it’s ads, affiliates, and your own digital products. Those are the, uh, three kings of monetization on a website.

Jonathan DeYoe: Got it. So you had mentioned in a prior conversation that you were, uh, trying to show the world that wealth building isn’t as scary as we make it out to be. I think you referenced how it’s all just simple math data and math can you explain that real quick?

Matthew: Yeah, so, I mean, I named the website Time Value Millionaire. I named it after this concept I learned it’s really big in the financial world. I’m sure you know about it, the time value money. And so the time value money, simply put, just means that Odalar today is worth more than a dollar in the future because of its ability to earn interest, right? So the whole idea behind time value millionaire is that everyone’s a millionaire in the future. We just have to figure out what the math is to get us there. Honestly, it really is just simple math. If, uh, you google, like, a time value of money calculator, we can calculate, well, how much money do I need to save over how much years or how much quarters to hit a specific goal? If you google a calculator there, or if you just google how to do the time value money calculations, it will show you exactly what you need to hit your goal. So again, if you’re trying to hit a million dollars and you’re assuming a 7% interest rate, it will tell you, okay, based on that compounding interest and everything, this is how much that you need to save from month to month to hit your goal. So I think a lot of what I preach is like, a lot of people will just throw a random number out there and say, I need a million dollars to retire, I need $10 million to retire, I need $5 million to retire. And I’m like, really? Do you know that? With certainty. So what I usually recommend for people to do is record your expenses. Whether you’re doing that manually, in a spreadsheet, or whether you’re using a service like personal capital or mint. Understand what your expenses are over like a six to twelve month period. Get a good idea on what your monthly expenses are. From there, you’ll be able to understand what your yearly expenses are. From there, you’ll be able to add a factor of, okay, maybe I want to have $20,000 more in retirement, or I want to spend a little bit more per month to month. You factor that in and then you do a time value of money calculation and it will tell you exactly how much you need to save in order to hit your goal. It really just boils down to a plus b equals c. We just need to plug in the a and the b to get c, right.

Jonathan DeYoe: I totally agree. I’ve often, uh, taught like, a retirement planning, and it’s like 45 minutes. And in 45 minutes I can take folks from, this is where you are, this is where we’re going to go, this is what you need to save. It’s very simple math, I think, where people end up with some challenges. What do I assume for my return? What do I assume for inflation today? That’s hugely up in the air. No one knows what’s going to come. And I always maybe agree with this. I always say, hey, let’s go back to the long term averages. Let’s really long term m averages. Let’s not worry about what happens this three months or six months or one year. Exactly three years, right? Let’s look at the long term averages and plan on that. We can use those averages to back end with simple math to back into very good answers.

Matthew: And there are good reputable websites. I get a lot of my long term averages from Vanguard and Fidelity, like Vanguard will have historical data based on, if you’re looking for a 40 60 split portfolio, how does that perform over 30 years? What I mean by that is, for everyone listening, 60% stocks and 40% bonds. How does that traditionally perform over a course of 30 years? Or maybe you’re a 50 50, or maybe you’re a 30 70. There are websites like Fidelity and Vanguard, who, that’s their bread and butter is to understand this data and present it to their customers. And there are other websites as well. But you can easily build those assumptions based on the long term averages. Either that they give, you know, with a couple Google searches, you can definitely get an idea of what the historical average is.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I like what you said in that there’s sort of two steps in my mind, one is, and I think you’ve said this for three or four times now, you really, really need to understand where you want to go. You need to understand what your dreamed of life looks like. And then it’s a matter of just simple math. And once you lock in, this is the dreamed of life, and then you do a little simple math, uh, you get your answers. And they’re actually really easy answers once you do those two pieces.

Matthew: And again, when someone says, I don’t know how much I need to retire, I’m going to say 30 million. And then they do the math on what it takes for a $30 million portfolio. And it’s like, then you’re like, whoa, I got to save $15,000 a month for 20 years or something like that. And that’s a 15% interest rate. It’s being realistic and understanding based on your personal situation. If you have a burn rate, meaning you spend $40,000 a year, which you calculated that based on the data that you collected, you as the, uh, person who’s planning for your retirement, you have to do the due diligence to understand, hey, this is my own unique situation. I’m not going to let the Joneses tell me that I need $10 million to retire because they assume that I’m going to have a luxury boat, even though I don’t like boats, or that I’m going to have a huge mansion when I don’t have a huge mansion. So it’s really doing the due diligence on our part to understand what the data, what our specific data is telling us, using those historical averages from reputable websites to understand what we can expect, and then plugging it in the formula into a calculator, and then we get a realistic number on what we need to achieve our goal. I know it’s scary when we first started, but I think it’s scarier to assume unrealistic expectations on how much you need to retire. And then you get deflated and you’re like, I’m not going to save anymore. I’m not going to do anything. What’s the point? You need to get that data yourself.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yes, I totally agree. That’s good stuff. Hey, I want to say thanks for spending the time with me today. Just a couple quick closing questions. Well, they could be quick. They could take time. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about, from a financial.

Matthew: Perspective or from life?

Jonathan DeYoe: It could be. I was going to the pet shop and I was going to get this kind of dog. I decided to get that kind of dog. So we want to prove flexibility in mental energy here. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Matthew: So I know this is a hot topic, especially in the wealth world, but cryptocurrency, I think I was so against it, and I still have a lot of questions about it. But for me personally, my philosophy is we have less than 1% of our entire portfolio in crypto. I will never have it more than that 1%, because if I lost 1% of my portfolio entirely, it would be something. It would hurt, but it wouldn’t kill me. So I think that was something that I listened to some folks on, and I’m like, you know what? I’ll put a little bit in there. I’m not going to think too much about it. That 1% being like a moonshot fund, like something, I don’t necessarily believe in it, but if it happens, you get your slice of the pie. So I’m a strict person financially, about. I like seeing the traditional cash flow. I like being able to be able to price assets, and I like the historical data that I have on that. But that is something that I do have. A little bit of cryptocurrency. It’s not a lot. Again, it’s less than 1% of our entire portfolio. But that was something that, even though I understand the value, I understand what people are saying. That’s, uh, something that I wouldn’t subject myself more than the percentage that we allocated to that got it.

Jonathan DeYoe: And I’m still a stalwart. No, on the currency, yeah, I understand.

Matthew: The technology behind it. But at the end of the day, it’s funny to see, uh, people talking months ago or years ago saying, oh, it’s a recession proof asset. But then when you see it move in, direct correlation with what we’ve been seeing in the markets lately, I’m like, okay, that’s cool. So it’s like, again, we probably have like $200 or something. It’s really a minuscule amount, but I never do more than that. It’s just you’re quote unquote, hedging your bets.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I get it. It’s okay to speculate a little bit, as long as you recognize the speculation, right? The second thing, is there anything people don’t know about you that you really want them to know?

Matthew: Well, from a personal perspective, I’m probably in the top 1% of people who have seen Hamilton. It’s a musical. If you haven’t seen it, really watch it. I listen to the soundtrack all the time. But from a serious perspective, I think one of the reasons why I love the blog that I’m value millionaire is I’m very passionate about data. I’m very passionate about not accepting things for face value and looking at the raw data myself. I’ve gone so far as to email the Federal reserve and tell them that, ah, some of their calculations, that I can’t remember if it was inflation or something, I can go back and look at that, but I found an error in how they calculated inflation. I sent them an email and they’re like, thank you for correcting this. I’ve talked with them a little bit about their data. My point that I’m trying to make is there is a lot of good data out there. And what I really pride myself in the blog is to be able to navigate all these clunky government websites, that it’s not the easiest to find data, but just know that the data, that it takes me two, three, sometimes 4 hours to find and clean the data. Again, we’re so used to seeing these headlines on, oh, 15% of Americans can’t cover an emergency or this or that, and really just asking those questions, where that data come from. I’m not saying that that data is wrong, but I really go out of my way. I spent a significant, um, amount of my time, probably more than the writing piece, to find that data, to present that data. So then you can then come to whatever conclusion you want. I remember trying to find personal savings rates data, and that took me a couple of days to find and clean up. But it’s really looking at the raw data and understanding, gleaning whatever conclusion you want from it. But it all starts with getting that raw data that make up all these clickbait headlines and actually looking at it for what it is and making your decisions based on that.

Jonathan DeYoe: So putting it in the frame, what do you want people to know about you? You’re someone that actually digs out the data, which I think is really important, and I think you’re absolutely right on. There’s so many headlines that they don’t lie. They just slightly misrepresent.

Matthew: Sure. Absolutely.

Jonathan DeYoe: Someone came to the story and they had a message they wanted to write, and so they used the data to make their message. They didn’t actually look at what the data said. They just said, oh, this is what the data says. That’s what they wanted to see. I think you’re right on there and right.

Matthew: I don’t have an mo, I’m not trying to sell you on anything. I want people to just have that data. I’m not trying to make a clickbait headline if it meant me being dishonest. It’s doing that investigative journalism, I guess you could call it, to get that data and then really presenting it in a way from a data visualization perspective so that people easily understand the conclusions that they can draw from it.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Tell us, just before we go, how do people connect with you?

Matthew: Yeah, so my blog is timevaluemillionaire. Uh.com. That’s usually where I’d spend a lot of my time. Like I mentioned earlier in the interview, I have been spending a little bit more time on Twitter. It’s, uh, tvm underscore fire. You can find me on Twitter there. But those are my two homes, is the website and trying to try Twitter out a little bit. But if you want to connect with me, send me a dm. Or if you want to talk about any ideas, if you want to do some data visualizations, if you want to do any collaboration. My email is at timevaluemillionaire@gmail.com. I also pretty good at responding to email right away, but that’s where people can find me.

Jonathan DeYoe: Great, thanks, Matthew. It’s been a great time.

Matthew: Hey, thank you so much, Jonathan.

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