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One of the most beautiful things about blogging is that over time, you begin to build relationships with other bloggers who have shared interests and beliefs. You get to know them intimately through the stories they share and if they survive the two year slump— the point where most bloggers give up— you may even get a chance to meet them in person. At least, that was the case between us and the blogger behind apurplelife.com.
The first time we read A Purple Life’s blog was like watching the sunrise on the first day of a long vacation. For Mrs. r&R , reading it was like imagining what life would be like if she’d found FIRE ten years sooner. For Mr. r&R, Purple’s blog offered hope that the next generation of workers would be better defenders of time— their most precious resource. We’d read her posts, joke about whether she’d quit sooner than her anticipated date and reminisce on our own experiences of political theater at work. For us…a Purple Life's blog is beautiful, hilarious, cringeworthy, snarky and hauntingly familiar. It's financial umami. Click To Tweet
So when the hosts of the ChooseFI podcast asked us for a blog we’d recommend to their listeners that wasn’t our own, it was a no-brainer to respond…A Purple Life. We’re fans of her work and even greater fans of who she is as a person.
Q on @choosefi: “What’s your favorite blog that’s not your own?” Answer: “A Purple Life” 😱x a trillion. Besides that answer making my century, this episode is packed with awesome tidbits about @richandregular. Check it out and now please excuse me: https://t.co/APLoflQJ1M pic.twitter.com/1xTTd81RUu— A Purple Life (@APurpleLifeBlog) April 15, 2019
It’s been a few years since we first met, and since then, we’ve enjoyed getting to know her better, watching her blossom as a young woman and creative spirit. Since she’s a foodie [like us], we once took full advantage of her visit to Atlanta by preparing a keto-friendly meal for her and another guest at our home. While they didn’t know at the time, they were guinea pigs for what would ultimately become Money on The Table.
But we’ve also had the great pleasure of dining with Purple at her mother’s home. And as you might imagine, the purple apple [which is probably more like a plum] didn’t fall far from the tree. It’s a special treat to spend time with them; to watch them go back-and-forth giggling like schoolgirls who’ve been BFFs forever. If there was an award to be given for best Mother-Daughter relationship, Purple and Momma Purple would undoubtedly be finalists. But since there isn’t, we’ll settle knowing that a Purple Life is deservingly a finalist for both Blog of the Year and Best Financial Independence or Retire Early Content at the 2020 Plutus Awards.
But that’s not the only reason we set time aside to speak with her and her Mom. Purple recently announced that she’d reached her goal of achieving financial independence and was retiring at 30. Yes, you read that correctly. For the last ten years, she’s been laser focused on keeping her expenses remarkably low, investing at a high rate and letting the magic of compounding interest do it’s thing. And boy did it ever.
Since 2011 the Dow Jones Industrial Average has more than doubled from an average closing price of 11,957 to 27,682 as of the closing bell on October 2, 2020. And as an index fund investor, Purple has earned her fair share of returns from this bull market.
In our opinion, she is one of the purest examples of the FIRE movement we’ve ever seen. She believes deeply in the principle of frugality, fiercely tracks her spending, invests exclusively in index funds and is truly looking forward to not working…like at all. She cooks at home often, travel hacks and is well respected within the broader FIRE community while maintaining anonymity to the outside world. Since the pandemic spoiled our plans to see her face-to-face this year, we were really looking forward to catching up to see how she’s been.
r&R: When you invited us to your Mom’s house , it reminded us of how many meaningful moments and life lessons happen right at the dinner table. Between then and the time we had you [Purple] over , that’s actually what inspired Money on the Table. Did you know that and what do you remember from those conversations?
Purple: Nope [I didn’t know that]. But it sounds like we need to be Executive Producers and get that credit!
Momma Purple: That’s so cool. I just remember the taboo topic about people sharing salaries at work. But when you were talking about discussions at the dinner table, I thought that was so true because we used to do that with our kids and they HATED IT. We’d sometimes talk about money, like their allowance, and we noticed that they remember it, even ‘til this day. There’s something to it.
r&R: Hopefully we can do it again sometime. It’s hard to eat with masks on but we’ll figure something out. So Purple, you’re one of the smartest people we know. Why wouldn’t you use your intelligence to pick stocks or do something a bit more challenging than just [investing in] index funds?
Purple: Because I think I’d be horrible at it. Thank you so much for the wonderful praise but yeah…I’d suck at it. Even people who are incredibly intelligent and do that for a living aren’t good at it. So I’m not confident enough to think that I would be better than the best of Wall Street. Also, I’m just straight up lazy so…index funds all the way!
r&R: Momma Purple, didn’t you teach your daughter to reach for the stars and to not be so lazy? Help us out here?
Momma Purple: I can’t because she’s living by example!
r&R: So you’re second-generation financially independent. How did Momma Purple’s journey inspire yours? Did seeing that example fuel you to start early?
Purple: She definitely inspired me. Since she retired at 55, that’s what I strived to do. But since she did so by not investing in stocks until she was 40, I thought I didn’t have to think about it until I was 40. But a combination of my partner’s influence and my Mom [being the original inspiration] got me here at 30.
r&R: So when did you start investing?
Purple: I started investing right out of college in my 401k. I talked to my Mom’s financial advisor. Don’t get me started.
They went on to tell us their shared history in working with financial advisors. Like many parents do, Momma Purple made a recommendation for Purple to work with the advisor that she’d worked with. But over time, they noticed there was little growth in their balance and in some cases, they even lost money. After learning their retirement portfolio was loaded with several expensive mutual funds, they switched advisors but unfortunately, the same thing happened. 18 years and three financial advisors later, Momma Purple allowed her diligent, and financially savvy daughter to lead the way in determining how they’d manage their respective retirement portfolios. And they haven’t looked back since.
They’re not bitter though. They don’t consider themselves or feel like victims to sleazy, money-grabbing salesmen. If anything, the missed opportunity is what lead them to where they are. In a way, we suspect, it may have even brought them closer together. Here’s Momma Purple reflecting on the journey.
When we first met Purple, within minutes we felt a sense of kinship with her. She’s Black, into this whole FIRE thing, she was born in Atlanta, [but living in Seattle at the time] we worked in the same career field [marketing] and she had an astonishingly low tolerance for bullshit. According to the Myers Briggs personality assessment, she’s an INTJ which would imply she’s highly analytical, logical and creative. INTJ’s tend to be introverted and have a deep appreciation for control and order so you can understand why faking the funk day-in and day-out was taxing on her. She just wanted to go to work, do her job well and come home.
She’d find herself exhausted by the pressure of pretending corporate culture and work environments forced on her. From our perspective, as her net worth grew, her tone changed and she was much more willing to call out the bullshit she experienced on the job. We were curious to see if she’d noticed a difference in herself. Here’s how she sees it.
r&R: We know your approach to investing hasn’t changed since you started. But has your embracing of frugality evolved over time? From what we’ve seen, you’ve been eating quite a bit of takeout.
Purple and Momma Purple took us down memory lane as they reminisced on early childhood lessons. If you consider the idea of frugality extreme, then listening to them talk about it may help it feel a bit more approachable.
r&R: You don’t know this but you literally remind us of a family member. She is someone that we suspect is struggling with her sexual identity. On your blog, you made the announcement that you were Bisexual. Did you share that to help other people come into their own and embrace who they are?
Purple: That’s exactly why I shared it. I struggled with labels [and still do] for years and I thought of giving an example of that struggle [my struggle] would be helpful. Also, it’s started some really wonderful and deeper discussions with friends. It made me feel less alone and other’s told me it made them feel less alone too.
Purple doesn’t consider herself an influencer for obvious reasons. But when we think about her and the potential for her story to create positive change, there aren’t many other terms that encapsulate what she does for people. We’ve tried our best to persuade her to write a book, but as of today, she’s resisted the notion and stubbornly gravitated to the lazy life. She’s even openly stated that she won’t be writing for much longer on her blog.
That’s also one of the reasons we wanted to tell her story here. Selfishly, since we can’t get all the purple we want and kidnapping is illegal, we figured we’d store a little sliver for ourselves. Honestly, aside from the family member she reminds us of, we see dozens of people we know in her face and spirit. We’re confident that if more people like her approached life as courageously as she has, the world would be a better place.
r&R: Momma Purple, do you manager Purple’s inbox?
Momma Purple: LOL [at the notion of being technologically savvy enough to do it]. No, the only thing I see are the comments that she just absolutely loves and looks forward to every single week.
r&R: Oh, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We ask because we’re certain that every now and then she gets emails from strangers around the world that make her say “wow”. So I’m wondering if you’d [Purple] be willing to share with your Mom a few of them.
Purple: They’re mostly Instagram DM’s and I took a screenshot of one the other day from someone who I didn’t even know was following me. She just came out and said …
“Not gonna lie, sometimes the only reason I look forward to Tuesday is I get to read A Purple Life’s latest blog post. I’m especially looking forward to tomorrow.Anonymous Twitter follower of A Purple Life
Purple: I was just like whaaat? Are you serious? I made Tuesday’s a thing for you? The other day somoene else emailed me saying they learned about FIRE from my blog and now they’re like four years from retirement.
Momma Purple: Aww I believe it. She’s inspired me that way. I told her that through this blog, I’ve learned so much about her inner self that she hasn’t even shared with me. LOL. Im amazed every time [I read it]. Some have brought me to tears but most make me laugh like crazy. I relate to so much of what she’s said and it makes me think back on my own journey. How she’s figured it out so quickly just…amazes me. So yeah…she’s had that same impact on me too.
We’ve made several bold predictions about A Purple Life since meeting her and most of them have not happened. But we’re really hoping 2020 can do us a solid and make one tiny wish come true. We told Purple we were willing to bet all our shares of Tesla that she’d be awarded Blog of the Year at the 2020 Plutus Awards. But since she knows [like her] that we’re die-hard index fund investors, she knew not to put too much faith in our proclamation. She’s kinda shy and humble but decided to indulge us anyway when we asked her to give an acceptance speech [which isn’t a thing by the way].
Here’s what she was able to cobble together.
Nobody knows what the future will hold. Whether she wins another award or not, you could argue she’s already won the bigger prize…her freedom. Conservatively, if she never invested another dollar and allowed 2/5ths of her portfolio to compound until she turned 65, she’d have a nest egg worth approximately $2 million dollars to draw down from. Considering she’s on track to live on approximately $20,000 this year and maintain a low cost of living into the forseeable future, we’d say she she’s only beginning to live her best, purple, life.