I don’t know how people feel about their audience and their people. But here’s one thing I know about Journeyers…you guys are smart. And I love that I can talk about different things. I can bring on a range of topics. And you can decide if something is for you or not.Jamila Souffrant, Journey to Launch Podcast episode 229
When I was in my late 20s I read The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman and it changed my life.
I paid off any credit card debt I had hanging around from college and stayed out of consumer debt. Mia and I put a retirement plan in place for our us and our employees, we opened ROTH IRAs and maxed those out. I put our mortgage on a bi-weekly payment plan. We opened up savings accounts and treated saving like a bill — every time we got paid, a flat amount automatically transferred to our savings. I trained myself to get high off saving vs. spending.
I owe a lot to Suze and read almost all of her books, watched her CNBC show religiously and have listened to every episode of The Women and Money Podcast.
It’s safe to say I’m a big fan.
After Suze came out publicly, I was an even bigger fan. I always believed I responded well to a bossy woman, and the fact she was a lesbian too was all the better!
I’m always listening to finance-related podcasts and some of my favorites are the money-related episodes of Life Kit. One episode featured financial expert, Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche and I loved her style of talking about money so I bought her book, Get Good With Money. Her book introduced me to the term “FIRE.”
FIRE stands for Financial Independence and Retire Early — Maximizing lifestyle and retirement savings so one can retire before 65.
Some people achieve this goal as early as 30! My visceral response to this concept was, “No, that is NOT the responsible thing to do.” You work until you can’t anymore and save as much as you possibly can because you never know what could happen. But even though it freaked me out, my curiosity was definitely piqued.
Later, while listening to an episode of Frugal Living, a guest named Jamila Souffrant talked about FIRE. I loved what she had to say so I sought out her podcast (Journey to Launch) and listened to episode one.
I was hooked.
It took me several months, but I binged-listened to all 270+ episodes and I’m here on the other side to write about it.
What I Learned from the Journey to Launch Podcast
1. Jamila is amazing
While I was listening to her early episodes from 2017 I just knew Jamila was going to be successful. I follow her on social media, but avoided her posts because I didn’t want to get “spoiled.” I wanted to experience her successes as they unfolded. Also, you wouldn’t know Jamila doesn’t have a degree from the Terry Gross school of interviewing. She is so skilled at either asking the right questions at the right time or letting her guests talk to get the most from them.
Spoiler Alert: She made all her podcast goals and exceeded them. She won the awards she dreamed about in the early days. She made appearances on Good Morning America and got a book deal. I can’t wait to see where she goes in the future.
2. A good teacher doesn’t need to be tough
My mom is an Asian immigrant who raised me in a stereotypical “Tiger Mom” fashion so I always thought I responded better to scolding vs. supportive talk. I gravitated to Suze because she talks tough to her audience. On the other hand, Jamila trusts her audience, assumes they are smart, respects multiple approaches to finances and is very supportive and encouraging. This has been very eye-opening for me! There is not just one path to financial success and I don’t need a “Smack Down” to stick to a plan.
3. If you can’t find diverse guests that’s a you problem
Jamila had mostly people of color, mostly women guests on her podcast. That’s 200+ diverse guests all with unique areas of expertise and viewpoints. I am tired of white dudes with podcasts making the same old excuses as to why their guest are not diverse. Just because you don’t know diverse people in your field doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Do a better job!
4. It’s about the journey not the destination
The common narrative is: go to school, get a job, get married, have kids work until you’re at least 65 and THEN you can relax and enjoy your life. I want to enjoy every phase of my life. I don’t want my “best days” to only be in the past or the future. Jamila always emphasizes the journey and not just the end goal. We need to set ourselves up for life-long happiness every step of the way.
5. Retiring early is not irresponsible
I heard Suze recently say you should wait until at least 70 to retire if you can. I no longer agree with this. No disrespect, but Suze treats her audience like they’re all irresponsible. I get it, she definitely receives a ton of emails from people who have made big financial mistakes, but some of us are VERY responsible. We track everything (and have the spreadsheets to prove it), save a high percentage of our income and have a sound path to early retirement. I think we’ve been swindled into thinking the old school way is the only way to retire comfortably, but devoting the vast majority of our life energy to an employer (or the entrepreneurship hustle in my case) is robbing ourselves of time with loved ones. I refuse to do that.
6. Life is short and can be shorter
I watched a TED Talk on procrastination by Tim Urban, and one of his slides showed a 90 year life represented by shapes. Here is one of his graphics showing 90 years in months represented by dots.
At 51 years old, I am over halfway through those dots! If I retired at 65 I would be much closer to the end of the dots. One of my best friends died in her 30s of Leukemia, every year I hear of more people dying young or dying just when they reached retirement age. I see my parents approaching 80 and losing more and more of their mobility. I don’t want to waste my dots working. I want to enjoy a financially independent life while I am still in good health because you don’t know how many dots you’ll have.
7. We need more queer FIRE voices
This is my six praises and a push item. Out of 274 episodes Jamila had 4 out LGBT guests. 3 made it clear they were queer by mentioning a wife or their sexual orientation, and one was famously gay (Arlan Hamilton). NOT to say there weren’t other queer folks on her podcast! There may have been, but it wasn’t made known to the audience. On the other hand there were a lot of married couples, people who talked about their opposite sex spouses (not that being married erases a bi/pan orientation), a ton of heteronormative topics and one guy who went on about what women need to do to get a man to date them (yuck). There was one episode that was so straightness-focused and irrelevant to my life I fast-forwarded through it.
I am NOT AT ALL saying Jamila is homophobic! I just think our lives are not on most straight people’s radar.
Why am I mentioning this? There are a lot of financial issues LGBT people face that straight, cis people simply do not. My wife had to second-parent adopt our kid — this involves legal fees. Gender affirming healthcare is EXPENSIVE. Many queer folks are rejected from their families and cut out of any generational wealth. Sometimes those families step in after a queer person dies and tries to prevent their wealth from passing on to the people they wanted it to go to. In 29 states you can still get fired or denied housing for simply being LGBT and it is 100% legal.
I’m FIREd up and ready to go
Now that I’m all caught up on the entire Journey to Launch podcast what do I plan to do?
I have learned so much from Jamila and feel more inspired, motivated and focused than ever before on Financial Independence.
I want to be another queer voice in the FIRE movement and write about it. This wont be a side hustle and reading my posts will not send readers down a opt-in funnel. I just want to record my progress, power money moves and express my thoughts. I don’t promise to publish posts on a set schedule or start a podcast, I just want to write when I feel like it.
In the meantime, I encourage EVERYONE to listen to Jamila’s podcast!
Start with episode one, every episode is valuable and timeless.
Thank you, Jamila, for your podcast! It has set my life in a new direction and I am very grateful.