Financial Independence Interview-Northern Expenditure

Welcome to Even Steven Money and the Financial Independence Interview series, today we have with us Maggie from Northern Expenditure. Since I love giving away some of my favorite notes from the interview, don’t be surprised if you come across catching your own salmon……I pay $15.99 for wild caught salmon or doing what so many of us are striving for in reaching financial independence, to help others.

If wild caught salmon and helping others doesn’t get you excited about reading the interview, then you my friend are full of crazy, but should read anyways:)



Who are you and tell me about your reason for setting a goal of FI?

My name is Maggie Banks (“hi, Maggie”) and I have been on the FI wagon for five months now. In June, my husband’s job started talking layoffs. Immediately, we were thrown back to our ten months of unemployment during the Great Recession. I hate to admit it, but after Mr. T got a job and we moved to Alaska, we hadn’t really considered any other options. We were afraid to go back to those days of uncertainty. But the layoff threat got us really talking. Mr. T expressed a desire to never apply for another job and mentioned that what he really wants to do is work for himself. We realized that way back in 2009, we probably would have started something on our own if we had enough funds and confidence to do so. We lacked both. Once we knew Mr.T’s job was secure this summer, we made a plan to never have to apply for jobs or work for someone else again.

Who got you started and who motivates you on your Financial Independence journey?

I was an avid reader of PF blogs for a long time before we had this discussion. Though we had no significant debt, I started reading a whole bunch of blogs about people who did try to get motivated to save. Anna Newell Jones and Cait Flanders were my favorites. In my consumption of anything PF related, I knew that Financial Independence/Early Retirement was a possibility… but most people I read were doing it with dual incomes, no kids, and with incomes over double what we make combined, so I discounted it as a possibility. Now that we’ve hopped on the bandwagon, I’m realizing there is so much inspiration out there. Even Steven’s Financial Independence Day list is full of awesome people that constantly inspire me. I read nearly all of those blogs! Everyone has their own route to Financial Independence and that’s what’s awesome. I can pick and choose tactics that will work specifically for us because the best path is the one that will work for you!

Banks Fam

The Banks Family

What or Who is your Why?

Though I work from home part-time as a researcher in the field of behavioral economics, I am primarily a stay-at-home mom of three young kids. They are always our “why.” We want to teach our kids so much more than what we can right now. We want to take them around the world and show them that people are different everywhere, and that is awesome! That we can make real friends that don’t do anything the same way we do and that one way is not right and the other wrong. The possibilities of life are literally endless. If our kids only see us following the path everyone else in our society is following, they will think that is the only one to take. I want them to see what’s out there and decide for themselves who they want to be and what they want to do in life.

Do you have any debt?  If so do you have a plan to pay this off before FI?

The only debt we have is $82,600 left on our mortgage. Our plan includes paying this off before FI. Though we understand the math of paying off a low-interest mortgage early, we also wouldn’t be able to consider ourselves “Financially Independent” if we still had to make payments to the bank for our own residence. We highlighted our quality-adjusted life year calculations in a guest post on the Frugal Cottage in September. Our quality-adjusted life year calculations indicate that paying off the mortgage is worth it for us.

What planned income streams are you working on towards FI and Early Retirement?

Alaska is an expensive place, but definitely also has its perks. We catch our own salmon, don’t pay sales or income tax, and the state even pays us to live here. We are also in the middle of participating in the Alaska State Energy Rebate Program which will help jump-start us on our path. My husband works in software. He doesn’t make a lot of money for his field, but he works in a job with 6 weeks of vacation, great health insurance, and every other Monday off, so we plan to work towards FI the slow way so we can enjoy the road and our time together while the kids are young. I work 10-15 hours researching from home and that helps supplement our income. In fact, I just got a 33% raise thanks to my kid jumping on me! Mr. T is also an artist of sorts. That’s what he spends his extra time doing. If we can figure out how to market his creativity, that would be great. But it’s always awkward selling your own stuff. And he fears it will turn it into a job for him rather than an enjoyment… so there are obstacles there. Mostly, we plan to just up our savings rate as much as we can, live as frugally as possible, and stay the course. Once we achieve FI, we don’t have income streams planned. We plan to make some money doing our own thing–whatever that ends up being–but we don’t want to have to rely on that. We also don’t plan to have dividend or rental income in FI like many. We just plan to live off of our investments.

What are your plans during early retirement?  (Travel, special projects, part-time work)

Early retirement for us would mean the ability to live anywhere and do anything. Mr. T and I are “project people” by nature. We are always working on some artistic something (though ironically, we’re not at all “crafty”). Maybe we’ll figure out how to make money doing something we love and can employ our children to help. We also have a lot of philanthropic plans for the future. Mr. T and I have a love for Cambodia and hope to return with our children and do something meaningful there. The point of Financial Independence is that it is Independence! Freedom! We will be able to do whatever we choose to do. Those plans can change yearly, or monthly! And our kids can be involved in the decisions. I’m as excited as you to find out what we actually end up doing!


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6 Responses to “Financial Independence Interview-Northern Expenditure

  • Great interview! Glad you guys joined the FI party this year.
    Fervent Finance recently posted…2015 Year in Review & 2016 GoalsMy Profile

  • Awesome interview! I love that you are interested in travel and helping others for FI, but also taking it a little slower to be sure to enjoy the journey. In my opinion that’s essential with kids.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Happy Birthday to Pretend to Be PoorMy Profile

  • Really nice interview and cool to see pictures of Maggie and the family in Alaska. I love their outlook on raising kids and teaching them the world is bigger than the community they live in.

  • Excellent interview, Maggie!! I am always in awe of the lessons you continue to teach/show your children – that they can choose who they would like to be, and exposing them to different places & cultures will help provide them opportunities to learn. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂
    Alyssa @ GenerationYRA recently posted…The Eugene ElfMy Profile

  • Hi Maggie!
    Behavioral economics sounds like a cool field, could that potentially help negotiate salary increases just looking at how your boss behaves?
    I do not know Cambodia but I’ve spent several weeks in Vietnam and loved it. South east Asia is definitely an area I’d like to spend more time visiting. It’s good to have you in the PF community, you have a unique perspective and a unique style for story telling (who doesn’t want to visit Alaska now?)
    Keep it up and happy new year!
    TheMoneyMine recently posted…The Fed’s Rate Hike explainedMy Profile

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