Hello Jacob (and everyone reading this story),

Here is some background on our story.

My Name is Mina Irfan and I am an ex-consumerist and a proud minimalist on my way to Financial Independence. My story begins about 11 years ago, when at the age of 25, I found myself a single mother to a beautiful baby boy, making 6 figures as real estate entrepreneur and blowing it all on a fake, lavish lifestyle. As they say, “you can’t out earn consumerism,” no matter how much I earned, I managed to spend it all, and then some, always one transaction away from losing it all. The only obvious solution at the time, was to keep trying to earn more money, which resulted in spending less and less time with my son. I had learned very poor financial habits from my parents, and even with the ability to earn a good living, I was not living a financially responsible lifestyle.

A few years later, I met a kind, loving, and simple man. Irfan had a stable career as an engineer, and lived a simple, fulfilling, easy going life. He had a passion for physics and philosophy, and was the most brilliant and intelligent person I had ever met. We got married and decided it was best if I became a stay at home mom to help my 4 year old son transition into this new family. Within months of this new life, I found myself depressed and unhappy with my circumstances. I was no longer earning an income, something I had never experienced since starting my first job at 16. It also became clear that my new husband and I had very different views on money and lifestyle. After adding another baby to the family, I started a YouTube channel to try and settle into my new life and hopefully find some contentment at being a stay at home mom.

I was struggling with not having my own income, and we decided that I would have a personal “fun money” budget. Even though this didn’t make sense to Irfan, he was very patient and kind with me during this process. As he worked hard to pay off our mortgage and save over 50% of our income, I blew that fun money every month on frivolous things. I quickly realized that even with my generous monthly fun money, I was always overspending. I’m sure my husband noticed this, but he never said a word. A year later we moved states due to a better job opportunity and took a home mortgage once again – while renting out our previous home. Instead of realizing this added financial pressure on my family, I increased my fun money allowance and justified it with the fact that my YouTube channel was bringing in a little bit of money every month.

In 3 short years, my husband paid off our mortgage and despite contributing very little to this directly, I felt very proud as this was something I dreamed of achieving for myself since being a teenager. One day as my husband looked particularly tired and worn down after a long day at work, we somehow got into the discussion of how I felt like I didn’t know much about our finances and felt like an outsider. Irfan countered my complaining with the fact that he had been working for decades now in a career that bought him very little personal satisfaction. I was shocked. This really took me by complete and utter shock. He was so good at what he did, and never complained, it had never dawned on me that he was unhappy or unfulfilled in his career. “You know my real passion has always been physics,” he continued. In that moment I felt sad for him and really disappointed with myself. How could I have missed such an important aspect of my husband’s life? Probably because I was busy being a victim of society and self-medicating myself with consumerism. It was now my mission to do whatever I could in my power to help my family reach Financial Independence so that my husband could free himself from his job.

In the next few weeks, we sat down and looked at our spending habits. The good news was we had two paid off properties, one bringing in a good rental income, and we were saving about 66% percent of our income. My husband created an excel spreadsheet that detailed how certain lifestyle/money changes would impact our savings rate, thus directly reducing the time he needed to work. For the first time in our marriage, I started to feel in full control in our finances. I used this opportunity to educate myself and become more financially literate. An avid reader already, I checked out books after books on finance, started taking free online courses, and discovered many Financial Independence/Early Retirement Blogs. I learned quickly the reason I had never been successful despite earning a high income was because I didn’t know the basic laws of how money worked.

We decided to use my YouTube channel as a way to keep ourselves accountable. We declared ourselves “minimalists” and rid our home all the useless stuff we owned. We started experimenting with cutting back on different expenses, always giving ourselves a “one month veto” policy. If cutting back on something brought on unhappiness, we could revert back as long as we had tried it out for at least a month. With a little effort, we raised our savings rate to 80%, getting rid of my personal fun money budget and establishing a more reasonable “family fun money” budget helped this along nicely. During this time we launched a Life Coaching Business, The Universe Guru, LLC was born, something that not only utilized my college degree, but also bought me great satisfaction, while contributing to our savings. Using Irfan’s excel spreadsheet, we announced our plans to retire by August 2020, before his 49th birthday.

Present Times:
Irfan (age 45) and I (age 36) run a YouTube channel, blog, and coaching business, and a local Minimalism Meetup group in Houston where we help other families overcome their consumerist lifestyles. We continue to save 80% of our income as we enjoy life, and travel the world with our 3 beautiful children (ages 12, 6, & 2). As a family, it is very important to us that we take the time to enjoy the journey, and not just focus on the end goal. We have become so much closer and more powerful as a family, and this has already changed our future legacy. Our 12 year old proudly tells family and friends that he plans to retire before his 30th birthday. Although we are fully enjoying the present journey, I continue reading and learning from others in high hopes of being able to reach our Financial Independence date a little sooner. Nothing will make me happier than to see the joy and relief on my husband’s face when that day finally comes.
You can follow our journey on our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/theuniverseguru or contact us through our website: https://www.TheUniverseGuru.com

With Love and Gratitude,

Mina Irfan