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Reader Profile Friday: My Money Design

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know MMD from My Money Design. Thanks for participating!

Hello BFS readers!  I’m the writer / creator of My Money Design and I go by the anonymous name MMD.  My Money Design is a blog that is all about perfecting your “money design” – the way you do things with your money and life to help you get you closer to your financial goals.  For me, I end up spending a lot of time focusing on early retirement and how many investments plan to get me there.

About the MMD Family

I’m a 32 year old guy with a lovely wife of 10 years and two beautiful kids.  We live in the U.S. just outside of Flint, Michigan.  If you’ve never heard of Flint, it was actually the birthplace of General Motors.  Flint was also made incredibly popular in the Michael Moore movie “Roger and Me”.

Our Story

Unlike a lot of the Reader Profile stories I’ve read here on BFS, our story isn’t really one of overcoming debt.  Rather it’s about how two average kids got to where they are today, and where we plan to go from here.

My wife and I met in college and decided to marry at a very young age.  By the time we were expecting our first born, I was still finishing up my senior year.  She had just started teaching with a salary of $30K.  I was still working part-time as a server at a restaurant.

My first job (several months out of college) is still my employer today.  I took a job as an engineer making $35K per year – which was far below the median $60K my friends were making doing the same thing.  Given the circumstances of no other offers, no prior experience, and a child on the way any day, I decided to take it.  Thankfully it ended up being a very smart decision.

Rather than just accept that this was it in terms of income, we both had an insatiable appetite for more.  Like most parents, my wife and I knew that we wanted opportunities for our kids beyond what we could currently provide.  These were things like a house, access to college, family vacations, the whole nine yards!  So we both pushed ourselves harder.  We both went back to school and got Masters degrees while were working full time.  One funny story is that my son was born on the day of my accounting final!

I also quickly recognized that my employer had a generous profit sharing program where the most valuable employees would be paid a handsome bonus each year.  Rather than leaving this job to take my chances somewhere else, I did everything I could do to position myself as one of the top performers.  It paid off!

The Paradigm Shift – How Our Financial Goals Have Evolved

When you’re young, the only way you know how to do better or make more money is by working at a job.   While there’s nothing wrong with hard work, I began to realize that there were some serious flaws in this way of thinking.

For example, were there ways I could make money that DIDN’T involve working?  Of course there were!  When I was a child, I was fascinated by the concept of “interest” and how one can make money for literally doing NOTHING more than simply lending it to someone else.  This led me to be very passionate about learning everything I could about investing and safe-guarding my money.  But things didn’t stop there.

My obsession with passive income was only later amplified when I read a mix of good books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and “The 4 Hour Work Week” that demonstrated other ways of generating potentially unlimited income.  Looking for such opportunities is what led me to blogging and dividend investing.  The other great lesson I received was watching so many people lose their jobs / fortunes during the Great Recession of 2008.  I was seeing firsthand what the consequences of not having diversified income and taking on too much investment risk would do to you.

So with that, the focus of my wife and I shifted from “how can we make more money” to “how can we become more financially independent”.  That’s where the concept of the “money design” was born.  Now we have a very ambitious goal to retire in our 40’s.  If you’d like to see how we plan to do this, check out the latest update of our money design.

In a nutshell, we plan to achieve this through living in moderation, doing well at our jobs, utilizing all our tax sheltered retirement accounts, concentrating on building passive income streams, and continuing to be financially educated.  To date, our best year of combined income was just under $200K and our net worth is above $400K.

Why I Blog and What You Should Take Away

There’s nothing special about what we do.  We simply set a goal and never stopped asking what we can do to get there.  That’s what I promote week after week on my blog.  I want to help people accomplish the same things we achieve.

But there’s something else that’s great about blogging that I never realized until later.  It keep ME innovating.  I’m constantly trying to come up with new ways I can hit my goals and push the limits of how we can become financially free.

What I’d really like you to remember is that regular people can WIN when it comes to money.  All you need to do is stay ahead of the curve and be willing to do what others do not.  Even though building wealth can feel like chipping away at a tall mountain, never stop asking yourself how you can get more efficient at doing it!

My question for the readers: What strategies have you found that work for building wealth and reaching your financial goals?

Crystal’s Comments:  Great profile!  I have been a bad Crystal and haven’t been reading enough other blogs for the last year or so.  MMD’s financial views seem very much like my own and I should have known that, lol.  Looks like you are off and running towards early retirement!  Go, boy, go!!!

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

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16 comments to Reader Profile Friday: My Money Design

  • Hey MMD,
    I think this is a really great write up about you, your life and your site. I have read everyone of your posts since I found your site a few months ago and I didn’t know anywhere near this amount of information about you.
    Just an idea, but perhaps you could incorporate some of this stuff in your about page as I’m sure your regularly readers would be interested.

  • Great Profile, good luck on your future goals. $400K is awesome for somebody your age. Question do you include home and car values in the net worth figures? Also how much are you saving percentage wise compared to the income you have?

  • I always enjoy reading these for bloggers I have read for a while. I don’t make it to enough about pages to get the stories!

  • Congratulations, MMD! Your story of success inspired me to work harder, not on a job but on my business and blogs. I knew back then that there are other ways of making money other than working for an employer.

  • I agree with MMD. I guess his point of view on entrepreneurship is almost similar with Seth Godin’s “This might not work, let’s do it” which I think everyone who wants to succeed in life should emulate. Congratulations MMD!

  • ‘Recession-proofing’ and independence in our lives is the reason I started an office cleaning business. There are no limits to our growth (no waiting for a raise) and with multiple clients, I can never be ‘laid-off’. I may lose one account at a time, but never all of them at once.

  • You guys rock! Grad school with little ones…and the two of you, too! How did that class turn out with the final? Were you able to be there when the little one was born? I love that fact about blogging, too. It forces you to keep finding new/more efficient ways to be the best financial you you can be.

  • Your story sounds familiar! My wife and I married right of college thanks to the Vietnam War. Different time and place! In my thirties, I enacted a plan for financial freedom and achieved it by 38 years old. Keep it up and it will happen.

  • Thanks Everyone for the positive support! And thank you Crystal for letting me post here today.

    Glen – Thanks for always visiting. You’re absolutely right – I should do more posts like this. To be honest, this one was actually a big leap of faith for me since I don’t usually get this personal in my posts. However, I do think there is a lot of value in learning from the success (or mistakes) of others, and then applying them to your situation. Maybe I can get more personal in my future writing …

    Rich Uncle EL – Thanks! Yes, I do include the house and car in my net worth figures. But I also debit my mortgage and auto loan from the calculation as well (which ends up working out to a wash unfortunately). I have yet to calculate the full percentage of what we save overall (this is something that I should just know). I can tell you that at a minimum we max out my 401k and our two IRA’s. Plus there are 403b contributions, 529 contributions, side purchases of stocks, and the occasional deposit into savings.

    Lance – Thanks for always being a reader! You’re up next for this Reader Profile :)

    Manette – Thanks for calling my story inspiring! I think we could all use a little income diversification.

    MMI – I did not know that Seth Godin has that same mantra. But I obviously agree. I think sometimes you just have to go for it, play it smart, and constantly evaluate (both short term and long) if you’re doing the right thing.

    Rod – That is exactly the same defense I have read for many successful real-estate moguls. They may lose one paying tenant, but never all of them. It’s very interesting to hear some diversity out there in terms of how people are making their money.

    FF – Ironically, I got an “A” in that class. Thanks for backing me up on the blogging topic. I can’t remember who said it, but there is a quote that goes “you don’t really know a topic until you can explain it to someone clearly enough for them to understand”. This is exactly what blogging forces me to do.

    KC – And I thought 45 would make a good age to shoot for! Hearing that someone else was able to pull this off and succeed by age 38 gives me a great amount of inspiration that it could happen! Thanks for sharing!

  • Impressive that you are able to do it with a couple of kids. I mainly rely on real estate to build wealth, because I like tangible thinks and am a bit confused with all the stocks and bonds out there. Good luck MMD!

  • Strategies that have really worked for us so far is real estate. This has helped us a lot to get to where we are today.

  • Hi MMD,
    Thanks for your story! My husband and I live in Michigan too and got married in 2010 at 21/22 years old right out of college. We managed to pay off $30k of student loans, save a 6-month emergency fund, save for a second car we might need, and are 50% of the way to a down payment on a home– all from using the basics of Dave Ramsey’s teachings! I added your site to my Google Reader.

  • Pauline – Thanks for being a long time reader! Kids can add an extra layer of challenge, but the rewards they bring to your life far out-weigh any short term complications. I constantly evaluate if I should move into real estate. We’ll see …

    CMWYWEC – Thanks! Real estate is certainly lucrative and there are a lot of good success stories. Hopefully one day I can make the leap.

    Jessica – Thanks for the introduction! I’ll be checking out your site. I tend to pay special attention to blogs from my home state.

  • Thanks for sharing your profile. I love knowing the “back story”. I agree that most people think working at a job to make money is just what you have to do. Lots of people I know think it’s sort of magic secret to be able to find ways to make money without a 9-5 job, and people look at you like you have three heads when you tell them that’s your goal. Looking forward to seeing your plans unfold for 2013.

  • [...] you’d like to learn a little bit more about me and my story, head on over to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff and read my post. I was featured yesterday as part of the Reader Profile series. A big thanks to [...]