My name is Jed, my wife’s name is Melissa, and we are the Pritchett family. We have two daughters, age 6 and 3, and a 1-year old son. We are a military family currently stationed north of Seattle, Washington.
Both Melissa and I grew up in Ohio and met while attending college. After graduation in 2005, I was commissioned in the Navy and moved to Pensacola, FL to begin flight training. Melissa and I dated long distance for a year and a half while I moved from Pensacola to Corpus Christi, TX. Then in 2007, I finished flight school and both Melissa and I moved to Jacksonville together where I would be stationed for my first squadron tour. In 2008, we bought our first house together. We got married in 2009 and our first daughter arrived in 2012. In 2014 we left Jacksonville and moved to San Diego where we had our second daughter in 2015. In 2016 we moved again, this time to Northwest Washington. In 2017, our son was born and in 2018, we found out we’ll be stationed here for another couple years.
For fun, we enjoy hiking, traveling, trying new things, and enjoying activities with the kids.
So that’s a family timeline but where did my FI journey begin?
I think my FI journey really began my sophomore year of College. One day I picked up a book from my roommate’s desk to see what he was reading. It was Rich Dad, Poor Dad and I began reading it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish it, but I did take away two things from the part that I did read. First, rental Real Estate seems like a pretty good way to build wealth. And second, many of the things that people strive for in life are liabilities, not assets, and it’s important to know the difference.
My second epiphany came only a year later and built on my first lesson from Rich Dad, Poor Dad. My friends and I were living in a house off campus but close to both class and the bars/restaurants in town. It was a four-bedroom house and we were each doubling up (It was also only a 1.5 bath which is a funny story for another time). Our rent was $2,500 a semester. That’s $40,000 a year! Oh yeah, and there was a 3-bedroom basement that rented for another $9,000 annually. I didn’t exactly know how to analyze a property deal at that time, but I was sure there was money to be made in Real Estate.
My next lesson was hugely important. I was still in flight school but had been receiving a paycheck for almost a year and a half and had nothing to show for it. I was living paycheck to paycheck. I knew enough to know that I was doing it all wrong. I had no budget. I opened an excel spreadsheet, put my bank account balance on it, and started tracking every purchase and every penny I spent. It was like a game. Could I get through the day without spending any money?
While I was at home busy not spending any money and updating my excel spreadsheet, I had plenty of time on my hands. I found personal finance sites like CNN Money and Yahoo Finance and got really into reading about strategies and devising a plan to optimize my finances. I set a goal to open and then max out a Roth IRA for that year. It was already November, so I had about 5 months to save $4,000. By April, I had saved $8,000. I opened my Roth IRA account, made both the 2007 and 2008 contributions, and put it all in an S&P 500 index fund. This one action really made me feel like I was making some progress.
I never really forgot about the rental market in my college town and in 2010 I finally took action. I bought my first property (a duplex), got a property manager, and started collecting rent. It was easier than I thought it would be and I bought a second property in 2013. In 2014, we moved from Jacksonville to San Diego and decided to rent out our Jacksonville home. We now had 3 rental properties but 4 units due to the duplex.
I had heard that getting a mortgage for a fifth investment property was tricky, so I was doing some research online to get more information when I ran into a few forum posts about it on a site called BiggerPockets. There I found an entire community of people talking about real estate. Newbies and pros alike were posting questions and answers about different real estate topics and niches. I loved it.
They also had a podcast. I had never listened to a podcast before, but I had a 30-minute commute to and from work each day, so I started with episode 1 and caught up quickly. When they spun off the BiggerPockets money podcast a few years later, it was exactly what I was craving. Each week I heard from a different guest who had a unique perspective on how to achieve FI and many had incredible stories. I was hooked.
Today, my commute is filled listening to a rotation of the BiggerPockets, BiggerPockets money, and ChooseFI podcasts. Each guest comes with a new website or blog for me to check out and I now have more FIRE than I can keep up with.
So, what’s next?
The next step for me on my journey toward FI is the blog. It is nice to read about others’ FI journeys and listen to others talk about what they’ve done but I want to take a more active role in the community. I want to share my experiences and inspire others to act. And I want to meet and interact with people who are longing to put themselves and their family in a financial position to be able to make choices about how they spend their time. If you too are a traveler on the road to FI, I look forward to our paths crossing and hearing your story!