Spotlight: Paying Off $47k in 22 months: @ForBetterOrWorth

@ForBetterOrWorth is a popular handle on Instagram where the account holder transparently shares his wealth building journey. He agreed to do an interview with us about his journey. Please follow him and his amazing journey to $1M.

If there’s one thing you take away from this interview…

Building wealth isn’t easy, it isn’t fair, but it is TOTALLY worth it.

Debt repayment was a big part of kick starting our wealth building journey, but we invested while we paid off debt. Again, thinking about our future, wealth is the ultimate goal not being debt free. So, yeah it probably cost us some thousands of dollars more while we paid down debt and invested, but contributing to our Roths (even just a little) and getting the match from our employers was more important to us.

Everyone deserves to be wealthy and to have financial independence, but you have to put in the work.

First Milli: Who is @ForBetterorWorth?

@ForBetterorWorth: I am married in my mid-thirties with a four year old daughter. I work in finance and my wife works in education. Grew up in the Southeast US. I am a big music fan, runner, and we love to travel. We’ve been to 15 countries and counting (plus we are avid cruisers) and financial independence will definitely help us see more of the world. Our daughter has already been to five countries. We absolutely love it! I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance even when I didn’t really know what it was.

My aunt said that when I was a toddler I would play with a jar of pennies. I’d dump them out sort and stack them and then put them back in the jar only to dump it again. I started investing and really started focusing on my wealth plan in my late twenties. We believe in being debt free (have been so since early 2019) and we pride ourselves on living intentionally and being aggressive with our investing.

“Every dollar we invest is like we are buying our future back.

FM: Before you started your wealth-building journey, what was your relationship with money like?

Growing up my parents talked to me about money, but it was always so generic, “save more than you spend” or “put money aside for a rainy day” or “put money in your 401K.”…HOW though? A lot of times parents think that if they say it loudly or repeat themselves over and over, the advice will stick and that’s not the case. Kids and young adults need to be taught about money.

When I graduated from college I was saving in my 401(k), I had minimal debt and was paying it down decently enough, but it just wasn’t targeted. All I had heard was, “do this,” and “do that,” but there was no real reason as to why. I hadn’t tapped into my “Why” yet.

Prior to my wealth building journey, I fell into a lot of the same pitfalls that others do. Buying thing to impress others, trying to look fly, fishing for compliments based off material purchases, credit card debt, student loan debt, etc. I always knew money was valuable, but it’s so easy to feel like you need things or deserve to have things.

Getting married to my wife, who is also very financially conscious, is what really set us up. We talk about money a lot as a day-to-day family management topic, but we also talk about it in terms of our goals and our dreams.

“One recommendation I have is really challenge yourself as to WHY you are spending money the way you are. Are you spending money for yourself? Are you spending money for your future? Are you spending money to fit in? Are you spending money to stunt on the Gram? What is it?

It can be a tough conversation if done with brutal honesty, but I think it’s one that can really shift your mindset as to what is a true need vs. want. It will also open your eyes as to how much society, friends, family, and social media can dictate how you spend your money and what you value. Do you really want to relinquish that choice and that power [to them]?

FM: What are some of the realizations that you had at the start of your wealth building journey?

Our first step in doing what we wanted to do. There is more than one way to build wealth. More and more we started to realize that if we start putting some of these plans into motion, cutting back a little bit, and start living with intention that we might be able to break out of the matrix LOL.

“My wife and I are renters. We aren’t homeowners and right now we don’t want to be. We made that decision early in our marriage and we got SO much push back and so many questions from the matrix, LOL.

The Matrix:

“You’re not going to buy a house?”

“But you make this much money.”

“Renting is throwing your money away.”

“Don’t you want more space for the kids?”

FM: Given the pushback that you’ve received from the people around you (the matrix), how did you build accountability and focus into your wealth building strategy?

My wife is amazing and she is the best money accountability partner for me. We both have different relationships with money primarily due to how we grew up, but we are on the same end of the spectrum where we both view money as a tool, as a pathway to more options, and security.

My wife and I do a great job tracking in our money spreadsheet. We don’t live by it by any means, but we do a great job checking in, having conversations, and planning our weeks and months as it relates to money and then doing what we actually said we were going to do. I know that sounds simple, but it’s not easy. We also used cash for awhile and the envelope method. We don’t use the cash envelopes anymore, but your needs/wants and spending become very apparent when you are using cash to buy things. It’s amazing how little we as a people use cash now. That swiping is real and it can be hard to track spending when you’re first starting out.

We’ve said no to a lot of things in order to stay true to ourselves and our future. Once you REALLY start to see progress in debt repayment and in building wealth that is the best motivation, because all of this work starts to pay off.

Paying yourself first is KEY. This means to prioritize your saving and investing. If you pay yourself last that is where you will stay.

FM: Are there any money strategies that did NOT work for you?

Hmmm I can’t really think of any strategy that didn’t work. I think one thing we got tired of was explaining ourselves to people. “This is why we have a budget,” “this is why we rent,” “this is why we don’t spend a ton of money on stuff but more on experiences.”

When people start to see you operating differently, they will try and find ways to make it make sense to them. Here’s the thing it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody but you.

Now there has to be some feasibility built in and you have to have a plan, but as long as you have that and execute you will be fine. Everyone isn’t going to see your vision and that’s okay. It’s not for them anyway.

FM: What do you think would benefit the Wealth Building community?

Representation. Just like most things you can’t be what you can’t see. There’s so many people who really don’t believe wealth is for them or that they are not worthy of it. I think a lot of it has to do with if you look at the gurus and the experts most of them are White. Turn on CNBC, most of the people who are hosting the shows and being interviewed are White.

If you look at all the statistics about the economic state of Black America they are terrifying and can reinforce that idea that wealth is a White thing or an educated thing or thing for someone that’s not you. I know in the Black community we have our own hangups and stigmas with money that we don’t always talk about either which I think can hold us back as well, but the first factor in moving that needle is showing that regular, degular Black people can be wealthy too. Again, it’s not easy, but it can be done.

Many people don’t even entertain the idea of being wealthy because they don’t think they can or that they even deserve it. Black people can become millionaires next door and then continue to spread the knowledge and the insight to others. Think about how many problems could be solved with economic education and empowerment.

FM: What would you say were the obstacles that you had to overcome in your journey?

Aside from ignoring society in general and the bad advice friends, family, and coworkers tried to give us there wasn’t anything externally. I think most of the other obstacles are internal, right? So, self doubt, taking your foot off the gas, wanting to relax a little bit, rewarding yourself, all of those things might not seem like a bad idea. But once you introduce them into your mind it can sometimes be hard to come back and you can end up derailing your goals and your mission.

You really have to remember that what you’re doing isn’t for you today, it’s for you tomorrow. Visualization is a powerful tool too. Envisioning what it’s going to be like to be a millionaire and envisioning what it’s going to be like to be financially free and live more of the life I want are ways we continuously stay aligned with our goals and true to ourselves.

FM: What advice would you give others at the start of their Wealth Building Journey?

Just start and start small. People want to analyze themselves to death and read every book on financial independence and debt repayment that’s ever been printed before they want to make a change.

At the beginning you are self-educating, but then as you continue to do that, it becomes wasting time. And time is your best friend when you are looking to build wealth. Analysis paralysis ain’t no joke.

I say start small, because people want to jump straight to the sexy stuff. They want to analyze stocks or they want to buy a rental property. But it’s like are you paying down you credit cards or getting the 401(k) match at work? Those are things you can do today that will help you build wealth immediately. Wealth is SLOW and it takes time.

I always think about those pictures of the iceberg where above the water it’s “success”, “winning”, “wealth” all the things you can see, but then underneath the surface it’s “self-doubt”, “exhaustion”, and “sacrifice” the things you don’t see.

I think about that all the time, because everyone wants to skip steps and get ahead. Where there is no get ahead, it’s just get going!

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