Hey, everyone! For a little light-hearted fun, today’s post is a 100% made-up interview/story. But there’s a kernel of truth to it! Harry and Megs have indeed announced that they are pursuing financial independence, and I’m a massive supporter of this decision. FIRE is ultimately about freedom, and I’m stoked that people with fame and all different income levels are figuring it out.
If I were lucky enough to interview the couple about the FIRE movement and their path to financial freedom, this is how I imagine/hope/dream my blog post about it might go …
BIG news, everyone!!! Last week I had a private interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to talk about the FIRE movement and their path to financial independence!
In January, the couple announced their plans to step back from their royal duties and “pursue financial independence.” I was fascinated when I heard this and naturally started thinking about how they’d achieve their goal of financial independence.
(Here’s where my imagination took me …)
Joel: Hey guys, thanks for sitting down with me!
Meghan: No worries, Joel. We usually turn down interview requests but when we saw your name, we accepted immediately! We’ve been following Budgets Are Sexy for a while now and J. Money was the one who first inspired us to create a budget! In fact, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit this, but I have a thing for guys with mohawks. I’ve been trying to get Harry to get a mohawk for a while, but he refuses. Hehe.
Joel: Nice! Thanks for following our blog. How did you guys first find out about the FIRE movement?
Harry: Well, it was mostly Meghan’s idea to start with.
Meghan: Yeah, my family didn’t have much money growing up. So I always lived pretty frugally and learned how to survive on a tight income. Then when my acting career took off, I started making money hand over fist. … I didn’t know what to do with all this extra income, so I started learning about investing.
One day I was googling “how to invest in index funds” and I stumbled across an article by J.L. Collins about a simple path to wealth, or something like that. It took me down a rabbit hole and I discovered all types of blogs and books on financial independence. I got hooked! I didn’t realize there were so many people out there pursuing FIRE. Most of them are spreadsheet nerds, just like me!
Joel: So Meghan, it sounds like you discovered FIRE before Harry. How did you convince him to get on board?
Meghan: Haha that was a really slow process. Before we even got engaged we butted heads quite a bit about finances. We come from very different backgrounds and Harry thought that money grew magically on trees. No matter how much I showed him the math, my spreadsheets, or talked to him about economics, he just didn’t get it! He thinks numbers are boring.
But then we started to discuss what type of future life we wanted to have. The traveling we want to do. The freedom from family obligations and the time we wanted to spend creating a family. … I told Harry that we can design our life however we want, and financial independence is the platform we need to do it. After that conversation, something just “clicked” for him, and we’ve been on the same page ever since.
Joel: Wow, that’s cool. Do you guys have a FIRE number or dollar amount you are shooting for? What is your FIRE timeline?
Harry: It’s difficult to calculate right now because we are still in the process of figuring out what our future living costs will be. We just moved to the US from the UK, we’re buying a new house, and we’re not even sure how many kids we want to have yet. Our FIRE number is up in the air. But if I had to guess, it’s probably somewhere between £200-300 million. What do you think, Megs?
Meghan: Harry! Our FIRE number will be much less than that! And don’t forget, we live in the States now, so it’s dollars, not pounds.
Although we don’t have the math quite figured out, that’s not stopping us from living the FIRE lifestyle right now. For me, FIRE is just a series of better life choices. It’s about making decisions based on long-term joy vs. short-term happiness.
We’ve had to make some huge sacrifices to start our journey toward financial independence. But we couldn’t be happier. There’s a long road ahead, but that’s OK, because it’s about the journey, not the money.
Joel: The world was pretty shocked when you guys excused yourself from your royal duties. How did your family take the news, Harry?
Harry: Oh, man. At first there were a lot of nay-sayers, and people were accusing us of being selfish. But we stuck to our guns and explained that we simply wouldn’t be happy if we kept doing what everyone else wants us to do in life. Slowly but surely, the family came around. FIRE is contagious and we hope to lead by example!
Joel: Meghan, what about you? Any backlash from your family and friends?
Meghan: Well, I’ve always been different from my friends in L.A. Like at my last job on the set, all my co-workers spent their money on fancy cars and stuff. They laughed at me when I rocked up to work in my old 2003 Honda Accord. But I never cared much what others thought of me. So when we announced we were pursuing FIRE, my friends fully supported us. Some of them are even calling me up now and asking for financial advice. I just tell them: VTSAX all the way, baby!
Joel: By the way, congratulations on Archie’s first birthday! How has having kids affected your FIRE plans?
Harry: The birth of our little guy flipped our world upside-down! A couple things changed… First, Meg and I completely swapped our household roles. She wants to get back to building her career and is currently the breadwinner of our household. I am loving staying at home with Archie and taking care of all the household chores. Never thought I’d be a stay-at-home Dad, but it’s awesome!
The other thing is that our FIRE timeline has extended a fair bit. We didn’t realize how much children cost. Heck, the babysitter costs $8,000 per night, not to mention the salary of our 12 bodyguards that stand by his crib 24/7. But, it’s all worth it. We don’t mind extending our FI timeline for children. Kids are a big joy in life.
Joel: Have you guys found any ways to cut costs and reduce your spending?
Meghan: Oh, definitely. This is my area of expertise. I’m always bargain-hunting. Here’s a few ways we are saving money.
First off, since Will and Kate had kids before we did, we are getting all of their hand-me-down baby clothes. Boom! Archie will be dressing for FREE until he’s at least 15.
Also, we’ve started travel-hacking by opening credit cards with reward programs! Our Amex Black credit card only has a $7,500 initiation fee, but it comes with a TON of travel benefits. There’s a great referral program, Joel, if you’re interested I’ll send you my referral link?
Joel: Ah, thanks, but I’m good for now. Hey, what do you think is the biggest misconception the public has about the FIRE movement?
Megan: There are two misconceptions that I see a lot. The first is that most people think FIRE is just for frugal and young millennials who have high-paying jobs. It’s definitely not. The truth is that financial independence is something everyone should shoot for, no matter your age, income, background — or even if you’re royalty.
The other misconception is about the “retire early” part of FIRE. Harry and I never want to retire or stop working on the things we love. Sitting and doing nothing all day sounds boring. We owe it to the world (and ourselves) to always work hard on the projects that are important to us.
Joel: Awesome! Any last messages about FIRE you want to share with others?
Meghan: Yep. I want to encourage everyone to pursue financial independence. If Harry and I can do it publicly, you can certainly do it privately. It is a hard but rewarding journey, and you’re not in it alone. Create your own individual path in life, and have FUN along the way.
Joel: Well, thanks again for your time, it was great chatting with you guys!
Harry: Anytime! OK, we’ll see you later, we’re late for a tea party with grandma!
Well, there you have it. Wishing Harry and Meghan all the best on their FIRE journey.
You guys have any questions for the couple that I can ask them next time? ;-)
Joel is a 35 y/o Aussie living in Los Angeles and the guy behind 5amjoel.com. He loves waking up early, finding ways to be more efficient with time and money, and sharing what he learns with others. Rise Early | Retire Early!