Retired at 49 on an Average Salary after Getting a “Late Start” to FIRE

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Think it’s too late for early retirement? Do you feel like just because you’re in your late thirties, forties, or fifties, FIRE doesn’t make sense for you? Well, think again because today’s guest defied the odds by retiring over fifteen years early, all while raising her daughter on her own and without a six-figure salary to sail her swiftly to a million-dollar net worth. Plus, she did all of it with no investing experience. If Jackie Cummings Koski can do it, so can you!

Jackie grew up in a single-parent household. Her father worked hard to support her and her five siblings. This instilled a strong work ethic in Jackie and made her realize that running towards hard things, not away from them, was the true path to success. She figured out college on her own and, shortly after, landed a corporate job that took her far away from the small town she grew up in. She got married and had her daughter, but then everything changed.

Jackie was getting divorced, forcing her to rely on herself fully for her financial future. In true Jackie fashion, she took this as a challenge and began educating herself as best as she could. Through smart saving, spending, and life-changing investing decisions, Jackie built her wealth in record time, reaching financial independence just ten years after finding the FIRE movement—all without any advantages!

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We have Jackie Cummings Koski on today’s episode. Jackie was able to retire at the age of 49 working on a middle income salary. She says she never made six figures in her career, which I think is absolutely fantastic, and the key here is Jackie never forced herself to live in deprivation to reach this goal. I think this is a new approach to the fire story, and I absolutely love that she kept her expenses low while keeping everything in her life that she wanted to keep in. So what did she do instead? Well stay listening because Jackie will tell us how she was able to reach financial independence on an average salary as a single mom. Hello, hello, hello and welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. My name is Mindy Jensen and I am flying solo Today. Scott is off doing his Scott things, so you have me and as always, I am here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else to introduce you to every money story because I truly believe to the very depths of my soul that financial independence is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you are.
Starting. Without further ado, let’s bring in Jackie. Jackie Cummings Kowski. Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you today.

Yay Mindy. I am happy to be here too. I’m glad we made this happen. I

Want to jump right in to the end and then go back to the beginning and tell this story. You are early retired, is that correct?

That is correct.

Can you tell us what age you reached financial independence and what your numbers looked like when you retired?

Yes. So I was about 46, 47 when I reached what I called my fire number, and that was 25 times my expensive. I spent about 40 to 45,000, so right at a million dollars, but I was still working my corporate job, I just wasn’t quite comfortable yet, had to get my head around. It worked two more years. I had that one more year syndrome, worked two more years and I retired officially for my corporate job on December 6th, 2019 right before Covid.

Ah, great timing. I know

Great timing. I was looking for every excuse to proactively get laid off and to engineer my own layoff and they were adding people and of course a few months later they did a whole lot of laying off. So yes, so I was 49 by the time I retired and my net worth had grown quite a bit. I think it was at 1.3 million. So I’ve been retired for close to five years now, and it’s been great. I mean, I was a little scaredy cat when it came to actually making that big leap, but probably my only regret at this point is that I wish I would’ve done it sooner. What

Does your income look like now? Are you generating income from other sources or are you living off of your portfolio and withdrawing

The 4%? Yeah, so as far as generating income, that’s been all over the place. So I’ve officially been retired for nearly five years and every year it’s been different. So for the first two years, so this would’ve been 2020 covid in 2021, and during that time I actually went back to school to get my master’s degree in financial therapy. So I’m spending money and I was drawing down my portfolio through brokerage accounts and things like that, so I didn’t need to touch any retirement money. So that was two years where I was literally spending more than what I was spending before I actually retired, but I had money set aside for that and I had that all worked out. Now the third year, which would’ve been 2022, I did start doing more financial education, financial literacy, and I did a little bit of that in the first two years as well.
I was just mainly focused on finishing up my degree. So 2022 was pretty good. I got a really great opportunity. I ended up being on the Rachel ratio, which was totally like nothing I expected, and I had a self-published book that was nearly 10 years old that actually sold a ton of copies after that. So that year I did not have to draw from my portfolio. I didn’t expect that, but that was nice. Then 2023, which was last year. Last year, and I would say on average it’s been, I don’t know, maybe like 20,000 worth of different types of income that came in, but always very unpredictable. So I have not had to draw out or withdraw that 4%. So it’s just hard. I guess I feel a little bit better about my withdrawal strategy for a couple of reasons. The first one is that my net worth has grown since I retired.
I had 1.3 million 2022, it went down like crazy, bounced back up, now set nearly 2 million. So that was almost five years after retiring and withdrawing money off of my portfolio in certain years. And then the second piece is I was overly pessimistic about social security, but social security is not completely going away as long as younger people are paying that F attacks, that is part of what’s funding social security, but I didn’t include that in my numbers. So I think of that as a backstop in my older years because even though we’re retiring early, we still got our sixties, seventies, eighties to think about. So social security doesn’t sound like a bad deal. Even if it got slashed by 25% based on the actuaries, it’s still a fixed amount that will continue for the rest of my life that’s suggested for inflation, so not a bad deal. So those are the things that make me feel a little bit more comfortable, even aside from doing that math with the 4% rule.

We’ll be back after a quick break. Welcome back to the show. In the beginning I said we’re going to go back to the beginning of your money story. So let’s do that. Jackie, where does your journey with money begin and how is your money

Upbringing? I proudly hail from South Carolina, but it was a little town called Aiken and it was down this long dirt road that I absolutely hated, but I was raised by a single dad with six kids. I was number five out of six and he worked his butt off. I don’t even know how he did it, but he is like my greatest hero. He’ll always be that. So I just remember that we always had, anytime we couldn’t do something, the reason was always because we don’t have the money to do that. There was no summer camp. Why? Because we can’t afford it. We can’t get new school clothes. Why? Because we can’t afford it. We don’t have money like that. It was hand-me-downs, and I just never wanted to be in poverty again. I remember as I was getting older, I just kept in my head that I didn’t want to be in poverty again.
I mean, we had food on the table, but my dad, he worked two jobs. He made sure we were clean and he just worked miracles and he sure knew how to stretch a dollar. So he actually, when I was in high school, right before I graduated, about three months before I graduated, he got sick and he had cancer and it took his toll pretty quickly. So he passed away. He was 49 at the time, and it was three months before I graduated from high school, so he never got to see me graduate. So I decided to go to college after high school and I was one of those people that I didn’t have mommy and daddy holding my hand. I didn’t have anyone showing me how to fill out the financial aid forms. I didn’t have anyone telling me how much I should get or anything like that.
So I got through college and that was the one way I thought, okay, if I get a college degree, I’m less likely to be without a job. Maybe I can find a better job that pays good and has benefits, which is what I was told what you do as far as being successful and being good with money, get a good job, good benefits at the time, get a pension. And so once I was done with college, I did get a decent job. It wasn’t high paying, but I had a steady job. I probably got paid more than I would’ve if I didn’t have a college degree. And I ended up getting married shortly after college, and that was the point where I moved to Ohio. I live in Ohio now, and soon as I moved to Ohio, I discovered that I was pregnant with my daughter Amber.
And so I was married for about 12 years and ended up getting a divorce and that was my eyeopener. And one thing in particular just stuck with me and that was where when we looked at the retirement accounts, I had about $20,000 in my 401k and my husband had $120,000 and we were making about the same, we were getting a similar match, and I could not figure out what the disparity was and why on earth there was such a big gap, but it made me feel really stupid. It made me feel very ignorant and I vowed from that day that I never wanted to feel that financially ignorant again. Now I’ve since gone back and done some sleuthing and figured out it was a lot of little things. So it was things like he worked for a very large bank. This was like 2003, 2004, and banks actually were performing very, very well.
So that was one of the things inside of his 401k that I didn’t have, he was invested in different things. He was starting to make more than me slightly, but if you add all those things out and you compound them over 10 ish years, then that gap just grows. So it wasn’t any one thing, but I came out of that after about two years because I believe that the mindset and the psychological part of money is the biggest deal because there’s nothing that’s moving forward until you in your head or me in my head decided that okay, I am ready to do something different. I’m ready to move forward. And for anyone that has been divorced or know anyone that’s been divorced, it’s devastating. It takes a toll on your energy and there’s a lot of stress surrounding it. So once I came out of that, it was about two years I started doing so many things different because it was ringing in my head that I did not want to be in poverty and never wanted my daughter to know poverty the way that I

Did. You said it made me feel stupid. It made me feel ignorant. And I just want to tell you stop. And anybody else who is feeling stupid or ignorant about their financial information and education stop. This isn’t taught in schools. It’s starting to be, but it isn’t right now. And if you’re listening to this, you’re probably out of school anyway, and it wasn’t taught when we were in school, and it’s okay to not know something that you weren’t taught anyway. Back to the beginning of this story, with your dad passing away right before high school, how did that affect your financial situation? You said you’re the fifth of six kids. Did your older siblings help? Were they there to help raise you or I mean you’re three months from high school graduation, I’m sure you felt grown.

Well, I mean, my older siblings, especially my oldest sister, Marilyn, she kind of took on a role as helping with the kids because my dad worked all the time. He worked a regular full-time job and he worked a part-time job. So she was sort of that motherly figure as we were growing up and once we hit high school, you’re kind of on your own. You have a bed to sleep in, you have a home to go to and things like that. But I felt on my own, I was the first in my family to graduate from college with a four year degree, so none of my siblings was able to really even guide me with that part. So I’m going to the guidance counselor and trying to just do all this stuff on my own when looking back my counterparts, a lot of times they had their parents, their family, other people really sort of holding their hand and guiding them, and that’s great, and that’s something I was able to give to my daughter, but I didn’t have that.
So when it comes to things like student loans and all this college debt and things like that, for me, I had no idea. And I know that there’s a lot of people still out there that really don’t understand the process, that just didn’t have the tools. And honestly at that point, you’re a freaking teenager. How are you supposed to make all these decisions yourself? I did the best I could with what I had, but I honestly, the biggest thing that I learned and the main way I got through college was that my dad taught us to work hard for what you have. He was pretty much debt averse. So I didn’t get a student loan, not the first year, not the second year, not the third year, but by the time I was a senior, I know I was just doing what my dad told me to do, and I was probably working way too much because my grades were starting to suffer, but I worked at least two jobs the whole time.
I was in college, 50 plus hours a week, and something had to give, and it was my grade. I barely got out of college. I was embarrassed about this for a long time, but it is what it is. I’m human who can work 50 hours a week and still do great in school. So I think the minimum GPA in order to graduate was 2.5 and I had a 2.6. So I was just thrilled when I knew that the GPA was not on your college degree, not on your certificate. But I got through and that’s all I cared about. And I was actually a really good student in high school. I was in advanced classes and things like that, so I was a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t do better. I knew I was capable of doing better, but I was just happy to get my degree, happy to move on into the workforce and to start making money where now things weren’t so tight. I had a regular paycheck and I was able to do some of the things that I wanted to do, and that little nagging feeling of being in poverty, I started not to worry about that so much. So yeah, so

I have said this before. I’ll say it again. C’S get degrees, and so I was a terrible student and I wasn’t even working 50 hours a week. I was probably working 20, 25 hours a week. School’s just not my jam. And I’m okay with that. I’m out now and I don’t have to go back. It’s awesome. But yes, school isn’t for everybody, but it was clearly your path once you graduated. What was your job? What was your career path?

Yeah, so when I was in college, my major was broadcast journalism and communications. And once I graduated, my very first job out of college was at Walmart headquarters and in Bentonville, Arkansas in corporate communications. And I barely had enough money to put a deposit on the utilities, a deposit on the apartment. I didn’t even know I needed to do that. This was my first time ever moving away from my city where I knew everybody. So I go to Arkansas, I didn’t know a soul, but I loved that job. At Walmart headquarters there was one of the biggest companies in the world and we produced videos and things like that, and I loved it.

So let’s fast forward to the divorce. After the divorce, you discovered that he has essentially a hundred thousand dollars more in his 401k than you do. How did you start to change your financial position?

Yeah, like I said, it took a couple years to really just breathe to get my head around everything because what I thought was going to be a shared journey, now all of a sudden is a solo project with a kid in tow. My daughter was about nine years old at the time. So one of the first things that I did, and this probably wasn’t the best starting place when someone’s waking up about their finances, but I started with the thing I was most curious about because I had to ask myself that hard question, okay, now what is it that I like? What is it that I want to do? And I was always interested in the stock market, but I was also really scared of the stock market. So I, I was talking to a friend of mine that was a coworker. She lived in Boston, I lived in Ohio, and we were talking about stocks and she mentioned this nonprofit organization called Better Investing.
And she said, yeah, they support investment clubs. I think you would like it. You should Google it. So I googled it and I found one in my area. It was in Cincinnati, Ohio, and they had what you call a model club, meaning that they operate in the way that ideally an investment club should operate. And they were open to the public so anybody could come and observe. That’s when we’re doing things in person. So anybody could come and observe as many times as they want. And I went to a few of those and I thought it was fascinating. Everybody there was so smart, and these were, they support investment clubs, but also primarily it’s individual companies. And so I was just very interested in, they were looking at growing revenue, growing profits, looking at management, looking at is the dividend growing and all of this nerdy stuff.
I was loving it. So after a few times that I attended, the people were super nice, they were very supportive, they were very approachable, very friendly and kind to me. I ended up joining that investment club and I continued on for the next 12 years, but I just love that. But shortly after I joined that investment club, I started backtracking, right? Because all this personal finance stuff is sort of intertwined. So I’m like, you know what? As I’m getting more comfortable with the stock market and understanding that your money has to be invested in order for it to grow. And what we were doing with long-term investing, being proud owners of companies. And so when we purchased a stock, the intent was to hold it for five years or more. And I even had my own individual stock portfolio just starting out, but then I backtrack and I said, okay, why am I not maxing out my 401k, that’s the stock market? Why am I not maxing out my Roth IRA that’s invested in the stock market? Why am I not maxing out my health savings account? I figured that you can invest in that. So I went back and did all those things, started looking at my cashflow, started really analyzing my numbers. So it was helpful to me in getting started to go after the thing that I was the most curious about and the thing that I was the most excited about. And then everything else just kind of came full circle.

I really, really love all of that, just the drive to educate yourself, the drive to want to be better. It is so easy, especially starting off from a less than advantageous financial position. It’s so easy to just say to yourself, well, I guess this is just the way that it is. Just like somebody who finds himself in a lot of debt and they’re paying down a little bit of debt at a time and they’re like, the number doesn’t change ever. I guess I’m just going to have debt forever. It’s so easy to get that mindset of I’m never going to get out of this, so why even bother? And I love that you said, Nope, I don’t want to be like that. So I am going to educate myself. Stay with us. We’re taking a quick ad break. Welcome back to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. What point did you discover the fire movement or the concept of financial independence? Yeah,

So that was a little further down the line. So even before I knew what I was doing, I was at least saving something. I was learning about the thing that I was most excited about, which was investing, and I got it going that way. But it was a funny thing that happened, which really kind of led me down my fire journey and learning about it. I was working my corporate job and I was being a good store, a good team player, and we were doing this team outdoor event. It was called a Cares Event, but basically it meant we volunteered in the community and one of the volunteer activities was cleaning up a park, and my really good friend was in charge of that, and I go, girl, cleaning up the park. It’s not my idea, I just want to do financial literacy. But she was doing it.
So I said, Hey, I’ll go along. So we go to the park and they give us all these tools, weed whacking and all this crazy stuff outside. It was earlier in the morning that we started. It wasn’t raining, but it was dewy, and we’re up on the steep hill and I walk all the time, I hike and all of that. So a steep hill didn’t scare me up on the steep hill, and I ended up tripping over something. I don’t know what it was, but I looked behind me and my foot was backwards, so I had broken my ankle. It was awful. It was so awful. And I don’t even tell this story that much, but when I saw my foot backwards, I barely felt, it felt like I had tripped over a stump. And so I just slowly went down on the ground and I screamed and they call the ambulance.
The ambulance gets there and takes me to the hospital. So it wasn’t a spr, it wasn’t a pulled muscle, it was broken. So I end up having to have surgery. I had to get a metal rod and two screws in my ankle. I mean, luckily, I’m 99% there and I love to hike and walk. So I hated that. I couldn’t do that for a long time. But the short of it is that I was on short-term disability. I was on worker’s comp because it was a company event. When you’re on those two things, you technically cannot work, which was a little odd for me. I’d never taken away time from work. I was there for 21 years, but I had to now, and I think I was out maybe for two months or something like that. So what are you going to do when you can’t do any work?
You’re laid up at the house, your ankle and your leg isn’t a cast and you have nothing to do. You go Googling. I love podcasts. So I would go into my podcast player and I loved personal finance stuff. And at the time it wasn’t a ton out there, and I started discovering more and more, and I started finding some that were about financial independence. I’m like, wow, this sounds like really great and kind of what I want to do. And then I was hearing about the early retirement part, and this was from people like Pete, Mr. Money, mustache. This was mad Scientists probably, I don’t know if 1500 days was writing at the time, but I remember Justin from Root of Good. So during this time I’m immediately thinking, these people are crazy. I don’t think it’s possible. And I was the biggest skeptic in the world.
Now my skepticism, I would say, is healthy because that means I’m going to dig on my own. And when I started digging on my own, I’m like, well, I really like to see numbers. So thank you Mr 1500, Dave, for showing the numbers. Root of Good was showing the numbers, and there was a lot of other people showing the numbers. Now, my situation wasn’t exactly like theirs. I think they were young, high paying tech people, no kids at the time. But I made adjustments for my situation. And when I knew the fire community was the first group, the first people that made it simple to me 25 times your expenses, how hard is that? Okay, I can do that math. Then the 4% rule, okay, I can do that math too. So it was the first time I was able to put together numbers, and frankly, I remember I had never even been doing a net worth.
And I think during the time I was learning about the fire community, I’d not done a net worth statement. I was 38 before I did my first net worth statement. It was crazy. But when I did it, it was so eyeopening. And then doing my fire number and knowing the difference. So this was right around as far as the year, this would’ve been around 2014, 2015 that I’m discovering. I think this might be possible For me, the earliest I thought I could ever do it was 55, because I did learn about the rule of 55 where you could, if you have a company 401k, you could start to withdraw that money. That’s the earliest I thought. And I’m, as I’m going along and I’m adding all these podcasts, I’m listening to them, it’s starting to digest. I’m doing my own research looking at my own situation.
And I thought, okay, I think I can do this way earlier than I thought, but I just kept working on the math and kept looking at it. It needed to make sense to me. And so I would say a year or two after that was where I seriously started thinking about, okay, I think I can retire early, but I don’t know how I would’ve been able to do it. And I think the biggest thing for me was that I was running so hard away from poverty. I was running so hard away from feeling financially ignorant. I was doing all these things to catch up. I felt like I got a super late star, and at 38, I’m just not doing my first net worth statement. So I was running really hard and come to find out running that hard, it got me caught up pretty quickly.
And from the time from 40, well, let’s say 38, I did my first net worth statement. And after my divorce and all that, to about 46, 47, I had gotten to my fire number. And that was only over the course of about 10 years. And part of it was that I didn’t start with nothing. So even if you’re only saving 10% or you’re just doing the match, don’t count yourself out. That’s something. And so when you do start pulling your numbers together or deciding to get your finances together, you at least have something. So if I was starting at zero or a negative net worth having a lot of debt or something like that, it might’ve taken a lot longer. But yeah, so the fire community, I mean it lit up all kinds of bells and whistles for me. What

Was your saving and spending at this point? Did you own your own house and car, and how were you navigating your daughter’s expenses?

Yeah, I would say the daughter’s expenses was the hardest thing. She thought that I should have got her car and she wouldn’t have to pay anything, but that wasn’t how I was raised, and it never felt right to me. And of course she used the excuse, well, other friends, their parents are paying for their vehicle. I don’t know why I have to pay for mine. And I’m like, I’m, you know what? You’re unlucky that I’m your mom. These are in the teenage years and teenagers aren’t very nice sometimes, but I couldn’t do it. Yeah, I couldn’t do it, Mindy, that just was not who I was. It wasn’t who my dad was. And she later she got older, she later definitely apologized and let me know she got the lesson, but I just couldn’t do it. She saved and I offered to match what she saved, and we did that.
So the things that she was doing probably took a lot more money. She was very involved in cheer. There was all kinds of stuff, and I was getting some child support. Child support was like around $800 a month. So that helped. But I stayed in a slightly bigger house than I needed to and things like that. But I did own my home. I did not pay off my home before I retired though, because the interest rate was very low. But I put a lot of thought into that though. I put a lot of thought into that. And there’s certain things, even though there’s some wonderful tenants of fire, there’s no doctrine that you signed to say, you need to do everything this way. So you have to look at your numbers. I had to look at my numbers and it didn’t make sense to me.
And there’s that psychological side. It didn’t keep me up at night to still have a mortgage on my home and going to retirement. But when the math worked out to say, okay, inflation, at the time, inflation was low, but now it’s what, six, seven, 8%. So looking at that and looking at what my interest rate was on my home, it didn’t make sense to me, and I’m totally comfortable with it. It’s just in the budget. So I’ll admit I’m not the best budgeter. So the way that I figured out how much I was spending, I did it backwards. I was a much better saver and investor than I was a budgeter. So I went back and I looked at my salary and my average salary. I went back to my social security statement to look at this, but the last 10 years before I retired, I was averaging about $80,000 a year.
I never made over a hundred thousand dollars in any given year. So I didn’t have the big salary like the tech people and all of that. However, I was able to do more with the money that I had. And what I did is I took what my annual salary was and I deducted what I was contributing to my retirement accounts, 401k and Roth. I deducted what I was contributing to my HSA, what I was contributing to my investment club, which was only about a hundred dollars a month, and I backed out taxes and whatever was left, that’s what I lived off of. So that was comfortably between 40 and $45,000. I mean, honestly, when you talk to most people, if you ask ’em what their expenses are, most people that I talk to, they will tell me what their salary is, and that’s a big, big difference.
So my savings rate was about 40%. And so I never got to that 50% or 60% or 70%. Yeah, I was also getting a rather generous company match. If you had been with the company and I had, if you had been with the company at least seven years, if you put in 7%, they would match you 9%. So I was getting above average company match, which that helped a lot. They were putting a little money in my HSA, so all these little extra things kind of add up. And so again, looking at my own picture, I had to look at my own picture was the most helpful thing to do to see what my pace should be and how I can get, maybe I could have retired even sooner than I did. If I would have done things a little, it would’ve had a higher savings rate, but I didn’t change that.
So when people ask me, so did you cut back on something or how did you get your expenses down? I didn’t really have to do that exercise because I was already living at a comfortable lifestyle. I live in a low cost of living area, so that probably factors in there too. I mean, my mortgage for the majority of the time I’ve been here has been maybe 1100, $1,200. And that’s all in principal interest, taxes and insurance. So that’s much lower than living in Silicon Valley. So that helped. For vehicles, I drive a fairly nice vehicle. When I say nice, it’s usually I’ll get them used, but between three and five years old, still looking very, very nice in great condition, and I pay for them in cash and I keep ’em for eight to 10 years. So that’s how I approached that. Could I have gotten a clunker for almost nothing?
Probably so, but I wanted a decent car that I felt that was very safe, very liable and all of that. So I was comfortably living on about 40 to $45,000 a year. And I didn’t go through that exercise of cutting things because maybe it was my upbringing where I questioned everything and I don’t want to pay a penny more than I have to. So I’m always looking at, okay, if for my wifi, for instance, if someone’s paying 10 or $15 less than me, then I want to pay the lower price too. It seemed like it was just a little part of my DNA, just to be very conscientious about where my money was going and always trying to get the best deal and the best value.

So I absolutely love every part of this story. And one thing you said about, I want to go back a few minutes, one thing you said was I put a lot of thought into it, and that is ultimately what you need to do. So you only in air quotes, if you’re not watching the video, you only had a 40% savings rate. You know what? There are people who have a 0% savings rate. There are people who are spending more than they’re bringing in. So just because you aren’t saving 50, 60, 70% like some of these other people, that doesn’t matter. You are crushing it with your 40% savings rate. And you said it didn’t keep me up at night to still have a mortgage. And there is this big debate, should I pay off my mortgage or should I have debt? I personally do not believe that mortgage debt is actual debt.
You’ve got a house to live in, and my rate is high twos, I think, or maybe low threes, I can’t remember. And frankly, I don’t care because it’s low enough that I am not paying an extra dime to my mortgage. I have a 30 year mortgage. In fact, I took out a mortgage. I paid for my house in cash because of the circumstances of the purchase. They liked my offer because I could close in two weeks. I couldn’t close in two weeks at the time with a loan, and then I had to wait six months to refinance. I pulled every dime I could out of my house and got the biggest mortgage that I could because rates were so low. And if you can’t sleep at night because the mortgage payment keeps you up, regardless of your financial situation, work to pay off that mortgage work to pay off your debt in whatever capacity that you need to. But going back to Jackie, I put a lot of thought into it. If you’re not putting thought into it, your actions need to be reevaluated. Whatever they are is your choice. So long as you are doing the thinking and you are coming up with the solution, yourself

And Mindy, this is just such a good point in our conversation that we are both fire people. We’ve been a part of the community for a long time. There’s no monolithic way of thinking, but most fire people that I know, they are super smart. They put thought into things and it’s not always in line with everything you might see with the broader community. There is no doctrine that you need to sign. And so some of these things I have looked at and decided they’re right for me. You have looked at it and decided it’s right for you. There’s so many other things. I usually will categorize them as non-fire confessions because they don’t fall exactly in line with what you typically hear, but you have to look at your situation. Everybody has a certain set of superpowers, a certain set of adversities. It’s like how does your fire journey look like? Taking into consideration your superpowers and your adversities to make it work to your advantage.

Absolutely. Your journey is your journey. Alright, so Jackie, what are you working on

Now? So as you know Mindy, me and my co-host of Catching Up Tophi, which is a newer podcast, been around for a little over a year. We were able to have you on our podcast and I’m just honored to be doing that show with Bill Y. His co-host used to be Becky Hetic, who is awesome, and Becky, she’s out hanging with her grandkids, she’s out doing her thing. And Bill asked me if I would be willing to continue on with because he wanted to continue on with the show. It has just gotten so popular and it grew so fast. They did not anticipate how quickly that podcast grew and the community. So I was already a super fan. I knew Bill very, very well and I respected him. I didn’t even know what he did for years. I thought he was an engineer, like all the other fire people.
Turns out he’s an emergency room physician. So I always like to say when Bill’s not saving lives at the hospital, he’s podcasting with me. So I’m working on that. The other thing that I’m working on, and that’s about to come to a finish is a book with Wiley and they put out the Brand Fire or the Brand Dummies and the name of my new book, which I’m honored that I got to author, it is Fire for Dummies, financial Independence, retire Early. My hope with that is to introduce a lot of new people to Fire, to help those that just need a more organized way to step through and be guided. Here’s what you do. And so that book will be out on April 30th. This may Air after that, but I’m hoping that it’ll be available by the time it airs. And that was quite a journey. I like writing, but I learned that I don’t really like writing on demand. I had deadlines and things like that, but had a story to tell. I wanted to get this book out in the atmosphere and I wanted to get it in people’s hands, so I wanted to see it come to fruition. So I’m just like breathing easy that most of the writing part is done and it is ready to be put out into the universe.

Jackie, I love that. I’m so excited for your new book. Where can People find you Online?

Yeah, so online I am, let’s see, catching Up to Fi. If you go to that website, catching up to, I’m always there. We have a great Facebook community that’s over 12,000 people. Also, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn because I’m a corporate girl, so connect with me on there. And one of the things I do a lot of is I do financial education trainings, workshops for a lot of corporations. So a lot of my clients are there. So LinkedIn is always great. I’m on Instagram as well. All of it’s under Jackie Cummings Koski and my screen name. My daughter sort of helped me with that. I’m a big fan of May Angels. She’s my favorite poet and her most iconic poem is Phenomenal Woman. So my daughter said, mom, I know what your screen name should be. And it’s phenomenal woman spelled with an F. I like financial independence. Phenomenal. Isn’t she smart? So that’s my screen name. So you’ll either see my name Jackie Cumminsky or the screen name. A phenomenal woman spelled with an FI at the beginning.

I love it. Oh, that’s fantastic. Alright, that wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money podcast. She is Jackie Cummings Koski from the Catching Up to five podcast. Definitely check out her new book, fire for Dummies, wherever Books Are Sold. And I am Mindy Jensen saying, kisses and Hugs. Ladybugs BiggerPockets Money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, produced by Hija Elda, edited by Exodus Media Copywriting by Nate Weinraub. And lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

Watch the Episode Here

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In This Episode We Cover

  • How to reach financial independence without a high salary, inheritance, or advantages
  • Stock investing 101 and how intentional investing can explode your net worth
  • Why you must max out THESE investment accounts to be richer in retirement
  • How Jackie spends just $40,000 per year owning her own home and raising her daughter
  • Why you DON’T have to follow all the traditional FIRE rules to retire early
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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