Today we’d like to introduce you to Julien and Kiersten Saunders.
Julien and Kiersten, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Like many people, we went to school, worked hard, got good jobs and lived pretty regular lives. We met as co-workers in 2012, traveled a lot and along the way, we stumbled into a tough conversation about money early on in our relationship. That conversation forced us to come to grips with how different we both were, our relationship with debt and ultimately what we really wanted out of life.
We overcame it though and in 2015 we got married. During our honeymoon in South Africa, we reflected on our life and careers and decided that we wanted to pursue early retirement, or what is referred to as F.I.R.E (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Since then, we’ve learned a lot, made some impressive gains and have documented our journey on our blog at richandregular.com.
The goal was to help others better manage their money, examine the role money plays in their lives and if possible, inspire them to follow in our footsteps. As of today, we’re about two years away from reaching our goal. I (Julien) was able to walk away from my job and focus on our business full time and Kiersten still works a traditional job.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Absolutely not. Quitting my job wasn’t in the plan until things got really tough at work. That aside, we’ve experienced health challenges, financial setbacks, business growing pains and several stressful personal issues. We talk openly about some of these issues on our blog so our readers know that we’re not immune to the issues they face too.
One of the biggest challenges we’ve had to deal with is having a financially insecure parent. It’s not easy being young, managing your own family but always being on edge because you know that at any given moment, you may have to step in to help out a struggling parent. Even if you earn a good income, once you factor in children, daycare and your standard cost of living, it’s easy to live paycheck to paycheck.
We believe this is the invisible burden many millennials deal with; especially African Americans. It’s part of what drives us all to work as hard as we do, but it can be very stressful.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Rich & Regular – what should we know?
rich & REGULAR is our personal story to financial freedom but it’s also an educational platform for people who struggle with debt, are interested in building wealth or entrepreneurship. We don’t shy away from openly discussing those topics through the lens of the black experience. In fact, our goal is to go even deeper than we already have because we’ve found there aren’t many comfortable spaces for black people to have open, non-judgmental and informative conversations about money.
Both at home and in the workplace, there is a lot of room for improvement in providing people with practical, repeatable and effective ways to improve their finances. We’re really proud of our track record in inspiring and directing others to take better control of their money and live happier, less stressful lives. Though it’s an online business, one of the keys to our success has been engaging people in-person. Whether we’re leading a panel discussion, hosting a workshop or a happy hour, the face-to-face interaction helps to build trust and to overcome the social taboo around money conversations.
We’re more like money mentors instead of coaches or advisors.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
So many people have helped us within the larger personal finance and online FIRE community. From them, we’ve learned a lot about how to grow our brand, reach a wider audience and build a sustainable online business.
If we had to say any one person though, it would be Lynnette Khalfani-Cox. A few years ago, we heard her speak at a conference as she was discussing advancements of technology and how it’s shaping the future of money and we were blown away. In that moment, we knew exactly what we wanted to do for the next phase of our careers. Since then, we’ve kept in touch with her and she’s given us priceless advice and counsel along the way…
- Website: www.richandregular.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @richandregular
- Facebook: facebook.com/richandregular
- Twitter: twitter.com/richandregular
Phyllis Iller Photography