I’m honoured to have been nominated for my first-ever Sunshine Blogger Award! You’ve likely come across it on other blogs, but in case you haven’t, here’s some background info:
What’s the Sunshine Blogger Award?
Interestingly, there’s no actual award, ceremony, or formal nomination process for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Instead, it’s a peer appreciation award. Bloggers award it to other bloggers who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.
In addition, the Sunshine Blogger Award is a great way for bloggers to connect, share each others’ blogs, and get to know each other better. (I loved learning more about Kari from her Sunshine Blogger Award post.)
Sunshine Blogger Award Rules
When nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, there are four simple rules to follow:
- Thank the person who nominated you. Add backlinks to their blog.
- Answer the 11 questions they posed to you.
- Nominate another 11 new bloggers and give them 11 new questions.
- Include these rules in your post and use the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.
Who nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award?
Kathy at Baby Boomer Super Saver kindly nominated me in her Sunshine Blogger Award post. On her blog, Kathy writes about her journey to FI as a baby boomer. She got a late start on her retirement savings and wants others to know they’re not alone.
I’m not a baby boomer, but I’m a big fan of Kathy and her blog. I love how she so positively shares the message that it’s not too late to catch up retirement savings, even after making mistakes or starting late.
If you’re late to FI or behind on your retirement savings, you’ll find plenty of helpful tips and inspiring posts at Baby Boomer Super Saver. I hope you visit Kathy’s blog (and maybe become one of her followers too).
My Sunshine Blogger Award answers
Kathy came up with a list of 11 interesting questions which I had fun answering below:
1. What is your earliest memory about money?
My earliest money memory is of the red ‘lai see’ envelopes my siblings and I received every Chinese New Year. Inside each envelope, we’d find ‘lucky money’ in the form of a crisp new $5, $10 or $20 bill.
Every year, without fail, my brother, twin sister and I would dutifully hand the money over to our parents. We never felt any desire to spend the money, nor did we feel deprived. It’s just how it was!
Of course, it helped that our parents reminded us that the money was being saved for ‘a rainy day’. The message I took away was that money should be cared for and not frivolously spent.
I didn’t fully realize the value of those little red envelopes until M and I were ready to purchase our first house. This lucky money, along with our combined birthday and Christmas money, formed a large portion of our downpayment.
That’s the power of saving, compounding and time!
2. How much money do you feel you need to have in an emergency fund for yourself or your family? Three, six, or twelve months worth of expenses?
I’m a huge proponent for having an emergency plan instead of an emergency fund. This seems risky to most people, but if you read my explanation for it, you’ll see it’s actually a very safe approach!
That said, if I were to advise someone who was just starting out, I’d suggest that they start by saving throughout the year for large, annual expenses (property tax, insurance, etc.) This helps to ensure that these recurring expenses don’t become (or create) financial emergencies.
Once you’ve established a system to save up for and pay cash for these expenses, you’ll essentially have a dual-purpose emergency fund: it’ll be there for you to pay those recurring expenses, but can serve the secondary purpose as a stash of emergency cash.
I have a lot more to say on this topic, so if you’re interested in creating your own emergency plan, here are some helpful posts:
- In You Don’t Need an Emergency Fund (You Need an Emergency Plan) I explain my rationale and share my actual emergency plan. You can use this post as a framework for your own emergency plan.
- In Would Our Emergency Plan Hold Up to COVID-19? I stress-test our emergency plan to see if it would’ve held up to the challenges of COVID.
3. What is your saving rate (amount saved per year divided by your gross income)?
I’m a FIRE blogger, but (shockingly) I don’t track my saving rate! I explain why in my January 2020 update, and will summarize my reasons here:
- It was too time-consuming and frustrating to calculate.
- I already know we’re saving a high percentage of our income.
- We no longer need the extra motivation we’d get from achieving a higher saving rate.
Even when I used to calculate our saving rate, I never actually shared it here on the blog. As I wrote about previously, we value our privacy and choose to keep some financial details under wraps.
4. Which is better for getting out of debt—the debt snowball or debt avalanche?
I’m all about the math, so the debt avalanche makes the most sense to me. That’s because you’ll save more interest and make faster progress with the avalanche method. (Debt avalanche = highest interest debt first; debt snowball = smallest balance first.)
However, I understand that some people need the motivation from easy, early wins. For them, I’d suggest a hybrid approach: start with the debt snowball to build some momentum. Then, once you’re feeling motivated and confident, switch to the debt avalanche to attack the rest of the debt.
5. If money was no object, how would you spend your time?
I’d spend it slow travelling the world with M and our boys. Since we’d miss our families, we’d fly them out to join us whenever they could. I’d book huge Airbnbs with big kitchens so that everyone could cook and hang out together.
However, we’d still allocate a large chunk of our travel budget to eating out! After all, gorging on local specialties is one of our favourite ways to explore a new destination. But even if money was no object, we’d still mostly eat at hole-in-the-walls and street carts. Gazillionaires or not, that’s just what we enjoy!
6. Out of the money books, blogs or podcasts you’ve consumed this year, which was your favorite and why?
There are so many I could name, but I’ll take this opportunity to showcase a brand-new podcast that I’d really like to see succeed. (They also interviewed me recently, so you could say I’m slightly biased!)
The Financial Classroom is hosted by young millennials Tim and Will. They’re passionate about personal finance and sharing their financial knowledge with other young people.
On the show, they feature an ongoing interview series called The Six-Figure Millennial. On these episodes, Tim and Will share inspiring stories from millennials who are doing amazing things with their money.
I hope you’ll check out The Financial Classroom and share it with your friends and family. Let’s help Tim and Will grow their show and spread more financial literacy!
7. Has your financial situation gotten better or worse since COVID-19 began?
With all the sadness and challenges that people have been facing, I feel guilty to admit this, but we’ve been doing okay. To be honest, I was expecting the opposite. My husband works in video games, and it’s an industry that’s typically quite affected by recessions.
I was fairly certain we’d soon be facing layoffs and that we’d need to tighten our belts. After all, many people in many industries have had their hours and income cut. I expected that a large majority would have nothing extra to spend on entertainment.
Instead, a large percentage of people not only kept their jobs, but had extra income and time to spend on video games. Because of this, my husband’s company has done well and so have we.
This is why I flip-flop between feeling okay and not okay about our situation during COVID. There’s some survivor’s guilt (if you can call it that) about doing fine when so many are not.
8. What financial changes would you like to see 12 months from now?
I feel we’re in a good place with our finances now, after many years of working hard to streamline and improve things. However, there’s always room to do better, so here are some things I’ll work on over the next 12 months:
- Simplify my banking situation (fewer accounts and no more money earning nothing just to maintain minimum balances).
- Earn significant amounts of travel points from credit card sign-up bonuses.
- Fully brief my husband on what to do with our money if something happens to me.
9. Imagine your future self in retirement—what would you say to your younger self about money?
I’d start by telling my younger self about Mr. Money Mustache and the possibilities of FIRE. Then I’d tell her to put everything aside and learn how to invest—from day one.
I’d show her how much farther ahead we’d be if she learned how to DIY invest and manage M’s stock options. In addition, I’d teach her everything I know about the Smith Manoeuvre. If she started it right away, we’d pay off our mortgage faster and get more money invested sooner.
In short, I’d tell myself: make your investments a priority as soon as you start earning an income. It’ll help you reach freedom at a younger age than you ever dreamed possible.
10. Why did you start blogging and what is your blog about?
I started blogging for a number of reasons:
- I love FIRE and wanted to tell as many people as I could about it.
- I wanted to grow the FIRE community in Canada.
- I wanted to show how it’s possible to reach FI in an expensive city, on one income, with kids.
- I wanted to add diversity to the FIRE community. (I’m female, Asian, a stay-at-home mom and Canadian.)
Eat Sleep Breathe FI is about FI and how my family is getting there—despite our challenges (HCOL city, single income, two kids). If you’re new to my blog, here are some of my most popular posts to get you started:
11. As a blogger, which one of your posts do you feel we should all read?
In How to Reach FI on One Income, With Kids, in a High Cost of Living Area I share 16 actionable things we’ve done to propel us towards FI. For us, it wasn’t one unique thing or even anything that was all that hard or unusual.
Instead, it was many optimizations that have added up to make a big difference over time. I hope the post inspires you to kickstart your FI journey!
My Sunshine Blogger Award nominees
Thanks again to Kathy for nominating me and asking such great questions. Now it’s my turn to pick 11 new nominees.
Below are my picks (in alphabetical order) for the Sunshine Blogger Award. All are involved in or write about FI and create content that I’ve enjoyed:
- Amy at Own it Debt Free
- Ana at Goat Dog Simple
- Bob at Tawcan
- Elise at Live Hard X Love Hard
- Family Money Saver at Family Money Saver
- Gean and Kristine at F.I.R.E. We Go!
- Graham at Reverse the Crush
- LateStarterFIRE at Late Starter FIRE
- Ms. Mod at Modest Millionaires
- T at T on FIRE
- Thrifty Hustler at Thrifty Hustler
To my above-named blogging friends: I know everyone’s busy, so there’s absolutely NO pressure to join in! Feel free to simply bask in the glory of your nomination. 🙂
My Sunshine Blogger Award questions
Here are the 11 questions I’d like to pose to my nominees:
- What’s your number one tip for someone just starting out on their financial journey?
- If you could start your financial journey over, what would you do differently?
- If you have a partner (or if not, a close friend or family member) what’s one way they’ve inspired you to do better with your finances?
- Name one area in your financial life that you’d like to improve on.
- Can you share your top three money-saving apps?
- What’s your most unconventional money tip?
- Other than blogging about money, what do you most enjoy doing in your free time?
- Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your readers. (It can be anything—it doesn’t have to be money-related!)
- What’s the most impactful eco-friendly (or eco-frugal) thing you do everyday?
- If you had one environmental wish for our planet, what would it be?
- Which blog post of yours do you absolutely love, but doesn’t get enough attention? Also: why do you love it?
I love the premise behind the Sunshine Blogger Award—to spread positivity and great content on the internet. Help me spread the sunshine by sharing this post and encouraging other bloggers to join in!
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