“I want to drive off the bridge,” I joked to myself while sitting in Washington D.C. commuter traffic. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic inhaling exhaust fumes caused me to daymare about the next 30 years of my life. I couldn’t imagine spending close to two hours a day commuting for a job. There had to be a better way. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew there were alternatives!

That moment happened in 2002 during my sophomore year at Virginia Tech. During high school I did early application and decision to VT because I had my life figured out: become an engineer and enter the military upon graduation. Well, my life plan quickly fell apart during my freshman year and left me at a loss as to what to do with my life.

The Digital Wild West

I had no idea what alternatives there were to the traditional path of getting a degree and a 9-to-5 job. There had to be something – the dot com bubble had just happened, the Internet was just starting to invade all aspects of life, and Google was the new kid on the block. It was the digital version of the 1800’s Wild West. There was opportunity. I just had to go stake my claim and make it happen.

Chasing opportunity in the real Wild West had real risks, like getting shot by bandits or dying of dehydration in the desert. Chasing opportunity in the digital Wild West had no real risks. What was the worst that could happen if I failed? I’d have to go live with my parents for a few months after graduation and get a normal job. But I would still be alive!! 🙂

I put my head down and worked towards my goal: graduate college not needing a job.

Knowing nothing, I was the definition of ignorance on fire. I became obsessed with my goal and read everything possible, talked to anyone who would give me the time of day, and looked at every failure as a learning experience. I failed my way to success.

No job needed upon graduating in 2005!

My business was producing a livable residual income that I could manage wearing gym clothes, while working from my laptop and cellphone. I moved from rural Blacksburg, Virginia to South Beach, Miami to be closer to my business partners. We just kept cranking. Our revenue grew exponentially and we pursued new business ventures. I met amazing people from all walks of life: Olympic athletes, successful business executives, millionaire real estate investors, medical doctors rewriting the rules, wealthy entrepreneurs, and amazing people from all walks of life. I had complete control over my schedule and was able to live anywhere I wanted too.

To put it simply, I was having the time of my life. Now, it wasn’t all picture perfect. There were the usual ups-and-downs in business and life. The biggest issue was not having the financial discipline back then to really grow my wealth. I knew better, but I still let lifestyle inflation creep up on my income.

Enter Mr. Personal Finance

My college degree is in financial planning. Upon graduation, I was (and still am) eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam. But I never did. I have a love/hate relationship with the financial planning industry.

The hate: The financial advisor industry is basically an unnecessary middleman that tells Wall Street what to do with your money. Often, the fees and advice can cost you big time in the long run.

The love: Thanks to our educational system, most people have zero knowledge about personal finance and investing. The vast majority of people need help. The financial planning industry does help, but more in a “pay me unnecessarily high fees for subpar performance” rather then “pay me a reasonable fee and I’ll educate you and teach you to self manage.”

I mean no ill will towards individual advisors. Most are great people who entered the industry because they genuinely want to help people. But, a traditional career in financial planning is just a shit cupcake situation.

Financial Planning = Shit Cupcake

Shit cupcake - dog pooping on cupcake
A traditional financial planning career is like a shit cupcake to me – looks great, but not once you take a bite!

I’ve had this love/hate relationship struggle ever since my college classes. Over the years I’ve thought about getting into the financial planning industry, but could never create a business plan that was a win/win. Until now.

Let me introduce you to Mr. Personal Finance, my online alter ego.

Here’s why I created (in no particular order) Mr. Personal Finance and this website:

  • I write because I enjoy it and it forces me to structure my thoughts.
  • Share ideas and experiences to help you achieve financial freedom.
  • Potentially (but hopefully not) be resource for my wife in case I exit this life earlier than expected.
  • Network to grow new friendships and foster new business and investment opportunities.
  • Share my business plans
  • Learn from others.
  • Increase my passive income.

3 rules for financial freedom

Based on 14+ years of experience, thousands of hours of research, hundreds of hours of picking successful peoples’ minds, and mentoring dozens of people over the years, I’ve determined three rules for achieving financial freedom.

Rule #1: Simplify Life

This isn’t about bout living off of ramen noodles and reusing paper towels to save money. No, simplifying your life is about focusing on what brings you happiness and living life to its fullest. As you focus what’s important to you, you cut out the fluff. You’ll start minimizing your expenses, increasing your free time and reducing your stress.

Rule #2: Streamline Income

Find the sweet spot with your job or business in terms of maximizing your income and minimizing the B.S. and stress. Everyone’s situation is different. I’ve never seen a person fail at finding the sweet spot once mentally committed.

Rule #3: Build Wealth

Start acquiring, building, and growing assets by investing money and sweat equity. Starting a business or having partial ownership of a business is a must for everyone. You need a business.

Originally I defined these as ‘steps’, but changed them to ‘rules’ because you don’t need do them in a certain order. For example, growing assets won’t help you achieve financial freedom if you’re spending is out of control. However, if you’re mindful of these three rules, you’re on your way to financial freedom.

Bullet Points About Mr. Personal Finance

  • Never had a job after graduating Virginia Tech in 2005.
  • Live by the 80/20 rule, KISS principle, and philosophy of “ready, fire, aim.”
  • Earned a degree in financial planning that is a registered Certified Financial Planner (CFP) program, but never enter the financial planning industry because it’s a shit cupcake career.
  • Will never fail due to a lack of effort. I’ll die trying.
  • I’m a dog person!!
  • Will not sacrifice health and happiness for financial freedom. I want it all.
  • Overcame a horrible speech impediment as a kid to become a top salesperson in college. Seriously, my parents thought that I was mentally challenged for a couple of years.
  • I’m successful because I fail forward and am willing to fail more than the next guy.
  • I prefer to run my businesses in gym shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals.
  • Worked with clients and expanded my businesses in 4 continents. All from my home office. Isn’t the Internet amazing?
  • My biggest fear is dying with lots of regrets. I much prefer to do something and make an ass of myself rather than sitting on the sideline and wonder “what if…” I’ll always go down swinging!

Welcome to my site!

Chris Lopez / Mr. Personal Finance

P.S. I’m minutes away from LAX. If you Live in or are passing through Los Angeles, drop me a line to grab a beer or a cup of coffee.

P.P.S. I appreciate people, information, and websites that are transparent. MrPersonalFinance.com is also transparent. I’ll never recommend a product or service that I wouldn’t use myself or recommend to a friend. Confused or curious about something I posted? Then leave a comment and I’ll do my best to clarify. For more details, please read the privacy policy, FTC disclosure, disclaimers, and terms of use.

Aiden the dog riding the Gondola in Telluride, CO
My dog, Aiden, living the good life riding the gondola in Telluride, Co.
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