Be Fruitful and CactiFI Your Life

Welcome to Cactified. This is our first post ever, so thanks for reading this far ; )

Last year three things happened that set our story in motion. To steal from the world of fiction, let’s call them inciting incidents (though any fire-starting is strictly figurative):

  1. We got married right next door to Saguaro National Park, footsteps from where Nickelodeon shot Hey Dude. Yes, the cacti are indeed killer.
  2. For the first time ever, we were both working full-time and neither of us was in school.
  3. My cousin Erica introduced us to Mr. Money Mustache, the alpha and omega of early retirement blogs. Tbh, she tried to get me into MMM the year before, but I wasn’t ready.

This time, however, maybe it was evolutionary instincts kicking in (or just a much-needed distraction from the presidential election), but MMM stuck. Not only that, he led me (in rough chronological order) to the Mad FientistEarly Retirement Extreme, and Radical Personal Finance. The list is obviously not exhaustive. There are so many great blogs and podcasts out on the Interweb, some of them highlighted in this must-read Vox piece, How to retire in your 30s: save most of your money and rethink your core values.

Okay, we’re in our 30s. Check. We may never earn a ton (more on that in a future post), but we can learn to save. And unlike our not-so-dear-leader,* we actually have core values, which means we’re able to rethink them.

Hey. Wait, we don’t have to work until we’re 65?

As you can tell by now, we live in the Southwest (ψ ψ ψ), so while the cost-of-living is low, so are people’s incomes. Most of our friends here are writers, teachers, activists, and artists. They aren’t $ $ $ loving capitalists. They’re the kinds of people who start an egg co-op and name it the Chicken Tenders. They start stuff, in a good way. At the risk of coming off too political in our very last first post, most of our friends have plans on inauguration day.

Yes, they’re smart, lovely, and spicy as hell, but in terms of personal finance, they just don’t know what’s possible or don’t have the stomach for it. Luckily, I want to dig in and explore all the strategies/tactics of financial independence to make it more accessible and palatable for right-brained folks like our friends. To put it simply, Cactified is a personal finance blog for people who aren’t wired to optimize, who don’t naturally worship efficiency.

Perhaps that’s what makes Cactified unique. As MMM pointed out, so many Early Retirement and FI blogs are written by software engineers and (unintentionally) for them. I guess, in some ways, I’m guilty of playing into that same false binary between computer people and arts people. So let’s knock it down. Let’s think about it differently.

In our cactified desert landscape, efficiency is important, too, a matter of survival. But the solution isn’t always to pipe in more water from other states (increase your income). Why not harvest rainwater or gray-water (reduce your spending) or rip out your lawn and put in a more drought-tolerant xeriscape (invest wisely)? Let’s think of these as three arms on the ψ.

Likewise, Cactified is going to have three main themes: Desert Living, Financial Independence, and Education. In future posts, I’ll explain how and why they’re all connected. At least they don’t have to compete for sunlight because that’s one thing the desert has in abundance.

Another thing that will hopefully make this blog different from others: cacti are allowed to be prickly. We’re not going to present some perfect, airbrushed picture of our lives. The path to FI (or children or professional/creative success or physical/emotional wellbeing) is not smooth or straight. It’s rocky, uneven, full of challenges and yes, the occasional mirage.

For us, we’re aiming to reach FI in 2030. We’re calling it the Year of the Cactus, and hope you’ll join us along the way.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave comments below, or email us here.

ψ ψ ψ

*This blog isn’t always going to be political, but it won’t ignore social issues either. In the desert, shade is important, and that works two ways: provide shade for the baby cacti who need it, and throw shade at the greedy folks who want to fence us in.…

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