Building Wealth Starts with Courage

In the fall of 2015, we found ourselves nestled on the balcony of a South African hotel enjoying gorgeous panoramic views of mountains and the soothing sound of waves crashing in from the Atlantic. Life couldn’t
be better.

It was our honeymoon. We were healthy and making more than enough money to sustain our lifestyle. Yet, as we savored the last few hours of our time in Cape Town, we realized the life we were heading back to was completely out of alignment. Somehow over the years, we had managed to prioritize the commitments we made to our lucrative jobs over the commitment we made to each other. Something had to change.

The desire to protect our marriage was what triggered us to re-evaluate the role money played in our lives. We knew disputes about finances were one of the leading causes of failed marriages, so in an effort to tip the odds in our favor, we dove head-first into learning as much about money, investing, real estate and entrepreneurship as possible.

We figured if we could get on the same page about our finances, we would protect ourselves from the looming threat of money arguments and potentially divorce. We were excited about what we were learning and even more excited about implementing the lessons. But we were unprepared for how this new state of financial mindfulness would change our lives forever.

As we zeroed in on eliminating debt and wasteful spending while ramping up our retirement investments, it created friction with our past lives, our social lives and our adherence to the cultural norms that were important to us. For every gain in our retirement portfolio or profitable quarter as landlords, there was a missed special occasion or series of long nights spent working instead of resting.

Despite our best attempts to create balance in one area of our life, we managed to create an imbalance in the others. But after five years, one child and a handful of entrepreneurial endeavors later, we can say with confidence we’ve cracked
the code.

If we had to boil it all down to one word—one singular characteristic we could attribute to our success—it would be courage. We credit our willingness to be different and to power through the tough times. It’s been the fuel pushing us through sudden job changes, health scares and unexpected natural disasters. Courage has granted us access to the lessons money can’t buy, and the positive effects have stretched across our respective identities.

As investors, we’ve learned there is power in patience and little value in obsessing over variables that are completely out of our control. As entrepreneurs, we’ve learned there are few feelings better than achieving a lofty income goal; especially if we enjoyed the process of generating it. And as a couple, we’ve learned to fight fair, and that conflicts are inevitable and are better embraced than avoided.

It took us almost a decade and tons of life lessons to get where we are today. We’ve read a library of books, listened to hundreds of podcast episodes, watched films and had thousands of conversations about money with people all around the world. We’ve attended conferences, spoken to groups of all sizes and had our fair share of heart-to-heart financial conversations with people in need. Along the way, we’ve even won a handful of industry awards for our nuanced take on personal finance. All of it has helped us find and agree on a proven path to financial freedom that is equal parts effective and flexible.

There is no magic button to becoming rich, just like there is no one key to success. The journey will require every nerve in your system and likely every muscle in your body.

In addition to challenging your intellect and strength, your gut will be tested, too. And in those moments of uncertainty and growth, it’s helpful to have a familiar voice and community rooting for you to win.

That’s what we’re here for.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo courtesy of Julien & Kiersten Saunders

Articles

Julien and Kiersten Saunders, Money Editors for SUCCESS magazine, are the couple behind the award-winning blog and forthcoming book, rich & REGULAR. They are producers and hosts of the original series, Money on the Table, which blends their passion for food with thoughtful conversations about money

Articles

Julien and Kiersten Saunders, Money Editors for SUCCESS magazine, are the couple behind the award-winning blog and forthcoming book, rich & REGULAR. They are producers and hosts of the original series, Money on the Table, which blends their passion for food with thoughtful conversations about money

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