This interview is the latest in a series of interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Stephan from Bill In Captivity.
Hi, I’m Stephan, and I love everything about finance and the markets. I eventually turned this passion into the motivation for a Ph.D. in Finance, and now I’m a finance professor. I take the knowledge I’ve accumulated both in and out of the classroom and share it with students and now the internet through my blog, www.Bullincaptivity.com.
Bull In Captivity Interview
Who is bullincaptivity.com?
Stephan: The content of my site focuses on educating others on finance from basic concepts to more involved thought experiments while motiving them to use this knowledge to become financially independent.
Why did you start your blog?
Stephan: Every semester I receive many questions from students ranging from general finance concerns to book recommendations all the way to retirement account choices. The questions are great and come from a place of genuine concern and interest. I wanted a place where I could discuss these topics with the ultimate goal of creating a resource for more people than just students taking my class.
What are your favorite personal finance books?
Stephan: This is one of the most common questions I get, and my answer is always the same. What is your goal?
If you want a broad overview of all money topics, then “Money, Master the Game” is a great compilation by Tony Robbins. This is also a long book but covers many aspects of personal finance.
For a fun read, “Flash Boys” is an inside look at the high-frequency trading movement in financial markets.
When did you first become financially literate?
Stephan: Very early. My father and I discussed mutual and index funds as early as middle school. He made it a point to include me in choosing the investment options of my college savings. I purchased my first certificate of deposit in middle school and eventually transferred that money into the stock market in high school.
What’s your take on financial education? Parents or school’s responsibility?
Stephan: It’s easy to answer that it’s the parents’ responsibility, but the reality is many parents do not have the financial education to educate their children on finances.
This is where the education system should step in. I am all for personal finance courses in high school and believe that they should be a mandatory component of the secondary school curriculum.
If you died today, would your family be okay from a financial standpoint?
Stephan: Yes, this is a very important issue for me. I have a document on my computer laying out where we have everything invested, what my company provides for a life insurance plan, and what to prioritize when it comes to investing.
In addition, my wife and I have worked hard to pay off a lot of debt. Having my family be debt free with an already established investment portfolio is an essential part of my personal financial goals.
What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?
Stephan: Put your money to work for you. Having complete control over your finances gives a lot of freedom, but understanding the money is not the answer to every problem will make you truly free.
What’s one bucket list item you’d like to complete?
Stephan: I’d love to complete a major hike of at least a month in length. I’ve had my eyes on portions of the John Muir and Appalachian Trails for some time.
Are you perusing financial independence? (FIRE) If not, what’s your take on the FIRE concept?
Stephan: I think anyone concerned about money should be pursuing financial independence. I am definitely on track for financial independence. Early retirement will likely be a result of this journey but is not necessarily the goal.
What is a misconception that people have about money or finance?
Stephan: That it’s difficult. The finance industry thrives on making things seem more complicated than they are. It does not take a Ph.D. to manage your investments or create a savings plan. There are so many resources for free online that walk through “complicated” tasks like opening and investing a retirement account that you can do in less than 15 min with a few small steps.