048: When Your Dreams Get in the Way of FIRE | Max Desmarais

What do you do when you have a dream… a calling… an overpowering pull to pursue your life’s passion? But you discover FIRE, and you realize your passion won’t get you there?

This is the story we’re sharing today—from EFIC’s show editor and mixer, Max Desmarais. Max has lived a life filled with joy and deep fulfilment, yet he now finds himself in his forties; the starting gun has gone off, and he hasn’t even left the gate yet.

What now? And even more importantly: is this even a problem? Could it be that Max is the one who’s pursuing FIRE (or more accurately, FI) the ‘right’ way? Listen in as we discuss this existential dilemma… and let us know in the comments what you think!

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Money Mechanic
Hello, listeners. Welcome to Explore FI Canada, where we sit at the roundtable with Canadians, and share their thoughts, ideas and personal journeys to financial independence.

Thanks to Matt McKeever for sponsoring Explore FI Canada. Matt is a Canadian investor, CPA, entrepreneur, and real estate expert who achieved FIRE at age 31. Do us a favour and check out his YouTube channel by searching Matt McKeever or using the link in our show notes.

Money Mechanic

How’s 2021 treating you so far, Chrissy?

Chrissy
Pretty good. It’s only a few days in.

Money Mechanic
Thanks for the enthusiasm. It’s pretty good! Well, this is our second episode. No, this is our third episode of the year. So time is flying by already. And here we are. Today’s a pretty fun show, I think. Because last year, well, first of all, thank you to all the listeners for joining Explore FI Canada last year and helping grow the show and sharing it with your friends and things like that. And one of the major things that happened to us last year and avid listeners from the beginning probably noticed a massive improvement in our audio quality, Chrissy.

Chrissy
Yes.

Money Mechanic
Do you know why that was?

Chrissy
Yes. Because we had a very special listener who came on board and decided to join the team and help us out in the background.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, and I mean, so everything that I’ve done with podcasting has been do it yourself and I’m a do it yourself guy. I’m still trying to fix the furnace. I was telling you about December. But it’s it runs we have heat. So it’s okay. But yeah, so being a do it yourself type person, which is, you know, part of how I embrace the whole FI and FIRE Mr. Money Mustache in the beginning. But for the podcasting side of it, you know, it was I was overwhelmed by the audio production of it. And I just didn’t realize how much there was to it. You know, we kind of just, you know, hit the button record, and we used some online software to get our production but what a dramatic difference having a professional do it has been for us. And today, we get to chat with our professional in house audio production engineer. Max, welcome to Explore FI Canada. Awesome to finally chat with you.

Max
Hey guys, it’s an honor to be on. And a little bit strange to be on this side of the microphone.

Chrissy
Yep, now you have to listen to your own voice when you’re editing the episode.

Max
It’s going to drive me absolutely insane. It’s going to drive me absolutely crazy. Because plus on top of that, I’ll have to deal with my my slight sort of Quebec accent right?

Chrissy
Oh, it’s lovely! It’s lovely.

Money Mechanic
You can’t hear you can’t hear your own accent!

Max
Oh, yes, you can.

Chrissy
So you mentioned you’re from Quebec. You are our second interviewee from your province. Our first one was Norbert on Episode 40. So yeah, tell us a bit about yourself and how we came to meet you.

Max
We’re gonna represent the East Coast a little bit. Yeah. Okay. How, let’s see, how did we meet? About what was it maybe six months, I think about July around July, maybe June last year. And about six, seven months ago, I was listening to an episode of the FI Garage.

Money Mechanic
And it was love getting the shout out for the FI Garage on the show.

Max
Right.

Money Mechanic
Thank you.

Max
So so I’m listening to FI Garage. And just around that time, I was toying with the idea of like, kind of starting up a sort of a podcast editing, recording mixing processing producing company, because I’m an audio engineer. And it’s it’s a very easy sidestep for me and I am just incredibly passionate about podcasts in general. Many hours a day pass by while I’m listening to them. So I’m listening to the FI Garage. He’s having a chat with the Economist and he mentioned at some point something along the lines of at some point I’m gonna have to like outsource this. This this you know, editing part because it was driving him crazy.

Money Mechanic
Well, two shows was a lot.

Chrissy
Yeah.

Money Mechanic
Trying to edit two shows was a lot.

Max
It’s a ton of work, right? And so so the second I heard that I was I was like, Oh my god, I got like, I have to act you know, sometimes in life, you get these like little moments and you’re just like, you kind of feel like life is giving you a sort of a window. They’re open, like life is opening a window like an inch, just crack open and you’re kind of like, Oh, it’s kind of this moment and in that moment, you have to decide like, Okay, I’m gonna be bold and go for it and act and do something a little quirky and a little like, you know, outside the usual or I’m just gonna stand by and just let the you know, the opportunity close that window of opportunity close. So at that time, I was thinking, Okay, I need to get on with some shows. You know what I listen to these shows, I know the topic, I love the topic, I enjoy the shows, I’m gonna send a quick message and see if I can help alleviate his pain a little bit, you know, it was probably like 17 pages long or something. Because I tend to be wordy. That’s just, that’s just my vibe. But you know, I didn’t want to come off. Like, I just wanted it to come off being like, kind of like, honest, but not too much of a suck up. But also, you know, presenting myself as somebody who admired the work, but at the same time felt I could bring a little something to the table. You know,

Money Mechanic
It’s it’s like writing a good cover letter, right?

Max
Kind of Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I sent him a message and I’m like, Hey, Money Mechanic, I’m Max, and I’m an audio engineer, I’m a fan, I enjoy both of your shows. And I would like to offer you to give you a hand, I’m trying to get my feet wet in the podcast arena, would you let me use your show as a guinea pig. And make it my sandbox, where I can make all kinds of mistakes and learn a few things, you know, coming from audio engineering, and making music, podcast production is much, much, much easier. I always like to say that it’s sort of like going from astrophysics to high school biology. And that it’s it’s fairly easy, but it’s still a different topic. So it’s not like, you know, you can just kind of start it up. And there’s no changes, no difference. There’s different set of tools and that kind of thing. So yeah, Money Mechanic graciously accepted.

Money Mechanic
How could I not?

Max
And we’ve been doing this together ever since now for about six, seven months. And yeah, that’s how we met basically.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, I felt that when we got your email, I shared it with Chrissy as well. And I think the group decision was that Explore FI Canada was going to be the show that we really wanted to add that audio production value that you had to it because it’s because of the cross-Canada nature of the show. And Oh, interesting. Yeah, and how you can build that though I soldier on with FI Garage with subpar audio quality. And but you know, we’re drinking beer on that show. So sometimes we just come off as we are anyway, it’s part of the character, I think.

Max
It’s part of the charm, right? Yeah.

Chrissy
I was just gonna say we’re so grateful for your help, because it really does free us up to do the things that we want to focus on, which is talking to guests and recording and bringing quality content to our audience. So thank you so much.

Max
Aw, it’s a pleasure, honestly.

Money Mechanic
Huge thank you. Now one of the reasons that we wanted to get you on the show is because I think beyond your exceptional skills as an audio engineer, it also has created a different path to FI, or maybe a longer path to FI there’s some different things that we need to cover today. And the one part that I get the most that resonates with me is that the longer that I’ve been on the path and the more that I learned from guests and from the Facebook groups and Twitter and wherever you happen to get other information, even through the books is that this path is no one size fits all. And so many of us start off at the beginning with this hardcore focus on a 50, 60, 70% savings rate. Something, you know, really hard to attain. And, you know, focus on maybe we’re in a career or a job that we don’t like, but we’re just going to crush it and get out as soon as possible. And that’s that’s all like common, like anybody can listen to hundreds of podcasts that tell us about that. But we’re here today to talk about your story, Max, and your story is about your passion. So just kind of give us a little bit of a an overview before we get too deep into it of what your FI journey likes and what how that kind of started for you three years ago.

Max
Okay, well, basically, I mean, I’ve no doubt that I’m the least FI guest you’ve ever had on the show, as well, let me just start by saying that right off the bat, right. There’s no real estate portfolio in the background over here. So yeah, I started maybe at most three years ago. And it’s funny, I kind of stumbled into FI in a bit of a strange way, in the sense that I was just starting to listen to a lot of podcasts. And, you know, just very various entertainment stuff, you know, basketball, sports, whatever. Eventually, I kind of discovered that there were all kinds of topics in the podcasting sphere. I saw that there was a lot of podcasts about things like improve self improvement and money and stuff like that. And I you know, I started checking them out. And eventually I fell on a podcast of a guy named Joshua Sheats. Have you guys heard of him before?

Chrissy
I both love him and hate him.

Money Mechanic
It’s Radical Personal Finance?

Chrissy
He’s so controversial, some of the things he says I just want to wring his neck but the majority of the time I’m like, You’re a genius. You’re so good at what you do. And I love what you’re saying. Yeah.

Max
Oh, yeah. He’s He’s intense. He’s really something.

Money Mechanic
It comes off a bit too much like a sermon for me sometimes.

Max
He’s I believe he’s actually a preacher.

Money Mechanic
Okay. Well, that makes sense. Sometimes I’m like, Okay, I’m feeling like, you just give me a sermon right now.

Max
Yeah. Oh, yeah, there was one episode I was listening to. And he was he was literally crying for like 45 minutes, you know, like deep, heartfelt tears, it was really something. But like you said, he’s a genius, right? He’s like, super intense. He really knows his stuff. What’s this show called? Oh, yeah, Radical Personal Finance. Yeah, it truly it truly is, you know, he, he really shines us as a unique voice in the sphere, I think. So he was my introduction to FI. So it was a bit of a, we’re a long way from the sort of like, rainbows and ice cream and unicorns from like, ChooseFI and stuff like that, right? It was very like, Oh, you know, financial independence, you know. So he was my introduction, I got into that. And that, of course, led to other podcasts and other shows, and then for the first time in my life, sort of all these shows kind of made me see that money was something you can control. It’s not, you know, it’s not just something that happens to you, right? It’s something that you do yourself. And, you know, I kind of saw money before as just kind of bunch of virtual numbers on a website that I had to manipulate, so that I could do certain things in life, like buy a certain microphone, or it dictated how much I had to go work at jobs I didn’t like, or things like that, but I never actually saw it as something that if I manipulate these numbers correctly, it will eventually sort of draw my future. And, you know, show me and sort of, like, develop my options and, and sort of, like impact my quality of life, you know, beyond like, can I afford pizza this weekend? Kind of like, like a long term thing, right. So that’s, that’s how I discovered it. And I had plenty of time to listen to podcasts, because I, you know, I have an office job, like, most artsy types, there was a lot of sort of data entry and stuff. So I had like, five, six hours to spend per day listening to podcast. So you, you know, you get to consume a lot of content and a lot of ideas. And it kind of points you in the right direction fairly quickly. And then, after a while, maybe a little bit, maybe about a year ago, or so I kind of got, like, tired of listening to advice from Americans on FI because, you know, you know how it is kind of like, what 40% of it doesn’t really apply to us. Yeah. Right. So I couldn’t listen to another episode about a 401k. So I started looking for Canadian alternatives, which is how I found you guys. And that was kind of my introduction to FIRE.

Chrissy
It’s amazing. I think your money transformation speaks to a lot of people, because a lot of us I think, are kind of not very mindful. When we’re younger with our money. And it’s true, you don’t realize that it’s something that’s in your control that you can do something about and you can improve. So it’s, it’s nice to hear, hear your side of it, hear your story and how it transformed for you over the years.

Max
Yeah, but you know, what my my one regret is, how late it came. Kind of we’re all kind of in the same age range, right? Early 40s. And

Money Mechanic
If you’re saying early, because I may have crossed that threshold.

Max
It’s okay. Your secret is safe, secret safe, man. And that was that that’s basically that was one of the big things that hit me after discovering FI is this. Yes, this I’m not gonna call it relief. I’ll let’s say joy is too strong a word. But this this sort of peace that yes, I can control money. But it also came with a massive wave of regret of Oh, my goodness, you know, when you all you hear so many stories? Oh, yeah. You know, I was 24 years old, and I bought a duplex and stuff like that, and you go all those like, I feel like I squandered my entire, the entire period of life where you’re supposed to build your foundation. I feel like I squandered it. So I don’t know. I don’t know if that contributes to my sort of like, my motivation to kind of hustle these days, you know, 12 hour days, seven days a week. Go, go, go. But yeah, that was a big regret. Yeah.

Money Mechanic
I think that’s pretty common, too. I mean, not everybody finds the FI or FIRE community in their 20s. Right? I mean, I was in my mid-30s later than that. And so I knew I was behind the eight ball as well. So it’s, and I think one of the things that I really liked what you just said there, and I hadn’t really pulled it out of a conversation we’ve had before is that part of that realization, or that starting on the journey is, is a mindset shift from immediate short term thinking, to long-term thinking, to be able to see that if I make some small changes today, with my finances, whether it’s paying down some debt, a little bit more savings, maybe earning a little extra money, The aggregation of those gains over the 10 year timeframe, or more 15 years are going to be huge, right? So even for us in our 40s changes we make today are gonna have big impacts down the road. Like I saw quite a few blocks pop up last year where it’s like, you know, Late Starter FIRE. She’s down in Australia, and she’s fairly late. And there’s quite a few other ones that people are in their 40s.

Chrissy
50s, even.

Max
It’s so refreshing. I find I find it so refreshing when I see that.

Money Mechanic
Yeah. Well, and I, one of the things I wanted to ask you about, sort of along this thread, too, is when you found f FI, did you find that there any changes that you could take from it, you said you’re you’re the least FI guest, but that’s not true. That’s not true at all. Because it’s a journey, you don’t want to just talk to people that have made it. It’s all about getting there and working on at your own pace. So when you found out about the community, you started taking in some of the content, where you’re able to apply some of the principles right away and see a positive impact in your life.

Max
Yes, but… yeah,

Money Mechanic
Well, but I didn’t get pizza every week now.

Max
So what’s the point? Right? I did. But I think the biggest benefit was psychological. Okay, I believe so. Because just as a quick background are this Well, I mean, we’ll probably segue into this a little bit later. But the reason I’m so not at FI is because of the obscene obscenely large amounts of money I’ve spent on trying to build the life I want. And to have the career I want, so we can talk about that a little bit, a little bit later. But that’s why I would say because I was starting from such a far, far, far, far behind. Like, I’m the last guy at the marathon. Like, I’m the guy, the gun goes off, and I’m looking, I’m still looking around, looking around for Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m like, not even, I don’t haven’t started running yet, you know. So that’s why in that sense, it’s psychological. But it’s psychological in the sense that it gives. It’s heartening it gives courage to sort of be like, yeah, you know what, I can do this? It started bad. But look, I’m now I think my net worth is $10,000. better now than it was a year ago. And you take little steps like that, and you go, Okay, this is this is possible.

Chrissy
You’re making progress.

Max
Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.


Chrissy
Hey, Money Mechanic, you use Passiv, right? How do you like it?

Money Mechanic
It’s great. It’s like my own personalized robo advisor. I set it up one time, then Passiv helps keep my portfolio balanced by securely connecting to Questrade.

Chrissy
Wow, sounds like Passiv saves you a lot of time.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, no more spreadsheets! And Passiv even has one-click purchasing, which makes life so much easier.

Chrissy
That sounds amazing. I also heard that Passiv added a new goal feature to help DIY investors reach their investment targets.

Money Mechanic
That’s right. The goal feature is built right in and helps you stay on track with your investments. Chrissy, did you know that Passiv is free for Questrade clients?

Chrissy
Free is good, especially when it normally costs $99! How can our listeners get in on this offer?

Money Mechanic
Just go to Passiv.com/EFIC.


Money Mechanic
Chrissy had a little excerpt that I think she wanted to share with the listeners that kind of gives us a little bit of your sort of, I don’t know if you want to call it backstory, but mindset a little bit. Hey, Chrissy, you want to share that?

Chrissy
Yeah, it’s something that Max emailed to us. And it actually leads to the title of this episode, which I think is just intriguing. It kind of sums up Max’s journey. So we’re gonna call this episode When Your Dreams Get in the Way of FIRE. And I think it speaks to not just people who are artistic and finding it hard to make a good living with their passion in the arts, but also people who have other struggles, you know, with, with maybe illness or disability, or maybe their job just doesn’t earn them as much as they want. And it’s just something that they enjoy, and they want to keep doing. And so I’ll read what Max wrote to us because I think it sums up the main topic of this episode really nicely.

So Max says: “There’s one thing about FI that bugs me is not well suited to a parallel pursuit of another goal, usually a passion based goal in a creative field, etc. Since those fields are not lucrative, highly competitive, and often require large upfront cash outlay, such as audio engineering, and tend to be all consuming to make any progress at all. But a lot of FI content says get a performance based sales job or programming job to increase your income. And whenever I see that, I go okay, but what if my dream of dreams is to be a dance choreographer, and I don’t want to wait 10 to 15 years to be FIREd to pursue it before my dancers body gives out and I have to spend all my time dancing to even have a shot at being successful. I’ve often thought about that. How easy FI would be if I hadn’t wanted to work in the music industry, quite literally, at all costs.”

And for me that just speaks to your passion and what a lot of people feel there’s this tension between FI and living the dream that is your life, or the dream that you want to be your life. And they’re at odds with each other sometimes.

Max
Yeah, they really are. It’s, and I felt like this for quite a while, you know, expect, especially when you’re, and it’s sometimes it’s frustrating, you know, because you you listen to a lot of content and stuff like that. And I mean, not then be mean or anything. But sometimes I listen to the content, and I’ll go, Yeah, but you have no driving, like, you don’t have this driving imperative in your gut, you don’t have this fire that’s just telling you. This is what you need to be doing with your life. This is what you need to be doing with your time, no matter what. So sometimes I’m like, okay, but like, yeah, it would be easy. If I could just, you know, put my head down, get a office job worked my way up to the corporate ladder, or, you know, quit, learn coding, get a job for 80 grand a year, and just build it that way. But you can’t do that when you’re insanely passionate about a field that, you know, all these fields, they all have that in common, right? They’re insanely competitive, whether you’re talking about theater, acting, audio engineering, I saw thing once that being coming, a successful audio engineer, particularly in music is more competitive than becoming an astronaut.

Chrissy
Wow.

Max
Which

Money Mechanic
Wow.

Max
Now, I don’t know how much I believe that. But it was like a legitimate website. You know, it was like they were showing the most competitive fields. And like, there was no law, no medicine, none of that. Number four was audio engineer. Do you know what number one was?

Chrissy
No.

Money Mechanic
No.

Max
Dance choreography?

Chrissy
What?

Money Mechanic
Really?

Chrissy
Really?

Max
Yeah, to successfully earn a living as a dance choreographer is the most competitive position you can fight for, as a career. Right? And, you know, it makes some sense when you think about it, but like, they’re all fields where there’s no money. So you really have to be in that, like being good doesn’t cut it, you have to be the best in the world, to even kind of kind of like make a dent in that, you know. So, you know, I’m listening to a lot of this, this stuff. And people were talking about saving up to buy rental properties. And I’m like, I just bought an $8,000 microphone, like, do you want me to buy a cut like a duplex? So yeah, that’s where there’s and that that’s where I kind of got that idea. And I shot you an email. And I said, you know, this is like a topic that’s never discussed, you never see that it never comes up. It’s extremely rare. And the rare times they’ll discuss creative fields, as it pertains to FIRE is like, as some side hustle or something. So yeah, if you’re a writer, you could start a blog and, you know, write, I’m like, man there, that’s so doesn’t come close to covering all the different sort of like, artistic pursuits that, you know, people would want to pursue, that just kind of go against, you know, whether there was a period of my life where I spent $100 a week on singing lesson for, like, 10 years. So that adds up. That adds up. And you know, at the time, if you told me like, Well, you know, you should be taking that $100. And if you put it in a fund, it’ll be like magic, you know, 10 years from now, you’re gonna have like, that, that that small inputs gonna have blossom to $20,000. And I’ll be like, Yeah, but I don’t know how to sing.

Money Mechanic
Right? Exactly. You could I could pay $100 a week, and I’d still don’t know how to sing.

Max
Yeah, well, yeah, I would argue that neither could I. But that’s a whole other talk.

Money Mechanic
You know, what I find interesting with this too, and Chrissy, maybe you can chime in, as well as that. We’ve often heard in the FIRE community that people rush to the finish line, and get there and don’t have anything to retire to. And that’s come up over and over again, is trying to find something to retire to. And I’m totally guilty of not having that passion that you talk about. And I’m envious of it because I want that feeling. And I get glimpses of it in certain things that I do. But it’s never been my from my day job or something that I’ve 100% given myself to so for the people out there that get the FIRE, or FI and still haven’t found that. That’s difficult to do as well. But you’re just saying you’ve already got that which is awesome. But it’s gonna push FI way out in the distance, right? So it’s kind of a bit of a okay trade off. In a sense.

Max
It’s an okay trade off if I succeed if I’m successful, because if I’m unsuccessful,

Money Mechanic
Are you measuring that by money though?

Max
To some extent, because at some point, if you’re not making a living. It’s just an expensive hobby.

Money Mechanic
And podcasting!

Max
Oh, no, podcasting is dirt cheap. You know, like when I think of like, I calculated I had a studio and then in the span of like five years, I spent like 70 grand and commercial rent, and I never made a profit, and I was just hemorrhaging money year after year. So yeah, it’s it’s, it’s it, but you’re right. It’s this weird is dichotomy, the word I’m looking for. It’s this opposing two separate things, either. You know, like, you know, sometimes people will say they have the FI doldrums like, they reach FI and they kind of don’t know what to do with their time or something like, like, that’s inconceivable to me. I can’t even imagine that, right. I guess my strategy from the get-go is I knew very early on, that, to me, the most important thing in life was to do something you love for a living, I felt like, I want to do something that even if I’m not getting paid, like, I’m okay with it, and I’ve had that feeling where you go to bed, and you can’t go, you don’t want to go to bed, because like you just want it to be tomorrow morning. So you can go back to work. That’s amazing. It’s the best. It’s the best feeling in the world, honestly. Nothing beats that it’s incredible. But the thing is, you do that you hustle for years and years. And it takes years. I mean, success in these fields is measured in decades, a lot of times, you know, if you’re a writer or whatever, you know, Steven Pressfield, right, like sit your butt down in the chair and do the work, it grinds you down. And eventually it starts to erode that passion. And eventually, you get a little older and you’re like, when do I get off this merry go round? You know, and you because at some point, you’re like, it’s your like, you enter your 40s and it’s not cute to be in debt anymore, you know? Right? So you reach that point, and then you start questioning everything. And then that’s where things get a little dicey, you know, because you have that passion. But you also kind of feel like, okay, at some point, I’d like to live for something other than my passion. And I think how you spend your money is indicative of kind of like, like we were saying before, right? It’s kind of designing your future life. So at some point, if you want something else in your life, the passion does have to take a backseat on some level. But then what do you do if you still feel like you haven’t kind of arrived at your destination?

Chrissy
Would you feel like you’re Are you at that phase right now that transition phase where you’re?

Max
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. And it’s been maybe a couple of years or so you know, that I’ve kind of reached that point where I’m like, oh, man, but I also know that haven’t been doing it that long. You know what I mean? I got serious. Well, it depends what phase right because I spent 10 years singing 10 years playing guitar, 10 years writing, you know, and now about 12 years audio engineering. So they’re all kind of like different phases where I moved into something I liked more over and over. But cumulatively, it’s, you know, it’s 30 years of artistic pursuit. Right, with a whack load of debt to show for it. But a lot of a lot of joy, too. But yeah, definitely. Oh, yeah. It’s definitely something that we all all creative types kind of go through it. Because I mean, the reality is very, very, very, very few creatives ever reached that point, where they’re making like, a solid living on their, on their art. I heard a stat recently are that, you know, we’re all promised careers as we grow up. But like, the reality is only 2% of us have careers, the rest of us have jobs.

Chrissy
Yeah, yeah, I believe that is partly how you look at it, too. And, yeah, and you could argue that you have reached the, maybe the emotional and life satisfaction of FI right away, you’ve reached that part of it, it’s just the money side, you need to figure out now. So you’ve been living your passion for a very long time. And a lot of people they have that backwards, right? They they live a life of you know, maybe grey servitude for a long time until they reach FI and then they come to life. And so maybe it it’s not really wrong. It’s just the way you’ve done it is different. You have chosen to put the passion first. And who’s to say that’s not the right way to do it. Because as you say, some people need to start young because their bodies give out or their their skills atrophy as they get older. So it’s sometimes there are things that you have to do when you’re younger, and you sacrifice, maybe the financial stability at a young age, but you come to it later in age and all the while you’ve lived your passion and you’ve been happy.

Max
Yeah. And if you kind of pull it off, it’s almost funny. It’s almost like if you kind of pull off that kind of thing. It’s almost FI Like, it’s almost a cheat code for FI, right? Like, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, oh, if you do something you love, you don’t work a day in your life or whatever. You know, that’s like, only 70%. True, I think. But there’s definitely some truth to it. some truth to it. And I find it really interesting too, like, Chrissy, when you said, when you talked about the other cases also where that can happen. Because I’m who I am, I kind of only saw the sort of artistic approach to it. But you also mentioned even like, let’s say rearing a family or something like that, sometimes, if your children have specific passions that you want to encourage, it’s kind of a similar thing, right? You kind of have to the tract a little bit from your journey for that as well.

Chrissy
Or even in my case, I chose to stop working, I was a creative person, I was a graphic designer, that I wasn’t paid very well, either. I was in working for a nonprofit, so my wage was not great. And then I even chose to take that off the table to become a stay at home mom. And so looking back, like you, I have some regrets about financially the sacrifice of that. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change my life. Because I was happy. I did what I wanted to do. And I liked the lifestyle that we chose. And so yes, it set us back quite massively, to take one whole income off the table. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change it because I needed to live that kind of lifestyle to be happy.

Money Mechanic
I know you’re gonna look at me, no. No, I’m just taking what you’re both saying and just going, wait a minute, maybe I’ve done maybe I did it backwards? Oh, no! No, well, it was also occurring to me too, is like we talked at the beginning about our age brackets, let’s call it bracket, we’ve got a ton of time left. And I totally agree with what you’re saying about artistic pursuits where, you know, maybe your best voice is going to be in your 30s, or your most athletic can be a ballet dancer and your you know, 20s I totally understand what you’re saying there. But from an from the money side of it. Being in our 40s isn’t anywhere close to the finish line. Like you’ve got another good 25 years of working years if you choose. And you’ve got probably another 40 years of investing to do. Right? So I know that just because it’s like, oh, I feel like I’m behind the ball at this age. You’ve got the long term mindset from sort of joining the FI community, to much of the discussion in the community is for people that are younger, and they’re looking at 10 or 15 years out. But I mean, for us 10 or 15 years out is still a pretty good age to reach FI or be closer to it. Yeah. Because even if we get to 65 and have a traditional retirement, that that’s funded well, so that we can retire. Well, traditionally, that’s not losing the game, in my opinion now. And that’s why I’ve seen a lot of popular growth and my own interest in either coast FI or slow FI, or one of the questions I was going to ask is, Does it make sense for you to do mini retirements, you know, like, you know, do the hard work, save up some cash or whatever? And then and then have a more focused passionate time. Is that something you’ve thought of?

Max
Yeah, you’re you’re absolutely right. You you bring up a whole bunch of good points. I hope I can address them without like forgetting them.

Money Mechanic
Because I tend to use say too many things at once. So just do whatever you can.

Max
I’ll do my best. I’m a bit of a goldfish. Yeah, so what you mentioned there, you know, how we have a lot of time left? Yeah, and you’re right, you know, like, sometimes, you know, you watch YouTube or whatever, and Gary Vaynerchuk will pop up, and he’s like, you still have 40 years, Mother effer, you got a lot of time. And and he’s right. You know, I mean, it’s true. It’s just that we’re, especially in the FI sphere, we’re constantly bombarded by these success stories, as I’m retired at 31 Oh, yeah. You know, read my blog, do what I did kind of thing. So, you know, so there’s a lot of that. But you’re absolutely right. So we do have more time than we think. And the way I kind of see it, is even if I, let’s say, quote, unquote, fail, right, that kind of achieving the sort of early retirement part. I’m like, man, my retirement years are gonna be so much more comfortable, and infinitely better than they would have been if I hadn’t spent 25 years building, making choices that were different than I would have before. And that in itself is a win. I mean, that means maybe you can shave five years off, maybe you can say no to a certain job, you just don’t feel like doing you can’t be bothered anymore, you know? Yeah, so that makes a really big difference. And I think that is important to remember. I certainly remind myself that all the time I have a bit of a an achiever mindset. So you know, I can be hard on myself that way. Yeah. So that that’s definitely a good point. And I have a really good example. Okay, let’s turn this into a therapy session. This brings me to kind of like my, my dad’s story, right? In the sense that, okay, so I never, you know, how people say, Oh, you learn a lot of things from your parents and how you behave and all that. And like, that never occurred to me up until maybe a couple of years ago, which is super weird, right? My dad’s like, 80. Now, all my life, right? I was felt like, Oh, he’s really good with money. You know, he’s really doesn’t want to spend he’s really good with money. And then, you know, time passed, time passed, and the more I observed sort of his behavior, and look, that’s sort of his history, with, let’s call it the FI eye, you know, with kind of like that with these concepts, I thought, Oh, my God, no, he’s not good. He was just kind of he was just a little bit cheap. And there’s a really big difference, right? It honestly, I think it’s scared me straight on some level, because I look at some of his habits, like paying bills with a credit line instead of cash. And he’s not paycheck parking, you know, he’s not using like a, an advanced strategy, right? It’s just yeah, to him, it’s perfectly normal. Say, I’m going to pay the electricity bill with my credit line, things that horrify me now that I couldn’t have cared less about two years ago, or three years ago, you know. And so seeing that, and then things like that, or I was really, I had a bit of a shocking moment, I think, was two years ago, he comes and he says to me, Oh, my, my RRSP is dry, done, it’s empty, you know, and I couldn’t believe it, I was floored, you know, I really couldn’t believe it. And I went, Okay, you know what, no matter what, that’s not gonna happen to me. I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening to me. So I think that by sort of following these concepts and all that, there’s, there’s that possibility to build that there. At the very least, that’s the worst case scenario, right is to build a future where I can say, Okay, I saw what happened when you kind of don’t follow any of these things when you’re not taught about how money works, and all that. And I’m upset that I only found out like, recently as a well advanced adult. Well, adult on the surface anyway. And but, you know, not I kind of saw the I had firsthand, I witnessed the, he’s 80 years old now. I saw firsthand, the end the game of not following that path, and not being careful. And it scared me straight, something fierce. It’s kind of like, you know, somebody gets sick in your family from cancer. They’re like, I’m quitting smoking. That’s it, you know? Yeah. So that was huge. That was really big.

Chrissy
Well, I think that’s what the beauty of FI is and why we focus on FI and not the “RE” retire early. Because the ultimate goal is financial independence in order to to be financially stable, and to be able to provide for yourself when you can no longer work. And if you happen to get there sooner. Great, great. That’s just gravy and just a bonus. But if you don’t, you’re just giving yourself a comfortable, secure retirement. And why is that bad? There’s nothing wrong with that. Like, why can’t we just focus on that. And then if you want to retire early, that’s optional. You don’t have to, a lot of people tend to focus on that and say that that’s crazy unrealistic, then if that’s if that’s your sense, then just leave that part. But financial independence is something that everyone should strive for. Because who wants to be beholden to other people or stuck in a life situation that they don’t want? You know it, if you can get to financial independence, you opened up so many options all along the way, you know, you’ve already reached a certain level of freedom, because you mentioned that you’ve saved up a year of runway to allow yourself to, you know, pivot into something new.

Max
I did. Yeah, yeah, that’s, I did do that. One of the things I did is when I closed my last studio space, my last commercial space, let me tell you, commercial rent is no joke. And the leases are long. I sold off a bunch of gear and the way I’m lined up right now, if everything goes well, within about six months, I should have a runway of a full year where I don’t have to actually generate an income anything everything is included in that that payments every you know expenses and everything. So, you know, I’m still debating it a little bit. One wise thing that I remember all that I tell myself all the time is if it’s not necessary to decide it’s necessary to not decide, right? So yeah. It’s a bit of a funny one. But basically, it means I don’t have to decide right now what I’m going to do with that sort of runway and that sort of like that giant cushion. But where I’m sitting right now, that’s the plan. Yeah, I’m going to take 12 months, take a break from, you know, servitude, corporate servitude for a little bit, and take those 12 months and work full time at on my own business and on my own sort of financial development and that kind of thing, you know, but yeah, no, it’s I’m looking forward to it. Really, what I’d really rather, of course, is to transition gradually, and then buy some stocks or something with that money instead. But

Money Mechanic
Oh, there’s no shortage of what ETF to buy in Canada out there.

Max
It’s insane.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, I mean, it’s just more popular as everyday people from YouTube channels and all the rest of it. And that’s great. One of the things I’m kind of drawing out of this whole discussion is that, you know, we talked about how your dreams can get in the way of FIRE. But developing an FI mindset can help you continue towards your dreams. Right? And using the money that you have, which is a tool, learning how to use it most effectively.

Max
That is true. Yeah, no, you make an excellent point. Yeah. So absolutely.

Money Mechanic
FIRE may be off the table for now. But the mindset changes everything. And that’s permanent.

Max
Right? That that’s absolutely permanent. I mean, one of the things that, that we’re, you know, we’re talking about Joshua Sheat=ts before, one of the things he said, that always stayed with me, he was like, focus on your goals, the life, your your life, long term goals, and instill the money habits, just install all those habits, it could be a savings rate, it could be whatever. And he says the money will work itself out, you know, the money will take care of itself, you just install those money habits, put those in place, and focus on your goals, on your pursuits on your passions, and all that. And the money will work itself out in the long run, is how he put it. And I, I found that to be true over the last Let’s call, let’s say a year and a half, you know, let’s say the last 18 months when I you know, decided, Okay, you know what, from here on out, I’ve got a 15% savings rate, I call it my wealth building rate. And the point of it is that that 15%, every month, no matter what is going to go towards building my net worth, whether that’s paying down debt, or my one rule is it has to be somewhere where I can’t take it back. It has to literally be wealth building. Because if I’m just setting it aside, and then I use it to do something else, like like this runway that I’ve built, I’m in the process of building that’s not coming from that 15% because that’s money, I’m going to strategically deploy later, to sort of create a trampoline, maybe into a further phase, you know, it’s kind of like a strategic expenditure, but that 15% that’s going straight to the debts or things that are not coming back, you know, things that will really, you know, it’s kind of reassuring you, you kind of have this thing, like, you know what, no matter what I do, no matter how much pizza I buy, no matter any impulse buy, I might make that 15% is going where it needs to, and it’s not coming back, and my net worth will be better because of it.

Money Mechanic
Yeah. It’s like, it’s like putting gas in your car, you can’t take the gas back out, you get more mileage out because you put it in, right. It’s it’s in gas and investment came to me as an analogy of like, you know, you put something in and you can’t get it out. But it adds it gives you value.

Max
Yeah, yeah. And it feels so good. You know, it really feels you’re like, Hey, I’m actually I feel like I’m making a little bit of progress here. And, you know, sometimes it’s tempting to say, oh, I’ll take that out. And, you know, I’ll use it to fund this or whatever. But like, just stick to that one rule. It just works. It works really well. You kind of get the benefits over the long term. And they’re not just monetary, you know, they’re they’re kind of a it builds your your resilience to spending, it builds your I don’t know how else to put it, it’s, it reinforces your, your mindset.

Chrissy
This is something I talk about all the time, and you are just proving it out, when you find your why. And you find what your true values are. everything falls into place. As far as your FI journey and how you choose to spend your money and how you what you choose to save towards. It all just falls into place when you know, this is my compass. This is the thing I want the goal I want. And these are the things that I don’t care about anymore, because my goal is more important. And so it sounds like what you found in the last two, three years is this focus, like, okay, I want to have a secure retirement eventually. And there are things I can let go of, and I can still pursue my passion just in a slightly different way. And I’m still happy because I’m reaching for my goals in the way that makes sense to me.

Max
You know, it’s kind of like when you you go through a period where you really watch what you eat. And then it’s kind of like, Oh, you know, I’m a little trimmer. I’m a little more sexy suddenly, they’re like, Oh, you know, so it’s kind of like that, you know, you’re like a my debt went down by like eight grand in the last year, you know?

Chrissy
Yeah, that’s what they call like a virtuous cycle. Right? It feeds on itself. Cuz it enforces all the achievements. Reinforce the the initial tasks that you got done. And then you just want to keep doing more and more and, and it just builds on itself.

Max
Yeah, I don’t have enough desire for audio equipment anymore.

Chrissy
Really? Wow!

Max
I never, I never thought that could happen.

Chrissy
That’s incredible. That’s a huge change.

Max
That is incredible. That is incredible.

Chrissy
I just want to say something to you, Max, you’re so hard on yourself, you say you’re the least FI guest that we’ve had. But I’m just so impressed with all the things you’re telling us like how much you’ve changed your life and your money mindset, you know, you’re saving 15%. And then on top of that you’re putting towards your one year of runway, and just how you’ve seen how your dad was living his life in retirement and how you didn’t want that, like all of those are humongous shifts. And I just want to say Congrats. And I’m impressed. And I’m just so proud. Seeing how you’ve transformed and I really think you’re too hard on yourself, you should give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done really well.

Max
Oh, thanks. I really appreciate that.

Chrissy
It really is true. Yeah, it’s not easy to have done all that you’ve done.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, I echo your sentiment that Chrissy for sure. And the nicest thing about the FI community is the warmth and the giving, and the support that we all share with each other. And no matter where your journey is, or how long it’s gonna take you to get there. It’s all part of doing it together and helping each other.

Chrissy
Yeah, so as we end the show, you have some books here that you wanted to share with our audience, because a lot of people are always hungry for new money books. So?

Max
They are they are and I that’s I’ve read many of them. That’s why I was I wanted to mention them, just because there may be lesser known books that are not as common to people. And they’ve been highly influential for me, and they’ve helped me a lot. So the first one is Set for Life by Scott Trench. He’s one of the hosts over at Bigger Pockets.

Chrissy
The Bigger Pockets Money Show, with Mindy.

Max
Yeah, cuz I have a couple of different branches to the brand or whatever. So he has a book, it’s really quite good. Honestly, what I like the most about it, you know, a lot of times the books are about sort of just general concepts and things like that. His is very much a step by step process where he takes you from being broke and in debt to having built a very powerful sort of, like financial foundation. And I find that’s kind of rare, like I find a lot of authors, they don’t want to venture too far. And be like, you should do this, you know, because there’s a certain, you know, maybe there’s a certain amount of responsibility about it or whatever. But he’s really not shy and about presenting ideas and showing a path and be like, this is your best path. And he says like stuff, like, you know, I find is great, but you won’t hear too often things like pro sports are a waste of time. So, you know, like, interesting. Yeah, stuff like that. Like, if you’re watching sports, stop. I look at some of my friends were like upstate, who are who are obsessed with certain teams and certain sports and I’m like, Yeah, I could kind of see, you know, if you spend a ton of time doing that, I can kind of see where that time could be sort of like, maybe directed towards a different sort of activity that could benefit you truly and long term. When I think back I love basketball, but like, except for the benefit of the social interaction. Uh, seeing friends and building those relationships. Like, that was a win. But I probably could have skipped the basketball I watched in my life and come out further ahead, you know, like the, you know, so. So he says stuff like that. And basically, the whole runway thing actually kind of comes from that book. He mentions like, okay, like, the one of the first steps, of course, is to pay off the debts. But he was also like, Look, if the debt is too much, forget it, just build your runway. So you can quit your nine to five so you can redirect yourself towards Of course, he says a sales job or another performance based thing. But the the global ideas there, so I thought that was really good. So I’d recommend that book. And the other book that I love to recommend. It’s a tiny little book. I have the audiobook version. So it clocks in just like under three hours. I mean, the paper versions, probably a quarter of an inch thick, but it’s a wonderful little book called The Credit Game by Richard Moxley.

Chrissy
I’ve never heard of that one.

Max
Exactly, right? And honestly, I think it’s, it should be required reading for any Canadian financial independence.

Chrissy
Okay, so it is written for Canadians?

Max
For Canadians. And that’s what’s so wonderful about it. You know, like all the credit advice that we see online, it’s always for Americans, you know, and this guy, it’s all Canadian, and he does point out that us credit stuff, and Canadian credit stuff, they’re not the same thing. There’s some similarities, but they’re not the same. So you do need different information. And like, you know, I learned all kinds of little, little things from that book because he explains how your credit score becomes what it is, and how it actually works. He kind of gives you some inside information, he tells you stuff like, well, the credit score that you get from borrow well, or Equifax or whatever, that’s not the same number that the banks use when they’re evaluating you. Because every bank has their own evaluation system that kind of spits out a different score, stuff like that, or another, like little tidbit that I thought was super interesting is having dormant credit cards is bad, is what he says, you know, like, say, say you have a credit card that you don’t use, and all the balances are at zero, right? Like, all my credit card balances are at zero. But you know, leaving them all at zero, and they never get used can impact your score negatively over time.

Chrissy
Interesting. I didn’t know that. Because the advice is to hold on to those cards, because that ages your credit.

Max
Yeah. Which is great. And he does say that, and you should. But you should charge a little something something every now and then, for that card to come up in evaluations.

Chrissy
That makes sense, just to show that you use it and you’re responsible when you use it.

Max
Exactly, exactly. So you know, he has all kinds of little tidbits like that. I’m not doing the book justice. It’s a very short book, but it’s very concise. There’s no filler. It’s all very useful, actionable information. And honestly, since I’ve gone that route, like my score has, like, it was always good, because banks love people who are massively in debt, but never miss a payment. You know, but it went up even further. So yeah, highly recommend.

Chrissy
Another win, Max! You’re doing well!

Max
Absolutely, absolutely.

Money Mechanic
All right, well, let’s wrap it up. And tell us more about your services as our audio production engineer, and what you can offer to other listeners out there, because I know there’s other startup podcasts out there that hopefully listen to our show, we’ve talked to some of those hosts. And it is more important part of the overall show value than than I ever thought at the beginning. But yeah, tell us about your service, what you can offer and where our listeners can find you if they’re insured, or even if they want to just pass your name on to other people.

Max
Yeah, that’s so true. A I kind of having a sort of a dedicated audio professional on board is something that like, you don’t realize how nice it is to have kind of thing or you don’t realize that you need it until you try it sort of. I fired up a new website and everything. It’s called Fix Audio. And basically the way you spell it, yeah, fixaud.io. Yeah, I’m definitely looking to add more podcasts. I’m right at the beginning of that professional journey. So lots of experience, but not a lot of clients. So a good time to get on board if somebody is looking for that. Absolutely.

Chrissy
Yeah. Well, we’ve been thrilled with the help that you’ve given us. It’s been amazing. I’ve learned so much from you. Just in the last six or seven months, we’ve worked together. Things I didn’t know, I should know. And now I do you know that you helped me pick my mic, and I’ve fine tuned my audio, and hopefully it’s better than ever. Thanks, all thanks to you. You’ve just shared so much knowledge and so much experience with us. And it’s just been invaluable to the show.

Max
Oh, thanks. You sound great, by the way.

Chrissy
Thanks to you.

Money Mechanic
I think I have to up my game this year, too. And get rid of this headset that always a time it is is a time one of my New Year’s decision. So I’m getting there. I have to revisit all those emails that you sent us which were super helpful. Right on. Well, thanks so much for coming on and sharing the story. And again, of course, as Chrissy I mentioned earlier as being part of the team. It’s been fantastic. You’re a great guy to work with. And yeah, what a great show. I think it was it was nice to dive into a little different side of the FI journey that’s not always the same. Work your nine to five and save 80% and retire in 10 years.

Max
Yeah, it was fantastic. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you Chrissy for kind of pushing me to do it a little bit shy about getting on?

Chrissy
I kept telling you like, you gotta come on. It’s such a great story.

Max
Like, come on, let’s do this. I finally said, Okay, okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. So thank you for that. Thank you. I’m highly introverted. So I need a little push sometimes to do stuff like that

Chrissy
Well, thank you for coming on. It’s a great story. And I think a lot of people will relate to it. Like I said, it’s not just creative types. A lot of people are in similar situations, and I think your story will be inspiring for them.

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4 Replies to “048: When Your Dreams Get in the Way of FIRE | Max Desmarais”

  1. Great episode guys. You can feel Max’s enthusiasm and passion for what he does. Just goes to show how a small mindset shift can improve your finances, while still immensely enjoying what you do day-to-day.

    1. Hi Family Money Saver—thanks for listening and taking the time to comment. You can’t beat Max’s enthusiasm and passion! It’s definitely infectious. 🙂

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