057: Find Your Freedom With FIRE | Ann Helga

When it comes to FIRE, we tend to get overly focused on the numbers and tactics. However, that’s only part of the journey. There’s a whole other side to FIRE—one that’s less tangible, but just as important.

Today, we’re discussing the softer, psychological side of FIRE with Ann Helga, our first-ever guest from Nova Scotia! Ann discusses her late start to the FIRE journey, residual income, life in Nova Scotia, EFT (emotional freedom technique) and so much more!

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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.

Chrissy
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
Great to be back again on Explore FI Canada. Money Mechanic is with you and my fantastic co host Chrissy Hello.

Chrissy
Hi, Money Mechanic. How are you doing?

Money Mechanic
Awesome, awesome, awesome, beautiful spring weather over on the West Coast here. And the guest today is from the other side of our fair country. So that’s awesome, too. But before we start that we should really get our frame of mind in tune for this episode, don’t you think Chrissy?

Chrissy
Yes, it’s a very unique episode, in a good way. I’m quite excited to share our guest’s content with everyone.

Money Mechanic
Okay, well, let’s take a minute here and collect our thoughts and get Zen.

Ann
In this first visualization, you will tune in to what gaining financial independence and retiring early feels like day to day. Find a quiet place to sit for the next few minutes. A place indoors or outdoors, where you can be private. Rest with your eyes mostly closed. sitting quietly, start to focus on your breath. Feel how it is coming in and out of your nose. Notice it some more. Just gently feeling it in and out. In and out. And in and out. Great job. Continue to be present to your breath. Breathing in and out. As you follow along with the images I will describe. I want you to imagine a world where you are already financially free. Meaning that you have enough money in the bank for your basic needs, and way more besides. A world where the proceeds from your investment money is enough for you to live off of that income alone. As you sit here, breathing deeply and slowly into your belly, feel what this financially free and abundant existence feels like. Breathe in and breathe out. And in and out.

Money Mechanic
Wow, I feel very focused on FIRE right now Chrissy I can visualize it, I can see it, I can see how I feel.

Chrissy
I’m ready to go.

Money Mechanic
This is gonna be awesome. Because we’re going to talk about more than the math today. We’re gonna talk about how we feel, and our thoughts about FIRE and abundance, and the joy that it brings to our lives and just kind of get a little more touchy feely.

Chrissy
I’m so excited for this. I mean, you and I talk about all the time how there’s the whole psychology side of FI and FIRE and we don’t touch on that enough. And it’s so important. So that’s where we’re gonna dive into today.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, and the guest we have from the other side of the country, from Nova Scotia. Ann’s joining us. She is the author of the clip you heard. She’s got an audio book called Find Your Freedom With FIRE: Save, Invest and Manifest Your Way to Easy Street. Welcome to the show and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ann
Oh, thank you so much. It’s so wonderful to be here. I think of myself as the unlikely FIRE journeyer who could.

Money Mechanic
Nice.

Chrissy
That’s a good description.

Ann
Yeah, I definitely didn’t fit all of the parameters to be on a FIRE journey. I feel like maybe from the outside. But it’s brought so much goodness to my life and so much inner peace and happiness. And I’m just really excited to help other people who may not think that fires for them or that they can get their way into it to discover a gentle way into FIRE.

Chrissy
That’s great. And I just want to read for our audience, something you wrote to us in an email just as your own description of yourself. You said, you are a creative nonprofit sector worker who woke up at age 40 to the possibilities of designing the second half of my life with a lot of intention and care, financially speaking. And I think that sums you up and how you said that you are not the typical FIRE seeker. You’re not like Mr. Money Mustache, even though you’re a big fan of his. You’re not that stereotypical FIRE person. So tell us a little bit more about how you got FIRE and where you were before you discovered FIRE.

Ann
Okay, well, I grew up in London, Ontario. My parents are academics and artists. And they had me in this really kind of avant garde art world. The main artist was this amazing man, Greg Curnow. He was one of like the sort of bad guys of the 1970s art world in Canada. And so it was a really unusual and in some ways, like rebellious childhood, where I got to hear all of these different ways of being and thinking. And I also had, I grew up within a church, so I was going to United Church. So there was a spirituality element. And then I was learning to sing. So I was getting classical voice lessons from the age of 12 onwards and quite serious about that. So there’s like a lot of different factors, I feel like, that went into creating my life. And then my big move as a young adult was to go to Toronto, and do a master’s degree in socio-cultural and medical anthropology. So I was comparing systems of medicine cross-culturally, which was wonderful. And honestly, I might have continued in that. And I may still go back to academia at some point and study something and do a doctorate. However, it was the 2000s in Toronto, and the thing to do was play in indie rock bands. And that’s what I did. I really just like full tilt with like, a kind of a late bloomer, like I just like, had my wild youth in my 20s in Toronto, playing in a couple different indie rock bands, writing my own music, singing jazz, in clubs in Toronto, and also doing opera competitions. So it was a ton of fun. It was great, but um, you know, it’s very hand to mouth. It’s that idea of like, artistic expression before everything. And you make a lot of sacrifices so that you can spend the most amount of time possible on exploring ways of expressing yourself. So I eventually realized that it was all a little bit too fast-paced for me. And I left, I went back to London, Ontario for a year, and then I kid you not, and I’m just preempting if you might ask me, why did you move to the East Coast, I started dreaming about the ocean. There was this big, sparkly, purple, like ship that I would see. Like reoccurring dreams of this view. And I would be like, try to like, slash my way through this like narrow river. And then I would see it in the distance. So when my friend got into art college NSCAD here in Halifax, then I decided to move with him and just see what it was like to live on the ocean. I switched at that point to a business side of myself. And I was actually running a translation business for a while. And that’s why I can move. So I definitely have like that business side of myself. And I flex those muscles of it being the go-between on these really big translation jobs. And this was before the 2007/8 crash. So businesses were in expansion mode, and it was quite easy to get these jobs. I always joked that it supported my music habit. But then once I moved here, I got involved with the nonprofit sector. And that was just really wonderful, like starting a charity from scratch over the course of an eight-year arc. And I also started some youth festivals. And yeah, just did a lot of work. However, when it came time for me to part ways with that organization, and it’s totally amicable, but it is my ex-partner, so he’s running it. Then I sort of looked around and I was like, Wait a second, I don’t own a home. Like I don’t have savings. I don’t really know, like, you know, what’s the next step here? Like, I’m not going to, I don’t want to tour as a musician for all of my adult life either, because I’m quite high sensitive. So yeah, that’s sort of that Sorry, it’s a bit it’s a long answer. But those are all the different things that brought me to this point.

Chrissy
Yeah, I love your story. It’s, it sounds like it’s similar for a lot of creative people where they’re, you’re you’re living life and you’re enjoying life. You’re You’re so into your passion that that’s what your life is and it takes a while sometimes to wake up to the financial side of it because you’re you’re just in there and there’s nothing wrong with that you lived your life. You’re happy, obviously you you really took it in. Yeah. So so you you reached this place where you had your breakup with your partner. And I guess that triggered the next phase of your journey into your finances.

It was definitely a reality check, you know, because suddenly, I had to cover all of the expenses under my own roof. And of course, I was processing emotionally to get into that emotional side of things. There can be a real financial cost when you’re just having to spend a lot of time taking care of yourself. So yeah, I would say I drifted for a year or two, I was still working part time for the charity. And I started to do a bit of Airbnb, so that was good. I was like, covering my rent that way. And it was right around that time that I discovered Mr. Money Mustache.

Money Mechanic
Common theme, common theme, yeah!

Chrissy
Very common.

I wish I could remember like, the exact moment or like, what led me there, you know, but yeah, suddenly, I was I was in that world. And there was such a nice element to it, it actually reminded me a lot of my childhood, like just that sort of DIY aesthetic and having fun out in nature cuz I used to always just like travel Canada with my parents in a orange Volkswagen van and love the iconic 80s childhood times and, and I liked the way that he was an independent thinker. And he had come up with a way to make living in modern times, like, just a bit more gentle and a bit more manageable and, and not always striving but you make these really intelligent decisions, and then you’re fine. You’re taken care of financially, and yeah, so I was just so inspired. And it gave me a zest for life. Like it made me kind of have some goals. And yeah, I gently start, but it took me a few years to really start like implementing so.

And now what year was that when you discovered Mr. Money Mustache?

Ann
Oh, okay. Oh, that’s such a good question. I’m so like, artsy flowy. So…

Chrissy
Yeah, just a range? I think it’s sometimes it’s helpful to know how long you’ve been on the journey. And how long it took you to get to where you are right now.

So it would have been about five years ago.

Okay.

Ann
Yeah, it would have been five years ago. And so for that first few years, I was just really learning about it. And then I would say, four to three years ago, I took the really intense steps to get myself out of debt completely. You know, I really did the thing like I switched my housing into a three bedroom rather than a two bedroom and had like two roommates and I wrote down every single thing I went on the cash budget for while I was really also into what’s that lovely woman, Til Debt Do Us Part?

Chrissy
Oh, Gail Vaz Oxlade. Canadian personality.

Money Mechanic
I did not know her.

Chrissy
No? She did that show, Til Debt Do Us Part.

Ann
You guys, you know all the references.

Money Mechanic
It’s only because we keep learning from the community.

Chrissy
Yeah, but she she was she I don’t know if she’s still very active on TV or anything. But she was fantastic.

Ann
She was such a gift. Yeah, just like fresh air. And so I tried that I did the money in the jars and…

Money Mechanic
Okay, that’s where that comes from.

Chrissy
Yeah. And, and also, I started separating out, actually, there had been a small foreshadowing of a FIRE style lifestyle. When I was really doing well with the translation business in 2007. I had so much money coming in, like for an artist, like I was like, Oh my gosh, I made like, $7,000 profit in one month. Like it just like blew my mind. And so I started doing the thing where it’s like, okay, 50% goes to needs and then the other 50 you do 10, 10, 10, 10, 10 long term savings, short term savings, charity, education, and frivolous fun. And that was great. Like, I got a taste of how well money management works when you actually apply it. But then once the crash happened, and I wasn’t translating anymore, and I just, you know, it had sort of gone by the wayside. So with the MMM like sort of overall philosophical, just like total system. Yeah. there in front of me suddenly then, and also combining it with Yeah, Gail Vaz Oxlade and it just became like, okay, here’s one thing that I can have certainty about in my life and that I can control in a good way like I can give myself the stability. But then it got, I got more into it in the last two years, especially, it’s been really hardcore. I have money to invest now. And it’s really exciting.

Money Mechanic
So those transitions, you know, sort of said five years ago, three, four years ago, how much of an impact was that? Not necessarily on the money in your life, but your emotional well being and your outlook and things like that?

Ann
Ooh, yes, that is a great question. Because I feel like, unbeknownst to me, the money worry had been this like low-lying, unconscious stressor for actually all of my marriage. And, you know, I have a real such good relations and thoughts for my ex, like, we’re both two strong, fiery, creative spirits. And we managed to do so much in the world. Like we actually at one point had a band going of original avant garde music, and a comedy act, and our charity, wow, we were not messing around like we were giving and giving to the world. However, we neither of us were was really like shepherding the internal budget for the household. So it always felt a bit scary. Like, what’s the Visa budget going to be? You know, what’s going to be on there? Do we even have enough? And it was just like this big question mark, which, of course, when you ask it in that way, like it would totally have created an underlying anxiety or stress. And you’re totally right. That’s the first thing that went away when I started doing FIRE in a really deliberate manner. Because I, I knew, like I was doing zero sum budgeting, like I exactly knew where every dollar was gonna go. And so suddenly, that wasn’t part of the barrel of anxiety.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, you scooped a ladle out of that barrel, right?

Ann
Yeah, like a big bucket.

Money Mechanic
And Chrissy and I, you know, Chrissy, we brought this up on the show before too, is that the benefits of FIRE and the journey to FI, they do start right away. Even if you’re not calculating it mathematically in your account, or your investments, they emotionally they start right away.

Chrissy
So true, so true. This is why like, whenever people maybe are a little bit resistant or think, Oh, no, like, I wouldn’t be able to make those kinds of numbers. Like I don’t have an IT job in Colorado or whatever. Yeah. I always like to, okay, here’s the analogy that I do, or metaphor, I’m not sure what it is. So, imagine you’re renting your home, and you really want the walls to be pink, but right now they’re blue. And so you’re like, Okay, should I bother? I don’t, I don’t own the home. But the thing is, the day after you paint those walls, you feel so good. So it was already worth it. Like within 48 hours. So yeah, but in the money context is true. Like you start to feel better, right away. And then it’s like a game that’s like, Okay, well, how can I reduce these expenses? Like what life hack can I do? And then you’re busy, you’re employed in a fun, productive thing. While you save money?

Yeah, I said the same thing. It just feeds on itself. The more you do, the more you want to do. And you see the progress. And so it motivates you to just keep reaching higher and higher. And that’s what drives the whole journey.

Ann
Yeah, I really like the Our Rich Journey couple as well on YouTube. Shout out to them. They, I find they’re so they have so much enthusiasm, and they’re so detailed. So So I definitely got ideas from them on how to get going with everything, and like, what big life hack I should do.

Chrissy
And so they’re the family, they have, is it, two daughters?

Ann
Yeah.

Chrissy
And they moved from San Francisco to Portugal. Is that correct?

Exactly. They planned their FI as though they would be in San Francisco still. But then they moved to Portugal. So they gave themselves tons of room. And they’re putting both of their daughters through private school in Portugal on an FI that I think started in their late 30s. They were both federal.

Yeah. And the girls I think are still in elementary school. So yeah, it’s a nice young family.

Ann
And like, they do little videos about investing like the the teenage girls are.

Chrissy
Oh, do they? Well, we’ll have to put them in the show notes.

Yeah, they’re so great.

Money Mechanic
Yeah. So, it’s Our Rich Journey because I caught this in your reference in your book a couple times. So I haven’t actually looked them up. So…

Ann
Oh, yeah. They’re so lovely.

Chrissy
They were I believe they were interviewed on ChooseFI. Not recently, it was a while back, but…

Money Mechanic
Well now they’ve got like 400 episodes you have to try and sort through to find the find those.

Chrissy
Really? 400?

Money Mechanic
There’s a lot a lot you have to do a web search and then go get it on your phone on iTunes.

Chrissy
Yeah, I must say the vibe I got from them was like a really strong work ethic. Even in retirement, I’m doing air quotes, me on my own FIRE journey, like, I will be doing very artistic things, once I have enough money that I can just live off of that money. Like, I’ve lots of ideas for just like avant garde experiments, I want to try with music or new hybrids of genres. And so it’s exciting as an artist to come across this lifestyle and make it work.

Money Mechanic
So what does it look like? In the next five to 10 years of your journey? Have you really worked hard at planning steps or you just got your systems in place? And then kind of going, Okay, I’m gonna keep on this trajectory, and work towards my goal. Have you set some hard goals, I find a lot of people that get into this, maybe get a little too fixated on an endpoint, rather than kind of building building the journey as they go. What do you have any thoughts on what your plan is?

Chrissy
Well, let me reassure you, I am not overly fixated on my my angle, I mean, I know the number. But I don’t have like the year exactly that I’m gonna get there. But interestingly, I was very inspired by your episode with Eric Chang, because I’m starting to get some residuals happening in my life. And I’m starting to create things that will have, I mean, in the music industry, you’d call it royalties. But it’s like a product that you make, for instance, like this audio book that I’m offering the world. And since doing this first audio book, I love the whole process so much that I come from a family of writers. So my mom is an author, and I’m actually turning several of her works into audiobooks.

I love that.

Ann
Yeah. So it’s, it’s exciting. She did a adaptation of a Jane Austen novel into a play. She’s actually done several. So yeah, I’m voicing Jane Austen plays.

Money Mechanic
Very, very cool. Well, I’m throwing it out there that if you need male voiceover, because I’ve thought of doing audio books as a side hustle for myself as well.

Chrissy
Yes. So I love that idea of recruiting Money Mechanic because there are some iconic male roles in the Jane Austen novel world.

Money Mechanic
Excellent, excellent. That sounds like a challenging first try for me. But I’ve been practicing with my podcast career, so.

Ann
There you go. Absolutely.

Money Mechanic
I love that you’ve got multiple streams of income coming in, because I think that’s such an important part about the FIRE journey is getting away from the one job, that is a high risk to have one source of income, right?

Ann
Yes, totally. And for someone who’s joining the FIRE world a bit later, you realize that, oh, once you can get enough multiple streams, you realize that once you start getting enough multiple streams of income coming in, to cover your basic costs, you’re already in a kind of hybrid FIRE, like you’re at that coasting place. So I can see getting to the multiple streams of passive income that support my lifestyle milestone, within four to five years. Like, I’m, I’m very confident about that, based on the plans I’m making and my work ethic. And you know, and also that I’ve learned to live in a happy, frugal manner. I mean, I’ve always been like that as an artist. So it actually is a really easy pivot into the FIRE planning. And then in terms of the growing the nest egg, that where the interest from the nest egg itself, can fuel your whole life. That is a 10 year goal for me. And I feel good about that one, too. So yeah, I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. Like I don’t have each year planned out, because I’m such an intuitive, you know, feel my way through life type person, as you see from the book that I made. And like, that’s how I got into FIRE. I was like, Oh, I feel better when I plan like this. And when I take on this way of thinking, however, it feels like there’s these milestones, and I send them a lot of positive energy. And I send myself a lot of acceptance that I can make those milestones. So five to 10 years.

Chrissy
That’s amazing. Like you are a late starter. As you said you found FIRE in your 40s and you’ll still reach FIRE before a regular retirement age.

Ann
Exactly. Like there is hope like everyone listening to this. I don’t care what age you’re at. You can vastly improve your financial outlook. Within a month really, if we really want to talk about it, like, once you make that budget, you’re empowered, like Money Mechanic was saying earlier, you already feel better. Like once you take that first step, and then within a year, you can see such dramatic change to a debt load and different things like that. And I feel like once you really put it out in the universe, there’s a lot of people that want to help you to get your financial house in order. So it’s been a great turn of events.

Money Mechanic
It sounds like a classic shift from a scarcity mindset, to an abundance mindset. And then yeah, you talk a lot about giving yourself permission to have that abundance mindset. And I think it’s important to qualify that abundance doesn’t mean like having a lot of stuff. It just means it’s a bit of more of a way of thinking.

Ann
Yeah, that’s so true. I think of abundance now as an abundance of really close relationships with wonderful people and time to spend with them. That idea of experiences as the thing that you collect in life. And also, I would say, My home is more comfortable now that it’s slightly more minimalist. So it’s like as you have less things, you actually you create a really enjoyable atmosphere around yourself, of focus on the things that really bring you joy. So like that Mari Kondo style, you know, does this object really bring joy? But I feel like I applied that to everything. I was like, do these activities really bring me joy? Does this you know, does this plan for my future really bring me joy, I just have to mention to you, as a musician that there was a switch, I tried for a while to make my living from music. And I actually did succeed, like for the two years before COVID, I was making a steady part-time living as a freelance musician, which is a bit of a miracle in current times. And it was because I had a ton of training and I could do all kinds of different genres. And I just took all the gigs. And so I’m really proud of myself that I did it like I wanted to prove to myself that I could, but I love that now, I’m going to make money in a bunch of different ways. That will take hopefully less and less of my own time as it progresses. And then I can start to cherish music as this experimental place again, where I’m trying to bring something really new to the world. And yeah, I’m excited for what that will bring.

Money Mechanic
Are you taking hobbies and trying to monetize them? Because I, anytime I bring this up to my wife, she’s like, No, I don’t want to monetize my hobby, right? Like, I want a hobby. So I think for the listeners, there’s always this kind of like, there’s these people that are super pro side, hustle, like go go go turn everything into monetization, but that’s exhausting. If you just do that, and don’t have any passion from it. So your multiple streams, were they hobbies, were they just things that earns you money anyway, and that you’ve been able to sort of build them out and develop them now that you have been more focused in the time?

Ann
That is such a great question. And it is something I’ve gotten more intention full about in the last little while. So as an example, I love knitting, I will never make money from it.

Chrissy
Most people can’t, it’s so time consuming.

Ann
There’s no chance. Like I’m a slow knitter. I do it to relax, you know, every couple months, one of my girlfriends gets a headband. And I’ve seen people monetize the knitting space. And I, I looked at it briefly, but it’s usually because they create patterns. And then they have a Patreon community that you know, wants to access them. And I’m realizing that you can’t really be a personality who gets support for a skill you have in more than a few domains at a time. Like maybe there are some people that can do that. So I know for sure that, you know, when I draw or knit or go for a hike, like that’s just for me. And I would say if anything, actually, I’m slightly concentrating my residual income, because I’m going to put it all through the stream of audio books. So I loved making this first one, and I have a bunch more that I’m going to make. And I’ve decided that I’m going to commit to that as my way of offering value to the world. And it’s good because then, because I have such a varied, like life history. I can channel those different things through in a book. Right. So that’s like, that’s the structural way that I’ve decided to give myself some boundaries. And I also this is interesting because I only just decided to do this in my home, but I’m going to share it with you now. I have like, the different rooms. So now that I don’t have to rent out two of the rooms to get out of debt anymore. And if I say so myself, I’m quite good at budgeting, I can give myself the luxury of having this whole place to myself. And one room is for play and music. And my dad’s vintage vibraphone is there, an instrument he bought in like 1955. And there’s another keyboard there, and I can plan jams with my friends. And so that’s like the play music room. And then the middle room is my bedroom, and Zen and meditation and writing, for my own journaling. And then the front room that I’m sitting in now is my audio book creation production center.

Chrissy
So cool. So you have these physical spaces that help you compartmentalize the different parts of your life.

Ann
Yes, and I really need to because I go off in lots of different directions. But yeah, I have my goal now, like, FIRE has given me a way to channel my intentions and goals. And so that I know that I’ll have more and more freedom as I go. So it’s very…

Chrissy
It’s such a luxury that you’ve been able to give yourself all of that just by starting the FIRE journey and being on the path. It’s amazing.

Ann
I know! I’m so grateful.

Chrissy
Yeah, incredible.

Money Mechanic
Chrissy, let’s take a quick break and hear from this episode sponsor, because I know everyone’s dying to hear more about this book and audio book. We’ll be right back.


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Chrissy

Okay, we are back. And we’re still talking to Ann about her journey into FIRE. But now I’d like to transition the conversation into some discussion about her living in Nova Scotia. You mentioned to us that there are some challenges and maybe some unique aspects about living in Nova Scotia. And because we are a cross country show, we’d like to highlight anything that’s unique about your area. So tell us a little more about what you meant by that.

Ann
Awesome. Yes, Nova Scotia is an extremely beautiful place. I feel like I’m living in a provincial or federal park all the time. Just moving here. So it’s, yeah, it’s incredible how close you can feel to nature and the power of the ocean. And I mean, you guys know as coastal dwellers. So it was a big shift for me growing up in a valley, you know, although we were surrounded by the Great Lakes, but to come out here has been a beautiful thing. And I’m, I’m really grateful for that. However, I definitely noticed the difference moving from Southern Ontario, to the outskirts of the country. And, you know, Halifax is having an amazing boom right now like it’s the last five years, like the number of condo buildings that are literally being built within a three block radius of me right now is astonishing. But it was traditionally thought of as a have-not province, like very rich in beauty and natural resources, but not a lot of industry and steady work. And one of the endemic problems has been waves of university students coming to Nova Scotia absolutely loving it, but not being able to find work and stay. So I find it quite paradoxical as a province where we know there’s a lot of money here because a lot of people will retire to Nova Scotia. Like it’s just so gorgeous. Like, you know, Cape Breton is like literally God’s country like you can you can’t get more beautiful when you’re looking out on a vista and famous American people have come up and sort of hide out here because everyone’s so like low key. No one’s going to admit that they know who you are in a restaurant. Yeah, like a friend of mine that runs a health food store in Cape Breton, like Philip Glass, the composer just like came in and bought some stuff from her. So Wow. It’s Yeah, it’s a strange mix of there have been, you know, intergenerational poverty. Or there’s the results of intergenerational poverty are real in parts of the province. But then also just like a feeling of support and friendliness, and like a clan, feeling like people really step up for one another. And it’s very small place like everyone knows, I always joke, there’s like a half degree of separation, rather than six degrees. So yeah, it’s it’s tricky here. Another thing is that the cost of living, although as the whole world seems to be discovering, our housing costs are lower, day-to-day life, it can be quite expensive. And what people often notice is the price of food, because so much of it has to get trucked that much further, to get out to us. Of course, that isolation became a benefit in a way during the pandemic era. Because there haven’t been many cases, however, yeah, it’s just, it’s a bit of a paradox out here. Like I’ve always kind of not quite understood how money works and trying to get a job has been really tricky. So I think that the move to distance workers and people having their job online and being able to live wherever they want is going to be really good for Nova Scotia. Because it’s the perfect place for that, like,

Chrissy
Yeah, it sounds like in the Atlantic provinces in general, they’re becoming little tech hubs in each of their major cities. And I guess, because the way work is changing. It’s really benefited areas like yours, where housing is affordable. And now you can actually find jobs there. And they’re actually probably well paying jobs. So it’s, it all adds up to a really good lifestyle, I think.

Ann
Yeah, I mean, rush hour starts at 3pm. Not joking.

Money Mechanic
Same as Victoria.

Chrissy
Yeah, yeah.

Ann
And you know, people can drive and be at the Lawrencetown Beach, surfing within 40 minutes of finishing their desk job or whatever. I’m not personally a surfer, although I do like a little bit of like, with that body board surfing. Yeah. The gentle version.

Chrissy
That’s fun.

Ann
But yeah, I certainly spend a lot of time just like by the ocean and hiking, and you can get there so quickly. You can bike there. If you’re determined.

Chrissy
Yeah, definitely, you found ways to get around the higher costs. And you’ve also taken advantage of what is lower cost in Nova Scotia.

Ann
Well, we all just make it work, like we do potlucks, you know, and like, share food. And it just because like as soon as it’s a team effort, you can get around the challenges in Nova Scotia, but you definitely need to work with others. And just like it’s humbling in a way, because you, when some of the really big weather elements come in, you realize that you are dependent on everyone else, you know, I don’t have a fireplace in my home. But I have a couple friends within a block who do so if the power goes out and you’re cold in the winter. You know who you’re gonna run over and see.

Chrissy
Yeah.

Money Mechanic
Couch surfing time.

Ann
Oh, yeah, like it’s real. It’s real. But one other element from a macro or national economic perspective, is that there was that $24 billion contract that the Irvings want to make to build boats in Halifax. And I’m sure that’s having a positive effect. And that’s why there’s it’s such a bold market on building more accommodations. And but yeah, it’s very tricky. Like the housing they actually just implemented a 2% cap on rental increases for the first time in Halifax because we have a shortage of housing so it was going through the roof on the increases.

Chrissy
Interesting.

Ann
I live in quite a trendy neighborhood. And I’ve seen housing prices go from like they’ll sell for $200,000. Maybe like five years ago, they’ll get some renos and then sell for $600,000. So, its happening.

Money Mechanic
For the rest of your foreseeable path, do you intend to stay a renter?

Ann
Oh, great question. You know, I’ve listened to what’s that fellow Grant Cardone, and he’s you know, mister millionaire billionaire. And he’s like, you gotta rent so that all your money can be in the stock market or doing business plays, but I love the idea of owning my own home outright. Like I’m super into that I actually the current play is I was talking with Eric Chang about this, is probably rural Nova Scotia right now.

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Ann
And I’m looking at land all the time right now in rural Nova Scotia. Near, what’s that one? Springhill, the town that Anne Murray is from.

Money Mechanic
Okay.

Ann
There’s some lovely properties there. And like that whole Northumberland Strait is some of the warmest swimming like that ocean water that’s protected by Prince Edward Island is just beautiful to swim in. So I’ve been picturing a hybrid lifestyle for myself where I keep my Halifax pied a terre apartment here, and just like, maybe go back to the model of having roommates in this space and then start to build my beautiful passive solar, minimalist home on a south facing slope with a nice view.

Awesome.

Chrissy
Okay, so you are currently a homeowner you own your…

Ann
No, I was when I was married I because my husband already own home. And let me tell you, okay, here’s another little PSA to anyone going through a divorce. It is difficult. And you know, who knows why, but it is difficult as a single woman to get back into the housing market, I find like there’s, you know, it can be a little bit more difficult to get a mortgage, I have a great local branch now that I’m working with, and they get me and have a lot of confidence in me. So I feel like I’m, a new mortgage is in my future in the next three to five years, however, yeah, it was tough at first. And so if I had known, I think I would have been a little more insistent on like, okay, don’t don’t buy me out of the house. But let me keep that house as like my safety and security. So you know, that’s just some real talk about all that stuff. But again, that was like, two years before I discovered all of this wonderfulness. So, yeah, I don’t currently own but I have that owner’s mindset where I treated this space as an asset. And I rented it out to others to help me cover my living costs. So you know, when people are frustrated, like, Oh, I don’t own so I can’t make money from where I live. You can if you, you know, do the rental of rooms model. Yeah.

Chrissy
That flexibility and creativity.

Ann
It gets the job done. Yeah. And so now, luckily, I do have a down payment for whenever I can convince a bank.

Chrissy
Why wouldn’t they want your money? Really?

Ann
Right? No, it’s because I am a bit of an anomaly because I have a ridiculously high credit score. I have a down payment, but I can’t really explain my income. Listen, guys, I do a lot of different things. I help society.

Chrissy
Yeah, banks don’t like that.

Ann
Right?

Money Mechanic
We need mortgage brokers that understand the FIRE community. What do you mean, you need T4 income? We don’t need T4 income, we’ve multiple streams!

Ann
Savings! Let me tell you, you want to see my RRSP?

Money Mechanic
Everything’s on a T5. It’s all passive income.

Chrissy
Funny, they don’t consider that. It doesn’t matter.

Money Mechanic
It is it is crazy. And it’s I think we won’t get into it too much right now. But it is a definite concern for the FIRE crowd that once you quote unquote, are FIRE and you don’t have that strong T4 income anymore. Yeah, you could have a ton of assets, you could have a bunch of passive income. And you technically don’t qualify, which is frustrating.

Chrissy
It’s crazy, because you’re wealthier than most people.

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Chrissy
Doesn’t count for anything.

Ann
Yeah, yeah, they’d be more likely, you’re right, to give a mortgage to someone who had a bunch of debt, but could show that they’re gonna get their paycheck every two weeks or whatever.

Money Mechanic
Exactly.

Ann
I think there’s a niche there for a new bank.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, right. Well, this is, I mean, we’re getting a little off track here. But this has come up before we’ve talked about it we talked about with Court from Modern FImily. And it’s if you’re going to if you have a mortgage and you’re going to FIRE, you may want to refinance into some form of HELOC or something like that. Because yeah, if you keep, if you keep a traditional mortgage, and then you lose, or you not lose, but you give up your T4 income, you may not like requalify, or you won’t be able to go and ask for more money from the bank, because you won’t be able to prove any income. Right. So it’s definitely a consideration later on in everybody’s FIRE journey. So anyway, that’s, that’s the aside for that. But I love your plan. And you know what I thought of when you were describing your rural place, off-grid, self-sufficient, I love that. We played that clip at the beginning of this show. And the part that I cut off was just after that, you start going into describing your the vision of your house, see the front door, see the kitchen window and the vista beyond it. And you get right into this nice, lovely feeling this visualization where I’m actually picturing my dream house and what it looks like and how it feels. I’m ready to get into this a little bit more. And let’s dig a little bit into this, about this book about this audio book and about why you wrote it and you created it. First of all, let’s talk about the visualizations you put in at the beginning of each chapter. It is a book about FIRE, but it’s not one that anybody that has ever read or listened to before. So it’s awesome.

Chrissy
Yeah.

Ann
I realized that there’s a lot of information about FIRE out in the world, however, that some people feel really blocked on seeing themselves or identifying with it. So that became my solution to put the visualizations in because then it becomes this channel. Where you can let go of any of your conscious blocks to the idea that you could even do FIRE, and just start to get the enjoyment of what it would be like as an emotional experience. And it’s very linked to that, like law of attraction kind of stuff. But I’ve noticed that sometimes the law of attraction stuff is too far over in the feeling world. And then the, like, technical how to do something is over in a more logical space. So I was trying to like, bring the two together in this seamless experience of taking care of all parts of yourself, so that you’re in a great space to do the action steps.

Chrissy
Yeah, I feel like you succeeded at that. Because this book is not just about the soft side, you have a lot of really actionable tips in there very practical advice that’s easy to understand and that anyone could just take and run with. And I was really impressed with how you wove it all together, it’s these two very different aspects. And yet, you put them together beautifully in the book.

Ann
Oh, thank you. That’s so validating, I have to admit when I sent it off to you guys, because I really see you as like, icons of the world. And so I felt so validated that, like, it worked like Oh, okay. Like, it must be accurate enough, because it got passed. It was like, you know, cuz Yeah, I worked hard on those technical aspects. I felt like if anything, I had to be even more on point with that stuff. If I was going to bring in the more woowoo, like, experiential emotional side, like I had to really bring it. So yeah, that’s why I spent so much time on that calculating your specific FI number. And I kept trying to come at it from different directions, so that someone who’s not very mathematically minded would have that aha moment of like, Oh, this is how I calculate it. Okay.

Chrissy
Yeah, I feel like your book is the perfect gift that you could give to someone and say, this is FIRE. This is how you get started. And this is how you get the ball rolling. Get yourself in the right mindset. You don’t have to know anything, you just take this book, and you can learn what you need to know just to get the ball rolling and get it even into some of the more advanced stuff. So I I think it’s great for that purpose. For sure.

Ann
Yay. I’m picturing it in the headphones of so many 1,000s of people. And just like the positive ways that it can improve their life like it feels really good.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, well, I I’ll have to admit that for me, I’m definitely the analog analytical sort where I like my FIRE journey was crunching numbers like getting into I love what you said at the beginning about Mr. Money Mustache, because the DIY that really speaks to me, but when it comes down to it, it’s like, I wanted to look at the numbers, I needed to figure it all that out. And I don’t put much weight into how my emotional well being is about how I’m thinking about that. So I found it interesting. I started off, I said, Send me a copy to read. And I started reading your book, because you don’t want to also learn is I’m a visual learner, I learned more from reading. But as soon as I started reading your book, I’m reading this nice visualization to myself in my head. And I’m just going, I need the audio book. Chrissy, you do so awesome. Because like you listen to audio, like you create blogs into audio, you listen to everything, which blows my mind. So anyway, thanks so much, I got the audio book. And for me, it was the visualizations, which I wouldn’t have put much weight in before because that’s not something I get myself involved in. But by but by listening to it, it did kind of it just opens it felt like it opened up my just, I guess emotionally, it just opened me a little bit to accept the information that was that you were going to give to me. And even though you know, we consume so much content, it’s not that we get a lot of new stuff out of books, but we get new perspectives. And we know they’re going to speak to different people. That’s where the real value is.

Ann
Oh my gosh, yeah. That’s he summed it up so well. But I hadn’t thought about that. Exactly. But it’s true. It’s like you’re preparing your unconscious to be able to take in the wisdom of FIRE.

Money Mechanic
Exactly.

Ann
Because it’s it’s such a profound movement. I mean, I know, I’m speaking to the choir here, but like, we all get it, but it’s like, how can I get people that don’t understand how awesome this is, to come in and feel the gentleness of it all. And then another interesting thing, just to give you some backstory, I had initially written this book thinking, I should just write it for women. I was like, Okay, well, it’s like a woman’s perspective. But of course, the time we live now, like there’s such a big opening up around like gender identity and awareness. And, you know, one of my guy friends expressed a bunch of interest in it, and I was like, Oh, wait a second. So I did. Though rewrite at the end to make it, you know, for everyone and, and I think that we all have like our masculine and feminine energies. And it can be like stronger or less strong. And so I surprisingly do like working with a spreadsheet and like, get really into crunching numbers, but I have friends who aren’t as much into it, but then maybe they can be so strong on just like being in that zone of abundance, that they’ll go on their FIRE journey, you know?

Money Mechanic
Right.

Ann
They’ll, they’ll Intuit their way there. But I think the healthiest is like that hybrid where, yeah, you spend time in both zones, and then they feed into one another.

Chrissy
And I want to discuss one big aspect of your book that I kind of feel like your book is like free therapy. It’s kind of woven in, and could you talk a lot about this. EFT Emotional Freedom Therapy technique, yeah, where you do this tapping. And I’ve heard about this before, and I am a big proponent of therapy and meditation and CBT because I had postpartum depression with both my kids and I do have ongoing anxiety when you know when I get stressed. So it was helpful to learn about this new technique that sounds so easy and so simple. And you actually include some guided EFT sessions that are really helpful. And I was wondering if you could tell us more about that, because I think some people do get really stuck when it comes to money. And this is a technique that it’s free, it’s easy. You don’t need any special training to do it. You could learn it in five minutes. But it can really help you to get unstuck if there’s some part of your journey that you can’t get past. So tell us a little more about EFT and how it could help someone in their journey.

Ann
Okay, so I actually found out about EFT in the early 2000s, when I was still a cool indie rocker. And I ordered it in because I was getting crippling stage fright. Like I was just so nervous when I would go to perform that all the hours of training, you know, it was like, my voice would just go away. And I was like, what’s going on. So I was really, really motivated to figure out a way to reduce anxiety in about specific topics. And I came across Gary Craig and his EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, tapping, ordered a bunch of DVDs. And you know, it’s this very formal, you know, man and woman sitting in front of a big set of like fake flowers, just like very slowly telling you, okay, you’re going to tap on these parts of your body while you say these things. And you’re going to miraculously feel better.

Chrissy
It does sound crazy.

Ann
Like, I could not believe it. Like I was like, What are you doing? And and then like the band members would walk in and be like, and what are you up to? Whatever, just like. But then I started tapping, like I started doing the tapping. And I would say that even though I have this problem, I deeply love and accept myself, which is a profound statement to even say out loud. And sure enough, my headache would go away. Or my friend who totally didn’t believe in tapping, his headache would go away. We’d both like sit there looking at each other, like what just happened. So you know, cut to 20 years later, there’s a lot of research being done on tapping now. And there’s this wonderful Harvard professor named Dawson Church. And he has proven that you have a about a 30% reduction in your cortisol levels after tapping. I forget how long the tapping session is for that if it’s 10 minutes or an hour, but like as a controlled study. And then there’s also an amazing woman in Australia, Dr. Peta Stapleton, and she’s doing studies where she’ll have someone put a food they’re addicted to in front of them. And then they do a brain scan in one of those machines. And then they’ll tap for an hour and then they do another brain scan. And all the areas of the brain that were lighting up don’t light up anymore. Like there’s been a change in the electromagnetic activity. So now I’m, I feel like I can come out of the closet about my tapping more, you know, and like my friends know me as a topper, and like my family knows that I tap. Like if, if an upsetting story comes on the news, I might start tapping because I’m just like high sensitive and I know it’s gonna go somewhere in my system and like my sister used to look over and be like, what, why are you tapping? What did I do? And I’m like, No, no, don’t worry. Something else something else. But yeah, it happens to apply very well to any blocks around abundance and around the idea of Oh, I can’t budget or Oh, I can’t like any aspect of the FIRE journey that you have an internal block about. You can use EFT tapping to address it. And I just think of it as like the enzyme that helps all the other interactions to take place. So, yeah, that’s why I included it as a bonus, like EFT, tap along scripts at the end. But I tell people in the first chapter, I’m like, if you’re having trouble doing this visualization, just like jump ahead and go do some tapping, you know, release those blocks, and then get back in. So you’re right, there’s a very therapeutic element to this.

Chrissy
Yeah, it’s fascinating. And I did try it. Over the last few days, I’ve been trying, I’ve been watching videos and listening to some of your recordings and some other recordings. And I can’t say I found it life changing yet. But I do find it soothing when I’ve been doing it, I found it to be very soothing. And so I think I just need to spend more time doing it. But I’m fascinated because I’ve read some of the same scientific literature that you’ve mentioned, where I think they tested a bunch of people. And the people who did tapping saw a 40% reduction in their cortisol and the people who had just, I think it was maybe talk therapy, they saw maybe an 18% reduction, but then they had some other people doing nothing. I think they were maybe even looking at social media during the same period of time, then their cortisol went up by 2%. So there is evidence that it works. Yeah, I know. It works. So and like I said, it’s free. It’s quick, it’s easy. So why not give it a try. And it’s nice that you included it in the book, because it’s a good intro, and you really relate it to the FIRE journey which is helpful.

Ann
Yay! Well, since you mentioned social media, my current favorite social media app is Clubhouse. I don’t know if you guys have heard of this. And so I have a club on Clubhouse, which I call Happy Life Depot. And I just go on and offer free tapping sometimes. So if someone wants to come and find me on there, because it’s very good, like done on your own, as you guys can see, like I tap a lot. But when you tap in a group, it’s amazing. Like it really seems to the collective intention seems to do something and, and there’s an art of delivery to tapping. So you can get even better at mining what your own internal thoughts are. And the more specific you are about what you’re tapping about, the more profound your own results will be. Or you can get someone to coach you in it. And then, like I actually, I didn’t want to mention it because there’s just like so many different things I’ve done, but I have been an EFT coach as well. Like I did one on one with people. And it was you know, people who had really profound traumas and we really moved the needle for them. So yeah, it’s exciting. I love applying it to money like it’s, it’s great. Fast tracks your journey.

Chrissy
Yeah, it’s so flexible, you can use it for any really like whether it’s physical ailments emotional or even tear money. It’s It’s crazy how flexible and wide ranging it is.

Ann
Even though I didn’t start the FIRE journey till I was in my 40s I deeply love and accept myself. I tapped on before I launched into all this and like, look at me now, you know, like, I’m, I’m gonna affect others. Like, I really want to help other people by sharing how I got here.

Chrissy
Yeah, I think there could be a lot of shame and embarrassment for people who are late to the journey and it shouldn’t be there, you know, but that could be something that’s really hard for someone to get unstuck and get moving on.

Ann
Interesting that you bring up that with the words shame and guilt because from an artistic community space, sometimes the the guilt is around the idea of even amassing a bunch of money. So that is something I did a bunch of tapping about. And also just like spiritual exploration, and, you know, just really like prayed about it. Like, what is a good way to make money in the world? Is it okay for me to have? You know, what seems like this big sum of money that’s just working for me? Like, you know, I’ve made peace with it, but.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, how to not feel that that’s a selfish endeavor. Right, being okay with it, that you’re not doing it for selfish reasons.

Ann
And I would say where I got to with it, I think partly it’s as you as you mature, you realize, like, we do have to take care of ourselves. Like, as mortal beings, we, we need resources to live. I actually I never finished it. But one time I wrote, I started writing this musical about food. And there was gonna be, as I do, but there was gonna be a character in it, who she felt so bad about resources that she didn’t even want to breathe in air, because she thought Oh, someone else could have that air. And I was trying to speak to, you know, the epidemic of anorexia and things that we saw, like, especially in the 90s, like when I was a teenager, like, you know, it’s a real thing, this idea of like resources, and are you allowed to have them even in our, our very privileged Canadian life. And I think where I started to make Oh, and so back to that musical, there was another character. And he was like, I never met a bit of butter that I didn’t like, like, he would eat anything. So, um, so yeah, I looked at the different extremes, and then started to realize that it is okay for an individual to be self sustaining. And, in fact, it’s even more of an imperative as our overall financial structure moves away from one where one company is going to take care of you for your whole life. And also, we see the rise in automation. So there’s a lot of different jobs that are going to go away. And this kind of creative thinking that we’re incubating in the FIRE movement, of being very self sufficient, and having different modes of generating value, is probably what the whole world is going to turn to over time. And once I am self sufficient, I won’t be a burden to people around me. And in fact, I can give like, and I really, deeply want to do that. And, and I’m not just saying that and like, as you know, like, I literally put eight years of my life into that quite underpaid, but very valiant work of doing social change through a nonprofit. And so I think now that I’m in my FIRE mindset, I just want to get to a place where I know that my own future is assured. But then I’m going to go back to doing all of that wonderful work. So yeah.

Chrissy
Yeah. And I think that’s so important to mention, because a lot of people outside of the FIRE community see us as selfish, maybe and maybe freeloaders, when in fact, it’s the complete opposite. A lot of times they think that we are taking advantage of the system or that, you know, we hold all this wealth, and like you said, it’s just to support ourselves and no one else but in fact, it’s what frees us to give back to the world in meaningful ways and in ways that other people maybe can’t afford to because it’s low paid labor or unpaid labor. But we do it because we care. And we’re passionate, and we have the means to support ourselves. And so it frees us to give back in ways that I think are really meaningful and important.

Ann
So well said, Yeah, I was thinking as you were describing that how, you know, if you are working for someone else, your whole life, you then can argue that that other person is the selfish person, because they’re taking your labor and time. And then we get into the kind of class struggles, where big swathes of people feel that they are being taken advantage of. And rightly so they feel that way, you know, if they haven’t managed to develop their own nest egg that allows them to thrive in our capitalist structure. And I didn’t mean to go this deep, right? I didn’t think about this until you started asking questions in this way. But I’m realizing that in a strange way, there’s, there’s a healthy rebellion to what we’re doing, where we’re saying, Okay, let’s make the capitalist system work for every single individual who is living inside of it in a really like, low key empowering way. And we know when someone’s just in it for a sort of money, endless money amassing, you know, more sort of greed mindset. And that really doesn’t resonate with me at all, like, I’m so looking forward to all the things that I’m going to do once I have my sustaining amount of money. So yeah, if we’re gonna do the PSA for the FIRE movement, I feel like this is what should underlie it.

Chrissy
Absolutely, I agree.

Money Mechanic
Well, I don’t know about you, Chrissy. But I feel this episode has been very interesting in a lot of different ways that we don’t talk about, we didn’t get heavy into numbers, which is kind of nice change. Because that’s not what the FIRE movement is all about. It’s about reclaiming your time. You know, being joyful, living your best life, and not being in a rush. And it’s kind of helped us see a lot of that. And I think that’s one thing that I did like about her. I mean, not the only thing but that I liked about the audio book was just that different perspective. You know, for people that are getting new to the FIRE community, there’s lots of information that’s actionable in there. This also gives you just a bit softer approach to it, rather than just super hard numbers. Super frugal, this is like do it that’s gonna make you feel good to get there. So it was such a pleasure to have you on and we’ve had a lot of fun than I could since chatting in the future because I don’t think we’re done. We kind of explored some topics we could dig into a little further, but you’re our first guest from Nova Scotia. So that’s much appreciated. And your book is please tell everybody more a little bit about the book where they can find it where they can find you apart from Clubhouse. Go for it. advertise yourself, please.

Ann
Thank you so so much. So The book is called Find Your Freedom With FIRE, which of course stands for financial independence, retire early; Save, Invest and Manifest Your Way to Easy Street. And I wrote it and put it up on Audible. So you can hear me narrating it there on Audible on all the different platforms and countries. And then you can check out my website, annhelga.ca. And you’ll see the other sides of my personality too. So the music that I do, but also Yes, I’m on Clubhouse, I have a Happy Life Depot club there. And I just want to help as many people as possible, feel comfortable about the idea of getting into FIRE on their own gentle and intuitive terms. So yeah, I’m just so grateful. It’s been very, very fun talking with you guys.

Chrissy
Well, thank you. And I’m glad you put your book out into the world because as Money Mechanic has said, it’s it’s very unique. It’s a different take on the FIRE journey. And I think it’s important to showcase the softer side of the journey as it will speak to a lot of people in a way that they haven’t heard before.

Ann
Yay. You guys are the best.

Chrissy
Well, thank you so much, Ann, and I’m sure we’ll talk to you again. Until next time, everyone, take care and enjoy your FIRE journey.


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2 Replies to “057: Find Your Freedom With FIRE | Ann Helga”

  1. Such a profound episode. I absolutely love what you guys are doing with the podcast with exploring the why of people. Love love love! Keep up the incredible work <3

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