The Story Behind Distilled Dollar

This post is an update on all the events happening here at Distilled Dollar and within our tribe. My wife and I became officially married last month (wooooohoooo!). We also left our 9-5’s to support the growth of this site full-time. I’ll walk you through what’s next and share more of the story behind Distilled Dollar.

This post shares our deepest principles when it comes to building wealth, together. I avoid the nuts and bolts and link back to other articles that went through the numbers, so I trust you’ll enjoy this less CPA-numbers-intensive post from us.

The Story Behind Distilled Dollar

As with any money journey, I still recall our humble beginnings quite vividly.

My wife, Marina, and I made big splashes in the blogosphere when we shared how we went from living paycheck to paycheck to saving over 60% of our income, within 3 years.

Money was tough and the struggle was real.

We experienced plenty of failures over those years, but never any fights.

Different strategies were put to the test to see what worked and didn’t. We kept at it.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett & Focus

When asked at a dinner, what was the one word they would use to describe the #1 factor that contributed to their success, Bill and Warren found themselves writing down the same word.

Neither of them knew what the other was writing down, and they quickly discovered they had both written down the word “Focus.”

We quickly realized we didn’t need a high IQ to be successful with money. We only needed to avoid real stupid mistakes.

We started to stress out less and less about money as we started to gain more and more.

Frugality became sexy in our lives because it meant we could buy a piece of our future freedom everyday, or at least, with each paycheck.

Focused And Overworked

This was at a time when we were two overworked 9-5er’s. As a CPA in a big4 accounting firm, I found myself at the office for long hours and working weekends. My wife was in a similar situation, having joined a startup and dealing with the heavy hours in launching a business.

We were overworked, overstressed, and to be frank, I was starting to gain some weight.

Thankfully, we were on the same page with our money plan.

We saved all that we could by downsizing our home and moving closer to work. We ditched the need for a car, and spent hours on Sunday’s cooking meals for the entire week. I even found a way to cut my grocery bill in half, because all those savings were being transformed into profitable investments.

We became happier, more confident and grew our relationship as we built wealth, together.

We even became excited when looking for ways to increase our income because we knew we could save that additional money and turn it into long lasting investments.

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” said Ben Franklin, or as I like to put it these days (adjusting for inflation of course), a dollar invested is a dollar earned.

A “Distilled Dollar,” if you will.

If you’re not sure where to invest, or you’re stuck in paralysis by analysis given your options, I recommend checking out my 571 word summary on Investing 101. This is the best, most concise, quick advice I can give to someone who’s struggling to get started.

Less stress around money fueled an upward cycle as we started to look for more ways to optimize money and accelerate our path to financial independence at an early age.

Now it is incredible to see we’ve gained a business along our path.

Building wealth should loosely include developing stronger skills, expanding our networks, and building business assets – such as a blog, an email list, or a product.

Wins Mean Less Without Losses

It becomes easier to work on money once the momentum starts bringing in more cash — but those early days took a lot to get us saving an extra 1% at a time.

I still recall setting a goal each year to double my savings rate and each year, like clockwork, I failed.

Failing to Double That Savings Rate

Failing to Double That Savings Rate

In my opinion, the ultimate result was the positive conversations taking place about money — compared with the stressful discussions my wife and I would have only a few years prior.

Money affords us so much, but only when we use it in alignment with our values.

One of my heroes, Charlie Munger, describes it accurately, “The first $100,000 is a real bitch.”

That’s how we felt reaching our first 100k in assets.

From Part-Time Money Bloggers to Full-Time Entrepreneurs

Fast forward to today, and my wife and I are now full-time behind Distilled Dollar.

At our heart, we’re frugal entrepreneurs striving to make a difference in our small corner of the world. Our small corner doesn’t dampen our vision as we have a big mission to end financial trauma in our lifetime.

Life may have been easier sitting at a desk job back when I was feeling overly stressed about the 9-5, while being averagely concerned about the lack of growth in my net worth.

Distilled Dollar is not about the easy path, but about you deciding on your path.

Whether your path is negotiating for a salary increase, or reducing your expenses, we’re here for you.

If your path is increasing your income via a new business idea, we’re here for you as well.

My wife and I simply provide the strategies that worked for us and the lessons we’ve learned from our (many) failures.

It can feel like open heart surgery to pull the pain from the past, but it’s all well worth it.

Each story we hear from a reader, listener, or viewer is truly inspiring and reminds us why we do what we do.

When we hear about a woman nearing retirement who’s now making an extra $20,000 a year — or we hear about a recent college grad saving $5,000 a year on his tax advantaged investments — we couldn’t be happier.

Those stories inspire us because we’re always looking for ways to increase our income. Yes, reducing expenses is absolutely key, as a great defense wins championships. But, like the book Millionaire Next Door shows, we need to also play offense.

Of course, being on offense often means hard work and that means time away from friends and family. Or, time away from hobbies and rejuvenating activities.

I’m now a newly-wed man, starting a business with my beautiful wife and couldn’t be happier in life. I’m also training for my first Half-Ironman and am now in the process of putting together something I never wanted to do – my own workshop on building wealth.

I never expected Distilled Dollar to grow into the community it is today.

Entrepreneurship is scary.

Taking on the responsibility to teach more clients and to run a workshop is something that I never wanted to do. But, given the overwhelming response and questions asking for this, I’m here now putting in the work for you to achieve the same results. (You’ll see more about the upcoming workshop in tomorrow’s post.).

When I first started publishing content, I would have my wife edit. She still edits to this day and bless her soul for being an integral part of growing the Distilled Dollar community.

What started as a blog about personal finance and savings strategies has slowly evolved into lessons on entrepreneurship and ways to increase income to reach financial independence faster.

Yes, we’ve gone through 4 Phases of Financial Independence and we’re pursuing that magical FI number ourselves – but we still don’t have all the answers.

I’m definitely not a guru, although my ego is flattered by being called Mr. Frugality and The Frugal Guru.

Thank you for being a part of our money distilling tribe and thank you for being a part of this journey.

A personal request here, no doubt, but what comes to mind when you think of Distilled Dollar? Leave a comment below and I’d love to hear how you view our journey in the light of this crazy world we all share.


14 comments… add one
  • [HCF] Feb 12, 2018, 6:42 am

    A HUGE congrats to all of these (especially the wedding). It was a pleasure seeing this blog growing and becoming the “flower” today is. Your story is one of the most inspiring one in this PF corner of the internet. Keep distilling, we are watching 🙂

    • Distilled Dollar Feb 12, 2018, 9:16 am

      Thank you! That does mean a lot and if our story can help inspire a few folks to avoid our mistakes, then it will have been well worth it.

  • Mrs. Groovy Feb 12, 2018, 8:54 am

    You’re story is so uplifting. I hope your mood is contagious!
    Congratulations on your wedding! Wishing you many, many years of happiness together.

  • Cody @ Dollar Habits Feb 12, 2018, 1:44 pm

    Love it! So much good stuff going on in the DD world. Thanks for bringing us along on the adventure.

  • Millennial Boss Feb 12, 2018, 8:04 pm

    Congratulations on your marriage! I look forward to diving into your story on the podcast tonight.

    • Distilled Dollar Feb 12, 2018, 9:38 pm

      Thank you! Having just wrapped up a bit ago – the podcast was a blast! You and Gwen are doing such a great job with it – keep it up!

  • Physician on FIRE Feb 13, 2018, 12:10 am

    Livin’ the dream!

    Congrats on all of your successes and I wish you the best as you continue to work to grow your reach and community full-time. I’ll likely be joining you in the ranks of the funemployed next year.


    • Distilled Dollar Feb 14, 2018, 10:57 am

      Thanks PoF! Glad to hear you’re making the leap into funemployed haha – I love that phrase.

  • Matt @ Spills Spot Feb 13, 2018, 8:19 pm

    Congrats on everything Matt! Been following along your journey from the very beginning and it’s incredible to see how far you’ve come and the huge goals you’ve set. Keep killing it!

    • Distilled Dollar Feb 14, 2018, 10:58 am

      Thanks Matt and glad to have you on board from the early days! It is crazy to see how much has changed in only 2 years. 🙂

  • Mr Shirts Mar 25, 2018, 6:14 pm

    Enjoyed hearing your story and catching up on your site courtesy of the FIRE Drill Podcast. Congrats on the entrepreneurial journey and we share a ton of similarities in our story. Look forward to more reading and listening

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