I’m Dawn. Single mom, personal finance and goal setting junkie. Tired of the daily commute and grind, and not spending enough time with the family and friends I love, I’ve set out on the path to financial independence. What I’ve learned along the way extends well beyond just personal finance.
Financial independence is about enjoying life, appreciating what you have, dreaming big and doing whatever it takes to make those dreams a reality.
Stepping Stones to FI started out as FI & Wine, a blog that would hold me accountable and chronicle my personal journey to financial independence.
Learn about my journey and join me as I save, invest and build passive income so I can live the life I love.
As I made progress and learned more about saving and investing, the purpose of this blog developed and became more than me and my personal story. I’ve learned that the beauty of financial independence is that it isn’t that hard to achieve. The steps are not difficult and the concepts are easy to understand.
But if it’s so easy, why isn’t everyone saving and investing their way to early retirement?
Because it’s always easier to stay within your comfort zone. We’ve all heard the saying “If wishes were fishes, we’d all take a swim.” It’s one thing to say that FI sounds pretty great and we’d like to achieve it. It’s something else entirely to change your spending habits, financial decisions and goals. To say no to the new car that comes with status and envy and self-driving features and instead continue to drive your 10-year Toyota with 150,000 miles.
Committing to the goal of FI might even mean transforming your outlook to the point that instead of feeling embarrassed by that Toyota, you start bragging about how you just reached 200,000 miles.
The stepping stones on the path to financial independence might be easy to take, but it requires commitment, perseverance and a willingness to learn, accept change, and grow.
And so FI & Wine has evolved into Stepping Stones to FI. A guide that can provide the details of each step you can take to gain control of your finances, payoff debt, save more money and invest your savings for wealth building. Goal setting, time management and motivation are just as important as the financials, so you’ll find plenty of content to keep you focused and moving in the right direction.
More about me
I am a full-time single mother to an amazing 14-year-old boy. I know I’m his mother and every mom will say that their child is amazing, but seriously, my son is amazing. He continually motivates me to be a better person.
We have both been through more hardship than typical, and through these struggles we have become better individuals. I have learned so much, and being on the other side, at a place in my life where I am finally comfortable and happy, I can better appreciate everything in my life that I am grateful for.
One of the hardest lessons I learned when I first became a single mother over 10 years ago is that life has a way of getting in the way. I felt like I was just dealing with one crisis after another, large and small. I spent years feeling like I was on never-ending damage control. The dreams I had as a child and young adult were swept away by the day-to-day struggles of just getting by.
But I have learned something over the years. While I’ve dreamed big and allowed my dreams to get swept away by time, I’ve also made tremendous progress. And that is worth reflecting on, learning from and utilizing in the future. My dreams haven’t been realized, but if I’ve made progress in life, I have what it takes to revisit those dreams and start making them come true.
My dreams have always centered on creating income streams so that I can quit my day job and explore all of the fun things that this world has to offer. But it wasn’t until recently that the Financial Independence (FI) seed was planted.
The idea that through budgeting and smart investing, there exists the real possibility that I could be free of my paycheck and able to focus on the things I love. This is FI.
FI is unique to every individual in what it means for quality of life and how much savings it will take to achieve. For me, FI is defined as freedom. The freedom to make my own schedule, freedom from my horrible Bay Area commute, freedom from a W2 job, and the freedom to shape my day and my life however I wish. It’s being home to enjoy breakfast with my son and then going wine tasting in the afternoon with friends and loved ones. It’s enjoying my life, the people in my life, and spending my time on the things that provide meaning and purpose.
Once this seed was planted and I discovered that there is another way to think about my finances and plan my life, there was no going back. This IS something I WILL achieve. There is just no other option. I will discover my path to FI.
So how will I do this? How will I prevent this dream from getting swept away by life and time just like my dreams in the past?
Here’s where I fall back on the successes I have had thus far.
Just 10 years ago I was pretty much at rock-bottom. I went from a married, stay-at-home mom to a widowed single-mom with a son that didn’t cope with life’s changes very well. I had no savings, no job and no practical career training.
But, within 5 years I was considered successful. I was able to build a successful career. I traveled, won awards and gave talks. I was respected in my field. I had a nice home to live in, savings in the bank and a nice car. My son was able to attend a small private school that could help him succeed. This is what I needed and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I was able to grow and become successful because I was very focused and knew exactly what I needed to accomplish. I needed a certain income to support myself and my son and so I methodically set goals and tackled them one-by-one to get myself where I needed to be. So strong was my intention that I never stopped long enough to give into feeling overwhelmed or sorry for myself.
Then, one day recently, I realized that I was finally comfortable. I had crossed off all my immediate goals and life was good. Now what? I came to realize was that it was time to revisit my dreams.
And so the dream of FI was born. I already know I have the ability to go after my dreams. I’ve made it here, how much harder can it be than what I’ve already accomplished?
I will research any and all options and I will plan very specific and targeted goals to get myself where I want to be. This blog will track my journey along the way, and pave the path for you to follow along on your own personal journey to FI.
I want to plant this vision of what financial independence is for all my readers. Everything I learn, I will write about. Every goal I set will be laid out into actionable steps. Every step closer will be documented. I will cover everything from the foundations to the steps necessary to achieve success and all the small wins along the way.
Stepping Stones to FI has been featured on the following websites:
The New York Times: For These Women, a FIRE That Burns Too Male and Too White
Tread Lightly, Retire Early: Meet the Women of the Financial Independence Movement
Featured guest post articles:
Smart Money Mamas: How To Buy a Used Car With Confidence
Smart Money Mamas: 7 Useful New Year’s Resolutions to Set This Year
Smart Money Mamas: Losing My Husband and Financial Security to an Unexpected Death
Not Quite an Adult: 7 Habits I Changed That Save Me $860 EVERY Month
Sunflower Mom: Single Mom Series: Interview with Dawn
Family Life Blog: My Top 5 Secrets To Save More Money
Family Money Plan: How 5 Small Changes are Saving Me $57,000 Over the Next 5 Years