About the Changs
Hi, we’re the Changs, and we’re here to teach you how to use your money to achieve your financial dreams.
Our goal at Keeping Up With the Changs is to help people like you on the path to your financial independence by teaching you how to take control of your money situation and helping you define what financial freedom means to you.
We want you to experience for yourself what it’s like to have the money and freedom to pursue the things that you care about without feeling guilt or stress, because you can truly afford them.
You hear generic advice everywhere you turn: “spend less,” “save more,” “work hard to make more money.” But “good” advice doesn’t necessarily mean “right for me” advice. Money is all about figuring out your priorities in life and deciding on the trade-offs you’re willing to make for the here and now versus your future so you can live a life that’s satisfying throughout.
We believe that everyone deserves to enjoy financial freedom & security, whether that’s simply saving money to pay for the things you want in full, or coming up with a full-fledged plan to achieve early retirement.
To help anyone on their path to financial independence keep pace, we vow to present ideas with these three concepts in mind:
Money is pretty black & white (actually, green & white), but humans aren’t. We don’t talk theory that takes emotion out of the equation, we focus on practical methods that work in real life.
No matter what your financial situation, everyone should experience money wins. We share easy tips that will give you immediate results and complex ideas that challenge you to set your bar high (and achieve it).
We don’t want to just tell people about how to improve their financial situation, we want them to actually do something about it. We show you how to put sound financial advice to good use.
Who We Are
We are a multi-generational that’s had a LOT of different money experiences, both good and bad. By sharing our story, others have the chance to try for similar successes and can avoid the mistakes we made along the way.
We recognize that the choices we made in our lives aren’t necessarily ones that everyone would be on board with, but they have shaped a path to financial independence that we’re happy to be pursuing.
We want to share our story because the underlying principle is the same: decide what is your priority, then do what it takes you to get there.
You can read more here about our individual financial journeys & credentials here:
Grandma & Grandpa Chang
Grandma & Grandpa Chang were FIRE’d before FIRE (financially independent & retired early) was a trendy thing. It wasn’t a walk in the park though. More like a marathon. In bad weather. With cramped muscles. From mile 1.
They were born into comfortable lives in Vietnam, but war changed everything quickly. After going through some pretty crazy stuff to flee the country, they eventually were accepted into America as new immigrants.
It was pretty scary, because they knew no English (except for Beatles lyrics) and had only $100 to their name. Heck, they couldn’t even tell a quarter from a penny! But they did what their generation does best: they sucked it up and learned to hustle.
They had plenty of pivotal money experiences, some good and some bad:
- told friends the truth about whole life insurance
- moved to one of the most expensive states in the country
- became entrepreneurs
- went to night school to learn how to do taxes because an accountant was too expensive
- lost money (and a “friend”) through a poor investment
- accidentally bought a rental property, yet somehow signed on a tenant before they even got the keys
…among other fond memories. But through it all, they learned lots, made their comebacks, and ensured that success was not just limited to their generation by passing on their knowledge.
Credentials: Graduated from the School of Hard Knocks with a PhD in Life With or Without Money. They started life well off, and then war snatched it all away. They lived like the Joneses when they got here, but have since learned how to live it more happily their own way.
Mama, Papa & Little Chang
Mama & Papa Chang are part of an awkward sandwich generation made complicated by an intersection between traditional Asian and modern American cultures.
On one hand, they have an American-born Little Chang to raise, and are trying to strike a balance between not spoiling him yet also not letting him fall behind his peers.
On the other hand, China-born Papa Chang is trying to forge a strong foundation for the family while remaining responsible to his own parents, who did just the same for him when they all first moved to Hawaii.
Mama and Papa Chang worked together to make things happen: In their four years of marriage thus far, they finished paying off a condo, a house, and recently bought their first home together. Ultimately, they have a bold dream of paying off a hefty mortgage in 15 years.
As municipal workers with a fairly humble salary, their financial focus is on slashing spending, cranking up revenue streams, and getting that house debt out the door.
Credentials: Graduated college at the perfect time: during a major recession and entering the low-paying government workforce with a humble salary made even smaller through mandated pay cuts. Still managed to build their wealth and buy a place of their own in an area with an incredibly high cost of living.
Many of Aunty Chang’s coworkers have a similar story of how they met her: She would roll right up, comment on how young they looked, and then immediately proceed to explain how they’d benefit if they started saving for retirement now while they were young and their money had time to grow.
There are few things Aunty Chang loves more helping people achieve their own money wins (like that time she saved a friend from signing on a terrible mortgage that they could only actually afford if they ate ramen for 30 years straight).
Her goal is to strive for financial independence so she can follow her many whims and passions. She has classes she wants to take, volunteer opportunities she wants to pursue, and other passions she’d love to work on on a regular basis. She and her husband choose to be a DINK household (dual income, no kids), so she plans to invest smartly and spend minimally to get to early retirement ASAP.
Credentials: The one with the business degree (Accounting). But the real lessons were learned from being duped by shady people in an online venture and having a tenant so bad she had to evict them, but still choosing to dust herself off and try again.
What We’re About
We are 100% American when it comes to our love of freedom.
But money gets in the way of that when you can’t do what you want because you gotta work to pay for that kind of a lifestyle.
That’s why financial independence matters to us, so we can find a means to fund our ideal lifestyle without being a slave to money and having to work forever for it.
Our pursuit of financial freedom made our money “normal” drastically different than that of a typical American.
USA, IT’S TIME TO SET OURSELVES FINANCIALLY FREE
Let’s make financial independence a rule, not an exception.
Average American household credit card debt:
The average American household carries a monthly balance of $6929 on their credit cards (source). Plus, they stay longer in debt because of the interest that they’re paying on the balance.
What we chose to do instead:
The Changs pay off their entire balance every month to make sure the price they pay is only the amount they signed for on that credit card receipt.
Average college student graduate student loan debt:
What we chose to do instead:
Mama Chang, a first-generation college student who had to pay for her own way to school, applied for scholarships up the yin yang and worked part-time through all four years.
She had $40,000 to her name by the time she threw her cap in the air at graduation. Now that was something to celebrate.
Average American retirement savings:
With all that debt, it’s no surprise that most Americans don’t save nearly enough for retirement. The average retirement savings by age group is (source):
- Under 25 years of age: $4,800
- 25-34 years of age: $24,700
- 35-44 years of age: $68,900
- 45-54 years of age: $129,000
- 55-64 years of age: $190,500
- Over 65 years of age: $210,000
With monthly expenses for older couples averaging $3,800 (source), that money wouldn’t even last 5 years into retirement.
What we chose to do instead:
Aunty Chang, like everyone, has heard that it’s smart to start young when saving for retirement. So that’s exactly what she did, socking away 50% of her paycheck into her 401k in the first three years of her employment.
She saved almost as much as those at retirement age have…in half the time. Now she can look forward to enjoying a comfortable (and early) retirement.
Average streams of passive income in retirement:
By the time people are older, not working, and relying on passive income, they don’t have many streams of it.
Future generations have it even worse, with no pensions to rely on and social security that’s less and less certain.
What we chose to do instead:
Grandma & Grandpa Chang got started on diversifying their income sources early. This allowed them to retire at the young age of 40 with the confidence that they’ll still be okay if anything happened to one of those sources.
They continue to build wealth while enjoying life in retirement with the passive income that exceeds their living expenses.
It’s not your money that defines your financial well-being. You do.
We’ll give you the stories and insights to inspire you, and the tools & tips to make it happen.
SO WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE?
Stay in the red or come over to the dark side?
(Everything’s better in the black, jus’ sayin’.)
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