Welcome back geeky FIRE seekers. This week I brought you geeky insights about another one of our fellow coder-bloggers, all the way from the Twin Cities. He goes with the alias Mr. BoaS and blogs over at www.budgetonastick.com.
I love to read his insightful posts on… well, pretty much everything. He is more of a “man of numbers” than me, but we share a lot of interests besides coding. He also likes cooking, getting lost in his own mind and tinkering with solar energy and electric vehicles. Ok, I am doing the last part only in theory, but still am excited about it.
To be honest I have another reason to find his blog interesting. As they are a family of four with a coder dad who has similar interests I see their story as a huge “what if” to ours. I know that there is no point in comparing others lives to ours, but let’s be honest, we all do this every sometimes.
Take it over BoaS.
Tell us about yourself!
I am Mr. BoaS. I write gibberish full time and write on my site, Budget On A Stick, on the side. When not doing either I am hanging out with my wife, Ms. Blue Ribbon and our two boys, Mini Donut and Babe.
When was your first encounter with computing?
When I was a kid my parents bought an IBM Windows 3.1 machine so they could do book work on it for their business. I mainly only got to play with Paint, Minesweeper, and Solitaire. Occasionally, I could play with the banner and card making software that was on it (but only if someone would help me with the commands for it).
What was your first machine?
I didn’t get my own machine until high school. It was a Gateway with a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor (I think). When I ordered it the representative thought I was crazy for wanting a WHOLE gig of RAM (pretty sure my phone has more than that now). I loved that box. I’d probably liken it to the love my dad had for his first car.
Did you started with games first or jumped straight into programming?
I started off just having it for video games. Before computer gaming, I had a healthy history gaming on the Original Nintendo and Nintendo 64. I also liked using the machine to create videos with my friends (that was a big deal before YouTube). Not too long after that, I was using the machine to help me learn Java, C++, and Python. I had those three languages under my belt before I moved on to college.
What about education, was it related to computing, did you learn in a traditional way or something else? What kind of degree do you have?
Since I loved working with computers and playing with programming languages I knew I wanted to be a programmer after college. I went the traditional route and got my degree in Software Engineering from UW-Eau Claire.
When did you start to work? Was it in your field? How was it?
I graduated in 2010 and started working for an insurance company writing in Java. That was fun but I quickly moved over to a team that was doing Sharepoint development (my first taste of C#). I really like C# and have been coding in that since. Thank god I’m not still writing Sharepoint code.
What are your experiences about the industry?
There are two types of companies in this world:
- An industry company that has an IT group that makes software
- A software company that writes for an industry
What I mean is I’ve worked for companies where the software that is making the company competitive isn’t getting the focus it needs to make the company great. I’ve also worked for companies that changed their focus to be software companies that specialize in a particular industry. These companies use their competitive advantage and blow away the competition.
What is your current financial situation/ are your current financial goals?
We are debt free except for the mortgage. I have charted a course for us to be financially independent by 40 but my current goals are to get our Roths maxed and eventually my 401k. I try to have yearly goals and five-year goals to make sure we are always moving forward.
Tell us about your journey so far?
It has been stressful. We got ourselves into debt with our solar panels and car loan but after our son was born we got our act together. Using the debt snowball and throwing everything we could at the loans we broke free.
How did your profession affect your finances (directly, indirectly)?
Did the income help?…yes but income isn’t everything. I think my extreme data analytical attitude helped me create plans and execute them. Perhaps the reason why so many engineers are part of the FI community is because we are always trying to hack the system and are thinking of all the angles…angels…*Googles angels*…yeah angles.
Did you regret becoming a coder? What would you change?
Not in a million years. I love being a programmer. I want to do it as long as I can but I know that there will come a day where I may not be able to keep up with the new languages or platforms. For that reason, I want to make sure I have the option to retire early.
Would you recommend starters/career shifters to step on this path?
Do what makes the most sense for you. If that is university then do that but if you’d rather do a community college or boot camp program go for it. I’ve done this long enough to know it doesn’t matter which one you do as long as you make the most of it.
No matter your background you have something to contribute. I have co-workers with social science degrees (great for user behavior) and co-workers with art/design degrees (great at making cool looking UIs).
Tips for beginners?
Learn to learn anything. Languages are constantly evolving and frameworks are here one day, gone the next. In this ever-changing world, the best skill a programmer can have is the ability to learn something new.
Please tell us about the story behind Thrifty, your SaaS project.
The financial goals for us are ramping up our savings to hit the FIRE date. I try to make short-term goals each year to help get us to that long-term goal. Professionally, I just try to push myself each year, get on the high-profile and complex projects. That is a great way of increasing growing the gap between savings and spending. Although, high risk/high reward. If the project fails you better have something good to show for it.
What are your short-term and long-term goals with it?
I’ve recently flipped the switch on having Thrifty be a paid subscription with a free trial period. Short-term, I’m hoping to get a *bit* better at my sales/promotion skills so I can at least make enough to cover my hosting fees 🙂
Long-term, I’ve got a feature list that could take me years to complete, including developing iOS and Android apps. Depending on where the mini-retirement takes me and how well it does financially, I could happily work on Thrifty for years to come as a full-time gig.
We coders have our eternal debates, let us know which side do you stand?
- Desktop OS: Windows 7? I don’t know, only use my work one. Do ChromeOS count? (of course)
- Mobile OS: Android.
- Machine: ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
- Browser: Chrome
- And the most important… spaces or tabs: Tabs. If I press the tab key I better get a tab 😛
Would you write a couple of lines of code to present a simple financial principle?
Thank you, BoaS, for the answers. You made me laugh with the angles/angels debate (I had to google too 🙂 ).
Hope you enjoyed this episode. If you got charmed visit www.budgetonastick.com.
See you in two weeks, I will bring you another popular coder-blogger, so stay tuned.