A Black couple who retired early says there’s a ‘Black tax’ on common wealth-building strategies – Business Insider India
- Kiersten and Julien Saunders left their corporate jobs before they turned 40.
- They joined the Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE) community.
- However, the couple didn’t feel like the wealth-building strategies they learned accounted for their lived experience.
Kiersten and Julien Saunders first met at their corporate hospitality job, then got married a year and a half later. At the time, the couple subscribed to the idea of “Black excellence.”
Julien says, “Black excellence is this term that we use to label anyone who is doing really well, or even just a term of endearment that is used whenever someone is shining brightly in an area where less may have been expected of them.”
Kiersten and Julien both had six-figure corporate jobs in Atlanta that allowed them to travel all over the country. It looked glamorous from the outside, but the couple says their personal lives were strained. On their delayed honeymoon to South Africa, they still found themselves “work-obsessed,” checking their phones “addictively.”
Julien adds, “What we found is that the term” — Black excellence — “created a warped sense of existence, and it really led us to work as hard as we did. We wanted to be the example of the shining exception. We wanted to be the people who were able to do all of these amazing things, but unfortunately we just weren’t paying attention to the toll that it took on us.”
That’s when they knew things had to change.
When the couple joined the FIRE movement, they said the community was ‘mostly white’
Waking up to their workaholism, the couple became committed to “leaving the corporate treadmill” as early as possible. Julien learned about FIRE online first, but it wasn’t until after their honeymoon that he seriously tried to convince Kiersten to start their early retirement journey.
True to the principles of the FIRE movement, which stands for Financial Independence/Retire Early, the couple started saving and investing aggressively in real estate and the stock market to meet their early retirement goals.
According to records viewed by Insider, the couple paid off two mortgages, one on their own home and another on their rental property, totaling $200,000. They were able to retire from their corporate jobs before they turned 40 thanks to the stability provided by their rental income, as well as cash flow from their blog, Rich & Regular.
But, they say, they found that the community was “mostly …….