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Christopher Guest Post: Johnny K. Johnson

Welcome to another in the growing series of Christopher Guest Posts. I encountered Johnny Johnson’s interview over at 1500days.com, and he had some interesting insights on money and its place in our world. His background is very different from mine, but he’s got some solid ideas.


He expressed an interest in participating in this series, and I expressed an interest in not saying “No” to a personal trainer who teaches people how to beat other people up.

[Post-publication edit: Johnny is no longer blogging, and the site no longer exists. Best of luck in your other endeavors, Johnny!]

What’s a Christopher Guest post?


Inspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed by Christopher Guest in Spinal Tap, I took Mr. 1500’s ten questions, and amped them up to eleven. If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.


I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, this one goes to eleven. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.


Presenting: Johnny Johnson & The New American Dream


What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?


In my day life I am the food and beverage manager of a movie theater down here in South Florida. I have been in that business for just under 9 years. I am also a personal trainer, I teach boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Fitness through self-defense is, in my opinion, the best way to generate self-confidence. There’s nothing like walking down the street knowing that if boo-boo hit the fan you could protect you and your family.


With both jobs, I love interacting with people. I like the negations that come with trying to get the best price for a food item. I like the training of clients and staff. I like dealing with the angry customers (as entitled as they are), most importantly helping people enjoy a few hours of their day (movie theater) or helping them kick butt and get in shape is pretty rewarding.


Hmm if I were a physician? I like to think I would do something with athletes. Sports medicine would be ideal.


[PoF: At $6 a bag for popcorn, you must be making a killing! Or at least the owner that hires the manager is. If he’s not paying you what you’re worth, you should kick his butt. In self-defense.]


Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.


My Site is called  “Achieve the new American Dream.” The Premise is that the American Dream of owning one’s home as we once knew it and strived for is dead and gone. The new American Dream is to live a life without obligations to anyone – debt free and financially self-sustained.


My site is designed to force its readers to think logically and make smart choices about money, dating, and life in general. I also dabble in poetry and flash fiction so you may catch me throwing some of my brain farts on the site every so often.


[PoF: I wouldn’t throw home ownership out the window, but I wholeheartedly agree there’s more to life than 4,000 square feet and an equally oversized mortgage. Freedom is priceless.


Flash fiction? I had to google it. And that led me to another new term: twitterature. Kids these days.]

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What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?


I’ve been in the website owning business for almost a decade now, not with this current site but with many others.  I am still looking for that “awe” moment with “Achieving the New American Dream.” Unfortunately, I have not given the site its proper attention as I have so many projects on my plate. Its coming along, however, I and do foresee my site getting pretty popular pretty soon.


I am working on a course as we speak — look for it to be finished in first quarter of 2017. I have a rule of not talking about my projects until they are finished, but I will say that this course is what I wish I had when I was just starting out in middle management.


[PoF: If I can play a part in that “awe” moment, that would be great! We look forward to learning more about the course, of course. ;)]


Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.


Eleven, huh? Let’s see:
The Implications of Trump Lead Economy
Inverting Your Problems
Everything Has an Opportunity Cost
Networking For Success
A Dozen or so Things Ive Learned from Joshua Kennon
Case Study: How i Negotiated a 3000 dollar
Five Ways to Increase your Income
Things Fall Apart
Living New American Dream
What is Earning Yield
The Tale of Two Brothers


At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?


I am currently 28 years old. I plan on retiring by the age of 40 from full time work. 2015 – 2016 was about cutting the fat in terms of my expenses.  2017 will be about me increasing my bring-home income through my job and my side businesses. I am also going to be far more picky with my investments.


Unlike most PF writers I am what they call an enterprising investor – I choose my own investments. Up until now I have been taking what the markets give me, trying to focus on maximum safety while still making an acceptable return. I am looking for 20% returns so most investments that come across my desk will go into the too expensive pile.


[PoF: I choose my own investments, too! Does that make me an enterprising investor?
Unlike you, I’m happy to take what the markets give. I would love 20% returns year in and year out, but I know that people who try to beat the markets consistently have a miserable track record. Here’s hoping you land a couple standard deviations to the right.]


What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?


I love this question! My ideal retirement is me traveling to a new hiking spot once or twice a year, camping out and seeing all kinds of great scenes. Id also like to continue to volunteer and teach once or twice a week. most of my time would be spent writing, drawing, hiking, shooting my bow and playing video games.


[PoF: I love this answer! That’s what retirement should be. Do the things you love, and do them more often. If that’s drawing your bow, shooting your bow, writing flash fiction, or teaching others how to do any or all of the above, just do it. Twelve short years to go?]


I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.


1. Spend less than you earn: even as a fresh out the womb physician you will be making more than most professionals. If you take the time to pay down all your debt as fast as possible and save what you don’t spend, you will be set for life in roughly 9-12 years.


2. Have a process for making rational decisions: if you check out my posts on inverting and opportunity costs I have outlined ways for a smart person can make choices based on reality not what we think is real.


3. Have fun and enjoy the ride: Too often we get so caught up in trying to save every penny that we forget that the real reason why we are trying to pinch pennies in the first place – To enjoy our time on earth the way we want! Figure out what is important, trim the fat on everything else, and enjoy the things that matter.


[PoF: Spot on, Johnny. 9-12 years is exactly my timeline. I attained FI in about 9, and might actually retire after about 12. Of course, my path was easier than others, with lower debt after attending state school with scholarships and some family help, a high paying job, and a dose of relative frugality.


As you point out in #3, it’s best not to be frugal for the sake of frugality. Some intentional spending can pay happiness dividends.]
You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?


Let’s see:
Round trip tp plane ticket to France: $1,038
Travel expenses ( taxi, food, water, hotel etc): $3,000
Spending time with the locals and making lifelong pen pals? Next to nothing.
I may go see the Tower, but other than that I would spend most of my time trying to make memories with some new friends.


[PoF: You could do that about 2.5 times based on your budget. I might recommend hitting up some other European countries while you’re over there. Germany, Spain and Italy are nearby. The Nordic countries are beautiful, too. You could do what we’re doing in March, spending some time in Iceland on your way back from Paris. Bonsoir!]


Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.
that’s tough I am really a water and crystal light kinda guy, hmm:


  1. Water
  2. apple juice
  3. Pineapple Juice
  4. orange soda
  5. Grape soda
  6. Strawberry soda
  7. Sweet tea
  8. whole milk
  9. cherry coke
  10. vanilla coke

[PoF: That’s only ten. I’ll have to take a stab at #11. How about Bent Paddle’s Barrel Aged Double Shot Double Black. No? Lemme try again. #11. Crystal Light. Nailed it!]


Now, eleven foods.
  1. Pizza
  2. mashed potatoes
  3. apples
  4. grapes
  5. corn bread
  6. macaroni and cheese
  7. spaghetti
  8. ziti
  9. steak
  10. wings

[PoF: C’mon, man! Only ten. Again. And this reads like the calendar of my kids’ school lunch offerings. Or a bad day at Old Country Buffet. I’m not saying I don’t like any of those foods; I like them all, actually. I guess I was hoping for something a little more exotic.

I’ll take a guess at #11. White Bread.]


How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?
You made a comment on my interview over at 1500 days. The only advice I could give you is to stay excellent to everyone you meet. Angels come in many forms and you never know when you will meet one.


Thank you for allowing me time to share my story with your audience.
I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.


[PoF: Thank you for the advice, Johnny! I’ll do my best to be kind, but I can’t help but be a little snarky at times. Oh, and here’s the comment I made:
“Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Johnny, and I wish you the best in your pursuit of your New American Dreams. I’ve been reaching for my own NADs for years!”
See what I mean?]


Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out additional Christopher Guest Posts from many of the top personal finance bloggers:

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20 thoughts on “Christopher Guest Post: Johnny K. Johnson”

  1. Flash Fiction sounds like TV Series meets literature. Each week is something a little new and exciting and should always leave you not being able to wait for the next episode.

    So is it written all at once or more on the fly, but connected? Sounds interesting. I’ll have to check out your site.

    My wife is a PT and I’ve trained/completed for a couple marathons and even did a Spartan Ultra Beast. Fitness goals and finance goals both take time and dedication so a good crossover of material between the two.
    cd :O)

    • Yes and no. I try to write each story in one sitting just to keep the same writers mood. The stories can be connected but mine usually aren’t. Think of The Twilight Zone – each episode has its own hero’s and villains.

      Its funny you bring that up. I am working on some fitness related content now. Fitness is the twin sister to personal finance -theory means nothing without action.

      Thank you for the kinds words.

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  3. Nice post, loved this line “The new American Dream is to live a life without obligations to anyone – debt free and financially self-sustained.”

    I know for myself and many of my friends that has become the dream and the goal many of us are striving for. Looking forward to reading your blog. It’s nice to see another person my age into financial freedom.

  4. Last time I checked, when you buy a ticket to France, which Johnny gave as his first expense, you are then IN France. Thus the list of “other European countries to hit up while you’re there…” probably doesn’t need to include France.

    • Ha! Good catch. I think I meant to say Spain, and I’ve edited the response to include neighbors Spain and Italy. I recently switched my DuoLingo learning from Spanish to French to prepare for our upcoming Paris trip. Sadly, I won’t have time on this trip to sneak over to Italy. In early retirement, though, there will be time to do it all!


  5. Glad to read about people starting out on their financial independence journey early. I was pretty much flying blind when I started, but somehow managed to stumble my way to it. Without the benefit of the internet no less! Now I get to read about all the different shortcuts I could have taken earlier in my life 😉

    Keep it up!

  6. [PoF: I choose my own investments, too! Does that make me an enterprising investor?
    Unlike you, I’m happy to take what the markets give. I would love 20% returns year in and year out, but I know that people who try to beat the markets consistently have a miserable track record. Here’s hoping you land a couple standard deviations to the right.]

    I’d like to respond to the above. I should be clear in that I am not giving up safety in search of investment riches based in penny stocks, but I am going to be stricter on what I consider an acceptable investment. I want double digit returns over the long to term.

    • That would be ideal, and historically the stock market has delivered about 10% per year over the long haul, so double digit returns are possible if the future looks like the past. It’s also possible that you’ll beat the markets, but most highly paid fund managers fail to do so, which is why I wish anyone who sets out to beat the market a good dose of luck. For every one of you that succeeds, several will fail.

      The average investor underperformed last year’s S&P 500 performance by half.


        • I’ll take the 10 percent all day long. Double my money every 7.2 years — that’s an eight-fold increase in 21.6 years. Yes, please!

          Again, I wish you nothing but the best in outperforming the indexes, but the odds are against you. I read the linked article, but I believe Larry Swedroe’s research over the director of AthenaInvest, a Denver-based research/investment company.

          The White Coat Investor had a post and discussion on this topic that is worth reading.


        • I think we are both suffering from conformation bias. The thing about studies, is that we can find one to justify our beliefs if we look hard enough. but I have beaten the market for the past 4 out of 5 years of my investment life maybe I am just extra ordinary but ti isn’t as hard to beat the market if you follow an sound investment mythology which I think is the key.

          I don’t believe just anyone can beat the market, I also believe 95% of people should invest in the indexes. I think/know I can do better.

          Joshua Kennon, has a decent article here on why some investors may not want to invest in the indexes – Reasons to not Buy Index Funds

          not to self promote, butttttt I have two posts that outline my investment thinking:

          Principles of Investing

          Mail Bag: “If you are 30 years old and organizing a portfolio what would be your core investments?

  7. If I consumed those beverages and foods at my age, I’d have to sign up for Johnny’s personal fitness classes!

    Kudos, Johnny, for starting young on your finances and living the dream!

    • I am trying that’s for sure! You’d be surprised with what you can eat if you exercised and hit your daily goals. for calories, protein, carbs, and fats.

  8. Hmm.. You can definitely see the dichotomy in phases in life between the guest post writer and POF. Oh to be young again. I’m still scratching my head at “flash fiction”. What is the course?

    • Young and full of life as they say. Think of flash fiction as a piece of the whole story. Like a stand alone chapter in a character’s life.


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