Data Driven Money

Live. Work. Retire. Smart.

Guy HippleheueserHi, my name is Guy Hippleheuser and I created DataDrivenMoney after deciding that I could no longer bear the 9 to 5 windowless cubicle life.

I created this blog to share my passion in a way that could help others.

Thankfully, prior to quitting my day job, I was a FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) adherent. Much of the personal finance groundwork necessary for me was built and when I decided that I was no longer going to pursue my current career I jumped.

I decided to go headfirst into blogging about personal finance through the lens of a Data Scientist. But that’s not the entire story…

After completing high school in a very rural part of Kentucky, I decided to leave the state to pursue a very expensive degree at the University of Notre Dame. The experience was fantastic… and so was the price! After my freshman year, I became curious about the debt I was accruing.

In April of 2005, a few months after starting college somehow my first student loan payment was due. I was confused. The loan was at 8% interest! It turns out my student loan was a private loan! I had no job. I was a full-time student, and I was unable to pay the $300 monthly bill.

After doing a little math, I determined that I’d be paying several thousand dollars per month by the time I graduated… most of it was interest. How was this possible? Why did I have this type of loan and others had loans that were deferred until graduation? Which was better or worse?

I started accruing significant amounts of debt starting at 17 with absolutely no way to pay for it.

It became clear to me, after that first student loan bill that I needed to educate myself about my finances. No one had ever taught me, but it didn’t matter. I was going to suffer the consequences all the same.

Calculation after calculation resulted in the same nasty story. My family was wealthy enough that I didn’t qualify for student loans, but my parents were not interested in picking up my tab… I was going to have to find another way to pay for school outside of the traditional routes.

I finally decided that I would sign up for ROTC. They offered full tuition and a stipend. I would only be on the hook for room and board.

In May of 2005, I headed directly to the ROTC building at Notre Dame. The Marine Corps, Air Force and NAVY ROTC offices were closed… but the Army’s was open. I was signed up by the end of the day!

After graduating with an Electrical Engineering degree in 2008 I was commissioned as a 2LT in the Army and had orders to report to Fort Lewis, WA a matter of hours after Graduation Weekend. I had taken out a $25,000 loan from USAA at 2% to help me get on my feet… after all, my paycheck was guaranteed.

What I did next with that $25,000 helped reinforce that I still had much to learn about personal finance. I invested it all in a Precious Metals fund in the Summer of 2008. The fund had what looked to be the best recent performance and I was looking to make some money!

Unfortunately, the crash of 2008 happened. I lost about half my money within weeks of investing. Of course I sold at the bottom. I had somehow managed to get $110,000 in debt after financing a new Mustang GT, all my room and board fees and several shopping sprees at the Notre Dame bookstore. Things had spun out of control.

In July of 2008 I started getting paid by the Army… I thought I would be rescued. But after taxes, my monthly pay was only $300 more than my minimum payments. That barely paid for food… luckily the Army was currently paying for housing, however I relied on credit cards to pay for my uniforms.

So that was rock bottom financially: $110,000 in debt after losing half of a $25,000 loan in a market crash with income that would only pay for the monthly minimums. Despite the challenge, I was determined to not be doomed and I went to work to yet again learn everything I could to get myself out of debt.

After googling and googling how to get out of debt I learned about the snowball method. It took 8 years, but I finally paid off the mountain of debt with a marginal income. I started saving for retirement. And a few years after being debt free outside of my mortgage, I had accumulated enough money to retire with a comfortable lifestyle (with a wife and 2 kids in tow).

Getting Engaged in AfghanistanAlong the way, I did same crazy things. I’ve been deployed to combat zones twice… I got engaged during the first one in Afghanistan. During the great 2020 pandemic, my wife and I sold everything and moved into an RV while travelling the country.

I’ve owned a t-shirt company built from scratch in Colorado Springs and now reside with my beautiful young family in Tampa, Florida.

You can read about all these things in my blog… I try to keep life interesting.

Now with another degree from Notre Dame in Data Science courtesy of the G.I. Bill, I’ve taken to blogging about a personal finance from an analytical viewpoint. I would say that blogging on this website is my job, but I think ‘passion’ is a better word. I hope you find what you are looking for and reach out to me here!

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