Mark Durrenberger, CFP®, EA, has spent the bulk of his adult life studying personal finance. In addition to honing his expertise through years of professional study, he has significant first-hand experience helping hundreds of individuals, families and business owners – people just like you – achieve their financial goals.
Mark is a professional financial advisor, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant, and is enrolled to practice before the IRS as an Enrolled Agent (EA). He is also a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), MENSA member, and contributor to many online financial publications and blogs. He lives in Chicago (or “Chi-cahh-go” as he would say) near his alma mater, Northwestern, and never misses a homecoming tailgate.
Mark’s Personal Finance Philosophy:
A strong financial foundation is one of the keys to an empowered, fulfilling life. This is not because successful finances bring happiness in and of themselves, but because they allow us to focus our energies on our goals and on giving back – instead of worrying about our fears. Taking control of your finances helps you take control of your entire life.
A Bit More About Mark:
Mark never set out to be a financial advisor or an author.
He did, however, always harbor a passion for the study and pursuit of building wealth. As a kid, while other neighborhood children were playing “cops and robbers” or other such games, Mark and his older brother would spend their time playing “Durrenberger Enterprises.” [photo of young Mark here] Instead of chasing each other with toy guns, Mark and his brother would go door-to-door collecting aluminum cans for their recycling business or would earn extra money mowing lawns, and Mark would engage in his favorite financial task— handling the bookkeeping for their (short-lived and mostly imaginary) dinosaur zoo. That business venture came shortly after the theatrical release of Jurassic Park, as one might imagine.
This passion for business and personal finance persisted. As a high schooler, Mark subscribed to Money, Kiplinger’s, and other financial magazines. Then, while pursuing an undergraduate degree in Mathematics at Northwestern University, Mark discovered an introductory economics course that led to a burning interest in formal financial education. Further courses in business finance and accounting stoked these flames.
In his spare time (admittedly, sometimes when he should’ve been studying other subjects) Mark read voraciously: The Millionaire Next Door; biographies of Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham and others; The Intelligent Investor; A Random Walk Down Wall Street; and on and on, including everything by current financial authors like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey.
Another of Mark’s passions throughout life has been helping others. His favorite subject was always math, one with which many fellow students struggled. Mark loved helping those struggling math students and also sharing his knowledge of all subjects. This passion for helping others led him to pursue a career in education. Mark only lasted a few years as a high school math teacher, however, never being one for rigid organizational structure or bells determining when he could eat his lunch (like a prisoner!); it was not a good fit for his working style.
Almost by accident, he found a new path with a job in financial planning and realized instantly that he had found his calling. While working full-time, he spent his nights and weekends learning all he could about investing, taxes, estate and retirement planning, and more. This study enabled Mark to achieve the Certified Financial Planner™, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Enrolled Agent designations, while building a financial services practice serving dozens of clients all across the socioeconomic spectrum.
However, as many of you may have experienced first-hand, professional financial advice generally assumes a standard of success that may not apply to everyone. Ultimately, retirement or financial success and freedom is about producing income sufficient to cover your desired lifestyle. Traditional financial advice focuses on helping people accumulate enough investible assets to accomplish that goal. Therefore, it largely ignores a significant number of people—those who may not have much in the way of investible assets, but who achieve financial success and freedom through other means, such as a business, an online venture, or otherwise.
There are innumerable books, podcasts, online courses, and more targeted towards this latter group, but these sources frequently eschew the principles of sound financial planning – budgeting, saving, etc. – and, in fact, often make those ideas seem completely irrelevant to the “modern” economy. The spread of these views has made the choice between traditional retirement, on the one hand, and a modern, online business-focused, early retirement, on the other, seem like a black and white, either-or proposition.
Mark spent several years digging deeper into both traditional financial planning advice and e-commerce-focused, “passive” income advice. While seemingly contradictory, through his efforts, Mark reconciled these two approaches to retirement and financial independence as a matter of degree, not of principle. Both approaches, and everything in between, utilize the same, unchanging principles, though applied in different ways.
Mark’s first book, The Modern Day Millionaire, was the culmination of those years of research, interviews, and first-hand experience working with people who had taken many different paths to financial success in its myriad forms. The book serves as a step-by-step roadmap to financial freedom. There is no one path for everyone; wherever you are, and wherever you’re headed, through his books, speaking, and coaching, Mark wants to help you achieve your vision of financial success