By The Unstuck Network

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Subscribers: 2013
Reviews: 7

Joe Greene
 Nov 2, 2020
Here's every episode: Guest says anything and both hosts cheerlead mindlessly. Next episode: listener push back leads to hosts claiming they challenged ideas. Throw in a toxic Facebook group and it's a good idea gone really bad.

 Feb 4, 2020
awesome podcast a lot of very useful information I got from it

 Oct 9, 2019
Monday episodes: 4. Friday episodes: 2. I usually skip after the third time I hear the word 'community'. Too many rah-rah life stories from other bloggers/podcasters in the FI echo chamber, not enough actionable tips.

Chuck S
 May 10, 2019
This is one of two podcasts (the other being The Jordan Harbinger Show) that I tell everyone they should be listening to on a regular basis. Take a break from music and get the knowledge you need to level up your life.

 Nov 18, 2018


How would your life change if you reached Financial Independence and got to the point where working is optional? What actions can you take today to make that not just possible but probable. Jonathan & Brad explore the tactics that the FI community uses to reclaim decades of their lives. They discuss reducing expenses, crushing debt, tax optimization, building passive income streams through online businesses and real estate and how to travel the world for free. Every episode is packed with actionable tips and no topic is too big or small as long as it speeds up the process of reaching financial independence.

Episode Date
273 | What's an Emergency?
  • We're going back to basics and taking a deep dive into the Roth IRA and the levers, tools, and investing strategies available to investors.
  • Although ChooseFI offers the free FI101 course, taking small actions are important. Get up to speed and start taking action with the free five-day challenge by going to ChooseFI/start.
  • ChooseFI has presented basic investing strategies over the years and will revisit in the coming months to distill and hash out all of the different methods to understand the fundamentals.
  • Many of the strategies have a lot of overlap starting with low-cost broad-based index funds. What they all share is a common-sense approach and simple investing strategy which is that time in the market is better than timing the market.
  • Most traditional index funds are cap-weighted resulting in a higher percentage of money being invested in a few top companies. Rather than take a dogmatic approach to low-cost broad-based fund investing, it may require the application of scrutiny, being open-minded, intellectual honesty, and consideration.
  • JL Collins helped open up Jonathan's eyes to the power of simplicity and helped give him the confidence to start doing better with his finances. But as the terms and concepts have become more familiar, other perspectives become visible, along with the pros and the cons, and the questions he's been able to ask have gotten better.
  • The questions you have as you learn more are worth exploring to help build confidence in your plan.
  • When investing, minimize fees as much as possible. Fees for buying and selling, expense ratios, and advisory fees are all negatively impact your long-term returns.
  • We can learn new things and get rid of limiting beliefs. After a speculative real estate investment went poorly, Brad was afraid of real estate investing. However with some security, knowledge, and looking at it as a business, he has now invested in two single-family rentals which are doing well.
  • Financial independence is not finances. It's not money, health, or time. It's all of it. It's making objective, fair-minded judgments about societal norms, seeking the truth, and making decisions in our best interests.
  • Sean Mullaney is a big proponent of the Roth IRA and the possibility of using a Roth IRA as an emergency fund.
  • Sean says that I all his years of practice, not one of his clients has ever had too much in Roth accounts. The advantage of the Roth IRA is flexibility.
  • With a workplace 401k, your employer does not have to allow distributions and if they do, it is probably subject to penalties and taxes. In contrast, contributions may be withdrawn from a Roth IRA at any time, tax and penalty-free.
  • In a world of uncertainty, you never know when you'll need access to these accounts, whether in an emergency or for early retirement. A Roth IRA can do double duty as an emergency fund and as retirement investing until a separate emergency fund can be established.
  • Sean recommends reading the article on explaining Roth IRA Withdrawl and microlayers.
  • Backdoor Roth IRAs are for high-income earners who do not qualify for regular Roth IRAs. Roth IRAs are funded with earned income up to an established limit outside of workplace retirement accounts.
  • Roth IRA limitations for 2021 are a modified adjusted gross income of $198,000-208,000 for married couples and $125,00-140,000 for singles.
  • For an emergency fund, only contributions that may be withdrawn from a Roth IRA. Over the course of contributing for many years, the balance should have grown, but only the contribution amount may be withdrawn tax and penalty-free.
  • Roth IRA earnings may be withdrawn tax and penalty-free only if held in the Roth IRA for five years and you are 59 1/2.
  • Contributions should really only be withdrawn for early retirement or in the event of an extreme emergency, not for minor emergency expenses as the money cannot be put back in.
  • Sean says the same rule applies to health savings accounts. Leave the money in to grow tax and penalty-free because when you take it out, you stop the growth. Pay out-of-pocket instead and document the expenses to claim in the future when you really need the money. Brad and Jonathan scan their invoices into a Google drive.
  • For those on the path to FI, unexpected expenses like a stained ankle are unfortunate events, not emergencies because FI puts you in a position of strength with additional options.
  • This week's book winner is John, who negotiated a $100 per month rent discount by prepaying six months in advance using money saved for a future home down payment. The new location also allows John to bike to work saving on transportation costs.
  • With this year being so tough for people, Jonathan thought back to an episode with Bradley, who made over $1 million in ten years with Salesforce. Intrigued by the conversation, he contacted Bradley again to see if his success was replicable. As a result, they built a training and job placement program and launched the Talent Stacker podcast.
  • One of the students in the course was able to land a new job making $70,000 within 42 days of starting the program after being laid off from COVID.
  • If interested in learning more about the program, visit talent

As always, the discussion is general and educational in nature and does not constitute tax, investment, legal, or financial advice with respect to any particular taxpayer. Please consult your own advisors regarding your own unique situation. 

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 27, 2020
272 | Understanding Compound Interest & Investing for Beginners
  • As the ChooseFI community continues to grow, it's necessary to discuss some fundamental basics that serve the audience who are just getting started, as well as provide a refresher for those who have been on the path for a long time. In this episode, we revisit the magic of compound interest and investing for beginners.
  • Getting to financial independence where work becomes optional and your investments are producing enough income to live off of for the rest of your life is easier when you understand why saving and investing now is important.
  • Kimberly asked a question in the ChooseFI Facebook group requesting help understanding compound interest and the basic principles of a compound interest account.
  • Investopedia states that interest may either be simple or compounded. Simple interest is based on the principal amount. In contrast, compound interest is based on the principal amount plus the interest that accumulates on it every period.
  • For example, in a simple interest calculation, a deposit of $1,000 earning 10% interest each year would earn $100 in the first year, resulting in a balance of $1,100 in year one, $1,200 in year two, and $1,300 in year three. In a simple interest calculation, the interest percentage is not applied to the interest earned beyond the initial principal.
  • The real world, however, works on compound interest, which is based on the principal amount and the interest that has accumulated.
  • Using the same example of $1,000 in principal and 10% interest, after the first year, the balance is the same at $1,100, but in year two, interest is calculated on the new balance, resulting in $110 of interest and a new balance of $1,210 going into year 3. It starts small in the early years but really ramps up later on.
  • Using simple interest, a $1,000 investment at 10% will have earned $4,500 (45 years x $100), for a total of $5,500.
  • To illustrate why compound interest is often called the 8th wonder of the world, when using compound interest, that $1,000 investment at 10% grows to $72,890.
  • The difference becomes even more apparent when using the example of $1,000,000 earning 10% simple interest versus $500,000 earning 10% compound interest. After 45 years, the simple interest balance grows to $5,500,000, while the smaller $500,000 principal grows to $36,500,000 with compound interest.
  • When you don't spend everything you make and invest in compound interest vehicles, you can be well on your way to becoming a millionaire or multimillionaire.
  • Einstein has been attributed with saying, “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn't…pays it”.
  • The benefits of saving and investing are not limited to the end of the 45 year period. There are benefits all along the way. Compounding returns are always working in your favor, creating income that you don't need to work for anymore.
  • It's rare to earn a high enough income to become wealthy, but saving reasonable amounts of money and investing it can bring wealth in an intermediate amount of time.
  • Where does a beginner go to start investing and earning compound interest? There's usually no one there to hold our hands and walk us through the process.
  • Based on a video Brad recorded for The Simple Startup discussion how credit cards aid him while other pay interest on them, one of the students asked how Brad figured out how banking works and not pay interest on his credit cards.
  • Using a credit card is frictionless for Brad. Not only are there excellent fraud and theft protections when using a credit card, he very rarely has to pay any fees to use it and he also has until the end of the statement close, followed by the statement due date to pay it off, which can be weeks after the purchase was made.
  • As long as you pay in-time and in-full each month, there are no fees or interest when using a credit card. It is effectively an interest-free loan from the credit card company making it a great tool for those who have their financial life in order.
  • You don't need to be afraid of credit cards, you just need to understand how they work. Do not get one if you cannot pay your balance on-time and in-full. You can reduce the friction and schedule it to autopay on-time in-full each month.
  • There are studies that show people who use credit cards tend to spend 12% more on average. That may be true, but it's likely not the same people who understand the power of compound interest. The FI community is focused on increasing our savings rate, paying ourselves first, and buying back our own time.
  • If you value something spend lavishly on it. If you don't care about something, why are you going to spend your money on

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 23, 2020
271 | Future Proof
  • In a world of uncertainty, how can we future-proof our skillset and also create an environment to help our kids thrive as adults?
  • Growing up, Brad never thought about entrepreneurship, but as he has gotten more into this FI mindset, the concept has shifted for him and how he is a model and mentor for his girls.
  • While Brad initially thought virtual learning might not be good, he has reframed it and now believes his daughters will look back on this year as a time when they were living their best life.
  • Both girls have gone through The Simple Startup workbook, but Molly seemed especially taken to it. After spending a day last week cleaning out one of Brad‘s garden beds in her free time at home, his daughter Molly and her friend have decided they would like to start up a landscaping business.
  • It may be that you just need to see the framework and behavior model for entrepreneurship. The business idea may not be as important as understanding the framework for building a business as quickly as possible.
  • Brad sat down with Molly to help her think her way through what it is she is capable of and really wants to offer with her business. Whether or not her gardening endeavor ever takes off is less important than the thought process they worked through which can help her out the next time she has a business idea. Having these conversations with your kids is a great way to connect and future-proof their lives.
  • While the majority of people in the world will never become entrepreneurs, it's good to start thinking like an entrepreneur and have evidence of what you have skills you have built.
  • The Simple Startup still has openings for the Winter Challenge. One student from a previous course is 9-year-old Analise, who while hesitant at first, ended up crushing it with her business, Creative Card Designs.
  • The concept behind Creative Card Designs are fun personalized cards you would want to send to someone to say hello, thank you, or for occasions like birthdays. Analise hand draws each card. She has some designs that can be personalized but also takes design requests. Her business mission statement is: To connect people by making quality, personalized cards for different occasions.
  • Keeping her business under control, so far Analise has sold two cards. She wants to make it bigger, but sometimes she messes up and burns through her materials just making one card. So she's trying to scale her business by going digital. This will allow the cards to still be personalized, but make it easier on her.
  • After coming up with the idea, starting the business, and creating different designs, Analise has set up a website for online ordering which goes directly to her Gmail account.
  • Currently, she's charging about $5 a card and making a $2 profit, but by going digital, it will be easier to make the cards and allow her to possibly drop her prices.
  • Brad thinks Analise will be able to test out the price for her cards and find the perfect per card price.
  • Analise's motivation for starting the business was to make money, but also thinks it's good to learn how to take control of your own things and not always have to work for someone else.
  • Andrea, Analise's mother, says the business has been going well and that her daughter has enjoyed learning and adding to her knowledge base. Andrea appreciates that someone is providing support and guidance when they have these ideas.
  • Analise didn't go into the class with the card idea in mind. she had several ideas she was torn between and sought feedback from Rob and her classmates before settling on the personalized card business.
  • Her advice to other budding entrepreneurs is that you have to come up with an idea for something people actually want, as well as something that will be profitable. She says that if you have a business, don't give up too quickly, and you have to work hard at it if you want to be successful.
  • Analise isn't too afraid of failure. After drawing designs and spending all her money on materials, she realized she needed to just figure out another way.
  • Andrea says that she's seen her daughter develop a sense of enablement, that she can come up with an idea and watch it grow, and also learning to persist when things aren't always simple or easy.
  • The Simple Startup instructor, Rob, modeled coming up with solutions to get past obstacles the students encountered. Learning isn't about reciting facts, but learning how to flex your creative muscle and problem-solve to get things done.
  • Andrea says The Simple Startup Camp was much more of a value proposition than she had expected. Being virtual, it was low-pressure, but also comprehensive and detailed with all the aspects of what's required to run a business. Analise even went through a mind-mapping exercise to assess her strengths, resources, and likes to come with a business idea.
  • Although some lessons were virtual, Analise was always an active participant. Students in the camp had Rob and each other to reach out to if they were stuck. It was like her very own mastermind group.
  • Anyone interested in purchasing a card from Creative Card Designs may visit, fill out the Google form, and Analise will get back to you. Payment will be made with Venmo.
  • Analise is laying the groundwork for success, whether with this business of one in the future. Brad himself started several businesses before reaching some degree of success with Richmond Savers, Travel Miles 101, and finally ChooseFI. He picked up skills and knowledge all along the way.
  • Since recording the podcast segment with Brad and Jonathan, Analise has gone digital, contacts more people, and doubled her orders.
  • There's no fear of failure. It's iterative and failing forward. Once put into practice, all of the skills learned along the way while building a business become demonstrated skills for college and job applications.
  • Adding skill to your talent stack and thinking like an entrepreneur is something that the FI community does well. Brad loves being able to read listener emails, like the one from Laura who found ChooseFI episode 265 Talent Stacker, really resonated with her. Because of Jonathan‘s story, she now realizes that she isn't stuck working as a veterinarian forever and can find something else that lights her fire.
  • Many professionals like Jonathan and Laura took out six figures of student loan debt only to find that it wasn't a fair exchange. Getting rid of the student loan debt is tough, but it's the right choice. It will give you options.
  • While Jonathan can point to a lost decade in his life that he spent in pharmacy school, it's an intellectual exercise. There was an opportunity cost, but there are no sunk costs anymore.
  • Jonathan recently found a website and associated app called Supercook which allows you to save money by shopping your cabinets. After completing an inventory of your cabinets, the website will find recipes you can make by only adding a few ingredients. How much money could you save using up what you already have on hand? Reach out to and let us know the results.
  • It's been a tough year for the ChooseFI local groups, but some are still meeting virtually or for socially distanced activities, like hikes. David wrote in saying Brisbane, Australia just has its first meetup.
  • 2021 is bringing better things and we are coming back. ChooseFI is looking to do a grand meet up at a conference next Fall called The Unstuck Project. The date is still to be determined.
  • This week's FI Weekly winners are Josh, Sheena, and Hayden. After finding the podcast this summer. since April, they have turned their garage into a guest house and listed it on Airbnb, bought an investment property, contributed all of his wife's income to her 401K, began contributing to an IRA, opened an M1 Finance account, opened a Roth IRA for their son, are closing on a second investment property soon, and opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 20, 2020
270 | Designing your Year for 2021 | Dominick Quartuccio
  • One of ChooseFI's most popular guests is back! Dominick Quartuccio returns to talk about after the shock of 2020, how to bounce back and what it looks like to design your life for next year.
  • Brad's relationship with Dominick goes back to when they were in college together. After reconnecting several years ago, Dominick has become a source of inspiration and a mentor to Brad.
  • In previous episodes, conversations with Dominick have centered around the idea of drift. It's the state of existence where we think we're making intentional decisions with our lives, but in reality, it is habits, patterns, unconscious beliefs, expectations, societal pressures, etc. that are really driving decisions.
  • It's only when an outside force, normally a quite dramatic one, forces itself upon us that we wake up from that state of drift.
  • For the first time in human history, the entire world is going through an experience together. It's caused everyone some sort of pain, whether it was losing a loved one, a financial loss, or anxiety.
  • Most of us have gone through periods of suffering in the past that when we look back on them, those were the moments that made us into the person we are today, and given the choice, we wouldn't change them today.
  • Instead of wishing to speed up 2020 and get it over with, Dominick encourages us to pause and look at the past year to see where you've been and highlight the standout moments. The purpose of this exercise is so that we can envision a 2021 that has the potential to be the most meaningful, fulfilling, and prosperous year of our lives.
  • In his role as a leaser, Dominick has seen behind the curtain of people's personal lives and noticed a distinct difference between those who have an inner foundation of work leading up to the pandemic and those who have never done the work. Fortifying your inner foundation allows you to be strong and thrive if there are tougher times in the year ahead.
  • There are two parts to the exercise of designing the next year of your life: looking back at the year you just had and looking forward to creating the year that you want.
  • Dominick places inner work underneath the umbrella of personal development. Where personal development could be an external skill to better yourself, such as reading a book to learn a new skill that can be applied in the real world, inner work is oriented inward, like examining what lights you up.
  • When the conditions of the outside world change, when you've done the inner work, you don't feel shaken and you are standing on something stable.
  • We've experienced more emotional turmoil in the last year than any other, making it worthy of introspection.
  • In the last year, what were some of the standout moments, both the highs and the lows, beginnings and endings, new and lost relationships or jobs, and the trials and tribulations?
  • Start with going back and looking at your calendar. Looking at it will trigger memories of travel or meetings. Next, go through the photos you've taken. There may be some real standout moments you've forgotten recorded on your phone. Finally, review your journal or scroll through any notes you've taken to see what you were thinking, seeing, and what your attitude was.
  • After looking back, begin looking for themes. Was it bringing your life back into balance, loss, finding love?
  • This year Jonathan and his wife got on the same page of their work-life relationship and she's embraced the idea of building her talent stack which has helped them have a common direction in their marriage. COVID has allowed Jonathan to watch his kids as they grow and evolve into different people every week. He has also lost 20-30 pounds, winning a bet he made with himself on Healthy Wage. He embraced the idea of community and is doing weekly calls with his father and JD Roth. He watched the income for his business take a nosedive and then recover from working to build new lines of revenue. He also built two new businesses using skills acquired in the last four years. He says it was his best year ever.
  • Dominick posed the question to Jonathan about how he would've handled the same downturn to his business if it had occurred three years ago. Jonathan said he's a completely different person now and doesn't know how he would have interacted with who he was three years ago. This year has proven he has grit, determination, and gets stronger during times of trouble.
  • For Brad, he and his family did CrossFit together five days a week for months. His theme is togetherness and it wasn't limited to his immediate family. The mastermind group he belongs to with Dominick was part of it. He's also been able to see his parents more this year and had the time to spend talking with his daughter who was experiencing anxiety and trying to work her way through it.
  • Brad thinks what was important about this year was being able to see the hard work of parenting come to fruition. Dominick mentions that during a normal year, these moments speed by. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and meet these moments. But when things start to speed back up again, are we going to fall back into these old habits, or are we going to pause and be there for these moments?
  • Our brains are hardwired to keep us safe, but many times the anxiety and creation of negative hypotheticals are not serving us. Realizing them helped both Brad and his daughter.
  • The pandemic has shined a light on mental health. What did you learn about your own mental health this year?
  • Additional questions to ponder are these. What milestones of FI did you experience this year? What relationship emerged as the most important this year? What did you discover about your physical well-being?
  • One last question to consider is what is something you would like to leave behind in this year? An emotion, a belief system, a recurring complaint?
  • Jonathan would like to leave behind the hours he spends that aren't helping to move him forward or bring him joy, like watching Netflix and scrolling through social media, but the thinks being productive 16 hours a day isn't the goal. Moderation may be his goal for 2021.
  • Next, what are some things you want to carry forward with you into the next year? A sense of inner peace, togetherness, clarity? Give yourself space to think about it.
  • What is an area of your life that is ready for the next big level up? Start by writing down many of the areas ready for a level up. after coming up with a list of 5-15, look for the one that really jumps out at you. Use this terrible year to springboard into the best year of your life.
  • Courage is Dominick‘s theme for the next year as he works to figure out how to get out there and help more men live their fullest potential.
  • This goal for next year does not need to world-changing, just meaningful, and something that inspires you to see what you are capable of.
  • Brad knows that being present is an area he could work on and he could put separation in place to make that easier and make his life better.
  • Napoleon Hill states in his work that the number one step in creating any meaningful change is to build a burning desire.
  • What's the one decision that you could make that would allow you to be focused 365 days a year on that burning desire?
  • Dominick will be holding a The Great Man Within 90 minute interactive webinar on Dec 16th for designing the next year of your life and in January, a free 30 day men's mental health challenge. To register for either, visit The Great Man Within.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 16, 2020
269 | Let's make Lemonade with a Twist
  • ChooseFI Facebook Community Manager recently posted a meme that hit home with Brad. It said, “Plot twist: 2020 has actually been the best year of your life. You faced challenge after challenge, you've adapted, and you've overcome. 2020 has forced you to grow exponentially. Don't take that for granted.
  • 2020 had been Jonathan's best year ever. Instead of giving in to fear, doubt, and insecurity, he decided to lean in. By being more intentional with the things that were important to him, like his health, Jonathan has lost 20 to 30 pounds and is in the best shape of his life.
  • Jonathan also sought to build his personal talent stack and built two new businesses. He is feeling more agency and is more fulfilled than at any other point in his life.
  • Previously, Jonathan‘s beliefs about himself were all based on external validation. But as he began to get more freedom and autonomy in his life, he began to question those beliefs and reclaim his identity statement.
  • Learning that things such as student loan debt is good debt and you'll have to work until retirement age, just aren't true allowed him the space to challenge the status quo in other areas of his life.
  • Initially, he even questioned whether the success of ChooseFI was the result of a random lightning strike of luck. However, he's taken his interest-led learning and skills he's learned, applied them to two new business models, and achieved success with them.
  • The interest-led learning Brad and Jonathan frequently discuss on the show helped Jonathan lean in March, and it also lead Brad‘s eight-year-old daughter, Molly, to learn how to cook a perfect pan-seared chicken breast just like Gordon Ramsay.
  • The things you believe about yourself become part of your identity statement. But you can turn the limiting beliefs around and say that you're the type of person who can learn anything. It may be just a Google or YouTube search away.
  • You can reframe your identity by asking yourself what you want it to be.
  • Though she isn't running now at nine months pregnant, part of MK's identity is that she is a runner. However, in high school, she was the slowest person on the team. She thought she couldn't do what the other's on the team were doing, but her coach didn't have the word “can't” in his vocabulary. His mindset is something she has carried through to other areas of her life.
  • MK challenges you to take the word “can't” out of your vocabulary too because once you aren't allowed to use it, your mindset will shift and you can begin to redefine who you are.
  • A case in point for the power of working to get 1% better was in the news last weekend when Chris Nikic became the first person with Down Syndrome to complete a grueling Ironman triathlon. Emblazoned across his shirt was his training mantra, “1% Better”.
  • You can make a choice every day to live your life a little bit better and when your finances are in orders, everything else gets a little bit easier. You make the choice not to deprive yourself by saving money, to empower yourself, and put yourself in a position where you have the freedom to think about all the other things that truly matter, like health, relationships, and spending time how you see fit.
  • While it's about making a choice, if you don't get up off the couch and take action, nothing is going to get better.
  • If you have a question you'd like to have answered on the show, submit them by going to Or reply to Brad's weekly email, The FI Weekly. Get on the list by going to
  • The first mailbag question this week comes from Sara who wants to know how to master financial independence when you don't have a 401K. Sara has been working through the podcasts and read, ChooseFI: Your Blueprint for Financial Independence, but her husband is a bartender and doesn't have a 401K.
  • W-2 employees without access to a 401K could consider being an advocate and talking with their employer about getting a 401K like Waffles on Wednesday talked about when they were on the show. Just giving employees access to a 401K does not have to be cost-prohibitive and can be a win for both owners and employees of small businesses.
  • It's important to remember there are no rules to FI. Just because others are talking about maxing out their 401K and then doing a Roth conversion ladder, doesn't mean that's what you have to do. Brad admits it wasn't until the last two years at his job before he maxed out his 401K contributions.
  • The path to financial independence does not depend on a 401K. It's predicated on savings rate. The goal is to save that in the most-advantaged way possible. Between marginal tax brackets and child tax credits, it may be fie just putting money into a Roth IRA, which has a $6,000 limit this year.
  • If you have your own side hustle, you have options for retirement accounts, like a SEP IRA or solo 401K. A SEP IRA is easy to set up through any major online brokerage firm and put in roughly 20% of your income. There are potentially even higher thresholds for solo 401Ks when contributing as the employee and employer.
  • The next question is from Conner who wants to know how best to allocate his 25% savings rate between a 410K, Roth, IRA, and savings account.
  • The purpose of saving money isn't only for retirement. Save for life and having options.
  • Brad thinks Conner is doing a fantastic job saving and while it would be easy to say “put it in the 401K”, having all of his net worth in tax-deferred vehicles may not be the best physiologically. Rather than stick it in a savings account, he could invest in the stock market with a brokerage outside of a retirement account.
  • As much as Jonathan loves Vanguard, it's not the easiest brokerage to open an account with. In comparison, Fidelity is much easier and still provides access to low-cost broad-based index funds.
  • An upcoming episode will feature Sean Mullaney to review in-depth 401Ks and Roth IRAs. One of the major differences between the two is that contributions to a Roth IRA may be withdrawn tax and penalty-free, which can act like an emergency fund.
  • Join us and share your wins! This year ChooseFI will be holding a LIVE year-end wins episode on December 8th at 7:30 pm Eastern simulcast on Facebook and YouTube. It will be replayed as the final podcast episode of the year. Subscribe to get a reminder at
  • For a chance to win a book from ChooseFI Publishing, share your wins by replying to Brad's weekly newsletter. This week's first winner is Cory, who as of last week caught up on all episodes of the podcast after two and a half years of listening. After implementing many of the actionable tips and set Cory is set up for financial success and went from a negative net worth to hitting over $100,000 at the beginning of October.
  • The second winner this week is Jo. Jo and her husband found ChooseFI while she was on maternity leave earlier this year. During that time they refinanced their mortgage, getting a better rate and eliminating PMI, canceled subscriptions, lowered their cell phone and car insurance bills, enrolled in course for Jo's remaining college electives, was promoted at work and negotiated a substantial raise, will max out 403bs, and opened a non-retirement brokerage account. Also, while focusing on their health, Jo lost 70 pounds and her husband lost 40.
  • Jonathan won his weight loss challenge with and received a check for $2,419.67! Set a bet for yourself by going to

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 13, 2020
268 | We Want Guac | Financial Independence for Gen Z
  • Optimize your finances during your 20s, no matter what your income is, and build significant wealth. But what are your options when working an entry-level job when you have a large amount of student loan debt?
  • Amy's first job out of college was an entry-level position earning $30,000. By the age of 25 had a $100,000 net worth and has tripled her salary in the last few years by learning how to market herself.
  • The average cost of a four-year college degree in 2019 is $122,000. Amy was fortunate that her parents paid for college and she graduated with degrees in Communications and International Relations without any student loan debt.
  • She graduated without any job offers and her only source of income came from waitressing which wasn't enough to live in Boston on. After a couple of months, she contacted a temp agency and got a job earning $15 an hour.
  • Nearing the end of college, she saw that recent graduates weren't getting the jobs they had hoped to get. She calls that time her “Year of Fear” because she didn't have much in savings and terrified of what was going to happen. For the rest of the year, she continued to work full time at her temp job and waitressing on the weekends.
  • With the benefit of hindsight, she realizes she has an average amount of skills as anyone else coming out of college, which is inadequate for the realities of today.
  • The ultimate goal of going to college is to graduate and get a well-paying job. But the focus is on grades and prerequisites, not how to find mentors, write a resume that resonates with people, or navigate the application process to get the jobs you actually want. The way the job application process works now is broken
  • While there may not have been any skill Amy believes would have initially made landing a job easier, it would have helped to find people who agreed to meet and interview her in the first place.
  • After submitting resume after resume to company websites and since times out of ten hearing nothing, Amy emphasizes flipping the script and having the companies and recruiters come to you.
  • Amy was able to go from $30,000 to $93,000 a year by learning how to market herself on LinkedIn so that people found her.
  • What makes you stand out and how can you improve your chances?
  • The first step is to decide what it is that you want. If you are marketing to everybody, then you are marketing to nobody.
  • Next, start looking at the job positions and titles that you want, study the job applications for those positions, the job requirements, descriptions, and language used.
  • Using that verbiage in your resume or LinkedIn profile allows hiring managers to see that you are perfect for the role and HR departments who use algorithms to narrow down the prospects, which relies on keywords that your resume or profile will likely also have.
  • It can be difficult to figure out what you want at the age of 20. Amy chose a degree in Communications because it could apply to almost anything she wanted. Though she says to figure out what it is you want, figuring out what you want for just the next couple of years is fine. You can always pivot, but you just need a direction for your resume.
  • Employers don't generally look for someone well-rounded, instead, they are looking to fill a specific need. Show you can fill that need and you're more likely to be hired.
  • The salary increase she received for her second job out of college was pushed by the recruiter Amy was working with who found her on LinkedIn.
  • Amy continued to use the same tactics with her next move but added in extras that may not have been relevant, like her HTML skills. That one change opened the door with recruiters looking for marketers who also understood coding. Landing that job bumped her salary up to $86,000.
  • Answering the question, “What do you do?”, always results in a simple answer, like Marketing, not what you actually do or what skills you possess.
  • When helping out a friend earlier this year with his resume, Amy noticed that the skills section of his resume didn't speak directly to his particular skill set for the jobs he wanted.
  • You don't have to be world-class at anything, but with the right variety of skills, you can stand out because there are fewer people who have that intersection of skills.
  • Earlier this year, Amy started her blog, We Want Guac, after looking at different finance blogs while trying to figure out what to do with her new and higher salary. Building the blog has continued to add to her talent stack.
  • Amy says that in 2016 she was the ultimate cheapskate, attending events to take advantage of the free food, and ordering small items when eating out with friends. The salary increases enabled a shift in mindset from deprivation to one of abundance.
  • Part of her mindset shift came out of creating a budget. Her budget didn't mean restricting herself from spending. Instead, the numbers showed her the limits could be more than she expected and it would be okay if she did spend more. It gave her permission to spend more on herself, leave more in tips, and give to charity.
  • Like the saying by Jocko Willink, discipline equals freedom. Amy's budget was the discipline that gave her the freedom to see her limits could be bigger and move beyond the mindset of scarcity.
  • The goal of We Want Guac is to help people better understand how to manage their money.
  • When doing the math, Amy calculated that a 25-year-old with $65,000 invested in an index fund can retire with $1,000,000 at the age of 65 without ever investing another penny. With a net worth of $100,000, she figured she could retire at 50, and if she continued to save, she could retire in her 40s or even her 30s.
  • Amys says having $100,000 saved in your 20s makes an incredible difference. It is five figures of investment growth during bull markets and it is security in downturns.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

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Nov 09, 2020
267 | Timing the Market
  • Following US Election Day results, it's important to remember the alligators and kittens, a concept to approach overall mental wellbeing. The negative influences in life are alligators and all of the things that make life better are kittens. Focus on getting rid of the alligators.
  • It's a human bias to focus on the negative. How do you focus time and attention on the things that make life better? For Brad, he cut watching the news out of his life which has helped him to achieve a better mental framework for life.
  • The business model of the new is to keep you watching through the next commercial break. They cause anxiety. You can stay informed without being a part of that model.
  • Control what you can control and you will be in a better financial position four years from now regardless of the election outcome. There is so much outside of our control right now and worrying about it isn't productive.
  • Despite the number of people who are confident they know what will happen to the stock market as a result of the election, the fact is that we just don't know.
  • Market uncertainty is one of the reasons to have a plan for your money regardless of what is going on and automate it. Not only is it difficult to try and time the market, but you need to get it right twice, both when you buy and when you sell.
  • The FI community is about long-term thinking. It's not about quarterly earnings or even five-year trends, but performance over multiple decades and the decisions that will help get you to the wealthiest point over that time period.
  • With that long-term thinking in mind and in a time of calm, it's a great time to write down your investor policy statement. Having a plan for your investments, written down in an investor policy statement helps you to avoid being reactionary or make rash decisions.
  • In February, the Dow hit a high of 29,500. By March 20th, it had dropped 20-30% and many predicted it would go even lower. Defying the dire predictions, the Dow recovered 30-40% of its gains within a few months.
  • The problem with making market predictions is that there are far too many variables for you to account for and again, you have to get it right twice. Even the professions are wrong 50% of the time. What chance do you have of making your investment decisions around emotion enough to stay solvent or long-term or outperform the market over the long-term? Essentially no chance.
  • The highest likelihood of long-term financial success is to control the expenses on your investments. Low-cost index funds are going to be your best bet.
  • Following your investor policy statement and injecting new money when you can benefits you with dollar-cost averaging. Time in the market is much more powerful than timing the market.
  • ChooseFI listeners are creating space and making progress in their lives. Patty commuted to paying off debt within five years and just made her last payment, including more than $40,000 in credit card debt.
  • Joe replied to Brad's email, The FI Weekly, Joe shared that he and his wife transferred his 403(b) from a high-fee broker to Vanguard and also started on their journey to earning travel rewards by opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
  • November 8th is the LAST CALL to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with its highest-ever bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. For more info, go to
  • Teachers are primarily the ones using 403(b)s, most of which are laden with really high fees and very few options. ChooseFI plans to have an episode in the coming months with Dan Otter discussing doing better with your 403(b).
  • Crystal sent in a message saying that she had no idea about fees and was investing with Edward Jones. Her investments hadn't done much over the last five years and now she's educating herself, but the fees appear to be hidden.
  • Since the market has done so well over that last five years, the reasons why Crystal hasn't made money are because she wasn't invested in a strategy that allowed her to keep up with the market or she was getting crushed by the fees.
  • Brad says finding the expenses for his old company's 401k options was relatively easy. Included in the table of investment options, one of the columns listed expenses. Other titles may be expense ratio or expense percentage. The numbers may range from 1.50 to 0.03.
  • Without a nicely organized table, you may need to look up the expense ratio by looking up the ticker symbol.
  • A low-cost index fund investment strategy is simple and not complex enough to require help from a professional. In contrast, a complex investment plan is probably costing you a lot of money.
  • With an actively-managed fund, a person, or team of people, are making decisions on what to buy and when to sell. Through the fees, you end up paying them for their time. And then the data shows that they aren't even keeping up with the market.
  • The difference between expense ratios of 0.1% and 1.0% is tens of thousands to millions of dollars over time after compounding.
  • Brad ran through a scenario originally published to reviewing the impact fees have on an investment portfolio over a 40-year timeframe. The result was that a high expense ratio and advisor fees cut the potential net worth in half.
  • Even target-date funds may not get the returns you expect because they are too conservative for you.
  • It's good to think about what you are invested in and how much it is costing you.
  • ChooseFI's new website is now live! Check it out at or There are still some issues to be fixed, but if you are having trouble finding anything let us know and send us your feedback to
  • The feedback on The Simple Startup classes has been overwhelmingly positive. Kids aged 10-18 have been getting off the video games and acquiring new skillsets to future-proof their lives.
  • Rob Phelan has figured out how to offer the course year-round and the next session starting January 18th is open for enrollment. Registration will be open until January 8th or until it sells out. Previous sessions have always sold out.
  • Register at ChooseFI/startup for The Simple Startup between now and November 15th and save $10. Use promo code “podcast” and save another 15%.
  • Share what you are doing and how your life has changed by replying to Brad's email newsletter, The FI Weekly, and have the chance to win one of the books from ChooseFI Publishing. Sign up at
  • Christian Choosefi'd his view of the pandemic. He's focused on the positive things, like spending more time with his family, time to exercise, eating healthier, and saving $4,500 this year.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

If You Want To Support ChooseFI:

Nov 06, 2020
266 | Breaking the Cycle of Poverty | Yanely Espinal
  • Yanely grew up in a low-income household in Brooklyn and then attended Brown University. But by the time she graduated, she had accumulated a bunch of credit card debt that she was hiding from her family.
  • She tried to figure out dealing with her debt on her own by reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos. After paying it off, she thought it was ridiculous she had never learned it in school and started her own YouTube channel to share her story. That eventually led to her landing the perfect job and a solid career path.
  • Growing up, there wasn't a lot of money in Yanely's household, so there weren't many conversations about money either. When there was talk about money, it was always negative and caused tension.
  • One thing that her father did teach her was to never have a loan or owe debt to a friend or family member and that she needed to always pay them back. Interestingly, that sense of obligation did not transfer over to institutional borrowing which she believes is a common mindset in neighborhoods like the one where she grew up.
  • When Yanely was accepted to Brown University, she had no idea how expensive it was going to be. Although she received a full scholarship, she discovered she still need to purchase things such as textbooks, a laptop, and other supplies. Because her father taught her not to borrow money from anyone, she wanted to figure it out on her own and applied for her first credit card.
  • She attributes her attempt to be resourceful using credit cards to a lack of financial literacy. She thought she was doing the right thing and on the right path at the time.
  • Her payment history was good since always made the minimum payment and never missed a payment on her credit cards, but her credit utilization was high as she was always close to maxing out her card limits.
  • With each credit card application, banks continued to give her credit cards with higher and higher credit card limits. Trying to keep up with the rich kid lifestyles of her classmates ended up getting her $15,000 in debt.
  • Moving from a neighborhood filled with Caribbean immigrants to an elite university was a culture shock. Yanely felt like she didn't fit in because she didn't talk or act like her fellow students. Not understanding expressions and phrases others used made her feel dumb.
  • Going from a top performing student in high school to feeling like being in the wrong pack may be part of the reason why it's physiologically difficult for low-income who attend prestigious universities.
  • Yanely says the biggest thing a low-income student can do is expose themselves to the rigorous language and vocabulary that is going to be expected of you. Students are often not prepared for how much harder they will need to work, it ends up being a shock, and they go home.
  • Approximately 2/3 of her credit card debt came from spending on just trying to keep up with her fellow students. Although there was no overt peer pressure, it was unspoken.
  • Straight A's and scholarships are not enough. Students like Yanely need to have both academic and social grit to survive in an environment that is not in their comfort zone.
  • Reading The Millionaire Nextdoor to help her figure out how to pay off the debt, she noticed the descriptions of poverty and generational poverty were describing the life she was living. She decided she was going to be the one to shift the trajectory of her family in terms of wealth.
  • Yanely had a choice to make between continuing a pursuit to fit in and look good while racking up debt, or the alternate route of smashing her debt aggressively and begin to build wealth, breaking he cycle of poverty.
  • The interviews of people who didn't come from wealth surprised her, opened her eyes, and completely shifted her mindset. She realized she was going to need to completely wipe her mental slate clean and start with new and fresh beliefs about money and how it works.
  • Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, authors of The Millionaire Nextdoor devised a formula for determining if you are as wealthy as you should be. That formula is: Your Age multiplied by Your Annual Income (from all sources except inheritance) divided by 10 = Your Expected Net Worth
  • Growing up in a neighborhood where spending to reflect success and social status was prevalent, Yanely understands the pressure and had never imagined there was a different route.
  • Her beliefs were shaken to the core listening to interviews of self-made millionaires answer questions and discuss the strategic money decisions they made with a clear goal in mind. It opened her mind and made Yanely want to explore more.
  • Despite FI not even being in her purview a handful of years ago, Yanely just hit Coast FI after beginning to maximize everything she was doing with her investments and prioritizing tax-efficient investments before even paying her rent.
  • Yanely paid herself first. After learning more about 403bs, she determined her priority should be a Roth IRA. She then invested as much as she could to qualify for the company 401k match. Whatever was left after the investments was used to pay for living expenses like rent and food, and has cut down on her fun money budget.
  • Being obsessed and hungry for knowledge helped Yanely pick up personal finance lessons so quickly and go from being in credit card debt to maximizing her investments. Her goal was to learn everything she could and begin producing a result in 90 days.
  • She feels that there is an injustice that these things were never taught in her community, her family, or even at her Ivy League school.
  • Previously, she would have asked an expert or others for advice and take it. she no longer believes that is a good strategy for solving her problems. She thinks you need to question the experts' motivations and do your own research. This is especially true with investing.
  • Her goal with Coast FI was to invest enough that she's be a millionaire by the age of 65 even if she had never invested another dollar again. that meant she needed to hit $250,000.
  • Initially, Yanely's goal was to be an agent of change for herself. Now she wants to be an agent of change for others through her YouTube channel where she cold share her story.
  • As a teacher, she realized that teachers were also never taught about personal finance in school. Teachers teach students about all kinds of topics, but not about money. Financial literacy is lacking and being passed down from generation to generation.
  • An organization reached out to her to come on their podcast where they talk with teachers about money and personal finance to help give them the knowledge and skills to teach it in the classroom. She is know on staff doing educational outreach.
  • She says her impact through coaching or her YouTube Channel is limited, but seating change in the education system and reforming the way students are learning in school is the kind of change she is after.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

If You Want To Support ChooseFI:

Nov 02, 2020
265 | Talent Stacker
  • What's in your talent stack? Inspired by content discovered over the last four years while producing ChooseFI, Jonathan has spent the last couple of months hard at work on the side on a new passion project.
  • As said many times here on the show, financial independence isn't about doing less, like sitting on a beach sipping cocktails. It's about aligning your what you value with your life and having the freedom to pursue what you are passionate about.
  • ChooseFI has given Jonathan the opportunity to look at and do better with his personal finances, but it's also helped him realize that he loves to work hard, but not necessarily for a paycheck. He'll work twice as hard when it aligns with his interests, passions, autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
  • While Jonathan has not reached FI, he does have all the benefits of it. FI is not binary because the benefits of FI start accruing from Day one.
  • Time is your precious non-retable resource. You can stick your head in the sand and gut things out until reaching FI, or look around and see what other options we can create for ourselves that bring more joy, autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
  • When you find that your ladder is leaning up against the wrong wall, you don't need to stick it to that commitment and grind it out for another 20 years. You don't need to wait for anyone to give you permission. You can pivot.
  • One of the better messages to come out of the FI movement is that no matter what has happened, huge student loans, disastrous real estate deals drug addiction, or divorce, you can always move forward and make your life better.
  • A life optimization strategy begins with financial security and gives you space for mastery and exploring new things.
  • You don't need to be in the top 1% of anything. Just being better than average at a bunch of different things will open up opportunities. What does a high value, high return on investment, talent stack look like?
  • Students coming out of college are ill-prepared for the way the world really works. The world wants to know what have you done and what can you do for it. What if you were to focus on the skills the world wants and is willing to pay a high salary for? And then very economically earn certificates stating that you can do this work? You can retain and earn these skills in a year or less.
  • There are very few jobs that actually require a college degree. Through certificate programs, you can get jobs earning between $60,000 and $160,000 a year. Jonathan says if he were starting over, knowing what he knows now, this is what he would do.
  • Jonathan has started another podcast, the Talent Stacker podcast. It's not for those set on going to college. It's for people looking to see what other choices are out there or who are unhappy with the choices they previously made and are looking for something different and don't have another four years to earn a degree.
  • The Talent Stacker podcast does not just regurgitate information learned on previous ChooseFI podcast episodes. It helps you recreate what these other people have done step-by-step.
  • The framework of the Talent Stacker podcast is based on a handful of different categories. The first is a time for money or a service role where you trade an hour of work doing something for a set hourly rate.
  • The second category is sales, where you help make it easier for a current audience or customer base to make a purchase.
  • Category three is marketing or expanding the current customer base.
  • The fourth category is team development or leadership or bringing a team together to focus on target goals.
  • The fifth category is systems, process, and workflow, helping teams to work more efficiently.
  • In reality, many of these categories have overlap. If you can do a little bit of several of these, you can become what is called a Rainmaker.
  • Jonathan recognizes how each of these skills has been used and added to his talent stack through the ChooseFI podcast.
  • Building a talent stack is not just limited to business owners. It's a mindset about learning new things and how they can help make you a better person.
  • Brad used his skills as a travel rewards enthusiast, along with his business-building skills and CPA degree to build a travel rewards coaching service.
  • MK found success in her corporate career through choices like learning basic HTML to build her talent stack, which helped her to climb the ranks, and then eventually launch her own business. Her pregnancy has caused her to look at streamlining things and becoming more efficient to keep her passive income stream growing.
  • Your real education doesn't start until you get the job. College merely proves to an employer that you know how to learn.
  • Jonathan worked with Bradley Rice from Episode 117 to create an actual career development program in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that you can replicate in six months and make $60,000-80,000 a year, with a path to making $200,000 in 3-5 years.
  • With four years of starting ChooseFI, Jonathan has become one of the top independent podcasters and now he teaches podcasting to others.
  • With ChooseFI, the goal is to compel you to take action toward reaching financial independence. with Talent Stacker, Jonathan wants to see you develop skills and maybe earn more.
  • This week's FI Wins of the Week include Karen. She and her husband decided to invest in camping gear and enjoy camping in Florida before they reach FI and can move to Washington State.
  • The second winner is Emma who is 20 and just fully funder her Roth IRA for 2020 and is ready to fully fund 2021 in January.



Oct 30, 2020
264 | Recognizing Scarcity and Uncertainty | Leisa Peterson
  • Your money story informs so much of your life even if you're not aware of it. For 30 years, Leisa Peterson has been researching and studying how trauma in early life contributes to the money challenges faced later in life.
  • Growing up with a scarcity mindset, money became an escape that gave her motivation. Leisa decided in her mid-twenties that she was going to have money in her life and not have any stresses about it as her parents did. Earning money became an all-consuming response to the trauma she had experienced.
  • There's a very broad spectrum of trauma from mild to quite serious and not everyone reacts to it in the same way. Some people like Leisa may end up wanting a lot of money, while others are lead to feeling like they have no control over money.
  • An adverse childhood study from Kaiser was intended to understand how childhood trauma affected health. In Leisa's reading of the study, she found one of the findings included financial problems and realized this was something not a lot of people were talking about.
  • These childhood experiences become very disruptive, brings an uncertainty to how life is viewed and crushed the sense of self.
  • The concept of scarcity and uncertainty go together. This leads to struggling with either an extreme need to control or feeling out of control with money.
  • Because kids are absorbing everything we say, it's important to change the language we use around money.
  • When people become more familiar with their trauma backstory, they are better able to talk with their partner about their money challenges.
  • Disconnects in communication can occur when each other's backstories are quite different. We can only know what we know from our own perspective. The job in relationships is not just to understand ourselves, but to see the other person and how they are approaching money differently because of their backstory.
  • When people think of something as being scare in supply, they are going to buy more of it. Toilet paper is a relevant example of this for 2020. Someone coming from a home without enough money may have strange buying behaviors. Their idea of scarcity or uncertainty may be showing up in their daily behaviors with money.
  • For spouses or partners who have different money stories, Leisa encourages them to just start somewhere. Think about how money was treated at home growing up and have a conversation about it.
  • Questions to consider asking are: Did mom and dad talk about money? Did mom and dad fight about money? What is your first memory of money? When did you make your first money? How did that make you feel? Were you afraid?
  • It can be difficult to have these conversations for the first time with another person. Journaling is a way to privately have them with yourself first. The first person you share these feelings with should be someone you trust and it may be someone other than your partner.
  • Throughout her career, Leisa has found that people react to money very differently. The majority either hold it tightly or avoid control of it altogether, with a minority viewing it as a tool and are at peace with it.
  • Having one strong fire in your life influences the way you think about money in life. The earlier the influence in life, the better.
  • Parents sometimes joke or convey the wrong message about money. Leisa says it's important to go back and close the loop with children.
  • In the FI community, we want our children to have the skills to take care of themselves and be financially independent, but is it possible for them to have too much abundance? Leisa says she wants to be very open about what goes on in their home, discuss their failures, and teach them the value of money and hard work.
  • After reaching her goal of becoming a millionaire, Leisa made a massive change in her life. She and her husband sold it all and took a year off to travel with their son. The trip changed their entire approach to life.
  • Previously, Leisa's family had been consumers of their money. After the trip, they took their nest egg, created investments where their money began working for them.
  • A result of Leisa's drive to become a millionaire was that once achieved, people began to treat her differently. The outward display of wealth began to affect her friendships. It was then that Leisa realized the money was not all that important to her.
  • Leisa's book, The Mindful Millionaire, tells these stories about our money experiences, our relationships with money, and how we can transform them into thinking about money as a tool.
  • The key takeaway from this conversation is that words matter. It's important to think about the unintended consequences of the conversations we are having with our spouses, partners, and kids. Have humility in these conversations and be honest.



Oct 26, 2020
263 | Pick Your Five: Accountability & Decision-Making
  • Jonathan draws a parallel between the episode on Monday with professional poker player Annie Duke and hitting his weight loss goals. Finding himself well over his desired weight, Jonathan took a health challenge and has kept the weight off for six months making him a weightloss statistical abnormality.
  • Where most people diet and get to a goal weight, because the effort was a diet, they end up regaining the weight. What Jonathan did was make a lifestyle change.
  • Tying to the discussion with Annie Duke, Jonathan recognized that he couldn't control everything, made better decisions, and set himself up for more opportunities. All of it helped to increase the opportunity for luck to strike.
  • Jonathan isn't alone in his endeavor. Through weekly accountability phone calls with his father and FI community member, JD Roth, they check in to ask if each has followed through with their goals for the week
  • Their goals aren't all that strict but they are trying to be 1% more intentional with their decisions and look at their decision-making framework, watching for triggers, giving into them less often, and coming up with solutions to not be tempted.
  • Brad notes the discipline equals freedom and that the framework Jonathan has created for himself makes everything easier and no longer requires willpower.
  • The accountability and decision-making strategies Jonathan applied to his weightless journey can be used for virtually anything you want to achieve in life. Taking action and trying to be just 1% better what ChooseFI is all about. All of the small wins begin to add up, creating nothing but good, grows your gap, and continuous the virtuous circle.
  • When we upgrade the quality of our decisions, the impact of them begins to compound and increases our probability of success.
  • Brad discusses how 70-80% of the contestations he hears involve one of the three killers of happiness: sarcasm, complaining, and blaming. We can change our mindset and the locus of control to impact our future. He believes putting space between stimulus and control can have positive and compounding effects.
  • As often mentioned on the show, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Those five have the greatest influence on your life and you don't want them to have those happiness killer characteristics. Be intentional with your five picks.
  • Choose people who give you a path forward and will hold you accountable to the things you said were important to you.
  • Brad and Jonathan discussed how the concept of resulting, pro and con lists, and infecting others with our opinions before asking for advice is not helpful when trying to make better decisions.
  • As mentioned during Monday's episode, making better decisions requires depth and an understanding of probability and magnitude.
  • A challenge for listeners is to write down the five people you spend the most time with and who have the most influence on you. Then write down that their characteristics are that make them a good fit for your top five. And finally, what are the ideal characteristics for people who would be influencing your decisions and where can you find them?
  • The second exercise is to approach someone and ask for their opinion on something without prejudicing it first. Don't lead with what it is that you really want to do. Ask your question in a way that gets you additional information you maybe hadn't considered yet.
  • The first win from the community comes from Jodie, a self-professed broke chick who found FI in 2016. Since then, she's doubled her salary, gotten out a debt, flipped a live-in property, paid off her card, got married, formed two business with her husband, quit her job, and hit $100,000 in investments. Congratulations on taking action and changing your life, Jodie!
  • In response to Brad's weekly email, Evan writes about not shooting for FI with reckless urgency, but a thoughtful understanding of the use of money and how it can improve his life after breaking his finger required surgery. FI isn't about deprivation, but buying the things you value.
  • While the world is slowly getting back to normal during the pandemic, John calls in sharing how his wife was able to pivot her events business, Escape Room Races. The pandemic killed her in-person events, but she was able to rebrand, and pivot to a virtual format which is bringing in tons of new virtual events and they just had their biggest month ever.
  • Speaking of live events, previous ChooseFI guest, Christine, from episode 137, sent in a letter saying that at least 50 ChooseFI listeners have come to Nashville and taken her tour. Last Fall, one guest from New Zealand Brough five friends from all over the world after hearing about Christine's tour, A Little Local Flavor, on ChooseFI. She also has converted her friends into ChooseFI listeners.
  • When you respond to Brad's weekly email and we read your win on the air, you will get one of the ChooseFI Publishing books.
  • The first winner is Ahmed who wrote in to say he recently graduated college and was due to move to a high cost of living city. Because they moved to working remotely, Ahmad is saving on rent by staying at home with his parents in a low-cost of living city and investing the savings.
  • The second winner is Tommy who received an email from his state's 529 program that he was receiving a $500 Maryland state contribution.



Oct 23, 2020
262 | How to Decide | Annie Duke
  • Annie Duke is a world champion poker player and author of Thinking in Bets, a book which makes the case for embracing uncertainty in our decision-making framework. In Annie's latest book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, she answers the question, what does a good decision-making process look like and how to incorporate that into your own life.
  • The only way we can become better at making decisions is from our own experience, and our experience is going to be the outcomes of past decisions we've made. We need to understand the way in which knowing how something turned out can mess with our ability to figure out why.
  • In a thought experiment concerning the 2015 Super Bowl between the Seahawks and the Patriots, Annie reviews a play called by Pete Carroll in the last seconds of the game. Though widely panned as the worst play called in Super Bowl history, Annie states that it's hard to evaluate the quality of the play called when we already know the outcome.
  • Had the outcome of Pete Carroll's play been a touchdown, the reaction would have been the opposite. This phenomenon is called Resulting, where the quality of the result is attributed the quality of the decision.
  • Reviewing the actual odds of the result of that specific play, Annie determines that Pete Carroll's decision was far from the worst play called of all time as there was only a 25 likelihood of that specific result.
  • Annie applies what she's learned playing poker, specifically realizing that what you see happen doesn't change the decision that you make, to other aspects of life.
  • The paradox of experience is that while we know we need all of these experiences to learn, we see how things unfold and we take our lessons for individual experiences, not in the aggregate.
  • Poker has some surprising similarities to real life in that your outcome is a combination of luck and the quality of your decisions.
  • The definition of luck is what you don't have control over. You cannot control your own luck. You can control the quality of the decisions you make and reduce the chance that luck has an influence that will turn out poorly for you. While we are all under the influence of luck, we are also very much under the influence of our own decisions.
  • In our decision making, we should see the luck clearly and make the decisions that are more likely to advance our goals. Brad ties that to ChooseFI's philosophy of the aggravation of marginal gains and striving to do 1% better.
  • We have a lot of cognitive bias that delude us into believing things are much more stable than they really are. COVID has torn that away from us. We are also feeling the effect of imperfect information. COVID is not a special case, it's just something we can't hide from the uncertainty.
  • COVID does give us an opportunity to think about how to navigate uncertainty which will improve all decisions we make.
  • A pro and con list has no dimensions to it, specifically missing are the magnitude of the payoff or how much will it advance or take away from your goal, and what is the probability of each con. These lists also amply biases you already have and can be gamed to reach a predetermined decision.
  • With inside view thinking, our personal models create cognitive trenches. When new information comes in, we mold it into a model we already have rather than be objective.
  • An outside view is what is true of the world.
  • To try and avoid inside view thinking, we need to expose ourselves to different perspectives of corrective information.
  • The foundation we base our decisions on is flimsy and full of inaccuracies. We should increase the probability that we collide with perspectives and information we don't know.
  • It's okay to say you don't know very much and decide to get more information to become a better decision-maker.
  • Making a good decision with one stock doesn't necessarily make you a good investor, you would have to look at all the decisions made with your portfolio.
  • When getting to your outside view, it helps to get yourself into the future because it helps us look back on ourselves. We also need to realize that we tend to believe we are more likely to be successful than we actually are. It's helpful to think about all the ways in which you might fail.
  • A pre-mortem is the idea that time travel and negative thinking will result in an outside view and lead to better decision making.
  • A backcast is the opposite of a pre-mortem where you look at the luck and skills that lead to a positive outcome.
  • To find groups of people to get the best opinions from, find people who are interested in finding what is true in the world, but by putting the framework in place, you can turn anybody into an amazing true-seeking pod.
  • When seeking other's opinions, it's best not to divulge your own opinion beforehand. It results in one of three ways: it might show the other person's opinion is right, the truth may lie in the middle somewhere, or it may show your opinion is right and help you to understand it better.
  • Annie believes that mostly we should be making decisions faster than we do. The decision-making process is a skill and it takes time to understand which we should be taking our time we should take our time with and which could be faster.
  • The speed of our decisions should be made by the impact of the decision and optionality available.



Oct 19, 2020
261 |"Nothing Gold Can Stay" | What is a HELOC?
  • After 18 years of ownership, Brad says goodbye to his beloved Honda Civic, Golden Boy.
  • When it comes to car ownership, ChooseFI often talks about only buying a new car every 15 years. Over a 45 year adult lifetime, the savings, when invested, can amount to almost $750,000 when compared to someone who leases or just manages a constant car payment.
  • Although Brad wanted to keep the car, it had been having some mechanical issues and his family was no longer comfortable riding in it anymore. The impact it was having on Brad's family was not worth it.
  • For his next vehicle, Brad opted for a 2013 Honda Civic rather than a brand new car. He purchased his new Civic through Caravana, the car vending machine business, who was selling Civics for roughly $3,000 less than CarMax.
  • The buying process through Caravan was quick and streamlined. The car was delivered to his home and he spent approximately one-hour signing paperwork and finalizing documents.
  • There are sweet spots when purchasing used vehicles. Although Brad's car is seven years old, after five years, cars have generally already depreciated at the fastest rate. If you are going to buy new, keep it forever. If you buy used, target 5-7 years old.
  • Listener Oscar wrote into the show asking about Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) which hasn't been something that ChooseFI has discussed much in previous episodes.
  • A HELOC is a revolving line of credit on your home where the equity you have in your home is used to secure it. For instance, a home worth $300,000 with a mortgage balance of $100,000 has $200,000 worth of equity. A HELOC allows homeowners to tap into the equity locked up in their homes.
  • An advantage of using a home equity loan over other options for access to cash, like credit cards, is that the interest rate is often much lower, although it is a variable rate and can change. The interest rate on a HELOC may be in the 3-5% range versus 15-30% with credit cards.
  • For homeowners who placed a sizable down payment on their home, whose home has appreciated, made extra payments, etc., a HELOC becomes a potential source of low-interest revolving credit.
  • A HELOC is different from a home equity loan in that with a loan, the loan amount is deposited into your bank account and interest begins accruing immediately. A HELOC provides you with the ability to tap into the equity at any time, such as in the case of an emergency. No interest accrues until you decide to access the money. It gives you options if ever needed.
  • Occasionally, HELOCs can be had for no closing costs. Considering that the process to apply and be approved for a HELOC can take weeks, it can be useful to have one in place so that it is already available if and when it is needed.
  • Frequent guest and friend of ChooseFI, Big ERN, does not have an emergency fund. He believes that there is an opportunity cost to keeping 6 months of expenses in a liquid account that is likely earning every little in interest. In a thought experiment, he tried to envision a true emergency that he could not cover with credit cards or a HELOC.
  • Those working to build an emergency fund before beginning to invest are potentially missing out on higher interest rates earned from investments. They might be better off investing their savings and using money from a HELOC to cover monthly expenses in an emergency rather than selling off investments or using high-interest credit cards.
  • Jonathan mentioned that there are schemes to paying off a mortgage early using HELOCs and credit cards that people can learn about for a fee. Brad doesn't doubt that these might work, but it's too complex. There's no insider knowledge worth paying for. He doesn't believe these methods are any more beneficial than making additional principal payments to a traditional mortgage.
  • Rather than a HELOC, Jonathan uses a margin loan through M1 Finance for a line of credit. He can borrow up to 40% of his invested assets with an interest rate of 2.75-3.5% and have the money in his account in minutes. Margin loans on investment accounts are lines of credit options for renters.
  • Listener Alex wrote in with his win with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • Listener Rachel wrote in saying that she has reached FI and didn't even know it. As a result, she was able to leave a toxic work environment in the middle of a pandemic and spend more time with her nice and nephew.
  • FI wins read on the show win their choice of one of ChooseFI's books so keep them coming!
  • Listeners Brian and Deb maxed out their 401Ks this week before their contracts ended to take full advantage of the company's match and on Oct 23 will officially be financially independent.





Oct 16, 2020
260 | What's your Survival Number? | Jully-Alma Taveras
  • Immigrating to the United States as a child, by early adulthood, Jully found herself caught up in our consumer culture and had acquired five figures worth of debt. After working to dig her way out and starting on her path to finical independence, she's become an advocate. Drawing from her experience, she now help Latinas become financial powerful through investing.
  • At the age of four, Jully moved from the Dominican Republic to New York. Her extended family all began making the move as well, but as many immigrants to, they continued to send money and invest in their socioeconomic systems back home.
  • For immigrants, investing in their home countries has multiple purposes. There is often an expectation that money will be sent home to support the family.
  • Jully's father supported her grandmother by building her a new home and making sure she was taken care of. However, when the grandmother also immigrated to the US, the house back in the Dominican Republic was rented out and became the first property in a real estate portfolio.
  • Immigrants have struggles that a typical American doesn't go through. Investing in real estate in their home countries helps connect them to their communities. However, Jully says immigrants tend to invest more in real estate than in the stock market. She shares the message that it is important to diversify their investments.
  • When she started working for a non-profit at the age of 19, Jully began investing a 403b for the free money. That decision was criticized by her mother who felt retirement was a long way off and that it wasn't necessary because Americans receive Social Security.
  • When her family first arrived in the US, they didn't speak the language. It was a lesson in how to figure things out in the moment and just survive.
  • It took a couple of years before her father began thinking in an entrepreneurial way and on a bigger scale. He went from driving a taxi to starting a bodega business.
  • The bodega enabled Jully to see both her parents work in that environment, build their business, send money home, and contribute to the community.
  • The money lessons she learned from her parents were to be generous and give. But the reality was her father worked a lot to build their life and they didn't see him much. Had he invested more, perhaps they would have been able to see him more.
  • Jully went to school for fashion merchandising and economics. When she got her first job, lifestyle inflation kicked in. Working in the fashion industry required looking good with the latest trends.
  • After accumulating the debt, Jully realized that she was channeling her emotions with her shopping. She was both celebrating and consoling herself with shopping to the point where it became unhealthy.
  • Thankfully she had continued to invest even when the debt was bringing her down. It wasn't until her father became ill that she realized the safety net she had in her parents won't always be there. At that point, she began working to pay off all her debt. Once debt-free, Jully increased her 401K investments to around 20%.
  • Jully notes that when first entering the workforce, you feel that nothing can go wrong, or if it does, you'll just figure it out. But you have to start with the basics. You have to start with the foundation of an emergency fund.
  • Credit card debt is subject to incredibly high-interest rates of 12-30%. With five figures of debt, the compound interest is working against you and it's hard to fig yourself out from under it.
  • To get out from under her credit card debt, Jully had to make significant payments toward it. The key was knowing her survival number.
  • She created a simple chart with eight categories of things you need to come up with a survival number. The categories include housing, food, transportation, and even entertainment. Jully's survival number is $581. The items in her $581 figure are the absolute minimum things she needs to survive and keep her life sane.
  • The reason she can keep her number so low is by house hacking her four-bedroom apartment. With master leasing, she is responsible for the rent each month, but she then uses sub-leases to rent out rooms.
  • She uses Craigslist to market the rooms for lease in her apartment and thinks it is important to find people with similar lifestyles and working schedules which creates a good co-habiting space for everyone.
  • After paying off her debt in 2016, Jully felt an incredible sense of freedom, quit her corporate job, and went to work for herself.
  • She has been inspired and motivated by the financial independence community to use her platform, Investing Latina, to provide resources and stories, to inspire others to do more, increase financial stability, and reach financial independence.
  • Given the struggles that her family faced when they first arrived in this country, Jully speak about building credit and establishing yourself.
  • Jully's conversations with new immigrants start her three pillars, building credit, investing in the stock market, and real estate. The first step is to open a debit account to start establishing relationships with banks.
  • While there is still something of a stigma to talking about money and investing in the stock market in her family and community, Jully is hopeful that it will normalize and influence others. Even having small conversations like, “What are you saving for?” is a little way to get started.
  • As someone who works in fashion, Jully's transition to her survival number she realized her shopping was an addiction. Using Marie Kondo's methods for embracing minimalism, she cleared out her closets to create a capsule wardrobe, focusing on the items that fit well, looked good on her, and were comfortable.





Oct 12, 2020
259 | Kristi & Big ERN
  • In our eighth Households of FI touchpoint episodes, Kristi was successfully following the standard path with a six-figure job and keeping up with the Joneses but waiting to take a breath and enjoy life. After finding FI, she realized the money was no longer the goal but simply a tool.
  • Kristi has been connected with Big ERN, from Early Retirement Now, and over several conversations, they discuss Employee Stock Purchase Plans, 401K contribution strategies, the phase of retirement, and more.
  • While wealth accumulation is simple math, decumulation is more complicated so Big ERN created the ultimate safe withdrawal rate series.
  • Some recent changes Kristi has made to her investments since starting her path to FI are moving from a Roth 401K to a traditional 401K and maxing her contributions out. She also moved her current balance and future contributions out of target retirement date fund and into an S&P 500 fund.
  • While Kristi has the option to self-manage her 401K in a Schwab account which would give her access to a total stock market fund, Big ERN doesn't believe that the difference between it and an S&P 500 fund is minor. Expense ratios are a more important consideration. Moving from a 0.2% expense ratio to a 0.02% might be worthwhile, but leaving the money where it is fine when the difference is 0.01% unless it is an in-kind transfer or a quick process. Human Resources may know how long the process is likely to take.
  • Kristi approached her HR department about making after-tax contributions so that she could do a mega-backdoor Roth conversion, but the HR department was not clear on how much she would be allowed to contribute. She found the ChooseFI community to be quite helpful for bouncing ideas off of.
  • She's also interested in her company's Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP). The advantage of it is that she can purchase stock at a 15% discount, but she will pay taxes on the discount and be required to hold the stock for two years.
  • Such a purchase gives her investment a 5% per year boost, however, there's no diversification in purchasing company stock. Kristi's income, bonuses, and employment are all already tied to her company. That being said, Being ERN says he would probably still do the ESPP, although he would only keep two year's worth of money in the plan and then pull it out. After taking it out, it will be subject to long-term capital gains.
  • The ESPP may have contribution limits, in which case she should make the additional contributions to her 401K and then do the backdoor Roth conversions.
  • Big ERN likes to say don't let the tail wag the dog, meaning that asset allocation and expected returns should be the primary concern before tax considerations.
  • Kristi has a difficult time determining exactly how much to contribute as her company does it by percentage and how bonuses are paid out. If she overshoots it, she could miss out on the company match in the last month of two of the year. Big ERN says some companies will do a true-up, or another HR term, where they will still contribute the match.
  • Some who have access to a true-up prefer to contribute the maximum to their 401K at the beginning of the year so that their money is in the market longer.
  • Those without a true-up need to be careful. Big ERN suggested Kristi could look at the minimum and maximum of her salary and bonuses to come up with a range. $19,500 divided by her maximum would give her a rough percentage to start the year with. Toward the end of the year, she will need to look at it again and make adjustments.
  • Kristi also asked about Big ERN's thoughts on the stages of retirement, but she is most interested in the early retirement phase.
  • Retirement is an uneven path. Health expenses may be higher before Medicare kicks in and there will be a boost of income once Social Security is received. How do you structure your withdrawals? What are the tax aspects? Which accounts do you tap into first? And what should the assist allocation be?
  • Big ERN doesn't recommend 100% equities for people in retirement. 75% stocks and 25% bonds is a better allocation.
  • Kristi will likely have to rely on more than just her taxable accounts during the early retirement phase. She could tap into her Roth IRA accounts as well which may get her to 59 1/2 when she could then begin withdrawals from her 401K tax and penalty-free.
  • It's best to spread the tax liability as equally as you can due to our progressive tax system. Although trying to optimize taxes is important, safe withdrawal rate and asset allocation are significantly more so. Not all of the withdrawals in retirement are taxable. Some of the withdraw money is principal, which taxes were already paid on.
  • Good tax planning versus alright tax planning in retirement probably doesn't make a significant difference.
  • Kristi was also curious about when contributing to taxable accounts might be advantageous over continuing to fund retirement accounts for those who want to retire early. Big ERN thinks what there are cases when it might make sense, but for most people who can assume they will be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, it's better to fund retirement accounts.
  • Previously, Big ERN had provided Kristi with a spreadsheet to use for determining cash flow issues before she turns 59 1/2 and model Roth 401K conversions.
  • Kristi says that she has been participating in her company ESPP but hadn't sold any of the company stock until recently. She debated how much to sell and still has a lot remaining. Big ERN suggests that she could sell over a period of time to avoid any regret that might occur with a large price increase. However, there could be commissions associated with selling. As long as she's held it for more than two years, it's all subjective to long-term capital gains or will help with tax-loss harvesting. Low-cost shares with the highest capital gains should be deferred as long as possible.
  • A little tax-arbitrage is the sell the investments with the highest cost-basis and lowest tax bill.
  • Big ERN mentions that a lot of people have loss aversion but sometimes it's best to cut your losses, let it go, and take the tax benefit.
  • Kristi has concerns about HSA rules changing after she's stashed all that money away and paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses. HSAs, however, have a triple tax benefit. there are no taxes paid on contributions, the money grows tax-free and comes out tax-free as long as it's used toward qualified medical expenses.
  • HSA participants can save their receipts and allow the money to grow. Current or previous years' health expenses may be submitted for reimbursement.
  • In the United States, rules tend to be backdated, so that if HSA rules do change in the future, the old rules will likely still apply to the contributions. Still, Big ERN suggests not letting the HSA grow to more than 15% of total net worth.
  • It's important to note that not all target-date funds are the same. The closer the retirement date, the more conservative the fund is going to be. For most people, a total stock market or S&P 500 fund with a low expense ratio is good enough.
  • Taxes shouldn't drive decision making. Make the best moves that impact you over the long-term. Buying a house for the mortgage interest deduction makes no sense for most people with the new higher standard deduction.
  • When it comes to tax deductions, the point isn't o get a deduction just to get a deduction, it's to bring home more income





Oct 09, 2020
258 | Back to Basics Part 2: The Income Side of the Equation
  • Brad has been taking part in a mastermind group and teaching its members about financial independence. While they understood the “Why of FI”, how to get started wasn't as clear. The Back to Basics series of episodes covers just that, how to get started on the path to FI.
  • The journey to financial independence is not about deprivation. It is about a life of personal choice and abundance. Its starts with understanding your “why” and then setting goals for the next 5, 10, or 15 years.
  • There's a difference between the money you need to pay bills and meet basic needs and discretionary spending. Understanding how much your lifestyle costs is the first step.
  • It can be psychologically difficult to do this first step. It may reveal mistakes, but it's important to be honest with yourself and not beat yourself up over them. We all make mistakes.
  • After knowing what your life costs, what comes next? To calculate your FI number based on your current lifestyle, multiply your monthly expenses by 12 to get your annual expenses. This is how much money you will need each and every year in retirement to cover your expenses.
  • The 4% Rule of Thumb suggests that you can withdraw 4% from your total assets each year to live on and reasonably expect the money to last for the remainder of your life. For example, if you have $1 million in assets, 4% of it is $40,000 that you could withdraw each year. The 4% withdraw rate is adjusted for inflation.
  • To get to your FI number, multiply your annual expenses by 25. $40,000 multiplied by 25 is $1 million. $80,000 in annual expenses, multiplied by 25, results in a FI number of $2 million.
  • Whether starting with a net worth of zero or with some assets, the next step would be determining your current path to your FI number.
  • The point of saving money is not for it to be finally used for a retirement far off in the future. Save to reclaim decades of your life when you can spend time as you see fit. Reframing the goal of saving allows you to reorient and see that saving money is investing in your time.
  • One of the reasons Brad and Jonathan enjoy board games so much may have parallels with financial independence. Both involve iteration and getting better and better at making smarter decisions through gamification.
  • People who win games the most have an intermediate mindset. They understand the limitations balanced with longterm thinking.
  • When looking at income, what is the bare minimum needed to cover your expenses? For a married couple living in Virginia spending $80,000 a year on expenses, they will need to earn an income of $102,000 before taxes and without contributing to savings or retirement. They would pay $9,000 in federal taxes, $5,000 in state taxes, and roughly $8,000 in FICA (social security and medicare taxes), for a total of $22,000 in taxes.
  • When income and expenses are exactly the same, you can never afford to retire. How do you create some space between the two?
  • Expenses are not always fixed. Cars loans come to the end of their terms and student loans are paid off. Add in some cuts to a few other line items in your budget and you might find an extra $1,000. How might that change things?
  • Cutting $1,000 from your monthly expenses reduces your annual expenses and subsequently your FI number by a whopping $300,000.
  • What should you do with that extra $1,000 a month? Putting that savings into a 401K allows that money to begin working for you.
  • In addition, the $1,000 a month going into a 401K becomes a tax deduction and reduces your federal income tax. For the couple in the previous example earning $102,000 per year and bringing home $80,000 after taxes, contributing $12,000 to a 401K doesn't mean they have $12,000 less to spend. With the tax advantages of contributing to a 401K, they will bring home $70,000, only reducing their take-home pay by $10,000. They saved $2,000 in taxes. Since they already have enough money to meet their expenses, that extra $2,000 saved in taxes could go toward a Roth IRA.
  • Part 3 in the Back to Basics series will talk about optimization on both the income and expenses side of things.
  • Our hypothetical couple, starting with a zero net worth, after investing $1,167 a month (totaling $14,000 per year) at an average 8% rate of return, will hit their FI number of $1.7 million in 30 years.





Oct 05, 2020
257 | Back to Basics: Getting Started with FI
  • In this ChooseFI Back to Basics episode, we review Health Savings Accounts (HSA). What happens when you need to finally pull money out after funding it year after year?
  • ChooseFI Chief Content Officer, MK, is just weeks away from having her baby. For years, she and her husband, Jason, have been funding separate HSA accounts without making any withdrawals.
  • They now contribute to a family plan HSA and decided it was a good time to test out how complicated the process was to withdraw HSA funds.
  • They discovered some plans are easier than others. The process of withdrawing funds from the fund MK had rolled over to Fidelity was super easy. Jason's was a bit more tricky due to the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliance laws and auto-reinvest settings. Now that they tested it out, they feel confident they will know what to do in the future.
  • An HSA is a type of investment vehicle that gives you a tax deduction in the current year and helps pay for healthcare-related expenses.
  • Only those participating in qualified in high-deductible healthcare plans are eligible for HSAs. For 2020, the IRS defines a high-deductible plan as one with a deductible of $1,400 for an individual, or $2,800 for a family. the maximum a family may contribute in 2020 is $7,100, and half of that for an individual.
  • The money going into the account isn't subject to income tax and sits in the HSA account until you submit for reimbursement of healthcare expenses. HSA withdrawals for healthcare expenses are also tax-free.The benefit of an HSA is that the money can build and grow over time. Healthcare expenses do not need to be submitted for reimbursement as they are incurred. HSA participants can pay out-of-pocket and wait for years before requesting reimbursement if they choose to.
  • The IRS criteria dos state that the high-deductible plan must be a qualified plan. Check with your company's human resources department to determine if your plan is a qualified one.
  • HSA participants should also understand who their plan is with, what investment options they have, and what the fees are. Based on fees, Fidelity and Lively are two good providers who offer low-cost, board-based investment fund options.
  • The goal is to cash flow medical expenses in your younger years when they are generally lower, funding the HSA with pre-tax dollars and allow them to grow until later in life when healthcare costs begin to increase.
  • There may be additional tax benefits from using your employer's HSA provider rather than Fidelity or Lively.
  • Because you can submit for reimbursement years after the expense was incurred, save your receipts. Brad has a Google doc that lists all of the healthcare expenses he pays out-of-pocket and saves a pdf of the receipt in his Google Drive account.
  • Even if your provider offers a way to upload receipts, you should always maintain your own records and only use the provider's system as a secondary backup. If you change HSA, you could lose your receipts.
  • It is your responsibility to verify to the IRS that you've been using the funds in the HSA appropriately. It makes it easier if you have all of that information maintained in your own cloud-based account.
  • After several years or decades of cash-flowing healthcare, it may be possible to have tens of thousands of dollars of reimbursable expenses that are accessible anytime, tax, and penalty-free whenever it is needed.
  • The final episode in round one of the Households of FI series airs next week. Throughout this series, ChooseFI follows eight diverse households at different points on their path to FI.
  • More exciting news for ChooseFi is the website redesign, expected to launch in the coming weeks. The new website format was designed with your experience and journey to financial independence in mind. The content on the site has been curated so that people looking for specific content can easily find what they are looking for.
  • If you would like to receive a notification when the new website has been launched, go to and an email will be sent to you when it's ready.
  • Brad recently gave a presentation to Dominick Quartuccio's Do Inner Work mastermind group on the Why of FI. Though people seemed to understand the why of FI, there were questions regarding how to get to FI.
  • How does someone go about getting started? It starts with visualizing where you want to be in 10-15 years, what your goals, and what kind of options you'd like to have.
  • If Brad were to go back to when he began his journey, he would have said that there's got to be more to life than what he's experiencing. Life was comfortable, but it felt like Groundhog Day. He could see himself doing it for the rest of his life.
  • The second task when starting on the path to FI is to take an assessment of what your life actually costs. What you earn minus what you spend, equals the gap, or the amount of money you have left to work with.
  • Adding up your structural expenses, recurring monthly bills, unplanned expenses, and then looking at all the little discretionary expenses can be a difficult task. No one should beat themselves up over it.
  • Once added all together, you have a realistic estimate of what your life actually costs. It's not complicated math.
  • ChooseFI Episode 258 airing on Monday will tackle the other side of the equation, the gap, and discover how to affect the outcome.
  • It's the first anniversary of the release of ChooseFI's book! To celebrate, we're giving away the first chapter for free when you go to
  • The weekly book giveaways are back! Winners will be selected from response to Brad's newsletter call for FI wins. This week's winner is Belinda. After tracking her spending for three months, she made a budget and reduced her family's food budget by $900 a month. She's also funding her Vanguard account $500 a month, refinanced her car loan, her husband maxed out his 401K, and she hopes to max out her SEP IRA. She says having control of their money is giving them power back over their lives.





Oct 02, 2020
256 | Double Your Income by Flipping the Second-Hand Market | Flea Market Flippers
  • How can you recognize the value in the secondhand market, begin optimizing a strategy, and turn it into income? Today's guests, Rob and Melissa Stephenson, the Flea Market Flippers, have built a six-figure business flipping the bargains they find.
  • Rob spent weekends as a child with his parents visiting yard sales. They bought items and then listed them for sale to a bigger market using the newspaper classified section. Rob followed in their footsteps, flipping items as another side job without realizing the full potential of it.
  • Selling used items is no longer a local market. With the launch sites like eBay with 181 million users, the whole world becomes the market.
  • Rob and Melissa's business model capitalizes on larger items, such as commercial exercise equipment or restaurant equipment. They find the items locally from establishments going out of business. They look for the higher retail items which will make them a lot of money. It helps them to work less and make more profit. From their 89 sales last year, they made $80,000.
  • For example, over the summer, they found a 40-inch range that retailed for $4,500. They bought it for $200, brought it home, then sold on eBay for $2,800.
  • Over the last five years, Rob and Melissa have honed their freight skills and can ship very large and heavy items for reasonable prices.
  • While they have become comfortable shipping large items, Rob and Melissa want people to start where they are at. Start with the items in your house, learn the system, how to take photos, how to sell on eBay to slowly build your confidence.
  • The majority of the time, they research an item before buying it. Some things do sell quickly, but other items need time for the right buyer to find them before they sell.
  • There are skill sets involved that make flipping items work: finding the deals, researching prices, making offers, marketing, taking good photos, and shipping. However, Melissa says it's actually a really simple business.
  • There are lots of options for finding items, but Rob's favorite apps are Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. He will scroll through them for ten minutes while sitting in his LazyBoy at night.
  • There are fewer risks than there were several years ago. Smartphones have made it possible to jump onto eBay to check everything for the last 30-60 days that has sold. It's similar to the MLS with the housing market and looking for comparable properties that recently sold.
  • If you can't find it on eBay, a good rule of thumb for items in good condition is 50% off retail.
  • They no longer do many actions on eBay, opting for Buy It Now and listing for the price they want.
  • Since you can see what an item has sold for the in past, if you want to sell it quickly you can just price it a little bit lower than that.
  • Rob and Melissa sell 85% of their items on eBay and the rest on Facebook Marketplace. They usually cross-post items but eBay is consistently a winner.
  • Fees on eBay are 13%. PayPal processing is 3% and 10% goes to eBay. They believe the opportunity to sell to a larger audience is worth the fee.
  • Taking good pictures is important, with clean photos and nothing in the background. Fancy photography equipment isn't required. They still use their iPhones for everything. Since eBay allows up to 12 photos, you should use all 12 photos.
  • The title for the item is the most important since eBay is essentially a search engine and the searches will come up on Google too.
  • Descriptions are less important and Rob likes to underpromise and overdeliver so people have realistic expectations.
  • Since they already have a good idea of how much it going to cost, they build it into the item cost and offer free shipping. It helps items to sell more quickly and reduce emailing back and forth with the buyer.
  • Rob and Melissa love what they do and already feel like they are retired even if they haven't hit their FI number. Rob spend about 20-25 hours a week on their flipping business.
  • They both like to travel and have a goal of being able to pay for the trip by flipping while on the road.
  • Flipping is something Rob and Melissa are so passionate about that they teach a course. They have two groups they've been teaching, one with no experience flipping, and another group of experienced flippers looking to go freight.
  • Rob and Melissa offer a webinar, which can be found at, and a paid course.





Sep 28, 2020
255 | If People Can Do it Then I Can Do it Too | Leslie Tayne Connects with Vivian
  • Picking back up with the Household of FI series, Vivian is a single mom who found FI in the last year, but initially, it seemed impossible. It wasn't until she was introduced to the ChooseFI podcast and saw real people reaching financial independence that she believed she could do it too.
  • Vivian has been dealing with a number of challenges: a cancer diagnosis, a child custody battle, and caring for parents who have no savings of their own.
  • As a pharmacist, she earns a significant income. She's already managed to pay off $300,000 in student loans in six years and believes she can save $60,000 a year.
  • Vivian has been paired with mentor, Leslie Tayne, also a single mom and attorney who helps people with debt relief.
  • Leslie acknowledges that what Vivian is going through with her separation is one the most challenging times in her life and it is a very emotional experience along with being financially damaging. However, there is a light on the other side and she will come out with more freedom and more control.
  • Because her significant other's mom used to watch her child while she was a work, childcare is a challenge right now. Childcare is expensive and not something you can find discounts on.
  • As an attorney, Leslie helps her clients to fix their financial messes without judgment. She doesn't believe in a debt-free life since life has its ups and downs. Instead, it's okay if being debt-free is not realistic. We should learn to embrace our debt but what is important is how you manage the debt.
  • Due to the separation, Vivian will be selling the house that is entirely in her name. If she makes a profit, she should talk to her tax preparer about qualifying for a capital gains exemption.
  • Vivian is also interested in ways to save for her child's college education to which Leslie offers several options: contributing to a 529 plan, a state pre-pay program, or a regular savings account.
  • There are tax advantages to contributing to a 529 plan over a savings account and should Vivian's child decide to not go to school, the money in the 529 plan may be used for grandchildren or withdrawn with earnings taxed at regular income tax rates.
  • The Texas pre-pay option would allow Vivian to lock in current undergraduate tuition rates and required fees.
  • When it comes to budgeting for groceries, Leslie says that her family mostly eats at home and orders out just once a week. One trick to not overspending at the grocery store is not to take the children with you, shop with a list, don't allow yourself to get distracted, and buy non-perishables in bulk.
  • When you have no choice but to bring your child with you, you can allow them to pick one item so that they can pick something they want without filling your cart with everything they want. It limits your financial exposure when shopping.
  • While eating out, rather than order a kid's meal, share bites of your own meal, and develop a taste for adult foods.
  • Vivian's daughter is not yet attending pre-K schooling, due to the virus but may be able to find reasonably-priced options that give her the option to socialize.
  • Because her significant other has not been cooperative during their separation, all of the attorney costs and other fees have gotten be very expensive. Vivian needs to be as cooperative as possible to limit her financial exposure.
  • Leslie says a good piece of advice is don't marry or get involved with anyone you don't want to be divorced from.
  • It's often advisable to keep finances separate in a relationship and protect any assets with a prenup or postnup because it is very tricky to untangle them should the relationship end.
  • Everyone should look at what deciding to combine finances in a relationship really means and how it impacts things.
  • Brad reviewed the capital gains tax question and said because Vivian has lived there for at least two of the last five years, she would be eligible for up to $250,000 in capital gains tax exclusion.
  • The decisions being made should be ones that will make life better over the long-term. Brad's goal is to set the groundwork for a successful life.
  • Jonathan notes that Vivian doesn't appear to have an issue with her savings rate, instead, she may be at risk of slipping into a deprivation state. To fight this urge, Brad believes we need to have a better idea of what the path looks like for her.
  • As ChooseFI follows Vivian during this study, she will need to better understand her expenses and her FI number. She needs to have a sense of where she is to know where she is going.
  • ChooseFI recognizes that some audience members are just finding and joining us now. ChooseFI is building out a curated path to help you figure out where you are and what information will serve you best. Sign up to receive this information and more at





Sep 25, 2020
254 Creating a lifestyle not a Job | Corbett Barr
  • Building a business online has never been easier than right now, but Corbett Barr was forging his path in the early 2000s when it was hard. We're diving into his origin story to learn what gave him motivation and why he believed entrepreneurship was for him.
  • Working as a consultant in Fortune 500 companies, Corbett had the kind of job a lot of people really wanted and could build a career around. Though he wasn't aware of financial independence at the time, he didn't want to climb the ladder only to find it had been leaning up against the wrong wall.
  • Unhappy with his career, he was nudged toward entrepreneurship but was scared to take the leap until a friend asked if he wanted to become involved in a new project, which he was able to do without risking any of his own money.
  • In his early 20s, Corbett was furloughed from his job during the 2000-01 financial crisis. During his efforts to stay afloat, he was ashamed and learned how important it is to save as much as possible. His savings gave him enough of a cushion to last a year or so in order to find out if he had what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
  • His picture of entrepreneurship at the time was working yourself to the bone, sleeping under your desk, and hitting a home run before earning a bunch of money and doing whatever he wanted. But he found that he still had a host people he still needed to answer to and felt even more trapped than if he were an employee.
  • After putting in so much time, effort, and money, it was painful to realize he didn't have much to show for it. But after having a taste of entrepreneurship, it was hard to imagine going back.
  • Rather than jump into another project, Corbett and his wife took an eight-month sabbatical in Mexico to clear his head, reset and pivot.
  • The Mexican sabbatical allowed him to put some space between himself and the friends, family, and San Francisco venture capitalists influencing his life to see that something else was possible.
  • It was around that time he discovered concepts of location, independence, lifestyle design, and digital nomads. He realized that perhaps what he wanted wasn't to be wealthy, but instead to have enough time and control to do the things he wanted, like working on the things he wanted or spending time with friends and family.
  • When discussing the dark side of entrepreneurship, Corbett says we don't often see the path of destructions can leave in people's lives. However, it has become much more democratized in recent years where you don't have to take investment money or big-name advertisers. It allows you to really be in control and think about how you go about doing it.
  • Though he originally envisioned building a product and then finding customers who wanted it, he decided to go with an audience first business where he would find customers who wanted a product he would then build for them. An audience first strategy ends up taking a lot of the risk out of things.
  • In the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, it's all about finding your topic and what you are going o building toward. It's good to jump into something you are interested in and can become good at. It can take experimentation and doesn't necessarily come overnight.
  • Something that Corbett teaches is “minimum viable income” where you cut back all of the fat. Though he jumped in with both feet and lived off savings, people like Brad did things on the side. And adding an extra thousand or two in income through a side project, it can change the entire trajectory in terms of FI.
  • Some of Corbett's observations about working for yourself are: you have no one to blame but you, when you work for yourself, you don't have to worry about a new boss, you decide when you work and when you don't, no pointless, actionless meetings, no cubicles, and the coffee is amazing.
  • When living a nomadic lifestyle, Corbett and his wife consider the total annual cost of their home base, including any rent they might receive back. Some locations are better than others, so you may need to get creative about it.
  • In 2009, when Corbett began building his audience first business, he began with free ebooks on affiliate marketing, followed by an online course, and then another, and another. He began to realize that he wanted to layer coaching and community on it. He's been doing that through Fizzle since 2012, along with a podcast.
  • Free consultations are a great way to understand what questions your audience has and then build it into your product. There are ways to ease into charging for the product you are creating to find out if it's viable.





Sep 21, 2020
253 | Back to Basics
  • Going back to the basics of ChooseFI being a crowdsourced show, Brad and Jonathan address what's going on in the FI community with a wild card Friday episode.
  • Why revisit content that's already been discussed? After several years of introducing new ideas, the ChooseFI audience may be in a different place financially and ready for a refresher on some of the more advanced concepts presented earlier in the show's history. And newer listeners may not have combed through the archives and missed out on topics relevant to their situation. This episode back to basics provides an orientation of what ChooseFI hopes to deliver.
  • Goals for the podcast are to introduce a new idea or story during the Monday episode. But not every strategy or tactic works for everyone. Friday's Roundup episode looks at that idea from different perspectives, incorporates audience feedback, and seeks to answer additional questions.
  • The FI Weekly is the email Brad sends out every Tuesday where he provides subscribers with ideas to ponder, inspire, and motivate people on their own journey and shares what actions he is taking to make his life a little bit better. Opt in to receive Brad's email, The FI Weekly, at
  • Financial independence means different things to different people. For Jonathan, it means he has options allowing him to choose what he does during the best years of his life. For Brad, it means freedom, giving him the ability to live life on his terms, spending time with his family.
  • Pursuing financial independence doesn't mean living a life of deprivation. It's about choice. No one should tell you how to spend your time, your freedom, or what to spend your money on. You have the freedom to spend money on an expensive car if you choose, as long as you understand the impact of that decision.
  • It's not even about being at financial independence or not. Simply being on the path to FI gives you options. Whether you're in a toxic situation at work or want to pursue a passion project, just working toward FI gives you options those on the standard path cannot afford to take.
  • Sharing stories from the community and discussing the decisions they have made broadens and brings to light the scope of options available to the variety of personal challenges you may have.
  • The pursuit of financial independence is not necessarily about hitting that FI number. It's a life optimization strategy.
  • If you are working in a low-wage job and don't see the path, you can be trained in a new industry and be making $60-80K within six months. Check out the Talent Stacker podcast.
  • Shane recently posted in the ChooseFI Facebook Group, “I'm a recent college graduate, 23 years old. What advice would you give yourself when you were my age regarding investments, retirement/401K, and student loans? I want to invest, but I also have about $30,000 worth of student debt, but I'm only making around $41,000 a year.”
  • Brad notes that a lot of people like Shane are looking for tips or special advice that will get them to financial success, but that there's nothing complex about it. It comes down to savings rate and time.
  • Increasing savings rate is easier when you reduce your structural expenses. If your life doesn't cost much, you can increase your savings.
  • When first starting out, Brad and Laura weren't making high salaries, but they set themselves up for success by moving to a city with a lower cost of living, purchased a home with a reasonable mortgage, and have driven the same car since 2003. These choices allowed them to have a 50% savings rate and meant if Laura decided to stop working once they had kids, they would be fine.
  • Brad and Laura became wealthy because they didn't care about looking wealthy.
  • With some quick math, Jonathan calculates for Shane to have a 50% savings rate, his monthly expenses will need to be $1,700 a month. With a mortgage and expensive car payment, that may be difficult. He might do well trying something like house hacking.
  • Shane could purchase 4 bedroom house, rent out rooms to friends and cut his housing expenses down to $300 a month.
  • 40% of most people's expenses go to housing and transportation. Optimizing in just those two high-cost areas can make a huge difference in your savings rate.
  • Anchoring yourself to a food budget of $2 per person per meal per day in another way to reduce a major expense category. Laura sits down once a week to plan out several meals for the week, making enough to have as leftovers on a second night. The meals she cooks average that $2 per person per meal goal which helps them save over $1,000 on eating out and picking up convenience foods at the grocery store.
  • A rough target for housing expenses is 25% of your take home pay.
  • For investing, Brad recommends Shane begin with low-cost index fund investing and JL Collins' book The Simple Path to Wealth.





Sep 18, 2020
252 | Life Rebuilt | Julia Harder
  • Everyone's path to FI is going to look a little bit different and there is so much we can learn from each other. Hoping to inspire and share lessons learned through conversations with community members, Brad and Jonathan speak with Julia Harder, an active duty member of the Coast Guard, is already well on her path to FI.
  • Always a natural saver, Julia was influenced by her dad, who stressed the importance of investing, and Dave Ramsey's teachings that debt is bad. She was on a good financial path, yet she still felt something was missing.
  • Though it sounds counterintuitive, Julia's path to financial independence began with divorce. Prioritization to her marriage, she rarely spent money on anything she didn't absolutely need. During her marriage, her husband helped her learn that some spending can be a good thing. Unfortunately, he was an irresponsible spender and there were months Julia found she couldn't pay all of the bills.
  • Although she knew something was wrong, she failed to listen to her instincts and all of the red flags that kept popping up. she just assumed everything would be okay rather than taking a step back and thinking about it critically.
  • Following her divorce, she was left with a $300,000 mortgage, a $20,000 car loan, no savings, and was feeling like she had hit rock bottom financially. Following Dave Ramsey's advice, Julia began to follow his steps to get back on her feet and find herself and her financial objectives again.
  • Julia was all in on Dave Ramsey's strategies. She cut up her credit cards, began using cash for everything, and made a budget every month. It gave her discipline and solidified her habits.
  • She found ChooseFI in May 2019 after she began teaching personal finance to other members of her Coast Guard unit. The thought of optimizing investments and taxes really caught her attention. It was exciting to begin taking action to optimize her money in these areas as well.
  • It was more difficult to come around with respect to travel rewards credit cards, but because she had learned to be disciplined with her budget, she could spend money on a rewards credit card and begin optimizing her travel spending too.
  • Before ChooseFI, Julia thought she was killing it with her 15% savings rate. She assumed 59 and a half was the earliest she could retire because that's the age her finical advisors had given her. She was blown away when a ChooseFI guest discussed their 70% savings rate. It was then that she realized she could control so much more than current her zone of awareness concerning savings and retirement.
  • Julia plans on remaining in the Coast Guard until eligible for a pension at 20 years of service. While others often ask if she'll be bored, she has a list of passion projects she can't wait to pursue without having to worry about how to pay the bills.
  • As someone who always enjoyed public speaking, last Fall, she took up book narration after reaching out to a friend with audio experience for help getting started. She's also joined Jonathon's Talent Stacker class and looking to start a podcast.
  • Julia keeps a list of all the things she wants to accomplish and FI will give her the freedom to pursue them without being obligated to a job or other people's expectations.
  • Between Julia's pension, TSP, Roth IRA, and a taxable brokerage account, she plans to hit Fat FI in 2027 when she becomes eligible for her pension.
  • Calculating a FI number with a pension is a bit different than multiplying annual expenses by 25. Julia estimated her pension using the military's pension calculator. She multiplied the difference between her pension and her expenses to calculate her FI number.
  • While she still follows the tenants of Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps and has met the minimum standards, she believes she has moved on from the standard path of working for 40 years and is more in line with ChooseFI.
  • Jonathon stressed that like Julia, members of the military with a pension, the Roth Conversion Ladder is not going to be a good option since it requires a few years with little to no income.
  • When exploring the idea of a talent stack, some people may have a difficult time identifying what they are really good at. It might start with identifying a pattern in what others tell you you are good at.

To watch the video highlights, click on





Sep 14, 2020
251 | Should I Pay off the Mortgage on the Path to FI? | Brad Connects with Martin and Ayesha
  • Martin and Ayesha are both natural savers who have been great about living below their means but lacked a real plan. Their goals are to maximize investments for retirement and finding ways to utilize dividend funds.
  • After stumbling across the ChooseFI podcast, they felt like their financial independence number and retirement seemed obtainable which has helped push them to commit and make even bigger changes.
  • While Martin and Ayesha had a 20-25% savings rate before finding FI, Brad commended them on what a great job they were doing. He also stressed that FI is about living a better life and having the financial security to get you there, not what your savings rate is.
  • Despite the inclination to save, Ayesha always resisted the thought of meticulousness and restrictive budgets. However, she found that she could get behind the idea of focusing on spending on what they truly valued, so they began using Personal Capital as a less obtrusive method of tracking their spending and gaining insight into their habits.
  • Something that Martin and Ayesha place considerable value on are experiences, particularly travel, spending time with friends and family, and being healthy. Instead of getting together at restaurants and spending money on pricey meals out, they began hosting monthly potlucks.
  • Ayesha has found the website Budget Bytes to be incredibly economical when it comes to low-cost recipes and efficient for discovering uses for the ingredients she already has in her refrigerator. It's helped to cut their grocery bill to around $600 per month for their family of 4.
  • Due to quarantine restrictions, Ayesha was out of work for months, which she calls a blessing in disguise. During that free time, they were able to take a deep dive into their spending and immediately saved $500. It also allowed them to slow down and spend more time with family enjoying the outdoors, playing games, and eating all three meals together.
  • Following the time off from work, Ayesha has realized that it does cause her some stress which made her want to buy things. It also strengthened her conviction to reduce her workload within 5 years to perhaps just one day a week so that she can find more joy in the moment.
  • Although Martin enjoyed his two-hour daily commute, working from home during the pandemic has made him more aware of the importance of time. He now strives to make the most of his time and focus on using it in ways that bring him the most value.
  • While their monthly expenses are not constant because life is lumpy, it runs around $3,500 but can go as high as $5,000 a month when home repairs are needed.
  • Martin and Ayesha have a goal of reaching FI in seven years and are looking at exploring several different options to help get them there.
  • With option one, they would withdraw money from an investment account to pay off the mortgage on their home. The money saved on the mortgage payment would then be invested for the next seven years.
  • In option two, they would use their investment account to pay off half of the remaining mortgage and continue to make the monthly mortgage payments which result in a mortgage pay off in seven years.
  • Their third option is to refinance their current mortgage which has 17 years left at 3.3% interest rate to a 15-year loan at 2.6%, but that refinance incurs $7,000 in fees. The payments would remain the same, but the home would be paid off two years earlier.
  • Ayesha likes the idea of not having a mortgage but doesn't want to do it if the numbers don't make sense. However, Martin is okay with a lower net worth if it means they can get rid of their mortgage because he feels they would have more options.
  • Brad admits this is an issue he and many others in the FI community struggle with. With such low-interest rates on mortgages, it's almost always a better option mathematically to keep the money invested, but it doesn't mean it's the right decision for everyone. The psychological aspect needs to be considered.
  • If they would like to pay the mortgage off in seven years, the best thing they can do it to use an amortization calculator and see how much extra they will need to pay each month to have the mortgage paid off in seven years. Martin and Ayesha can then see how that payment fits into their current lifestyle.
  • As a fourth option, Brad pointed out that they can drastically reduce their FI number if they were to pay off their mortgage. With a FI estimate of 1.25 million, using the 4% rule, they would have $4,000 per month. If the mortgage was paid off, they could reduce their monthly expenses by $1,600, and then their FI number is only $750,000.
  • After living through the 2008 housing market crash and not having a plan, and then this most recent market downturn, Martin and Ayesha have realized they may not be as risk-tolerant as they used to believe. Brad suggested having an investor policy statement that they've written down to help them stay the course in times of uncertainty.
  • The biggest takeaway is the being on the path to FI gives you options when you have the freedom and flexibility to create a plan that works to meet your goals and live a better life, even if it isn't always mathematically optimized.
  • It's a common problem to be overwhelmed with all the information we consume about optimizing various aspects of our lives that we end up with analysis paralysis. It's important to remember that we're trying to live better lives. They don't have to perfect or 100% optimized.
  • One final concern Martin and Ayesha have is funding their children's education. Brad admits it may be wishful thinking that the higher education system goes through some sort of dramatic change in the coming years, but he and Laura consider paying $50,000 a year for college to be unpalatable and have stopped putting money into their girls' 529 accounts. Instead, they have tried to normalize the conversation about money in their house and have discussed lower-cost options for college.

To watch the video highlights, click on





Sep 11, 2020
250 | Money Lessons From My Grandparents | Anne Zonca
  • Once you realize financial independence is possible for you, how do you ensure the money lessons you've learned are consistently passed down to future generations?
  • Anne Zonca's family is well ahead of their time when it comes to financial independence. When many are focused on second-generation FI, Anne herself is third generation FI working to pass along her family's lessons to her own children.
  • Children of the Great Depression, Anne's grandparents were deeply effected by having lived through it. Starting out in marriage with literally nothing, they worked hard and saved so that they never had to live through a financial situation like that again. Understanding that saving was not enough, they began investing in the stock market in the 1950s.
  • With a formal education, her grandfather stayed informed with the Wall Street Journal and sharing stock tips with his brother. They invested in individual stocks, picking ones they felt were stable, like oil and gas, or utility companies. For stocks that paid dividends, they reinvested the dividends. with this strategy, they were able to build a substantial amount of wealth.
  • Anne's mom recounted stories about how her grandfather got into stock investing, but Anne became more aware of her grandparents investing prowess around 14 when they began gifting stock to their children and grandchildren.
  • While the value of the gifted stock wasn't necessarily a large sum, it was substantial considering they were regularly gifting to 4 children and 11 grandchildren.
  • The gifted stocks were paying decent dividends, but rather than receive a lot of checks for small amounts, the dividends were all reinvested.
  • Though the growth on the stocks gifted to Anne was not enough for her to reach FI, she definitely had a heart start and was learning about stocks and investing at a young age.
  • Her grandparents gifting stock to the family was a win-win scenario as her grandparents did not have to sell the stock and pay capital gains on the appreciated value. Though the recipient bears a tax burden, children are entitled to a certain amount of capital gains each year tax-free.
  • Currently, children can have up to $2,000 of capital gains before being subject to capital gains taxes.
  • Following the example set by her grandparents, Anne's parents were able to achieve financial independence as well through entrepreneurship and real estate.
  • Although preceding generations had reached financial independence, it wasn't wealth being passed on from generation to generation that got them there. It was the lessons of spending less than you make and smartly investing the extra that perpetuated generational success and wealth.
  • Despite her grandparents' success in the stock market, there was remarkably little conversation about investing until the grandkids were older and showed an interest in having such conversations.
  • As a result of the gifted stocks and her parents being good stewards of it for her, Anne was able to use it and graduate from college debt-free.
  • As life is often bumpy, Anne experienced her own financial setback when she divorced her husband and the courts gave her ex-husband half of everything her grandparents had gifted to her. Luckily, the money lessons she had learned allowed her to be in a financial position to leave behind the marriage and move on with her life.
  • Although not everything has gone fairly or smoothly since the divorce, Anne has adopted a great attitude by understanding that it's only money, she will be able to move on, and that she will still reach FI.
  • The advice she would give to anyone else going through a divorce is to work with the things that are burdening you, follow your heart, and don't sacrifice your life, happiness, or the person you want to be over a bad decision. You can work hard and invest. There are still a lot of opportunities to save money, meet goals, and find love.
  • Having been a stay-at-home mom and yoga teacher, Anne needed to get back into the workforce to support herself. A friend advised her to do it scared. The first year was hard, but she built up her skills and got her CPA certification renewed.
  • Anne's grandparents lived long enough to begin gifting stock to their great-grandchildren, so her kids have been the fortunate recipients of these gifts and their associated money lessons.
  • In addition to the stock gifts, Anne started a program of investing pocket change with her kids. Now that they are are in high school, they listen to ChooseFI with her and she's established stock accounts for them so that they can become comfortable investing in stocks and mutual funds.
  • To impart a FI mindset in her children by being an example. Anne drives used cars. She also has them responsible for paying their own car insurance, which incentivizes them to get good grades to earn a discount. And she gives them some say in how Anne she invests money for them.
  • Anne says financial independence means freedom. She can make decisions independent of the financial impact.
  • Second, third, and fourth generations have a distinct advantage when starting out in life with the information, language, and a framework to make their path to FI easier.





Sep 07, 2020
249 | Carol connects with The Retirement Answer Man Roger Whitney
  • Brad is back after taking August off of work as his Red X month. Though his original vacation plans were changed because of COVID, he made the best of it. They spent three weeks in Long Island visiting family, enjoying the pool, board games, and a digital detox.
  • While Brad was away relaxing, Jonathan used that time to work on a couple of big passion projects. During the month of August, Jonathan created a podcast course and membership group. He also started a new podcast as a way to demonstrate to the group how you start one. The Talent Stacker podcast uses the content discussed on ChooseFI but then goes even further and fills in the holes to focus on skills, certificate programs, and career paths that don't require the high cost of college.
  • The first episode of Talent Stacker has already been released and this coming Monday's episode will feature Bradley Rice where he and Jonathan discuss a carer path you can start for free with no talent stack, no career, and no experience and after 6 months of training, you can make a minimum of 60-80K with the ability to scale for an even higher income.
  • The Talent Stacker membership program has lifetime guaranteed access where they will work with you to as long as it takes to get you working in that new job earning $60,000.
  • Programs such as the one discussed on next Monday's Talent Stacker episode are becoming more popular with examples like Google's new career certificate program which also takes about 6 months to complete at a fraction of the cost of traditional college. The Vice President of Global Affairs at Google, Kent Walker, stated they consider the certificate to be the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.
  • The next Households of FI family featured this week is Carol, sho found FI in 2020. In her mid-50s, Carol claims she is financially illiterate and does not want to end up being a burden to her child. Her goals are to change her deprivation mindset when it comes to money, retire with financial security, and kick her lifelong issues with credit cards. Carol was introduced to financial planner, Roger Whitney, to come up with a financial plan of attack.
  • Since finding FI, Carol has jumped right in reading and listening to as much as she can. In that time, she has cut her debt in half. She believes her first steps should be to pay off debt, start an emergency fund, and begin saving aggressively for retirement. She also knows she needs a mindset shift.
  • Carol struggles with budgets, but she's contributing to her 401(k) for the first time and is only giving herself a small amount of spending money with everything extra going to savings after her bills have been paid.
  • Roger suggests there are two ways to tackle the mindset issue, either toughen up and do it, or set up a system to capture her excess money.
  • Rather than focus on the big hill Carol needs to climb, Roger wants her to focus on what little thing she needs to do next to begin to create momentum. He also suggests that having a community like ChooseFI is great for providing encouragement, assistance, and being a virtual mentor.
  • Carol wants to know which is more important paying off her credit cards or building her emergency fund. Because she's been good about not using her credit cards and they have a high-interest rate, Roger wants her to focus on paying off her cards with every extra dollar she has.
  • Second, Carol should set up a system for how she manages her money. It can be helpful to have income deposited into a savings account we don't see and then transfer spending money to checking accounts at another bank.
  • After paying bills and buying groceries and gas, Carol has about $200 leftover at the end of the month before she receives her commissions from sales. With her commission checks, she would like to save 50-60% of her income.
  • Carol's company offers both a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k), but she is unsure what the differences are. Roger explains with a traditional 401(k) contributions and growth are tax-deferred until withdrawn, while Roth 401(k) contributions are made from post-tax income and grow tax-free.
  • The next two levers Carol needs to focus on are earning as much as she can in commissions which is the most effective way to make the plan work. The next lever is to hang on to the money she is earning.
  • Side hustles are another area Carol is looking at to increase her earnings. She's already published two books and is working on a third, as well as looking for another side hustle.
  • Since she enjoys writing, Roger suggested that Carol could share her journey on her blog and collect readers and be an inspiration.
  • Mentioning that seeing her M1 Finance account grow, Roger thinks it would be useful to set up a system around that kind of excitement for continued encouragement.

To watch the video highlights, click on





Sep 04, 2020
248 | You Are More Than Your Financial Capital | Laura Oldanie
  • What does it look like when you are invested in building wealth, environmentalism, and sustainability? How do you combine raising your net worth while optimizing these other areas of your life? You build a holistic approach to the different types of capital.
  • Laura learned about the different forms of capital through her experiences with permaculture, which is a design science that looks to nature as an example of a closed-loop, no waste system.
  • Her introduction to permaculture through her gardening interest in sustainability. The permaculture flower has seven petals, with each petal representing concepts like Land in Nature, Stewardship, and The Built Environment. In addition, 12 guiding principles can be applied to each petal, such as Catch and Store Energy. She became intrigued after learning permaculture could be applied to more than just the landscape.
  • Not pleased with the investing options available through her employer's retirement account investment options, Laura turned to the permaculture space around money, investing, and finances.
  • Financial permaculture got off the ground around 2010-2013 where permaculture principles were applied to finances.
  • While much of the thinking done early on has been at the macro level, Laura has been working to bring it down the personal finance level.
  • Socially responsible investing is something that Laura does at the local level. She looks for investment opportunities in her local community, like purchasing a share in a local permaculture farm. But she recognizes local investments are few and far between, so she casts a wider net for meaningful investments outside of the stock market, like with the American Homeowner Preservation Fund which buys distressed mortgages and works to keep people in their homes.
  • While it may sound like a charitable contribution, Laura is investing in these opportunities through her retirement account. Though she recognizes these investments may be riskier, she believes there are far greater risks to the environment with many other investments.
  • Anyone considering investing in this way should do their due diligence and understand the risk before investing in a non-diversified portfolio.
  • Laura tries to mitigate this risk using multiple forms of capital as a safety net.
  • In addition to financial capital, there are material capital, intellectual capital, experiential capital, social capital, living capital, cultural capital, and spiritual capital. Other forms of capital sometimes discussed are time, health, and attention.
  • Within social capital, Laura discussed communities helping each other through mutual aid societies and time banks and how they have been springing up since the pandemic began.
  • Understanding these various forms of capital has shaped how Laura thinks about retirement planning. Financial capital is how we access the other forms of capital and they are where our quality of life comes from. Laura has been thinking about how to build and develop her other forms of capital so that she will require less financial capital.
  • Long-term care is extremely expensive as is the insurance to cover it. Building social capital is one way to defer those long-term care costs but may not be a substitute for everyone.
  • Thinking about some of these issues as a system versus a singular item brings more joy and focuses on quality of life instead of a number on a spreadsheet.
  • Jonathan acknowledged that when describing his investor policy statement, he was looking at his options through the various forms of capital he has not solely his net worth and that changes his investing approach.
  • Laura believes it's not necessary to have balance across all forms of capital. It may be more effective to specialize in several and looks to our networks, friends, family, and community to find who is rich in the areas where we are deficient.
  • Though asset mapping, some communities may be poor in financial capital, yet wealthy in other forms which, when tapped, can be converted into financial capital.
  • These forms of capital are not limited to homeowners. They are still accessible to those living a nomadic life, who are renting or not thinking about retirement yet. Community gardens, volunteering, and online communities are several ways to build capital.

To watch the video highlights, click on





Aug 31, 2020
247 | Zach and Marilyn Talk Real Estate Investing | Paula Pant
  • Continuing the financial independence case study series, Households of FI family, Zach and Marilyn are a married couple with young kids. Using Dave Ramsey's baby steps, they no longer have any debt but have wondered what to do next. Looking to explore investing in real estate, ChooseFI connected them with real estate expert, Paula Pant.
  • Though Zach and Marilyn once lived below the poverty line, they managed to pay off their debt, including student loans, a car loan, credit cards, and medical debt. During that time, they gained a little experience with buying and selling property. Since that time, Marilyn has gone back to work and their income almost doubled.
  • Having earned a profit on some previous homes they flipped after living in and renovating them, it's encouraged them to use the skills they've acquired on future investment properties.
  • Where they currently live in Cedar City UT, the market is a bit inflated and are concerned about the 1% rule where monthly rent should equal 1% of the total purchase price.
  • Paula explains that if a property rents for 1% of the purchase price, that is 12% per year at full occupancy. Since it is estimated that operating costs will be roughly 50% of the monthly rent, 6% of the purchase price is what if leftover as an unleveraged dividend on the property. Assuming no increase in the value of the property, but keeps pace with inflation, that's roughly another 3% based on historical averages, the property gives a 6% dividend and 3% inflationary increase, for a total return of 9%. It is a rough way to determine if a property is worth looking into further
  • Exceptions for the 1% rule of thumb may be made when operating costs are expected to be less than the 50% average, such as if property taxes are extremely low or if it is a newer home.
  • Other exceptions to the 1% rule can also be made when buying a multi-unit home where you live in one unit and rent out the others. In those cases, personal criteria for where you want to live also come into play and the 1% rule can be thrown out the window.
  • Because property values are a little inflated where they live, Zach and Marilyn are interested in buying properties in markets where they don't live. Paula believes that it's easier being an out-of-state landlord because it forced her to treat it like a business when she couldn't just pop over and take care of issues herself.
  • Zach and Marilyn were also interested in what criteria they should consider regarding properties that are fixer-uppers versus being move-in ready. Paula says what she teaches the students in her real estate investing course includes a graph where on the x-axis represents a spectrum with “You Find Deals” at one end and “Your Create Deals” at the other. On the ends of the Y-axis are “Move-in Ready” and “Not Even Habitable”. There are tradeoffs between effort and reward, but as effort increases, generally, reward increases as well. If you don't have time to devote to the hardest quadrant of the graph, then it might be easier to find deals in the move-in ready quadrant instead.
  • Since they are debt-free, Marilyn I feeling anxious about taking on additional mortgage debt, but Paula views the mortgage from an investment property differently from personal property. An investment property mortgage is a tool that allows you to cashflow positive.
  • Paula doesn't have a specific price range she won't exceed but says there is a balance of equity to debt that she tries not to exceed across her entire rental property portfolio. She tries to keep a 50/50 ratio where for every $1 of debt she has, she also has $1 of equity which is conservative by most real estate investor standards.
  • To ensure that enough funds are on hand to take care of emergency maintenance and other unexpected household repairs, Pauls advises having 3-6 months' worth of rent on hand to cover these expenses.
  • Zach and Marilyn are wondering if they should cut back on retirement investments and divert to real estate to help them acquire property faster. Paula suggests instead look at how much from their overall budget they want to save and then decide how to divide up the savings.
  • Considering what happened in 2008 with the real estate market, and unsure how the pandemic will impact real estate today, they are unsure when to jump in and purchase an investment property. Similar to trying to time the stock market, Paula encouraged them to look at the numbers to decide if it's a good deal right now. If in the future, the market shifts and no longer makes sense, then sell. When this is done repeatedly over a lifetime, you win.
  • Since they have done well in the past with live-in flips, Paula cautioned them to be aware of their emotions and to be careful about separating what they want from a home they live in with what makes sense as a good investment.
  • A 1031 Exchange allows you to avoid paying capital gains when selling an investment property and reinvest the proceeds from the sale within certain time limits in properties of like-kind and equal or greater value.
  • Living in a property for two of the last five years qualifies you for a capital gains exclusion of up to $250,000 or $500,000 for couples filing jointly.
  • Brad has been an out-of-state landlord like Paula for more than a year. He purchased a couple of properties in Georgia for $50-55,000. The market rent for these properties is about $750-800 so Brad is above 1% at around 1.4%.

To watch the video highlights, click on





Aug 28, 2020
246 | Overcoming and Battling Financial Abuse | Rachael Partleton


  • What happens when someone is using your finances to prevent you from making decisions that are in your own best interest? What does financial abuse look like and can you reclaim your financial life? Rachael shares her story and how she's become passionate about economic empowerment.
  • Although she had a successful career and what appeared to be a healthy relationship from the outside, Rachael found herself in a relationship with someone who walked all over her.
  • Slowly over time, Rachael's boyfriend began chipping away at her confidence and inserting himself into her finances, putting his name on all of the bills, linking bank accounts, opening joint accounts, and pushing to have his name on the mortgage to the property she had purchased on her own.
  • Your instincts and feelings are worth paying attention to. Had Rachael explored her feelings more, she believes she would have listened to them better. Not knowing what's happening with your bills or financial accounts is a red flag. Sharing accounts is only good when both people are acting in good faith.
  • The drive to take over control finances may start as a result of insecurity in the relationship, but it can take a turn and be used against the other person as a form of punishment.
  • Rachael describes financial abuse as a psychological assault where your trust is so broken that it can damage the relationship you have with yourself. If you aren't making decisions willingly and freely, you are giving up bits of your power and it's then a slippery slope to giving away too much.
  • There's nothing inherently wrong about merging finances but there's needs to be a conversation it.
  • After 10 years, the relationship ended, Rachael found herself in a legal battle over the property, was experiencing PTSD and unable to do her job.
  • The systemic assault she experienced during the relationship and in its aftermath destroyed her trust in society. All the business, government, legal, and social systems she sought help from had failed her.
  • The bright light in her experience is that Rachael has now become an agent of change to have new laws passed in the UK to help other victims of financial abuse.
  • Learning to tell her story and fight for herself was incredibly difficult, but also a skill-building endeavor. She channeled her anger, found her voice, and learned how to speak clearly and with confidence.
  • Always a fan of journaling and understanding the power of words, Rachael started a blog as an unfiltered outlet for her feelings. The positive feedback she received from family and friends also helped build her confidence.
  • Not wanting to return to teaching, Rachael attended one of Alan Donegan's PopUp Business Schools to possibly become a personal fitness trainer. When hearing about using your experiences to build an authentic business, Rachael realized she wanted to help other victims of financial abuse.
  • Rachael wants to become a consultant to banks, housing associations, and lawyers and tell them what they need to do to stop financial abuse from happening, protecting both themselves and their customers.





Aug 24, 2020
245 | Matt & Megan get International Tax Tips | Dave McKeegan

To watch the video highlights, click on

  • Matt and Megan are a dual military family on the path to FI. Matt is serving in the UK Royal Navy and Megan is serving in the US Navy, making their tax situation unique.
  • Currently, they plan on having Matt get a green card, allowing him to work in the US, while Megan finishes out her Navy career to earn a pension and then move abroad in about seven years.
  • Once Matt gets his green card, he will be taxed like any other US citizen. He owns an apartment in the UK that he would like to sell. Dave McKeegan notes that since there is no wealth tax in the US, Matt will not be taxed on his assets, but once he gets a green card or meets the substantial presence test, he would potentially have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of the apartment so it would be best to sell it first.
  • Due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), every bank around the world is required to report US citizen account information to the US Treasury Department. US citizens are also required to report accounts on a FinCEN 114 form and assets held overseas are subject to capital gains taxes.
  • Dave wanted Matt and Megan to be aware that mutual funds held outside of the US can often be viewed as passive foreign investment companies. Any investments overseas should be US compliant as well. Vanguard has a number of retirement funds that report correctly to both the US and UK and are exempt from taxes.
  • Matt and Megan are interested in how the can best take advantage of the US tax system and simplify it for themselves. To reduce their taxes, Dave advises Matt to physically give up his green card once they move abroad so that they can place money in international investments under Matt's name and he won't be taxed like he is a US citizen anymore.
  • As long as their assets are less than $2 million, leaving the US will not trigger an exit tax.
  • Depending on income, where their assets are held, and if they have children, their US tax filing status may change to take advantage of higher exemptions, but they should sell the UK property before filing “married filing jointly” as long as he doesn't already meet the substantial presence test.
  • Matt may qualify for a tax-free UK pension when he retires from the Royal Navy but if he has a green card, he will need to pay US taxes on his pension until they move overseas and he gives up the green card.
  • Dave McKeegan has moved around the world and is currently living in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of a number of countries that only tax sources of income earned within that country. As his business is located in the US, Dave pays US taxes. If Matt and Megan were to move to a country with tax laws like Costa Rica, they would not pay income tax to that country on their UK and US pensions.
  • Other countries have income tax rules that depend on how much time is spent in that country. So it's possible to slow travel or split the time spend in a few countries and not pay income tax to the countries visited.
  • Countries that tax their citizens living abroad are the United States, Eritrea, and North Korea.
  • While there may be tax advantages to living abroad and giving up US citizenship, Dave has decided that he benefits of retaining citizenship far outweigh the benefits of not paying taxes and the risk of not being let back into the country.
  • Wyoming is an easy state to incorporate a business and there's no state income tax. If also living outside of the US for 330 days a year, you can be eligible for the foreign income exclusion and exclude $100,000 of income from taxation.
  • Alternatively, Matt could set up an online business overseas and pay Megan a salary up the foreign income exclusion amount and also avoid self-employment taxes.
  • Living in Costa Rica, Dave's children have been learning through a combination of the local international school, homeschooling, and the Simple StartUp entrepreneurial program he's been running for a home school group. He is able to have conversations about business and money with his kids about money and they have become interested in investing as well.
  • Though Dave and his family primarily rented homes while moving around the world, the rental market in Costa Rica made conditions more advantageous to buy. When they travel back to the US for extended periods, they can rent their home in Costa Rica out.
  • Diversification doesn't just apply to a stock portfolio. You can be diversified in passports, income streams, and properties from other countries. Spreading your bets around different countries can make sense.
  • Dave discussed some of the issues expats have opening local bank accounts as US citizens. Matt and Megan have been using Revolut to more easily move money around between countries.
  • Opening up a Roth IRA is something Dave suggested Matt and Megan could do to stash away some tax-free money and have ready access to the principal later.
  • Health care coverage overseas was another area Dave suggested they look into, although health care is frequently more affordable overseas. International policies are always an option to look into as well. The policy Dave has for his family cots $7,000 a year and provides coverage everywhere except for the United States.
  • Another helpful tip Dave has for expats is to always have a couple of different bank accounts to avoid issues with expiring cards or the need to access larger amounts of cash.
  • Opening and using US credit cards and travel rewards is also possible overseas. Dave uses a company called Mailbox Forwarding to receive and scan his mail.
  • It can be a hassle to try and say you aren't a resident of some states anymore avoid paying state income taxes. South Dakota does not have a state income tax and only requires residents to be there one day per year to maintain residency.




Aug 21, 2020
244 | Mentorz : A Second Generation FI Success Story | Ava and Don Wettrick


  • Who do young people look up to today? The lifestyles marketed on MTV and social media not exactly something to aspire to, but where can the next generation go to find something different?
  • Inspired by the work of her father, Don Wettrick, and feeling like she needed to take charge of the issue, Ava Wettrick created MentorZ, a platform designed to introduce great people to Generation Z.
  • As a young child, Ava thought her dad was the smartest guy in the world. It wasn't until she got older that she realized he wasn't necessarily smart, he just read a lot. She's witnessed his transition from teacher to owning a non-profit and embrace the experience.
  • Being a voracious reader, it didn't take much pushing from her dad to begin consuming content from the likes of Tom Bilyeu, Simon Sinek, and Victor Franco and having an influence over her peers.
  • Since getting to know several entrepreneurs, Ava questioned whether or not college is worth the time and expense. She was surrounded by highly successful people telling not to go to college, but she is attending college and has found it helpful to have the financial support of her parents and scholarships while growing, learning and choosing the information she wants to consume.
  • Don acknowledges that for some majors, college is still relevant, and for those who have the money should go, but have a plan. He thinks the best thing students can do is to start doing the thing they might love and begin to shadow people to determine if it is a good fit.
  • Majoring in entrepreneurship at Ball State, Ava is learning about accounting, marketing, running a business, and being a CEO which has only accelerated her drive to make the podcast a success and provides quality content and great messages.
  • Interviewing guests for her podcast has been a significant personal learning experience and changed her perspective on the power of an interview. She waited a year to release the episode recorded with Tom Bilyeu because she feared it wasn't good enough and yet people think it was one of her best. And following her interview with Dov Baron, she received feedback that he believed in her and wanted to mentor her.
  • While there are ways of doing things to make them appear more important than they are, “fake it til you make it” can have its drawbacks. Don believes humility can be key when it comes to Imposter Syndrome.
  • When it comes to second generation FI, Don says it happens by osmosis. His kids have been raised under a frugal lifestyle.
  • Since his last appearance on the podcast, Don left his teaching job to take the non-profit to the next level, growing both the team starting chapters in co-working spaces and tech hubs.





Aug 17, 2020
243 | Corinne and Jillian Johnsrud | Households of FI

Progress Coach, Jillian Johnsrud, meets with Households of FI member, Corinne, to review the two exercises designed to help her understand how she can prioritize her life to focus on the things that matter the most.

  • After taking a quiz to reveal which of the Four Tendencies she is, Corinne discovered that she is an Upholder. She has many things that she would like to do but struggles with feeling guilty about doing non-work related things that are important too.
  • Corinne would like to find more time for meditation and develop better awareness and confidence with her finances.
  • Though Corinne always felt like she was decent with money, beyond investing in a 401k, she would like a better understanding of what her baseline expenses should be and where she can make improvements with a budget and investments.
  • When it comes to learning, Corinne feels that she learns best by practice, repetition, and talking through things, but would love to make her processes as automated as possible. Jillian suggested that Corinne may learn about investing best through a book club, class, or mastermind group.
  • Her goals for mediation are to be more in tune with her body, realize when she needs to step away from work and take a break plus try and have mediation become a part of a daily routine.
  • Jillian divides priorities into two categories, the things we want to make progress on and the action steps to take. There is a huge return on the investment when taking those actions, but things that help with progress are foundational and make life easier.
  • As habits develop in stages, Jillian suggests Corinne first try to find a place in her life for a two-minute meditation habit, before getting started and trying to optimize it. This will help test out when mediation might be appropriate and get through the learning curve. Then focus on any hesitation resistance to doing those two minutes.
  • Creating habits can be more successful when added to an existing routine or by creating a prompt.
  • Corinne would also like to make progress in her career. She needs to stay focused better during working hours to make the most out of them and make progress with communication and executive presence.
  • Exercise, eating healthy, and socializing with friends are other areas where Corinne would like to reduce friction and make doing them easier.
  • Since starting a new habit is so difficult, Jillian likes to divide the year up into six-week chunks and focus on one of the new habits in each of the six weeks. The synergy between the habits begins to build momentum.
  • For the exercise “Challenges and Motivations”, Corinne felt making partner at work was her biggest motivation because she values being part of a team or community and having a sense of belongingness. Other motivations she has are security and autonomy.
  • To increase Corinne's sense of her top three motivations, she feels that she hasn't done well lately with maintaining relationships and connections with people. Jillian likes to use her understanding of the five love languages as a framework to strengthen relationships with others.
  • The biggest challenge to meeting the goal of becoming partner is balancing the expectations of her time at work with her personal life which is why she would like to be more focused at work. Additionally, she would like to stop comparing herself to others at work and concentrate on what works for her.
  • Options for tackling challenges include self-correction, finding a more helpful perspective, and problem solve it. In Corinne's case, Jillian thought she would benefit by actively looking for leaders who were more like her rather than the hard-charging partners in her workplace.
  • Regarding Corinne's challenge with setting boundaries at work with her time, people who work for her sometimes find it difficult to connect with her. Jillian suggested creating a specific time or better communicating what times she is available.





Aug 14, 2020
242 | The Financial Gym | Shannon McLay


  • For those on the path to financial independence, finance, fitness, and life optimization all intersect.
  • During her career in the banking industry, Shannon McLay found it didn't work for the people she wanted to help. She set out to use her skill set and training to change the coaching industry and founded Financial Gym.
  • Even for those who not physically fit, they know what it looks like and there are many resources available for achieving it. The path the financial independence is similar in that it is a long journey. You have to work up to it, will experience setbacks, and take breaks.
  • Much like diets, budgets don't work long-term. Making lifestyle changes is the key to success.
  • At the Financial Gym, clients hit 90% of the goals set for themselves by examining their money behaviors and constantly working to figure out what's will work for them.
  • The two largest emotions people have regarding money are fear and shame. Once people drop these highly charged emotions and understand the financial numbers don't define them, they can break through and embrace moving forward.
  • After turning 30, Shannon realized she didn't want the life she was leading. Her life's trajectory changed when she came to understand that to have long-term sustainable happiness is to help other people and not expect anything in return.
  • During her work as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, she discovered she enjoyed helping out her pro bono clients far more than the wealthy ones. It allowed her to see there was a need for a service where it didn't matter what you looked like financially, you just needed to get financially healthy.
  • Much like going to the gym to get healthy, her concept of a financial gym was a place to meet with financial trainers for a monthly membership fee.
  • Following the model of H&R Block, Shannon believed people wanted to meet with a financial advisor face-to-face. She was advised to prove the model would work before looking to raise money.
  • Experimenting with different plans and prices, she had great success with her first clients increasing their net worth. Clients wanted to keep working with her, but she was running out of money to continue investing in her business. When a former boss invested $100,000 in her concept, she rebranded using the gym concept.
  • The physical environment of the Financial Gym created a community where clients had a shared goal and a safe space to talk about money.
  • Shannon was able to scale her business by developing a training program and teaching compassionate and empathetic people what she knew.
  • Those contemplating becoming an entrepreneur should ask themselves, “Am I a good problem solver?” because running a business is like solving a lot of word problems.
  • No one's financial situation is so bad that it can't be fixed. The trainers at the Financial Gym have seen and fixed it all.
  • On average, clients pay $70-80 a month for membership, but they offer a six-month money-back guarantee which they've never needed to pay out on. The average client increases their net worth by $2,500, increases their credit score by 60 points, and negotiates a $5,000 a year salary increase within the first 3 months of membership.




Aug 10, 2020
241 | Troy & Lindsay Calculate Their FI Number with Brad | Households of FI


  • The Troy and Lindsay are new on their journey, finding FI several months ago after making a budget and realizing they had no money left over at the end of the month. Compared to other systematic approaches to becoming debt-free, they felt FI was creative and adaptable to a variety of lifestyles.
  • The first step Troy and Lindsay took was to determine where all their money was going using a budget tracker, which enabled them to cut monthly expenses and continue to do the things they enjoyed doing, like going to happy hours.
  • Except for their mortgage, the Troy and Lindsay have paid off all of their debt, contribute to a 401k, and have an $80,000 net worth, including a $15,000 emergency fund.
  • Though they both enjoy their jobs now, Lindsay is a teacher, so Brad suggests considering her pension's “worth vs worth it” as Grumpus Maximus has discussed on the podcast and in his book, The Golden Albatross.
  • Use the 4% rule of thumb to determine what your net worth should be to reach FI. Using the 4% rule, you can withdraw 4% of the balance each year to live off of and reasonably expect it to last for the rest of your life. To calculate your FI number, multiply your annual expenses by 25. For every $100 cut from your monthly expenses, is $30,000 less you need to save to reach FI.
  • Troy and Lindsay recently refinanced their mortgage from 4.75% to 3.25% and are investing the $500 a monthly savings into 401ks and Roth IRAs.
  • When wondering about paying off their mortgage, Brad acknowledges that there is a real psychological satisfaction the goes along with it, but he looks at it in this way. The interest portion the payment is the true expense, while the principal payment is a reallocation of net worth going from your checking account into home equity.
  • Brad suggests taking the time to document a year's worth of expenses and look at different scenarios for what life may be like in retirement to come up with a range of possible annual expenses.
  • When calculating their FI number, Troy realized the number was double if he included a mortgage payment. Brad suggests looking at the mortgage amortization schedule for prepayment options.
  • Food expenses have been cut with a goal of $500 a month. Lindsay checks to see what's in the pantry before shopping and meal preps one day a week to avoid eating out, but she isn't penny-pinching when it comes to quality.
  • Removing mortgage and childcare from their expenses, Troy and Lindsay's monthly expenses are about $3,500 per month, which puts their FI number at just around 1 million dollars.
  • They are currently saving roughly $50,000 per year to add to the $80,000 net worth but are wondering where they go from here.
  • Brad acknowledges there can be a lot of initial excitement upon finding FI and making changes, but then there can be a lull. He challenges Troy and Lindsay to figure out what they want their lives to look like rather than compare their FI journey to anyone else's.
  • It's important to understand that life is fluid and wants may change over time. Test small before making big decisions or changes. Flexibility and communication with your partner are critically important pieces of the process.
  • The next steps Troy and Lindsay will be taking are to build a spreadsheet with different retirement expenses scenarios and talk about what they really want their lives to look like.
  • Anyone interested in FI should understand that you don't need to be perfect, but you do need to get started.





Aug 07, 2020
240 | The Budgetnista


For video highlights from the episode, check out

  • Tiffany Alice was raised by a financially savvy father who taught her how to save and handle her money, but a few poor choices in her 20s destroyed her finances. Since overcoming her mistakes, she's made it her mission to help others fix their finances.
  • After falling victim to a con man, Tiffany found herself more than $35,000 in credit card debt. Though her pre-school teacher salary wasn't a high income, she was saving aggressively by living simply and transferring her credit card debt to 0% interest cards.
  • During the 2008/2009 recession, she was $300,000 in the hole between credit card, student loan, and mortgage debt when she was laid off from her job.
  • Seeing that she was struggling less with financial hardship because of the lesson's Tiffany had learned from her father, friends began to ask for help with their finances. She liked teaching and turned teaching financial education into a business.
  • Through her business, she can make good money, help people, and still have happiness and time. She feels that she is living her life in complete alignment. Even with a high net worth, she and her husband continue to live frugally and without debt.
  • One of the lessons her mistakes taught her was to get straight to a solution sooner rather than allow shame or ego to delay it. It's important to acknowledge your role in mistakes, take full responsibility, and then get over it.
  • Teaching financial education was the easy part. Tiffany found that her own financial struggles allowed her to relate to people. She doesn't consider herself to be a guru but an educator helping her girlfriends along.
  • Tiffany built her business from one-on-one financial coaching to a following of over half of a million people in her Dreamcatcher community.
  • Volunteering in her community and utilizing her network, in addition to social media helped get her business off the ground.
  • When followers from outside her local area began to request her course, Tiffany scaled the business to reach anyone, no matter where they lived, with her Live Richer Challenge. When it launched, 10,000 people had signed up.
  • To date more, than 900,000 have taken one or more of her Live Richer challenges.
  • Along the way, Tiffany learned about blogging, video editing, affiliates, monetization, and self-publishing.
  • A good teacher has to be constantly learning, listening, and reading, but what made Tiffany a really good teacher comes from being a pre-school teacher, she honestly cares about her students.
  • She's taken her skills in leading and caring about students as a teacher and applied them to her business, making it an amazing place to work where her employees feel looked after and cared for.
  • Tiffany has authored a pre-financial education book, Happy Birthday Mali More, aimed at teaching pre-school age children a lesson about the things that matter most.



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Aug 03, 2020
239 | The Gatekeepers are Gone


  • Don't believe that you need anyone's permission for access anymore. The gatekeepers are gone and the ability to access knowledge on-demand and create a business model around it has never been easier.
  • The realization that you have autonomy gives you control over your life is transformational. You can control your expenses and reach FI. You can choose to pursue interest-led learning and follow a passion. There is no more "they" you need to seek permission from.
  • MK didn't need the permission of traditional publishing's gatekeepers, instead, she learned how to self-publish.
  • Employers are beginning to value skills over degrees. Google recently announced they are offering 3 new online certificate programs in skill areas critically important to the tech industry. Google is even offering 100,000 need-based scholarships for individuals enrolled in the certificate programs.
  • Start building a talent stack around what interests you.
  • Bradley Rice from episode 117 is building BradForce Academy, a course designed for people in a Salesforce career looking for more freedom and flexibility.
  • Working just 20 hours a week as a Salesforce Freelance Administrator in 2019, Bradley Rice made $225,000 using skills he had picked up during his lunch hour.
  • From the community, Chris shared a big win on the ChooseFI Facebook page. He and his wife maxed out her Employee Stock Purchasing Plan and used to it help pay off her student loans once it reached its maturity to qualify as long-term capital gains. For the first time in 20 years, they feel like they are winning the game.
  • Josh challenged Brad to share what his Todoist organized life looks like. In it, Brad has everything scheduled, from chasing his home air filters every 2 months to passport renewal reminders to subscription cancelation dates.
  • Brad's taking his Red X month off from work, but ChooseFI episodes will continue with amazing pre-recorded shows, including an episode with The Budgetnista, Tiffany Aliche, and deep dives with the Households of FI.
  • Jonathan issues a challenge to start on the path to FI. Gather a small group of friends and go through a 6-8 week transformation together starting September 1.

Resources Mentioned In Today's Conversation

Jul 31, 2020
238 | Half Price College with the Millionaire Educator

Gerry Born, the Millionaire Educator, joins the show to talk about strategizing college via online classes, dual enrollment, and CLEP Testing. 

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 27, 2020
237 | Build Your Talent Stack

Today we talk about asset allocation versus information allocation. What are you doing with all the information you are taking in? Are you making intentional steps to build your talent stack? Tune in to today's Friday Roundup!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 24, 2020
236 | The Intersection of Fitness and Financial Independence

The guys talk about their journey toward financial independence and fitness and how closely the two correlated to one another.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 22, 2020
235 | How I Built a 7-Figure Online Course | Jacques Hopkins

Jacques Hopkins shares how he built an online course and some of the skills he had to learn along the way. If you have been sitting on an business idea you definitely want to listen to this episode!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 20, 2020
234 | What's in Your Index?

Brad's children learn a valuable lesson on running a business and some of the associated difficulties. As Tesla becomes a potential candidate for the S&P500, the guys take the opportunity to touch a bit on questions you might have about this aforementioned index. And the pronunciation of our Brand: ChooseF.I. or ChooseFI? Or is there even a potential dark horse in this race as a third alternative? Find out on today's Friday Roundup!

For more information, visit the show notes at


Jul 17, 2020
233 | You Need to Start Building Your Network | Jordan Harbinger

Jordan Harbinger shares his tips and techiques for managing and expanding your network

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 15, 2020
232| Raising a Money-Savvy Family for Next-Generation Financial Independence | Doug Nordman and Carol Pittner

Doug Nordman and Carol Pittner Join the show to talk about how to raise your children to think about the potential of money in a positive way


For more information on the show and for shownotes visit

Jul 13, 2020
231 | Are You Too Good for Casserole?

Jonathan makes a bet, the secret to wealth lies in the Casserole, and the guys share their thoughts on college planning

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 10, 2020
230 | College Hacks from the ChooseFI Community

Jonathan, Brad, and MK have collected tips, comments, hacks, and feedback from the community for crushing college debt free.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 08, 2020
229 | Managing Stress by Leveraging FI | The Fioneers

Corey and Jess from The Fioneers join the show to tell share their story of getting on the same page financially. They talk about incremental freedom, habitual spending triggers, and stress management.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 06, 2020
228 | Overcoming the Debilitating Fear of Public Speaking

The guys talk about their strategies for public speaking, and Brad shares how podcasting has played a key role in learning to play into his strengths in order to overcome his fear of public speaking.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 03, 2020
227 | The Golden Albatross | Grumpus Maximus

Grumpus Maximus has partnered with ChooseFI Publishing to release his book The Golden Albatross. While pensions can seem like a dry topic, Grumpus has created an in-depth guide to the subject while simultaneously making it enjoyable to read. Today Grumpus is on the show to talk with us a bit about his story.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 01, 2020
226 | Trip Of A Lifestyle To All US National Parks

Lauren and Steven Keys from Trip of a Lifestyle join the show to share their story of frugalality to live a life doing the things they love.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 29, 2020
225 | The Power of the Staycation

Today we're talking about staycations, traveling the world ~$1,200/month, and community wins!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 26, 2020
224 | Introducing our Households of FI

Today we are introducing the second 4 households in our on-going case study project where we follow 8 households on their journey towards FI. Each household is just starting their journey to FI, and each of which ultimately have the same goal: achieving FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 24, 2020
223 | Slow Traveling the World the FI Way | Nomad Numbers

The Nomads join the show to talk about their system for perpetual travel, and all the nuances that go into a nomadic lifestlye.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 22, 2020
222 | The Mid LIfe Crisis

A lot of people think FI is about having as much money as possible, but that is a fundamentally flawed supposition. Jonathan and Brad saw plenty of "successful" people in the workforce who were miserable. Today we talk about the Oh-so-dreaded mid life crisis, and what FI is really about.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 19, 2020
221 | Introducing our Households of FI

Today we are introducing the first 4 households in our on-going case study project where we follow 8 households on their journey towards FI. Each household is just starting their journey to FI, and each of which ultimately have the same goal: achieving FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 17, 2020
220 | Fix My 403b | Nancy Bachety

Nancy Bachety worked as a school teacher for and was deeply dissatisfied with the 403b retirement fund that was being offered to teachers. On this episode Nancy shares her story and how she fixed her 403b account.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 15, 2020
219 | I was Laid Off, Now What?

Today we talk about using skills to pivot when laid off using MK as a fantastic case study of this concept. Additionally we have some announcements and awesome community wins in the mailbag today.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 12, 2020
218 | COVID Budget Awakening | Brandi Sellers

Brandi joins us and shares her story on another case study episode. After sharing her finances, Brandi sees the big difference that small changes can make for retirement.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 10, 2020
217| How to Save Thousands in US Federal Taxes Using Geo-arbitrage | David McKeegan

David from Greenback Expat Tax Services explores the basics of taxes for expats. Learn about the rules surrounding expats taxes and strategies to consider.


Jun 08, 2020
216 | How to make FI more inclusive | With Chris Browning of Popcorn Finance

Chris Browning joins the ChooseFI podcast to have a vital conversation about systemic racism in America and what we in the FI community can be doing to help.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 05, 2020
215 | Your Self-Worth is Not Your Net Worth | Audrey Bellis

Audrey Bellis, joins us for a Wednesday case study. Audrey shares with a us a story of empowerment and self-motivation.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 03, 2020
214 | How to Rock a Blog Without The Painful Learning Curve | Ashley Barnett

Today Ashley Barnett from the ChooseFI team joins the show to share her story and teach us how to make a blog that stands out!

Jun 01, 2020
213 | Is The Retirement Saver's Credit Worth It In 2020?

Jonathan makes one the Barrett Top 50 for some "FI-ne Dining", the guys detail this little known tax credit, got some community Feedback, Brad was on Jillian's latest episode of Everyday Courage, and ChooseFI case Studies will be coming regularly to a podcast player near you.

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 29, 2020
212 | Kicking off our FI Case Study Series | Kashia Palmer

Today Jonathan and Brad are doing a case study with Kashia Palmer. Kashia shares her story about getting out debt and has the guys look through her budget to find out her time frame for financial independence.

May 27, 2020
211| How to Negotiate a Higher Salary without Burning Bridges | Financial Mechanic

Jessica, The Financial Mechanic, shares how she created a ten-year path to financial independence through a career shift and salary negotiations.

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 25, 2020
210 | Little Known Roth Hacks

Today on our mailbag episode we have exciting news from MK, information on 401K's to Roth IRA's, news from Choosefi Publishing, an alternative summer camp possibility, and more from our community

May 22, 2020
209 | What Happens When the Paycheck Stops? - Keys to a Successful Retirement with Fritz Gilbert (Part 2)

Fritz from Retirement Manifesto is back to dig a bitter deeper into the minutiae of the numbers behind retirement, and the use of the bucket strategy.

May 20, 2020
208 | There Is No Failing With FI | Bianca DiValerio

Bianca, a flight attendant, reached Financial Independence in her late 30’s after many bumps in the road.

She shares her story of financial resiliency.


May 18, 2020
Bonus With Everyday Courage

Today we have a bonus episode featuring an episode from Everyday Courage with Jillian Johnsrud and JL Collins.

Figuring out how to invest is a challenge for many, including Jillian. By the time she and her husband started investing, they had paid off all their debt and saved up a lot of cash. Like many people, Jillian waited far too long to start investing. She was scared, intimidated and didn't really understand it. JL Collins says this is all too common, and he is here to make investing simple.

May 16, 2020
207 | 2020 Health Challenge

Today is community mailbag, and we are taking a look into some corrections, criticism, and feedback from previous episodes . Next we have a Frugal Win of the Week from Will for his brother Matt. Before all that though, Jonathan talks about his 2020 health challenge, and the power of incremental progress.

May 15, 2020
206 | What Happens When the Paycheck Stops? - Keys to a Successful Retirement with Fritz Gilbert

Fritz from Retirement Manifesto joins the show to talk about the mentality you should have when entering retirement.

May 13, 2020
205 | Tax Loss Harvesting with Sean Mullaney

Today Sean Mullaney is back to talk about 5 money moves to make during a financial crisis, and digs deep on what it looks like to make back money on a realized loss when you panic sold.

May 11, 2020
204 | Join the Rebellion

On today's episode we have the long awaited Barrett top 50 recipes(well, top ~30), the guys talk about ideas for Mother's day, the new Podcast for all things business called the Rebel Entrepreneur has launched, and a thought provoking mailbag question 

May 08, 2020
203 | Real Estate Investing During a Recession or Financial Crisis with Coach Carson

Coach Carson comes on the show to provide some insight on the current real estate investing market, and what to look for when starting out.

May 06, 2020
202 | Student Loan Planner with Travis Hornsby

Travis Hornsby is back on the show to share a bit of knowledge on his specialty: Student Loans. Travis digs into some details that could potential save you thousands of dollars on your student loans.

May 04, 2020
201 | The Rule of 55

It's mailbag time, and today we answer a question about the rule of 55 and how some are able to access their 401k penalty free at 55. We also have a segment with Jillian from Everyday Courage

May 01, 2020
200 | Stock Fundamentals with Brian Feroldi

On a recent episode we gained a better understanding bonds. Today Brian Feroldi who writes for the Motley Fool joins us to give us a deeper understanding for stocks and how they are valued.

Apr 29, 2020
199 | Making Portfolio Adjustments with Big ERN

Big Ern joins ChooseFI again this week to discuss making necessary adjustments to your portfolio when the economy takes a downturn.

Apr 27, 2020
198 | Living Your Story

Today is community mailbag where the team answer questions and listens to feedback from you our listeners, but first they talk about Big ERN's optimism.

Apr 24, 2020
197 | Introducing: Casual Wednesdays

After 40 days of quarantine, we are beginning to adjust to this new normal. We're talking groceries, working remotely more permanently, creative socializing in quarantine, and finding your lost money.

Apr 22, 2020
196 | Have We Seen the Bottom? An Economic Outlook with Big ERN

Big Ern joins the show to talk about possible scenarios for the recession we find ourselves in, and markers to look out for on the horizon for the recovery of our economy.


Apr 20, 2020
195 | The Rebel Entrepreneur - What Can You Build?

Brad and Jonathan talk with Alan Donegan about possible ways for how you can pivot during this time. Additionally, listen until the end for the special announcement from Alan and the ChooseFI Team.

Apr 17, 2020
194 | The Role of Bonds in a Portfolio | With Frank

Frank Vasquez joins the show to talk about portfolio diversification with bonds, and the important value that they can add.

Other ChooseFI Media:

Support our YouTube channel by subscribing at:

Listen to other episodes from our Financial Resilience Daily Show at:

Dig deeper into Financial Independence by reading our Blog at:


About us: 

Everything we do, we do to help you slash your expenses, crush debt, and build ways to earn a living remotely by starting online businesses. Then we help you invest in the safest way we know how, despite the ups and downs of the stock market.

We take the hits, so you don't have to, because ultimately, we want you to become financially resilient during these trying times, and get you started on the path towards Financial Independence.

Please SUBSCRIBE and enable notifications to see NEW EPISODES. 





Apr 16, 2020
193 | The Market Always Goes Up

We all know the market always goes up, but it is still nice to get that reminder. Brad and Jonathan talk about the market's history and how time in the market is always better than timing the market.

Links from the show:


Our Podcast:

Financial Resilience Daily Show:



About us: 

Everything we do, we do to help you slash your expenses, crush debt, and build ways to earn a living remotely by starting online businesses. Then we help you invest in the safest way we know how, despite the ups and downs of the stock market.

We take the hits, so you don't have to, because ultimately, we want you to become financially resilient during these trying times, and get you started on the path towards Financial Independence.

Please SUBSCRIBE and enable notifications to see NEW EPISODES. 





Apr 15, 2020
192 | Freelancers and the Paycheck Protection Program with Travis Hornsby

Travis Hornsby from the Student Loan Planner joins the show to talk about the Paycheck Protection Program for small business and independent contractors.



More resources:


Our Podcast:

Financial Resilience Daily Show:



About us: 

Everything we do, we do to help you slash your expenses, crush debt, and build ways to earn a living remotely by starting online businesses. Then we help you invest in the safest way we know how, despite the ups and downs of the stock market.

We take the hits, so you don't have to, because ultimately, we want you to become financially resilient during these trying times, and get you started on the path towards Financial Independence.

Please SUBSCRIBE and enable notifications to see NEW EPISODES. 





Apr 14, 2020
191 | K-12 Financial Literacy Curriculum

Financial Educators Rob Phelan, Danielle Mendonsa, and Mandy Bert have created a financial literacy program for anyone and everyone. Today they join the show to talk about its inception and release.

Apr 13, 2020
190 | The Sandwich Generation with Jean Chatzky

When it comes to talking about money and the future with both your parents and kids, tactfulness is everything. Jean Chatzky joins the show to help us navigate these strange waters.

Apr 10, 2020
189 | Jonathan's Investor Policy Statement

Jonathan outlines his investor policy statement, and his process for how he thought it out.

Apr 09, 2020
188 | Stay the Course | Rick Ferri Part 2

Rick Ferri joins Brad and Jonathan back on the show to teach us how to make a cake. During this process you may just learn a thing about asset allocation. Whatever you decide to do with today's knowledge just remember, stay the course.

Learn More about Rick Ferri
Follow on Twitter @rick_ferri

Apr 08, 2020
187 | Distance Education

Mandy shares how teachers are pivoting in this difficult time, and gives her advice for teachers and parents who are thrust into this new era of learning. Additional information is provided for accessing Accidental Homeschooler and K-12. 


Apr 07, 2020
186 | Multiple Generations Under One Roof With Financial Tortoise

Tae, from the Financial Tortoise, shares his money story from the perspective of the sandwich generation.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 06, 2020
185 | Adapting to the New Normal with Dominick Quartuccio

What is Normal? Normal is the baseline our minds establish for as a reference point for everything that comes into our lives. This baseline is not immutable however. Dominick joins us on the show today to talk about some of these ideas in these very "un-normal" times.


Apr 03, 2020
184 | Stimulus Package Breakdown: The Cares Act

Sean Mulaney weighs in on the 2020 Stimulus Package via voicemail, and gives some pro tips for your filing process. Jonathan and Brad share some of their insight on the Cares Act as well.

Apr 02, 2020
183 | Is The FIRE Movement Over?

Jonathan and Brad Discuss the implications of the pandemic on the Financial Independence Movement. Jonathan and MK discuss Skill Stacking & Brad shares what his idea of the perfect education would look like

Apr 01, 2020
182 | Escape from Wall Street | Rick Ferri Part 1

What does investing in Index funds look like in 2020? Rick Ferri from the Boglehead Podcast comes on the show to talk about his story, and how he left Wall St to invest in Index funds.

Learn More about Rick Ferri:
Follow on Twitter @rick_ferri

Mar 31, 2020
181 | The Creative Penn | Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn shares her story of building multiple income streams and becoming a writer.

She outlines how anyone with the passion to be creative can do the same.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 30, 2020
180 | The Art of the Pivot

Looking at this through the lens of opportunity we explore how businesses are pivoting in difficult times.

Mar 27, 2020
179| Accidental Homeschooler

Continuing on this daily podcast journey we talk about what happens when you life decides it is time to home school for a bit

Mar 26, 2020
178 |Important Tax Update

Continuing the daily episode series, Jonathan and Brad talk about some tax info from Sean Mulaney.

Mar 25, 2020
177 | This is Not a Drill

In light of current events, We are temporarily switching to a daily show to support the community. Access Community, Resources and More


Mar 24, 2020
176 | Flexible Spending Rules For Early Retirees

Michael Kitces joins the show to share his research on flexible spending rules as they apply to Financial Independence.

His call for flexibility could impact your path to FI by several years.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 23, 2020
175 | Social Distancing with Style

Be Creative With Your Social Distancing Resources for Accidental Home Schoolers Opportunity for People with Student loans

Student loans

Michael Kitses interview on Monday - very timely

Accidental Homeschooler - our resources are out, we will have more with Vincent next week

Mar 20, 2020
174 | Looking Out For Our Community

In light of current events, We are temporarily switching to a daily show to support the community.


Is your Emergency Fund in place

Our Favorite Taxable Investment Tool

Access Community, Resources and More


Mar 19, 2020
173 | Emergency Fund

In light of current events, We are temporarily switching to a daily show to support the community. Is your Emergency Fund in place?

Mar 18, 2020
172 | Bear Market

Bear Market vs Recession and why you can't panic sell


To get started on your path to Financial Independence go to

Mar 17, 2020
171 | Financial Resilience

In light of current events, We are temporarily switching to a daily show to support the community

Mar 16, 2020
170R | A Capital Gains Case Study for 2020

Learn more about the implications of capital gains and the mechanics of tax optimization for these gains.

We use two case studies to help you realize the power of optimizing your capital gains strategy.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 13, 2020
170 | The Simple Startup

Rob Phelan, author of The Simple Startup joins the show to share more about this new resource that can help anyone learn how to build a business.

Plus, he shares the path of creating a financial literacy course for all grade levels that brings in the concepts of Financial Independence.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 09, 2020
169R | Prepared, Not Scared

With a week of market scares, this episode revisits the importance of being prepared, not scared.

Plus, you’ll hear about some exciting announcements from the ChooseFI community.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 06, 2020
169 | A Purple Life | Early Retiree Case Study

The anonymous blogger behind, A Purple Life, joins Brad and Jonathan to share her journey to financial independence.

With the helpfulness of anonymity, she shares exact numbers including her income, salary negotiations, expenses, and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 02, 2020
168R | Prioritize Your Priorities

With the principles outlined in Make Time, you have the potential to dramatically improve your life in a short period of time.

Plus, hear an inspiring FI story and tips for teachers.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 28, 2020
168 | Make Time

John Zeratsky, author of Make Time, joins Brad and Jonathan to share actionable tips to build a framework that cuts through your perpetual state of busyness.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 24, 2020
167R | Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

Dropping mortgage rates prompt a conversation that explores the pros and cons of refinancing your mortgage at a lower rate.

Plus, Steve Chen from NewRetirment joins the show to share the comprehensive retirement planning tools that his company has to offer.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 21, 2020
167 | Learn Hustle Grow

Rob and Reshawn from Learn Hustle Grow discuss combining their finances and building a real estate portfolio.

They talk about money mindsets, building a life together, paying down their home, working in sales and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 17, 2020
166R | It's a Small World After All

Find out more about the upcoming ChooseFI documentary series, Andrew and Zach's experiments in financial independence, and community corrections.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 14, 2020
166 | Modern FImily With Court

Court joins the show to share how she and her wife tackled six figures of student loan debt and achieved financial independence in their early 30s with a family.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 10, 2020
165R | Do You Realize What You're Doing

Answers to several reader questions about investing efficiently for your financial freedom. Learn more about low-cost broad-based index funds or if you should max out your 401k early.

Recent market volatility has provided an opportunity to test your investment resolve.
Any low-cost broad-based index fund is a solid investment strategy, VTSAX is not the only option.

Understanding the difference between Roth vs traditional options can help you plan your tax-efficient retirement.

Fee-only advisors that act as fiduciaries in every area can be helpful. However, many financial advisors are not fiduciaries and have an assets under management fee structure.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 07, 2020
165 | Do You Need a Budget? | YNAB

The founder of YNAB, Jesse Meacham, shares his story about:

  • Finding your "non-negotiable"
  • Introducing your spouse to FIRE
  • Do you really need a budget?


For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 03, 2020
164R | What are the 5 Love Languages

Learn about the five love languages and how they can help you communicate with your partner better.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 31, 2020
164 |Our Rich Journey | Amon & Christina Browning

Amon and Christina join the show today to share their journey to Financial Independence as two federal employees with young children.

The couple was able to retire early in just eight years!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 27, 2020
163R | Roth IRA Conversion Ladder Case Study

An updated case study of the Roth IRA conversion ladder and a challenge for the community are some of the topics that Brad and Jonathan tackle today.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 24, 2020
163 | Finding FI | Liz and Braden

Liz grew up with a single mom that struggled financially after getting divorced. Due to that, she had to learn how to budget at a very young age. She helped her mom pay off some debt over a period of years.

Braden had a completely different relationship with money. He grew up in a well-off family, so he never had to worry about money. He did get a job at 16 because his parents wanted him to learn the value of hard work.

Liz and Braden share their story of:

• Landing over $100k in scholarships
• World Travels
• Finding FI
• Staying at Home

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 20, 2020
162R | There's Water In The Cup

Half full? Half Empty? Ehh... There's some water in the cup. Medical bills are never fun, but at least you met your deductible... at the very end of the year. Brad and Jonathan discuss building credit from ground zero, and reflecting a bit on Gretchin Rubin's "The 4 tendencies". In addition, we share a segment with Larry Hagner from the Dad Edge Alliance discussing the importance of financial intimacy. This is your Friday Roundup!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 17, 2020
162 | The 4 Tendencies and FI

Although finding the path to FI can be exciting, it can be frustrating to have difficulty communicating this vision to your family and friends.

Gretchen Rubin joins the show to shed some light on the four tendencies or people and how to communicate with each tendency.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 13, 2020
161R | Reignite

Welcome to the first Roundup of 2020! Brad and Jonathan share exciting announcements like:

• Launch of Everyday Courage by Jillian Johnsrud
• FI101 and the ChooseFI International Foundation
• Updates To The Tax Code

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 10, 2020
161 | Money Letters 2 My Daughter | Jackie Cummings Koski

Jackie Cummings Koski shares her story of a single mom that made FIRE a reality. She proves that there is no one way to achieve FI.

The goal can be accomplished by people from all walks of life and Jackie offers a unique perspective of FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 06, 2020
160R | Everyday Courage

The ChooseFI family is launching a new podcast today. Everyday Courage is officially live!

Please take a moment to subscribe to Jillian Johnsrud's new podcast

Jan 03, 2020
160 | End of Year Wins 2019

As we ring in the new year, it is time to celebrate our community’s wins.

This episode is dedicated entirely to the wins that have happened throughout the community this year. The goal is to congratulate everyone on a fantastic year and inspire the community to continue to achieve amazing things next year.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 30, 2019
159R | From Solopreneur to Entrepreneur

It's the last Friday roundup of the decade! Learn how to level up your skills with:

  • Everyday Courage
  • New Year's Resolutions
  • Building A Business with Intentionality

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 27, 2019
159 | The Business Coach Approach to Double Your Revenue | Jaime Masters

Jaime Masters has been a part of the personal finance space since 2011. It all started with a desire to share her story.

Listen as she talks about time management, building a business, sales and marketing, and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 23, 2019
158R |Your Real Hourly Wage and Savings Rate Calculation

Learn how to calculate your real hourly wage and savings rate. We discuss Kim’s story shared on Monday’s episode, meal planning, and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 20, 2019
158 | Real Hourly Wage | The Frugal Engineers

Kim from The Frugal Engineers shares her journey and the importance of determining your real hourly wage.

Kim’s story goes from Boarding School to College to a real hourly wage to quitting her day job and building a business.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 16, 2019
157R | The Compound Interest Of Self Improvement

After learning more about habits with James Clear this week, Brad and Jonathan discuss the compounding interest of self improvement and turning intention into action.

What’s covered in today’s show:

• Building Habits
• Identity Statements
• Find Your Tribe

…and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 13, 2019
157 | Atomic Habits | James Clear

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits , shares his story. The conversation dives into the difference between systems and goals.

  • How To See Through The Short-Term For The Long-Term
  • The Compounding Effect
  • How Identity Drives Your Habits
  • Goals, Systems, and more

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 09, 2019
156R | Coming Back From A Gap Year

A gap year might seem unthinkable for some but Noah and Becky share exactly how they navigated their gap year. Plus, Brad and Jonathan discuss emergency funds and your risk tolerance.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 06, 2019
156 | Retire Before Mom And Dad | Rob Berger

Rob Berger, founder of Dough Roller and Retire Before Mom and Dad, talks about the simple math of early retirement and more essential FI lessons that are important to talk about. 

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 02, 2019
155R | Year End Tax Planning

Sean Mullaney joins the show to discuss year-end tax planning.

He goes into deductions, self-employment income, and how to get the most from your deductions.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 29, 2019
155 | Boundaries As A Single Parent On The Path To FI | Leslie Tayne

Leslie Tayne opens up about her journey as a single parent, financial problems in her first marriage, and how to move forward from debt.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 25, 2019
154R | Inception

Tim and Amy from Go With Less join Brad and Jonathan to discuss their unique travel strategy. Plus, tips on how to design your dream life.

Some of the topics in today’s show:

  • House Sitting With Tim And Amy
  • Build Your Dream Life
  • FI 101
  • and more

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 22, 2019
154 | Hacking The FAFSA | Brian Eufinger and Seonwoo Lee

Graduating from college debt-free can accelerate the path to FI dramatically. Brian Eufinger and Seonwoo Lee share their best tips on hacking the FAFSA on today's episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 18, 2019
153R | Navigating Health Insurance

On today’s Friday Roundup, Jonathan's shares his experience with health coverage after his wife welcomed a new baby into their family. We also discuss Healthshare plans and Healthcare After FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Nov 15, 2019
153 | RIP Medical Debt | An Inside Look At Debt Collection And Forgiveness

Medical debt has the power to seriously hurt your financial future. Many Americans are faced with unavoidable medical debt that has crippled their financial situation.

RIP Medical Debt is a nonprofit working to forgive medical debt for pennies on the dollar. Today on the show, they share their background and the amazing progress they've made.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 11, 2019
152R | Can I Retire Yet | A Case Study With Early Retirement Now

Big ERN comes on the show today to break down the numbers of Becky’s retirement plan.

He works through their real numbers to determine how solid their retirement plan is.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 08, 2019
152 | Is it too late? | Becky Heptig

Becky Heptig shares her personal story to show that FI is an attainable goal at any age.

It is an encouraging story because it shows no matter what age you find FI at, it is not too late to change your life for the better.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Nov 04, 2019
151R | Fit Waist Fat Wallet

Using David Hauser’s framework from last week of decision making through split testing, Brad and Jonathan look at their sleep, fitness, and diet.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Nov 01, 2019
151 | Unstoppable | Creating A Framework For Decision Making With David Hauser

As a successful start-up founder, David Hauser felt mercilessly driven to create success through extreme measures.

Today, he opens up to Brad and Jonathan about his drive to succeed and how he has applied an experimentation framework to his health and wellness.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 28, 2019
150R | Goals vs Systems

Building your blueprint to FI starts with the basics. A simple thing like tracking your spending can set you on a path that will change your life forever.

Today, we get back to FI 101 and uncover the stark difference between goals and systems.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 25, 2019
150 | Accountability | Diania Merriam

Diania Merriam discusses accountability, shifting perspectives, and community.

She has a great perspective on building community and life with balance.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 21, 2019
149R | Whole Life Insurance

How to break Old Navy and cockamamie life insurance schemes are just two of the topics Brad and Jonathan cover in today's episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 18, 2019
149 | On Trajectory With Tyson Koska

Tyson Koska shares his On Trajectory tool and what led him to his own path of Financial Independence.

Brad and Jonathan discuss how Tyson got started with FI and how On Trajectory tools cover net worth tracking and digital options.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 14, 2019
148R | FI101 | Expense Ratios and House Hacking

Craig Curelop, author of The House Hacking Strategy: How to Use Your Home to Achieve Financial Freedom, shares his house hacking strategies.

We also discuss Expense Ratios and the new book, ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 11, 2019
148 | Struggle | The Psychology of Poverty with Andréa Motenko

Andréa has committed her life to social studies and taking FI information to people experiencing poverty. She grew up in a similar situation.

At age seven, Andréa saw her first violent murder. Throughout her childhood, being raised by a single mother, she struggled with food insecurity and housing insecurity. However, she was also a student in the elite private school system, which led to an Ivy League education.

After coming such a long way, she has a unique perspective on the relationship between poverty and reaching FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 07, 2019
147R Contributions, Corrections and Criticisms

Compounding vs total return, envelopes vs simplifying your finances, and the potential value you could get from working with a “assets under management” financial advisor.

Also, Tori Dunlap reached her goal to save her first $100k by age 25 on the day her interview aired!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 04, 2019
147 | Negotiate Your Salary With Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap about starting a business as a kid and tips for negotiating your salary.

She is on a mission to help women earn their first $100k.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 30, 2019
146R | Fork in the Road

This week’s Friday Roundup includes a discussion with Chuck Jaffe about why he can’t be part of the FIRE movement because he has no plans to retire.

Also, a recap of Shannyn’s story from Monday and ChooseFI Book Launch Parties.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 27, 2019
Bonus Episode - Guided Meditation for Stock Market Volatility With JL Collins

A Guided Meditation for When the Stock Market Is Dropping

The market is plunging. You’re starting to panic. You want to hit the “sell” button! DON’T! Tune into this relaxing meditation, and let the soothing voice of JL Collins help you embrace this wonderful market cycle

We interviewed JL Collins on episode 19 of our podcast


Check out JL Collins Website JLcollinsNH where you can read the entire Stock Series


and his book the Simple Path to Wealth


Sep 25, 2019
146 | Embrace The Suck With Shannyn Allan

Shannyn Allan joins us to discuss "embracing the suck"--when life just doesn't go as planned.

Listen to Shannyn's stories about graduate school, calling off a wedding, and wire fraud during the purchase of her first home.

...and how she found FI at the right time in her life.

Listen to the whole story at

Sep 23, 2019
145R | Stuck

A discussion of what to do with a windfall, a review of turnkey real estate investing, and a meditation for stock market investors when the market is falling.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 20, 2019
145 | Turnkey Real Estate Investing and How to Build a Team With Paula Pant

Paula Pant of Afford Anything returns to dive deeper into real estate investing. In this second conversation, Paula covers turnkey, deal syndication, and building a team.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 16, 2019
144R | Guard Rails and Dumpster Fires

A recap from Jonathan and Brad's visit to FinCon, FI Military, YNAB, and "what if my finances are like a dumpster fire?".

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 13, 2019
144 | Junior Achievement: 100 Years Of Financial Education With Crystal Law And Laura Goodman

Crystal Law, Director of Financial Literacy Experiences, and Laura Goodman, VP of Volunteer Engagement join us to discuss Junior Achievement.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 09, 2019
143R | Is This the Top?

As most have probably seen, the news is calling for a recession soon. Specifically, Peter Schiff, a prominent economist, is warning of an impending financial disaster. However, this market volatility is nothing new.

Join us today as we talk about Market Volatility, going Beyond FI, and Andrew Luck Embraces FI?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 06, 2019
143 | Beyond Financial Independence With Edmund Tee

Edmund Tee talks about reaching FI and the goals of teaching more people worldwide about Financial Independence.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 02, 2019
142R | Envelope Overwhelm

How to simplify personal finance and discussing Paula Pant’s take on real estate from Monday’s show.

  • Personal Finances Made Simple
  • Jonathan’s Budget Evolution
  • How ChooseFI Makes Money

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 30, 2019
142 | Real Estate Investing Strategies with Paula Pant

Paula Pant discusses real estate as a path to FI as Brad shares his biggest financial mistake of his life - a speculative property in North Carolina.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 26, 2019
141R | Translating FI for the UK

David Sawyer comes back on to discuss the UK path to FI, and Jonathan makes a big personal announcement.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 23, 2019
141 | Reset: An Unconventional Guide for Getting Unstuck with David Sawyer

David Sawyer released his book, Reset. 

The book is aimed at helping people who feel stuck in their careers as well as an optimization strategy for Financial Independence in the UK.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 19, 2019
140R | The Real Cost Of A Financial Advisor

Diving into the costs of a financial advisor and Nick from Mapped Out Money returns to discuss college hacking.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 16, 2019
140 | FI Lifestyle Before FI Number With Nick True

Nick True from Mapped Out Money talks about designing an FI lifestyle before reaching an FI number.

Currently, Nick and his wife live in an Airstream trailer with the flexibility to live wherever they want to be.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 12, 2019
139R | Time is on Your Side

Last week, Jonathan ended up at the DMV on a Friday afternoon with a crazy wait time. What should have been a quick trip turned into an ordeal worth avoiding.

Today Jonathan and Brad discuss:

  • How to Reclaim Your Time
  • Side Hustling through the Secondary Market
  • and how Sunny funded a Roth IRA for his child

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 09, 2019
139 | Reaching FI With Real Estate | Sunny Burns

Sunny and his wife are 88.92% of their way to FI at only age 28 while living just 15 minutes outside of New York City.

How did they do it?

They share ow to pay for collect, the Department of Defense SMART Scholarship, car flipping, and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 05, 2019
138R | My Daughter's Mindset

Brad and Jonathan talk about Brad’s daughter's mindset, plus a review of Monday's episode with Anthony.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 02, 2019
138 | How To Get Paid To Go To College | Anthony Gary

Anthony talks about the strategy he used to go to college for profit in his senior year.

The strategies he outlines could be used as early as freshman year to make college a profitable experience.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 29, 2019
137R | An Evening of Financial Independence

Brad and Jonathan discuss the Richmond Screening Of Playing With FIRE, FI 101, and how to be a storyteller.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 26, 2019
137 | Rebuilding a Life You Love with Christine

Christine and her husband, Jack, rebuilt a life that they love after an 85% reduction in pay 6 weeks into their marriage.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 22, 2019
136R | Silver Spoon or Skills

Jonathan and Brad discuss a case study on funding a child's Roth IRA and listen to feedback from the community.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 19, 2019
136 | How To Fund Your Child's Roth IRA with the FI Tax Guy

A dive into taxes with Sean Mullaney, the FI Tax Guy, who talks about FI tax-efficient strategies and career paths in accounting.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 15, 2019
135R | The Plot Thickens

Another look at whether you should pay off your mortgage or invest, plus:

  • Spam Caller Life Hack
  • Life Hack for Small Business Owners
  • Achieving FI on a Modest Income

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 12, 2019
135 | How to Leverage A Modest Income to FI with Joel from How to Money

Joel from How to Money talks about how he has pursued FI on a relatively low income, how he is reaching FI with five rental properties, and working on the Clark Howard Show.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 08, 2019
134R | Quit Like a Millionaire | Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung

Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung talk about their new book, Quit Like a Millionaire. Plus, Brad and Jonathan give updates on solar panels and YNAB.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 05, 2019
134 | Early Retirement Case Study With Route To Retire

Jim from Route To Retire talks about about life after retirement and geo-arbitrage. His path to FI didn’t start with a community, it began when he was testing for Y2K bugs with Quicken.

Don’t know what we’re talking about? You’ll just have to listen to find out.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 01, 2019
133R | Should I Pay off My Mortgage Early Or Invest

Possibly the most burning questions of FI:

Should you Invest or Pay off your Mortgage early?

We go through the numbers in today's show.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 28, 2019
133 | How To Get Started Making Money With Airbnb | Zeona McIntyre

Zeona McIntyre built a successful AirBNB business and shares her best strategies, including

  • Buying Properties
  • Scaling the Business
  • and Best Practices for an AirBNB Business

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 24, 2019
132R Insurance | A Framework

Find out what kinds of insurance you actually need and where to find them.

Jennifer Fitzgerlad, the CEO of Policy Genius walks us through everything you need to know.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 21, 2019
132 | Downsizing Your Life And Financial Coaching With Lisa Duke

Lisa Duke talks about her mindset shift and turning liabilities to assets.

On today's show:

  • Second Home--Asset Or Liability?
  • Action Steps To Renting Out Your Home
  • Getting off the "hedonic treadmill"

...and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 17, 2019
131R | Building a Brick in Your Wall

A recap of our conversation with Mr. Money Mustache and Mr. 1500. Plus, Jonathan and Brad answer listener questions about compounding and drawdowns during retirement.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 14, 2019
131 | Mr. Money Mustache & Mr. 1500 | Past, Present, Future

Mr. Money Mustache and Mr. 1500 discuss community building and second generation FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 10, 2019
130R | Simplifying The Ultimate Buy And Hold Strategy With M1 Finance

Brad and Jonathan just returned from the world premiere of Playing with FIRE in San Diego.

They discuss future showings (visit and then get into the ultimate buy and hold portfolio strategy.

For the entire show notes, go to 

Jun 07, 2019
130 | Paul Merriman | The Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio

Today we talk to Paul Merriman. The goal is to contrast the "Simple Path to Wealth Approach" with the "Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio."

Paul is a proponent of the Ultimate Buy and Hold strategy and a legend in this space. The insights Paul provides about this strategy are priceless.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 03, 2019
129R | Focused Work Ethic

Earlier this week, Liz from Chief Mom Officer explained how she leveraged her work ethic and will to succeed into a successful six-figure career. Today we dig deeper into the work ethic topic with John, a 24 year old currently making 6-figures.

We also announce our newly created Travel Rewards Course.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 31, 2019
129 | Breaking the Glass Ceiling | Liz, Chief Mom Officer

Liz from Chief Mom talks about working moms building careers from the ground up.

In this episode we learn:

⁃ How To Grow Your Salary
⁃ Figure Out What You Should be Paid
⁃ Work Hard Strategically
⁃ How To Negotiate

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 27, 2019
128R | Zone of Awareness

Multi-level marketing, side hustles, energy audits, and expanding your "Zone of Awareness" -- all in today's Friday Roundup!

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 24, 2019
128 | Building Your Suit of Armor on the Path to FI | Alan Donegan

Alan Donegan joins us to discuss leveraging the power of FI to pursue your dreams with the ability to be free to fail.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 20, 2019
127R | Cut through the Noise Diet and Debt Consolidation

Gina Pogel joins us to discuss different types of debt and how to tackle them.

We also dive into tactics to optimize both your health and your debt.

The goal is to simplify your finances and your health by stacking multiple optimization tactics together.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 17, 2019
127 | Scott Scherr | Health Optimization

Brad and Jonathan discuss health optimization strategies with Dr. Scott Sherr.

This episode is packed full of useful information, however, do not make life altering medical decisions based on this show alone.

Although we are talking to a real doctor, do not take this as medical advice. Consult with your own physician before making any major medical decisions.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 13, 2019
126R | What is an Annuity

Brad and Jonathan tackle a listener question about annuities and discuss some updates to the travel rewards landscape.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 10, 2019
126 | Estate Planning Wills vs Trusts | Mark Moss

Last week, Brad and Jonathan talked to Chelsea Brennan about her Family Emergency Binder.

In the same theme of planning for your family's future, today we talked to Mark Moss about estate planning.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 06, 2019
125R | Grocery Store Wars

Ways to optimize your grocery shopping, the family emergency binder, and sharing stories from the community.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 03, 2019
125 | The Family Emergency Binder | Chelsea Brennan

Chelsea Brennan from Smart Money Mamas and creator of the Family Emergency Binder is here to talk about her unconventional choices that led to a happier life.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 29, 2019
124R | Choose FI Your Blueprint to Financial Independence

Brad and Jonathan discuss the release date of a ChooseFI book, finding the best auto insurance rates, and Lynn Frair's path to FI.

The book, "ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence" will be released on October 1, 2019. The goal of the book is to outline options for your path FI. Everyone's journey will be different because the concept of FI is really based on choosing your own adventure. However, there are common threads between all of the success stories. We pull that together so that you can make your own journey a successful one.

To pre-order the book, go to 

The complete show notes can be found at 

Apr 26, 2019
124 | Dirtbag Millionaire | Chris Mamula

Chris Mamula, the "Dirtbag Millionaire," describes the mistakes he made on the way to FIRE, the challenges he facing in his early retirement, and the origin story of a book that will outline a Blueprint to financial independence based on the information shared by members of the ChooseFI community.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 22, 2019
123R | Hail Mary FI

Brad and Jonathan give us an update about the "Playing with FIRE" documentary, hail mary FI and how to build an escape route from the corporate hierarchy that doesn't make room for you.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 19, 2019
123 | Rich & Regular

Kiersten and Julien from Rich and Regular talk about the specific challenges that the black community faces on their journey to FI.

Recognizing the fact that not everyone starts from the same spot is important, so we are diving deep into the differences today.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 15, 2019
122R | Dividend Deep Dive

Brad and Jonathan are joined by Brian Feroldi and Karsten from Early Retirement Now.

With the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of dividend investing, Brad and Jonathan ask the hard questions.

As the devil's advocate, they uncover more information about dividend stocks from passionate investors.

If you are ready to learn more about dividend investing, then let's dive in.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 12, 2019
122 | Intro To Dividend Investing

Dividend investing has been a hotly debated topic in the FI community.

Brad and Jonathan dive into the details of dividend investing with Craig from Retire Before Dad.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 08, 2019
121R | How to Get Any Job

Brad and Jonathan sleep habits, energy efficiency, and the best ways to land a job with Chris Hutchins from Grove.

For details, visit the show notes at 

Apr 05, 2019
121 | Tread Lightly on the Path to FI

Angela from Tread Lightly Retire Early has been an active member of the ChooseFI community for around two years. She has built a life that combines FIRE with sustainability.

Additionally, she is a leader that recognizes the women in the FIRE movement. Brad and Jonathan learn about Angela's journey and practical sustainability advice that could help the FI community.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 01, 2019
120R | Find the Range

Jonathan and Brad discuss wielding the flexibility of money, how to move to the upper end of your salary range, and hunting with eagles in Mongolia.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 29, 2019
120 | Your Money and Your Relationships | Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky is a well-respected figure in the personal finance community.

The financial editor of the NBC Today Show and author of several books is recognized for a specialized understanding of the relationship between women and their money. 

However, both men and women can learn something for Chatzky's insights.

On today's episode, Brad and Johnathan will delve into the relationships that each of us has with money.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 25, 2019
119R | Position of Strength

Jonathan and Brad discuss their favorite books from 2018, negotiating from a position of power, career hacking, and what they would do differently if they were recording episode 1 today.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 22, 2019
119 | Everything is Negotiable | Mr. Refined by Fire

Mr. Refined from Refined by Fire has overcome a staggering amount of debt that accumulated from student loans and medical bills.

After finding the FI community, he was able to triple his net worth!

Mr. Refined talks openly about his debt, how he negotiated his way out of debt, and why he is pursuing FI.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 18, 2019
118R | What is Socially Responsible Investing?

Talent stacking, becoming a renaissance man, and financial infidelity: We recap Monday's show and highlight some listener comments.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 15, 2019
118 | From Financial Infidelity to His & Her Money

118 | Talaat McNeely from His and Her Money talks about how his money mistakes led to financial infidelity.

Most importantly, he shares how he was able to rebuild trust with his wife Tai and successfully work towards common financial goals together.

Through Talaat and Tai’s story, you will learn practical ways to build the financial trust that many couples hope to achieve.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 11, 2019
117R | Build a Portfolio

Brad and Jonathan discuss "the Kleenex" of low-cost mutual funds, Bradley Rice's story about choosing to move towards part-time work, and make an announcement about a new voice on the podcast.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 08, 2019
117 | Making the Case for Part Time | Bradley Rice

Bradley Rice has successfully reclaimed the hours in his day by transitioning to part-time work.

He made this unconventional choice to take back his time when his daughter was born to spend more time with her.

Bradley works 20 hours a week, while still earning a high salary. Bradley openly talks about the path that allowed him to reclaim his time and how you can recreate a similar journey.

We All Have Choices Along The Way

Each of us makes different choices throughout our lives. We do so hoping to march closer to our long-term goals. Everyone has to make choices that align with their values, so each person’s journey will be different.

Having a high paying job certainly helps you reach your FI goals, but if it's taking away time from your life, you may question its true value. In Bradley’s opinion, time is our most valuable resource because it truly is finite. Many of us would prefer to use that time to enjoy the important things in life, like our family. The pressure becomes especially noticeable if you have young kids because the time you have to spend with them while they are young is limited.

Even if you agree that that time is your most valuable resource, you may feel trapped in the mindset that there is no way to earn your current income while transitioning to part-time work. Caught between the fact that you have to work to provide for your family and the need to spend more time with them, the dilemma continues to grow more real every day.

Our guest, Bradley Rice, was faced with the same dilemma when he had his daughter. He knew that he didn't want to continue working full-time while his daughter was growing up. He needed to find a way to spend more time with her during her childhood. Bradley was able to make the switch to part-time and maintain a high salary in the process. It was an unconventional choice, but it worked out exceptionally well for his family. Let’s dive into his inspiring story!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 04, 2019
116R | Escape

Karen Hoxmeier joins the show to share how and why she built a coupon-sharing website, Brad and Jonathan talk about optimizing food, taxes and home insurance, and a review of Monday’s episode with Wendy Mays.  


  • Brad and Jonathan are excited about a chicken shawarma recipe they hope Laura will add to the ChooseFI Vault soon.
  • Wendy, from Monday’s episode, tackled her family’s grocery bill when she started pursuing financial independence.
  • Food shouldn’t just be cheap; it should also be good.
  • What is Brad’s strategy for decreasing his phone usage and dependence?
  • For taxes, what matters the most is your tax liability, not your tax withholding.
  • While tax refunds are currently decreasing in the U.S., that’s actually because the withholding tables have changed and people are sending less extra money to the government throughout the year.
  • Estimating your taxes throughout the year so that your tax return is about $100 is pretty extreme tax optimization, but a minimal tax return means you’ve had access to all your money for saving and investing throughout the year, instead of loaning it to the government.
  • Brad signed a contract to install solar panels on his house and paid half the cost, then realized that he hadn’t contacted his home insurance company.
  • Wendy tackled one thing at a time, optimizing a little bit at a time, until she was saving her family $6,000 a month, without a significant decrease in lifestyle.
  • Spend money on what brings your life value, then cut everything else ruthlessly.
  • ChooseFI community member Karen Hoxmeier joins the show:
    • Karen worked in a wide variety of jobs in her youth and early adulthood, until becoming a stay-at-home mom in 1994.
    • In 1999 Karen started sharing coupon deals with friends, via email, until that became too taxing, and she decided to build a website.
    • How did Karen learn html code to build her website?
    • Karen realized she could start making money from her website when she discovered Amazon’s affiliate program.
    • Karen’s advice for someone who wants to make money blogging:
      • Make content that is valuable
      • Set up an email list
      • Treat your customers like they’re your friends
    • If you’re interested in an affiliate relationship, Karen recommends starting a conversation with a representative from the company.
    • Companies are often willing to pay a higher commission to advertise or link with blogs or websites that will provide high-quality leads.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 01, 2019
116 | Adoption, FFLC & the House of FI | Wendy Mays

116 | Wendy Mays, from House of FI, tells the story of growing her family from 4 to 8 through adoption all while moving states and changing careers, and ultimately kickstarting her family’s pursuit of financial independence.


  • Wendy and her family first learned about financial independence about 4 years ago.
  • Wendy was commuting from Phoenix, Az., to San Diego, Ca., as her husband was living in California in pursuit of a new teaching job.
  • Wendy now has a family of six children, four of whom are adopted.
  • During her husband’s job search Wendy’s law practice in Phoenix was the family’s primary income, so she made significant changes to balance keeping her job with the family’s logistical challenges, including a shift in the type of legal work she did.
  • In the midst of this hectic commuting lifestyle, Wendy and her husband finalized the adoption of three of their children, including a 4-day-old baby.
  • Once the adoptions finalized, Wendy finally moved fully to San Diego.
  • In March 2017, Wendy started adjusting their financial lifestyle to begin pursuing financial independence.
  • First step was understanding where their money was really going.
  • Wendy dropped her average food/grocery expenses from about $3,500 to about $1,000.
  • By eliminating a few unnecessary big-ticket items, and optimizing smaller expenses, Wendy cut about $6,000 from their monthly expenses.
  • Beginning in 2018, Wendy’s husband maxed out his savings and retirements accounts, increasing their family savings rate to about 28%.
  • In October 2018, Wendy transitioned from legal work in Phoenix to real estate in San Diego.
  • Having a large family impacts Wendy’s financial commitments:
    • Larger housing expenses
    • Larger vehicles – a Suburban
    • Bigger clothing expenses
  • Financially reasonable family activities require creativity.
  • Currently, Wendy’s family is on a 7-year path to financial independence.
  • Making these changes has been really challenging for Wendy, but tracking progress and looking back is encouraging.
  • There are several different types of adoption
    • Domestic private adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive
    • Private international adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive
    • Adoption via foster care – usually low cost
  • After adopting through foster care, there are ongoing financial assistance programs that help Wendy and her husband to offset the costs associated with raising adopted children.
  • Wendy is hopeful she might pay off her student loan debt in 5 years.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 25, 2019
115R | How to Get Out of Debt

115R | A how-to conversation about strategies for tackling consumer debt, a review of Monday’s episode with Bonnie Traux, and a few updates about the ChooseFI community.  


  • Brad’s wife no longer working as a CPA – although she was technically laid off, she’s excited for the extra time in her schedule.
  • Being at FI gave Laura the ability to be happy for her previous employer and move on with a smile.
  • Bonnie Traux, from Monday’s episode, is an ultimate side hustler.
  • If you’re stuck, you’ll have to do something different if you want a different result.
  • Bonnie reached financial independence in about 13 years.
  • Before starting to save, Bonnie spent years paying down consumer debt as her husband was continuing to build it.
  • The journey towards financial independence doesn’t start at zero – it often starts with tackling debt.
  • How to tackle debt
    • Use account-tracking software - examples:, YNAB (You Need A Budget), or even Excel or a pen and paper.
    • Know what’s coming in, and what’s going out.
    • List out all the debts you have, their payments and interest rates.
    • Reasonable interest rates are somewhere near or below 6%.
    • The Debt Snowball – take all your debts and organize them from smallest balance to largest. Continue making minimum payments for all debts, and commit any extra to paying off the smallest debt. When it’s paid off, roll that payment into paying off the next smallest.
      • The Debt Snowball is a psychological win, but ignores interest rates.
    • The Avalanche – the interest rate is the most important thing. Always pay toward the balance with the highest interest rate.
    • The Hybrid Method – combine these two strategies to pay off a few smaller debts at first, then commit to paying toward the highest interest debt.
    • You could earn more – start a side hustle, work a little extra
    • A no-spend month
    • Optimize regular monthly expenses
    • A credit card balance transfer
    • Consolidating debt
    • Part 1: Know where to find your account information
    • Part 2: Acknowledging that you can’t afford debt.
    • Part 3: Debt Payoff Strategy
    • Part 4: Creating the Margin



For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 22, 2019
115 | Poverty, Divorce and FI by 43 | Bonnie Truax

115 | Bonnie Truax, a blogger and early retiree, shares her story of growing up below the poverty line, scraping her way out of inherited debt, reaching financial independence without knowing what it was, and understanding how to talk about money with your spouse.

  • Bonnie grew up with family income that was technically half of the poverty level, but always debt free.
  • In a town of only 35 people, W2 jobs were hard to come by, so Bonnie worked any odd job that she could find – mowing lawns, decorating cakes, roofing.
  • What did Bonnie do with the income from her side hustles?
  • Bonnie got married shortly after college and inherited significant debt.
  • The first step to getting out of that debt, was learning spreadsheets and prioritizing which debt she would tackle first.
  • Bonnie was managing thousands of dollars of debt and got back to broke, even as her spouse was actively spending and maxing out credit cards.
  • What is Bonnie’s financial advice for people before they get married?
  • Financial literacy isn’t distributed evenly throughout the country – not everyone understands how to manage finances.
  • Not everyone is comfortable talking about money, even with their spouse. If Bonnie could do it again, she would start by talking about fears associated with money.
  • When Bonnie started over she was 30, earning about $25k.
  • Bonnie learned IT with her free time at a reporting job, eventually becoming the manager of an IT team.
  • Before she got remarried, Bonnie and Trin had become very close friends at work and had already talked about finances, so she was confident about their joint approach to money as a couple.
  • Trouble doesn’t have to be a disaster.
  • Getting out of debt on a low income is possible – you shouldn’t have to eat rice and beans your whole life, but if you’re getting out of debt, you might have to them for a while.
  • Bonnie and her husband automated their finances and didn’t give much attention them; they found a comfortable way to live regardless of their increasing incomes.
  • Bonnie didn’t plan to retire, but when work became toxic, their savings gave them the freedom to leave work.
  • Instead of just leaving money in their savings account, Bonnie and her husband began purchasing foreclosed home and renting them out.
  • Without a knowledge of the financial independence community, how did Bonnie determine that she and her husband were financially ready to leave their jobs to retire?
  • Bonnie and Trin are traveling the world for a few years before they decide where to retire abroad.
  • It’s never too late to make tomorrow better.
  • Anything that comes into Bonnie’s blog goes to support a safehouse in Ecuador.
  • Fear of missing out is just an excuse; you are always choosing what you miss out on.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 18, 2019
114R | Fine Tuning the College Equation

114R | Brian Eufinger returns to fill the gaps and address questions from the community about PSATs and National Merit Scholars, Brad and Jonathan discuss the benefits of creating a college-hacking strategy early, and the ChooseFI community responds to Monday’s episode.

  • Financial independence is generally about knowing the rules and making decisions according to what you value in life.
  • Many colleges use an equation to award merit aid --> a specific GPA + a specific test scores = a certain amount of merit aid.
  • With a better strategy to studying for the SAT or ACT, even a small bump could save someone tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Is it better to get a summer job, or spend the summer studying for the SAT/ACT?
  • With the Common Application, it’s beneficial to apply to a few extra schools because the merit aid packages available are hugely varied.
  • Just being aware of the rules gives you the best opportunities to succeed, and to opens up as many options as possible.
  • How has Brad’s mindset toward paying for college changed during the past two years of ChooseFI interviews?
  • A message from Paul in the Facebook group, who appreciated that Brian presented college scholarships with a realistic perspective about the challenges.
  • A comment from Rayanne, who shares the process her daughter is navigating as a graduating senior in California, looking for the best scholarship opportunities.
  • Lynn is grateful for Brian’s realistic suggestion that students don’t start studying for the SAT until the end of their sophomore year; in New Jersey even sixth graders are being asked to consider future standardized tests.
  • Julie messaged to remind parents that students should also study for the PSAT, as the PSAT is what determines a student’s National Merit standing.
  • Brian Eufinger, from Monday’s episode, returns to talk about the PSAT and National Merit Scholars:
    • CLEP credits and dual enrollment are good options for high school and current college students.
    • Academic Common Market – in some states, students can pay in-state costs at an out-of-state school if they’re majoring in a subject unavailable in-state.
    • Making a college-transfer strategy early will help students transfer from a community college to a four-year institution without any hiccups.
    • “There’s no greater financial aid than finishing in four years.”
    • Bringing AP credits into college gives a student more flexibility to change majors, study abroad, work internships or co-ops, or study for post-grad tests.
    • In rural areas that don’t offer as many AP courses, many states offer online AP courses.
    • The reward for being a National Merit Scholar varies widely between universities, but can be as much as a full ride, books, etc.
    • PSAT is offered in sophomore and junior year.
    • If your sophomore student scores higher than 1300 on a PSAT, it’s a disservice to not study for the PSAT in their junior year.
    • Only 50,000 students get National Merit status:
      • Top 16,000 students are awarded “semi-finalist” status
      • Next 34,000 get “commended” status
    • Many campuses offer cash for participating in graduate research projects.
    • Being a Resident Advisor (RA) at most schools earns you free room and board, which can be as much as $20k a year.
    • Becoming an RA is typically competitive, so start planning your application earlier.
    • Being an RA is potentially the biggest scholarship you can get.
  • The financial independence group in Scandinavia just surpassed 1,000 members.
  • The Houston ChooseFI Local Group is hosting Alan Donegan from the Pop Up Business School, along with the San Diego and Los Angeles local groups.
  • Jonathan will join the Washington, D.C., Local Group for a meet up soon.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 15, 2019
114 | Demystify College Admission & Aid | Brian Eufinger | Edison Prep

114 | Brian Eufinger, co-founder of Edison Prep, dives deep into the college admissions process and explains how a student should approach grades and test scores to give themselves the best college options, and how to pay for college without collecting a huge student loan debt.


  • Most merit aid that students earn comes directly from the university.
  • Brian attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning about 2/3 merit scholarship and pieced together other scholarships and on-campus jobs to pay for his education.
  • Many states or schools give merit scholarships for students who earn high test scores and high grades.
  • Brian is surprised by the vast differences in aid packages among schools with similar academic profiles.
  • Many schools will offer a few high school classes in the 8th grade year.
  • Brian’s advice for helping students get into the best college and find the best merit aid is to sign up for challenging classes, starting in middle school if you can, earn the highest GPA possible, and find a few extracurricular activities you are passionate about.
  • A super high SAT score will not offset a bad GPA; you can repeat a test, but not a class from 9th grade.
  • The Common Application has made it more difficult for universities to evaluate an overwhelming number of applications, which is why a students’ numbers are so important when admissions officers are making initial evaluations.
  • Grade inflation makes it difficult to understand GPAs; your student just needs to stand out among their school peers.
  • Earning a “C” in their junior years is one of the bigger mistakes a student can make.
  • The No. 1 academic risk for high school students is over committing to extracurricular activities, including sports, when they should be focusing on academics.
  • Division I schools are able to give out athletic scholarships, while Division 3 schools typically don’t offer athletic aid. However, there are still options for earning scholarships at Division 3 schools for student-athletes.
  • Merit aid is based on evaluation of your grades, test scores, application, etc.
  • Need-based financial aid is based on perceived financial need.
  • Students don't need 1,000 hours to study for SAT/ACT tests; if they treated tests like a sport for one season, they would have all the hours they need.
  • The perfect time to start studying is after sophomore year, before junior year is complete.
  • Sophomores should make sure to take a full-length practice test, created by the actual test makers, to determine whether they’ll be more successful on the ACT or SAT.
  • It’s better to focus on one test than to try to be good at two.
  • Practice is crucial.
  • The best calculator for these tests is the TI-84 Plus CE, followed by a TI-84 and TI-83.
  • It’s best to find a local tutoring company, with a small number of employees, that hires full-time professional tutors.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 11, 2019
113R | Making your Retirement Plan Bullet Proof | Tanja Hester

113R | Tanja Hester retired early 15 months ago and joins the show to share her experience of being work optional, Brad makes a decision about solar panels, and a review of Monday’s episode with Grant Sabatier.


  • Brad shares some updates with his car malfunctions and follows up about his solar panel cost analysis.
  • Brad anticipates a 9.6% return on his solar panel investment, compared to Brian’s 12.5% return in Rhode Island.
  • Solar panels are expected to last for about 25 years.
  • Message from Dan, who realized while listening to Monday’s episode with Grant Sabatier, that he is charging too little for his side hustle work, and paying too much in taxes.
  • Sales is story telling – Grant figured out how to tell his story right and understand potential client’s needs.
  • A message from Ben, who feels like building relationships with recruiters is more likely to get you job options that is $10-15k, compared to the $60-80k Grant mentioned.
  • You’re unlikely to get a big pay bump by staying with the same company; getting a significant jump usually requires moving jobs.
  • Maybe you don’t need a budget, but you do need to know what your life costs.
  • Tanja Hester, author of Work Optional, joins the show:
    • How did Tanja change from wanting to stick with her career forever, to choosing early retirement?
    • Took Tanja and her husband about 6 years to reach early retirement.
    • It’s hard to know your “why of FI”, but moving into early retirement requires some life planning.
    • After 15 months, is early retirement meeting Tanja’s expectations?
    • Whether you’re retiring at 45 or 65, the transition is still very similar; we all have a desire to matter and contribute.
    • What are Tanja and Mark pursuing now that allows them to contribute?
    • What things should people be considering in order to make their retirement plan bullet proof?
      • A variety of different retirement options, aside from full retirement.
      • One-phase or two-phase retirement – should you plan differently for your expenses and savings before and after the traditional retirement age?
      • Does 25x and/or 4% work for you?
      • When and how to cut your spending?
    • It’s always better to over save.
    • Tanja’s FI calculations don’t include social security, as there’s a possible it could change.
    • Most retirees spend about $300k on medical expenses, beyond Medicare.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 08, 2019
113 | Swing for the Fences | Grant Sabatier

113 | Grant Sabatier from Millennial Money and author of Financial Freedom, shares his story of unemployment and entrepreneurship, and his strategies for increasing your income and optimizing your finances.

  • In 2010, with a college degree in philosophy Grant had been laid off twice and found himself living at home as 24-year-old.
  • Grant sent out more than 200 resumes without a single callback before he found the information he needed to start learning Google Ad campaigns.
  • The certification process took about 30 days and he received a job offer almost immediately.
  • The first step to getting out of a rut is being honest enough to admit that you’re stuck.
  • Most people are only 2 or 3 steps away from a life that they’d love.
  • A million dollars could be 10 years away; just take the next step.
  • When Grant looked at all his friends and his parents’ friends, they were stressed about money so he decided to learn how to do it differently.
  • Grant learned how to build Wordpress websites and began selling his services to law firms, quickly securing large contracts at lower prices than large agencies.
  • Grant’s first client became his most valuable client because he served as a credible reference for more than a year.
  • How does Grant recommend getting your first client?
  • What matters is helping your client look good to their boss.
  • Selling is story telling – who you are as a person is more important that what you’re selling.
  • The paradox of the gig economy is that many people are actually less flexible and more stressed about getting their next client than they would be working a 9-5.
  • Whether you’re happy with your current job or not, optimizing your finances through your full-time job is where you need to start.
  • Talking to recruiters in your particular industry will give insight into the direction the industry is moving, what parts of your resume might be lacking, and the market value of your work.
  • How does Grant maintain relationships with recruiters?
    • Face-to-face meetings
    • Taking people out to lunch
    • Form an actual relationship, don’t just try to get something from them.
  • For Grant, forcing someone into a budget that cuts out small things like wine and coffee just reinforces a scarcity mindset.
  • The only way to get from a 5% to a 30% savings rate is to decrease your housing, transportation and food costs.
  • There is a limit to how much someone can cut back, but making money is unlimited.
  • Grant invested 100% of his side hustle income.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 04, 2019
112R | Planned Obsolescence

112R | An evaluation of the long-term savings that result from driving old cars, a review of how Naseema McElroy has optimized her finances and reversed lifestyle creep, and a series of voicemails and messages from the ChooseFI community.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 01, 2019
112 | Zero Based Budgeting | How I paid off 1 million in Debt | with Naseema from Financially Intentional

112 | Naseema McElroy, a registered and practicing nurse and blogger at Financially Intentional, explains how to accumulate $1 million in debt, and how she earned her freedom through financial independence.

  • How does someone accumulate $1 million of debt?
  • Naseema is from West Oakland, Ca., where she was taught to either join the military or go to college.
  • She attended the University of Southern California for both her undergraduate and graduate degree, then later completed an accelerated nursing certification program at the University of California in San Francisco.
  • Floor nurses where Naseema works earn above $200,000.
  • How could Naseema have been significantly more efficient with her college education?
  • Many nurses have two jobs: Naseema works part time with benefits (three eight-hour shifts), and a per diem job (two 12-hour shifts) without benefits, at a higher pay rate.
  • Even after finishing her education and working full time, Naseema accumulated more than $1 million in debt, and was living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Most of her debt was student loans and Bay-Area mortgage costs.
  • What inspired Naseema to move from a 5002ft apartment closer to the city into a 40002ft home in the suburbs?
  • Even with the house and the car and the seemingly perfect set up, Naseema did not feel secure, and even owed her family money.
  • Dave Ramsey set Naseema on the course to pay off her debt.
  • What was her first step?
  • Once Naseema began tracking her expenses, she was an early user of Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar app.
  • A zero-base budget is projecting how much you’ll earn and set aside how much is intended for paying off debt, then adjust the remaining numbers to reflect other obligations and other adjustable expenses.
  • What inspired Naseema to begin blogging at Financially Intentional?
  • Before Naseema sold her suburban house, she had already paid $300k of debt.
  • Naseema chose to leave one of her jobs when it became an unhealthy environment, because living debt-free gave her the room in her budget to do so.
  • Currently, Naseema has moved out of the Bay Area and commutes back into the city 6 days a month for work.
  • Building wealth is a mindset. You have everything it takes to be successful.



Clever Girl Finance

The Stock Series

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 28, 2019
111R | Make the Impossible Possible

111R | Jillian from Montana Money Adventures gives advice for laying out roadmap in your life, right after and Brad and Jonathan review Monday’s episode and highlight activities from several local groups around the globe.


  • Brad and Jonathan reflect on last week’s episode with Billy Banholzer.
  • A video inspires Brad to learn swimming from his daughter.
  • Your current behavior or mistake doesn’t have to define you for the rest of your life.
  • One of the first steps to Billy’s success was setting goals.
  • What are Brad’s suggestions for developing into a better writer?
  • Billy found ChooseFI while he was looking for a community of people who were pursuing the same things he wanted to pursue.
  • Getting started on the path to financial independence can be really hard at first, but it gets easier as you move further down the path.
  • Brad shares excitement about a local meet up and changes people are making locally.
  • Highlight reel of local group activities:
    • Combined Southern California and San Diego groups have a sold-out meeting where Jillian from Montana Money Adventures will speak.
    • The Nebraska local group is meeting every two months with specific topics.
    • A new group in The Netherlands has more than 20 members.
    • The local group in Portland, Ore., met every week in 2018.
    • A Northern Ireland local group doubled its membership in the past month.
    • Alex, an admin from the Baltimore group, is setting up mastermind groups.


  • Jillian, from Episode 84, talks about building a life roadmap:
    • Focusing on your values is the first step to building a better life.
    • How did Jillian and her husband create space to talk about their values and what they wanted their life to look like?
    • Be. Have. Do.
    • Jillian uses sticky notes to brainstorm her ideas and organize her thoughts.
    • What is a Quit List?
    • How does Jillian consider seasons of life?
    • Each person’s superpower includes:
      • What you’re passionate about.
      • What you’re naturally good at.
      • What activities you get caught up in and find really fun.
    • Brad talks about listening to where there’s resistance in your life.
    • Could. Should. Want.
    • Writing down your thoughts helps clarify and anchor them.
    • Tickets for Chautauqua 2019 will go on sale soon.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 25, 2019
111 | The Lost Decade | From Prison to FI | Wealth Well Done

111 | Billy B., a writer, entrepreneur and blogger at Wealth Well Done, shares his story of finding freedom in prison, starting over in his 30s and pursuing financial independence despite the setbacks.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 21, 2019
110R | Change the Input

110R | Voicemails from the ChooseFI community about saving on grocery bills, making life changes to optimize your circumstances, and a travel suggestion, as well as a review of Monday’s episode and updates from Brad and Jonathan about bills, travel, solar panels and more.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 18, 2019
110 | A Millionaire Next Door Case Study | Rocky Lalvani

110 | Rocky Lalvani, blogger at Richer Soul, shares his story of growing up as an immigrant’s child, learning how to save money in his early years, and how he’s teaching his own children about finances now.


  • Rocky’s parents came to the U.S. in 1968, when Rocky was 2 years old.
  • Among Rocky’s parents’ friends and their community, money was an open topic, and in pursuit of the “American Dream” his family consistently climbed the financial ladder.
  • When Rocky was 7 his father became a single dad, and Rocky started learning how to be more independent, personally and financially.  
  • Paying attention to what customers and supervisors actually wanted helped Rocky advance at work.
  • How much was Rocky saving when he was working in his youth?
  • Rocky worked through college by delivering pizza and working at the university, finishing without any student debt.
  • When he got his first post-college job, his dad helped him set up all the available automated savings accounts – 401k, company stock, etc.
  • After realizing he needed to get out of consumer debt, what was Rocky’s strategy?
  • Rocky’s plan was always to be a millionaire – he had been calculating and trying strategies since early on.
  • Seeing people lose their life savings in an economic downturn motivated Rocky to get himself into a steady financial position.
  • What steps did Rocky take to get himself to FI?
    • Started saving early.
    • Always spent less than he made.
    • Rocky paid off his mortgage as early as possible.
  • How is Rocky teaching his children about money?
  • At this point, Rocky’s children are young adults – they don’t need things to be confident.
  • Rocky wishes that in addition to teaching how to save money, he had also taught his children to earn money.
  • Rocky’s strategy to help his daughter do well on the SAT, and hopefully earn a good scholarship, was to download an app on her phone and answer one SAT question a day for three years, prior to taking the exam.
  • Earning a scholarship to college is a sliding scale – a student might earn scholarship at a lower tier school, when they would not earn anything at a “better” school.
  • Rocky and his son went a step further and did their best to figure out how to pay for college with the lowest price tag.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 14, 2019
109R | “Bear” Perspective

109R | Big ERN from Early Retirement Now joins the show to talk about the current market climate: How is it impacting investors, who could benefit, and what markers he uses to evaluate its actual condition?

We also share a voicemail from Abby, who provides a few more helpful hints for teaching abroad.

Highlights from the show:

  • Brad maxed out his HSA for 2019, and talks about how he’s prioritizing fitness.
  • Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.
  • Preview of who will be at the coming CampFI that Brad plans to attend.
  • Review of Monday’s episode about teaching abroad, and the wide variety of opportunities available.
  • A voicemail from Abby H., who is currently teaching in China and has experience in several other countries as well.
  • Abby tried teaching in Kuwait, but found that despite a high salary the cost of living was also extremely high.
  • Suggestions from Abby:
    • Don’t just look for jobs in the Middle East, or other “high salary” locations.
    • Try negotiating your salary/benefits offer.
    • Look for options that don’t require purchasing a car.
  • How did Rob and Scott, from Monday’s episode, replace fear with flexibility in each of their lives?
  • Big ERN joins the show to talk about the current market situation:
    • What is “sequence of returns” risk, and why does it matter?
    • Under the assumption that the great recession or the dot-com bust will not repeat, Big ERN thinks it’s too early to worry about the current market climate.
    • The 4% rule isn’t as untouchable as people think. With a small market downturn, it’s possible that some people will need to draw as much as 5%.
    • If someone’s portfolio decreased this year, should they work a few more years to rebuild it, or count on the market recovering?
    • If someone is still many years away from retirement, they shouldn’t worry too much about the market, and might actually be benefit from low stock prices.
    • If you have a 50% or higher savings rate, you are going succeed financially, regardless of this drop in the market.
    • The U.S. economy is still strong, so the value of the market isn’t necessarily going down – the price is just down.
    • If someone has a sum of money ready to invest, should they invest it all at once, or employ “dollar-cost averaging”?
    • Who should be concerned about the market and what should they be looking for?
    • Look at the fundamentals of the U.S. economy to evaluate the conditions of the market.
    • Big ERN just retired. His family is just settling in to a new house in Washington.


Jan 11, 2019
109 | Exploring International Teaching Opportunities | Scott & Rob

109 | Scott, a math teacher in Santiago, Chile, and Rob, a blogger at Getting Canned, share their experiences teaching abroad, including the financial and lifestyle benefits, and the how-to for making it happen.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 07, 2019
108R | How to Calculate Your Savings Rate

108R | Brad and Jonathan talk through the various methods of calculating a yearly savings rate and the numbers necessary to do so, and review Monday’s episode about setting up special needs accounts.


  • Jonathan is back from 20 days with family in Zimbabwe, and Brad recaps his Christmas vacation.
  • Brad and his family added 12 board games to their collection.
  • William, from Monday’s episode, set out a road map for people who want or need to safe guard finances for special needs children or other dependents.
  • Key: fund your trust as a part of executing your will to minimize tax liability.
  • Start with a 529 Able, but as you reach $100k, begin to look at the next steps.
  • Comment from Rebecca, that the 529 Able accounts in Nevada have higher fees than she preferred, so she’s funding a traditional 529 Plan and will eventually rotate it into a 529 Able.
  • Every state currently has its own set of 529 Able options.
  • Voicemail from Penny, who has a special needs trust and was on disability for 16 years, but has been back to work for the past 12 years and is now working to help her parents with their healthcare and financial needs.
  • Financial independence is the ability to do the things that bring you joy, whether they bring in money or not.
  • In 2019, ChooseFI is bringing in experts to answer specific, technical questions.
  • William is helping to build the website, and a more user-friendly local group site.
  • Brad is going to Camp FI in Florida soon.
  • How to calculate your savings rate:
    • Three different ways to calculate:
      • Gross total compensation divided by how much you saved or invested.
      • Take-home pay divided by how much you saved or invested.
      • After-tax compensation divided by how much you saved or invested.
    • Brad uses an excel sheet with three tabs: Profit & Loss (P&L), Net Worth, Accounts.
    • In the Accounts tab, Brad records savings in each account at the beginning and end of the year, and totals up monthly expenses (cost of electric in Jan., Feb., Mar., etc.).
    • Does Brad track every one of his credit card expenses?
    • Net worth = add up all your assets and all your liabilities.

For more information, including links mentioned in today's show, visit the show notes at

Jan 04, 2019
108 | Setting up a Special Needs Trust

108 | William McVey, ChooseFI’s Chief Technology Officer, walks through investment options available to meet the financial demands of special needs children, and the strategies he’s used to prepare for his children’s future. 

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 31, 2018
107R | The One Thing 2018 | End of Year Episode

107R | A year-end episode featuring voicemails and messages from the ChooseFI community sharing successes, progress, exciting discoveries, and hopes for next year of our journey toward financial independence.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 28, 2018
107 | Entrepreneur Case Study | Craig Attkinson | GreenSide Up Landscaping

107 | Craig Attkinson, owner and founder of Green Side Up, a landscaping company in Richmond, Va., explains how he started his business in his mid-20s, what it took to grow and optimize the business, and how he’s optimized other aspects of his life as well.

  • Craig started out his career on a golf course, with a degree from Virginia Tech in turf grass and horticulture.
  • Green Side Up started in one weekend when Craig bought a truck, a trailer and a mower all at once.
  • Craig mowed lawns since he was 10 years old and saved it all until he bought his supplies.
  • Jumping straight into landscaping required Craig to do everything himself, and learn on the go.
  • When Craig brought on his first partner, he gave him 50% of the company, and guaranteed a salary, knowing that they would have to build up that amount of business.
  • How did Craig get contracts in the mid 2000s?
  • Craig has a marketing company now that helps now, but early marketing for Green Side Up involved phone books, purchasing ads and a lot of networking.
  • Having a partner to build ideas, and watching to see how other similar businesses function is helpful to build efficiency.
  • Finding a good system for managing the work processes and clarifying expectations for employees hugely increased the business’ efficiency.
  • How can Craig build the company to a point that he can step away?
  • As the business gets bigger, purchasing things in bulk, or at higher volumes, helps Craig get better prices.
  • How did Craig find the FI community?
  • Craig’s goal in life is to not have to ever worry about money.
  • Craig’s saving rate is about 70-80% because he benefits from company vehicles, cell phone plan, etc., which makes his personal expenses much lower.
  • Craig’s family farm houses the equipment for the business.
  • How and why did Craig design his own tiny home, next to his sister’s house?
  • Craig loves life optimization; what aspects of his tiny home are most optimized?
    • Took advantage of a 4’ x 6’ nook for his office.
    • Used leftover granite from someone else’s kitchen remodel for his own small kitchen.
    • Built a bed with drawers underneath for his closet.
  • Craig is technically FI, but is still loving his work, so he’s not retiring anytime soon.
  • His next adventures are climbing in Patagonia and biking in Norway.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 24, 2018
106R | Agency

106R | A series of suggestions and questions from the ChooseFI community, including HSA funds, capital gains distributions, and Traditional versus Roth IRAs, and follow up from Monday’s episode with Deanna.

  • Jonathan raves about battery-powered chain saws, and a great bonding experience with his dad.
  • Brad’s in-laws enjoy helping Brad’s family with landscaping and gardening.
  • Pursuing financial independence gives Jonathan the opportunity to plan his family’s schedule first and work around that.
  • The people pursuing FI aren’t just single, white software designers; FI gives everyone the opportunity to prioritize family.
  • We get to pick our story.
  • Our mindframe changes the trajectory of our lives.
  • No matter how bad you’ve had it, there is someone with more obstacles than you had, who found a way through.
  • ChooseFI isn’t about Brad and Jonathan, it’s about the community.
  • Voicemail from Danny Kenny, a CFP, who recommends rolling HSA funds out of your employee account and into an external HSA custodian account that will have lower costs associated (allowed once a year) and explains how capital gains distributions can hurt long-term holders.
  • Another voicemail, from Hillary, who enjoys hearing about the fundamentals of financial independence.
  • Lee asks why someone would choose a Traditional IRA versus a Roth IRA, since neither are funded by truly “pre-tax” money?
  • A 401k comes out of your W2 paycheck, before it’s taxed, while Traditional IRA contributions come from a personal decision to contribute post-paycheck money to a retirement account.
  • When someone uses a Traditional IRA, contributions are deductible and lower your taxable income to decrease your tax liability.
  • A Roth IRA does not come with a tax deduction.
  • Taxable investments are just a different way to store your money aside from just keeping money in the bank – either an investment account, or investment properties.
  • Ruth points out that it’s important to check our accounts and protect ourselves from recurring and unwanted charges.
  • James shares a frugal win – offering graphic design services in exchange for a $500 discount to his favorite coffee shop, so he can work there and drink coffee for free.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 21, 2018
106 | From Addiction to Financial Independence | Ms Fiology

106 | Deanna, blogger at, shares her journey from drug and alcohol addiction to recovery, paying off six-figures of personal debt, and getting started on her path toward financial independence.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 17, 2018
105R | Solar Panel Cost Analysis

105R | Brian Feroldi joins the show to talk about the costs and benefits of installing solar panels and answers questions about his investment strategies, and Brad and Jonathan recap Monday’s episode with Paula Pant before announcing a new ChooseFI project on the horizon.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 14, 2018
105 | You can Afford Anything but not Everything | Paula Pant

105 | Paula Pant, creator of Afford Anything podcast and blog, dives into her love for travel, her rejection of the traditional 9-5, and how she built an income to match her lifestyle.

  • Paula moved to the U.S. as a baby, just after being born in Nepal.
  • Her only travel growing up was between Ohio and Nepal.
  • Travel has become a large part of Paula’s life, but her desire to travel only grew in her adult life.
  • Rebellion is a form of seeking identity.
  • Once Paula started traveling did she fall in love with travel immediately?
  • What does Paula consider a legitimate visit to a foreign country?
  • Two weeks of vacation in Paula’s first few years of work after college felt too limiting.
  • Paula made a lifestyle change, and then figured out how to fund it.
  • Learning about and trying out freelance work introduced Paula to the idea that someone could work outside of the traditional 9-5 work.
  • Did Paula receive criticism when she quit her job to travel?
  • When Paula traveled for her first few years, she budgeted about $1,000 a month for expenses and chose to visit countries where the dollar goes far.
  • Paula’s tips for building connection while traveling:
    • Stay at hostels – more economical, and more social.
    • Meet the American, Australian, British, etc., ex pats, and meet their friends (build relationships, and travel slowly).
  • How did Paula restart once she returned to the U.S. after her 27-month adventure?
  • In pursuit of writing what she wanted to read, Paula became a personal finance writer.
  • When did Paula begin to feel imposter syndrome?
  • Default to saving, instead of default to spending.
  • Why does spending money create anxiety for Paula, and how did the scarcity mindset actually push Paula toward financial independence?
  • Passive income (real estate) was primarily meant to give Paula some financial cushion, instead of a means to financial independence.
  • Humans crave autonomy, purpose and mastery.
  • Reading about potential scientific advances motivates Paula to be healthier because she wants to be around to see it.
  • Self-care is work care.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 10, 2018
104R | Travel Rewards | End of Year Planning

104R | An update from Marla Taner on 2018’s best travel reward options, a hack for keeping your bills low, a review of Monday’s episode with Doc G.


  • Jonathan tries out a new service to ensure that his bills are staying low.
  • is fixing a ‘pain point’ for Jonathan.
  • How can someone balance simplicity, and a willingness to say yes to opportunities?
  • Review of Monday’s episode: Purpose, Identity and Connection.
  • Finding your identity – the story you tell yourself, about yourself – is crucial to finding your space in the world.
  • Why was Brad was given singing lessons as a gift from a couple at Chautauqua?
  • Marla Taner joins the show to update about travel rewards:
    • She’s traveling to Hawaii for New Years with 9 friends.
    • Flight reward deals are not as good during Christmas, but hotels are usually consistent.
    • What is the Southwest Companion Pass and what is the strategy to get it?
      • Earn the ability to bring someone with you for free on every Southwest flight for up to 2 years.
      • Must earn 110,000 Southwest rewards points in one calendar year.
      • Current strategy:
        • Southwest’s Business card comes with 60k points.
        • Southwest’s Personal card comes with 40k points.
    • Southwest has good sales on right now.
    • What does it take to apply for a business card?
    • Barclay Arrival Plus – Marla’s recommendation for beginners.
    • Capital One Venture card has added a transferrable-points feature.
    • Don’t overspend, look for opportunities to front-load some of your normal expenses to hit minimum spends (i.e., utility bills, or internet, grocery gift cards).
    • Marla is joining Tim and Amy Rutherford from ChooseFI Episode 79 in Tempe, AZ for a few days. Want to join?
    • Best way to connect with Marla, Tim and Amy is via the Go With Less blog. .


Dec 07, 2018
104 | Ultimate Advice To my Younger Self | DiverseFI

104 | Doc G, writer at, shares his experience and mindset as he considers stepping away from his career as a doctor, and highlights the value of building purpose, identity and connection.

For more details, visit the show notes at

Dec 03, 2018
103R | The Apprentice

103R | Captain DIY returns to recommend some accessible projects for the beginning DIYer, Jonathan highlights two recipe and meal organization apps, and several messages from the ChooseFI community.

For more details, visit the extensive list at 

Nov 30, 2018
103 | The Trades Path to FI – Captain DIY

103 | Tinian Crawford, blogger at DIY2FI and licensed electrician, talks about his path to licensure, the advantages of trade jobs and his transition to pursuing financial independence.  


  • What jobs are represented in the FI community?
  • Base salary for an electrician is $70 minimum.
  • Many people go to trade school in high school or immediately after, so there’s very little financial education in the trade-work community.
  • Tinian’s father built his childhood house, and Tinian was enlisted to help with construction projects on their property.
  • Does Tinian find value in the graphic design education he received in community college?
  • Tinian’s first job was building signs – many of which were lighted signs – which piqued his interest learning about electrical work.  
  • What education do you need to start electrician licensure training?
  • Tinian’s one-year program cost $25k.
  • To be fully licensed, an electrician has to do a 5-year apprenticeship.
  • Making $70 an hour comes when you work for yourself.
  • Do most electricians jump right into owning their own business?
  • Tinian’s recommendation: stick with a contractor you can learn from for your day job, and start taking jobs on the side.
  • Additional trade jobs that would be great for FI:
    • Garden landscaping and design
    • Plumbing
  • Tinian’s wife suggested that they save $20k by the time their first child was born.
  • In order to avoid high childcare costs, Tinian and his wife split their schedules as much as possible.
  • Tinian hopes to leave his day job at some point, but still needs to learn more about managing benefits and figuring out exactly how much he needs to support his family.
  • In order to prepare for leaving a day job, it’s important to identify how much life will cost after the change.
  • Beginning their investing with a local financial advisor and a socially conscious portfolio was a mistake for Tinian.  




DIYCaptain - Twitter

Burrito Bowl Diaries

“Eliminating the Excuse” – Saving Sherpa

Nov 26, 2018
102R | The Triple Tax Savings of Health Savings Account

102R | Brad and Jonathan explain the long-term tax benefits of using a Health Savings Account to pay for medical expenses, discuss the benefits of new index fund investing options, review Monday’s episode with Timika Downes.


  • Brad and Jonathan are getting back to traditional health insurance, and excited about the Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • Most companies offer health insurance options, typically including:
    • Low monthly premium + high deductible
    • High(er) monthly premium + low(er) deductible.
  • The IRS defines a high deductible plan as anything higher than $1,350 for an individual, or $2,700 for a family.
  • Employees with high deductible plans have access to an HSA (eligible accounts).
  • An FSA (Flex Savings Account) is a reloadable account, that is primarily use-it or lose-it
  • Putting money in an HSA is tax free, and rolls over to future years, and drawing it out for medical purposes is tax free.
  • 2018 HSA contribution limits:
    • $3,450 for individuals
    • $6,900 for families
  • After 65, if you have unused money in your HSA, you can draw it out like a traditional IRA and just pay your normal tax.
  • Brad intends to save his receipts and wait to be reimbursed until later, as HSAs will earn interest the same as any investment account.
  • ChooseFI community members recommend Lively or Fidelity.
  • Review of Monday’s episode with Timika – similar concepts and action points as the recommendations from Alan in the Side Hustle Coaching Series.
  • You don’t need permission: just take action.
  • Dan writes in to report that he’s reached FI!
  • ChooseFI has listeners across the globe – although not all the tax and investment information are relevant to international listeners, the lifestyle conversations are.
  • Brad and Jonathan highly recommend Vanguard because they have low fees, which means investors keep more of their returns.
  • In last few months, Fidelity began offering zero-fee funds and Vanguard has lowered its minimum investment from $10k to $3k for several funds.
  • Investments abroad can have very high fees.
  • Zero fees are not the only thing to consider when picking accounts: tax efficiency is very important as well.



Vanguard Ratchets Up Index-Fund Price Battle

Nov 23, 2018
102 | From 90K of Debt to 6-figure Side Hustle | Timika

102 | Blogger and podcaster Tamika Downes reveals how she went from $94K of debt to owning a six-figure income-earning side hustle while continuing her job as a school nurse and raising three children.

  • Timika’s early financial experiences came through immigrant parents, from Barbados, hustling and saving.
  • Having a side hustle was common place in Timika’s family.
  • Despite her family’s habit of saving, Timika finished her education with $94K of debt.
    • After her undergraduate Timika had $24K in debt.
    • Student loans for her master’s cost $35K
    • A second, nursing degree, cost another $30K
  • Choosing to pursue something that you’re not quite ready for can often lead someone to pay more than necessary.
  • Nursing degrees don’t have to cost $30K; immediately after high school students can become qualified Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) working in hospitals or nursing homes while starting at a community college and finishing through a bridge program at a 4-year school.
  • Nursing is a trade; find the most efficient way to get qualified.
  • Many universities offer tuition assistant to the children of faculty/staff, often including tuition at other universities.
  • What options did Timika consider in order to decrease her student loan debt?
  • Timika’s mindset changed when she started to own her life circumstances; taking responsibility for her finances was a natural result.
  • Instead of buying a $20K car, Timika bought a $20K business – a lice clinic.
  • Timika spoke with out-of-state clinic owners and did her homework before deciding to invest in the set up for her clinic.
  • Since opening the business, Timika has increased her talentstack to include:
    • Securing a business lease
    • Blogging
    • Website management
    • Business finance management
  • Timika went to coding bootcamp, for 75% discount as a female minority.
  • The lice clinic is now almost passive income: Timika only devotes three hours a week and has hired employees who manage the rest.



House of FI

Reluctant Frugalist

Saving Sherpa

The Road to Retirement: (Re)Learning to Love Work

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 19, 2018
101R | Side Hustle Coaching Series Part 4

101R | Brad and Jonathan talk about their experiences with W2 jobs and building side hustles, Jose shares his own side hustle tip, and Alan and Tallis wrap up the 4-part Side Hustle Coaching Series.


  • Brad and Jonathan are jumping into planned spontaneity.
  • Do your actions align with your values?
  • Brad recounts how the accounting firm he worked for right after college, one of the biggest in the U.S. at the time, folded and within 9 months no longer existed.
  • W2 jobs aren’t all that risk-free after all.
  • Having a side hustle is about diversification.
  • Jonathan talks about how Dani is building an audiobook side hustle, using some of the techniques and strategies that Nick Loper talked about in Monday’s episode.
  • Willingness to pivot your side hustle idea gives you a better chance at building a side hustle that actually works.
  • Voicemail from Jose with a side hustle tip from Task Rabbit – sign up to help others with random tasks, and add a little extra cash to your pocket.
  • Brad’s opting to rent a car through Turo, through which customers rent someone’s personal car, similar to AirBnB.


Side Hustle Coaching Call

  • Episodes to review: Episode 30, Episode 56 (Part 1), Episode 77R (Part 2), Episode 85R (Part 3)
  • Tallis reviews how her initial cold calls, starting from further away geographically and becoming increasingly local as she refined her sales pitch.
  • Tallis has 4 dance classes she’ll be teaching soon!
  • Tracking results and feedback from the start of your business is important.
  • Measuring results, and using valid tools respected within the medical community will be important to Tallis’ business.
  • Where does Tallis want her business to go in the next 2 years?
  • Keep pressing forward – it’s impossible to know how the business might grow, but Tallis is building entrepreneurial skills and opening options for her future.



10 Big Chain Stores That Will Secretly Match Amazon's Low Prices

Nov 16, 2018
101 | Finding your Side Hustle Idea | Nick Loper

101 | Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation, talks about the benefits of developing a side hustle, and methods to actually develop a good side hustle idea.


  • You can only cut so much from your expenses; a side hustle helps you expand your earning potential.
  • Nick thinks working just a 9-5 job is risky – what happens if you get fired?
  • Nick advocates several methods for developing side hustle ideas.
  • Method 1: Intersection Method
    • Write out three columns with lists that include what you can do, what you like to do, and the people in your network.
  • Nick used the Fiverr website to test out his first side hustle idea.
  • How important is it to pivot, instead of being discouraged by failure?
  • Some of the best ideas are developed once a business is already in motion.
  • Method 2: What sucks?
    • Find simple sticking points in life and solve the problems.
  • Some people find things on Amazon that suck, and find a way to make them better.
  • There are manufacturing companies in China and the U.S. that work with small orders and require minimal up-front investment.
  • You don’t need a brand-new idea, you just need a different market.
  • Recommended episodes from Side Hustle Nation:
  • Method 3: Rip, Pivot and Jam
    • Find a business model that’s working, pivot it to a new market, product, etc., and then do the work.
  • Are there side hustles that Nick no longer recommends?
  • Sometimes the opportunity cost for a side hustle may not be worth the cash.
  • One of the best side hustle ideas Nick has heard: Flea Market Flipper.
  • How difficult is it to develop a passive-income side-hustle?
  • Think Maids: found a category of businesses on Yelp that had really poor reviews, and found a way to provide better customer service.



Smart Passive Income


Nov 12, 2018
100R | Know the Rules

100R | Brad and Jonathan explain how simply knowing the rules can save you thousands on taxes and college financing, Brad talks through the IRA Conversion Ladder and Capital Gains Harvesting, and a few updates from the community.

  • The financial independence movement is growing, and seeing a lot more press coverage.
  • Messaging matters: The Wall Street Journal published one article with two different headlines.
  • Pursuing financial independence isn’t about buying brown bananas, despite what some media would suggest.
  • Brad reached financial independence with intentionality about his priorities in his life.
  • Brad and Jonathan don’t aim to tell people what decisions to make in their life, just give options and information.
  • What did Brad’s family do to reach financial independence?
    • Housing: chose to move to a less-expensive cost of living area
    • Cars: Brad & his wife drive 15-year-old cars
    • Food: don’t go to restaurants often
  • Set up a life that doesn’t cost that much.
  • Pursuing financial independence actually allows people to pursue jobs that they love.
  • If life costs a lot and someone is in debt, it’s very hard to walk away without taking major risks.
  • Knowing tax rules is a huge component of pursuing financial independence.
  • Knowing the rules in regards to paying for college makes a huge difference in how much financial aid your student might be eligible to receive.
  • A message from Matt about researching the actual requirements necessary for a job in nursing – the cost of nursing school can range from a few thousand dollars to more than $100k.
  • Studying nursing in a less expensive area still gives you qualifications to practice anywhere in the U.S., with a potentially huge payoff.
  • Roth Conversion Ladder & Capital Gains Harvesting – the goal is to pay little or no tax.
  • Roth IRA Conversion Ladder:
    • Starts with traditional IRA/401k.
    • If you want to retire before 59.5, taking money out is taxable income.
    • If you’re not collecting significant income, taking money from an IRA is unlikely to push you into a high tax bracket.
  • Capital Gains Harvesting
    • If you’re income is low, your tax bracket can be incredibly low.
  • Email from Dan explaining how he and his wife paid off many of their debts, found a way for his wife to be a stay-at-home mom, and started a small side hustle.
  • Brad shares a frugal win of the week at the optometrist.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Nov 09, 2018
100 | Welcome to the FI community

100 | Brad and Jonathan look back at the ChooseFI’s growth during the past 100 episodes and hit the highlights of financial independence for new community members and recap their own financial independence journeys.


  • Jonathan considers himself a reluctant frugalist, but the idea of not having to work won him over.
  • Brad and his wife were natural savers, but chose to move from Long Island, NY, so that they could save more and work toward financial independence.
  • If you want to take back your years and have the option to stop working before your 60s, you’re going to have to live differently and make different choices.
  • The key to long term freedom is saving money.
  • The benefits of pursuing financial independence are felt long before reaching FI.
  • Jonathan put himself in a position to leave his pharmacy job when it stopped working for him and his family.
  • A huge quantity of life’s stresses can go away if you’ve got some money in the bank.
  • What you earn minus what you spend = the gap.
  • The goal of the ChooseFI community is to help you grow the gap, and pursue what you’re most interested in.
  • ChooseFI isn’t about the money, it’s a life optimization strategy.
  • Small sacrifices add up in the long term.
  • What is a talent stack, and how did it change Brad’s life?
  • Starting with current income is the wrong place to start calculating the number you need for retirement.
  • FI number = 25 x annual expenses (4% rule of thumb)
  • If you’re only saving 1%, it’ll take you 100 years to replace on year of expenses.
  • Getting as close to possible to a 50% savings rate is when things really start to move quickly.
  • Being rich isn’t watches and cars – it’s money saved and pursuing what’s more important to you in life.
  • What major decisions put Brad on the path to FI?



Mr. Money Mustache

Nov 05, 2018
099R | Market Fluctuations | Stick to Your Plan

099R | Brad and Jonathan review Monday’s episode about generous giving and resource stewardship, then catch up on voicemails and updates from the community about dental school, fall activity ideas, and the recent dip in the stock market.  


  • Jonathan recaps his recent family vacation and travel to FI Chautauqua Greece.
  • Chautauqua was most importantly about community.
  • Jonathan saved nearly $1,200 on a bill for his son’s broken leg just by asking for an adjusted cash-pay price.
  • The Playing with FIRE Kickstarter event far surpassed expectations.
    • More than 1,000 supports
    • More than $100k
  • Review from Monday’s episode with Michael Peterson.
  • Michael continues to work because he wants to be able to give.
  • Geoarbitrage might not always be what we think; moving to ‘less expensive’ countries also usually involves a big lifestyle change.
  • Considering oneself to be a steward of resources, not just an accumulator of money, puts members of the FI community in a unique position to be generous and consider their impact on world.
  • Voicemail from Brian Feroldi from Motley Fool: stock market is down about 10%, but no need to panic, as drops in the market are normal and bound to recover in the long term.
  • Buying stock when it’s down is like buying stock that’s on sale.
  • Voicemail from Chris who tries to support 2nd and 3rd generation FI by supporting childhood entrepreneurship.
  • Hansi asks the community for help brainstorming 31 free/inexpensive things for couples to do in the fall.
    • Drive to look at fall foliage
    • Toast pumpkin seeds
    • Backyard fire pit
  • Josh, a dentist in Oregon, opted to go to dental school in Oklahoma for half the cost of a school in Boston, and then chose to work in a rural group practice to significantly increase his income.
    • Using money he put into his 401k, he purchased a practice in Bend, OR and improved his lifestyle.
    • Expects to pay more than $1.2 million of loans in the next 5 years.
  • In the medical industry, working in more remote locations tends to increase income.
  • Voicemail from Matthew who is a military dentist – military pays for the cost of dental school, plus a stipend, in exchange for a few years of service to the military, and a guaranteed job.


Links mentioned in this episode:

FI Chautauqua


For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 02, 2018
099 | Generous Giving on the Path to FI | Michael Peterson

099 | Michael Peterson, owner of a bacon-themed concession stand in California, talks about downsizing his family expenses, spending 8 months of the year managing a non-profit in El Salvador, and why generous giving is important to him.

For more information, visit the show notes at




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