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Afford Anything

Author: Paula Pant

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You can afford anything, but not everything. We make daily decisions and create habits around how to spend money, time, energy, focus and attention – and ultimately, our life. Every decision is a trade-off against another choice.

But how deeply do we contemplate these choices? Are we settling for the default mode? Or are we ruthlessly optimizing around a deliberate life?

Are we creating financial independence, early retirement and debt freedom? Are we managing money wisely?

Host Paula Pant interviews a diverse array of entrepreneurs, early retirees, millionaires, investors, artists, adventurers, scientists, psychologists, productivity experts, world travelers and regular people, exploring the tough work of living a truly excellent life. Listen to her interviews with Clark Howard, Gretchen Rubin, Cal Newport, James Clear, Chris Guillebeau and Dave Ramsey daughter Rachel Cruze.

Want to learn more? Download our free book, Escape, at http://affordanything.com/escape
199 Episodes
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#199: Ashley is paying affordable rent for a home she enjoys, but she feels certain that the real estate market in her local market will stay strong. She’s thinking about buying a home with 3 to 5 percent down, but she doesn’t have much in savings. Should she wait for a year to save more? Or should she take advantage of a rising market and relatively low interest rates? Ian and his girlfriend live together in Washington D.C. and have a combined 40 percent savings rate. He’d like to buy a rental property, but his girlfriend has $18,000 in student loans and is about to re-enroll in school. Should they buy an investment home, or use their cash to repay her loans and cash flow her new academic program? Annette is about to travel to Spain with her family. How can she plan an affordable and high-value international trip? William is concerned about losing his job. What if he can’t pay his bills, especially his new mortgage? How can he protect himself? Anonymous is a renter, and she often encounters surprise fees and charges when she arrives at the lease signing. Can she negotiate with her landlord? I answer these five questions in today’s episode, and I also feature a short interview with special guest J. Money, my former podcast co-host from the early days!! Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode199 
#198: Money flows. When you receive money, you’re in the path of this flow. Money flows from someone else to you, and eventually, it’ll flow from you to someone else, either in the form of a purchase or an investment. A healthy relationship with money is to feel gratitude when money flows towards you, and to release your money without attachment or resentment when it flows away from you. Today's guest, Ken Honda, is known as the “Zen Millionaire” of Japan. He’s sold more than seven million books in Japan about the intersection between wealth and happiness. In today’s podcast episode, we discuss four core principles for developing a healthy emotional relationship with money. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode198 
#197: Should Bret invest in a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? If Amanda gets married, how will her child support be affected? What about her student loan forgiveness? Joe is investing in bonds, which average a rate of return that’s equal to the interest rate on his mortgage. Should he switch to all-equities and redirect his bond investments into mortgage payoff, instead? Taunia has a car loan, a 401k loan, a home improvement loan, a primary mortgage, and a second mortgage. She also has an emergency fund that only covers two months of expenses, and she’s trying to save for college for her two children. What should she prioritize? Mickey has a six-month emergency fund. Should he leave it in a savings account or invest in bond ladders? David made $10,000 from a side hustle last year. Can he open a Solo 401k or SEP-IRA for his side hustle business? If so, which one should he choose? Should Andy invest in a Target Retirement Date fund, or should he split his money between a U.S. index fund and an international index fund? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these seven questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode197 
#196: When Wendy Mays was in her early 20’s, she earned $12 an hour working as the office manager of a pest control company. She wanted higher income, so she enrolled in college at age 22. By the time she finished her undergraduate degree, she was 26, married, with a child. Her husband worked low-paying jobs to make ends meet. They struggled to pay the bills. Wendy decided to enroll in law school, so that she could bring in more money. She graduated around age 30, and became the primary breadwinner for the household. She opened her own law practice. The couple starting bringing in a combined household income of around $200,000 annually. They bought a large house, with a swimming pool. Sounds like the American Dream, right? Except it was all financed. By age 38, Wendy and her husband accrued nearly $800,000 in debt. Around $480,000 came in the form of mortgage debt. Another $20,000 comprised of vehicle loans. The other $300,000 came in the form of student loans. They lived paycheck-to-paycheck. They decided to expand their family through adoption. Rather quickly, Wendy and her husband had six children. They realized they needed to repay their debt in order to give their family a more stable home life. At age 38, Wendy and her husband committed to repaying their debt, building their retirement accounts, and getting themselves onto a smart financial track. How did they re-start their financial life at age 38, with six children and $800,000 in debt? Find out in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode196 
#195: Alex makes $168,000 per year, combined between her full-time job and her side hustle. Her company pays for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the work week, plus a cell phone subsidy, health, dental and vision insurance, a gym membership, and commuting costs. She also househacks, so her living expenses are only $400 per month. What should she do with her ample savings? Christine is 38 and earns $70,000 per year running her own business. She holds $70,000 in investment accounts, has another $16,000 in savings, bought a condo with 20 percent down, and has no debt. What can she do to fast-track her path to financial independence? Amy is unsure whether she should pay off her mortgage, downsize to a smaller home, or invest. Katherine is 23 and househacking into a duplex. How much should she set aside for cash reserves? Miriam started a podcast and wants to know how to morph a passion into a lucrative income stream. Nick wonders if the FIRE movement should plan an annual gathering … you know, like a FIRE Festival. (But not like the Fyre Festival.) I tackle these six questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode195 
#194: Fear shows up in our lives in countless ways. Sometimes, fear takes the form of procrastination. We're afraid of botching something, or we don't like the feeling of anxiety that a project gives us, so we avoid it, dodge it, and indefinitely put it off. Other times, fear takes the form of perfectionism through endless iterating and tweaking. We want to keep tinkering with a project, to get it "just right." We applaud ourselves for our attention to detail. Fear takes the form of making excuses and rationalizations for why we can't pursue a goal or dream. We tell ourselves that some outside factor is to blame. Fear takes the form of throwing ourselves pity parties and locking ourselves into a negative self-talk spiral. We get easily discouraged. Fear takes the form of thinking others can't be trusted, and pushing people away. Fear has many faces. Today's podcast guest, Ruth Soukup, surveyed 4,000 people to find out how fear manifests in their lives. She joins us on this episode to discuss the seven fear archetypes that she discovered. Those archetypes are: The People Pleaser: This is the fear of disapproval and fear of not being liked, expressed in the form of weak boundaries and putting others needs first to a self-harming extent. The Procrastinator: This is the fear of making a mistakes. This shows up as over-planning to the point of "analysis paralysis," of spending all your time researching and none of your time taking action. Perfectionism is an overlapping quality, as well. The Rule Follower: This is a fear of authority. This person is afraid of breaking the rules or doing something in a way in which it's not 'supposed' to be done. The Outcast: This is the fear of rejection, which often -- ironically -- causes this person to reject others first so that they cannot get rejected. They're highly self-motivated and driven to succeed and feel the need to prove themselves, but they have trouble collaborating and working in groups. The Self-Doubter: This is the fear of inadequacy, of not being good enough, which causes the self-doubter to forgo opportunities, play it safe, and not take risks. They can also be highly critical of others. The Excuse Maker: This is the fear of taking responsibility or being blamed, which shows up in the form of always having a justification as to why this person can't pursue a goal, or why an outcome isn't their fault. The Pessimist: This is the fear of pain or adversity, often held by people who have been through an immense amount of pain or trauma. The pessimist gets locked into patterns of negative self-talk and self-pity, and believes that they have it worst than most. They can be sensitive to criticism, feel emotion intensely, and has trouble moving beyond the challenges from their past. In today's episode, Ruth and I discuss these seven fear archetypes and cover specific action plans that people can take if they recognize these tendencies within themselves. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode194 
#193: Lori is behind on retirement savings, as a result of being a full-time student for more than a decade. She makes good money and lives frugally, but she’s aware that she’s behind for her age. What should she do? Sierra wonders whether she should apply her savings towards paying off her mortgage or building investments. Jenessa plans to retire at age 35, and she’s wondering if the 4 percent withdrawal rule applies for such a long time horizon. Her friend swears that it’s designed to cover a 30-year retirement, not a 60+ year retirement. Is that correct? Jacqui is 24 and recently married. She’d like to open a 529 College Savings Plan for her future children, which she doesn’t plan on having for another 8 to 10 years. Should she do this? David is on-track to reach financial independence at age 50. He would like to start adding bonds to his taxable brokerage accounts. How should he manage this? Mikayla lives in Atlanta. Her employer gives her a stipend to use public transportation. This money can only be used for that purpose. She’s thinking of getting rid of her car so that she can start using public transit, and applying the cost-savings of getting rid of her vehicle into a downpayment fund for a future home. Should she do this? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these six questions on today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode193 
#192: “Don’t buy lattes.” This classic snippet of personal finance advice isn’t specifically anti-Starbucks. “Lattes” are a metaphor for the tiny expenses that leak money from our pockets, often without us realizing how much we’re spending. Your “latte” could be a pile of subscriptions: HBONow, YouTube Red, Spotify Premium, Netflix, Hulu Plus, the CostCo membership that you haven’t used in two years, and -- for that matter -- the gym membership that you also haven’t used in two years. (Ahem.) Your “latte” could be buying bottled water and snacks at the airport, or absentmindedly shopping online when you’re bored, or ordering restaurant take-out or delivery too often. Your “latte” might be spending too much on trinkets and souvenirs during your vacations, when photographs would capture the memory. David Bach is the New York Times bestselling author who created the phrase “don’t buy lattes.” He joins us on today’s podcast episode to discuss The Latte Factor. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode192 
#191: Should Russell rent a cheap apartment, or should he take out a loan for an RV in order to save money on rent? Carl is working two jobs that each pay $12 per hour. He has $5,000 in student loans. What can he do to improve his situation? Caroline is about to finish paying off her student loans, and in the next few years she wants to buy a home. Where should she park her savings in the meantime? Philip is saving for financial independence, but he’s not sure what to do with his time once he quits his job. How can he discover what ignites him? Amanda is receiving an inheritance, a New York City 4-plex valued at $500,000. How should she handle this? And an anonymous caller wants to know what the step-by-step path to wealth building would look like. I answered all of his questions in today’s episode, plus I feature a short follow-up interview with Kim, the firefighter whom we met in Episode 139. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode191 
#190: More than 20 years ago, affluence researchers Dr. Thomas Stanley and Dr. William Danko surveyed a vast number of millionaire households in the United States. What they discovered was groundbreaking at the time. The average U.S. millionaire, they found, lives a frugal lifestyle. They are disproportionately clustered in modest, middle-class neighborhoods. They drive used cars. They don’t spend money on jewelry, watches, boats or other high-ticket items. They’re self-made, meaning they did not inherit their wealth; they’re first-generation millionaires. In 1996, the researchers published their findings in a book called The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. The book became a mega-bestseller and, to this day, remains a top personal finance classic. Fast-forward to 2012. Dr. Thomas Stanley’s daughter, Sarah, followed in her father’s footsteps. She’s grown up to become a researcher, earning a Ph.D. in applied psychology and exploring the world of behavioral finance. She became the Director of Research for the Affluent Market Institute, the research company her father founded, and she launched her own research firm, DataPoints. In 2012, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw and Dr. Thomas Stanley decided to update their research on millionaire households in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Millionaire Next Door. They wanted to see what attributes are different, 20 years later, and what qualities remain the same. They crafted another large-scale survey of millionaires. Yet before they could complete the project, tragedy intervened. In 2015, Dr. Thomas Stanley was killed in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver. His daughter resolved to finish the research that the two of them started together. She sent out the survey they created, gathered and analyzed the results, and published a sequel, The Next Millionaire Next Door, co-authored with her late father. The book is Dr. Thomas Stanley’s final, posthumously-published book. The book was released in October 2018, twenty-two years after the original. On today’s podcast episode, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw joins us to describe what’s different about millionaires, more than two decades later … … and what’s remained the same. For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/episode190
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Comments (12)

Jamie Hanks

this show is life changing! must listen to this advice!

May 8th
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fitzroy harvey

love it! I get so pumped when I listen to you.

Apr 28th
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Gerardo Crolla

Hi Paula! interesting question on which way to invest with funds and rentals. I have to say that in my opinion and journey to FIRE, if you are going to leverage your money then it's wise to invest in rentals first as this will compound vthe returns much better than unleveraged stocks!!

Mar 28th
Reply

Ajit Nafade

Thanks for a very very informative episode.

Feb 3rd
Reply

jinx

Amen to the echo chamber. Love your show.

Dec 17th
Reply

LucilleF

I enjoy Size Orman. I've noticed that when she's talking positively about investing she uses impossibly high interest rates (12%) but now that she's casting a negative light she's using just 4%.

Nov 24th
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Maxwell Sharpe

I really enjoyed this episode it was very informative.

Oct 2nd
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Christie Brown

On the subject of high deductibles- I completely agree with the idea that you will go to the doctor less. I triple guessed myself on doctors visits when my deductible was $50. I also had a mouth full of cavities that were going to cost me about 5000, I did not fix them for another 3 years when I became an intern and took a major salary cut that made me eligible for Medicare!

Aug 23rd
Reply

Joanna B

The Vicki Robin interview is one of favorite interviews of all time, full stop. So much wisdom packed in about personal growth, lifelong learning, and the second part of life. Thank you!

Apr 8th
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Melissa

This podcast drives me to become financially free. Great podcast!

Dec 15th
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David Johnson

I love this podcast and listened to it every day during my work commute until I heard them all! My life's focus and goals have adjusted for the better. Thanks Paula!

Oct 26th
Reply

NASIM BIN JASIM

Great episode

Sep 19th
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