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Afford Anything

Author: Paula Pant

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You can afford anything, but not everything. We make daily decisions about 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?

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.

Want to learn more? Download our free book, Escape, at
353 Episodes
#323 Brad and Jonathan from ChooseFI join us for a deep philosophical and practical discussion around what we learned from 2020. We explore... What the pandemic taught us about work, finance, and life The importance of being mentally and logistically nimble and flexible The distinction between directionality vs methodology What we’ve learned about how to get a job, what type of education to get, and what to do with the rest of our lives For more information, visit the show notes at
#322: Jess wants to reach financial independence by the time she’s 50. But she’s worried that she doesn’t have enough money in cash or taxable brokerage accounts to bridge the gap in her first few years of retirement. What moves should she make, if any? Yisell wants to invest money now. Should she cash out her $70,000 pension in hopes to generate more than the $1,000 per month she’s guaranteed from it? Abbey is 22 and she would like to go back to graduate school for nurse anesthesia. Should she save up and pay for it in cash, or invest her money and take out federal loans? Eliana enjoyed our interview with Paul Merriman on the two-fund portfolio. She’s curious about what growth stocks and value stocks are, and how they fit into a passive index fund investing strategy. Finally, Sneezy wants to know: why aren’t stocks a good hedge against inflation? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#321: Have you dreamed of making a career transition, only to realize you have no idea where to start, who to talk to, or how to convey your skills to interviewers? Career expert Ashley Stahl has the information you need to take control of your career and pivot into something new. Ashley struggled with this, too -- but in the process, she figured out a system for identifying someone’s core skills and core nature to find a career and company more aligned with both. She also chats about the 10 core skill sets you can use to propel your career forward; the five root causes of burnout and what to do about them; and four sabotaging job hunting myths that can hold you back. If you enjoyed our interview with Gorick Ng, you’ll like this one. For more information, visit the show notes at
#320: Rob is hoping to retire at age 60, but he has a pesky mortgage balance he wants to eliminate beforehand. He and his wife expect to inherit $300,000. Should they use this money to pay off their mortgage or should they bulk up their retirement accounts? Another anonymous caller has two separate questions. One is about the tax efficiencies of ETFs vs. mutual funds, while the other is about Ginny Mae funds and whether there are bond funds that have an inverse relationship with equities. Priya is looking for information on home equity loans: where can you get the best terms, and what are the disadvantages? Additionally, she’d like to know which city is best for rental investing: Atlanta, Dallas, or Raleigh? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me on the show to answer your questions. Let’s dive in! For more information, visit the show notes at
#319: Julia Galef is an acclaimed expert on rational decision making. She’s hosted the Rationally Speaking podcast for the last decade, and she’s passionate about good reasoning. Her book, The Scout Mindset, highlights the importance of looking at situations objectively and honestly. This is something a lot of people struggle with -- humans are often irrational -- but Julia argues that this is a skill that we can develop with self-awareness.  In this interview, she shares the difference between what she calls a soldier mindset versus a scout mindset. She explains why we often default to the soldier mindset of defending ideas we desperately want to believe, and details several thought exercises that we can use to instead train our brains to scout for the truth. Good decision making and ensuring you look for high quality sources of information can help when weighing trade-offs, and it can also save you from making costly investment mistakes. Julia and I also discuss specific examples of when having a scout mindset can prevent you from risk of ruin. For more information, visit the show notes at
#318: Joe is a new real estate agent and he’s looking for ways to save. Is opening a SEP IRA a good account when you’re no longer a W2 employee? Grace has a similar concern: she’s a tutor, but she’s paid as a contractor. Should she forget about her Vanguard brokerage account and open a SEP IRA or Solo 401k? Kim is newly divorced and celebrating the freedom to make her own financial decisions. She’s struggling to make a living -- also as a new realtor -- and wants to get started with real estate...but how can she do that on limited funds? Kim also wants to know: should she move her funds from an actively managed Fidelity IRA to a Vanguard Roth IRA? Chaz is 22 and has $2,100 - $2,500 left each month to put toward savings. Where should he keep this money if he’d like to move out-of-state in the near future? Anonymous just got a raise, and while awesome, it might push her income to a level that prohibits her from making full Roth IRA contributions. Should she make a partial contribution this year, or start adding money to a Traditional IRA to do a backdoor conversion? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to tackle these questions. Let’s dive in! For more information, visit the show notes at
#317: What if work and life can coexist together - without enormous trade-offs? What if all you have to do is ruthlessly prioritize within each area and manage the rest with automation and delegation? If it sounds like a pipedream, it’s not. Guests Michael Hyatt & Megan Hyatt Miller, authors of Win at Work & Succeed at Life, share how work/life balance is more achievable than you think. They also discuss how constraints increase productivity, why working over 40 hours a week can harm your mental and physical health, why rest is critical, and how self-care can give you an edge at work. For more information, visit the show notes at
#316: Pauly from Portland doubled the inheritance money he received from $50,000 to $100,000 during the pandemic. Now he’s wondering if it’s okay to use this $100,000 as a downpayment on a home in Portland. Is that a wise use of the money? Preethi accidentally withdrew funds from her Roth IRA as an excess distribution, and she’s already filed her taxes. What should she know for tax time next year? Michele wants to reach financial independence (FI), and her grandparents are leaving her their house. She already owns a home, and she’s torn between six potential options that will propel her toward FI. What should she do? Casey is in the market for a second rental property and wants to know: would we recommend purchasing a rental in a complex where she already owns a condo? Or should she diversify into a different complex in a different, nearby, more stable town? Fred doesn’t have access to a workplace retirement plan. Besides opening a Roth IRA, what else can Fred do to juice up his retirement savings? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#315: Do you ever grapple with the differences between your present self and your ideal self? Katy Milkman, host of the Choiceology podcast and the James G. Dinan Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, shares the science of getting from where you are now to where you want to be. Her new book, How to Change, is a “science-based blueprint for achieving your goals, once and for all.” In this discussion, Katy reveals 1) why your strategy is key to making lasting change, 2) how we can pick the right strategy for our circumstances, and 3) the handful of science-backed tactics that bridge the gap between our present selves and ideal selves. For more information, visit the show notes at
#314: Briale opened a Variable Annuity inside a 403b at work when she was 23. She has 17 years to go before retirement. As an elementary school teacher, her pension will be $6,000 per month. Should she stop contributing to the annuity and contribute to a Roth IRA instead? Hunter put a credit freeze on his two children’s credit, which required sending each credit union documentation via mail. Experian and TransUnion confirmed the credit freeze, but Equifax didn’t. Upon calling, the representative gave Hunter a different mailing address for the documents. What should he do? Debi has an extra $1,000 each month and isn’t sure where to save it. She also has $10,000 in a CD which will reach maturity in August 2021. Her goal is to buy a residence in the next five years. Should she save this all for a downpayment? Anonymous is concerned about her parents retirement portfolio. Their advisor charges a fee of 1.5 percent assets under management. Her parents are frugal and they don’t realize how much they’re paying. Should she talk to them, or drop the issue? Sarah isn’t sure whether she should put more of her savings towards a Roth 401k or a 529 fund for her future kids. Which option is best if she wants financial flexibility? My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me once again to tackle these questions. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
#313: Do you know the unspoken rules about how to get ahead in your workplace or industry (and as a result, how to earn more)? Unspoken rules, and the corresponding social norms, create a major impact in how we’re perceived in the workplace -- and therefore how often we’re promoted. But these rules are rarely taught. Managers expect us to understand these implicit rules, but they never explain them to us. How are we supposed to succeed? Gorick Ng, a career advisor at Harvard who specializes in working with first-generation, low-income students, shares his wisdom on navigating the workforce at all stages of your career. His advice can help you make more money, get promoted, and accelerate your ability to save and invest. For more information, visit the show notes at
#312: After paying basic living expenses and maxing out their 401k’s and Roth IRAs, Caroline and her partner have $4,000 - $5,000 left each month. Where should they put this money if their goal is to simply have their money work harder for them? Sanjay is torn between selling his townhome or renting it out. The rental numbers don’t work on his 15-year mortgage -- should he refinance to a 30-year mortgage instead? Kyle wants to construct a portfolio with the highest Sharpe ratios and wants to know: would the risk parity model work? What are the downsides? G is curious: does the stimulus check received for their children count as earned income for the kids? If so, can they put it toward the Roth IRAs they opened for their children? Anonymous has two unrelated questions: what are our thoughts on the housing market in relation to the moratoriums on mortgage payments and emergency bans on evictions? What will happen when they go away? Additionally, what tools, questions, or resources do we recommend to have a productive financial conversation with your partner? Finally, another anonymous caller wants to know: do they need to submit receipts for the HSA contributions they make? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me as usual to tackle these questions. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#311: Do you find yourself overthinking and getting stuck in unproductive thought loops? According to a study commissioned by today’s guest, 99.5 percent of 10,000 people said they overthink. Chances are, you can relate. That guest is Jon Acuff -- a New York Times bestselling author who loves to nerd out about goals. In this discussion, he shares 10 signs you're overthinking, explains the differences between overthinking and being prepared, and presents a framework called the three R’s (retire, replace, repeat) that can transform your destructive thought loops into healthy soundtracks. For more information, visit the show notes at
#310: Greta is tired of financial modesty. She wants to achieve financial independence through diversified income streams, and has her eyes set on owning local duplexes. What should she focus on to make this happen?  Jeannie wants to know: when should you scale back 401k contributions so you can invest in something else, like real estate? Steph and her husband came into $25,000 and aren’t sure what to do with it. Should they pay off their student loans, save it towards a house and starting a family, or purchase her company stock options? J from California is curious: how do you strike a balance between optimization and simplicity in your financial plan?  Dawn has $65,000 in a 403b through Ameriprise and the fees associated with it are outrageous. Should she take the money out and put it elsewhere, or leave it?  My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these five questions. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#309: Are we in a housing bubble? Are we going to see a repeat of 2006 all over again? Are there any good investment deals to be found right now? These are the questions playing on many people's minds, and we seek to explore the answers in today's First Friday bonus episode. We start by exploring some of the forces that are at play in today's real estate market. What separates the market of 2006 from the market of today? In the second half of the episode, Paula explains how and why she chose to buy a duplex in Indianapolis, despite it being a seller's market. There are deals to be had if you know where to look and what to look for. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
#308: Ziggy purchased an $890,000 property in San Mateo, CA in 2016. After living there for a year, he had to move, so he rented it out. Unfortunately, it’s cash flow negative. Is this property worth holding onto, or should he sell? Vivek has a paid-off primary residence that he’s interested in renting out for a few years, before selling. He’s worried about capital gains tax – does turning the home into a rental impact the amount he’ll pay? Anonymous in Virginia wants to travel after retiring, which will increase her expenses for the first seven or so years of her retirement. How can she plan for a higher withdrawal rate at the beginning of retirement, and a lower withdrawal rate in the middle of her retirement? Given the talk around student loan forgiveness, Jess wants to know: should she pay the minimum on her student loan debt and save the payments she would otherwise make? Or should she keep throwing extra at her higher interest loans? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show. Let’s dive in! For more information, visit the show notes at
#307: “Taxes are the single biggest factor that separates people from their retirement dreams.” That’s a quote from today’s guest, Ed Slott, a nationally recognized IRA distribution expert, practicing CPA, and bestselling author. He argues that there’s a high likelihood that tax rates could rise in the future, and as a result, we need to shovel more money into tax-exempt accounts like Roth IRA and Roth 401k’s. Ed says taxes are one of the biggest threats to our retirement plans, and draws attention to tax events that catch seniors by surprise, such as the so-called “widow/widower” tax. If you’re wondering how taxes could derail your retirement -- and what you should do about it -- you’ll learn an enormous amount from this episode. For more information, visit the show notes at
#306: Jake and his wife want to retire in five years, at which point they’ll have 14 years before they can access their 401k funds. To help bridge that gap, Jake wants to know: what should their asset allocation look like for their taxable brokerage account? This year, Kim’s employer enrolled all employees into a “fully funded indemnity program combined with a nationwide direct primary care membership.” What the heck is this program, and how might it impact Kim’s finances? Burnt Out in Boston is switching their focus from financial independence to taking a mini-retirement. How can they financially and mentally prepare for this leap? Matthew is torn: should he and his wife -- both 26 -- max out their Roth IRAs and then save up for a rental property, or simply save cash for the rental and worry about their Roth later? Finally, Deva and her husband are fed up with their messy tenants. They’re kind and responsible, but they’ve left the yard a mess. They have a clause in the lease that addresses this, so beyond that, what can they do? My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#305: Financial independence is a continuum, a spectrum. How do you know where you stand? In this episode, financial writer JD Roth discusses the seven stages of financial independence, the seven rules of investing, the formula for calculating your lifetime wealth ratio, and the importance of managing your career as though it’s an asset. For more information, visit the show notes at
#304: Paige and her fiancé have two autumn 2021 goals: save for a wedding and an emergency fund. There’s one problem: they only have around $200 per month to save. How can they grow the gap when they’ve run out of things to cut and ways to earn more? Kat’s investor friend connected her with a wholesaler who only deals in cash. How can she find $130,000 to buy her subject property? Anonymous “Countryside Living” is renting their grandparent’s property, which they plan to make their forever home. It’s on the older side and needs renovations, but the repairs don’t need to happen immediately. How can they fund these repairs while also avoiding a mortgage payment in their 60s? Annalis wants to know whose approach to business I prefer: Gary V’s, or Cal Newport’s? She also asks: how do you become a good speaker? Anonymous “My Job Pays for My Housing” is planning for financial independence. Given that their employer covers their housing, when should they start looking for a house? Now, or in the last year of their job? My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these five questions today. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
Comments (31)


What a loon. Paula trying to add nuance while this guy is one track.

Mar 25th

Mary C

Awesome episode! Thanks to both of you for breaking everything down so clearly!

Mar 16th

Rose grace

Love Suze,she always tells it like it is.

Jan 4th

Mike Applegate

You can do monte carlo simulations on Vanguard's website.

Dec 2nd

Mike Schmid

Can't download it using beyondpod. It keeps failing!

Nov 4th

Ryan Slot

I disagree with the advice to Andy. I believe these times are different and our monetary system is changing. I would encourage people to educate themselves on money and currency. I would hate to see Andy and his children's futures destroyed due to lack of education on REAL money.

Jul 9th

Joy Joey Rockwood

Great episode! Just a heads up, the referral link for Qapital from does not provide the referral for $25 or give any directions on how to complete that. At least for me the app seems glitchy and I was not able to set up anything beyond linking my financing account. contacting support via the app directly was most un helpful and even a bit rude. That makes me nervous to have that info in their hands now. Love the show and no reflection on the podcast and Paula's advice and other affiliations.

May 19th

Eric Thompson

Get well soon Paula!

Mar 26th

Charlie Bradley

The first half is just them bantering and if you're interested in the personal life of the interviewee listen on, the second half gets down to the nitty-gritty and is very information-rich with a great summary that makes Paula's work some of my favorite podcasts.

Nov 21st
Reply (3)

Charlie Bradley

just so you all know, Starbucks is an incredibly hard job that would leave you drained. it is not a fun easy side gigs to get health insurance.

Oct 28th

Charlie Bradley

oh my God, like, you know? I can't, like, listen to this episode dash though I wanted to, you know? because, like, Jay, is like, just so f****** inane!!! ug!!

Oct 28th

Aaron Webb

never heard of some of the things in this episode before, thanks

Oct 10th

Billie Archuleta

I really responded to this episode. My path is super similar to Evelyn's. Thank you for this episode.

Sep 15th

Charlie Hilsabeck

mk.i. m

Sep 10th

AMama Lala

what was the link to their manefesto site? episode 11

Jul 20th

The Queen Next Door

The takeaways are always golden. Paula breaks it down so perfectly.

Jul 5th

Jamie Hanks

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

May 8th

fitzroy harvey

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

Apr 28th

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

Ajit Nafade

Thanks for a very very informative episode.

Feb 3rd
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