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Afford Anything
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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
303 Episodes
For more information, visit the show notes at
Alan Donegan is the cofounder of PopUp Business School. His mission is to change the way entrepreneurship is taught and to make it more accessible. If you’ve daydreamed of starting a side hustle, Alan’s simple advice and actions will give you the knowledge you need to get started now. You’ll know if your idea is viable within a month. For more information, visit the show notes at
After a brief hiatus, PSA Thursday is back! For this episode, we take a short break from covering current events to 1) reflect on why this show exists, and 2) give you a sneak peek of future PSA Thursday episodes. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#281: Annie Duke, best-selling author of Thinking In Bets and former world champion poker professional, discusses the decision making strategies and tools outlined in her new book, How to Decide. Learn how to make quicker decisions, overcome hindsight bias, make decisions with incomplete information, and improve your decision making skills. For more information, visit the show notes at
#280: Amy and her husband have $900,000 saved for retirement. They’re 40 years old and plan to retire at 65. Due to a job change + pay cut, they might only have $10,000 per year to save for the next 25 years. Will this be enough, given their yearly expenses of $144,000? Janie wants to get a solar power system for her house, but isn’t sure how to pay for it. Should she borrow funds from her seven-month emergency fund, or use funds from a taxable brokerage account that were earmarked for retirement? CJ and his wife netted $200,000 from the sale of their home. They aren’t sure when they’ll purchase their next home – their timeline could be as short as three years or as long as six years. Where should they keep the $200,000 to use towards a downpayment on their next home? Brandon wants to retire in the next five to ten years. He contributes 20 percent to his Roth 401k. Since he can’t withdraw those contributions early, does it make more sense to contribute up to the match of his 401k and invest the rest in an IRA with the goal of doing a Roth conversion? Anonymous “am I missing out?” wants to know the deal with tax-loss harvesting. When is it worthwhile? My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#279: You might know several decision-making principles, but do you have a step-by-step strategy that pieces those principles together? Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally-recognized thought leader on decision-making strategies. He shares two decision-making techniques for any aspect of your life in this episode. For more information, visit the show notes at
#278: Does this sound like you? You want to exercise, but you can never find the time for a workout. Eventually, you grow tired of putting exercise off. You commit to working out every morning. You become so enthusiastic, you buy new gym clothes for the occasion. Your enthusiasm carries you for five days, and on day six, you’re swamped with work. You promise yourself you’ll exercise tomorrow - after all, taking a break for one day won’t hurt. And then … you never get back on the wagon. The cycle repeats. Most habits and routines start with good intentions. But good intentions aren’t enough to carry you through tough times. Good intentions aren’t enough to overcome the excuses you’ll make, either. That’s what today’s guest, Gretchen Rubin, is here to explore. Gretchen Rubin is the New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies. She joins us on the podcast to discuss the loopholes that we use - the excuses that we make - when it comes to breaking bad habits and forming good habits. Why is this important? The more aware we are of loopholes, the better we can resist them. For more information, visit the show notes at
#277: Michelle Singletary writes a Pulitzer-nominated personal finance column, The Color of Money, for The Washington Post. Her column is syndicated in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. She’s the author of three finance books and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. But her strongest financial education came from her grandmother. Her grandmother raised five grandchildren while working full-time as a Nursing Assistant at a hospital. She earned $13,000 per year, but never took welfare, was never late on a bill, and “handled her money like a pro.” In this podcast episode, Michelle shares timeless financial lessons she learned from her grandmother, including: Save from every penny or dollar you receive Live below your means Hate debt like it’s the devil Save for the future Don’t buy more than you can afford Don’t care about what other people think about what you wear or drive Michelle’s grandmother taught her resourcefulness, humility and the value of a strong work ethic. Michelle joins us to chat about the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement, emotional spending, how her experience growing up poor gives her a unique perspective in financial media, and the falsehood behind the phrase “it’s not what you earn, it’s what you save.” You’ll enjoy this episode if… You’re new to the world of personal finance or FIRE and want to learn more about the basics. (#lessonsfromgrandma) You can’t relate to some of the discussion around FIRE because it seems unachievable to you. You love down-to-earth guests who tell it like it is. For more, visit
#276: Have you found yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds over the last few months? Have you also found yourself in a state of sadness, anxiety, or aggravation afterwards? We live in an increasingly noisy world. A world in which many of us use social media, or the internet in general, to escape. But our escapes often leave us feeling empty and annoyed at ourselves for wasting several hours of precious time. Here’s one possible remedy for this tiring, relentless cycle: embrace the philosophy of digital minimalism. "Okay, I’m in. But...what’s digital minimalism?" Digital minimalism is a term coined by Dr. Cal Newport, today’s guest. It describes a three-step process: Cull the time you spend staring at a screen Spend more time on digital activities that align with your values Ignore everything else For more information, visit
#275: Even the nerdiest of money nerds are susceptible to making a dumb financial mistake. “Nope, not me! There’s no way I make any financial mistakes. I live and breathe this stuff.” You’re not capable of making any financial mistakes? Even 'hidden' mistakes, like having the wrong life insurance policy, not having an estate plan, or listening to the wrong ‘experts'? Exactly. Jill Schlesinger, author of The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money, sets the record straight on 13 things you shouldn't do with your hard-earned cash. For more information, visit the show notes at
#274: What does it take to create a sustainable sense of hope? That’s the question that I invited Mark Manson, megabestselling author of Everything is F*cked and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, to answer. Mark says that three basic factors contribute to a sense of hope: 1) autonomy, 2) purpose, and 3) community. Mark and I keep these three factors in mind as we discuss how to define success, find new challenges, and choose what’s meaningful in life. We touch on the importance of emotional regulation and avoiding crises of hope. And we talk about how they relate back to the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement. For more information, visit the show notes at
#273: Dr. Dan Ariely, famed behavioral economist and best-selling author of Predictably Irrational, returns to discuss how to handle the emotional and financial volatility of 2020. Specifically: Preparing for a job loss The value of resilience Handling emotional spending Cutting through the noise to find a signal. For more information, visit the show notes at
Andy Hill, father of two and founder of Marriage, Kids, and Money, joins us to discuss parental burnout in the midst of the pandemic. He shares his best tips on creating a family schedule, learning to embrace the reality of working from home with interruptions, and maintaining sanity as kids venture back to school - all while being a good enough parent and partner. For more PSA Thursday episodes, go to
#272: “Anonymous Moving-Back-home” and her partner earn $150,000 per year after taxes. They’re currently saving 80 percent by living with family. What should they do with their savings? Leigh and her husband are three years away from retirement. They have an extra $50,000 in income this year and plenty of options for where to invest this money. Which one is the best? Kelsey doesn’t feel comfortable investing in total stock market index funds and would rather invest in ESG funds. How can she tell if she has the necessary $2,000 invested in a company to submit a proposal to participate in a proxy voting? Also, Vanguard has a poor history of supporting shareholder resolutions. What can we do about this? Dylan and his wife rolled her 401k into a rollover IRA with pre-tax contributions. They’ve continued contributing to this IRA with post-tax contributions. Should they separate the accounts, or can they worry about this when they’re ready to retire? Anonymous wants to buy and househack one duplex every year to achieve financial independence and leave his office job within the next three to four years. Is his plan realistic? 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
Millions of people are in financial limbo now that the $600 supplemental federal unemployment benefit has expired. The new $300 supplemental benefit is slooowly getting approved by FEMA, state-by-state, through an excruciatingly snail-like process, and you might not have time to wait. This episode will help you take action. We cover how to think about the ways in which you can earn extra income and decide which path is best for you. For more information, check out our guide at
#271: Dr. Wade Pfau, one of the foremost experts in the academic field of retirement planning, joins us to talk about how the events of 2020 might impact your retirement plans. If you’re wondering if you need to change your investing strategy, Wade’s recommendations may fascinate you. Watch out! These are NOT the recommendations you’re expecting from a typical financial independence retire early show. Prepare to be caught off-guard by what he says. For more information, visit the show notes at
#270: Briana and her husband want to buy a home, but they don’t have enough saved for a downpayment. They also have student loan debt and a car loan. Which should they prioritize? Javier is sick of being in debt. What can he do to put himself in a better situation? Tracie wants to buy her first rental property, but she has student loans and a car loan to pay off. If she receives $20,000 from a cash-out refi, how should she use this money? Vanitha wants to start a non-profit organization in memory of her uncle. She wants to know: what does this process look like? Margie went under contract on a primary residence listed as a six-bedroom property. She found out that, legally, it’s a four-bedroom home. Should she re-negotiate the price, or ask for credits at closing? I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
#269: Are you scared to take the first step toward the habits that you want to build? Do you believe in your ability to change? Or are you completely lost as to where to start? Charles Duhigg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of the best-selling books The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better, and host of the How To! podcast, joins us to tackle these questions. By asking “why” instead of “how,” layer-by-layer we can reveal the factors that truly hold us back from taking action. For more, go to
Do you have school-age children? If so, then brace yourself for a school year like no other. This year, some children will return to school five days a week. Others will learn from home five days a week, and yet others will experience a hybrid of the two. You and your kids may face wildly different schedules and challenges than anything you've encountered before. How can you cope with this? Mandy Bert and Rob Phelan, who both work as teachers and are on the K-12 Education Team at the ChooseFI International Foundation, join us to share tips to help your children - and you! - survive the school year. For more information, visit the show notes at
#268: Natasha has $3,300 per month to either invest or use toward an early mortgage payoff. Which option should she choose? An anonymous caller and military member wants to know if she should move money from a USAA brokerage to Vanguard to pay less in fees. Her goal is to retire in 12 years with $3,000/month in passive income from rental properties, which will supplement her military pension. Should she only contribute to her TSP up to the match, and invest the rest in rentals? Chaim and his wife live in the Middle East and have $30,000 in a U.S. bank account. However, they don’t plan to relocate. How can they best use this money? June and her husband are in a sticky situation: they bought their dream house in Michigan last winter, ahead of plans to relocate there. June lives there with their kids, but her husband is unable to find a job despite the numerous contacts he has in the state. He currently works in a job that he dislikes in Southern California, living apart from his family. They’re currently a one-income family, though June has plans to open a firm in Michigan. What should they do? Anonymous in Portland has three questions: is a 75/25 US stock/international stock split aggressive? Is an S&P 500 index a close enough equivalent to a total US stock index? Is Betterment worth it for automatic tax harvesting? My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these questions. Enjoy! For more, go to
Comments (26)

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


Amen to the echo chamber. Love your show.

Dec 17th


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

Maxwell Sharpe

I really enjoyed this episode it was very informative.

Oct 2nd

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

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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