Author: The Unstuck Network

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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.
433 Episodes
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 ChooseFI's suite of financial calculators Learn ChooseFI's 3-card cashback strategy and earn $1,000 or more Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.    
271 | Future Proof

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 ChooseFI episode 269 Let's Make Lemonade With a Twist Register for The Simple Startup Winter Challenge Join the Facebook group, ChooseFI Meals and Recipes Purchase a ChooseFI Publishing ebook bundle and get an extra 15% off with code Holiday15 Easily shop for and compare life insurance with PolicyGenius Learn ChooseFI's 3-card cashback strategy and earn $1,000 or more Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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 ChooseFI Episode 185 Adapting to the New Normal Register for The Simple Startup Winter Challenge and get 15% with the code Podcast Check out ChooseFI's review of the Chase Freedom Flex Open high-yield savings account with CIT Bank Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.    
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 Purchase a ChooseFI Publishing ebook bundle and get an extra 15% off with code Holiday15 ChooseFI Episode 094 Solo 401K versus SEP with Waffles on Wednesday ChooseFI Episode 155R Year End Tax Planning with Sean Mullaney Easily shop for and compare life insurance with PolicyGenius Learn ChooseFI's 3-card cashback strategy and earn $1,000 or more Get started on your path to financial independence at     If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.    
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 Get a discount on ChooseFI ebook bundle get and additional 15% off with code Holiday15 Register for The Simple Startup Winter Challenge and get 15% with the code Podcast ChooseFI Episode 121R How to Get Any Job Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.    
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 The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins ChooseFI Episode 019 JL Collins The Stock Series Part 1 ChooseFI Episode 220 HelpFix My 403(b) Vanguard Funds and the Impact on Your Investment article published on Start building a better portfolio today at Fundrise and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived Cut your unlimited wireless plan with Mint Mobile Register for The Simple Startup Winter Challenge and get 15% using code podcast Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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 Get a discount on ChooseFI ebook bundles using the code Holiday15 Register for The Simple Startup Winter Challenge and get 15% using code Podcast Easily find coupon codes and save money when you join Honey Get started on your path to financial independence at If You Want To Support ChooseFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
265 | Talent Stacker

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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Learn about all the benefits of the Chase Freedom Flex credit card Open a high-yield savings account with CIT Bank How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Lifeby Scott Adams ChooseFI Episode 117 Making the Case for Part Time With Bradley Rice To get your copy of the FI Weekly every Tuesday, sign up at IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Build a better retirement plan today with NewRetirement ChooseFI Episode 246 Overcoming and Battling Financial Abuse Open a commission-free brokerage account with M1 Finance Get started on your own journey to financial independence at IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Earn $1000 or more with ChooseFI's 3-card cashback strategy Open a commission-free brokerage account with M1 Finance Make more on your savings with high-yield savings account from CIT Bank Join the ChooseFI Facebook group Get on Brad's weekly email list and receive The FI Weekly every Tuesday ChooseFI Episode 137 Rebuilding a Life You Love With Christine Discover the sites, sounds, and flavors of Nashville with Christine ChooseFI Episode 021 The Pillars of FI Maryland's 529 State Contribution Program IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy Switch to Mint Mobile and save with free shipping Get our #1 recommended travel rewards credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and earn 80,000 points Get started on the path to financial independence at IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI: Earn $1,000 in cashback with ChooseFI's 3-card credit card strategy.  Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Learn about ChooseFi's 3-card $1,000 cashback credit card strategy ChooseFI Episode 022 The Ultimate Guide to the True Cost of Car Ownership Get a fantastic term life insurance policy at a fantastic price with PolicyGenius Earn a high-interest rate on your savings account with CIT Bank ChooseFI Episode 066 The Emergency Fund…Is It a Bad Idea? Read DoughRoller's article, Can You Really Pay Off Your Mortgage Early with a HELOC? ChooseFI Episode 009 Travel Rewards: How to Travel the World for Almost Free (The Easy Way) Sign up for ChooseFI's FREE travel rewards course Learn more about M1 Finance here Sign up to receive Brad's newsletter, The FI Weekly IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Learn about ChooseFI's 3-card cash back strategy Easily find coupon codes and save money when you join Honey Track your real estate portfolio's performance and get your first 90 days of advisory fees waived with Fundrise IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
259 | Kristi & Big ERN

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 RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Take control and build your plan for financial independence today with NewRetirement and get 14 days for free ChooseFI Episode 221 Introducing Our Households of FI!! Part 1 ChooseFI Episode 224 Introducing Our Households of FI!! Part 2 Early Retirement Now Check out ChooseFI's review of the Chase Freedom Flex card Invest in low-cost broad based index funds with M1 Finance ChooseFI Episode 035 Sequence of Return Risk | Early Retirement Now ChooseFI Episode 019 JL Collins The Stock Series Part 1 Is an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) Better than a Retirement Account? Get on our email list and start on your own path to financial independence IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION ChooseFI Episode 257 Back to Basics: Getting Started With FI Part 1 ChooseFI Episode 132R Insurance | A Framework Easily compare and buy life insurance with PolicyGenius Get started on Fundrise with no advisory fees for 90 days ChooseFI's financial calculators Learn how to get started on your path to financial independence at IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Protect your online activity with ExpressVPN and get an extra 3 months free. Find your own unique path to FI with NewRetirement. Get notified when the new ChooseFI website launches! Dominick Quartuccio's Do Inner Work mastermind group ChooseFI Episode 038 The Why of FI ChooseFI Episode 100 Welcome to the FI Community Get the first Chapter of ChooseFI: Your Blueprint For Financial Independence for free! IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Get an increased bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Improve your writing skills and get a 20% discount on Grammarly Premium Check out Rob and Melissa's webinar IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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 RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION ChooseFI Episode 155 FI for Single Parents The Tayne Law Group Compare life insurance policies with Policygenius Get 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Get back to basics with ChooseFI! IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Quickly and securely send money to people with PayPal Get a $75 credit to boost your job posting on Wondering what it would look like to make work optional? Go back through the ChooseFI archives or visit IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
253 | Back to Basics

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. RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S CONVERSATION Build your plan NewRetirement Sign up to get The FI Weekly delivered to your inbox every Tuesday! Switch to Mint Mobile Order you copy of Raising Your Money-Savvy Family for Next Generation Financial Independence by Carol Pittner and Doug Nordman ChooseFI Episode 232 Raising Your Money-Savvy Family for Next Generation Finical Independence Build new skills and create your own opportunity with the Talent Stacker podcast ChooseFI Episode 016 House Hacking with Coach Carson ChooseFI Episode 148R Expense Ratios and House Hacking ChooseFI Episode 022 The Ultimate Guide to the True Cost of Car Ownership Download ChooseFI's $2 per person per meal cookbook ChooseFI Episode 023 Career Hacking with ESI Money ChooseFI Episode 211 How to Negotiate Your Salary Without Burning Bridges with The Financial Mechanic ChooseFI Episode 147 Negotiate Your Salary with Tori Dunlap ChooseFI Episode 019 The Stock Series Part 1 with JL Collins Get started on your own path to financial independence at IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT CHOOSEFI:   Share FI by sending a friend ChooseFI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence.  
Comments (51)

Matthew McKibben

I bought my first rental property Jan 1st 2020. it's a triplex in St. Paul, MN. I'm house hacking with the lady and we paid $245,000 for it. it needed a little work but we moved into the rough unit and have completed everything but the bathroom remodel. we are now living in an almost 1/4 of a million dollar property and pay about $340 out of pocket after all bill's and cap x. we now own our own property and are able to save an extra $860 a month because we are no longer paying $1200 to rent our old apartment. I got laid off for over a month because of Covid-19 and idk if we would have been able to afford our apartment. House hacking has not only increased my net worth but it also saved us from needing to move into my parents house to be able to afford our other responsibilities.

Nov 6th

Steve Diahy

what was the point of this episode

Sep 25th

Rute Silva Brito

Really interesting episode that will literally save me a ton of money! Thank you.

Jul 18th

Astrid Poole

You lost me at "we both had high salaries"... not relatable.

Jul 9th

Chad Crispell

Excellent episode.. Inspiring.. its just math! taketh what the alley giveth !

Jun 26th

Guillaume de Lamaziere

good for you

Jun 7th

Mr Charles

I have enjoyed this podcast from the beginning but no more. They're more focused on politics and censoring people at their Facebook page

Jun 4th


Great podcast but they have massively uped the number of adverts.

May 16th


It's not over, your podcast is just irrelevant right now. FIRE folks hunker down and thank themselves for their prudent saving. Non Fire people will have no reason to even think about FI.....its survival mode for them.

Apr 2nd


This podcast has truly disrupted my status quo in all of the best ways possible. I was never a good saver or investor. After finding this pod in 2017 my wife and I have made incredible financial strides and it's all owed to Brad and Jonathan and their super informative, easily digestible, game changing teachings. These guys come off just like regular dudes that are extremely interested in getting this super power out to as many people as they can. Thank you Jonathan & Brad please keep up the great work...the fire is spreading!

Mar 5th

Steve Diahy

would of been nice to hear more of the how to and info on their portfolio

Jan 27th

Kim Litinas

Great podcast! Connected with me.

Dec 8th

Karen Meyer

guys, i love your podcast! after listening to this episode i purchased The Simple Path To Wealth and Choose FI. thank you so much for all you do...for educating me and giving me the tools i need to do this!!

Nov 19th

Gaurav Tewary

The maths is way off! If you’re paying 35% tax and need to spend $1000 post tax, you need to earn almost 1600, not 1300$ pre tax. 1600*.65=1040

Nov 18th

Ephraim Muchemi

This is such an amazing episode! It was relevant and due.

Oct 8th

Aaron Webb

this is super helpful!

Sep 30th

Christopher Wills

Super podcast, I have been listening for just under 2 years and the content is still relevant. great job covering a variety of topics associated with reaching FI, lifestyle and just being a good human.

Sep 16th

Clare Tyler

a lot of preamble! 15 mins in and haven't addressed the podcast title. I'm sure theres great info here but it makes for hard listening. I would appreciate a to the point style.

Sep 6th

Jenn l

how do you find the baseline point cost in order to determine the sweet spot?

Sep 4th
Reply (1)

Aoriseth Nirmno

What options are there for people living in Europe? Credit card rewards here seem to be underwhelming or non existent. Is it possible to open an American credit card while living in Europe and use the bonuses that way?

Aug 17th
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