300 episodes

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.

ChooseFI The Unstuck Network

    • Careers

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.

    255 | If People Can Do it Then I Can Do it Too | Leslie Tayne Connects with Vivian

    255 | If People Can Do it Then I Can Do it Too | Leslie Tayne Connects with Vivian

    Picking back up with the Household of FI series, Vivian is a single mom who found FI in the last year, but initially, it seemed impossible. It wasn't until she was introduced to the ChooseFI podcast and saw real people reaching financial independence that she believed she could do it too. Vivian has been dealing with a number of challenges: a cancer diagnosis, a child custody battle, and caring for parents who have no savings of their own. As a pharmacist, she earns a significant income. She's already managed to pay off $300,000 in student loans in six years and believes she can save $60,000 a year. Vivian has been paired with mentor, Leslie Tayne, also a single mom and attorney who helps people with debt relief. Leslie acknowledges that what Vivian is going through with her separation is one the most challenging times in her life and it is a very emotional experience along with being financially damaging. However, there is a light on the other side and she will come out with more freedom and more control. Because her significant other's mom used to watch her child while she was a work, childcare is a challenge right now. Childcare is expensive and not something you can find discounts on. As an attorney, Leslie helps her clients to fix their financial messes without judgment. She doesn't believe in a debt-free life since life has its ups and downs. Instead, it's okay if being debt-free is not realistic. We should learn to embrace our debt but what is important is how you manage the debt. Due to the separation, Vivian will be selling the house that is entirely in her name. If she makes a profit, she should talk to her tax preparer about qualifying for a capital gains exemption. Vivian is also interested in ways to save for her child's college education to which Leslie offers several options: contributing to a 529 plan, a state pre-pay program, or a regular savings account. There are tax advantages to contributing to a 529 plan over a savings account and should Vivian's child decide to not go to school, the money in the 529 plan may be used for grandchildren or withdrawn with earnings taxed at regular income tax rates. The Texas pre-pay option would allow Vivian to lock in current undergraduate tuition rates and required fees. When it comes to budgeting for groceries, Leslie says that her family mostly eats at home and orders out just once a week. One trick to not overspending at the grocery store is not to take the children with you, shop with a list, don't allow yourself to get distracted, and buy non-perishables in bulk. When you have no choice but to bring your child with you, you can allow them to pick one item so that they can pick something they want without filling your cart with everything they want. It limits your financial exposure when shopping. While eating out, rather than order a kid's meal, share bites of your own meal, and develop a taste for adult foods. Vivian's daughter is not yet attending pre-K schooling, due to the virus but may be able to find reasonably-priced options that give her the option to socialize. Because her significant other has not been cooperative during their separation, all of the attorney costs and other fees have gotten be very expensive. Vivian needs to be as cooperative as possible to limit her financial exposure. Leslie says a good piece of advice is don't marry or get involved with anyone you don't want to be divorced from. It's often advisable to keep finances separate in a relationship and protect any assets with a prenup or postnup because it is very tricky to untangle them should the relationship end. Everyone should look at what deciding to combine finances in a relationship really means and how it impacts things. Brad reviewed the capital gains tax question and said because Vivian has lived there for at least two of the last five years, she would be eligible for up to $250,00

    • 57 min
    254 Creating a lifestyle not a Job | Corbett Barr

    254 Creating a lifestyle not a Job | Corbett Barr

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

    • 42 min
    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 ChooseFI.com/start. 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 paymen

    • 56 min
    252 | Life Rebuilt | Julia Harder

    252 | Life Rebuilt | Julia Harder

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

    • 55 min
    251 | Should I Pay off the Mortgage on the Path to FI? | Brad Connects with Martin and Ayesha

    251 | Should I Pay off the Mortgage on the Path to FI? | Brad Connects with Martin and Ayesha

    Martin and Ayesha are both natural savers who have been great about living below their means but lacked a real plan. Their goals are to maximize investments for retirement and finding ways to utilize dividend funds. After stumbling across the ChooseFI podcast, they felt like their financial independence number and retirement seemed obtainable which has helped push them to commit and make even bigger changes. While Martin and Ayesha had a 20-25% savings rate before finding FI, Brad commended them on what a great job they were doing. He also stressed that FI is about living a better life and having the financial security to get you there, not what your savings rate is. Despite the inclination to save, Ayesha always resisted the thought of meticulousness and restrictive budgets. However, she found that she could get behind the idea of focusing on spending on what they truly valued, so they began using Personal Capital as a less obtrusive method of tracking their spending and gaining insight into their habits. Something that Martin and Ayesha place considerable value on are experiences, particularly travel, spending time with friends and family, and being healthy. Instead of getting together at restaurants and spending money on pricey meals out, they began hosting monthly potlucks. Ayesha has found the website Budget Bytes to be incredibly economical when it comes to low-cost recipes and efficient for discovering uses for the ingredients she already has in her refrigerator. It's helped to cut their grocery bill to around $600 per month for their family of 4. Due to quarantine restrictions, Ayesha was out of work for months, which she calls a blessing in disguise. During that free time, they were able to take a deep dive into their spending and immediately saved $500. It also allowed them to slow down and spend more time with family enjoying the outdoors, playing games, and eating all three meals together. Following the time off from work, Ayesha has realized that it does cause her some stress which made her want to buy things. It also strengthened her conviction to reduce her workload within 5 years to perhaps just one day a week so that she can find more joy in the moment. Although Martin enjoyed his two-hour daily commute, working from home during the pandemic has made him more aware of the importance of time. He now strives to make the most of his time and focus on using it in ways that bring him the most value. While their monthly expenses are not constant because life is lumpy, it runs around $3,500 but can go as high as $5,000 a month when home repairs are needed. Martin and Ayesha have a goal of reaching FI in seven years and are looking at exploring several different options to help get them there. With option one, they would withdraw money from an investment account to pay off the mortgage on their home. The money saved on the mortgage payment would then be invested for the next seven years. In option two, they would use their investment account to pay off half of the remaining mortgage and continue to make the monthly mortgage payments which result in a mortgage pay off in seven years. Their third option is to refinance their current mortgage which has 17 years left at 3.3% interest rate to a 15-year loan at 2.6%, but that refinance incurs $7,000 in fees. The payments would remain the same, but the home would be paid off two years earlier. Ayesha likes the idea of not having a mortgage but doesn't want to do it if the numbers don't make sense. However, Martin is okay with a lower net worth if it means they can get rid of their mortgage because he feels they would have more options. Brad admits this is an issue he and many others in the FI community struggle with. With such low-interest rates on mortgages, it's almost always a better option mathematically to keep the money invested, but it doesn't mean it's the right de

    • 1 hr 2 min
    250 | Money Lessons From My Grandparents | Anne Zonca

    250 | Money Lessons From My Grandparents | Anne Zonca

    Once you realize financial independence is possible for you, how do you ensure the money lessons you've learned are consistently passed down to future generations? Anne Zonca's family is well ahead of their time when it comes to financial independence. When many are focused on second-generation FI, Anne herself is third generation FI working to pass along her family's lessons to her own children. Children of the Great Depression, Anne's grandparents were deeply effected by having lived through it. Starting out in marriage with literally nothing, they worked hard and saved so that they never had to live through a financial situation like that again. Understanding that saving was not enough, they began investing in the stock market in the 1950s. With a formal education, her grandfather stayed informed with the Wall Street Journal and sharing stock tips with his brother. They invested in individual stocks, picking ones they felt were stable, like oil and gas, or utility companies. For stocks that paid dividends, they reinvested the dividends. with this strategy, they were able to build a substantial amount of wealth. Anne's mom recounted stories about how her grandfather got into stock investing, but Anne became more aware of her grandparents investing prowess around 14 when they began gifting stock to their children and grandchildren. While the value of the gifted stock wasn't necessarily a large sum, it was substantial considering they were regularly gifting to 4 children and 11 grandchildren. The gifted stocks were paying decent dividends, but rather than receive a lot of checks for small amounts, the dividends were all reinvested. Though the growth on the stocks gifted to Anne was not enough for her to reach FI, she definitely had a heart start and was learning about stocks and investing at a young age. Her grandparents gifting stock to the family was a win-win scenario as her grandparents did not have to sell the stock and pay capital gains on the appreciated value. Though the recipient bears a tax burden, children are entitled to a certain amount of capital gains each year tax-free. Currently, children can have up to $2,000 of capital gains before being subject to capital gains taxes. Following the example set by her grandparents, Anne's parents were able to achieve financial independence as well through entrepreneurship and real estate. Although preceding generations had reached financial independence, it wasn't wealth being passed on from generation to generation that got them there. It was the lessons of spending less than you make and smartly investing the extra that perpetuated generational success and wealth. Despite her grandparents' success in the stock market, there was remarkably little conversation about investing until the grandkids were older and showed an interest in having such conversations. As a result of the gifted stocks and her parents being good stewards of it for her, Anne was able to use it and graduate from college debt-free. As life is often bumpy, Anne experienced her own financial setback when she divorced her husband and the courts gave her ex-husband half of everything her grandparents had gifted to her. Luckily, the money lessons she had learned allowed her to be in a financial position to leave behind the marriage and move on with her life. Although not everything has gone fairly or smoothly since the divorce, Anne has adopted a great attitude by understanding that it's only money, she will be able to move on, and that she will still reach FI. The advice she would give to anyone else going through a divorce is to work with the things that are burdening you, follow your heart, and don't sacrifice your life, happiness, or the person you want to be over a bad decision. You can work hard and invest. There are still a lot of opportunities to save money, meet goals, and find love. Having been a st

    • 41 min

Top Podcasts In Careers

Listeners Also Subscribed To