Wouldn’t it be cool to never have to worry about money again? Achieving financial independence to do what you want and not having to work sounds pretty good, right?
But who has the patience to be disciplined for 40 years? Why can’t you learn how to live a meaningful life today and fast track your way to financial independence?
I figured out a way. And it’s not what you may think. You see, you may think the only solution to achieving financial independence is making more money. Although that’s one way, it’s not the best way.
The quickest way is through simplifying. That’s right! The most effective way to reaching financial independence is by simplifying your life and adopting a minimalist lifestyle.
Here are ways you can get started on the path to financial independence, and you don’t have to wait 30+ years to start living the life of your dreams. You can start today.
Why is financial independence important?
The number one question you have to ask yourself if you’re going to start down this path is, why? If the reason why you want to reach financial independence isn’t clear in your mind, you’ll probably give up.
Most people are pursuing one or two common goals:
Making more money
While these are reasonable goals, neither has become a significant focus in my life. Becoming debt-free would be nice, but it’s not my main goal. Becoming debt-free is ultimately a stepping stone to where I want to go, it’s not the end goal.
Don’t delay your happiness for the day you become debt-free or start making more money.
For me, my “why” is getting to the point where I no longer have to work for money. I want to get to the point where my passive income or interest on investments is enough to cover my living expenses, and I can spend my time doing what I love. I never plan to retire early. Once you retire, you stop progressing. I intend to keep working and helping as many people as I can, and if money happens to come because of that, great.
During my childhood, I didn’t get time with my dad. My mom was a single mom, and money was a constant stress. I want to provide the future for my wife and my children I never had. Ultimately, I want to design my perfect life, do what it takes to get there and find a way to enjoy the journey.
As a reminder to myself, I renamed my Wifi network name to WHYFI. That way, each time I connect to the internet, I’m reminding myself why I’m pursuing financial independence.
Why is it important for you?
What is the difference between financial freedom and financial independence?
A phrase I stopped using is financial freedom. When I was younger, I wanted to be financially free, but I had no idea what that meant. It was a vague goal with no real sense of direction of where I wanted to go.
That was until I understood what it meant to be financially independent.
Years ago, I was listening to a podcast. It was a relatively new podcast, and they were talking about this concept that was foreign to me.
I’d been interested in personal finance for years, how had I never heard of this concept of FI before?
Financial independence wasn’t arbitrary to me. It sounded attainable and actionable—a goal anyone could achieve. By definition, when you have 25x of your living expenses saved up, you’ve achieved financial independence. It made sense in my mind, but why 25 times?
What is the 4% rule?
The 4% rule tells you what percentage of your assets you could live on annually without running out of money. Withdrawing 4% of your portfolio not only preserves your principal balance but almost always results in growth.
Take a look at the chart below. Assuming you’re 40 years old and you officially become financially independent by saving $1,000,000. That means you could comfortably live on 40,000 per year without working ($1,000,000 x 0.04). By running a Monte Carlo analysis (1,000 tests), we see in nearly all cases your $1 million not only is preserved but grows. In many cases, over $5,000,000 during a 30-year time horizon.
What does this mean for you? If you can manage to save enough money, based on the research you’ll never have to work another day in your life if you don’t want to.
Understanding the 4% rule will help you know how much money you need to save. For example, if you spent $60,000 last year, you times the number by 25 ($60,000 x 25 = $1,500,000). The 4% rule states, to live off a $60,000 per year from your portfolio, you need to create a net worth of $1.5 million.
Achieving financial independence isn’t possible for many people. But the hardest part is the beginning. Once you start consistently saving money, compound interest starts to take over. Are you one of the few who has what it takes to reach financial independence?
Free Financial Independence Calculator
How long will it take you to reach financial independence? This calculator will tell you.
If you can’t see the entire calculator, press enter or tab to go to the next field.
If you saved 0% of your income, you’d never become financially independent. On the flip side, if you keep 100% of your income, you could retire today. We all know life isn’t that black and white, and we have to find a balance between YOLO and saving money.
How do you calculate savings rate?
To calculate your savings rate, divide your savings by your income and you’ll get a percentage.
Annual Savings/Annual Income = Savings Rate
You can calculate this either with net income (after taxes) or gross income (before taxes). If you calculate your savings rate based on net income, it tends to be more accurate and, in most cases, is higher.
Of course, we would all like to have a higher savings rate. You can increase it in one of two ways
Simplify your life
Increase your income
I’d be lying if I said you don’t need a high income to increase your savings rate. But it’s not the only way. I argue that the most straight forward way to increase your income is to lower your expenses and keep more of the money you’re already making.
One isn’t better than the other, and I recommend focusing on both. To increase your income, focus on what skills you’re bringing to the table. If you’re struggling to make a high income, you don’t have a money problem; you have a skills problem.
Increase your skills and the money will follow.
A few suggestions are:
Contributing more to your current job and asking for a raise
Creating a side business around your passion
Asking to work overtime
Choose a few of the many ways to make a side income
If you’re new to this idea, you may be thinking, “is this is even possible?” Maybe you’re stuck at a dead-end job, not making near as much as you should be. Or you make good money, but controlling your spending has been an ongoing struggle.
Less than 1% of Americans get to enjoy a financially independent lifestyle. Of those that try achieving financial independence, less than 40% get there.
This isn’t an easy way to live.
However, it’s possible. And even if you achieving financial independence doesn’t happen, it’s worth pursuing. I’m an absolute believer anyone can achieve financial independence with the right discipline and systems.
Lastly, you have to maintain a longterm perspective.
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”
How much money is enough?
All of this leads me to my next point. Is it possible to get to the point where you have enough?
The world is always telling us we need more. More money, more comfort, more house, more cars, more, more, more.
This cycle repeats itself until you go most of your life never feeling like you’re satisfied.
Understand you are enough. Being self-aware to the point you feel like you’re enough is a big challenge. We all want to be more and do more, which is admirable.
I don’t feel like I’m good enough at times. But I have to take a step back and realize it’s ok not to be where I want to be. Instead of feeling down, I have to ask myself, how can I find joy in the journey?
I believe I will get to the point in my life where I’ve made enough and saved enough money to not only be financially independent but believe deep down I don’t need more.
The biggest challenge in life is getting to the point where enough is enough. Financial independence makes that possible. And it doesn’t have to be hundreds of millions of dollars to get there.
How much do I need to save to be financially independent?
This number is based entirely on your annual expenses. The more money you spend every year, the more money you’re going to have to save to reach FI.
For a single person spending $24,000 a year, they’d need to save up $600,000 to reach FI. On the flip side, if a couple is spending $200,000 a year, they’d need to save $5,000,000 to reach FI.
If the average household spends $50,000 a year, the number to reach is $1,250,000. But how long will it take you to get there?
As we mentioned above, the more you save, the quicker you get there. But let me touch on an important concept—compound interest. When your money is compounding, that’s when you’ll see the most growth.
Don’t think you have to save ALL $1.25 million in your bank account. The truth is you’ll end up saving a fraction of that, and compound interested will take care of the rest.
If you saved $1,750 a month for 20 years, you’d have had saved $420,000 of your dollars. But if your money were earning 10% interest the entire time you were saving, the value of your money would be $1,250,000. Thank you, compound interest!
The hardest part is always the beginning. Once you’ve built up a decent amount of savings, you’ll start to see your money make money and your savings will grow exponentially.
Can I live off the interest of a million dollars?
Of course! Assuming a safe withdrawal rate of 4%, you could withdraw up to $40,000 per year from your million dollar portfolio.
What about inflation? Won’t inflation eat away at your million dollars and eventually you’ll lose all of your principle?
No, the 4% rule we mentioned above, takes into consideration inflation. The biggest question is once you reach financial independence, how are you investing those dollars and can you confidently earn a rate of return higher than 4%.
Investing is where it all starts to get complicated, and because no one has the same situation, it may be a good idea to talk with a Registered Investment Advisor about what your best options are.
When young people learn about this concept, they get excited. I know when I first learned about it, it’s all I could think about for a while. I was fortunate to learn about this in my mid-twenties; I’ve got time to try and reach FI by the time I’m 40.
I’m in my late twenties and have made decent progress. I’m about 1/4 of the way there. And I understand the first few years are the hardest because it’s when you feel like you’re making the least progress.
But as I’ve been investing for years and own two properties, reaching financial independence is becoming a real possibility. Achieving financial independence by the time you’re 40 takes increasing your income and lowering your expenses. If you do those, it’s possible to retire 25 years earlier than most people, if you want to.
What is the meaning of simple living?
Now that you understand what financial independence is and can see it’s possible, I want to talk about a topic that doesn’t get talked about enough—pulling the second lever. The second lever is simple living.
If increasing your income is the first lever, which we all know is essential, how can we double our efforts by living a simple life?
Simple living can include a number of different voluntary practices to simplify your life. Things like reducing the amount of stuff you have, paying off debt, lowering your expenses, and increasing self-sufficiency.
You could come up with many examples, but I believe simple living means living your life’s purpose and removing anything else.
One of my favorite books that opened my eyes to what it means to live a simple life was Walden by Henry David Thoreau. He talks about only needing four things to be happy; food, water, clothing, and shelter. Most of us won’t live this way, but if you did, it would cut the time it takes to achieve financial independence.
How do I start living a simple life?
First, you need to understand what your life’s purpose is. What are you doing on earth, and what are you trying to accomplish? Understanding what your identity is will make it easier to cut out the fat in your life.
Second, it’s being intentional and organized every day. Being intentional with your mornings, your commute, your relationships, and your possessions. When you’re intentional, you focus on what matters most.
Is simple living the same things as minimalism? Yeah, pretty much. Depending on how you look at it. Even though I’m not the best at it, I consider myself a minimalist. You may not like the term, and thinking that way can cause extra stress or anxiety, which is why I like to refer to it as simple living.
Nevertheless, they’re similar, and if achieving financial independence is a focus, money, and minimalism have a lot in common.
A few places you can look to learn more about minimalism are The Minimalists and Mari Kondo. They both teach similar concepts when it comes to simplifying your life.
What do you do after achieving financial independence?
Suppose you’ve made it. You increased your income, and you simplified your life to the point where you’re financially independent. Congrats!
I know plenty of people who’ve gotten to this point. They work for years and years to get to reach FI, and when they finally do, it’s a bittersweet moment. They may not be as happy as they thought they’d be, and others are happy for a few months and weeks and then find themselves bored living a mini-retirement.
Achieving financial independence isn’t enough to make you happy and keep you positive. You have to live your purpose. If reaching some arbitrary number is your biggest goal, but you’re not living for a bigger cause, financial independence will feel lonely and boring.
What would your life look like after FI? For me, I don’t plan to stop working. Whether it’s woodworking, marketing, or financial coaching, I plan to help others. Helping others gets me excited. And if I happened to make money, great!
But I don’t plan to retire, sit around all day, and do nothing. I plan to keep working.
The bottom line is I want to live life on my terms, and I don’t want money to be a worry. Achieving financial independence is my way of getting there.
Achieving financial independence requires an insane amount of focus and discipline. But once you understand why you want to reach financial independence and apply the tools and life hacks to get you there, it’s possible.
I’m all for making more money. You do need a higher income to get where you want to go. But if you stack a high income on top of living a simple life, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. You can design the type of life you want to live, and you don’t have to wait until you reach some number to start living.
In what ways are you achieving financial independence?
For about 10 years, I’ve consumed A LOT of personal finance content. I have always been on the lookout for the top personal finance resources. My goal has been to learn as much as possible so I can one day reach financial independence.
But on Dec 13th, 2017, the day that I graduated from college, I decided to make a change. Instead of being a consumer of content, I was now going to become a producer of it.
I don’t consume nearly as much personal finance content or read books anymore. I put that time into creating my own content and increasing my skills with building an online business.
The only content I consume now is podcasts because of the passive nature of it. And I love podcasts! You can be productive and have a deeper connection with the podcast hosts. I get so much out of listening to podcasts.
Who knows, maybe one day I have my own podcast.
Today, I’m going to share my top 40 personal finance resources that I have gained the most value from.
This list includes blogs, podcasts, educational websites, speakers, and books. All of which I have learned a great deal from. I encourage you to check out as many as you can. Especially those that relate to your financial situation.
Mr. Money Mustache – Even though he doesn’t consider himself a “personal finance blogger”, Pete is a thirtysomething early retiree that writes about frugality and financial freedom. If you haven’t taken the time to read any of his content, you should. This is targeted to the ultra optimizers.
Millennial Money – An online community to learn how to make more money and accelerate your financial freedom. Targeted to millennials.
Budgets Are Sexy – J Money created a money blog trying to spice things up a bit! They rock out budget planning, retirement, credit cards, 401k, templates & becoming a millionaire.
Millennial Money Man – Bobby Hoyt has created quite the community of millennials. His site is a resource for young people that covers debt-freedom, making more money, and building an online business.
Get Rich Slowly – One of the first blogs ever about money created by JD Roth back in the 2000s. This talks about common sense advice and money-saving tips on a wide range of topics.
Stefanie O’Connell – Focused on helping women, Stephanie writes about millennial money, making more, love and money and lifestyle. I’ve seen her in a number of news videos helping the younger generation master their finances.
Investor Junkie – Larry Ludwig and his blog compare tools to help you make the best financial decisions. Targeted to investors with a ton of great resources.
The Penny Hoarder – Kyle Taylor started one of the largest personal finance websites in America. I receives millions of visitors each month looking to make and save extra money. I really enjoy their content!
The College Investor – Robert’s website helps millennials get out of student loan debt to start investing, building passive income, and wealth. He’s been blogging for many years and has a ton of great content.
Student Loan Hero – Student Loan Hero is an unbiased solution to organize, manage, and repay your student loans. They also discuss a ton of other things like how to make more money.
Making Sense of Cents – Michelle Schroeder talks about personal finance, paying off student loans, and how to reach financial independence. She also has a ton of information on how to create a successful blog and online business.
Good Financial Cents – Jeff creates a lot of amazing content through his blog and YouTube videos. His whole purpose is to help you make cents of your money and create a life of financial freedom.
Young Adult Money – David Carlson created this young adult personal finance blog that I have learned a ton from!
ChooseFI – Join a global community of people that are pursuing Financial Independence through Investing, Real Estate, and Business creation. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to!
Radical Personal Finance – This podcast helps you understand a wide range of financial topics including insurance, budgeting, investing, entrepreneurship, and more. Joshua Sheats has the heart of a true teacher.
Mad Fientist – Advanced strategies for pursuing financial independence and early retirement.
Build A Bigger Life – The Build A Bigger Life podcast with Adam Carroll is a show about entrepreneurs, innovation, pursuing freedom, and creating a life of abundance and meaning.
Side Hustle Show – Nick Loper with The Side Hustle Show is a top-rated podcast about how to make money on the side.
Money For the Rest of Us – A personal finance show on money, how it works, how to invest it, and how to live without worrying about it. David Stein has been teaching individuals and institutions on how to invest and handle their finances in ways that are simple to understand.
Mint Life – The blog related to Mint.com that produces new and fresh content everyday to help you get more out of your money.
Acorns Grow – The educational website connected with the investing app Acorns. They produce high quality and millennial focused content on a daily basis.
Dave Ramsey – You may or may not have heard of Dave Ramsey. He’s probably one of the biggest names in personal finance. I would encourage you to check out his website and his radio show if you’re trying to get out of debt.
The Motley Fool – The Motley Fool provides leading insight and analysis about stocks, helping investors stay informed.
Yahoo Finance – At Yahoo Finance, you get free stock quotes, up-to-date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, social interaction and mortgage rates.
Kiplinger – Leader in personal finance news and business forecasting. Get trusted advice on investing, retirement, taxes, saving, real estate, cars, college, insurance.
Investopedia – Investopedia is the world’s leading source of financial content on the web, ranging from market news to retirement strategies, and investing education.
Bankrate – Use Bankrate.com’s free tools, expert analysis, and award-winning content to make smarter financial decisions.
Nerd Wallet – Millions of people turn to the Nerds to find the best credit cards, up their credit score, land the perfect mortgage and so much more.
GOBankingRates – Personal finance resource designed to share articles and advice on saving, managing, and making money.
David Bach – David Bach is one of America’s most trusted financial experts and has written nine consecutive New York Times best sellers with 7 million + books in print. I had the opportunity to meet David Bach when he came and spoke at my university and his book Automatic Millionaire was awesome!
Adam Carroll – Helping Students and Young Professionals Succeed Faster. When I met Adam Carroll he gave an awesome speech on Winning the Money Game. He also has a book called Winning the Money Game. Definitely check it out!
Phil Town – Phil Town, one of the top investors in the world, teaches you how to invest and achieve financial independence. I also met Phil Town who is the author of one of the best books on investing, Rule #1 Investing.
Rachel Cruze – Best-selling author and speaker with a heart to help others win with money. I didn’t get a chance to snag a picture with Rachel Cruze at FinCon but, her presentation was excellent!
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind – This was one of the first financial books I’ve read. And quite honestly, it set the foundation for the rest of my life. The money management system that I have been teaching people for years comes from this book. If there is one book that you have to read to analyze your money blueprint and find out what it is you need to do or change to become a millionaire, this is the book!
The Simple Path to Wealth – Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life. JL Collins compiled this book after writing a number of letters to his daughter about money and investing. This book is very one-sided. Meaning JL Collins was tired of all of the crappy financial advice out there and decided to share what really works. I LOVE this book. The investing strategies I learned in this book have set a foundation for how I will invest for the rest of my life.
Total Money Makeover – This was also one of the first books that I read in high school. I literally remember learning the difference between an asset and a liability in this book because, at the time, I didn’t know what they meant. I told my mom the difference between an asset and a liability and she was so proud of me. Anyone looking to change their finances needs to read this book.
Rich Dad Poor Dad – In this book, I learned that I never wanted to work for someone else. I wanted to become a business owner. I learned the power of investing in yourself and in real estate to eventually reach financial freedom. This is one of the most popular personal finance books in the world. This book is a classic!
Your Money or Your Life – For more than twenty-five years, Your Money or Your Life has been considered the go-to book for taking back your life by changing your relationship with money. Hundreds of thousands of people have followed this nine-step program, learning to live more deliberately and meaningfully with Vicki Robin’s guidance.
Money – Master the Game – In his first book in two decades, Anthony Robbins turns to the topic that vexes us all: How to secure financial freedom for ourselves and for our families. “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for investment books, this one would win, hands down” (Forbes.com).
A Random Walk Down Wall Street – The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing. Updated with a new chapter that draws on behavioral finance, the field that studies the psychology of investment decisions, here is the best-selling, authoritative, and gimmick-free guide to investing. This book is very advanced and if you’re not a big investments geek like I am, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Qube is rebranding and relaunching in spring 2020. I’ve been watching this company since meeting them at FinCon 2018 in Orlando. This past FinCon 2019, I learned they were relaunching and adding new features. So I wanted to find a way to be a part of it!
Why I Made The Switch
“85% of people who need help financially can’t afford it.”
This is a quote from Alan Moore of the XY Planning Network at a conference in San Diego two years ago. This has driven me crazy and is one reason why I became a financial counselor.
“Many of the people who most need financial planning services and investment advice can’t afford to pay for either. To be in a position to hire someone to advise you on how to build wealth, you first have to build some wealth,” says Rick Kahler of Brightscope
Seeds of doubt have been planted in my mind for many years. Things like, you can’t make money helping people that don’t have money. But I’ve wanted to find a way to help as many everyday individuals and families with their finances as I can. One of the reasons I started a financial coaching business and this blog.
I’ve worked in academia and helped people in their 20’s. I’ve worked as a financial planner helping clients with their investments. And, I started a financial coaching practice and helped clients pay off debt and start saving. These have all been great opportunities. But it kept coming back to one problem that was hard to solve. Cash flow management.
This is one of the biggest things keeping people from reaching their financial goals and becoming financially independent. I’ve taught people the jar’s money management system with success but it was missing something.
Why This Aligns With My Purpose
I’ve been interested in the new financial apps that have released over the years like Robinhood, Acorns, Simple, and Varo. They’ve all experienced rapid growth addressing needs for younger people and lowering fees. I’ve thought it would be cool to work for a new company like one of these.
Most would require us to move to San Francisco if I went that route. But this won’t require us to do that. Utah is experiencing insane growth and it’s largely driven by financial service and fin-tech companies.
What’s been done in the past to help people is moving online and I don’t think that will change anytime soon.
More About Qube Money
Qube first launched as ProActive Budget two years ago and did well. They experienced issues with their processor and shut down operations. They’re now with a better processor and rebranding. When you google proactive budget you could probably guess what kept showing in up the search results. Skincare. Which is a big-budget item for a lot of women, apparently!
This video explains what it is:
Qube money requires you to be intentional with your spending. Most people have heard of the cash envelope system because it’s powerful and it helps with spending behavior. The problem is cash is a hassle and writing down each transaction sucks.
Qube is like digital cash envelopes. If you don’t have money in your qube for a certain purchase it will decline the transaction.
No other financial app makes you think before you buy, changes behavior and is effective long-term.
I believe this has the potential to impact millions and help them live healthier financial lives.
I can’t share everything yet but a lot is happening behind the scenes that make this super exciting!
What’s Going to Happen to Simplifinances?
Don’t worry, Simplifinances isn’t going anywhere. I’m still trying to figure out what my plan is for 2020. I will most likely scale back on how much I write. For two years, I’ve published one article a week and at times that can be a lot. Especially on top of a full-time job, school, family, church, etc. I may write once or twice a month or whenever I feel like I have something to share.
I’m excited about the new opportunity and feel grateful to be a part of it! This is something I would have never had the opportunity for if I wouldn’t have decided to start Simplifinances.
I don’t write a ton about blogging and growing an online business because that was never my intent from the beginning. But this week I’m going to share a course with you if blogging has been something you’ve wanted to try. I am an affiliate for the course and I think it will give you a great starting point.
Make sure you join my mailing list and look out for an email in the next couple of days.
If you’d like to learn more about Qube and be a part of the launch join the waiting list at www.qubemoney.io.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been working for a Registered Investment Advisor as a Financial Planner in Texas.
Today, I’m announcing that I recently just quit my job. It wasn’t an easy decision to quit because I’ve put a lot of time and energy into the company I’ve been working for.
The firm I’ve been working for is a great company and I’ve created some solid relationships and learned a ton in the meantime!
As many of you know I’m still in the process of completing my master’s degree. I started my Master’s in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University in the Fall of 2018. I will still complete it this spring.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I quit my job and what my plan is.
I’ll give you two hints: 1) It’s not financial planning and 2) it doesn’t require me to stay in Texas.
Let’s just say that I’m super excited and will be filling y’all in soon.
I remember the first time I learned the difference between an asset and a liability. Sitting on the couch as a young teenager, I wanted to share my new-found knowledge with my mother. I explained to her the difference between the two knowing that she would be proud of me. She wanted me to make good financial decisions so I didn’t make the same mistakes as her.
My mom introduced me to personal finance at a young age. She wanted me to free myself from the poverty cycle we were in. And I couldn’t do that without making solid financial decisions.
She went through two divorces, bankruptcy, and many other financial challenges that could turn anyone into a victim. My father walked out and later committed suicide for a number of reasons (one being financial obligations). But my mom never became a victim and she found a way to improve her situation. We went from being homeless and broke to living a fulfilled and rich life.
However, after reading many books, I felt like I was learning all there was to know about personal finance. How much is there out there on the topic?
I Was Missing Something
I was missing two things: (1) a community of like-minded people and (2) a way to optimize what I knew. Every book kept telling me that if I just save and invest a small percentage I would be financially free. But financial freedom felt so arbitrary and it didn’t feel like I would ever obtain it.
I realized there was a living and breathing community of people interested in the exact same things as me. Two podcast episodes later and decided to start from the very beginning on the ChooseFI podcast. I’m glad that I did because my life will never be the same.
I Found My Tribe
Along with a ChooseFI book review, this post is an inside look and review of the FI community.
I’ve since had the chance to meet Brad and Jonathan a few times at FinCon as well as get to know Chris Mamula very well who is a fellow Utahn. (Utah is home even though we currently live in Texas).
I was excited to read the new book they were putting together that gives a great overview of this new movement and what a superpower financial independence can be. This stuff is life-changing.
Before I get into sharing what I love about the ChooseFI book, it’s worth noting that soon after I found the FI community, my mom decided to jump on the bus with me. We’re now currently on this path to financial independence together. She introduced me to personal finance, and I introduced her to financial independence.
Here’s What I Love About the ChooseFI Book
The ChooseFI book gives you a clear framework on how to live a financially independent life. It begins with the “Stages of FI.” These can be compared to the Dave Ramsey “Baby Steps.”
Except these are far from baby steps. These are big boy steps. In my opinion, they’re way more difficult. It’s not simply a matter of becoming debt-free, it’s becoming debt-free and getting to the point where working is optional. Once you reach financial independence, you’ll never have to work another day in your life if you decide not to.
This is what was missing from the idea of becoming financially free. To me, that meant crushing it and buying an island which is something almost no one can achieve.
After telling one of my friends about this online community of people working toward the same goal, he told me was how he liked the idea because it’s something anyone can do.
Reaching financial independence is driven by what your annual expenses are. It forces you to be frugal. What they mention in the book a “Valuist,” which is someone who spends money on what they value and cuts back ruthlessly on the things they don’t.
One of the biggest advantages of reading this book is the fact that they don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty details. Something most financial books, podcasts, and financial planners stay away from because it doesn’t relate to the masses or they want to hold on to the information themselves.
Advanced Personal Finance Topics
I couldn’t believe the education I was getting from reading and listening to the podcast was free. I was learning more practical and applicable information than in business school or a master’s program in personal financial planning. Things like tax optimization, mega backdoor Roth, sequence of return risk, and different investment strategies. They go into a lot of advanced strategies. But at the same time, they keep it simple and easy for anyone to understand. Plus they talk about ways to increase your income.
I couldn’t get enough of it because it was all geared toward helping me make more money, spend less and enjoy the journey. My wife and I were on a date one night (she was sick of me talking about this), and I told her “I found my tribe, these people get it.”
“I found my tribe, these people get it.”
Even though I’m still getting started in my career and I have faced a lot of challenges in my younger years, I can honestly say I feel very grateful to have learned these things at such a young age because I know what kind of impact it will have on me and my family. These are all principles I want to instill in my son, Everett. Which will hopefully one day become 3rd generation FI.
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FinCon 2019 is where money and media meet. This was the second year I attended the conference. They’ve been bringing together personal finance content creators for the past decade — bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, financial planners and financial coaches all come together each year to learn strategies on ways to create better content, engage with their audiences, and increase their reach.
This isn’t a typical financial services conference where most of what is said is boring and dry. I like to think of the conference as a marketing conference because many of the keynotes and breakout sessions discuss things like blogging, how to create better YouTube videos, how to grow your Instagram, and how to grow a financial coaching practice, etc. These are all just a few of the things that were mentioned in many of the breakout sessions.
FinCon 2019 was held in Washington DC and I had a chance to tour the city before the actual conference started last week. I saw the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. It’s an incredible city and reading about the history of the city really opened my eyes and made me feel grateful for what the founding fathers did.
Towards the end of the conference, they announced that FinCon 2020 will be held in Long Beach, California and I’ve already booked my tickets for it.
What happened at FinCon 2019?
I arrived in Washington DC late Tuesday night and stayed at a cheap hotel the first night called the Baron Hotel.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up early and decided to go on a run. I hardly ever go running but it felt great running through the city and seeing all of the sites. I ended up walking about 20,000 steps and my feet were killing me.
After all the sightseeing I made it back to the hotel to check my email and was asked if I would be available to do an interview with Grow which is a partnership between Acorns and CNBC. They wanted to interview an Accredited Financial Counselor about college tuition and helping parents prepare their children for college. I did this interview just after we had a meet up with many Accredited Financial Counselors.
After the interview, I attended breakout sessions and caught up with people that I had met last year. I walked around to the different exhibits where many big and small companies across the country and even in different parts of the world came to FinCon 2019 to set up a booth and to share their products and services. There are many influencers in the community and many companies like to team up with them through affiliate programs and sponsorships.
Robinhood Came to FinCon 2019
Wednesday night, the opening party was sponsored by Robinhood. They put on a great party at the Smithsonian Native American Museum in downtown Washington DC. They had a live band and a donut wall where you could walk up and grab a donut off the wall and eat it.
I was surprised to see Robinhood at FinCon 2019 because if you’ve read my blog for any amount of time I have talked about how much I like Robinhood. This was their first time that they’ve come to FinCon and they came in storming by having a great party to start the conference off.
I stayed with a group of financial coaches at an Airbnb about a 10-minute walk from the Hilton Hotel. I stayed with Kelsa and Michael Dickey and Jill Emanuel from Fiscal Fitness, Holly Morphew from Financial Impact and Nick Elkins from Teach My Kids Money. It’s a great group of financial coaches and super fun to be around.
On Thursday morning, first thing in the morning we had a keynote speaker and it was none other than Ramit Sethi, the author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” He gave an excellent talk about having an abundance mentality. It’s easy for many of the people in the audience to have a scarcity mindset and always be concerned about saving but he said you can only cut back so far but there’s no ceiling on how much money you can make. So if there’s something that you just love to spend money on, imagine what it would feel like to quadruple the amount of spending on that thing. It made me realize that I need to focus more on spending money on the things that I love and relentlessly cutting back on the things that I don’t value.
I made it to a few sessions on How to Launch and Grow Your YouTube channel on a budget by Yanely Espinal from Miss Be Helpful. She did a great job on explaining strategies and things that she has done to grow her reach and her audience on YouTube.
After lunch, I attended another Workshop by Denis Trufin of TruFinancials on how he was able to take YouTube full time with an audience of about 13,000 subscribers.
Thursday night we had a meet up with a bunch of financial coaches put together by Kelsa, Michael and Jill who I was staying with. It was great to see so many financial coaches come out and interact. The number was definitely bigger than what we saw the year before.
The documentary was great and did a good job shedding some light on the struggles people go through when they start pursuing Financial Independence but at the same time how it liberates you and helps you focus your time and energy on things that truly matter.
Friday morning I ended up sleeping in really late because I was going to bed at like 1:00 am or 2:00 am in the morning each of the previous nights. I missed everything that was going on Friday morning but did make it to a few more sessions on how to grow your Instagram from Apple Crider. He’s been able to grow his Instagram audience to over 13,000 within the past year doing a few simple things but that require a lot of work.
I went to another great session by Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators about how to rank your videos on YouTube and things to look out for in the algorithm. He uploaded his first video in March of 2006 — a few months after YouTube launched. He told us not to focus on the algorithm but to focus on real people.
Friday night, after all the sessions, I attended the Freelancers Marketplace which is a place where companies and brands that need content connect with freelance writers who are looking for opportunities to write and be featured. I went to dinner with my friend Ashley and then headed to the 10th Annual Plutus Awards which celebrates the nominations for best blog, best podcast, etc, from the past year.
Saturday morning came around quick and I made it to a session on how to get a book deal, write the book, and crush your launch. I don’t have any plans of coming out with the book anytime soon but it was great to see what goes into it.
I then attended a second session on how to grow your Instagram by Allison Baggerly from The Inspired Budget who gave some more great tips on how she’s been able to grow her audience on Instagram to 85,000 followers.
For lunch on Saturday, I got to sit down with The Budget Mom and pick her brain on how she’s been able to grow such a loyal following and build such a successful business. She shared some things that she’s working on that I’m not going to share with you but let’s just say they’re big. Really big!
Saturday afternoon was filled with moments of taking it easy, relaxing and chatting with some friends. We had our closing keynote speakers close out the conference and then to top it all off we finished the conference with an after-party with a DJ, lights and dancing which is always one of my favorite parts.
Why did I go?
To be honest, the first time I attended FinCon last year I wasn’t quite sure why I was going. I first learned of FinCon at the end of 2017 when the conference was in Dallas, Texas. I thought it might be a good idea to go to the next one which was in Orlando, Florida.
I’m really glad I decided to make the sacrifice to go. Often many first-timers apply for a scholarship and many of them get the conference fee waived their first time. I didn’t get a scholarship my first year because I didn’t apply in time for it. So each time I’ve paid my own conference fee, flights, travel, lodging and food. It’s not cheap or easy to take work off to make it to this conference but it’s definitely been worth it for me because the conference has more than paid for itself through the relationships that I’ve built and the opportunities that have come from it so far.
This has been my review of FinCon 2019 and I’m excited for what’s to come!
Hi, I’m Scott. Welcome to my website! I’m an Accredited Financial Counselor, husband, and father. I love writing and learning about personal finance, fintech, simple living, and sharing my personal story. I hope you’ll join me on our journey to financial independence!