Why I Pursue Financial Independence

This probably makes me weird, but I was thinking about retiring before I ever got my first real full-time job. I went through college during the healthy economic times of the late 90s. Everything was great! Employers flocked to job fairs to hire young talent. Signing bonuses were commonplace. And a bachelor’s degree–oh yes–this was the ticket to landing a good paying job. As I neared graduation, the promise of … Read more

Why Living In A High Cost Of Living Area Isn’t A Bad Thing

I am from a high cost of living (HCOL) area and I see that as neither a roadblock nor a bad thing when chasing FI. In fact, it has several positive elements. A few reasons why I believe this to be true are: the higher earning potential the higher rents (keep reading for my explanation) and the local tax-payer funded services, entertainment, parks, and recreation programs. Now, I’ve never proven that … Read more

Why I’m Choosing FI

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.–Friedrich Nietzsche To succeed on the path to financial independence and/or early retirement, we can definitely connect with the “bear almost any how” portion of that statement. Some of us take great pleasure in the how, especially the nitty gritty techniques and planning opportunities. However, lately I have been spending a lot more time thinking about the “has … Read more

Let’s Win Together–Why I Want To Help You Reach FI

Hello Choose FI readers and listeners. For the past six months or so, I’ve been blogging over at Winning Personal Finance. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be writing here as well. Today, I’ll be talking a little bit about my journey to FI. Enjoy! My theory of FI As much as I want to reach FI, I don’t look at it as a race. … Read more

How I Was Set On FIRE

My first “technical” introduction to Financial Independence (FI) was in 2012. It came down to one exact moment, and I remember the exact words I said to myself. I was in a Christian thrift shop, thumbing through the books. It was there I picked up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (the cover where he is cutting a credit card with scissors). I looked at the book and … Read more

A Valuist: Intentional Living

I usually listen to podcasts on my runs. It makes the miles fly by and I kill two birds with one stone—I get smarter and fitter. One morning as I was running I had a big smile on my face listening to Brad call himself a valuist. What is a valuist? In terms of financial independence, it’s someone who spends money on experiences or things that they truly place value … Read more

Why Do We Gain Weight?

The science behind weight gain and how to use it to your advantage.

People want to lose weight, but they struggle to do so. That’s why weight loss is the number one New Year’s resolution. Why is weight loss so hard? The first step is to understand why we gain weight. The medical community, media, and health experts have been telling us for years that the way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. This method works on the premise … Read more

An Introduction To The DIY Way To FI

Hello, and welcome to the DIY sector of the Financial Independence arena! I will be presenting DIY skills, tips, tools, and other tidbits as we embark down this vein of the FI rabbit hole. Who am I? Let’s start with a little bit about me, shall we? I grew up immersed in the DIY mindset, and built my first four-story treehouse with the aid of my father General DIY when … Read more

Why Even Bother With Travel Rewards?

Why even bother with travel rewards? My friends ask me a version of this question all the time. People think it’s too much work, requires too much organization, too time consuming, etc. etc. For me, the simple answer to this question is: Because I love to travel! Why I care about rewards I like to stay at nice hotels and let’s face it, if you’re going to spend 10 to … Read more

How Not Being Able To Pay Our Taxes Changed Everything

Three especially important things happened to our family last year: Our fourth child was born. We went broke. We started our debt-free/FI journey. It was a big year. 2017, A Year of Reckoning In April 2017, Señor Firelit and I sat down with our accountant to do our 2016 taxes. At the end of the session, we realized this: come tax day, we would owe $23,000. To our names, we … Read more

Build Your 2018 Financial Independence Action Plan

About 40% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, and about 90% of those break them. Following their suggestion, I decided to have an action plan for 2018 and, hopefully, stick with my resolutions. Track my spending for a year Thanks to RPF Episode 506 for crystallizing this idea for me. We all know that FI is based on developing better spending habits, not just your income or savings. So, … Read more

My Financial Life In A Spreadsheet

I like numbers and quantifying things. That includes quantifying things like my personal progress towards financial independence. To feed this craving, I’ve started to keep monthly spreadsheets of spending in various categories. At end of each week I manually update a spreadsheet that I’ve set up with simple math expressions to track my savings rate. It takes me a few seconds to update this spreadsheet and instantly, I see the … Read more

College Drop Out : Saying NO to Expensive A’s

I have a deep love of learning. I have multiple degrees, and so far, each has served me well. I know that pursuing another degree would be challenging and rewarded. But I’m on a FI journey that forces me to weigh the pros and cons of paying more money for college. After crunching the numbers and weighing the pros and cons, I’ve decided I’m done paying ridiculously high prices for … Read more

Reaching Financial Independence Without Index Funds?

Ask any parent and they will likely have blocked out part (or all) of the first few months of their child’s life. Not because it wasn’t awesome, terrible, life changing or amazing, but because they’re so stinkin’ tired all the time. This is the delirious state that I found myself in when I first learned of the term, Financial Independence (FI). While the rest of the world slept blissfully, I … Read more

The Wealth Building Triangle

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Earn More, Spend Less, and Invest the Rest.” The Wealth Building Triangle is a way of visualizing each piece of that equation and how they combine to move you towards FI. Our engineer readers may know that triangles are the strongest shape out there. The reason for that is that weight (or any force) is distributed across all three sides. The sides all work together … Read more

Why We Stink At FI–But Are Doing It Anyways

Hey everyone! Working mom here supporting a family of four. Budgets are tight, but I know my plans are tighter. Our work lies ahead of us and I’ve been excited about it since day one of this journey. However, we probably aren’t the best example of a FI fam and here’s why: We have student loan debt and it’ll be around for quite some time. My husband is still carrying some … Read more

Why Skilled Trades Can Help You Become Financially Independent

Skilled Trades And Financial Independence Likely not words you hear from someone in their 30s, but that’s what were here to talk about. My name is Cory Kleinfeldt. I am 31, married with three kids, and I believe that you can reach early financial independence without being in IT, in engineering, or going to college. Say what? Why do I want to talk about the skilled trades and money? I … Read more

The Moment My (FIRE) Life Started

Well it wasn’t actually a single moment, it was a series of moments which led to another moment. The Trudge “Trudge” verb – walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions. Synonyms: plod, tramp, drag oneself, walk heavily, walk slowly, plough, slog, footslog, toil, trek, clump, clomp, lumber. It started one day when I left the train at my station on the way to work. As with most train stations in the middle of a big city, all … Read more

How Hitting Rock Bottom Put Me On The Path To Financial Independence

So I have a pretty dramatic testimony, and I plan to be raw about it here in hopes of inspiring you. I’ve made a TON of financial mistakes and just recently discovered FI and before that Dave Ramsey. This has all occurred in my late 30’s/early 40’s. I’m a late bloomer. Where I’m From I grew up in middle-class America and somehow felt like everyone but me got the manual to … Read more

Comfortably Numb (And How I Woke Up To Financial Independence)

CHGO FIRE comfortably numb and how I woke up to financial independence

“Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?” — David Gilmour and Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, 1979 If you’re reading this post you have confirmed that, indeed, someone is in there. And together, in so many ways, we are all home in the financial independence community. Welcome to CHGO FIRE. It’s awesome to meet you. I hope to get to know … Read more

Hacking College With Zero Debt

College Hacking

A recent opinion-piece in the New York Times caught my eye. The column was applauding a college cost calculator published by several top-ranked private universities. I gave it a shot and liked the calculator well enough. It was simple, needing only 7 sets of information, required no personal information, and gave enough information to be useful. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. While several universities participated … Read more

How my son saved 2 years and $18,258 in college tuition

College Hacking Dual Enrollment

One of the most difficult things that will slow down your path to FIRE is debt. And one of the most common sources of debt is the student loan. It sets your financial independence timeline back by years, and even worse, you gotta pay it off using post-tax dollars. Smarter people than me have figured out ways to optimize for financial aid and scholarships. Those tips are awesome, and we’ll … Read more

Coffee 101 | An Introduction to Perfection

coffee

  I Get Ridiculously Excited About Coffee. I have been this excited about coffee for probably the last two years and it has been consistently one of my favorite topics of small talk that’s non-finance related. Coffee got me through pharmacy school, I didn’t like it but I drank lots of it. I needed the caffeine and coffee is cheap,  and available. Frankly, I was drinking total garbage and covering … Read more

F.I.R.E. Essentials: Low Cost Index Fund Investing

Index Fund

Intro to Low Cost Index Fund Investing   Have you heard of low cost index fund investing? Investing your money in the stock market doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful and you certainly don’t have to spend dozens of hours researching to succeed for the long-term. In fact, I would argue that the most effective long-term wealth building strategy for the stock market also happens to be the simplest. … Read more

The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan | Part 2

The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan - Part 2

The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan | Part 2 In Part 2 of the Ultimate Costco Meal Plan, we outlay the staples we purchase to crush the Grocery Bill  This meal plan focuses on Simplicity and Repetition. It is well suited to buying in bulk at discount prices. We tailor 80% of our meals around what we can buy in bulk at Costco and fill in the blanks with special deals … Read more

Travel Rewards | Part 3 : Sweet Redemption

  Congratulations you have now learned how to earn more points in one year than your neighbors or Facebook friends will earn in a lifetime. Now, what the heck do you do with them? Let’s discuss the 3 options for redeeming these Chase Ultimate Rewards points These Ultimate Rewards Points are chilling in your account until you choose to use them. The first and WORST option is to redeem them for … Read more

Travel Rewards | Part 2 : The Chase Gauntlet | Card Opening Strategy

The Chase Gauntlet

So which order should I open the cards I always recommend starting with what I like to call the “CHASE GAUNTLET.” They were the first company to have a rule stating that if you were to open five (or more) cards in the prior 24 month period, then you would be declined. This includes cards from all banks including authorized user cards!  So if you start with another card, it … Read more

Travel Rewards | Part 1 :Travel The World for Free An Introduction

My Wife Is From Zimbabwe. Her Family Still Lives There. Anyone that marries someone from another country might appreciate what I am about to share. We try to visit her family every other year, and there are financial implications for that decision. A flight to Zimbabwe cost anywhere from $2500 to $4000 depending on the time of year. And we would need two tickets. That is not something you can … Read more

A 2017 Analysis of the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps

Dave Ramsey Baby Steps

My History With Dave Ramsey Since the 90’s The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps have been synonymous with personal finance for middle-class America. I’ve listened to many podcasts and I’ve read many blogs. Over all the years, one name stands out to me above most others and that’s Dave Ramsey.  I have been impressed by him for over 15 years.  Brad and I are a 6th or 7th generation media personalities. … Read more

Welcome to the Fishbowl: FI Experiments for 2017

welcome-to-the-fishbowl

We started ChooseFI.com as a financial independence laboratory.  While many aspects of your journey to FI are simple (save a significant percentage of your income, invest most of your money in low-cost index funds, max out your 401k, etc., etc.) there is still a lot of room for experimentation, especially on the making money side of the equation. We know you might not have the time or resources to run … Read more

Early Retirement: 20 Must Read Websites To Retire In 5 Years

Interested in Early Retirement

Early Retirement should be attainable for everyone. Do you want to be financially independent in 5 years. Not sure where to start? These 20 websites will give you all the information you need. for free. This is a living list and will be subject to change as the quality of content available continues to grow.

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Congratulations! You’re Broke

Congratulations you're Broke

Well, maybe things aren’t so bad. As of July 4th, 2016 my retirement accounts matched the remaining balance on my student loans. Neither of those numbers is particularly impressive but it allows me to claim a net worth of $0. Net worth is a snapshot in time, it does not define you or even give you a good idea of where you are going. Instead, we need to look at savings rate and the trend over time

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The Ultimate Costco Meal Plan | Part 1

You need to think about food budgeting America has a food obsession. We have grocery stores at every major intersection, restaurants on every corner and fast food chains to fill the gaps in between. I have talked to many of my neighbors and those conversations mirror the statistics I read online. Most of middle-class America’s disposable income goes to food. Grocery and the food budget can range anywhere from $500 … Read more

The Reluctant Frugalist

Frugal

Frugal Living is the Fastest Way to Financial Independence

So I'm not naturally frugal. I don't crave minimalism or get express enjoyment from having less. If I could drive a massive 2016 Silverado without payments I would probably go for it. But, I am a practical frugalist. I realize that the dollars and cents add up, and a dollar saved now is a dollar I can put to work for me down the road. Frugalism is a means to an end for me. The end goal is Financial Independence. I want to work because I want to, not because I need to.

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