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Back to basics | EP 253

What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show

  • 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

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More To Explore
Life Optimization
Life Optimization
What Are You Optimizing For? | Chris Hutchins | Ep 423

Sometimes on the journey to FI, we ask ourselves the following; do I really need to spend money on this? Do I really have the time and resources for that? These questions may be easy to dismiss by saying no in order to stay on track with your financial goals, but by dismissing them, you could be missing out on something that is beneficial to your personal journey! This week we are joined by friend of the podcast, Chris Hutchins, to talk about the hacks for optimizing your life, the differences between cheapness and frugality, and the importance of valuing your time and what it can lead to. Saving money is an important part of achieving FI, but you should never feel so restricted that you miss out on investing your time and money in things that bring joy and value into your life. While saving is important, it’s okay to spend money. Whether it’s on a trip or investing in something new, there are ways to make it work without feeling guilt or shame. Prioritizing and valuing your time can introduce new experiences and provide happiness as well as perspective while on this journey! 

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