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March 19, 2024: FI Projection Software, My Ride in an Autonomous Vehicle, Reading, Watching, Playing plus Community Wins

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.

New FI Projection Software

On Episode 470, Chris Hutchins spoke highly of a new FI Projection software called ProjectionLab, and then my friend Adam talked about it at a ChooseFI Richmond local group meetup, so I had to investigate.

Kyle Nolan, the founder of ProjectionLab and longtime member of the ChooseFI community, just put together a video walkthrough of the software and sent it to me. It’s incredibly impressive and you should definitely check it out!

The Mad Fientist called ProjectionLab “the most beautiful financial planning tool I’ve ever seen” and in an article on the Mad Fientist’s site, Kyle described what ProjectionLab can do (quoted directly):

  • Build nuanced models of your whole life
  • Plan separately or as a couple
  • Define what terms like financial independence mean to you
  • Model complex decisions based on goals like achieving FI, taking time off for travel, home ownership, or starting a rental empire
  • Create multiple plans and compare them
  • Visualize projected cash-flow with Sankey diagrams
  • Review estimated taxes and effective tax brackets for each kind of income
  • Apply granular controls for how you expect accounts/income/expenses/inflation/etc to change over time
  • Experiment with Roth Conversions, 72t (SEPP) Distributions, and other advanced strategies
  • Model international scenarios
  • Backtest on historical data and run Monte Carlo simulations to analyze the spectrum of possible outcomes
  • Track your actual progress over time
  • Control where your data is saved, with no link to your real financial accounts

[Brad note: I’m going to have Kyle on the podcast and would love your feedback and questions on the ProjectionLab software to help inform that conversation, so after you give it a try, hit reply (to this or any FI Weekly newsletter) and let me know what you think.]

What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing

Reading: As usual, I’m juggling a few books at the moment:

  • ‘The Stormlight Archive’ series by Brandon Sanderson. I mentioned previously how I’m enjoying audiobooks for the first time, and I’m continually shocked at how I can find time to listen in spaces where regular reading would be impossible. Justin wrote in to recommend I start with ‘The Way of Kings’ because, “Sanderson has two amazing dedicated audiobook narrators for all his work that gives each character a distinctive voice so you never get lost.” I devoured this first book and moved on to the second in the Stormlight series.
  • ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello and ‘Radical Acceptance’ by Tara Brach. I’m just getting started with both of these, but after hearing about them for years on The Tim Ferriss podcast, the push I needed was that my friend Kelly mentioned that she found Radical Acceptance to be a life-changing read. I’m trying to cultivate more inner peace and acceptance and these two books seem to be a great place to start.

Watching: I just started watching the new Hulu series ‘Shōgun’ and it’s no surprise, considering my love of all things Japan, that this one interests me. The series is getting rave reviews from critics and fans, and while it is a work of fiction, it is based on real events from Japan’s history circa ~1600. It’s a fascinating look into the culture and political intrigue and I’m eagerly awaiting next week’s episode!

Playing: I haven’t played any new games in the past month, but I have been playing a bit with some interesting technology that I wanted to write about: Fully autonomous cars and ebikes.

I was just in Phoenix with some FI friends visiting Mr. Money Mustache, who is living at Culdesac Tempe, which bills itself as “the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the US.”

They view ‘car-free neighborhoods’ as a combination of walking, ebikes, light-rail and other public transportation and ridesharing in the rare event you need an actual car.

What’s fascinating is that Waymo, Google’s fully autonomous vehicle project, is available to the public in the Phoenix metro area and I can say from firsthand experience that it’s amazing!

I took a 20+ minute ride to the PHX airport in a car with no driver or human backup driver present. The Waymo showed up, I unlocked the doors and trunk with the app and it just proceeded to take me to the airport.

It was as good as any human driver I’ve seen and even did advanced things like make right turns on a red light! To say I was blown away is an understatement.

We also took a group ebike ride while in Phoenix and that was a surprisingly cool experience. I’ve never driven a bike around a city before, but the ebike (plus some dedicated bike lanes) gave me that extra bit of confidence I needed.

When you’re sitting stopped at a traffic light and it turns green, you can give the ebike a little bit of throttle to start accelerating without pedaling, and then you’re up to speed and can start pedaling without having to flail around going from a dead stop to street-riding speed.

Also, the ‘pedal assist’ feature operates separately from the throttle, and gives you that extra little bit of power every time you pedal. I found that even Level 1 (of 4) on the bike I was on gave me enough power to comfortably ride in the city and trails we navigated. This was a really fun experience!

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

“Our 1% better this week: My wife and I finally saved enough money to pay off our mortgage–16 years early! We plan to keep the money in a high-yield savings account for now while we save a little more cash. The HYSA interest rate is almost the same as our mortgage rate, so our days of paying interest are essentially over. We expect to transfer the money and officially pay off the mortgage later this year, but in the meantime we are going to begin withdrawing our monthly mortgage payments from the savings, so in effect we will never make another payment. It feels so great!”

– Chris

“My 1% better has been actually spending some money to improve quality of life. My current mantra is “reduce friction.” Most of the time, this has been small solutions — my kids won’t put their towel on the towel rack, so I purchased hooks for them to use (and I no longer have to be upset at towels on the floor!) Over the 25 years I had my silverware, certain pieces had gone missing, so we were constantly short of cutlery. I bought some new ones to complete the set. I also made a big purchase of patio furniture and am so glad I did. We’ve been eating dinner outside and spent Sunday playing cards there!”

– Allison

“My 1% better was hosting a local ChooseFI meetup! We met at my house and everyone who showed up was so generous with bringing delicious snacks and sharing their thoughts and experiences. I invited a friend who was starting to get interested in FI, and she had a great time too and got to ask some questions and get a variety of answers. It was really motivating to talk to other people in our community, and inspired me to complete my 2nd win–moving my Roth IRA to stop paying high fees. Thank you for all you do, I continue to learn so much from your podcasts.”

– Erin

“Our 1% better this week was recalculating our family’s FI number using the information from episodes 474 and 475 social security and withdrawal strategies. We realized that for all intents and purposes we are actually already “FI” and work is optional! Although we enjoy our work, it was a great motivation to realize that we are closer to our goals than we thought. Our big takeaway from your recent episodes is that the FI number is a lot more nuanced for those of us pushing 50, and 25X expenses is only a rule of thumb. I encourage everyone who is later in their careers to get on FireCalc and challenge their FI date assumptions. You might be surprised! Keep up the great episodes!”

– Nate

I’ve been a fan since the ChooseFI episode count was in the #80’s. I haven’t submitted my 1%’s along the way but wanted to share the sum impact of applying FI principles for years.

I recently put in my notice after working in the corporate world for 23 years. Prior to discovering the FI community, I was drifting through work and life with no purpose and indulging in escapism spending. I now have a deliberate plan that includes financial, physical and emotional health pursuits.

This past year I worked part time and stepped into my future life. I’ve become an apple and grape farmer, found a community at my gym, been more present with family, and taken amazing bike and ski trips. While I have so many more plans, I think I am most excited about the opportunities that are currently unimaginable.

– Tanya

I’ve been listening to ChooseFI since the early days and thanks to the things I’ve learned over the years me and my wife have been able to curate a life where we essentially get to share a job. Not literally but we both get to work part time which is fantastic for a family with 2 kids under 5.

We both get to experience stay at home lifestyle while also getting to work. We are both nurses and it wasn’t an accident we ended up where we did. My wife works 20 hours a week which includes full health benefits for our family which allows me to work “per diem” and wave my health benefits for a 20% increase in hourly wage. I’m required to give just 4 shifts a month minimum and my wife was a full 1 week off every 2 weeks so we have an insanely flexible schedule.

We are still far from true FI but we are pretty close to Coast FI, we have no debt other than our mortgage and are able to still max out both our Roth IRA and most of our 401k’s. We are able to cover our overhead on just my wife’s 20 hours a week and I feel if I never discovered FI we might both be working close to full time right now. But the best of all is one (or both) of us is always available for our children and we both get to be so involved in there upbringing.

– Tim

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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