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Financial Independence A to Z

We’ve all heard how difficult personal finance can be. Going through life living paycheck-to-paycheck, chipping down balances of student loans and credit cards, all with the hopes that maybe someday we’ll be able to retire. Sounds pretty awful, right?

The worldwide Financial Independence (FI) community rejects that tired nonsense and changes the starting point. In the FI community, we strive to spend less, earn more, and most of all – enjoy life!

Through 500+ episodes of the ChooseFI podcast and the content featured on this website, we’ve aggregated the resources you need to feel confident moving forward to take action to make your life better today, tomorrow, and for decades to come.

There’s a lot of information, so you’re probably wondering,

Where do I even start?

Well, the BEST news of all is that both we at ChooseFI and the entire worldwide FI Community are here for you. We all remember what it felt like to take that first step on the path to FI and know how transformative this journey can be, so it’s essential that we give back and help others on this journey. We think of this living, breathing guide that you’re reading as the official guide to Financial Independence A to Z.

Whether you just heard about the concept of FI today or you’ve been pursuing it for years, this is the ultimate resource for you. So sit back, relax and start scrolling! Your journey to FI starts here.

Ready player 1?

What is Financial Independence?

Your journey to Financial Independence starts from a place of making intentional decisions that work for your life. There’s no dogma or “must-dos” to be a member of the FI Community. FI is not about living a life of deprivation; it’s about living an intentional, value-based life.

Financial security is the lead domino for a life of security, which allows you to make decisions from a place of strength.

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Once your financial life is secure and on autopilot, you can focus on what really lights you up: relationships, your community, your health, giving back, and much more. But it starts from an understanding of personal finance basics and then the main tenets of a FI-minded life.

domino effect meme to reaching FI

What makes a comprehensive financial plan?

The financial aspects of your life can be broken down into five broad categories that would represent financial literacy, and that’s where we need to start:

  • Earn
  • Spend
  • Save & Invest
  • Borrow
  • Insure, Protect, and Legacy

We will explore each concept fully but the key is to understand how they affect each other and learn how to optimize them around your goal, which if you are pursuing FI is to increasingly reclaim control over your life to reach the point where working is optional within 10-15 years.

Not being intentional with your finances is making a choice by default, and that ends up looking like the same path as everyone around you: living paycheck-to-paycheck, keeping up with the Joneses, and constantly feeling stressed. Instead, we take action.

One of our favorite quotes is:


“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”

Jerzy Gregorek

And that statement is really not entirely accurate because the choices you make don’t have to be difficult individually, but choices do need to be made.

When you create a framework of a life that doesn’t cost that much, when you can increase your savings rate to 30%, 50% or more, when you can learn to make purchasing decisions based on what you truly value instead of just sleepwalking, when you can feel confident to start a side hustle or negotiate your salary, then you’re on your way.

What are the Hard Choices to reach FI?

In this context ‘hard choices’ means making intentional choices based on the goal of Financial Independence – because we know the alternative: constant financial stress for the next 50+ years.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But first, you need to have a “Why of FI” to understand why you’d want to live a little bit differently.

Our Why of FI

So, now you understand the concept of financial independence. But maybe you’re still on the fence about this. After all, building lasting change can be difficult and painful! What makes it worth it to pursue FI?

Here are some of our favorite podcast episodes where we dive into our Why of FI and why we felt compelled to highlight this journey as well critical tips that turn hard choices into more optimized ones:

  • The Why of FI: In this episode we discuss why we pursue this path, why we think it’s a life ‘superpower’ and how it can help you escape the hamster wheel of life decades earlier than most people could ever dream.
  • The Pillars of FI: This episode takes a deep dive into the main parts of FI, which include index investing, affordable housing, the psychology of FI, tax optimization, and more.
  • The Stages and Checkpoints of FI: This episode lays out the stages and checkpoints of FI to keep you on the right track. After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish!

If you, or maybe a loved one, are having trouble embracing the idea of FI, this part is for you:

Here are some more of our favorite Why of FI resources:

Real Households of FI

Our Rich Life Journey to Portugal

Why We Stink at FI But Are Doing It Anyways

Your Money or Your Life with Vicki Robin

Why You Should Pursue FI Even If You Can’t Retire Early

Next, in part 2 of Financial Independence A to Z, we’re going to dive into how and why to start spending less, saving more, and exactly how you can take action.

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You could cobble together your own FI plan from a whole constellation of blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

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Our community helps people discover and accelerate their path to Financial Independence with the goal of earning more, spending less and enjoying the journey.

FI Weekly

Ideas are easy; action is everything. We are a large community coming from different places but what we share is a love of taking action and sharing each other’s wins!

What to expect

Motivation, Inspiration, and Actions taken by myself and the community, as well as the obstacles, struggles and optimizations

I roll them into one curated hand written newsletter weekly.

-Brad Barrett ~Co-Founder and Co-Host of ChooseFI