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123R | Hail Mary FI

Brad and Jonathan give us an update about the “Playing with FIRE” documentary, Hail Mary FI, and how to build an escape route from the corporate hierarchy that doesn’t make room for you.

Playing With FIRE

As many of you already know, the “Playing with FIRE” documentary has been released to those that funded the documentary through a Kickstarter campaign. For those that have not seen it yet, the plan is for the documentary to come to a theatre near you this summer for a premiere.

Brad and Jonathan will be flying out to San Diego for the grand premiere in June. The goal is for this documentary to be everywhere. You can sign up for email notifications on the Playing With FIRE website. Also, each of the ChooseFI local groups will play a part in making these showings a reality, so check out your local group for more information.

Based on what they have seen, the finished product is something that the entire FI community can be proud of.

It offers an easy way to introduce family and friends to the concept of FI. The story follows two regular people that undergo a mental and physical journey to make FI a reality. Invite someone to watch this documentary with you! It might be a great place to start an open conversation about the FIRE lifestyle.

The Rich And Regular

This week’s conversation with Kiersten and Julien from Rich and Regular was eye-opening. It helped to inform everyone about informational and racial divides that define many people’s lives. With that insight, we now know more about what needs to be done to make FIRE more accessible to everyone.

One way to make FIRE more accessible is by sharing the stories of people of the journey.

We are not relationship experts. We are not financial experts. We are just two regular people that had the courage to tell our story.

With Kiersten and Julien’s story, they may be able to inspire others to pursue their path. Although their story provides an optimistic outcome, it is still grounded in the reality of overcoming struggles to achieve their goals. Now they can be a type of beacon for others who want to follow in their footsteps.

People are looking for people that have walked a mile or two in their shoes, and are a couple of steps ahead, but they can identify with that path.

Most have experienced this gap without even realizing it. For example, Brad mentioned that he always knew that he had a backstop to fall back to. Although his parents weren’t absurdly rich, he knew they would be able to help out in case of a financial emergency. With that in mind, he was able to move forward without fear of total failure holding him back.

Check out the full episode with Kiersten and Julien here.

The Feedback From The Community About This Episode Was Very Positive:

Glasa said, “This has got to be in my top five favorite episodes of Choose FI. After listening to the episode, I read the “Letter to Middle-Class Black America,” and never before have I had text resonate so deeply in what it feels like not only to be a middle-class black family but to be a middle-class black family pursuing FI, which becomes an even smaller subset. Kudos to Jonathan & Brad for expanding the FI conversation, and for the genuine curiosity they shared in diving deeper into the context of the racial divide as it pertains to wealth building and education.”

And one YouTube viewer said, “I totally understand what Kiersten and Julien said. I’m African-American (53-years old) and have dealt with the inequities related to financial access. What worked for me is investing in a stock index fund (S&P 500). I’ve been doing it for more than 25 years and started with just $50 a month on a salary of $20K a YEAR. I’ve increased my contributions with promotions, 2nd jobs, etc and my portfolio has grown to just over $800K. It is literally one of the easiest ways to become financially independent for anyone, including African-Americans.”

With these positive messages in mind, there is a hope for a new path to black wealth that does not involve being famous in any way.

How To Escape A Corporate Hierarchy That Does Not Facilitate Your Long-Term Growth

Working up the corporate ladder is not always an easy climb. Although some may reach outstanding heights, many already know where their corporate journey will level out. So how should you combat this?

Always Have A Plan “A”

The best plan “A” to have is an escape route. Explore your options and maintain a high savings rate to effectively free yourself from needing the job within 10-15 years. At that point, you won’t need them at all. Or at least, they’ll need you more than you need them.

With that, you will be able to make a choice that is your best interest.

Once that power dynamic has shifted and you have the FU money, then you might be surprised how many opportunities come your way. Some managers may even bend over backward to keep you.

Although you cannot always control whether your organization will promote you or not, you can control your personal finance choices. It’s just in the math. The power of that is in your hands.

As you focus deliberately on your savings rate, think carefully about the value you are getting from your spending. If you are truly getting value from a spending choice, then go ahead and spend that money. However, if you aren’t too sure, then rethink that choice.

Feedback From The Community

Question From Peter

What help can you offer a non-millennial, actually I’ll be turning 60 this year.  No savings, no 401k, living a nightmare paycheck-to-paycheck. I’ll get $1,000/month in pension from a previous job when I turn 65. Are any of your podcasts geared for starting a 0 dollars with 10 years until I would like to stop working full-time? Any help would be appreciated. Also going through a downsize or just getting rid of junk collected over the years.  But not ready for the Frugalwoods to enter my place.

Brad And Jonathan’s Answer

I don’t think about this in terms of current age. The nice thing about FI is that whether you find it as 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 in his case, you have to think about it in terms of timeline. From a standing start, you’ve cleaned up all of your debt. You’re moving forward but you don’t have a significant net worth yet. If you can hike that savings rate up, it’s a function of the math. If you can get to a 50% savings rate, then typically 10-15 years will get you to FI.

Just assess where you are today. Be realistic and realize that you have to make changes. You are the one that has to get yourself off the couch and put space in your life between your income and your expenses. It is going to require some change and introspection. It might require some difficult choices.

Voicemail Answer From Sean Mullaney At FI Tax Guy

The four things that Sean recommends are:

  • Analyze your monthly expenses. Take a look at your credit card and bank statements to understand what you are spending each month. It is critical to get a handle on that number.
  • Go to the Social Security website. Enter your information and determine what you might receive on a monthly basis at 70 from Social Security.
  • Start an emergency fund today.
  • Think critically about your expenses. You have time to reduce your monthly spending, so do that if necessary.

The best part is that there is a reason for hope. You can control what you do with your life over the next decade. Instead of continuing down a paycheck-to-paycheck life, do something that your future self will appreciate. Take action and start moving towards a better future.

Shout Out To Chad!

Chad is a new ChooseFI community member that switched his Verizon phone plan to an MVNO that will save him at least $1,500 a year.

Small steps to life optimization can lead to big results. Lowering your cell phone bills is an amazing way to start optimizing your life today.

Check Out Our Video Content

In the future, we plan to sporadically do video podcasts. If you are interested, then check us out at

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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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