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Author: Jonathan Mendonsa & Brad Barrett

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Jonathan & Brad explore the world of Financial Independence. They discuss reducing expenses, crushing debt, building passive income streams through online businesses and real estate. How to pay off debt, Crush your grocery bill and travel the world for free. Every episode is packed with content and actionable tips and no topic is too big or small as long as it speeds up the process of reaching financial independence.
227 Episodes
117 | Making the Case for Part Time | Bradley Rice
Bradley Rice has successfully reclaimed the hours in his day by transitioning to part-time work. He made this unconventional choice to take back his time when his daughter was born to spend more time with her. Bradley works 20 hours a week, while still earning a high salary. Bradley openly talks about the path that allowed him to reclaim his time and how you can recreate a similar journey. We All Have Choices Along The Way Each of us makes different choices throughout our lives. We do so hoping to march closer to our long-term goals. Everyone has to make choices that align with their values, so each person’s journey will be different. Having a high paying job certainly helps you reach your FI goals, but if it's taking away time from your life, you may question its true value. In Bradley’s opinion, time is our most valuable resource because it truly is finite. Many of us would prefer to use that time to enjoy the important things in life, like our family. The pressure becomes especially noticeable if you have young kids because the time you have to spend with them while they are young is limited. Even if you agree that that time is your most valuable resource, you may feel trapped in the mindset that there is no way to earn your current income while transitioning to part-time work. Caught between the fact that you have to work to provide for your family and the need to spend more time with them, the dilemma continues to grow more real every day. Our guest, Bradley Rice, was faced with the same dilemma when he had his daughter. He knew that he didn't want to continue working full-time while his daughter was growing up. He needed to find a way to spend more time with her during her childhood. Bradley was able to make the switch to part-time and maintain a high salary in the process. It was an unconventional choice, but it worked out exceptionally well for his family. Let’s dive into his inspiring story! For more information, visit the show notes at 
116R | Escape
Karen Hoxmeier joins the show to share how and why she built a coupon-sharing website, Brad and Jonathan talk about optimizing food, taxes and home insurance, and a review of Monday’s episode with Wendy Mays.     Brad and Jonathan are excited about a chicken shawarma recipe they hope Laura will add to the ChooseFI Vault soon. Wendy, from Monday’s episode, tackled her family’s grocery bill when she started pursuing financial independence. Food shouldn’t just be cheap; it should also be good. What is Brad’s strategy for decreasing his phone usage and dependence? For taxes, what matters the most is your tax liability, not your tax withholding. While tax refunds are currently decreasing in the U.S., that’s actually because the withholding tables have changed and people are sending less extra money to the government throughout the year. Estimating your taxes throughout the year so that your tax return is about $100 is pretty extreme tax optimization, but a minimal tax return means you’ve had access to all your money for saving and investing throughout the year, instead of loaning it to the government. Brad signed a contract to install solar panels on his house and paid half the cost, then realized that he hadn’t contacted his home insurance company. Wendy tackled one thing at a time, optimizing a little bit at a time, until she was saving her family $6,000 a month, without a significant decrease in lifestyle. Spend money on what brings your life value, then cut everything else ruthlessly. ChooseFI community member Karen Hoxmeier joins the show: Karen worked in a wide variety of jobs in her youth and early adulthood, until becoming a stay-at-home mom in 1994. In 1999 Karen started sharing coupon deals with friends, via email, until that became too taxing, and she decided to build a website. How did Karen learn html code to build her website? Karen realized she could start making money from her website when she discovered Amazon’s affiliate program. Karen’s advice for someone who wants to make money blogging: Make content that is valuable Set up an email list Treat your customers like they’re your friends If you’re interested in an affiliate relationship, Karen recommends starting a conversation with a representative from the company. Companies are often willing to pay a higher commission to advertise or link with blogs or websites that will provide high-quality leads.   For more information, visit the show notes at 

116R | Escape


116 | Adoption, FFLC & the House of FI | Wendy Mays
116 | Wendy Mays, from House of FI, tells the story of growing her family from 4 to 8 through adoption all while moving states and changing careers, and ultimately kickstarting her family’s pursuit of financial independence.   Wendy and her family first learned about financial independence about 4 years ago. Wendy was commuting from Phoenix, Az., to San Diego, Ca., as her husband was living in California in pursuit of a new teaching job. Wendy now has a family of six children, four of whom are adopted. During her husband’s job search Wendy’s law practice in Phoenix was the family’s primary income, so she made significant changes to balance keeping her job with the family’s logistical challenges, including a shift in the type of legal work she did. In the midst of this hectic commuting lifestyle, Wendy and her husband finalized the adoption of three of their children, including a 4-day-old baby. Once the adoptions finalized, Wendy finally moved fully to San Diego. In March 2017, Wendy started adjusting their financial lifestyle to begin pursuing financial independence. First step was understanding where their money was really going. Wendy dropped her average food/grocery expenses from about $3,500 to about $1,000. By eliminating a few unnecessary big-ticket items, and optimizing smaller expenses, Wendy cut about $6,000 from their monthly expenses. Beginning in 2018, Wendy’s husband maxed out his savings and retirements accounts, increasing their family savings rate to about 28%. In October 2018, Wendy transitioned from legal work in Phoenix to real estate in San Diego. Having a large family impacts Wendy’s financial commitments: Larger housing expenses Larger vehicles – a Suburban Bigger clothing expenses Financially reasonable family activities require creativity. Currently, Wendy’s family is on a 7-year path to financial independence. Making these changes has been really challenging for Wendy, but tracking progress and looking back is encouraging. There are several different types of adoption Domestic private adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive Private international adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive Adoption via foster care – usually low cost After adopting through foster care, there are ongoing financial assistance programs that help Wendy and her husband to offset the costs associated with raising adopted children. Wendy is hopeful she might pay off her student loan debt in 5 years.   For more information, visit the show notes at 
115R | How to Get Out of Debt
115R | A how-to conversation about strategies for tackling consumer debt, a review of Monday’s episode with Bonnie Traux, and a few updates about the ChooseFI community.     Brad’s wife no longer working as a CPA – although she was technically laid off, she’s excited for the extra time in her schedule. Being at FI gave Laura the ability to be happy for her previous employer and move on with a smile. Bonnie Traux, from Monday’s episode, is an ultimate side hustler. If you’re stuck, you’ll have to do something different if you want a different result. Bonnie reached financial independence in about 13 years. Before starting to save, Bonnie spent years paying down consumer debt as her husband was continuing to build it. The journey towards financial independence doesn’t start at zero – it often starts with tackling debt. How to tackle debt Use account-tracking software - examples:, YNAB (You Need A Budget), or even Excel or a pen and paper. Know what’s coming in, and what’s going out. List out all the debts you have, their payments and interest rates. Reasonable interest rates are somewhere near or below 6%. The Debt Snowball – take all your debts and organize them from smallest balance to largest. Continue making minimum payments for all debts, and commit any extra to paying off the smallest debt. When it’s paid off, roll that payment into paying off the next smallest. The Debt Snowball is a psychological win, but ignores interest rates. The Avalanche – the interest rate is the most important thing. Always pay toward the balance with the highest interest rate. The Hybrid Method – combine these two strategies to pay off a few smaller debts at first, then commit to paying toward the highest interest debt. You could earn more – start a side hustle, work a little extra A no-spend month Optimize regular monthly expenses A credit card balance transfer Consolidating debt Part 1: Know where to find your account information Part 2: Acknowledging that you can’t afford debt. Part 3: Debt Payoff Strategy Part 4: Creating the Margin     For more information, visit the show notes at 
115 | Poverty, Divorce and FI by 43 | Bonnie Truax
115 | Bonnie Truax, a blogger and early retiree, shares her story of growing up below the poverty line, scraping her way out of inherited debt, reaching financial independence without knowing what it was, and understanding how to talk about money with your spouse. Bonnie grew up with family income that was technically half of the poverty level, but always debt free. In a town of only 35 people, W2 jobs were hard to come by, so Bonnie worked any odd job that she could find – mowing lawns, decorating cakes, roofing. What did Bonnie do with the income from her side hustles? Bonnie got married shortly after college and inherited significant debt. The first step to getting out of that debt, was learning spreadsheets and prioritizing which debt she would tackle first. Bonnie was managing thousands of dollars of debt and got back to broke, even as her spouse was actively spending and maxing out credit cards. What is Bonnie’s financial advice for people before they get married? Financial literacy isn’t distributed evenly throughout the country – not everyone understands how to manage finances. Not everyone is comfortable talking about money, even with their spouse. If Bonnie could do it again, she would start by talking about fears associated with money. When Bonnie started over she was 30, earning about $25k. Bonnie learned IT with her free time at a reporting job, eventually becoming the manager of an IT team. Before she got remarried, Bonnie and Trin had become very close friends at work and had already talked about finances, so she was confident about their joint approach to money as a couple. Trouble doesn’t have to be a disaster. Getting out of debt on a low income is possible – you shouldn’t have to eat rice and beans your whole life, but if you’re getting out of debt, you might have to them for a while. Bonnie and her husband automated their finances and didn’t give much attention them; they found a comfortable way to live regardless of their increasing incomes. Bonnie didn’t plan to retire, but when work became toxic, their savings gave them the freedom to leave work. Instead of just leaving money in their savings account, Bonnie and her husband began purchasing foreclosed home and renting them out. Without a knowledge of the financial independence community, how did Bonnie determine that she and her husband were financially ready to leave their jobs to retire? Bonnie and Trin are traveling the world for a few years before they decide where to retire abroad. It’s never too late to make tomorrow better. Anything that comes into Bonnie’s blog goes to support a safehouse in Ecuador. Fear of missing out is just an excuse; you are always choosing what you miss out on.   For more information, visit the show notes at 
Comments (17)

Joe Reed

Great show!

Mar 8th

Melissa Janczura

Great info guys! I'm in the learning process and my head is spinning! 😊 This gives me a great starting point. Thank you! 😊

Feb 25th

Pavlina Atanasova

FINALLY!!!! Someone with an actual business that is living a FI life. As a business owner myself it's great to hear other people that have gone through this and how they've done it. LOVE IT! Go Craig.

Feb 13th

Alina Leonardo

great episode!

Feb 8th


taking this entire episode into practice today

Feb 4th

M Jay

loved this interview!

Jan 29th

greg koeppen

love the podcast, always learn something new from each episode.

Jan 12th

Rebecca Markin-Newsome

I love your podcast and this episode is especially poignant for me. I am a mother of a special needs son and this has been weighing on me for several years. Initially we had a 529 account for him and we wanted to rotate it to an ABLE account. However the State had one and so did Fidelity. After reading the recommended book' the simple path to wealth' I was fired up. Both ABLE accounts have a high expense ratios, they are in portfolios and so you do not get to pick which funds, they ate actively managed accounts also they both( state and Fidelity) have quarterly fees of $11.00 to $15.00. I asked to waive the quarterly emails in lieu of accessing it online and was told they could not and it was mandatory to send quarterly updates. Also if your account dropped below a certain amount you would incur a monthly charge of $2.00. So mandatory quarterly fees and high expense ratio kind of pissed me off. let's face it. I am trying to SAVE every cent as most of our discretionary funds are used up in various therapies and upkeep of our son. Our insurance deductible alone for his therapy jumped from.$8k in 2018 to 13k in 2019 not including our $300.00 monthly insurance payment. All these little expenses DOES add up. So I rotated back to the 529 educational plan as their expense ratio was mild and with no monthly fees. I am hoping to keep it there and contribute as much as I can. Eventually i will turn it into a Trust or rotate it to the ABLE plan later( when the rates get better 😁) . To date Vanguard does not have an ABLE account. The only ones I know about are Fidelity and my home state NEVADA. please let me know if there is any change. I think I spent 5 hours on the phone with both Fidelity and my State's ABLE company.

Jan 1st

Steve Diahy

didnt even talk about vtsax until the 40 minute mark...what a waste

Nov 24th

Clay Connolly

I love this podcast! I have been binging almost every episode over the last 2 months. They seem to give the perfect level of explaination for me, not too in depth, but not too basic to where I'm bored. The hosts also seem like authentically nice guys. Also enjoy the guest they bring on and the questions they ask them.

Oct 5th

B Pack


Oct 3rd

Andrew MacPhee

Great episode, with loads of takeaways for beginning real estate investors.

Sep 4th

Misaki Miyashita


Jul 27th

Kamil Banc

I had an issue with "what do you do?" for a while so I just tried to boil down my life (past, present and future) into a motto that I can stand behind. that's when I came up with 'Adapt and Create"

Jun 25th

Brendan Leighton

Great Podcast! I'm 27 making a little over 20k/year and finding their advice is helping me move into a better financial mindset. My only hope is I can make this mindset a habit before I'm making more money. The podcast seems to be more generated for career professionals but others like me who haven't hit that tier could still gain something.

Jun 17th

Pavlina Atanasova

love the accountant's breakdown on the new tax law. Super helpful since I am a small biz owner and I try to deduct as much as possible! 😁

Feb 19th

Christopher Wills

This podcast adds so much to the FI arsenal. The Friday round up is great because it breaks down the previous show and pulls nuggets out for the audience. kudos guys.

Dec 30th
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