About the Mad Fientist

About the Mad Fientist

Financial Independence. Fience. FI.

Since you’ve found your way here, you probably know that early financial independence is possible.

Now, you’re so excited about what your life will be like after you leave your full-time job, you want to get there as quickly as you can.

The Mad Fientist

The Mad Fientist

You’ve come to the right place.

By analyzing the tax code and looking at personal finance through the lens of early financial independence, I develop strategies and tactics to help you retire even earlier.

Most personal finance advice is geared towards people retiring in their 60s or later and doesn’t apply to those of us pursuing early financial independence. This site is focused on providing advice and innovative tax-avoidance methods specifically for people wanting to break away from full-time employment very early in life.

A lot of research goes into my articles and some of them take a long time to write so my posting schedule tends to be a bit sporadic. Rather than check back here for new posts, just sign up to the email list below and new articles will be delivered directly to your inbox as soon as they are published.


In addition to writing articles, I also have a podcast where I interview exceptional people who have achieved financial independence (e.g. Mr. Money Mustache and J.D. Roth) to find out how they did it.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.


To stay up to date with what is happening in the Mad Fientist lab, follow me on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ and sign up to get the latest articles delivered directly to your email inbox.

If you are a journalist and would like to speak to me immediately, please call or text (720) 924-2624.

For any other interesting opportunities, please send an email to opportunities [at] madfientist.com.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to helping you make your journey to financial independence as quick and efficient as possible!

– The Mad Fientist

52 comments for “About the Mad Fientist

  1. MLH
    May 24, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I was just reading an article on LearnVest about couples saving for their futures and I was impressed by the “Super-Savers” couple I read about. As I read I was thinking, “Wow, this guy is setting himself up really well, some of the blogs I read would be impressed.” And then I saw that it was you and it made perfect sense. Hopefully that will bring in some traffic to your blog! I found the article through a MoneyCrashers tweet.

    • The Mad Fientist
      May 28, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Haha, nice! Yes, that article did bring in some good traffic because it ended up being picked up by both Forbes and Business Insider. That’s really cool MoneyCrashers also tweeted about it!

  2. Davey Pockets
    June 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Hey there madfientist! Fellow FI blogger here and have always thought your blog so cool! What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in blogging. And from your point of view what’s the best way to increase views, comments and followers? Thanks

    • The Mad Fientist
      June 19, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      The best advice I can give is to be patient. It takes a long time for a blog to get any traction so just put out stuff you’d like to read, be yourself, and keep doing it.

      Also, reach out to other bloggers who you respect and get to know them. They may not directly help you get more views/comments/etc. but they will make blogging a lot more fun and will increase the likelihood you’ll stick with it.

      Good luck!

      • March 1, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        Dear Mad Fientist,

        Thank you so much. That reply, “be patient.” Hit the spot.

  3. Davey Pockets
    June 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you for the advice. The blog definitely is starting to get traction and like you said talking with others is making it a lot more fun!

  4. Young Money
    April 26, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I would just like to suggest a post. A longer than normal ‘beginner’s’ article would be awesome. I love all the strategies, but a lot of the time I feel like it’s going over my head.

    Also, I’d like to know what your opinion would be for someone who is already in a very low tax bracket. I’m in the military and only ~$21000 of my income is taxed, and I receive housing and food allowances that are not taxed at ~$17500. Am I correct in thinking it be better in my scenario to max out a Roth IRA and then try to max out my Roth TSP after that?

    Once I’m back on the civilian side and paying more taxes I look forward to utilizing your strategies!

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

      That’s a good idea and something I’m actually working on. The plan is to create an email series for beginners that brings everyone up to speed so does that sound like something you’d be interested in?

      And yes, going with a Roth while you are in a very low tax bracket is a good way to go!

      • Young Money
        April 28, 2015 at 1:24 pm

        I would definitely be down for the email series, thanks for the advice!

  5. Manuel Chaves
    May 18, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Guys I just finished listening to the podcast with the Mad Fientist TWICE. I was so good I had to start it over again from the beginning to ensure I didn’t miss anything. I think this was one of your best podcasts and “off the hook”, maybe because it was more advanced. You need to bring that dude back on and just let him talk…Love it..


    • Casey
      January 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

      It was a great podcast with Mad Fientist as the interviewee.

  6. Jeremy
    September 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Hi Mr. Madfientist,

    I have a question for you about tax-deferred growth in 401k accounts and whatnot.

    I currently have a job offer, but the company doesn’t offer a 401k. In my current job I’m maxing out my 401k. I’m trying to figure out how much I should value a 401k at for a counter-offer. Everyone is telling me that it’s worth maybe 1-2 thousand extra dollars per year, but it seems like to me the growth of tax-deferred dollars on a maxed 401k over many years should be worth a fair amount more than that. How would one go about calculating that?


  7. David
    December 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I really enjoy the content on your podcast. I am a DIY investor and make monthly contributions but I always try to have some cash on hand each month that I strategically look for buying opportunities during the month.This has allowed me to purchase index ETF’s during the August drop, again in September and November. Because I am still in the accumulating phase, I actually look forward to these severe swings. I make sure to never focus on the drop in value of ETF’s already purchased but rather on the great sale I just received from the price drop. I would love to request a podcast of what a person should do once they have saved enough to early retire. The idea of making massive changes to your portfolio and being out of the stock market seem to be totally opposite to many of the personal finance bloggers who currently are popular right now (especially referring to early retirement people) If someone has a portfolio of 1 million dollars and they want to live off their investment, will taking their money out of the stock market and moving money into safe bonds really allow them to achieve the 4% withdrawal rate needed to not empty their accounts? Early retirees like Mr Money Moustache, Go Curry Cracker, Root of Good ect definitely do not have 80% of there money in bonds or cash. As far as I know, the majority of their money is still sitting in the stock market in index funds, even tho they are currently using the money to fund there lives. I would love for you to do a podcast dealing with various strategies to enter into early retirement once a person has their ‘magic number’ or when 4% of their portfolio will fund their expenses. For example I recall hearing Root of Good talk about how he keeps 12-24 months of expenses in cash so he can ride out any market crashes but the remainder of his funds stay fully invested in the market. I believe he then picks safe points to ‘top up’ his cash portions when they begin to drop below his 16 or 12 month levels. I feel lots of podcasts and blogs deal with good advice on how to save and invest to reach that level, but not enough information is out there about how to actually retire early and what different plans will allow you to safely start financially independence and quit the 9 to 5 lifestyle. I’d love for you to tackle this problem and see what strategies you come up with.
    Thanks again for your podcast. Its one of my favorites.

  8. Andy G
    February 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Been continuing to enjoy your content. This just out on Biggerpockets.com, not sure you have seen it but probably worth a look: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2016/02/18/bp-podcast-162pay-irs-amanda-hancpa/

    Make sure you check out the extra content. The video for 401k’s is awesome.

  9. Mark
    February 27, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Still waiting to hear from you to get access to the tools you provide. I have tried it several times over several months but I would very much appreciate the opportunity of using the tools you have graciously provided but cannot because there is something wrong with my password/account. Mark

    • The Mad Fientist
      February 29, 2016 at 4:12 am

      As I said in my email reply, it doesn’t look like an account exists for your email address so you’ll just have to set up a new account here: https://lab.madfientist.com/sign_up

  10. Rawlins
    March 23, 2016 at 10:00 am

    In the FI Laboratory what does savings really represent?

    – savings account contribution
    – money contributed to 401K/IRA
    – other?

    • Denny
      June 23, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      @Rawlins: I’m not sure either about what “savings” really represents. I’m thinking that it would be your total assets for the month, i.e. family 401K, IRA, stocks, bonds, cash savings. But it wasn’t clear what exactly it is. Hopefully @MadFientist can shed some light.

  11. May 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    We just now published a post on our blog where we have mentioned few kind words about your blog :-) You might want to check – https://lifeafterfi.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/favorite-5-blogs/

  12. Rob
    August 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm
    • The Mad Fientist
      August 15, 2016 at 3:48 am

      Fantastic, Rob! Sending you an email now so look out for it soon :)

  13. Matt
    August 21, 2016 at 8:19 am

    How is the monthly portfolio income calculated on the FI Tracker?

    • December 21, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      NW times withdraw rate, divided by 12. So if you reported a 1 million dollar NW, and 4% withdraw rate, your portfolio income is $40k. Per month is $3,333.33

  14. Nate
    August 23, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Hey, Mad Fientist! Had a lot of fun listening to some of the podcasts and reading the different blogs. Very well done, I guess I really had never thought about savings quite this way before – I guess you would say there have been times I haven’t been the most responsible with money. I even had to borrow money from a friend once or twice (wasn’t fun). Suffice to say I definitely don’t want to be in that position again! Anyways, keep up the good work, I am looking forward to more podcasts – you can sign me up for being ready for a weekly one!

  15. September 17, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I would love to read an article on what all the top financial bloggers opinions are of the presidential candidates in relation to how their policy’s will affect early retirement. I know this is a charged debate but it’s difficult to decipher based just on their proposed financial policies. And I think it would be an interesting conversation.

  16. George
    October 22, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I can’t download your FI spreadsheet.
    When I click on the link it does nothing.
    I’ve tried this with various browsers.
    Can you please email me a copy?

  17. Caleb
    November 2, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Mad Fientist,
    I have an idea for a calculator for you to build. I know you’re busy, and this is one is possibly overly specific, but perhaps the general concept is one you’d find interesting? Basically, as someone earlier on in their “lean” FI path, I’m curious about utilizing 0% balance transfer cards to minimize interest paid to other loans. In other words, trying to optimize “unofficial refinancing” of other loans.

    Scenario: taking out a loan for a solar PV system. The loan terms will be re-amortized about 18 months into the loan (when they expect the purchaser to have a federal tax credit from the purchase of the system). My thought is that at that point I could be paying down the principal of the loan even more with a convenience check tied to a 0% balance transfer offer. So the question is how much of the principal to apply to the balance transfer, without putting so much on the card that it’s difficult to pay all the way down by the end of the promotional 0% interest offer.

    Let me know if this was sufficient to pique your interest. Thanks for your podcast and other good works regardless!

  18. Ryan
    December 13, 2016 at 1:50 am

    It’d be great to hear some podcasts with FI’ers who have young children. I get the sense that many folks on the journey are either forgoing having children or are much later in life (kids in college) and I’d like to learn more about how people with growing families tackle progress towards FI.

    • January 2, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Ryan- that’s a good point. I myself have two small children (6 months and 2 1/2 years old) and I am also striving for early retirement (in 7 years). There is a different strategy needed when you have children but the concepts and principles of reducing expenses remain the same. I’d love to hear from more people like myself who are on this journey.

  19. Jim N.
    December 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Q: In regards to using your FI lab tracking page. When inputting the number(s) for “savings” , what exactly do you mean? Not monthly income? The net worth amount I get from my personal cap. Already includes my various saving accounts so my savings are already calculated.



    • December 21, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      Savings means the amount you managed to save that month. For me, I add up how much I sent to 401k, how much my company contributed to my 401k, how much principal I paid on my mortgage, and how much I sent to my index fund. Add all that up, that’s my savings number.

  20. January 7, 2017 at 9:01 am


    I was wondering what your personality type is? I am an ENTJ.


    Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Joe
    January 7, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I have listened to many FI interviews with people that have retired at age 30 or 40 and are now 45. Can you find and interview the 75 year old that retired at age 30? I would be very interested to hear that interview- Thanks!

  22. Nevada Smith
    January 16, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Mad Fientist,

    A request: Can you do a Podcast where you combine the advice from the interviewers? For example, I have heard:

    * Millenial Boss: “Find other FI people”
    * Fiery Millenials: “Believe and you will achieve”
    *JCollinsnh: “Avoid debt, live within your means & invest the difference”
    * Travel Miles 101: “FI is a fantastic journey. Reclaim your power”
    * Wife of Mad Fientst: “Ask friend or family member what FI means to them”
    *Millenial Revolution: “Challenge the status quo”

    I really enjoy the last 2-4 minutes of your Podcast where you ask the interviewee what advice they have for someone just beginning their path of FI or who is in the middle. Gives a lot of inspiration.

    Thank you.

  23. Dustin
    January 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Hi Madfientist,

    I have been following your blog for about a year and a half and I have learned a lot, so thank you for that. I recently learned that my retirement benefits allow me to contribute after 401k contributions (let’s call it a savings account) and still able to invest in the same funds (which are really good). I have a few questions about it though and also want to consider the long term possibility of using this type of saving. I can contribute up to $54k in my retirement account (my 401k contributions+employer contributions+plus this after 401k contribution). The money in this savings account grows tax free and at some point I can rollover this amount to a Roth IRA when I leave my employer.

    I have tried to do some research but I am still unclear on the roll over part and I thought maybe you would have come across this at some point. It seems like a really good option to have to help achieve FI. I am unclear on the roll over aspect, ability and timing of withdrawing money, and any tax consequences (early withdrawal penalties).

    Thanks for the awesome work!

  24. DMoney
    January 28, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Hi, MadFientist,
    Just wanted to drop a note to let you know that your podcast is my absolute favorite. What a treat it was when you were doing two a month! It felt like a fun surprise or gift when I’d look at my phone and see a new podcast! Keep up the good work,


  25. Gringo in Rio
    January 30, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Dr. MF,

    I got hooked on your podcast and now plan on working my way through your blog posts. I was curious if you had a recommended approach to consuming all the articles (i.e categorically via the Archives)? Is there a way to access chronologically?

    Thanks for everything!

  26. February 1, 2017 at 10:44 am


    I asked finance bloggers what are their favorite finance blogs and Madfientist came up at the top 5 as their favorite blog.

    You can find it here: http://www.financeblogzone.com/top-finance-blogs/ !

    It would be great if you share it with your followers on facebook, twitter, google+ etc and I would love to read your comments on the post…

    Thanks for having such an awesome site!

    Have a great day,
    Kostas Chiotis

  27. Andreas Katsonis
    February 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Dear MF,

    Have you researched real estate crowdfunding? Our goal is to pay zero taxes in retirement and I’ve been following your articles relating to this topic. Lately I’ve been wondering whether real estate crowdfunding like Fundrise and PeerStreet would be a good investment options for their tax advantages.

    Many thanks

  28. Frugal Shrink
    February 8, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Howdy Mad FIentist!

    First of all, I’m a big fan of what you do. Your resources are incredibly helpful and you deserve major props! I recently posed the question below to the MMM forums but didn’t get very far… I’m wondering if you could help.

    Do you know of a comprehensive calculator that will help my wife and I determine the ideal amounts to have in traditional IRA accounts v. taxable accounts at the time of FI? Especially if we are planning on doing a Roth conversion ladder like you advocate? I’m hoping the calculator will account for…

    – The 5 year “vesting” rule of waiting to withdraw Roth IRA principle without penalty
    – Any potential tax-related implications of selling investments from a taxable account (incl. taking dividends in cash) while in FI
    – Standard deductions to offset taxable income (to determine how much of the Roth conversion will be tax-free)
    – Inputs for current savings rate, expenses, rate of return, and rate of withdrawal during FI (e.g., 4% rule).

    Ideally, I’m even trying to figure out a ideal ratio… meaning at the time we reach FI, 60% of our savings should be in taxable accounts while 40% should be in Traditional IRAs – or some rough rule like that (FWIW – This is about the ratio I’ve calculated thus far).

    In case you want to try and help me figure this out, here are all the relevant inputs about our situation I can think of.

    Total Net Worth: $295k
    – Traditional IRA: $150k
    – Roth IRA: $45k
    – Taxable: $100k
    Annual Expenses: $31k
    Current Savings Rate: 73%
    Job Status: Spouse and I are in well-paying professional jobs
    Tax Status: Married Filing Jointly, No Children
    Ages: We are both 31

    Although our current spending would only require us to accumulate about $775k to reach FI, we are also shooting for a large margin of error by trying to accumulate about 1 million in net worth… enough to provide for a $40k/year lifestyle if we choose to do more traveling in our FI days.

    Thanks in advance for any links, guidance, or direction you might be able to provide.

  29. Andrew
    February 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Do you do any case studies if people send you their financial details? I have been reading your articles on tax avoidance through investing and I wanted to get your inputs on what you think would be best.

  30. February 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for all of your amazing content. I appreciate the slow and deliberate way you cover topics and I love your world view. I am a little less further along then most of your readers, since I kind of only woke up to FI in the last few months. I was doing the Dave Ramsey debt snowball and really felt something was missing, the WHY I was doing it. I am so far away from FI (have my husbands 50k in student loans, his 16k car he will not part with, and my 180k house loan) but we have the right mentality and have destroyed the internal the fascination infecting todays world, that of more stuff equals more happiness. I am 34 and am hoping to be out of debt in five years with our very lucky 110-120k combined incomes. If you have any posts for people that feel so far behind, I would love to listen/read. I imagine I will be through all of your content in a few weeks since I cannot stop listening to all your amazing interviews. Just thank you for all you do. What an amazing site! Big fan.

  31. Olivia
    February 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Hey Mad Fientist! I am hoping for a quick clarification on the travel hacking/airline miles tools. I have a trip coming up in July from Fort Wayne, IN to Albany, NY. If you can confirm I am interpreting my results right – I used the Award Hacker and I see how many points on what Airlines I would need. There are several options, but the main one is United Airlines at 20,000 points/route. Does Route mean one way? So then I used your amazing Card Ratings tool, and I chose United Airlines. The best card is the Ink Business Preferred card at 80,000 miles. Am I interpreting results correctly, that if I open the Ink Business Card, the 80,000 points will work for these flight routes?

    Thanks! I just want to make sure I am using the tools correctly! I truly appreciate your help and am a huge fan!

    • The Mad Fientist
      February 17, 2017 at 3:22 am

      Hi Olivia, yes it looks like you did everything right!

      The 20,000 points is for the entire roundtrip and Chase points can be transferred to United so the Ink Business is the best card currently on the market to earn United points. If you don’t have a business though, you can untick the “Business” checkbox in the card tool’s filter and then pick one of the consumer cards that earns United miles instead.

      Good luck!

  32. Chrissy
    February 16, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Brandon,

    Apologies if this is not the right place to post my question! I am phasing out the email address which I used to sign up for FI Lab and your mailing list. I’d like to update my profile to my new email, but cannot find where to do this. Please help! I’ve put in quite some time into my FI Lab charts, and don’t want to lose the work!

    Thanks so much for everything you do on this site and on your podcast. Even though I’m Canadian and can’t benefit fully from your tax and travel hacking info – the info is still useful to me in teaching me new, different ways to think about things. :)


    • The Mad Fientist
      February 17, 2017 at 3:24 am

      Hi Chrissy, just reply to one of the emails I’ve sent you from your old address and let me know what your new address is and I’ll get everything updated!

      • Chrissy da Roza
        February 27, 2017 at 11:55 am

        Sorry, I didn’t realize you’d replied to my comment until now! Thanks Brandon, I’ll do that.

  33. February 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Mad Fientist,

    Love the site. Keep up the great work.


  34. Craig
    February 23, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Hello!! I love this website and available spreadsheets/tools!!! I have scoured the site looking for your post on what account(s) to pull from (IRA, Roth IRA, Taxable accounts, stocks) when we start taking withdrawals. I read somewhere on the order/best account to start with… Want to do it right!! Again, great job

  35. Adam
    February 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Hey Mad Fientist,

    I enjoyed the latest podcast (Ms ONL), as usual, and think these folks are great. I have noticed a large number of FIRE bloggers come from high-income households. While I enjoy hearing their perspective, I’m wondering if you know any bloggers or people coming from a household income closer to the US median? I’d been interested to hear their story as it would relate better to my own. The 3-6 year path to FIRE is great, but for someone earning closer to the US median of $50K, it would be great to hear from and probably easier to understand/relate to someone with a 15 year path… and a couple of kids.

    Keep up the good work.

  36. March 12, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Hi MF Just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for the podcasts, they’re great! Hopefully you’ll be able to keep them coming with a similar level of interesting content. I like your honesty about the FIRE life and the ongoing assessment of what the right choices for you and your wife are as you progress into it. Keep up the great work.

  37. Emanonrog
    April 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Hey MF,

    Any chance you could remove the negative numbers from the y axis of the Labratory graph? Not sure how it’s coded, but my graph starts at -$2,000. Seems like $0 would be more reasonable (unless you have a negative net worth).


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