About the Mad Fientist

About the Mad Fientist

Financial Independence. Fience. FI.

Since you’ve found your way here, you probably realize that achieving 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.

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 advanced strategies, spreadsheets, and software tools 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 retirement.

This site is focused specifically on providing advice and innovative tax-avoidance methods for people planning to break away from full-time employment very early in life.

To get an idea of what goes on around here and to learn more about my story, here is the best place to start.


In addition to writing articles, I also have a podcast where I interview exceptional people like Mr. Money Mustache and J.D. Roth to find out how they retired early.

Click here to subscribe to the Financial Independence Podcast on iTunes.

Stay Up to Date

Since a lot of research goes into my articles and some of them take a long time to write, 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.

You can also follow me on Twitter/Facebook and subscribe via RSS.


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

126 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!

      • Simon
        August 1, 2018 at 6:12 pm

        Brandon, I have never sent an email before and not sure if this will show up on the machine. I wanted to ask you a quick question about your choice of housing in Scotland. I currently live in the US (New York), but am considering FI, and am looking at Edinburgh as a potential place to live. Love the blog.


  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!

      • Trice
        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. Vivek @ LifeAfterFI
    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?

    • Mr FSB
      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

      • Lauren
        April 2, 2018 at 2:27 am

        To follow up on Matt’s question. If I am including real estate investments in our net worth, and we still owe a mortgage on those how is that calculated in the per month income? Is it just assuming we will withdraw money from rental income? The monthly portfolio calculation clearly shows more than just dividends from index funds. Maybe I just don’t understand this correctly. Thanks for any clarification.

  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. Jana Miller
    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.

    • JourneytoLaunch
      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.

    • Tom Sylvester (Lifestyle Builders)
      August 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Ryan – We’ve often felt the same way. As parents to 2 kids, we struggled for a long time because it seemed like everyone who was seeing FI was single or didn’t have kids.

      The thing that we found is that the same concepts apply, there are just different variables with having kids. For example, likely taking less risk because you have the additional responsibility of a family and being sure they are taken care of.

  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.



    • Mr FSB
      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. AntigroundhogDay
    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. Kostas Chiotis
    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. Alli
    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. Chad Price
    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. Jim McG
    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).


  38. Karen
    April 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Hi Brandon, I heard you on the Choose FI podcast recently and you mentioned that you own international funds and I was wondering why? Knowing you are good friends with Jim Collins and he believes that VTSAX covers you internationally – it made me curious why you hold international funds? You and Jim are probably the two people I trust most, so I wanted to know if you had an opposing opinion. Thanks! Karen

  39. Lesley
    May 4, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Just giving your FI Lab time to retirement calculator a go. Just had a couple of questions.
    Just wondering how do you take account of the value of the house you will have in retirement? Do you deduct that from your net worth as you are not planning to earn any income off that.
    With your calculator you assume that you withdraw 4% a year in retirement. Are you assuming that you will end up with zero when you pass on and that you won’t leave an inheritance for your kids?
    Sorry I’m new to all of this. I’ll start doing my homework ie reading your blogs and listening to your podcasts.
    Thanks for the wake up call!

  40. Carrie
    May 13, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Is there any way to search the articles using keywords? I have learned so much already and am happily browsing posts. Thank you for all the information here. One thing I am wondering about is raising credit scores. Any tips on that?

  41. FIhuman
    June 1, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Love the Laboratory’s FI Tracker, killer webapp. We’d both be very happy if the dotted red line tracked trailing 12-month average expenses for each point along the date axis, rather than just being a static horizontal line representing a single 12-month average as of today… right?

  42. Anne Morrison
    June 20, 2017 at 7:26 am

    The credit card resource is great. I’d be interested in seeing a column or category for points never expire.

  43. Knap
    June 28, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Hi, Mr FIentist

    An idea for an update that would be great – how about making it possible to change currency in your tools so people can use it their local currencies?

    Personally I am interested in having Danish kroners (DKK).

    Keep it running

  44. Guy
    July 3, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Please help me understand these categories from your spreadsheet.
    Cash, Taxable, Tax-Deferred, Tax-Free, Tax-Free (Withdrawable)

    Here is my guess:
    Cash: Checking, Savings, etc.
    Taxable: Brokerage Account
    Tax-Deferred: 401(k) and Traditional IRA? (taxed when you take the money out)
    Tax-Free: HSA?
    Tax-Free (Withdrawable): Roth IRA (not taxed when you take the money out).

    I love your podcast. I listen to everyone of them.
    Be well.

  45. Spendwisemom
    July 10, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I have enjoyed your website and podcasts very much. A couple of questions: First, what percentage of cash do you suggest for a portfolio? Second, what do you do about insurance? If someone has had health problems and needs good insurance, is it possible to retire early? Last, where in Vermont did you buy your home and would you suggest living in Vermont?

  46. Petra
    July 14, 2017 at 4:29 am

    Small idea: it would be helpful to me if there was one more column on the “Numbers” page of the FI tracker: a column for comments/remarks. Sometimes I want to put a small note to a specific month. “Gift by parents” for example, or “Expensive house repair bill”.

  47. Juan
    July 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I have a question concerning the backdoor Roth… While you are waiting the mandatory 5 years to make your withdrawal post rollover, that money is producing earnings in the Roth account that you will certainly not be able to access penalty free until 59.5. Is this an opportunity cost of this strategy? Is it just too negligible to be of significance?

  48. Mike Y
    July 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Greetings Mad Fientist!
    I recently started to listen to the blog and found my way to your website and tools (benefited just now from travel cards finder). THANK YOU! Looking forward learning more from your experiences and very useful tools to add to my belt. I am approaching late 30s (family of 4) and looking to permanently leave the corporate environment by generating enough passive income for a comfortable lifestyle enabling free time with family and choosing projects that I like. My focus in the past 5 years has been a “flip-in” for side income, but this isn’t passive – however, has paid well leaving some cash to kick off this passive FI endeavor. I’ll be aggressively developing the money roadmap to include maxing out tax deferred accounts and looking to the best ETF for an easy way to get moderate growth. QUESTION…do you have any experience personally or with your followers with developing passive income generators or moderately passive (8 hrs a week) for business/tech savvy folks?

  49. Karim2008
    August 2, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Greetings Mad Fientist,
    I discovered your blog within the last few weeks and love it! In the last week alone, you’ve helped me put together a plan to save $1,000 extra in taxes and mutual fund expense ratios through your mega backdoor ROTH post. To put it short, I had no idea that my 401k plan allowed pre-59.5 rollovers and that freed up A LOT of options for me. Keep up the great work, really love the site.

  50. Anne
    August 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I recently learned that as of age 55 (calendar year in which you turn 55) if you leave your employer and do not move your 401K from your employer that you can withdraw the money without the 10% penalty. Can you confirm and I wonder how that plays into your other “best approaches” strategies? My spouse and I are 52 and 53 so can hold on and work for a few more years. Given that…. would you continue to put money into 401K when we have probably too much there already (and not enough in post-tax accounts)? We started, earlier this year, to hold back on so much 401K and only commit enough to secure the match. Now that I have learned this age 55 rule I wonder if we should max it out.

    • Bob
      October 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      What will be your source of income once you retire? I’m retiring in 3 months at age 56 and plan to use 401k funds to live off of until age 59.5, as well as some Roth funds to keep income in 15% tax bracket. Thinking long term, you may have to beware of RMD’s once you turn 70.5 so consider that as well. Do you have a Roth 401k option? Max it out as an alternative to taking it home in paycheck.

  51. Sarah
    August 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Should net worth include primary residence? Thanks

  52. Jayesh
    August 9, 2017 at 7:12 am

    I am not able to use the personal capital link. Can you please help me out? The link is not just opening.

  53. Pam
    August 12, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    In the FI tracker application you say to get all of the numbers from Personal Capital. So for the “Savings” amount are you subtracting the Expenses from the Income in Personal Capital, or does Personal Capital give you the Savings amount? If it does I don’t see where it is.

  54. wonder
    August 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    i can’t download the spreadsheet. keeps asking me to sign up for access. when i log in, where do i get the ss?

  55. Petra
    September 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Take a year off to travel at the cost of pushing early retirement back?

    Hello Brandon,
    I have been listening to your podcasts for over a year now and really find value in them, thank you.
    Both my husband are on the road to FI and we are 34 and 35 years old with a estimated FI timeline to be about 10 years.

    We are in a bit of a predicament.
    We still want to travel the world and are not ready to be stuck in the grind of the 9-5. We both have great jobs and own a house in a growing market so we could make a bit of money on it if we sell. We are currently saving about 65% of our income. The issue we are having is that I am getting older and we think we might want to have a kid one day. We know traveling internationally with a kid poses some additional challenges. We would like to seize the day and quit our jobs next year and travel for a year. is it worth doing this even though it will push our early retirement age back by probably about 2 years? We want to pursue our dream, plan wisely, but also not place FI on hold just because we are being foolish and trying to travel the world!
    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • JB
      September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Petra: FWIW…It’s not foolish to travel the world while your young. You’d be foolish not to. Living life should be about living with passion. I’m 50 and only visited Europe for the first time a couple of years ago. It’s just not the same traveling in your youth (you’re still young) vs traveling when you’re old. However, keep the house and rent it out…you may need it later and you might not qualify for a new mortgage if circumstances change when you return. If you both are of the FI mindset…even if you “waste” a couple of years traveling the world…you most like will still be able to get back on track for FIRE plan later. Just me two cents. Good luck

  56. Brittany
    September 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Huge fan of the podcast and blog! Mad Fientist breaks down personal finance topics in an easy to understand and applicable manner. Everything from diversification to tax avoidance to different ways to cut down costs and increase your savings! It’s easy to get drawn into scouring the blog tree and before I know it, I end up spending over an hour reading content. Learning so much!

  57. Peter
    September 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

    On your FI Tracker why do you use net worth? Because a good bit of my net worth is my home which doesn’t help with FI does it?

    • Bob
      October 4, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      No, it doesn’t. Your home is worthless unless you will take out a reverse mortgage or sell it and pocket the proceeds.

  58. Kat
    September 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Have you done any research or posts on tax implications (avoidance) related to geographic arbitrage of living outside the US?

  59. CC
    October 24, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Hey Brandon,

    I don’t see an email listed for you, so I hope this finds its way to you. I heard you on Paula Pant’s podcast today and you mentioned that you kept your investments in the US, but you are living in Scotland. My spouse just got a job in Canada and we are moving there in a few weeks. I was told that all of our investments in the US would be liquidated by the companies (Vanguard, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, you name it) if we didn’t have a permanent US address listed. I am curious how you are navigating this.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Keep up the great work!

  60. Matt Tansey
    November 1, 2017 at 8:55 am


    Your blog and resources are fantastic. Thank you for your noble work. I do have a request, though. I’m in graduate school, so when calculating my FI path I run into some trouble. This stems from the fact that I do not currently earn what I will eventually earn when I finish my doctorate. So I find it difficult to use many online retirement tools, including yours. As someone who doesn’t know much about programming, I realize this might be a huge task. But is it possible to allow for shifting income inputs in your laboratory? Thanks for the consideration, and all of your fantastic content.


  61. Dasha
    November 2, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I would like to start saving for my son’s future expenses (college, ,car, wedding etc.) and I’m not trilled with the restrictions of the 529 plans. What other options are there for this purpose? What would you do?
    I was also looking at ETFs, but don’t understand how they’re taxed or when. Please help!

  62. Rhi
    November 6, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Hi Brandon,

    A cheeky request/suggestion- would you consider building a UK version of your Travel Credit Cards app?! I think it would be super useful and welcome in the UK FI & travel hacking space!

    Best wishes you to – I always enjoy the great content you put out.


  63. Matt
    November 11, 2017 at 2:26 am

    Hey Mad Fientist-

    I recently read THE SIMPLE PATH TO WEALTH and it has honestly changed my life. I have also been reading the blogs from Mad Fientist and Mr. Money Mustache. So luckily I have always been a good saver. I typically max out my 401k/457b and I have quite a bit of money saved up the bulk of which is in retirement. However (unfortunately) I recently (approx 3 years ago) decided to invest in Merrill Lynch with a friends brother in-law who is a financial advisor.

    At the time, I was thinking that I needed to watch Jim Cramer’s Mad Money and try to purchase all the right stocks. Luckily I didn’t do anything too drastic. But I felt like I needed a “professional”. However, I have been upset for some time that I am paying a 1.25% annual fee to the financial advisor and I want to pull everything out. After reading the book and more blogs I really realize that I want get my money out of the financial advisor ASAP so that it can work harder for me.

    However, how do I pull it out of my Merrill Lynch account and deposit it into either Betterment or Vanguard? I don’t want to have any tax implications.
    My Traditional IRA has approx $160k and my Roth IRA has approx $140k.

    Also, although I am not too young…. and also not too old. I am 39 years old. But for my pension, it is advisable to work 18 more years until I am 57 to yield the best retirement. What I’m saying is, although I have 18 or more years to recoup any losses, my financial advisor has been discussing a potential “market correction” and as a result my portfolio breakdown isn’t too aggressive (only approx 60% stocks). After reading THE SIMPLE PATH TO WEALTH and other blogs I would lean towards being more aggressive and buy a total stock market fund.

    Please let me know what you think about the best way to move my retirement money from ML to Betterment or Vanguard.

    Thank you.

  64. Stephen
    December 1, 2017 at 10:19 am

    It looks like the Time to FI Calculator might be broken. If I enter a lower withdrawal rate, the time to FI is increased. This is opposite what I would expect.

    Love your blog and your podcast Keep up the good work.

    • Stephen
      January 2, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Hello there and Happy New Year! I am still wondering if the formulas on the website aren’t quite right or if I’m missing something both on the FI Calculator and the graph, the lower the number I enter for withdrawal rate, the longer the time to FI. If I enter a huge number for withdrawal rate, my time to FI decreases to nothing. This seems opposite what it should be. The ideas are great; I just think the tools might need tweaked. Sorry to post here but I couldn’t find an email address for you.

  65. Chris
    December 5, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Mad Fientist,

    I’ve read your post about Betterment and am interested in the Tax Loss Harvesting Features. On the flip side, do you know if Betterment allows investors to harvest capital GAINS? Thanks for all that you do.

  66. Adam
    December 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Hello. I just started listening to your podcast and reading the blog. I have a question about the calculations for the FI Tracker Tool. The calculations are based off of net worth, but it seems to me that items like my house or car add to my net worth, but I can’t withdraw 4% from the value of my house every year if I retire. Would it make more sense to use numbers for investment accounts for the net worth section instead? Perhaps there is a blog post here that explains this but I couldn’t find it. Thanks for all your help.


  67. Joe
    December 29, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Hi M.F.,
    I love your site and visit often to keep me on my game and on track. Your resources and advice is invaluable.
    Thought I’d pass one along I found.
    Capital One is offering 3 free 1 on 1 Money Coaching sessions to anyone interested. No need to be a customer.
    I’ve had 2 so far and its been incredible to learn how unconscious spending and false beliefs I was taught around money really effects my habits.
    The more tools the better right? Here’s to financial literacy.
    Love the Podcat BTW!!!

  68. Don
    January 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    MF – Thanks so much for the podcasts just finished listening through each one over the last couple months! Quick question you had a great quote on a recent podcast about how powerful the stock market is over the long term (how many record highs it has hit throughout time, and the odds of any day being higher than the prior year).

    Do you mind re-posting – it was inspiring data and I can’t remember which podcast it was or how to search for it.



  69. The Odd Millennial
    March 9, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Mad Fientist,

    I thought I would post this here as well as Twitter, but I want to personally thank you for helping me start my journey to FI. After listening to the rebroadcast of your interview with Mr. Money Mustache, I have been inspired to start the journey, trusting you as a primary source of information along the way. I appreciate everything you’re doing. Please keep up the good work! Godspeed!

  70. Tim
    March 28, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Hello MF, I am binge=likstening to your podcasts and wishing I would have discovered it years ago. I am 57 and ready to quit working, and have a decent net worth. One thing that I am still nervous about, and haven’t heard anyone tackle head-on in your podcasts, is healthcare. I would love to hear how the retired “experts” are doing healthcare, especially if they live in the US after retiring. I haven’t heard a good and cheap option yet. Sounds like a good podcast episode to me, but until then can anyone give me their knowledge on how to frugally get healthcare after retirement?

    • Kyle
      May 10, 2018 at 8:40 am

      Hello, I have the same question as Tim. I have a family of 4 and ready to retire early but worry about the cost of healthcare. What are FI doing for healthcare? Thanks!

  71. Options Ahead
    May 15, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Hey Brandon,

    Kudos to you on documenting the lessons learned across the FIRE movement in such a clear and effective way for users all around. A few podcasts I’ve heard you mention Pittsburgh, so I thought you’d like to know you have at least one (formerly) local listener!

    Curious questions on options beyond saving after maxing out 401K, TSP, IRAs, and HSAs. Back Door and Mega Back Door options sound great, but require cooperative plans through work. My wife’s plan does not allow for after tax contributions and neither does mine. And, the in service withdrawals option doesn’t exist other than for a hardship. Within the next year, we’ll just have a $115K left on a low cost (3.875%) mortgage for 13 years left with no incentive to pay off early.

    What options other than a taxable brokerage (default option) are there for ramping up savings to enable early retirement? We have no kids, though a 529 is a potential option, though don’t want to fund it in the potential a kid or kids aren’t a part of our future.

    Keep up the great work and enjoy Scotland, it is one of our favorite countries but haven’t been able to call it ‘home’ just yet, though Kilsyth would really be my family’s ‘historic’ home town.

  72. Brent
    May 17, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Just realized FI by moving to a much lower cost of living city/country. Thank you MadFientist for opening my eyes to the possibilities! Would be happy to share my story as it is more simple (not necessarily easy) than it may seem. Cheers!

  73. BethM
    June 21, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Thanks, MadFientist, for your podcast and for sharing your adventure to FI with the world! You helped answer my Roth vs. trad IRA question once and for all! One thing I’d love to hear more about is covering health care costs after retiring early. My husband has a chronic illness so going without any insurance is never a possibility for us, and I don’t know what would disqualify us from receiving medicaid. I think this topic would be specific to your US audience, but I bet others are interested as well. And if you already have a post or episode relating to this, please point me in the right direction.
    Thanks for all you do!

  74. dana
    June 27, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for your podcast! I wanted to buy a house this week, so bad. Listened to a couple of the latest ones, and cured myself. Now we are staying in our paid for condo, and saving 35% or more towards the ultimate goal– that I sometimes forget about– FI and early retirement. WHOOP

  75. Wes
    June 27, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Hello MF:

    I’m generally not a podcast person but I just blew through your entire series in about two weeks on my daily bike commute. Really grateful a friend pointed me to your website. Thanks for all the great content and inspiration. I’d also like to hear about what the early retiree crew that resides in the U.S. does for healthcare. I work for the feds so leaving amazing healthcare benefits land is a bit scary.

  76. Nick
    July 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Brandon,

    In the FI Laboratory, should the “savings” field be income+investments-expenses or just income+investments?


  77. Chris Sells
    July 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Hey, Mr. Fientist (can I call you Mad?). Long-time listener, first time commenter. I have been loving your podcast series. I discovered MMM years ago, but after reading “ride a bike” and “spend no money” over and over, I kind of lost interest in his writing and have been pursuing FI on my own.

    Then I discovered your podcast and I’ve been binge listening to it ever since. Hearing about all of the ways that people have achieved or are pursuing FI (even if they don’t ride a bike) has been extremely helpful and inspiring.

    I know that you often compare yourself as somehow less than MMM, but I disagree. You’ve made a big impact on me. Thank you.

  78. Patrick Dundon
    July 24, 2018 at 7:01 am


    I’m a 27 year old investor that has been following you since the beginning and has accumulated alot of cash but now have a very important question I could use adivice on. We are in a position to buy our home cash and conventional wisdom says otherwise. However, I want to take advantage of the conversion ladder and I’m thinking a house paid in full reducing our yealry income needs would put us in a great spot to convert money once house is purchased and I quit my full team job? My thoughts are without a mortgage we can live in a low tax bracket for the long run. I would appreciate any advice on my situation. I appreciate all the great content over the years, definitely would not be in this position without the show.

    Thank you!

  79. Rebecca
    September 4, 2018 at 12:46 am

    Hi Fientist, I love your blog, and especially ones where you do the math showing the best money strategies, like the one where you compared Roth vs. traditional retirement accounts vs. taxable accounts. I’d like to suggest/request a similar article for a new post: my husband has a solo 401k for his business our tax guy said to let him know how much money we want to put into it for this year, and he can structure the salary vs. dividends on our return to make it happen. But a higher contribution would come with some up-front costs in the form of FICA taxes, etc. So I would love to see a post along those lines, calculating whether the additional up-front tax cost is worth the future savings of having it in a retirement account vs. taxable account.

  80. Paul Benson
    September 11, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Just listened to your 2 year reflections – fantastic for you to have shared. Money and happiness is a particular interest of mine, and your observation that extended travel didn’t bring you as much happiness as you had expected, but making progress on your projects has been very rewarding, was really insightful.

    Keep up the good work,

    Paul Benson
    Financial Autonomy

  81. Carl
    September 17, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    I am in my 40’s – married and we only have 90K in a Roth and $420K in our 401Ks / rollover 401K.
    I want to start dumping more into savings to significantly save $$. Should I put more into my Fidelity Roth or open a Vanguard ROTH or Traditional IRA for my wife and contribute to it?


  82. Emily
    October 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Hi! Appreciate all you do and share to help myself and others learn how to achieve FI. Quick questions as I’m confused on the FI calculator… I’ve been doing a few ‘what if’ scenarios and whenever I increase my withdrawal rate, it lessens the time to FI. I would think it would have the opposite effect. I noticed this in both the Savings Rate FI Calculator and Time to FI Calculator. Could you help clarify this for me? Thank you!

  83. Jo
    December 13, 2018 at 12:03 am

    Hi there,
    Love your podcast. Learned so much. Not sure if I missed it, but I was wondering if you specifically had a podcast talking about health insurance and what you do once you achieved FIRE. An in depth discussion would be great navigating through option A, B, or C. Thanks so much for everything!!

  84. Eric
    January 8, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I’ve been a long time reader and I especially like your post about the Ultimate Retirement Account. I had a quick question for you regarding ways to ‘get money out’ of the HSA and into a vehicle that’s more accessible. I had a few procedures come up in 2018 and I naturally cash flowed those to keep money invested in the HSA. However I started thinking about pulling that money out and immediately contributing that money to my ROTH. I only see benefits as I’m cash flowing my medical expenses anyways, so why not take some FICA / Tax free funds, and put that into my ROTH, allowing it to be contributions and not being held to the 65 age limitation. Also the funds that are withdrawn are from the reserve account not the invested cash. Do you see any issues or benefits that I’m missing? Thanks in advance and keep up the great articles

  85. William Wadsworth
    January 16, 2019 at 9:26 am

    After 7 years on a safe, lucrative, and even quite enjoyable career path, inspired by some of your entrepreneurial guests in particular (like Alan, from the Pop Up Business School) to take the plunge and follow my passions, helping students pass their exams with expert-level study skills science (www.examstudyexpert.com).

    Thank you, and keep up the good work!

  86. Marcin
    January 21, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Dear Madfientist,

    I’ve been a long time reader and I truly appreciate your good work. I do have a question that it a bit niche so I’m struggling to find answers to it. I am hoping you can let me know what you think.
    We have a house that is paid off completely. For the last few weeks I have been wondering whether we should take out a mortgage on it (15 years, 3.5-3.7%) and invest the cash into indexes.
    I understand it does increase our risk but it’s hard for me to walk away from such good numbers. In that 15 years we’d essentially double the amount and get back to fully paid off house.
    Is there anything that I’m missing in my reasoning?
    Thank you very much for your time!
    All the best!

  87. Angel
    February 10, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    This is a message that I should have written a long time ago. I will start with a story: back in 2016 I traveled the world and had the best year I ever had, but due to lack of money and the fact that I didn’t plan any passive income while I was gone, I had to come back and go back to work. When I came back to San Diego (which is where I live) I felt lost and I had no more goals to accomplish.
    Ever since I was young my goal had been to study a career and graduate, then later to find a job, then latter to save and travel the world for a year. But now I was back, having accomplished all those goals, and had nothing else to look forward to. I spent months searching for what was next, what was my new purpose in life, and that’s when I found your website. In your website I read about financial independence for the first time, which was something that I had never heard before.
    In school they teach you to study and find a job, then work and go up the ranks, buy a car and a house, then a bigger and better one, and that was all that I knew. You spoke about something completely different, about not focusing in material possesions, but to actually just work, save, invest, live frugally and then get out of the rat race when you are still young and full of energy.
    So I just wanted to say thank you because basically you opened a new world to me: after reading your blog I started researching about investing, I started reading and larning from other bloggers and authors, started listening to podcasts, and the ball kept rolling and rolling until today, when Im getting ready to go to Chautauqua in June!
    Thank you very much and keep doing what you are doing
    Angel F.M.

  88. Dave Burling
    February 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Hey Madfientist,

    I’m a long time listener, and I often go back and re-listen to old episodes. I’m also an engineer and i recall the topic coming up either on your site or MMM’s, about how many people in the FI community are engineers. Today, while re-listening to your episode with Travis Shakespeare, i caught your comment where you were wondering what percentage of the FIRE community are INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Out of curiosity, i took the test and was amazed that the result was INTJ. I find this incredibly interesting, especially given how supposedly rare the INTJ type is, that so many in the FIRE community would share these traits. Would love to see you do a poll sometime. Thanks for all you do!

  89. Tommy
    July 16, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve been listening to your podcast for several months and I am really learning a lot from the diverse interviews you host. Have you ever explored the potential economic effects of an increase in world population reaching/moving towards FI? (Whether good or bad). I have been thinking about this question recently and would like to hear the positive and negative perspectives, perhaps from two economists of differing perspectives.

  90. Cope
    July 20, 2019 at 12:37 am

    Mad FIentist,

    Just want to say thank you for the articles and podcast. They have opened up my eyes to a whole new world. Even though I was saving I didn’t get into taxes too much until I read your blog. By changing just a few retirement accounts to reduce my taxable income I saved over $10,000 on taxes this year. In particular increased savings in a traditional 401k, had my wife change her 401k from a Roth to traditional. It dropped us into the 12% bracket so our investment income was ‘free’! Granted, we are not really bringing more money home per say. It is just going into our retirement accounts instead of taxes. Yeah!!! Gets us closer to our FI date.

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!! Keep up the great work.

  91. Jimmy
    July 24, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Mad Fientist,

    Thank you so much for your great articles and podcasts. They have been so informative. I love the detailed analysis.

    What would you recommend to minimize taxes after 70? Let’s say I haven’t converted everything over to a Roth and still have money in my IRA. I now have RMD’s, I’m receiving a small pension, I get a monthly social security check…. does it still make sense to continue with a Roth conversion ladder?

    Thanks for all you do!

  92. Middle class revolution
    March 9, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I am commenting way too late but I thought this post was very inspiring! You are absolutely right that a job can be a scapegoat. While I am not in a position to retire early, you inspired me to revisit aome of my “artistic” dreams and just do it.

    On a related note, I think blogging fulfills some of my creative writing needs even though it is very different (obviously) than writing fiction.

  93. Travis Turner
    April 8, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I love your articles. And I especially love the ones where you illustrate Roth IRA strategies (i.e. IRA hacking?). So, I have a request for an analysis on paying for a child’s college for the FI minded individuals looking to qualify for financial aid. 529’s appear to be what everyone is pushed toward but I am skeptical it is best for everyone. However, 529’s count like any other parental asset and against your financial aid amount. Using parental retirement accounts (excluded from assets) seems to work for one year but will count against next years financial aid as income. But what about taking loans and even a home equity loan (primary home is also excluded). And then 529’s owned by grandparents do not count against financial aid asset calculations.

    Also, I am hopeful that our society moves to supporting our college-bound individuals more and college gets much cheaper. Given that my kids are very young still, funding a 529 seems iffy when I could otherwise still max out retirement tax advantaged space (i.e. 401k, IRA, HSA, megaback door roth).


  94. jeff
    July 9, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    New to FIRE and have been watching and reading everything on your site. I’ve noticed that a lot (most) of the people who are able to achieve FIRE seem to be high income earners at a relatively young age. Question: do you know of anyone who has reached a FI number and RE on a relatively modest income? (ie: $30- $40K/yr)

  95. Shelby
    September 11, 2020 at 7:14 am

    I had a question…well maybe a few.
    How do you invest while not residing in the country you are investing in? I am “from” the U.K. however, I am not 100% certain how long it will take me to get back there or if I even want to be in the UK again. I am currently waiting out the de facto results of Brexit before I make my decision as I am citizen of the European Union.

    However, every time I look into investing in the countries I am in (I move every 1-2 years) I get really overwhelmed as they all say that I have to be a permanent resident and no intention of leaving (basically).

    But when I try investing in the UK, as I have bank accounts and financial history within the UK, they keep telling me that I cannot invest in the UK unless I am living there. One financial institution told me I could invest in their expat program (I will have to see if other companies have an expat program) however it is more that I am willing to spend right now, as I have other priorities. I wanted to start small, because I am still in the learning stage.

    How would you suggest I go about this?
    Whilst I know I am quite young, 25, and therefore have “time”. I am also very ambitious, and I want to get the ball rolling.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I appreciate any insight in this issue.

    • Shelby
      September 11, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Can I also add, I am still paying off debt. I just wanted to diversify my net worth a bit as it is currently only comprised of debt, and any physical cash I have.
      I am doing well paying my debt off, however, it is going to be a long journey to be 100% debt free, and therefore don’t want to have no assets to show for this.

      Sorry, I realize this is a lot of information. I just know you travel a lot, and still investing whilst travelling and curious how you accomplish this.

      Thanks again in advance!

  96. Elena B
    November 27, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Hello, Mad Fientist.

    Thank you for your blog, especially big thank you for explaining in simple terms such confusing concepts as Roth conversion ladder, what’s the deal with HSA and megabackdoor roth…
    I recently realized that not all Roths are the same, and it looks like the access to your Roth accounts in early retirement depends on how many got there in the first place. It seems like there is no good source that explains all the differences and we are left to fend for ourselves or spend $$$ on tax accountants that may or may not even know all the nuances. It would be great if you could do a post about it – each type of Roth and what are the rules for accessing money in them (e.g. conversion ladder Roth – wait 5 years, Roth that started as Roth – take out contributions any time, the rest is subject to penalties and taxes, etc…, Roth that came from megabackdoor 401k… etc, who knows what else is there!).
    Thank you so much.

  97. Robert Blue
    January 26, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Hey dude, your podcast is great. Thanks so much for all your work and inspiration. My story is a lot different than most of the guests you have. However, I also studied computer science just to get a job and work for a big company before quitting to live overseas. I’ve lived in many of the places your guests rave about on the Podcasts. Currently, I live in Istanbul. I find it has the safety and convenience of Asia but it’s fun and lively like latin America. It’s also one of the cheapest big cities I ever lived in. Anyway, I’ve been semi retired working on my own international business for years but never saved a dime. Last year I got into serious debt and I’m finally going to learn how to manage and invest my money. For years I thought investing was so difficult and something I wouldn’t be able to understand. Finding your resources has been a tremendous help. -Rob

  98. Jennifer
    January 31, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    Love the podcasts and enjoying the FI calculator. Really appreciate the time and energy you put into this. If you are looking for suggestions, here goes…
    1) I only have a few data points over the years in which I can add the full data to the graph. Going forward I can work on this but if possible it would be nice to be able to track back to pre 2013 if possible.
    2) SInce Im not adding the retrospective data in order it would be nice to be able to sort the list of data i entered by dates
    again – much appreciated-

  99. Randy
    May 3, 2021 at 8:19 am

    I really enjoy your podcasts, my only complaint is we all want more! I’m currently in the semi-conductor business in Vermont spending much of my time programming in Python these days. I’m currently have blasted through my FI # and will soon stop working for someone us. I think it would be great if did a podcast focused on the Distribution phase of FI. I’ve recently discovered about Risk Parity asset allocations that supposedly can increase your SWR (Safe Withdrawal Rate). The idea being by including assets that weakly correlate (REITs, Preferred Shares) do not correlate to Stocks (like Gold) or have a negative correlation reduces the volatility while still producing higher gains. In fact, the claim is the SWR can be increased by up to 20% using this strategy. This is a bold claim and would benefit greatly from your analysis. Please consider this as a topic to cover in the future!

  100. arvie millard
    September 8, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Really love your materials! Any great CPAs that you can suggest us. Thank You!

  101. Ari
    September 11, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Man! I just found your podcast and am totally addicted. Can’t stop :) So much absolute awosomeness. I am “practically” financially independent, but those podcasts are giving me sooo much fire. My road to independence has been properties (so much fun), entrepreneurship (too high prices to attract those who can pay) and always, always findings best deals in everything. Thank you so much!

  102. Elgin
    September 29, 2021 at 6:10 am

    Hi, Mad Fientist. I’m a big fan of your blog and how well you do at teaching people in simple ways how to reach FI. Something I would be interested in hearing more about is your time in Scotland. I myself have lived in the UK before and have some interest in retiring to some part of Europe, be it the UK or elsewhere. Something that many websites fail to do at least from my perspective is explain how to do this. My goal if I retire to Europe is to maintain US citizenship so that I may collect my US military pension as well as withdraw from my investments and follow US tax law. Would I have to pay foreign income taxes on US accounts and pensions or continue to pay just the IRS. I realize that I would be subject to council taxes and other non-income taxes but I’m just trying to figure out what I need to account for in income taxes, what documents/visas I would need, etc. to retire abroad while maintaining both my pension and retirement accounts as well as the US’ treatment of those accounts.

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