Valuable Lessons from My Fourth Year of Freedom

It’s been four years since I left my full-time job and what a crazy year it’s been!

To celebrate this anniversary and to recap the things I’ve learned during this last year of post-FI life (and the COVID market crash), I recorded a short podcast episode:

Listen Now

I released similar posts for my first year of freedom, second year of freedom, and third year of freedom so if you haven’t read or listened to those yet, you may want to check them out first.


  • What I learned from the COVID-19 market crash
  • Why FIRE is not dead
  • How my investment plans have changed
  • Why you should take advantage of this market reset
  • How the pandemic changed my thoughts on risk
  • Why I’ve decided to use my travel rewards differently
  • How to use what you learned from lockdown to shape a better post-FI life

Show Links

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey, what’s up everybody. It’s the Mad Fientist. Welcome to the Financial Independence Podcast.

It’s been a while since I released my last episode and wow has a lot of stuff happened since then. So my last episode with Jim was released on March 16th. And if you remember what March was like, it was pretty crazy.

We recorded that episode on Sunday, March 15th and the markets were down 21% from the February 19th highs.

I released the episode early Monday morning and Monday just happened to be the biggest drop of this entire crisis and actually the third biggest drop of all time, behind black Monday back in 1987 and one day during the great depression.

So I’m glad I rushed that episode out, even though I didn’t have my proper microphone and just threw it together the day before I released it. But hopefully it stopped you from selling because now here we are on August 6th when I’m recording this and the markets aren’t open yet, but we’re currently sitting just under 2% lower than the all time highs we hit on February 19th, which is just insane.

I mean, I would have never predicted that. If someone had told me that we would be here in August, I would say, “Oh, great…we have a vaccine and everything’s back to normal. Economies are up and running!” and that’s not happened either. So this just highlights one that you can’t predict what’s going to happen in the world. And two, you definitely can’t predict what’s going to happen in the market.

So hopefully for all the people out there who think they can predict those things, this has been a humbling experience and hopefully not too costly.

The good thing about being in the position we are in now in the markets is that it’s sort of like a reset button. And if you recall what Jim’s advice was in that last podcast episode, he said…During a downturn, during a crash, is not the best time to be rethinking your portfolio strategy and asset allocation because your emotions are high. You’re scared. You may make decisions that you wouldn’t normally make.

So he said to wait until things get back to normal again, and then you can revisit your strategy and you can reflect on that crash and see if you are taking too many risks and if you want to make changes for the future. Well, here we are back at almost all time highs and this is your opportunity to do that.

So if you think back to when you listened to my last episode, back in March, and think about how you felt then, and sort of reflect on what your portfolio was and what you had wished it would have been at that point when markets were tanking. And again, like I said, when I released that episode, March 16th, stocks went down 11% in one day, and it was a very scary time and nobody knew what was happening.

So think back to then and think about, did you wish that you had less money in the market? Did you wish you had a higher bond allocation? And now you can make those changes because we’re back at where we were back in February before this whole thing kicked off.

So today’s episode, I’m gonna talk about what I personally learned from this whole thing and my plans for the future and what’s changed.

And if you guys have listened to the show before, you may remember that on the anniversary of me leaving work, I’ve released episodes and articles titled Valuable lessons from My First Year of Freedom, Second Year of Freedom, Third Year of Freedom. And I can’t believe it, but it’s actually four years since I left my job.

It was August 1st, 2016. So just recently had my four-year anniversary. And I definitely learned a lot this past year, but most of what I learned was the result of all this COVID craziness. So that will be a big focus, but I’ll obviously talk about what else has happened to the past year and what other lessons I learned during this fourth year that can hopefully help you prepare for your own post-FI life.

So since this is the Financial Independence Podcast, let’s start with the money side of the equation. And I definitely learned a lot from this recent crash, even though I did survive the global financial crisis back in 2008 and was invested during that time. I still learned quite a few lessons from this particular crash.

And I wrote about some of that in my last post, where I broke down what’s in my portfolio and why. So if you haven’t read that yet, head over to and you can read about everything that’s in there, there, but I just want to talk about some of the things that I didn’t mention in that post.

So the first thing is I’m thinking differently about risk than I used to. You may recall in previous episodes, I talked about my “peak arbitrage” strategy, where I buy a property in a mountain resort destination in the States. And I buy a property in Edinburgh, Scotland, and since the peak tourist season for those two properties is different, I could live in one of them during the off season and rent the other one out. And the, you know, the higher priced peak place would pay for the lower priced off-peak place. And then I can enjoy two really great houses and two great destinations for potentially a profit.

That seemed like a great idea, pre-COVID, but never in my wildest dreams, would I expect that the entire travel industry would just go poof overnight and Airbnbs that are normally in hot demand would not be filled for months at a time during a lockdown.

So, had I bought two expensive properties that I thought would wasn’t that risky due to the fact that, you know, the peak tourist seasons were different and they’re both very highly desirable destinations that were always being rented out. Had I done that then I would have been in a position where I had two big mortgages and a lot more financial stress than I’d want in my life.

COVID highlighted to me that anything is possible and you’d never want to overextend yourself in any sort of way that’s going to cause stress. So before making a purchase or before investing in something, really try to visualize the worst-case scenario and make sure that you’re comfortable with that.

And looking back on that plan, I don’t think I would be comfortable with that. That would cause me a lot of stress to have to empty properties. Obviously we could we’ll live in one of them, but having an empty property somewhere across the world and just be paying a bunch of bills on that is not exactly what I want to be doing.

So yeah, it was the first big lesson I took away from this year.

The other thing this crisis has highlighted is the value of living below your means.

As I’ve mentioned in past interviews and posts, there’s a lot of post-FI income that’s coming that I wasn’t expecting. So it would have been very easy over the past few years to inflate our lifestyles and start spending more because who would thought that the income would just drop off from a global pandemic?

I know I wouldn’t, but that’s what happened. So the whole stock market’s collapsing in March and all of the supplemental income that has been coming in over the years just decreases by 90% or something like that. And had we inflated our lifestyles, it could have been a very stressful time.

So that really highlighted the benefit of not increasing your spending, just because you have income coming in, that you expect to continue to come in. Because as I’m sure a lot of individuals and businesses are learning over the past few months, you could have a rock solid business and you could have a rock solid job and something like this could happen that causes that income to go away and you would have never expected it or predicted it. And you could be in a very tough spot if you’re relying on that income to sustain an inflated lifestyle.

Another big change I’m making this year is I’m going to be switching over my retirement contributions to Roth from Traditional.

As you know, I wrote an article talking about how traditional is better for people who are pursuing early retirement. And if you haven’t read that yet, I’ll put a link in the show notes to that article. But since our income has dropped this year and I’m eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA and Roth Solo 401k, I’m going to do it because I want to diversify more with my tax advantage accounts. Since I’m heavy on the traditional sides, I’m willing to take the tax hit this year to ensure that that money can be withdrawn tax-free in the future. Because obviously governments are spending a lot of money to deal with this COVID crisis. And we don’t know what taxes are gonna be in the future, but there seems to be a higher probability that taxes would need to increase the pay for all of this so this year I’m just going to try to diversify by my tax-advantaged accounts a bit more and put some more money into the rough side of things.

I’m also thinking a bit differently about travel rewards. So if you’ve read my past articles, you know that I was building up a big stash of miles and points so that the next time there was a big stock market crash, I could use all of those miles and points to travel while being able to funnel as much cash into the down market as I could. Well, I didn’t expect that the crash would come with a global pandemic, which means that we can’t travel anyway. So that’s been interesting because that sort of foiled my plan to use all those points.

So, I started getting a little bit worried about having huge balances in those programs, because airlines are struggling at the moment. Hotels are struggling. Credit card companies are likely struggling. So having a million points scattered across different programs was a bit risky for me at this stage so I’ve actually started using some of those points to pay for groceries, which I am surprised about myself, but the deal was too good to pass up.

I recently found out that I can use my Chase points to wipe grocery bills off of my credit card statement. And normally that’s not really a great redemption, but since I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I was able to get 1.5 cents per point, which is a decent redemption. It’s not amazing, but it’s decent.

And the fact that that same card was giving me 5 points per dollar at grocery stores for the whole pandemic, that means I was able to get 7.5% off of my grocery bill, which was pretty much our only expense during the three months of lockdown. So it turned out to be a great deal. It’s allowed me to get through some of my points and lower my point balances a bit more.

And it’s also saved us some money so that if the market does decrease again, we’ll have more cash to put into it.

If you’re interested in learning more about that card. That has definitely been my go to card for that the last three or four years. Yeah. Ever since it came out, I hopped on and as soon as it came out and it was amazing for travel, but like I said, it’s been great for groceries and stuff too, during the pandemic.

So if you’re interested to learn more about that, just head to, and you can read all about it there. And I think you’re able to redeem for groceries at 1.5 cents per point until the end of September. So if you already have that card and are interested in using your points for that, you can look into “Pay Yourself Back”…I think is the name of the program.

And you should be able to find it in the Ultimate Rewards portal on the Chase website.

So I think those were the main lessons from a financial standpoint, but this whole crisis has highlighted a bunch of nonfinancial things as well.

If you remember back in April and may, I think there’s a lot of mainstream media focus on FIRE and asking whether this means FIRE is dead and things like that.

And I didn’t get into the conversation back then because I thought it was crazy that, during our first market pullback and people were thinking that everyone’s plans are screwed, which is insane because if you don’t plan for these sorts of drops, or if your plan fails at the first draw down, then you’re not really FIRE in the first place.

So it seemed like a crazy argument at the time, but I thought that this whole crisis actually highlighted the benefits of FIRE more than anything, the value of not having to make decisions for financial reasons. And being in a financial position where you don’t have to say yes to anything that you don’t want to say yes to and you don’t have to put yourself in a position where you could potentially hurt yourself or others, just because you need to get that next paycheck. That is a huge benefit during stressful times like this.

Another thing this experience has done is it’s sort of highlighted what was good and what wasn’t as good about pre-COVID life, because everything sort of went away. So if you’re in a position now where you’re still sort of under lockdown, like we are here in the UK, think back to your pre-COVID life and think about the things that you really miss. And also try to think about what life was like before and all the things you were doing and think about the things that you haven’t missed, or you forgot that you even did before, because I’m sure a lot of people have really busy lives and a lot of that busyness is maybe stuff that’s just leftover from earlier years, and you’ve just continued doing it even though it’s not as important to you anymore. So now’s a great time to think back to the pre-COVID life. Make changes and make different plans for the future.

Based on what I’ve learned after reflecting on it myself, I learned that after three years of post-FI life, I had pretty much dialed in a great routine and a great balance of fun and work that I’m really passionate about. So the life I described in my Valuable Lessons from My Third Year of Freedom podcast, which I’ll link to in the show notes, actually is yeah, pretty ideal. And obviously this year is quite different because a lot of the fun half of that lifestyle was cut away because not able to travel and see friends and family like I did in the third year, but it was a good balance so I know that I was on the right track. And once we get back to post-COVID normal life, then hopefully we can just pick up where we left off and that’s going to be a pretty good trajectory to be on.

Speaking of meaningful work…since the fun portion of life was put on hold from all of this COVID stuff, I’ve been doubling down on the meaningful work aspect. So I’ve spent lockdown, really working hard on a lot of these projects that I’ve been wanting to make progress on over the years and have made some really good progress, which is fantastic. And I’m going to tell you a lot more about that in my next episode. So if you’re not subscribed, then head to, and you can sign up to the email list there and you’ll get a PDF of all the great advice I’ve got from my Financial Independence Podcast, guests over the years and you’ll also find out when I publish my next episode, which is definitely the most excited I’ve ever been to publish an episode before. So hopefully that’s going to come out in September, but yeah, go to to sign up to the email list and you’ll get notified as soon as that next episode comes out.

But one thing I wanted to mention about working on those meaningful projects is that lockdown hopefully maybe showed you that it’s a bit harder than you expect it to be, to work on all those things that you always say that you’re going to work on. Yes, I realized that lockdown was probably a lot more stressful and weird than normal life would be after you quit your job but it does take a lot of effort and a lot of learning about yourself too, to do the things that you have always said you wanted to do.

I guess, a good way to describe it is sort of like new year’s day when you make all these resolutions and you have all this optimism and you think that future you is going to be healthy and active and will be able to avoid all of the procrastination issues that you’ve had to deal with so far. And you know, you just have this other picture of yourself that’s probably not as realistic as you think it is. So that again, this goes back to what I’ve said before in that anything that you plan to do after you retire, I say you start now and you start to integrate that into your life and you start to work through some of the hard things that you have to work through to be able to get to work on some of these things.

Because for me, it wasn’t my job holding me back. It was actually my self-doubt and my procrastination and my inability to get started because I was scared I was going to be bad at it. And it was those things that was holding me back and it wasn’t my nine-to-five because I had plenty of free time. It was just that I use that free time for other things, because I was too scared to use it for the things that really mattered. So again, if you can start these things now, even before FI, even before you leave your full time job. Then when you get to FI, you’re going to be in a much better position and you’re going to be able to just like hit the ground running because you’re going to have all these hours to use, but you’re going to know how to use them.

So think about how you used your time during lockdown. If you had any extra time…I know the parents out there probably had less time than they did before lockdown. But if you did have some free time, did you use it how you thought you would? And if you didn’t then how can you start to live that sort of life now, even if you are back to work and you don’t have as much free time.

Well, I think that’s it for this year. There’s obviously a lot of stuff that I’ve learned about myself and about the world that I didn’t expect to learn this year.

I’d be interested to hear any lessons that you’ve picked up from the last few crazy months so just head over to the show notes for this episode and put them in the comments and I’ll look forward to reading those.

Again, if you haven’t subscribed to the email list or the podcast yet just head over to or subscribe on iTunes, and then you’ll get to know when the next episode comes out and hopefully that will be sometime in September and I am seriously so excited about it.

And finally, I hope. Everyone out there is doing okay. I know these are crazy times and a lot of ups and downs and some scary stuff going on so I hope everybody’s healthy. I hope all of your families have been able to stay healthy.

So take care, thanks for listening, and I’ll speak again soon.

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41 comments for “Valuable Lessons from My Fourth Year of Freedom

  1. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials
    August 7, 2020 at 7:13 am

    I learned I really enjoy spending time thrifting with friends (garage sales, rummage sales, estate sales) and could potentially find a way to flip the things I see. I don’t even buy much – I just like having a reason to look at people’s stuff with friends! I miss having the option to travel. I was always visiting friends and I can’t do that now. I’ve also learned it’s worth it for me to pay a bit more for my housing. This two bedroom apartment is perfect for me with separate relaxing, working, sleeping, and eating spaces. I’ve been working from home since March and it was a pretty seamless transition.

    • Lisa
      August 7, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      Yeah, we had been planning on downsizing from renting a 2BR house to a 1BR apartment. I’m really glad we hadn’t done that when the pandemic hit. It’s been great having enough space to exercise, my husband can work upstairs and I work downstairs so we’re not in each other’s faces all day, there’s storage space in the basement so I can go to the grocery store less often, etc. I do wish I had a yard, but a patio is better than nothing.

      I got laid off at Memorial Day from a “recession proof” secure job – turns out, it was not pandemic-proof. And yet, I don’t need to work right now. I’m honestly not even looking – probably going to wait until the pandemic is over, so likely next summer. All made possible by my FIRE plans and already living frugally. I’m getting 6 mos severance and unemployment, and that’s more than our living expenses for a year! I’m very grateful.

      • The Mad Fientist
        August 8, 2020 at 3:18 am

        We did downsize from a 2bd to 1bd but luckily we didn’t go as small as we had planned to. We nearly rented a tiny place (just to test how small we could go) but thankfully we rented a bigger place. That other place would have been awful during the lockdown! Although our current apartment a 1bd, it at least has a great office space so it’s been one of my favorite places we’ve rented so far (which is good, since we’re here 24/7, haha)

        Enjoy your early-retirement test run!

  2. Maggie
    August 7, 2020 at 9:46 am

    I was one of those parents you mention, and I have to say, it wasn’t just less free time than usual, it was almost nonexistent! But I learned from it that it’s ok to do what we need to do to get from one day to the next, and that sometimes our big life plans can be on hold. It’s also provided a very useful lens to see what activities I want to get back to when this is over, and what activities were not worth the time that we were spending on them. We were also one of the unlucky families that actually caught Covid, so if nothing else, I’m more grateful for our good health now.

    Always nice to hear your thoughts. Stay safe.

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:20 am

      Glad to hear you and your family have recovered!

  3. Mighty Investor
    August 7, 2020 at 10:31 am

    This was quite thoughtful. I’m glad you didn’t load up on the two properties! I’m surprised you are burning up those travel miles for groceries, but I understand the logic. Maybe you have a lot more of them than I do.

    I think your tax diversification strategy is smart. I’ve done the same.


    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:22 am

      Yeah, I have a lot of points/miles I’ve built up over the years so I’ll probably only end up burning through ~25% of my points on groceries.

  4. Tom @ Mighty Investor
    August 7, 2020 at 10:48 am

    One other thought. This crisis has made me aware that it is probably better to keep travel rewards points at Chase rather than parked directly with the airlines–and then move the Chase points to the airlines as needed. I think the Chase points are more secure than the airlines (given that airlines are more likely to go bankrupt than a systemically important bank). Cheers!

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:22 am


  5. Chris@TTL
    August 7, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Wow! I feel like we *just* listened to your third yearly update. Time is flying. I suppose the pandemic isn’t making it easy to keep track of time, either.

    Glad to see you’ve not given up on FIRE in the midst of these …interesting times. I think reevaluating risk in the light of this exceptional scenario makes sense, too.

    Congratulations on four years of freedom. And, all the success of Mad Fientist. Thank you for what you bring to us, the readers/listeners!

  6. Derek
    August 7, 2020 at 11:17 am

    I live in Panama and have 2 rental properties here apart from my principal residence. I also invest in the markets and never expected for the markets to recuperate as fast as they did. The housing/rent market here will probably be a different story. I have one tenant that hasn’t paid since Feb/Mar and there are no indications that he will pay me in the short term. He is also protected from being evicted during these times of COVID. The other tenant is paying me accordingly. However, the thought of “possibly” paying 3 mortgages is very concerning and adding stress that I don’t need. Luckily, both my wife and I still maintain our jobs but in a developing country such as Panama things could change drastically. I am not in a rush to sell my properties yet, but I am considering scaling it down as a result of the pandemic. The allure of living mortgage free has become more appealing to me and not worry about rental properties. I’d rather divert my savings into High Interest Savings Accounts and broad based index ETFs.

    • Shawn
      October 22, 2020 at 12:00 am

      Hi Derek. The big question on your rentals is how much do you owe? Also, how much is your rental income as applied to all your expenses? If you already have say 50% equity I would think you would want to sweat it out and get those paid off. Also, high interest savings? Today that is libel to be 1.5%. That doesn’t sound like a good idea.

  7. Jose
    August 7, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Hey Brandon,

    Thanks for the update. Always good to hear from you. I’m still kicking myself for not putting more money in the market when the “dip” happened. You had a very timely podcast and I definitely bought more stocks after listening to your podcast, but this being my first real down turn in the market as an investor, I also thought I could hedge my stock picks and make some quick money buying shorts. Well this strategy has given me essentially zero returns on my self managed accounts. I should have listened to your podcast and stuck to the tried and true.

    Seeing other people go through the emotions of having more free time is so similar to when I first left my job. First there’s excitement, then you start asking the big questions and I would say this is one of the toughest spots to be in. I think many people realized how hard it is to be focused and productive when you have nothing you have to do. Covid reaffirmed the importance of financial well being and independence and I think for many the importance of friends and community.

    Thanks for your work and can’t wait for the next podcast

  8. Prob8
    August 7, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Good to hear from you MF! Entertaining post as always. I had to laugh when you mentioned the concerns being expressed about failed FIRE plans due to the recent market turbulence. I’ve noticed the same thing in the media. Just shows how little is understood about the planning, research and stress testing that goes into retiring early. I mean, who pulls the early retirement trigger and hasn’t considered sequence of returns risk or major market swings? It’s all baked into your withdrawal strategy. Having said that, this pandemic does highlight the importance of proper planning and truly assessing your volatility tolerance prior to retirement. I think it is especially important for people to really think about what withdrawal rate they are going to use and how they will feel when the market inevitably moves against them.

    Congrats on your 4th year of retirement! I retired around the same time (I was 40 at the time) but ultimately got bored and recently started a new career. It was nice to negotiate the new job from a position of strength as I don’t need the money at this point.

    Wash those hands and stay safe!

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:27 am

      Prob8, great to hear from you!! Surely you’re the longest-commenting Mad Fientist reader of all time at this point?!

      Big congrats on the new career! You’ll have to let me know what you’re up to, if you’re up for sharing?

      Anyway, so good to hear from you again and hope you’re doing well!

      • Prob8
        August 8, 2020 at 12:58 pm

        Oops, I posted my response in the comment below by accident.

  9. Marc
    August 7, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    I can’t believe the Mad Fientist just revealed he now spends 12 hrs/day on /r/wallstreetbets and solely trades options while jamming to Jurassic-5. He will have a yacht by the next update, no doubt.

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:29 am

      Haha, currently trying to find a Lamborghini I can take a picture next to so I can convince you guys that I really know what I’m talking about

      • Prob8
        August 8, 2020 at 12:54 pm

        Ha, not sure if I’m the longest commenting reader but I’ve been lurking here a while for sure. As for the job, I gave up lawyering and took a gig with the federal government as a contract specialist. After almost 4 years of sitting around in retirement I was ready to work again. Wanting to work was a surprise to me but I guess I don’t have enough hobbies. My current plan is to work until my youngest child is in college – that will be about 10 years. At that point my goal is to attempt another retirement and do a lot of traveling with my wife. Of course, if I get tired of working I can always re-retire or look for something else to do. That’s the beauty of being FI – having options.

        • The Mad Fientist
          August 9, 2020 at 3:00 am

          Nice, congrats on the new gig!

  10. Jason
    August 7, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I am most surprised by the change to Roth IRA/401K I recently contemplated the same, but was stopped by state tax at a known/present day 5.75% and future possibility of lower/no state tax. I was wondering if Mad Fientist could maybe provide more details on how he recommends going about this decision given the current low tax rates.

    • LeeMKE
      August 7, 2020 at 8:20 pm

      Try the extended calculator at This calculator optimizes your tIRA to Roth Conversions (select “all conversions” to start). Like many, I was focused on tax deductions during my work life, and had just a small Roth account. Fidelity told me I should do some Roth Conversions, and I did a few, but was unenthusiastic about paying taxes. After converting what I thought was “enough” I found this calculator and was told I should convert MUCH more, 5x more. But it was absolutely the right thing to do. It decreased my taxable income for the rest of my retirement, and raised my maximum withdrawal for the rest of retirement. And didn’t change the risk profile at all. Others may not have a big a change, but you don’t know until you run the numbers.

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:32 am

      I thankfully don’t have state taxes to worry about so that’s why switching over to Roth this year is an easier pill to swallow. As I mentioned in the episode, I just want to diversify my tax-advantaged accounts a bit since I’m so overweight on the Traditional side of things. I still think Traditional is the way to go for people pursuing early retirement (and I definitely don’t regret going with Traditional on my journey because it helped me hit FI much earlier). But now that I have enough and have less income coming in this year, figured it’d be a good time to pad out my Roth balances a bit more.

    • LEG
      August 8, 2020 at 8:11 pm

      I have heard nothing about a future possibility of lower/no state tax and I am a tax professional. If anything, I think they will be higher because the Feds will cut state assistance to pay for all the Covid assistance they are handing out and most states are not going to follow the CARES act Federal tax code changes. One thing to keep in mind when considering a ROTH conversion is that these low Federal tax rates enacted in 2018 are set to go back up in 2025. But of course who knows, that’s a long way away, but just something else to consider.

  11. Gretchen A
    August 7, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Because of you and other FIRE resources I was able to put in resignation and get out of a job that had turned from a dream job to a miserable job during this pandemic.

    I am so happy and looking forward to my future!

    Thank you for all the help and support.

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 8, 2020 at 3:33 am

      I’m so happy to hear that :)

      Congrats and good luck with your next adventure!

  12. LeeMKE
    August 7, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    I got lucky on this downturn. Just after the drop, I rebalanced, (Thanks to a video Mark Hebner put out) never expecting it to take off like a rocket again. I’ve rebalanced twice as it rose, taking some money off the table to refill my CD ladder which is my source for withdrawals.
    I was a reluctant bond investor, but it makes rebalancing during turmoil much more fun.

  13. James
    August 8, 2020 at 12:10 am

    I’ve learned I’m more risk tolerant than I was in 2009. In 2009 I was paranoid about losing investments.

    In 2020, at the end of March I was looking for every non-committed dollar to invest, and am at max Roth 401k contributions.

  14. Life Outside The Maze
    August 8, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Great to hear from you and solid episode. I also found myself waiting for your personal reflections and learnings beyond financial. As someone who is 2 years behind you on the journey those pieces from the first couple years proved similar for me. As a musician myself I’m also curious about how that has been going? Learnings growth? If you feel inspired to do so these would be super interesting to at least this listener :) be well

    • The Mad Fientist
      August 9, 2020 at 2:59 am

      Look out for next month’s episode :)

  15. KateR
    August 8, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Hi MF, really enjoyed your reflections – particularly the ones about getting on with projects right now and self doubt really being the problem. I’m currently doing a trial retirement which I am loving but the procrastination is real. Saying that there is a lot of incidental joy from not rushing and noticing the beauty in everything a lot more. I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to those projects – or maybe I’m never meant to…either way the luxury of time with a calm mind is a wonderful thing. Thanks for another great episode.

  16. Mr Fire Down Under
    August 8, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Totally with you about how this is a great time to reset and reevaluate priorities. We’ve actually been super grateful for all the people in the FIRE community who have been consistent with their messaging and not selling in this downturn, but have rather used this climate as an opportunity to take advantage and buy more, or create a safer strategy. Thanks for the update!

  17. Kelly
    August 9, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you so much for your self reflection and authenticity in sharing your fears, doubts and changes of heart. Daily gratitude has helped me accept the on-going changes, grateful even for the things/people I disagree with or don’t understand yet. I realize there is a reason for all of it and that I design the outcome for myself depending on my point of view. I’ve been reminded that I always have a choice.

    Thank you for your podcast and insight!


  18. plain.jane.gray
    August 9, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Please write an article about switching to Roth IRA. I’m eligible for a Roth IRA and Roth 401K, but decided to go to traditional after hearing your reasons (and doing some math). Because taxes are so hard to predict, I wonder if Roth was the best way to go all along. Can you address this is a post?

  19. Rebel Saver
    August 14, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    So happy to listen to your 4th year update! Always love these! Stay safe in Scotland :)

  20. Greg Sexton
    August 20, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    This whole situation is reenergizing my desire to reach FIRE. Even without increasing our take home pay substantially I’ve been able to allocate more funds to investing just by adjusting my current budget to account for changes in things like switching our home/auto insurance policy. I’m now contributing 150% more to liquid investments and our budget hasn’t budged! Hope you are well!

  21. Suzanne at Gluten Free Destinations
    September 7, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Hi, and thanks for the great podcast. Interesting about your use of travel points for groceries, and thanks for breaking that benefit down. I’m a travel blogger and have considered cancelling (or downgrading) Chase Sapphire Reserve, as I fear they will change the travel benefit (as already seemingly somewhat happened when their travel site was suddenly powered by Expedia). I was also rather frustrated by the $100 increase in annual fee. Wondering if it might be better to get out now before the next $550 payment comes due and reassess when travel recommences. In the meantime, I’m looking into groceries. :)

  22. Ben
    October 8, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Which of your income streams got hit the hardest and which ones survived the current pandemic?
    I’m looking at putting in a bit of effort on some side incomes post-FI and wondering what has potential versus what is a bit dead at the moment?

  23. Russ
    December 9, 2020 at 5:53 am

    What do you think the current elevated PE means for future returns? Are equities still more attractive than anaemic but less volatile government bonds. I beleive in AA but cannot bring myself to buy bonds at this rate. Does the current CAPE not imply a 1.1% real return therefore suggesting gilts are actually okay?

  24. Tim
    December 17, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Hello MF,
    Thank you for your very informative articles and interviews. My last day of work as an employee is coming up in a few days after 20 years. Financial independence and the freedom it can bring is a great gift and I feel like a new person. It is really not so much about money, but choosing to wake up and move on from an identity. I intend to use this freedom to grow, learn, explore, serve, create, … You helped me to find the courage and change my thinking. Again thank you, and I hope to meet you someday.
    Best Wishes,

  25. Jen
    April 11, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Hi Mad Fientist!

    I am completely new to the ‘FIRE’ movement, but using some of your calculators I think I may not be too far off from FI!

    I am also an American married to a UK citizen and we have been living in the UK together since 2016. I enjoyed the 2016 podcast hearing from your wife Jill. I saw on one of your posts you’re in Edinburgh- I lived there for 4 years and met my husband there, such a beautiful place to live!!

    I wonder if you have insights on being an American resident in the UK in terms of having investments maintained in the US. Does Vanguard in the US allow you to keep your account while resident in the UK? Do you withdraw from your investments and exchange it to GBP? I have read of some companies closing customers’ accounts when they find out they’re not residing in the US. Are you concerned about this? It all seems a bit complicated striving for FI with investments held in the US while living in the UK. I also didn’t think contributions to a US IRA were allowed while being resident in the UK?

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