Welcome to the Guinea Pig experiment, the experiment where we watch the entire journey of someone going from $0 to financial independence!
In this experiment, we follow two different scenarios – one baseline scenario and one optimized scenario.
The baseline scenario invests all savings into a taxable investment account and the optimized scenario utilizes some of the advanced tax-avoidance strategies I write about here.
For example, the optimized scenario:
- Reduces taxes by taking full advantage of workplace retirement accounts and contributing to the best type of IRA for early retirees
- Increases time in the market by front-loading tax-advantaged accounts
- Reduces FICA taxes by contributing to the ultimate retirement account
Comparing these two scenarios will allow us to see how many years earlier someone could retire if the strategies and tactics discussed on this site are applied in real life!
This page serves as the main hub for the experiment and will be kept up-to-date with the progress of the Guinea Pigs throughout their journeys.
To read the past annual updates for the Guinea Pig series, visit the Archives page.
Here are the FI Laboratory graphs for the two Guinea Pig scenarios, showing their progress from the start of the experiment (Jan 1st, 2014) to the most-recent update (Jan 1st, 2019).
If you haven’t started charting your own progress yet, sign up for a free Personal Capital account to automatically calculate your net worth, monthly spending, etc. and then plug those numbers into the FI Laboratory to see if you can keep up with the Guinea Pigs!
Net Worth Values
- Normal Scenario: $185,892
- Optimized Scenario: $240,213
Both guinea pigs are single (with no kids), live in income-tax-free states, invest all money into Vanguard’s Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), and adhere to the following numbers that Mad Fientist readers voted for at the beginning of the experiment (numbers are adjusted annually for inflation/raises/etc.):
- Pre-tax Income: $83,639 ($6,970 per month)
- Spending: $28,164 ($2,347 per month)
- Employer 401(k) Match: 3%
To see all of the guinea pigs’ numbers (i.e. contributions, account balances, etc.), check out the full spreadsheets here.
And if you haven’t already, sign up for a free FI Laboratory account here to start tracking your own progress to financial independence!