Valuable Lessons from My Third Year of Freedom

Valuable Lessons from My Third Year of Freedom

I can’t believe it but it’s already been three years since I left my full-time job!

To commemorate this special anniversary and to recap the things I’ve learned during this last year of post-FI life (which happened to be the best one yet), I recorded a short podcast episode:

Listen Now

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


  • The importance of saying no (even to fun stuff)
  • Why this past year was the best one since leaving my job
  • The benefits of taking the initiative
  • The problem with inertia and how to change course
  • Why I’ve stopped updating my financial spreadsheet (and what I’m doing instead)

Show Links

Note: Thanks to my buddy Matt from CannaInsider for letting me know about the Equifax settlement!

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey, what’s up everybody? Welcome to the Financial Independence Podcast, the podcast that usually gets inside the brains of the best and brightest and personal finance to find out how they achieved financial independence but today’s episode is going to be a bit different.

Exactly three years ago, I left my job for good. And to reflect on the past year, I’m just going to release a episode about my third year of freedom.

You may remember that in the past couple of years, I released my first year of freedom, my second year of freedom so I figured I might as well keep that going, because I’ve definitely learned a lot this year and I feel it’s been my best yet.

So I’ll share the reasons why it was better than the first two years and hopefully you can learn from my experiences and not make the same mistakes I did whenever you eventually hit financial independence.

Just like my first year freedom episode and second year freedom episode, this one’s probably going to be a lot shorter than usual, but I have a lot of really good interviews lined up for the rest of the year so we’ll be back to normally scheduled programming in the next episode.

If you haven’t listened to my first year freedom episode or second year freedom episodes, I put the links in the show notes so you can check those out first, because I’m going to build on a lot of the things I talked about in those episodes but I’m not going to recount everything because there’s no use repeating myself.

So I hope this episode is useful to you. And let’s just get right into it.

So the first thing I have to mention about this year’s just how quickly it went by. It was actually really scary how fast this year’s gone, 2019 in particular. I just can’t believe it’s already August.

I guess it is true that time flies when you’re having fun, but I would say that this year was actually more progress made on big projects that are important to me rather than simply having fun.

My problem with my first year after leaving my job was that I just said yes to a lot of commitments, for the Mad Fientist in particular, but for other things, I would just say yes to a lot of things because I was like, why not because I have the time. But by the end of the year, I realized I didn’t make any progress on the projects that are really important to me.

So on the second year, I got better at saying no to, you know, just opportunities and things that maybe could earn money or maybe that would help my site grow and things that really didn’t matter at the end of the day anymore. And I was able to say no to it. But my second year, I would say yes to a lot of fun stuff. So even though I said less to Mad Fientist commitments, I ended up saying yes to lots and lots of really fun things. But it was the same problem. By the end of the year, I realized that I didn’t actually do a lot of the things that I really wanted to do.

So this third year was marked by saying no to most things, and even though it’s hard to do at the time, because you’re passing up these things that are either an opportunity or that sounds really fun, it’s actually turned out to be great because I have made a lot of progress on the things that are really important to me. And that definitely gives me more lasting deep happiness than simply you know, just having another fun trip or something.

Another big change on the other side of the coin is that I’ve been taking a lot more initiative this year. So last year, I had a really good trip with my entire extended family because one of my cousins was getting married. So we went to the beach and just had this fantastic time. And we don’t all get together like that very often, only maybe once or twice a decade, if we’re lucky.

And after the fact, I was like, “Oh, that was so good…I wish we could do that more often.”

And then I started thinking about it. It’s like, well, hey, I have all the time in the world and planning is sort of my thing so I can actually just take the initiative, plan something for the following year, and then just see who wants to come.

So for my grandmother’s birthday, I was like, well, let’s all just rent a big beach house again, since that was so fun last year, and we can celebrate that for a week. So during the winter, I put that together and we went and had a fantastic week again and got to see all my family and spend some really quality time together.

I’ve also done that with my friends because last year I went to a wedding and got to see some high school friends and really spend some quality time with them when I hadn’t been a few years. And I was like, “Man, that was so good…wish we would do that more often.”

Rather than just wish that would happen, I actually took the initiative. And now I’m planning a ski trip for this winner and a potential mountain house visit for a lot of my friends.

And it’s been great because I’m spending a lot more quality time with the people that I care about. And I’m organizing it and making it happen and things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. I’m using the time and mental bandwidth that FI provides to actually organize these things.

One thing I want to mention about the saying no is I’ve realized over the past year just how powerful inertia is so things that you just always do you just keep doing them because you don’t think to even question it. But I’ve realized over the past year, how important it is to always ask why and think about why you’re doing something and whether you still want to do it and the reason for doing it. Because it’s really easy to just keep doing the same thing, and not really do the things that you want to do.

So to give you an example, I’ve been approached to keynote conferences and give talks and things like that and at first, you know, my first inclination is, “Yeah, that’d be amazing. That’s an honor. That’s very kind of you to ask me. I’m flattered.”

And of course you want to say yes to these things. But then, after reflecting on it for a bit before answering, I was like, “All right, well, what what is the point? Okay, so I would go to a talk. And yes, I would maybe become more well known as a blogger or more well known in the financial space. And is that important to me at this stage?”

No, it’s not actually because the Mad Fientist has grown to a level that I never expected it would anyway. So it’s like more growth is not going to make me happier. It’s already exceeded our expectations and is at a great level where it is.

And then it’s like, well, do I want to get better at presenting? Thinking about it, it’s like, well, yeah, that would be nice to get a new skill, but the amount of hours that would go into preparing for something like that would just definitely dwarf the benefit of getting slightly better presenting or more comfortable with it. And it’s like, I don’t want to be a public speaker or some sort of financial media person.

So all the reasons I could think of to do it don’t really apply it to my situation. So I ended up declining and it’s things like that. It’s like, it is so easy just to say yes to things. So you need to constantly be asking yourself why and think about why you would do something and what the benefits are and weigh it up against the costs, because it’s really easy for your whole year to just be taken up with things and then you actually don’t do the things that you really want to do.

And when you’re thinking about these things, you have to really think deeply about it. Because sometimes something will seem like a good idea but that’s just because part of your personality or psyche is like craving something that you don’t actually want or need. So to go back to the example of, you know, being a keynote speaker at a conference. At first, my ego was like, “Yes, of course you want to be on stage, you want to be loved by everyone, you want to be well known and liked.” And that was probably what was driving the initial reaction to say yes to it, but when you take a step back and realize that I don’t want to be a financial icon that just talks about FI all the time in person and gets on radio shows and TV shows. And it just doesn’t appeal to me. So it’s like, okay, even though my ego was like instantly, “Yes, you want to do this.” Once you really think about it, you realize that actually, that’s gonna take up a lot of time when I could be doing something else. And the benefits aren’t that great, because that’s not the life I want to live.

So it’s surprising how complicated it’s been and how you always have to keep that in focus. But I feel like this year has been the year that I’ve actually got to grips with it and have started making some really good decisions that have resulted in a really fun and productive year.

So you may be wondering why I still do the Mad Fcientist if I said all that, but it really is the most rewarding project and in in the state it is in now, with no further growth or no further expansion, I just feel so lucky to have it. And the main thing that I love about it is just the interaction with all of you out there. I can just put an idea out there and then get lots of feedback on it, lots of interaction, lots of conversation. And it’s just an amazing thing. And I feel so lucky that I have such interesting, supportive, and intelligent readers and listeners. And I just think that’s the best thing to have this platform to really dive deep into ideas and subjects that really interests me, and then release it out to the public and get lots of different feedback and interactions.

A big reason I’m so excited about the future Mad Fcientist content is that I’m finally going to be able to share with you the secret project that I’ve been working on for the last three years, which is really the whole point of why I wanted to reach financial independence in the first place. I haven’t shared it with you yet because it’s been an incredible struggle and I didn’t feel like there was anything I could share to help you because I was struggling so much myself.

But this year, I finally made some progress and I’ve learned some things that have helped me make some progress. So I’m finally in a position that I could share this background story but also then give some advice if you’re in a similar situation.

So I’m really looking forward to finally sharing all that stuff because really, there’s some articles that I have had as drafts for three years that I’ve really wanted to share, but I just haven’t been able to. So the rest of this year is hopefully going to be all focused on that and the podcast episodes are going to be built around that the articles are going to be built around that so make sure you subscribe to the podcast just by pressing the subscribe button wherever you’re listening to this or subscribing to the email list.

You can do that at and you can get all of the advice that I’ve gotten from all my past podcasts guests in nice PDF for free so just head over to and you’ll be signed up to the email list and you’ll get notified once these articles and podcasts start coming out.

So this past year has definitely been the best for productivity and doing things that I really want to do. And it’s also been the best money-wise as well.

I finally started to relax a bit more with money. If you’ve listened to my interview with Ramit Sethi, he has tried to help me be a little bit less extreme with money, because it’s definitely not necessary at this stage to be so hyper focused on very small spending decisions and it’s something I’m trying to work through.

But it’s trying to deprogram 30 years of programming because this is I’ve always been frugal, this is something that I don’t know where it comes from but I’ve even growing up my family would make fun of me just for being so focused on money and being so frugal.

So this is something I’m working on, and it has actually been helping. One big change I’ve made over the past few months, actually since Ramit’s interview, is I’ve stopped updating my financial spreadsheet, which is crazy to me, because I have all this beautiful data that goes back like a decade, at least and I have just stopped updating it. And the reason for that is, if I know I’m going to update it at the end of the month, then I’m going to make certain spending decisions based solely on the number.

So if I have to buy a flight to the States, and it’s currently at $550, and I think I could spend 10 hours to get that down to $475, then in the past, that is something I would definitely do, and I would obsess about it. And then I would keep checking after the fact. And recently, I’ve really tried to stop doing that. And not updating my spreadsheet all the time makes that easier just because I’m not so then hyper focused on just numbers all the time.

And I do plan on updating my spreadsheet, maybe quarterly, or maybe semi-annually, or hopefully even annually one day, but at least taking the last few months off has sort of made that easier. And I’m not simply making decisions just based on finding the lowest cost, which I don’t think is healthy. And it’s not to say I’m going to be wasteful with money or things like that, but it’s just sort of trying to balance the time and money thing and if I can save $10 by spending three hours doing something in the past, I would have just jumped on that. But now it’s like, well, that’s not really a good return on invested time. And the time is actually far more important than the $10 is at this stage.

So although I’ve stopped updating my financial spreadsheet as much, I have created a new spreadsheet, unsurprisingly, and it has been tracking all the things that I am wanting to do and what I’ve done throughout the year. So after reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he talks in there about what type of person you want to be and then building appropriate habits so that then you can’t help but become that type of person.

So when I read the book, I did that exercise and I thought, okay, I want to be a reader, I want to be healthy, I want to be strong, I want to be creative, things like that. And then I created another page and that spreadsheet to list columns with those things at the top.

Now, throughout the year, I’ve just been filling in the cells underneath those column headings. So to give you a few examples, when I did that identity exercise, I said, I want to be a reader, I want to be strong, I want to be creative. So in my spreadsheet, I have columns that say, “Reader”, “Strength”, and “Creativity”. And in the reading column, I simply list all the books that I finished throughout the year. And in the strength column, I list how many days during the month that I went to the gym. And in the creative column, I just list all the things that I created and then published out into the world.

And it’s been really, really good because it’s motivating to keep putting stuff in there. So I tend to read a lot more than I did in years past because I’m like, oh, I’ll just add another book to my list. And it also makes me realize that I am accomplishing a lot because one of the problems with having free time and not really having any structure in your day is that you feel like the days just slip away. And it’s like, “Did I really even do anything last week, like did I get anything done? Did I do anything fun?” I can’t even remember. And having this spreadsheet is like well, actually, I’ve read a lot of books this year, I’ve gone to the gym a ton, and I’ve actually published a lot of things into the world that didn’t exist before. So having it to look back on is really motivating and it makes me feel better about how I’m spending my time.

I’ve also added another column to that spreadsheet that has been really useful to me this year and that is just listing all of the highlights of the year. So I’ve talked about this a lot before, people are really terrible at figuring out what makes them happy, and making decisions that make them happier. So even though I think about this stuff a lot and I really try to focus on it, it’s still difficult to realize, like, Oh, that was a good decision, that was a bad decision. So what I’ve started doing is I just have another column and that same spreadsheet that’s just highlights and I list all the highlights of the year and I tried to list them in order of how fun they were, how rewarding the experience was, etc.. And then hopefully that can help me govern what we do next year.

So it has been really good and although it’s maybe not as fun as updating my financial spreadsheet, it is really rewarding to do that and try to shift my focus away from money and more on to you know, doing things and creating things and building my new identity and post-FI life.

So that’s not to say that I’ve completely forgotten about money, I’ve actually made some recent moves that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. And that goes back to that whole inertia thing where it’s like, okay, here are my accounts and my money or the way they are and they’ve been like that for years now. And it’s just hard to shift. But when I was preparing to leave my job, I built up a little bit of a cash cushion, because obviously, I didn’t expect to have any income coming in after leaving. So I wanted to have more cash on hand.

Then, ironically, that’s when the Mad Fientist started to make more money so I’ve never had to tap into that cash reserve. And I’ve earned more money and yes, I’ve tried to invest as much as I can over the years to so that I didn’t build up a huge cash cushion, but it has grown more than it was even then. And like I said, it was already a reasonable cushion because I was expecting to not have any income.

So it’s really embarrassing to admit this, but that has mainly just been sitting in various checking accounts over the years, because I’m always thinking, “Okay, I don’t think I’ll need this cash anymore, so I should invest it.” But then I just don’t do anything because it’s inertia. And there’s other stuff to do, and there’s more interesting things to worry about then trying to figure out how much is too much in your checking account and where you should put the excess cash just sat there for a while doing nothing.

And now, I’ve just sort of come to the conclusion that I actually like having it there so rather than keep it earning nothing in my checking account, I finally, just this week, opened a savings account.

And the thing that prompted me to do that is Betterment, which is a company that I’ve written about and talked about before and I met the founder way back at my first FinCon back in 2013, and went to their offices, and visited their team and everything like that and just really liked the company, like what they’re doing, like the people behind it. They just released a high-yield savings account and it’s FDIC insured for up to million bucks.

So that was the thing that finally prompted me into action and I got off my ass and actually created a savings account and moved a big chunk of the money that was just sitting and checking doing nothing and now at least I’m earning something.

If you’re like I was and you had a bunch of cash sitting on the sidelines doing nothing and you’re interested in checking out this high-yield savings account, you can go to, and that’ll take you to the page and if you sign up, the Mad Fientist could get a little referral fee so thanks in advance if you do that.

There’s one more money thing that I did want to talk about as well before I start wrapping up and that is the Equifax data breach. I don’t know if you guys remember this last year, but Equifax lost like 170 million customers information and the information was just like everything you need to get a loan pretty much because it had social security number, address, all that sort of stuff.

It was a huge ordeal I ended up freezing all my credit reports, which really pissed me off because all the credit bureaus were charging me to freeze my own credit and it’s like, “Well, hey, that’s my data. And I’m at risk here. And you’re charging me to freeze my data when you’re making tons of money off of my data.”

It was a huge ordeal and it’s still a huge ordeal because anytime I want to apply for a new credit card, I have to unfreeze the appropriate credit bureaus report and all this nonsense. So anyway, it took a lot of time and a lot of hassle.

Luckily, Equifax just got in big trouble with the FTC about it all and they have a settlement where you can claim compensation.

So you can claim $125 if you don’t want to take them up on their offer to give you four or six years of credit monitoring or something like that. But I actually submitted a claim for $345 because I tallied up all the hours that it took me to freeze my credit reports, unfreeze them when I’m applying for credit cards, I got my credit reports from all three credit bureaus and I looked through them and made sure that there was no fraudulent actions, etc. I tallied up all those hours and I added up all the costs of freezing and unfreezing my credit reports and end up totaling $345. So hopefully they’re going to be sending me a check for $345 and that will at least make up for some of the time and hassle of going through all that when it was their fault in the first place.

So even though I just mentioned that time is more important than money these days, I could not help myself from claiming that because I was really angry at the time. So this felt good to do.

If you’re interested in doing that, you can go to and I will link to the settlement page where you can check to see if you are involved in the breach, and therefore have rights to get some of this money. And then it also has the form on there that you can fill in to make a compensation claim for this whole Equifax data breach.

So I think that’s everything I wanted to chat to you about today. I can’t believe it’s been three years. I really cannot believe that much time has gone by and from two years to three years was just so fast so it’s scary. Hopefully time starts slowing down a little bit.

Hopefully you got something out of that and maybe can prepare better for FI or make your post-FI life even more enjoyable if you’re already there.

Anyway, thanks a lot for listening and I’ll be back with a normal episode soon!

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28 comments for “Valuable Lessons from My Third Year of Freedom

  1. Life Outside The Maze
    August 1, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Wow, 3 years now congrats! Your point about inertia seems even more true the older I get. I can also identify with challenges in changing habits post FI. It takes habit change to get FI. Then it takes habit changes again to enjoy FI. If you then find yourself with a surplus of cash a few years later what is appropriate for your habits yet again to fully realize the benefits of that without becoming some leisure class weirdo? It seems growth and self awareness at every stage are great tools.

  2. A
    August 1, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Just read the transcript, this was a really nice update, thank you! It kind of makes me think of how things have been feeling better in my third year of parenting, and validates the amount of time it takes to get into a new rhythm no matter what the major life change is. Thanks also for the Equifax link!

  3. Greg
    August 1, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Congratulations, Brandon! As an aside, the audio quality of your podcast has improved quite a bit over the past year. It’s sounding really good. Keep up the good work!

  4. lfl
    August 1, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Congrats on 3 years! Spreadsheeting non-monetary accomplishments is a GREAT idea!! Good way to be able to look back on the past year and really appreciate the good, and be more methodical & intentional about it. Your focus on creating family and friend experiences resonates — seriously, that takes a lot of effort but it makes everyone’s life better and happier. So congrats on being the glue. Also, I’m a podcast luddite so thank you for posting the transcripts.

  5. Sébastien / Impactivated
    August 1, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Wow! I just realized that we left our jobs excatly 2 years apart! So it’s been one year for me today!

    I loved this episode. I think you do an amazing job at explaining how life beyond FI is not just life without problems. I love how you’re building mechanisms to build more intentional choices into your life. I also find that making the right changes (including habits) is the key to transitioning into post-FI.

    I have been doing a lot of research regarding similar topics:

    1. How to get myself to do what’s important to me (i.e. without the usual workday structure)? I am currently testing the 4 Disciplines of Execution to build focus and habits into my life. It’s promising but definitely still work in progress. I definitely need to check out Atomic Habits.

    2. What do I do with my life now? FI is basically the ultimate paradox of choice. We can choose to do anything, so how do we choose??? I have figured that having a positive impact was an essential aspect of what I want to do with my life. And so I have found the decision framework and the research of the effective altruism (EA) community to be exactly what I need. FI is giving me superpowers. And EA is giving me guidance on how to use them.

    Funny enough, as opposed to most FI bloggers, I didn’t start writing to help me get to FI, but rather to help me deal with life beyond FI. I am hoping to find people with whom these questions resonate so that we can have a conversation!

    I look forward to learning more about your big project I the coming weeks/months!

    All the best!

  6. Lauren
    August 1, 2019 at 11:09 am

    It has been fun to follow your updates as we are about 6 months ahead of you in FIRE. Some similar lessons learned on our end. Looking forward to listening to this one

  7. Anirudh Prasad
    August 1, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Congrats Brandon! Those are indeed some good notes for post FI folks. Thanks for the equifax tip, I’m applying for my refund right away -:)

  8. Nevada Smith
    August 1, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Awesome that 3 years have been accomplished. I enjoy listening…especially since reading and exercise play a large role in your FI journey. Good habits!

  9. Lucas
    August 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    A quick note of the Equifax settlement, the alternative payments are capped at $31 million so all cash payments will be reduced to a percentage based on the dollar value of all the claims submitted. There’s some FAQs on the bottom of the page you link to which explain this in more detail. They say they’ve received millions of page views (not claims) and they will allow people to switch to credit monitoring if they’ve already submitted a cash claim, so who knows what the final payouts will be like, but this may not be as rewarding as it seems. Still, I hope you do get your $345 check. It’s just crazy that they only owe $31M cash to the 150M people that were affected by this. Even when you look at the total settlement of $700M, that’s not a lot when you break it down by person.

  10. Dan
    August 1, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I believe I’ve said this to your previous posts – “To know the world is to know yourself.”

    Three hours to save $10. I find I’ve done similar things. Besides money, this can be done in trying to make an old part work or an old piece of machinery rather than just to replace the problem.

    Your savings suggestion does apply to me. I’ll check it out if I can overcome the inertia.

    Three Years – Do you ever ask, “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been?”


  11. Mr. Kevin A Singel
    August 2, 2019 at 10:54 am

    We are about 6 months further down the road of living the FIRE life (like Lauren above).

    Good post; I like the new spreadsheet a lot. I do suggest a combination of good daily habits, as you describe AND a bigger, more visionary goal. The bigger goal might be a MadFientist project or a triathalon but either way, I’ve found the year feels more meaningful with a bigger project or goal as part of the picture.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Kevin (my passion project helping people gold prospect – weird right?)

  12. RSS
    August 2, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Congrats on the 3 year anniversary! Post-FIRE, many people seem to gravitate towards friends/family, meaningful projects/hobbies, and making the world a better place. For anyone lucky enough to have a life calling, the money was never a factor anyway. For the rest of us, it’s a great journey in discovering what makes a fulfilling life.

  13. Nevada Smith
    August 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you Mad Fientist for your participation in the “Playing with Fire” documentary. I am glad you said yes to being in the film and helping that couple find a reasonable car. I listened to your podcast on 3rd yr of freedom and one takeaway was that you had to say “no” to things that don’t matter or even fun stuff and focus on projects that do matter. I’m glad that the documentary mattered to you. It did to me. I saw it already and was moved that I am hosting a screening in Hollywood, Florida (half way between Fort Lauderdale and Miami). Even West Palm Beach or Fort Myers is an easy drive. It’s on

    All the best,

  14. Mary Lizon
    August 3, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Credit freezes are actually now free for all Americans! It is STRONGLY recommended that everyone freeze all of their credit files. See here for a good article with more information:

  15. Damon
    August 3, 2019 at 2:05 am

    Thanks, Brandon. Great stuff, as always. I am really grateful that for all of your “nos” in the past year that you have continued to say “yes” to your podcast and to sharing your reflections on your inspiring journey. I have just reached my two year anniversary of what I have been calling my “mini retirement” or “semi-FI” path that you and I discussed a few months ago. I like your idea of the spreadsheet for tracking/celebrating the non-financial aspects of this journey and plan to adapt parts of that for myself, so thanks for that too!
    Hoping your synth board hobby has been as rewarding as the rest that you shared!
    Continued Joy in your Journey and Thank You Again!

  16. Nick
    August 3, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Hey Brandon,

    I left this message on your second year of freedom post and never heard anything, I’d love to get in contact with you directly around the below, my email is shicky4 at hotmail dot com if it’s of interest. No worries if you don’t have the time, excellent to hear you’re spending time on what’s important to you! Some information on how you figured that out would be of great interest to me!

    old message:

    Hey Brandon,

    is there a good way to contact you directly or some groups to get involved in around finding meaning…whether FI or not? It’s something I’ve picked up from a number of your podcasts, I think it began with your Kitches episode when he mentioned people hitting FI and then basically moving on to second careers. I KNOW I’m going to be that type of person but I feel like I have a mental block that I cannot think past until my numbers are better. My wife also has a chronic illness so I cannot afford to be too wild in my approach but we still manage to do some cool things as I know there’s a balance to be had (we toured around Portugal for three months while I was on sabbatical.)

    Of late I’ve been a bit obsessed by finding/developing a purpose and unfortunately it hasn’t gone so well. I guess it’s a chicken and egg type argument. Anyway, I’ve heard you grapple with similar questions which I’ve really enjoyed and your thoughts are much more developed than mine. Especially during your episode with Marla, you’re both very eloquent when talking about an extremely nuanced and complex topic, personally, I’d love to be involved in such discussions and learn from people like your fine selves.

    No worries if you’ve no time for this, I appreciate you’re busy and have hit your stride in terms of daily life. Congratulations on hitting year three, I’m looking forward to the review already and another great episode.

    All the best,


    • Eric B
      August 14, 2019 at 11:32 am

      Nick, this might be a good community for you:

      I forget if I heard about this on the MF podcast or somewhere else, but it’s basically a support group for tackling your life’s goals. I suspect they’d have advice on how to create a list of goals :)

  17. The Gingerbread Man
    August 3, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Hi Brandon,

    Really enjoy hearing about your experience so far post FI. The challenge of focusing on what truly makes you happy resonates with me, so nice to hear about how you are personally trying to address that. Thank you for sharing so openly.

    Completely understand the desire to move away from obsessing about your financial position. A couple of years back I decided to significantly simplify the way I record our family finances, and haven’t looked back. Like the idea of your new spreadsheet too. Might give that or something similar a go.

    Keep up the good work. And all the best for year four.

  18. TheEngineer
    August 3, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Financial Independence is the detachment from other people money – their money can no longer enslave you.

    Financial Freedom is the freedom from money itself – money plays no role in the true meaning of your life.

    Financial Independence is the first mile maker! Most of us are conditioned into chasing the number for
    so long that less than 1% of the population ever gets to the next mile marker – Financial Freedom.

    Financial Freedom is the mile marker after FIRE. It is where life will blossom to the fullest!

  19. Sheryl
    August 3, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Congrats on 3 years, MF! I am already old and retired, so the FIRE movement came a bit late for me. However, the ideas about focus and organization are applicable to any age. I also get a lot of pleasure from reading about (younger) people who are on the path to make money a tool, rather than an oppressor/slave master. Great content and keep up your joyous journey of discovery.

  20. Mike
    August 3, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for the good advise, your words resonate with me. Being a very driven person, not wanting to be consumed by money, your post inspired me to buy the Atomic Habits. I am hoping it has the same effect on me.

    Thanks Again

  21. Retired Joe
    August 4, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Congrats on 3 years. Isn’t it great that free time still feels valuable after reaching FI? I’m a little over two years in, finally starting to get better at balancing fun with constructive projects. I was worried about getting bored, but this stage of my life is becoming busier, and more rewarding, than my working life.

    Its interesting that your spending is influenced by your expense tracking. It explains why I change my personal spending when I try to track it monthly. We track our other expenses annually, with most of our focus on reducing/controlling the largest ones when they occur. Our spending seem to stay pretty close to our budget, with the benefit of not agonizing about each purchase.

    All the best for year 4, and looking forward to the secret project reveal.

  22. Laura Fogleman
    August 6, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Loved your authenticity. You’ve learned a lot about yourself and it’s wonderful that you have shared your experiences plans for the future. Looking forward to what is to come!

  23. Paul
    August 7, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I’ve just gotta say that I appreciate a group of individuals who strive to do well and encourage each other to make inspired choices. These comments are amazing and the transcript is really inspiring. My hat is off to all of you. Cheers P

  24. quest
    August 19, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    I loved the podcast update on your 3rd year of freedom. Letting the old $$ spreadsheet be less of a focus and the new “IRL” spreadsheet come in was inspiring.

    Brandon, would you be willing to share a template version of your new spreadsheet with your readers? I found your template financial spreadsheet super helpful – I’ve customized it for my own situation.

  25. ThomH
    August 27, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Congrats on three years Brandon. I wanted to share an amusing story…

    We are in our second year of early retiement. As most, we are doing a bit of traveling. Last week we were in Williamsport, PA at the Little League Baseball World Series and I was wearing my Mad Fientist tee shirt. We are in the stands with thousands of other people, and I hear someone yell to me, that he likes my tee shirt and he’s also a big fan! Long story short, we had a nice talk about your site and early retirement in general. So I wanted to let you know how far your reach has impacted others. It’s pretty amazing, so thanks again for the many articles and continued efforts that you put into the site. It is greatly appreciated. (P.S. My tee shirt is getting pretty worn, so it may be time to place another order soon! It’s still my favorite tee shirt!)

  26. Greenbacks Magnet
    November 8, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    The power of saying no. I learned this back in elementary but really put it into high gear in my 20’s. I focused more on long-term wins than short-term pleasure. I didn’t want to spend the precious time I have on earth doing mediocre things that did not fulfill or excite me. Now I only do things that excite me! Due to this I was able to start saving over $10k a year, pay off debt, and start relaxing and having more fun. All this just from saying no. You do not have to say yes to everything, but say no to most things. It will change your life.

  27. David H
    November 18, 2019 at 10:38 am

    This was a great podcast.
    I second quest’s comment above on August 19, 2019 at 6:15 pm:
    “Brandon, would you be willing to share a template version of your new spreadsheet with your readers? I found your template financial spreadsheet super helpful – I’ve customized it for my own situation.”

    I was searching for it on but can’t seem to find it.

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