November 11, 2019
#225: Lauren is 26 and earns $48,000 per year after taxes. She saves $12,000 annually in retirement accounts, and an additional $18,000 per year for a downpayment on a home. She wants to buy a home in the next five years. Where should she keep her savings in the meantime? Sawyer has a five-year financial independence plan. She owns two high-end condos in a NYC suburb. She lives in one unit and rents the other, but she’s bothered by the fact that she’s forgoing collecting rent on her home unit. Should she move? Katie’s husband is going to grad school and they want to pull money out of a Vanguard account to fund his tuition. Should they do this? Cassie is in the process of finalizing a divorce. She and her daughter will receive between $80,000 - $116,000. Should they use the funds to buy a home with a 20 percent down payment or pay off their $30,000 debt? Andy is curious: should you re-adjust the 4 percent withdrawal rule if your investment portfolio grows? Joe wants to become self-employed but is concerned about health insurance. What are some affordable options? Laura is ready to retire. She’s also engaged, and her fiance wants to keep working. Should they file taxes jointly or separately? Doug is interested in learning more about equity sharing programs. Are these safe investments? Tania wants to know: can you open and fund a Roth IRA if your only source of income is alimony? Brian took out a 401k loan to buy a car. He regrets his decision. Should he take out a personal loan to pay back the 401k loan? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
November 4, 2019
#224: Scott Young, author of Wall Street Journal best-selling book Ultralearning, talks about the 9 principles of Ultralearning, which can help you learn new skills, reinvent yourself, stay relevant, and adapt to whatever life throws at you. If you think you know the best way to learn something, think again. This book will challenge your assumptions. Whether you want to develop hard skills to become more valuable at your job, soft skills for your journey to self-improvement, or you want to honor your love for learning, these 9 principles will help you become more effective at developing new skills. If you enjoyed my interviews with James Clear or Cal Newport, you’ll enjoy this one. For more information, visit the show notes at 
November 1, 2019
#223: Elizabeth is curious to know: what does a good net worth breakdown look like? Is it appropriate to have a lot of your net worth tied up in real estate? Marie wants to start her own business, but she’s living paycheck-to-paycheck. Is incurring debt her only option to make this dream a reality? Bria wants to take a second mini-retirement and has a good chunk of money saved up. She wants to come back to the workforce with a cash cushion. What should she do with her money while traveling? Connor is facing a dilemma. Is he correct in not prioritizing 401k contributions given that his employer doesn’t offer a match, combined with his goal for financial independence? Is his strategy of using his savings for real estate investing better? Caroline is wondering: should she aggressively pay off her home and her rental properties, or use her excess savings to fund a brokerage account? Anonymous is relocating from Southern California to Florida. She wants to know if she should rent an apartment and buy a rental property, or buy a primary residence with the $150,000 she has saved. Today’s episode is full of exploring and weighing tradeoffs. For more information, visit the show notes at
October 28, 2019
#222: Michael Robinson and his wife, Ellen, achieved financial independence at age 33. They ‘retired’ (they still enjoy working) three years later at age 36 on two five-figure incomes. Today, Michael and Ellen are raising their two children to be bilingual by slow traveling throughout Latin America. Michael and Ellen blog about their FIRE adventures at They believe that “the Uncommon Dream is the dream pursued – the dream met with planning, action, and sacrifice. With just a dream and those three tools, you can accomplish almost anything.” Today, Michael joins us on the show to talk about the seven ways that he and Ellen escaped the rat race and achieved FI at 33. If you enjoy hearing stories and case studies from people in this community who have reached FI, then you’ll love this interview. For the full show notes, go here:
October 21, 2019
#221: Vanessa is curious about Fidelity and Vanguard. She asks: what are your thoughts on the no-fee Fidelity index funds? What are your opinions on Vanguard’s financial advisors? Andy wants to know: should my wife and I continue maxing out our traditional 401k and backdoor Roth IRA, or should we start contributing to the Roth 401k my employer offers? Kyle is wondering - how can he minimize his taxes when he earns $450,000/year? Rob is self-employed and has been maxing out a Roth IRA, but recently discovered that he can open a self-employed IRA. Should he move his Roth IRA money over, or just open a new account and fund it from scratch? Christina is torn. Her and her husband have been saving to buy a house, but because they live in New York, their savings won’t go very far. Is it a good idea for them to continue renting, despite their dreams? Mercedes is wondering how REITs compare to stocks and owning actual real estate. Additionally, she’d like to know more about Forex trading. Craig has an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP). Since these tend to be risky, he’s wondering: is he better off moving the $25,000 that he puts towards the ESPP into mutual funds? Or is an ESPP a good way to diversify his funds? Myself and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
October 14, 2019
In a hectic world, stillness is the key to a calm, enjoyable life. That idea comes from Ryan Holiday, author of Stillness is The Key. Stillness is finding flow, staying present, and being impervious to the pressures of the outside world. It doesn’t mean removing yourself from society and sitting in a forest; to the contrary, many CEOs and world leaders have practiced remarkable stillness during times of crisis. Bestselling author Ryan Holiday discusses actionable tips on how to practice the art of stillness, as well as its applications to the pursuit of financial independence or any massive goal. For more information, visit the show notes at
October 7, 2019
#219: Stella is working toward FIRE and wants to know: how can she create passive income in her retirement years? Is a portfolio with stocks and bonds enough, or should she invest in real estate? Travis and his wife are also on the FIRE path, and are comparing their investment options. Travis is concerned about the inefficiency of reinvesting returns in real estate. How can you factor this into your decision when buying a property? Stephanie and her husband are also interested in FIRE (hooray!) and they have $20,000 to invest. How can they best use this money to help them FIRE sooner? Cade, a 24-year-old listener, wants to FIRE by age 30 (we’re on a roll!). He’s saving $4,000/month and wants to know how to invest these savings. Anonymous and their partner are taking a mini-retirement and have questions surrounding the logistics of healthcare. What options should they consider? On a different note, Amanda works in academia. After listening to Episode 12, she’s looking for tips on managing long-term, complex collaborative projects now that she’s in a leadership position. Steve’s question brings us to the topic of building an online business and social media following. Should he have one brand for all of his interests, or divide these interests into separate channels? I tackle these questions in today’s episode of the show. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
October 4, 2019
Kristen Berman is co-founder of Irrational Labs, a behavioral product design company, along with Dan Ariely. She has a fascinating job that involves looking into why people behave the way they do with their money, and discovering the easiest solution to help them create more positive financial behavior. In short, she’s a proponent of redesigning the current financial system to make saving automatic and easy, and that’s part of what we discuss in this episode. If creating better financial habits has been a challenge for you, or if you have trouble framing spending as a positive thing, rather than a loss, then Kristen has awesome advice for you. Here are some key takeaways from the interview: 1. Habits are overrated - one-time decisions are more effective. 2. Simplify decision-making by giving yourself a rule-of-thumb to follow. 3. Pre-commit to your financial goals. 4. Measure process versus outcome. 5. Use accountability partners to reach your goals. 6. The Three Bs - Behavior, Barriers, and Benefits. For more information, visit the show notes at
September 30, 2019
#217: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe. In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts. Earlier this year, Cody and Justin from The FI Show interviewed me and asked some excellent questions about my journey to financial independence, entrepreneurship and passion, and minding the gap between your income and expenses. We talk about the importance of side hustling and how to create a well-paying job from your skills. We touch on real estate and why I chose this strategy to reach FI. We also discuss the bone I have to pick with the financial independence movement. Finally, we chat about what financial independence is really about, because it’s not about sipping margaritas on a beach. It’s about having the freedom to use your time in whatever way you want. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thank you to Cody and Justin for giving us permission to air this interview. P.S. - Starting with the next episode, we’ll return to our usual routine of brand new interviews and Ask Paula episodes. :) For more information, visit the show notes at
September 23, 2019
#216: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe. In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts.  Welcome to another episode from our archives! This one was recorded in March 2018, and Dr. Wade Pfau had a ton of insight into the four percent rule that so many of us are concerned with. First, here’s a brief history of how the four percent rule came to be.  In 1994, William Bengen decided to look at 30-year timespans throughout U.S. History, beginning with the year 1926.  He worked under the assumption that a retiree held 50 percent stocks (in the form of S&P 500 Index), and 50 percent bonds (intermediate-term government bonds).  He looked at two things: the worst-case scenario, and how much an investor could sustainably withdraw from their portfolio under that worst-case scenario.  The year 1966 ended up being one of the worst to retire during, and an investor could withdraw 4.15 percent during the first year, and 4.15 percent, adjusted for inflation, every subsequent year.  That is how the 4 percent rule came to be.  Dr. Wade Pfau, a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services, argues that the 4 percent rule may not be the end-all-be-all we think it is. He voices his hesitations and explains how you can determine how much you can afford to spend in retirement on this episode.  Enjoy! P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October!  For more information, visit the show notes at 
September 16, 2019
#215: We are really digging into the archives with today's episode. This originally aired back in 2016! Besides being another fun and fascinating interview, this is one of our most popular episodes. Which isn't surprising, given the topic we're exploring. :-) Financial independence means many things to many different people, which might be why we find it challenging to settle on a definition that everyone can agree on. Regardless of what your personal definition is, Joshua Sheats, a financial planner and host of the well-known Radical Personal Finance podcast, says that financial independence can be separated into seven stages. We explore these seven stages of FI in this episode, and we also talk about how to enjoy the journey no matter what stage you're at. Enjoy! For details, visit the show notes at
September 9, 2019
It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe. In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts. I’m super excited to share an interview I did with Brad and Jonathan of ChooseFI back in December 2018. It was fun to have the tables turned, and Brad and Jonathan left no stone unturned in their interview with me. If you ever wanted to know my origin story, including where my love for travel comes from, where my desire for freedom came from, and how I combined both, then give this interview a listen. We talk about everything from: How travel wasn’t a big part of my life until college How I prefer to travel Why the idea of mini-retirements is so important Making the transition from freelancing to having my own business and giving up that business in favor of focusing on Afford Anything Dealing with imposter syndrome Overcoming and working with a scarcity mindset What financial independence means to me The importance of self-care Brad and Jonathan are two of the most thorough interviewers I’ve ever recorded with, and this interview was a lot of fun. If you want to learn more about them, I returned the favor by interviewing them on this show on this episode [URL]. Thanks to Brad and Jonathan and ChooseFI for giving us permission to air this interview! P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October! For more information, visit the show notes at
September 6, 2019
It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe. In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts. If you missed the last episode, you might want to listen to it before diving into this one, as Andrew and I go into the finer points of investing here. Seriously. This is one of the most in-the-weeds shows I’ve done to date. If you’re playing catch up: Andrew Hallam is a teacher who became a millionaire in his 30s and reached FIRE in his 40s. His starting salary was $28,000 - net. If you want to know how he did it, and what his first three rules of building wealth are, then listen to episode 212. Otherwise, tune into this episode, where we review his six other rules that can turn middle-class people into millionaires: Understand your inner psychology. Conquer the enemy in the mirror. Learn how to build a balanced, responsible portfolio. Create an indexed account, no matter where you live. Don’t resign yourself to taking this journey alone. Inoculate yourself against slick sales rhetoric. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.a While these rules sound simple on the surface, Andrew and I go way beyond that, talking about hedge funds, human psychology, and casinos. This was a favorite among listeners back in 2017 and it’s one of the most enjoyable interviews I did. I hope you enjoy! P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October! For more information, visit the show notes at 
September 2, 2019
It’s September!! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe. In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts. First up is a two-part interview with Andrew Hallam, a teacher who became a millionaire in his 30s and reached FI in his 40s. How? Beyond investing small sums (we’re talking less than $100 per month) throughout college, he also saved half of his starting salary of $28,000. This episode is for anyone who thinks it’s impossible to reach FIRE on a low salary. I originally interviewed Andrew in January 2017, and we could not stop talking. Which is why our three-hour interview was divided into two parts. In this first part, Andrew shares his story - how he became a millionaire, and why he wanted to achieve FIRE in the first place. He also shares three principles from his book, Millionaire Teacher: Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School: Rule 1: Spend like you want to grow rich. (Don’t waste money on junk.) Rule 2: Use the greatest financial ally you have. (Time.) Rule 3: Small percentages pack big punches. (Avoid high-fee funds.) As for the other six, they’re coming up in Part 2. :) Enjoy! P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October!   For more information, visit the show notes at
August 26, 2019
Hey there! I’m writing this from Croatia, where I’m beginning five weeks of travel that I’m calling my September Sabbatical. From now through September 23rd, I’ll be exploring the globe and enjoying a one-month break. Today, I’m kicking things off with a community-based episode. Here’s the backstory behind today’s show: There’s an event called CampFI, which is a 3-4 day gathering for people who are interested in financial independence. CampFI holds around half a dozen events per year in various locations; I spoke at one in Colorado Springs this past July. While I was there, two other podcasters and I decided to interview the participants to find out their “why of FI.” What motivates them to build financial independence? These interviews and stories from the community are today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
August 19, 2019
#210: We live in a fascinating era: huge sections of society are more prosperous, advanced and safe than at any other point in human history, yet depression and anxiety are at record highs. It’s a paradox of progress: the richer the nation, the more likely its citizens are to suffer from mental health issues and report feeling crushing isolation and unhappiness. What gives? At the individual level, pursuing financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) often fills people with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning. Yet once people reach FIRE, they often report feeling purposeless or rudderless. It’s a paradox of hope: nothing kills a dream like achieving it. And in the absence of anything else for which to hope, a person becomes, by definition, hopeless. Ouch. When we’ve taken care of the bottom of the Maslow Pyramid, how do we find hope and meaning? How can we create purpose in a vast world? This week, I invited one of my favorite writers, megabestselling author Mark Manson, to join me on the Afford Anything podcast to discuss these critical issues. Mark Manson is the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, which sold six million copies and became the #1 bestseller in 13 countries. His latest book, Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope, lays a framework for finding hope and happiness in a confusing world. For more information, visit the show notes at
August 12, 2019
#209: Anonymous wants to retire early and often. They’re going overseas, where they’ll make their annual salary within six months. Where should they put their extra income? Anonymous also wants to know: how can they find a financial advisor they can actually trust? Another anonymous listener wants to know - is it possible to spend more while minimizing taxes in early retirement? JuanCarlos asks: is $20,000 too little to invest with a financial advisor? Angela is wondering how to create a Roth IRA account for a teenager. Rose is thinking about switching from mutual funds to index funds because it means encountering less fees, but her and her husband are in their 60s. Does this make sense? Ari has $700,000 to invest in a taxable brokerage account. He wants to know if a 90 percent total stock market index and 10 percent bonds is a good asset allocation. Dave and his wife want to use their defined benefit plans as their primary income stream in retirement, and supplement with Roth and 457 incomes. Where else should they be saving? Myself and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
August 9, 2019
#208: Well, this could get awkward. Your parents and grandparents are aging. (Duh.) You want to have a few important financial conversations with them. It’s time to get the answers to questions like: “So … are you ready for retirement?” “You’ve been retired for 10 years … how’s that going? How are your finances looking?” “Do you have a will or legal trust? What’s your estate plan situation?” “Do you have an advance health care directive?” “To whom have you given your power of attorney?” “What types of accounts do you have, and how can I -- or someone whom you designate --  access the passwords if and when the appropriate time comes?” These financial conversations are important, but awkward. Most people would rather discuss the news, the weather, or the Kardashians.  How do you introduce these conversations to your family? What specific topics should you cover? What documents and other information should you gather? How do you manage these conversations when siblings, half-siblings and step-siblings are involved? What about step-parents? What if your parent lives outside of the U.S. and the laws are different; how should you plan? In today’s podcast episode, award-winning personal finance journalist Cameron Huddleston discusses these critical issues.  Huddleston has spent nearly two decades writing about money for Kiplinger Personal Finance, the Chicago Tribune, Fortune, USA Today, MSN and more. She’s the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances.  She joins us to discuss how to navigate these tricky family conversations. For more information, visit the show notes at
August 5, 2019
#207: Matt and his fiance earn $7,500 per month combined. They save more than half of their income. He’d like to take a different job that will decrease his income by $2,000 per month, but improve his quality of life. Should he? Suja wants to take out a loan for business growth. What red flags should she watch for? Anonymous and her husband are thinking about buying half-million-dollar home, purchasing a second car, and having a baby. They’ve saved an emergency fund and a 20 percent downpayment. Are they ready? Trayci wants to quit her 9-to-5 and start working as a 1099 self-employed lifestyle. How should she manage this transition? Daria is curious about the economics of a podcast. What do the income and expenses look like? Jared wants to retire early and then sell off his rental properties, but he’s worried about the depreciation recapture tax rate. How should he plan? Ali wants to set up a long-term giving plan, but most of the advice out there is geared towards wealthy donors. How should middle-class workers set up their charitable giving? Financial planner Sophia Bera (hailed by Investment News as one of the Top 40 Under 40) joins me on today’s episode to answer these seven questions. For more information, visit the show notes at 
July 29, 2019
#206: We live in a society that values career specialization. You’re not a “doctor” -- you’re a pediatrician, an anesthesiologist, an oncologist. You’re not a “lawyer” -- you practice family law, or bankruptcy, or criminal law. You’re not an “engineer” -- you’re an electrical engineer who specializes in solar technologies, or a civil engineer who specializes in the application of artificial intelligence in highway traffic design. Specialization is beneficial and necessary, but specializing too early in life or too narrowly can also have drawbacks. According to today’s podcast guest, New York Times bestselling author David Epstein, overspecialization can stifle innovation if we’re all digging in parallel trenches. Sampling a broad range of subjects prior to specializing (e.g. at the undergraduate level, or as a hobby) allows people to make connections between far-flung domains and ideas. If you’re an athlete, spend your childhood playing a variety of sports before you commit to the one you’d like to develop. If you’re a musician, try learning different instruments before you pick your primary focus. If you’re bound for a graduate degree in a STEM field, consider a multidisciplinary undergraduate that pulls from chemistry, physics, biology and perhaps even art. Specialization can come later. We hear stories of people who specialized early in life. Tiger Woods won his first golf competition at age two, beating everyone in the age-10-and-under category. Many world chess champions started training in early childhood. The notion is that early specialization provides a headstart; if you haven’t started training at chess or golf by age 12, it might be too late. But chess and golf are limited in their scope. They’re contained games with fixed, predictable rules. In the wider world, in which challenges and assumptions fluctuate and problems are ill-defined, being a generalist is a lifehack. For more information, visit the show notes at
July 22, 2019
#205: Is it ever a good idea to use your 401(k) as an emergency fund? What's the best way to break up with your financial advisor so that you can move all of your funds to Vanguard? Should you put all of your Roth IRA money into index funds, or is there a better option for your money? A listener has a job offer working less hours for more money, but without a retirement plan. Is this a good move? When running a small business as a sole proprietor, are there tax advantages to incorporating or forming an LLC? If so, what should you consider? What's the best way to maximize the earnings on a large amount of savings while keeping the savings liquid? Can a robo-advisor help with this? Myself and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy tackle these six questions in today's episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
July 15, 2019
#204: You make decisions on a daily basis about your career, family, friendships, health and investments; these choices shape your life. But how much have you thought about how to think? There are common threads and collective wisdom across disciplines. These common threads create mental models, which are frameworks for understanding the world. Mental models allow us to apply insights from a variety of unrelated fields, using reasoning by analogy to make better choices about our lives. For example: Critical mass is a concept from physics that can be applied to our understanding of microeconomics or entrepreneurship. The availability heuristic and filter bubble are concepts that we can use to check in with ourselves whenever we’re assessing risk in our businesses, careers or personal safety. Loss aversion and information aversion are notions that, when articulated, allow us to understand why we hesitate to learn more about investing during recessions. Mental models can make us better thinkers. Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger, says he relies on mental models to evaluate businesses and make investing choices. What we know is that we’ll never be right. But mental models can help us become less wrong. On today’s episode, Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann join us to discuss Super Thinking, their book about how to use mental models to improve the skill of thinking. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
July 8, 2019
#203: Many people in their 50’s or 60’s warn us about catastrophic or ‘black swan’ events. But what’s the likelihood that this will actually happen? How can you use the 4 percent withdrawal rule for early retirement planning, given that your portfolio will be split among accounts with different tax treatments? How do you adjust your retirement plan for future taxes? Should a couple in their 30’s switch from term life to whole life insurance? Should a couple in their 50’s with adult children bother buying life insurance in the first place? Is it okay to keep all your assets at one investment brokerage, like Vanguard or Fidelity? And can you deduct rental losses if your income is over $150,000? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at
July 5, 2019
#202: In 2006, Matt Kepnes worked at a hospital in Boston, and he felt miserable. He dreaded fighting traffic, spending his days under his offices’ fluorescent lighting, drinking stale coffee. He decided to take one year off -- a “gap year” -- thinking that after his sabbatical, he’d resume another 40 years of punching the clock. He worked 60-hour weeks in order to save money for his sabbatical year. He saved $30,000, then handed his boss a resignation letter. Matt traveled for 18 months, returned to Boston, and realized he had lost his willingness to punch the clock. He couldn’t sit still in an office any longer. He re-packed his bags, bought a one-way flight to who-knows-where, and reinvented himself as a travel writer known as Nomadic Matt. He lives on a budget of $18,250 per year, or $50 per day. In the last decade, his travel information website,, has become one of the most popular travel blogs in the world, drawing millions of visitors. His writing has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, National Geographic Travel, and the BBC. He’s a New York Times bestselling author, and he’s traveled to more than 100 countries. In today’s episode, Matt and I discuss the art of slow travel. For more information, visit the show notes at
July 1, 2019
#201: Ross and his wife are both in the Navy. They bought a home while they were stationed in Hawaii. Then the Navy sent them to Virginia, where they currently live; they’ve purchased a home there, too. They kept the Hawaii home as a rental property, and they’d like to move back into it when they retire. Which home should they repay first? Mike is 33, debt-free except for his mortgage, and earns more than $200,000 per year. He saves half of his income. What should he do with his savings? Pay off his mortgage? Invest? Josh has a nervous habit of checking his investment account balances daily. How can he break this habit? Amanda and her husband live in a duplex. They have $115,000 in equity in their home, and another $115,000 remaining on the mortgage. They’d like to move. Should they hold the duplex as a rental? Or should they sell and use the proceeds to buy a cheaper home, with a goal of being mortgage-free? Christy wants to know how to compete with other aggressive real estate investors who are bidding on homes. I answer these five questions in today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
June 24, 2019
#200: Nine years ago, I had no idea that personal finance blogs existed. Then, as I was flipping through an issue of Kiplinger magazine, I came across an article about a woman who paid off $70,000 in debt in 16 months. Her name was Jaime, she lived in Maine, and she earned 3x her husband’s income. He made $30,000 per year; she made $100,000. They wanted to have a baby, and she wanted to stay at home for the first year, but their debt load made this impossible. She aggressively went into debt-crushing-mode, working 70 hour weeks while 7 months pregnant in order to tackle their debt. She started a blog (and later a podcast), Eventual Millionaire, to track her journey and interview millionaires. This article made me aware of the existence of personal finance blogs. I immediately thought, “I want one.” The following year, I started my own site, Afford Anything. Like Eventual Millionaire, it later became a podcast, as well. Today, we’re celebrating Episode 200 of the Afford Anything podcast. And so it feels fitting that the special guest for Episode 200 should be the woman whose story inspired the creation of this platform, Jaime Masters.   For more information, visit the show notes at 
June 17, 2019
#199: Ashley is paying affordable rent for a home she enjoys, but she feels certain that the real estate market in her local market will stay strong. She’s thinking about buying a home with 3 to 5 percent down, but she doesn’t have much in savings. Should she wait for a year to save more? Or should she take advantage of a rising market and relatively low interest rates? Ian and his girlfriend live together in Washington D.C. and have a combined 40 percent savings rate. He’d like to buy a rental property, but his girlfriend has $18,000 in student loans and is about to re-enroll in school. Should they buy an investment home, or use their cash to repay her loans and cash flow her new academic program? Annette is about to travel to Spain with her family. How can she plan an affordable and high-value international trip? William is concerned about losing his job. What if he can’t pay his bills, especially his new mortgage? How can he protect himself? Anonymous is a renter, and she often encounters surprise fees and charges when she arrives at the lease signing. Can she negotiate with her landlord? I answer these five questions in today’s episode, and I also feature a short interview with special guest J. Money, my former podcast co-host from the early days!! Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
June 10, 2019
#198: Money flows. When you receive money, you’re in the path of this flow. Money flows from someone else to you, and eventually, it’ll flow from you to someone else, either in the form of a purchase or an investment. A healthy relationship with money is to feel gratitude when money flows towards you, and to release your money without attachment or resentment when it flows away from you. Today's guest, Ken Honda, is known as the “Zen Millionaire” of Japan. He’s sold more than seven million books in Japan about the intersection between wealth and happiness. In today’s podcast episode, we discuss four core principles for developing a healthy emotional relationship with money. For more information, visit the show notes at 
June 7, 2019
#197: Should Bret invest in a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA? If Amanda gets married, how will her child support be affected? What about her student loan forgiveness? Joe is investing in bonds, which average a rate of return that’s equal to the interest rate on his mortgage. Should he switch to all-equities and redirect his bond investments into mortgage payoff, instead? Taunia has a car loan, a 401k loan, a home improvement loan, a primary mortgage, and a second mortgage. She also has an emergency fund that only covers two months of expenses, and she’s trying to save for college for her two children. What should she prioritize? Mickey has a six-month emergency fund. Should he leave it in a savings account or invest in bond ladders? David made $10,000 from a side hustle last year. Can he open a Solo 401k or SEP-IRA for his side hustle business? If so, which one should he choose? Should Andy invest in a Target Retirement Date fund, or should he split his money between a U.S. index fund and an international index fund? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these seven questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
June 3, 2019
#196: When Wendy Mays was in her early 20’s, she earned $12 an hour working as the office manager of a pest control company. She wanted higher income, so she enrolled in college at age 22. By the time she finished her undergraduate degree, she was 26, married, with a child. Her husband worked low-paying jobs to make ends meet. They struggled to pay the bills. Wendy decided to enroll in law school, so that she could bring in more money. She graduated around age 30, and became the primary breadwinner for the household. She opened her own law practice. The couple starting bringing in a combined household income of around $200,000 annually. They bought a large house, with a swimming pool. Sounds like the American Dream, right? Except it was all financed. By age 38, Wendy and her husband accrued nearly $800,000 in debt. Around $480,000 came in the form of mortgage debt. Another $20,000 comprised of vehicle loans. The other $300,000 came in the form of student loans. They lived paycheck-to-paycheck. They decided to expand their family through adoption. Rather quickly, Wendy and her husband had six children. They realized they needed to repay their debt in order to give their family a more stable home life. At age 38, Wendy and her husband committed to repaying their debt, building their retirement accounts, and getting themselves onto a smart financial track. How did they re-start their financial life at age 38, with six children and $800,000 in debt? Find out in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
May 27, 2019
#195: Alex makes $168,000 per year, combined between her full-time job and her side hustle. Her company pays for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the work week, plus a cell phone subsidy, health, dental and vision insurance, a gym membership, and commuting costs. She also househacks, so her living expenses are only $400 per month. What should she do with her ample savings? Christine is 38 and earns $70,000 per year running her own business. She holds $70,000 in investment accounts, has another $16,000 in savings, bought a condo with 20 percent down, and has no debt. What can she do to fast-track her path to financial independence? Amy is unsure whether she should pay off her mortgage, downsize to a smaller home, or invest. Katherine is 23 and househacking into a duplex. How much should she set aside for cash reserves? Miriam started a podcast and wants to know how to morph a passion into a lucrative income stream. Nick wonders if the FIRE movement should plan an annual gathering … you know, like a FIRE Festival. (But not like the Fyre Festival.) I tackle these six questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
May 20, 2019
#194: Fear shows up in our lives in countless ways. Sometimes, fear takes the form of procrastination. We're afraid of botching something, or we don't like the feeling of anxiety that a project gives us, so we avoid it, dodge it, and indefinitely put it off. Other times, fear takes the form of perfectionism through endless iterating and tweaking. We want to keep tinkering with a project, to get it "just right." We applaud ourselves for our attention to detail. Fear takes the form of making excuses and rationalizations for why we can't pursue a goal or dream. We tell ourselves that some outside factor is to blame. Fear takes the form of throwing ourselves pity parties and locking ourselves into a negative self-talk spiral. We get easily discouraged. Fear takes the form of thinking others can't be trusted, and pushing people away. Fear has many faces. Today's podcast guest, Ruth Soukup, surveyed 4,000 people to find out how fear manifests in their lives. She joins us on this episode to discuss the seven fear archetypes that she discovered. Those archetypes are: The People Pleaser: This is the fear of disapproval and fear of not being liked, expressed in the form of weak boundaries and putting others needs first to a self-harming extent. The Procrastinator: This is the fear of making a mistakes. This shows up as over-planning to the point of "analysis paralysis," of spending all your time researching and none of your time taking action. Perfectionism is an overlapping quality, as well. The Rule Follower: This is a fear of authority. This person is afraid of breaking the rules or doing something in a way in which it's not 'supposed' to be done. The Outcast: This is the fear of rejection, which often -- ironically -- causes this person to reject others first so that they cannot get rejected. They're highly self-motivated and driven to succeed and feel the need to prove themselves, but they have trouble collaborating and working in groups. The Self-Doubter: This is the fear of inadequacy, of not being good enough, which causes the self-doubter to forgo opportunities, play it safe, and not take risks. They can also be highly critical of others. The Excuse Maker: This is the fear of taking responsibility or being blamed, which shows up in the form of always having a justification as to why this person can't pursue a goal, or why an outcome isn't their fault. The Pessimist: This is the fear of pain or adversity, often held by people who have been through an immense amount of pain or trauma. The pessimist gets locked into patterns of negative self-talk and self-pity, and believes that they have it worst than most. They can be sensitive to criticism, feel emotion intensely, and has trouble moving beyond the challenges from their past. In today's episode, Ruth and I discuss these seven fear archetypes and cover specific action plans that people can take if they recognize these tendencies within themselves. For more information, visit the show notes at 
May 13, 2019
#193: Lori is behind on retirement savings, as a result of being a full-time student for more than a decade. She makes good money and lives frugally, but she’s aware that she’s behind for her age. What should she do? Sierra wonders whether she should apply her savings towards paying off her mortgage or building investments. Jenessa plans to retire at age 35, and she’s wondering if the 4 percent withdrawal rule applies for such a long time horizon. Her friend swears that it’s designed to cover a 30-year retirement, not a 60+ year retirement. Is that correct? Jacqui is 24 and recently married. She’d like to open a 529 College Savings Plan for her future children, which she doesn’t plan on having for another 8 to 10 years. Should she do this? David is on-track to reach financial independence at age 50. He would like to start adding bonds to his taxable brokerage accounts. How should he manage this? Mikayla lives in Atlanta. Her employer gives her a stipend to use public transportation. This money can only be used for that purpose. She’s thinking of getting rid of her car so that she can start using public transit, and applying the cost-savings of getting rid of her vehicle into a downpayment fund for a future home. Should she do this? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these six questions on today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
May 6, 2019
#192: “Don’t buy lattes.” This classic snippet of personal finance advice isn’t specifically anti-Starbucks. “Lattes” are a metaphor for the tiny expenses that leak money from our pockets, often without us realizing how much we’re spending. Your “latte” could be a pile of subscriptions: HBONow, YouTube Red, Spotify Premium, Netflix, Hulu Plus, the CostCo membership that you haven’t used in two years, and -- for that matter -- the gym membership that you also haven’t used in two years. (Ahem.) Your “latte” could be buying bottled water and snacks at the airport, or absentmindedly shopping online when you’re bored, or ordering restaurant take-out or delivery too often. Your “latte” might be spending too much on trinkets and souvenirs during your vacations, when photographs would capture the memory. David Bach is the New York Times bestselling author who created the phrase “don’t buy lattes.” He joins us on today’s podcast episode to discuss The Latte Factor. For more information, visit the show notes at 
May 3, 2019
#191: Should Russell rent a cheap apartment, or should he take out a loan for an RV in order to save money on rent? Carl is working two jobs that each pay $12 per hour. He has $5,000 in student loans. What can he do to improve his situation? Caroline is about to finish paying off her student loans, and in the next few years she wants to buy a home. Where should she park her savings in the meantime? Philip is saving for financial independence, but he’s not sure what to do with his time once he quits his job. How can he discover what ignites him? Amanda is receiving an inheritance, a New York City 4-plex valued at $500,000. How should she handle this? And an anonymous caller wants to know what the step-by-step path to wealth building would look like. I answered all of his questions in today’s episode, plus I feature a short follow-up interview with Kim, the firefighter whom we met in Episode 139. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
April 29, 2019
#190: More than 20 years ago, affluence researchers Dr. Thomas Stanley and Dr. William Danko surveyed a vast number of millionaire households in the United States. What they discovered was groundbreaking at the time. The average U.S. millionaire, they found, lives a frugal lifestyle. They are disproportionately clustered in modest, middle-class neighborhoods. They drive used cars. They don’t spend money on jewelry, watches, boats or other high-ticket items. They’re self-made, meaning they did not inherit their wealth; they’re first-generation millionaires. In 1996, the researchers published their findings in a book called The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. The book became a mega-bestseller and, to this day, remains a top personal finance classic. Fast-forward to 2012. Dr. Thomas Stanley’s daughter, Sarah, followed in her father’s footsteps. She’s grown up to become a researcher, earning a Ph.D. in applied psychology and exploring the world of behavioral finance. She became the Director of Research for the Affluent Market Institute, the research company her father founded, and she launched her own research firm, DataPoints. In 2012, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw and Dr. Thomas Stanley decided to update their research on millionaire households in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Millionaire Next Door. They wanted to see what attributes are different, 20 years later, and what qualities remain the same. They crafted another large-scale survey of millionaires. Yet before they could complete the project, tragedy intervened. In 2015, Dr. Thomas Stanley was killed in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver. His daughter resolved to finish the research that the two of them started together. She sent out the survey they created, gathered and analyzed the results, and published a sequel, The Next Millionaire Next Door, co-authored with her late father. The book is Dr. Thomas Stanley’s final, posthumously-published book. The book was released in October 2018, twenty-two years after the original. On today’s podcast episode, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw joins us to describe what’s different about millionaires, more than two decades later … … and what’s remained the same. For more information, visit the show notes at
April 22, 2019
#189: Julie, age 27, calculated her expected net worth based on the formula taught in the classic personal finance book The Millionaire Next Door. She’s concerned. Her current net worth is significantly lower than the number that the formula revealed. Is she on-track? Anonymous wants to save for a downpayment on a home. Should she reduce her 401k contributions in order to amass these savings? Should she store some of that money in a Roth IRA? Samantha is more than halfway finished with paying off her debt. In order to make this happen, she took on a second job. How much will she owe in taxes? Maxime works at a job in which his 401k only offers expensive choices. Should he put his money in a taxable brokerage account, instead? Leslie’s parents are going to retire in five years, but they’ve only saved $65,000. What should they do? How can she help? Claire is creating an estate plan. What should she be thinking about? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these six questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
April 15, 2019
#188: In May 1915, a renowned 58-year-old sea captain, Captain William Thomas Turner, made a series of questionable decisions. He was the captain of the Lusitania, a ship with 1,959 passengers, sailing from Manhattan to London. The first World War was taking place around them, and Captain Turner knew he needed to move swiftly to evade German submarines. His ship approached England; land was in sight. They had almost made it. Yet for reasons that will always remain a mystery, around 1 pm on May 7th, Captain Turner slowed the speed of the vessel to around 18 knots, slower than the 21 knots that they needed to outpace the threat of submarines. Around 45 minutes later, he executed what's called a "four-point bearing," which forced him to pilot the ship in a straight line rather than a zigzag course, which would be better for outmaneuvering torpedoes. At 2:10, the ship was ripped apart by a torpedo. Nearly 1,200 people were killed. Since that fateful day, historians have pondered why he made those two decisions, simple choices which may have permanently altered the lives of thousands. Today's podcast guest, Daniel Pink, has an unusual theory. He believes Captain Turner may have made those sloppy choices because it was the afternoon. Daniel Pink is the author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In his book, he makes the case that the time-of-day in which we take actions -- early morning, mid-afternoon, or nighttime -- makes a bigger impact than we realize. Our energy and attention unfold in waves, with a rise, then a drop, then a resurgence. The secret to perfect timing isn't simply a matter of managing daily routines, however. Daniel Pink also shows how this pattern emerges over the span of a natural human life, with the choices we make in our sunset years more prone to editing, to curating, than the choices we make in our younger years when time feels abundant. Senior citizens may have smaller circles of friends, he says, not due to loneliness but rather because they're editing their circles down to the few people who matter most. He discusses how midlife is a fascinating point in which our brains signal that we've squandered half of our time. These midpoints can act as either a slump or a propellant. He talks about how we appreciate things more if we believe that they're ending. In one study, researchers gave five Hershey Kisses to subjects; they asked the subjects to rate their taste and enjoyment. When the researchers handed out the fifth Hershey Kiss, they told half of the subjects "here is your fifth chocolate," and they told the other half of the subjects, "here is your final chocolate." The ones who were told that they were receiving the final chocolate rated their enjoyment of it more highly. How much does timing affect our lives? How do we manage our days, and our decades, with a stronger awareness of the way that chronology impacts our mood, energy and priorities? Daniel Pink answers these questions in his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He talks about it on today's show. For more information, visit the show notes at 
April 8, 2019
#187: Sarah needs $36,000 per year in rental income to reach FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). She owns several rentals. When can she comfortably consider herself FIRE? AyV wants to rent out his primary residence. Should he renovate? Anonymous lives in a high-cost-of-living city, but she found a small city nearby with Class B and C+ multifamily properties. These properties need a little work. How can she estimate repair costs? Carly bought a property that underperformed the one percent rule. It’s appreciated in value. Should she sell? Erin is trying to decide if she should buy a $270,000 personal residence in northern Virginia, or a $50,000 rental property in Huntsville, Alabama. Nancy wants to buy rental properties from overseas, but she’s having a tough time finding real estate agents who take her seriously as a buyer. What should she do? I answer these six questions in today’s final Ask Paula - Real Estate episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
April 5, 2019
#186: Mike and Lauren have run a cleaning company, started and sold a biodiesel company, repaired and resold motorcycles, opened a coffeeshop, owned a DVD rental box, sold e-cigarettes, bought a storage warehouse, launched a YouTube channel with nearly 150,000 subscribers, moved to Manhattan, moved back to Florida, backpacked across Europe and gave birth to two children in Costa Rica. Whew. I’m exhausted by just writing their list of entrepreneurial experiments. Their willingness to take risks has paid off … big time. Mike and Lauren reached financial independence at age 30 and 29, respectively. Today, they join us on the Afford Anything podcast to discuss how they did it. For more information, visit the show notes at 
April 1, 2019
#185: Hello from Austin, Texas! I’m living in an Airbnb here for the next 5 weeks. Listen to the end of today’s episode to find out why … and discover how these next 5 weeks, for me, exemplify the “why” of financial independence. In the meantime, though, the show must go on! Here are the questions that we’re answering in today’s episode. An anonymous listener named Seeking FIRE wants to know how she can talk about financial independence with people who ridicule the topic. What do you say to those who laugh at the very idea? Russell owns a landscaping company and is also a part-time student. He’d like to earn more money on the side, but his schedule is overbooked. What can he do? Nick and his family are moving to the Washington D.C. area for approximately two to six years. They own two rental properties free-and-clear, and would like to buy a personal residence when they move. How should he save for the downpayment? Gerardo lives in Mexico and wants to retire on his investment portfolio, using the 4 percent withdrawal rule. How should he invest, given currency fluctuations and other international factors? Anonymous left her job and wants to know if she should roll over her 401k from her old employer. We tackle these five questions in today’s episode. We also answer a comment from a listener who says that individual stock-picking and active management doesn’t get the credit it deserves. For more information, visit the show notes at 
March 25, 2019
#184: In 2003, Beyonce Knowles-Carter felt shy about performing sultry lyrics and dance routines on stage. She needed a tactic to overcome her nerves and stage fright. So she created an alter ego, Sasha Fierce, to bring out her more assertive side. Beyonce is one of many top performers -- along with other top artists, athletes, executives, speakers, investors, bankers, lawyers, negotiators, and more -- who use alter egos as a tactic to overcome their insecurities and become better versions of themselves. Today's podcast guest, Todd Herman, is an expert at the practice of creating alter egos to improve your performance in any arena of life. He says that crafting an alter ego can help you become a better worker, leader, manager, investor, and even a better parent. Todd joins us on today's podcast to describe the "why" and "how" of creating an alter ego at work, at home, and in social settings. For more information, visit the show notes at 
March 18, 2019
#183: Should a newlywed couple with two cash flowing rental properties sell one to pay off $92,000 of student loan debt? What percentage of your portfolio should you have in rental properties? What's the smartest way to approach rental property investing, particularly if you get anxiety thinking about tenant requests? How much should high interest rates impact your decision to buy a rental? I answer these four questions on today's episode, plus, I have a big announcement regarding the future of real estate Ask Paula episodes, so check it out. :)   For more information, visit the show notes at 
March 11, 2019
#182: Millions of smart, educated and successful people make dumb mistakes with their money ... and they don't realize it. I'm not talking about obvious dumb mistakes, like spending 85 percent of your income on a fleet of Ultra-Luxe-Fancymobiles for your 16-car garage. That's clearly a bad idea. Instead, I'm talking about hidden dumb mistakes that you may not realize until it's too late. Perhaps you don't have enough insurance, or you hold the wrong types of policies for your age and life situation. Maybe you don't have an estate plan, or you haven't updated your estate plan after your childbirth or divorce or remarriage. What if you're taking financial advice from the wrong people, or buying products that you don't understand? Are you rushing to buy a home too soon? Did you take out too much debt for college? Today's podcast guest, Emmy-nominated CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger, describes 13 dumb mistakes that smart people make with their money. For more information, visit the show notes at 
March 4, 2019
#181: Imagine that you’re going to take a 6-month to 9-month mini-retirement. How should you plan? What should you do? Sure, you’ll need to have enough savings to cover your expenses. You might want to find some part-time work. You may need to sell off a few investment. And of course, you’ll need to think about health insurance. But what else should you consider? And how will your first taste of voluntary unemployment impact your mental and emotional health? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I discuss this in today’s podcast episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
March 1, 2019
#180: Nearly two decades ago, Stacy Berman launched a fitness bootcamp in New York City: Stacy’s Bootcamp. After six years, Stacy’s Bootcamp grossed more than $1 million. The company had zero employees; the other teachers were contractors. Stacy is one of the many entrepreneurs profiled by Elaine Pofeldt, author of the book The Million Dollar, One Person Business. In today's show, we talk about solopreneurs who make a $1M without any employees. For more, visit
February 25, 2019
#179: Should a couple in New Orleans sell their single-family home and use the sale proceeds to househack into a duplex? What do you think about turnkey investments? What tax consequences will someone face if they transfer their property to their parents? How do you handle tough situations related to the way some home renovation contractors treat women? What’s the latest update on your real estate course? I answer these five questions on today’s podcast. For more information, visit the show notes at 
February 18, 2019
#178: Tanja Hester retired at age 38. She had a negative net worth until her late 20's, thanks to a combination of student loans, buying expensive cocktails and clothes, living far beyond her means, and not paying attention to her money. If you were to have met the 27-year-old version of Tanja, you wouldn't guess that she'd be a likely candidate for retiring early. Yet a decade later, she's saved 40x of her annual cost of living. How? Tanja worked as a political consultant in Los Angeles, and during her career, ascended to important high-ranking roles. Every promotion came with more grueling hours, accompanied by a raise. Tanja maintained her same standard of living, banking every raise. This simple strategy allowed her to rapidly grow her net worth. She didn't obsess about penny-pinching. She didn't clip 50 cent coupons for shampoo and soap. Instead, she focused her efforts on getting that next promotion, that next raise, and when it arrived, she saved and invested every additional cent. Today, at age 39, Tanja has published her first book, Work Optional, about saving enough to retire and live a lifestyle in which paid work is an option rather than a necessity. She joins us on this week's podcast to talk about the lessons she outlines in Work Optional. Here are 5 takeaways from this conversation. #1: We're taught that "you are what you contribute to the economy." Most of us learn, either explicitly or implicitly, that our self-worth is directly correlated with our economic efforts. This is an idea that we need to unpack and process as we face retirement, a mini-retirement, or any career transition. #2: Research shows that we perceive all change as loss, even if the change is positive. Retirement is a loss of identity. It's one of the most stressful and anxiety-producing life events. #3: Retirement and wealth will not create happiness. Money won't magically fix your life, health, relationships, outlook, or anything else. It's a tool that can help, but it's not a silver bullet. #4: A morning routine is grounding. It's an effective way to start your day feeling centered and calm. I'd recommend this for everyone, regardless of whether you're retired or not. #5: The easiest way to save is to keep living at the same level you're currently at, while earning more. Enjoy the podcast episode! For more information, visit the show notes at 
February 11, 2019
#177: Imagine that your job is extremely well-paying, but you don’t enjoy it. You’d like to switch employers, even though this will probably require a paycut. But before you make the switch, you want to accomplish two goals: buy a home and catch up on retirement savings. Should you pursue both goals? Or should you defer the home purchase, given the potential future paycut? If you decide to pursue both goals, which one should come first? This is one of the five questions that former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer in this week’s podcast episode. We also answer a question from a listener who’s self-employed and wants to contribute more to his retirement accounts. We talk to another listener who’s living on $600 monthly paychecks while maxing out his Mega Backdoor Roth contributions. We talk to a 22-year-old with an $80,000 salary who’s debating between paying off her student loans vs. investing. And we answer a question from a listener who’s wondering what she should do with 401k accounts from previous employers. For more information, visit the show notes at 
February 4, 2019
#176: Cal Newport created a philosophy called digital minimalism, which is idea of reducing your digital life down to only the most important core essentials. Remove the apps from your phone, then slowly re-introduce only the ones that are the most useful and beneficial. Take control of your smartphone, rather than letting it control you.   Digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use. This philosophy pulls from the concepts of minimalism, essentialism, the slow movement, and the 80/20 principle, applying these ideas towards your digital life. Cal discusses the digital minimalist philosophy on today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
February 1, 2019
#175: Larry Swedroe is one of the most respected investment thinkers and writers of our time. He's published 8 books on investing, including one of the first books to explain the science of investing to a layperson audience. He recently wrote an ultra-comprehensive guide to retirement planning. He joins us on the show today to discuss the nuances of investing and retirement planning. We talk about the stock market (is it going to fall soon? Are we heading for a recession?), we talk about risk (including three dimensions of risk that all investors should consider), and we talk about what traditional retirees vs. early retirees should know. For more information, visit the show notes at 
January 28, 2019
#174: Should a 48-year-old New Yorker who’s retiring next year buy more rental properties? Should a Michigan-based first-time homebuyer use an FHA loan to buy a duplex for $135,000 that rents for $1,800 per month? Should a 40-year-old music professor who owns a duplex transfer his property into an LLC? Should a New Jersey condo owner sell her unit as For Sale by Owner? I answer these five rental property questions in today’s podcast episode. Visit
January 21, 2019
#173: Paulette Perhach is a journalist who has been published in The New York Times, Slate, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Cosmo. But we’re not going to talk about that today. We’re going to talk about the fact that she’s made every decision by putting her life first, and then forcing her career to follow. She’s hiked through jungles and watched eclipses and volunteered with the Peace Corps. She’s been on crazy adventures in far-flung places. She endured unimaginable pain and it’s because of those challenges -- not despite them, but because of them -- that she knows her one precious, wild life is too short to spend in a cubicle. Many people who pursue financial independence are looking for a fully-funded lifestyle change. But Paulette made an unfunded change. She lives her life, and then figures out how the money follows. What can we learn from her resourcefulness? Find out in this episode. For more information, visit the show notes at 
January 14, 2019
#172: Should a 25-year-old homeowner with healthy savings and no debt (other than his mortgage) upgrade his car? Should he make this choice if his current car is fine, and upgrading puts him into new debt? Should a couple without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan put their savings into a taxable account, or should they save for a downpayment on a rental property? The market is fluctuating like mad; if someone has a lump-sum of cash, should they invest it now or should they slowly meter it in? Should someone without an emergency fund enroll in an HSA-qualified health insurance plan? Or should they stick with a plan that has a smaller deductible? How should a husband-and-wife team that’s self-employed and running a company together handle their health insurance? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these five questions on today’s podcast. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
January 7, 2019
#171: Chris Hogan surveyed 10,000 millionaires in the United States. Here's what he discovered: - 89% of millionaires have a net worth between $1 - $5 million dollars - 62% graduated from public state schools - 73% never had a penny of credit card debt - 18% are self-employed - 62% earned a household income of less than $100,000 annually What can we learn from these everyday millionaires? Find out in today's episode! For more, visit
January 4, 2019
#170: When should you NOT use the one percent rule for rental property investing? In today’s episode, I encourage two callers to violate the One Percent Rule for real estate that they already own. WHAAATTTT? Why would I say that? Especially given that I’ve gained a bit of a reputation as The World’s Most Staunch Advocate of the One Percent Rule? (Long title, I know, but someone’s gotta wear it.) And if you’re not going to use the One Percent Rule, how should you make decisions about your real estate investments instead? Find out in this podcast episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at 
December 31, 2018
#169: Happy New Years! To kickoff 2019, we've created a free book called One Tweak a Week, outlining 26 easy, actionable ways that you can improve your financial life. Each tweak takes less than one hour (some are as quick as five minutes), and taken together, these tweaks can accumulate into a serious impact. Improve your money management and get closer to financial independence with our free book, One Tweak a Week. You can download it here:
December 24, 2018
#168: You can do anything, but not everything ... and definitely not everything at the same time. How can you eliminate distractions? Can you train yourself to pay attention to important tasks, rather than getting distracted by time-wasters? Productivity expert Mike Vardy shares his experiences optimizing time and energy, the difference between being efficient vs. being effective, and how to spend less time struggling with your Inbox. More information:
December 17, 2018
#167: Angelisa is a college senior with $30,000 in student loans. She has a part-time job, from which she’s saved $2,500. Should she keep saving money, or should she get a headstart on paying down her student loans while she’s in school? I answer this and five more questions on today’s episode, alongside former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
December 10, 2018
#166: Michelle Singletary learned everything she knows about money from her grandmother. Well, okay, I shouldn't say "everything" that she knows. After all, Michelle also has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She  writes about personal finance for the Washington Post. Her nationally-syndicated personal finance column, The Color of Money, is published in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. For more, go to
December 7, 2018
#165: Should Kim, an entrepreneur, invest in index funds or rental properties? Should Nick, an MBA student, househack into a more-expensive home with stronger cash flow, or a cheaper home with more budgetary wiggle room? Should Kelly, who is getting married soon, sell her current home to buy multiple rentals? Or use her current home as a rental property? Should Trayci and her sister invest in rental properties or bare land? I answer these four questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!
December 3, 2018
#164: Bob Lotich joins us on the Afford Anything podcast to discuss why and how he took a mini-retirement, and to offer advice to anyone (whether traditionally employed or self-employed) who might want to do the same. For more information, visit the show notes at
November 26, 2018
#163: Does my employer match count against my 401k contribution limits? Should I invest in a Traditional or Roth TSP? Should I invest more aggressively in stocks right now, or should I hold cash and bonds until the next downturn? Should I get a mortgage or keep renting until I can buy a home in cash? Do you think index investing will dramatically change in the coming decades? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these four questions in today’s episode. For more information, visit the show notes at
November 19, 2018
#162: How will artificial intelligence, AI, impact jobs? Former Harvard president and leading economist Larry Summers predicts that one-third of men will be out of work by 2050. Finance guru Suze Orman says not to be surprised if we see 25 percent unemployment by 2030. And major research institutions predict anywhere from 14 percent to 50 percent unemployment. But could this really be possible? Or is everyone panicking about what will essentially be a shift in the types of jobs that people hold — reminiscent of our shift from farm to factory, and from factory to office — but not an actual net job loss? To answer these questions, we talk to Darrell West, author of The Future of Work, about artificial intelligence, robots, and the future of jobs.   For more information, visit the full show notes at 
November 12, 2018
#161: Matt is interested in achieving financial independence, and he wants to encourage his friends to pursue the same goal. What podcast episodes provide a light, digestible introduction to the world of financial independence and retiring early? Daniel wonders why everyone pursuing financial independence seems to have a blog or podcast about this topic. Is the purpose of FIRE to sit around writing and talking about how you’re FIRE? If so, then what’s the point? Tom is an entrepreneur with an LLC in California. Should he buy a rental property through that LLC? Anonymous from California wants to know how I decide whether to use a property manager vs. self-manage my rental properties. She also wants to know how to estimate the cost of repairs and maintenance. And how should the tax benefits of rental properties play a role in choosing a property? Brett owns a rental property in Las Vegas, which used to be his primary residence. He’s getting a strong cap rate but a marginal return on equity. Should he hold the property in the hopes that it will rise in value? Or should he sell the property? Anonymous is an Indian citizen who lives in California on an H1-B visa. There’s a chance that his visa won’t be renewed, which means he’ll need to move back to India. What should he do with his rental properties? Can he manage his properties from another country? If so, should he purchase more? I answer these six questions in today’s episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
November 5, 2018
#160: When Jonathan Mendonsa was 18, he researched which college degrees lead to the highest income. Pharmacy was near the top of the list of high-paying degrees, so Jonathan decided to become a pharmacist. He wasn't motivated by passion or calling. His decision was purely tactical. He wanted to make money. He spent four years in college, followed by another four years of graduate school. By age 28, he held a Doctorate in Pharmacy and an astounding $168,000 in debt. This debt burden might have been bearable if Jonathan loved his chosen profession. For people who love their fields, tuition is the price of being able to enjoy a lifetime of work they love. Unfortunately, that wasn't Jonathan's story. He never held a passion for pharmacy; he viewed it purely as a means to an end. Perhaps it wasn't surprising, then, that shortly after becoming a pharmacist, he realized that this wasn't what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to change careers. He wanted to pursue more meaningful, fun, interesting work. He spent the next four years repaying his student debt. And finally, at age 32, he brought his net worth up to zero. _____ Brad Barrett wasn't thinking about income when he chose his profession. He had received acceptance letters to some Ivy League schools, but he wanted to graduate from college debt-free, so he enrolled at the University of Richmond, which gave him a partial scholarship. While studying there, Brad encountered an accounting professor who challenged him and his classmates in the best possible ways.  Brad felt inspired to major in accounting. His decision didn't come from a rigorous analysis of lifetime income potential. He wasn't scrutinizing labor statistics spreadsheets. He was simply following a route that he found fascinating. After he received his undergraduate degree, Brad decided not to enroll in any further education. Instead, he started working for one of the Big Five accounting firms, with a starting salary in the low $40,000's. He and his future wife both lived at home with their parents for the first few years of their professional life, which allowed each of them to save dramatic amounts. Brad saved more than 90 percent of his after-tax income.  Perhaps it's not surprising that the couple, who now have two children, are financially independent. ____ Both Jonathan and Brad are college-educated professionals in their thirties. They both live in Richmond, Virginia. They're both married with children (Jonathan has a son; Brad has two daughters). Yet their stories could not be more different. What can we learn about careers, work, income, spending, and financial independence from their life experiences? Find out in today's podcast interview with Jonathan and Brad, the co-hosts of the ChooseFI podcast.
November 2, 2018
#159: Should a 36-year-old father of three invest primarily in Traditional or Roth retirement accounts? Should Rose, a grandmother of four, open a Vanguard account for each of her grandchildren? Should Nancy, who lives overseas and is the sole breadwinner in her family, invest in a Traditional or Roth TSP? Should Scott’s wife rollover her 403(b) from her former employer into an IRA? Should Patrick, age 35, cancel his life insurance plan? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these five questions in today’s episode. Our first caller is Mr. “Three Kids and Still Hoping for FI,” who asks: As a young man I saved heavily into my traditional 401(k), less because of good long-term planning and more because that’s my natural way. Last year learned about the FI movement, and I’m hoping to reach FI. However, I’m 36 and married with 3 young kids, and I’m battling my expenses to regain the deep saving rates of my youth. While I have a healthy traditional 401(k) which has been my main investment for a decade, my work also offers the dual option of a Roth 401(k). I’ve saved about 5 percent of my worth there. I’ve worked hard to widen the gap by raising my income, and with my salary now scraping against the eligibility ceiling for Roth IRA investments, I’m unsure of how to move forward. Some people think that because I’m eligible to hold both a Roth 401(k) and a Roth IRA, I should open a Roth IRA and pump all my savings dollars after-tax into both, especially since any future raise or promotion would likely make me ineligible. Others think that because my tax rate has been rising with my salary, I should be pushing my dollars into the traditional 401(k) because I will likely be in a lower tax bracket in retirement. I would rather eat a live cockroach than pass up my company match or my maxed-out family HSA. But because of the expenses of three kids, I don’t yet have the savings rate to also be able to max out the $18,500 level. Should I be trying to grab as many Roth dollars as I can before I can’t contribute anymore? Or should I just pour dollars into my traditional 401(k) and have my Roth conversion ladder and/or SEPP-72(t) ready? I can afford any investment, but I can’t afford every investment. Which one should I choose? Rose asks: I have 4 grandchildren, ages 7 months to 6 years, and I’m saving around $30 per month for each grandchild. My intention is to eventually open a Vanguard account where I can leave the money there until they turn 18 years old. I know some funds have a minimum amount required to start investing. I have about $1,200 for two of the kids. Can you please suggest the best fund I can start with? Can you also suggest options for birthday gifts? I like giving money, and the kids don’t need anything materialistic. Stocks, perhaps? One stock at a time? Government bonds? I’d like it to be something I can give to them inside a card instead of cash. Nancy asks: I’m calling to get some information about the benefits of a Roth versus a regular TSP. I’m 33 years old, married, and have an 8-month old. I work for the Federal government and we have a TSP. We’re living abroad and my spouse isn’t working. I’d like to retire within the next 20 years. We’re conflicted about whether we should invest most of our money into a Roth or not. We keep getting conflicting information about whether we should take the tax deferment now, or whether we should pay the taxes now and not worry about it when we retire. We don’t have much debt, and we have international properties as well as two properties in the Washington DC area. We’d like to know how best to manage the tax issue. Scott asks: My wife recently left a job at a hospital where she had a 403(b) and a Health System Defined Contribution Plan. What can I do with that money? Can I roll it over into something else? Second, what do we do with the 403(b)? My first instinct is to roll it over into an IRA, where I have more control, but my wife and I (with our current income) cannot contribute to a Roth IRA so we’re making use of the Backdoor Roth conversion. It’s my understanding that rolling money from a 403(b) into an IRA will affect our ability to execute a Backdoor Roth conversion. Am I understanding that correctly? Patrick asks: I’m about 35 years old and recently married. My wife and I have a combined gross income of about $100,000. I have some concerns about our MassMutual life insurance retirement accounts. I think MassMutual is a good product, but I think we are over-invested. We’re both putting away a premium of about $500 a month (about $1,000 combined) into our MassMutual. The payout that we’re expected to receive at the end is about $350,000 for me, and about $400,000 for my wife. I’m concerned that our premiums are too high and we could be using that money in better, more effective places. I tried to reduce my MassMutual payment a few months ago, and the cut in benefit was pretty drastic and not proportionate … it didn’t seem very fair to me. Any advice? ________ We answer these five questions in today’s podcast episode. Enjoy! By the way -- TRIVIA TIME!! At roughly the 36-minute mark of today’s episode, Joe and I talk about the late Senator William Roth, the namesake of the Roth IRA and Roth 401k. His birthday is July 22, 1921, which means his half-birthday is January 22. Which means we can celebrate his half-birthday soon!! Tune into the episode to hear our only-half-joking conversation about this. :-)   #AllTheCheesyBiscuits
October 29, 2018
#158: Clark Howard loves the FIRE movement. That's because he's one of us. Clark began investing in real estate at age 22, started a travel agency at age 25, and retired at age 31. He sold his travel agency, moved to the beach and relaxed for four years; then he started a second career as the host of The Clark Howard Show, a popular radio show that's syndicated nationwide. Today, he's a personal finance celebrity. His website receives more than 50 million views per year. He has more than 1.1 million followers on Facebook. He's the former co-host of Evening Express on CNN Headline News, now called HLN, and he also hosted a weekend show on HLN. He's published 10 books, many of which became mega-bestsellers. His book Living Large in Lean Times reached the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Clark is a consumer advocate and personal finance voice who walks the talk. He doesn't accept sponsorships that conflict with his values. He loves frugality and efficiency. Last week, he was traveling in New York on a company expense account, yet he still rode the subway, because he didn't like the idea of wasting money on a taxi ... *even if it wasn't his own money.* He's a philanthropist who leads with a service-first framework. During Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a team that handled medical evacuations. After September 11th, he joined the Georgia State Defense Force, which is an unpaid, unarmed volunteer component of the state Department of Defense. He sponsored the construction of 74 houses through Habitat for Humanity. He's provided toys for more than 150,000 foster children at Christmas. He's a multimillionaire and he flies in coach. When the now-infamous Suze Orman episode came out, Clark immediately issued a response on his own syndicated radio show. He came out in strong support of the FIRE movement. He said that he couldn't imagine how anyone could criticize the notion of saving half of your income. When I heard his remarks, I invited him on this show to elaborate. What does he think about the FIRE movement? Why does he like it? How would he respond to the objections? Here are four takeaways from our conversation. #1: We are social creatures. Our idea of a "normal" savings rate, as compared to an "extreme" savings rate, is a cultural construct. Many Asian cultures encourage and normalize a higher savings rate. The household savings rate in China, Singapore and India is significantly higher than the savings rate in the U.S. This is why it's important to fuel the FIRE subculture. By surrounding yourself with voices that normalize a high savings rate, enthusiasm for investing, and a frugal lifestyle, you can encourage yourself to save more. #2: A bull market is irrelevant if you're not saving and investing. Sure, we've experienced an incredible bull market run in the past nine years. Guess who benefitted from this? The people who lived on less than what they earned and invested their savings. If you have investments, you can benefit from a bull market. If you don't, then the best markets in the world won't have any effect on your net worth. That's why saving and investing is the cornerstone to growth. It's easy to dismiss your own accomplishments by saying, "Well, I got lucky because the markets were good." That's like playing soccer, scoring the game-winning goal, and saying, "Well, I got lucky because my teammate passed me the ball at the right moment, when I was positioned to kick the ball into the net." Sure, there may be luck on the field. But you would never experience this if you didn't train, practice, and play the game. #3: Retire early AND often. Don't get so caught up in the goal that you miss the journey. If you're not financially independent yet, don't let this stop you from enjoying life. Take a vacation with your family, or enroll in a wine tasting class, or fly across the country to spend Thanksgiving with awesome people whom you love. Don't defer your happiness and experiences to a later date. All the compound interest in the world can't bring back this era of your life. Enjoy your life, no matter what your financial situation. The most sustainable financial plans are balanced. #4: Don't allow your fear of black swan events to convince you to revert to the status quo. Yes, catastrophes happen, but the normalized American pattern of going into consumer debt, saving less than 5 percent of your income and woefully underpreparing for a traditional retirement is not the solution to the possibility of a future calamity. If you reach financial independence, you'll be in a stronger position to handle most major disasters that come your way. If you're a few paychecks away from disaster, you'll be in a much more financially precarious position. Listen to this interview for more insights from Clark Howard. Enjoy!
October 22, 2018
#157: We're back with another Ask Paula - Real Estate Edition of the show! In this episode, we cover down payments, cash flow, investing in condo hotels, building a rental on the side of your own house, selling your properties, and whether it's better to buy actual properties or REITs. Erin asks: Would you ever put 30% down (or more) in order to make a rental property cash flow positive? Avy asks: In 4-5 years, I'd like to have a rental property for diversification and passive income. Is it better to stick with the plan to buy rentals, or should I go into REITs? Additionally, if I want to invest in rentals, where should I look? Rod asks: Could you tell me if investing in condo hotels as a rental property is a good idea? I'm 10 years away from retirement, and I was thinking of buying one in Las Vegas, since I plan to move there when I retire. Being a traditional landlord doesn't appeal to me - I don't want to deal with the hassle of bad tenants or repairs when I'm retired. I'm hoping a condo hotel might be a way for me to get income from a rental property without all the hassle. What are the pros and cons I should consider? Tom asks: I want to build a small two-bedroom house on the side of my personal residence (located in Texas) to use as a rental. What advice can you offer to help me execute this plan? Sandra asks: I live in California, and 5 years ago I purchased 3 properties free-and-clear in Memphis, TN. While they’ve been working great for me, I think they have much more potential, but I’m no longer interested in managing them, or my property managers. It’s too much for me as I changed careers; I’m now going in a much different direction. All I want is to cash out and invest that money into my new business, as that’s more fulfilling to me. I know to sell them cash is the first choice but investors are in the game of low-balling - way too low. Selling retail is an option, but it’ll take longer, and I don’t know if the market is in my favor. Seller financing drags things out, and lease options are not great for me, so I’m interested in your feedback.
October 15, 2018
#156: James Clear wanted to start flossing, but he never managed to follow through. Despite his best intentions, his dental floss sat unused in a bathroom drawer. Fortunately, James had learned a thing or two about human behavior and habit formation. As a self-improvement writer, he'd spent hours pouring over scientific data about behavior changes. He decided to apply a few of these concepts to his own quest. First, he placed the floss on the bathroom counter, rather than tucking it inside a drawer. He made the floss visible. Second, he realized he didn't enjoy the tactile sensation of wrapping floss around his fingers, so he replaced it with floss picks. He made the floss more enjoyable. Finally, he decided to floss immediately after brushing his teeth. He used a technique called "habit stacking," in which a new habit is more likely to stick if it's tied, or triggered, by an existing habit like toothbrushing. Thanks to these techniques, James built a flossing habit. He shares these tactics and more in today's podcast episode. James Clear is one of the most well-respected and widely-known thinkers and writers in the world of habit formation and behavior change. His website,, gets more than one million visitors every month. In this week's episode, we deep-dive into how to create impressive habits and how to break the terrible habits that hold you back If you'd like to start new habits like exercising, saving more, investing, meditating, journaling, practicing yoga or flossing, but despite your best intentions you can't seem to make the habit stick, then this week's podcast episode is for you.
October 8, 2018
#155: How can a schoolteacher dad and stay-at-home mom send their four kids to college? Where should a 23-year-old keep the savings that she’s accumulating to buy a home by the time she’s 27 or 28? What should we know about retirement planning if we have a pension? And should I rollover my 401k from my old employer? Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these four questions in this week’s episode. Here are the details. Miguel asks: When I hear friends and coworkers talking about college tuition for their kids, all I can think about is how in the world am I going to send my four kids to college? I think I have a plan - I’d love to hear your opinion. From what I hear, college can be between $20-50k per year. I currently own two houses - one is a rental and one is our personal residence. We’re working on paying those mortgages down in about 7 years. I want my kids to get their basic courses from a community college to save some money, but for the rest I really think that taking a loan will be the best option. Usually these loans don’t have to be paid until they graduate, so I feel like that will give me some more time to become more financially stable. If I get to pay those mortgages in the time that I’m thinking, I’d like to buy a couple more rentals. I’m currently halfway to max out my contribution for my 403(b) plan. I’m a teacher, I’m making about 91k per year and my wife stays home. I would love to hear your opinion on my plan. I feel like if I had that kind of cash - $20-$50k a year - I would rather invest it and help my kids down the road. Anna asks: I am 23 and I’m saving to buy a primary residence in 4-5 years. In the meantime, I’m wondering where to invest my money so that it will grow but won’t be too susceptible to market fluctuations since I’ll be needing the cash relatively quickly. Andy asks: You’ve written before that if we contribute 10% of our salary towards retirement and our employer matches 5% automatically, we are saving 15% for our retirement. My question is, does the same principle apply to pensions? For instance, if I’m contributing 5% of my salary towards my pension and my employer is contributing 9 to 10%, making it around a 15% contribution overall, should that then count as a 15% retirement savings? Drew asks: I have a question about a 401(k) rollover. I recently switched employers and so far I’m very happy with the transition. With my new compensation, I’m now able to more than double my 401(k) contributions, and I’m on track to max out my new HSA while still maintaining the same take-home pay from my old job. My old employer had a 401(k) through Merrill Lynch and I was able to do a mix of contributions to both Roth and Traditional. My new 401(k) through Charles Schwab has this option. According to the documentation I’ve received from Merrill Lynch, I have four options at my disposal: 1. Keep assets where they are 2. Roll them into some kind of IRA 3. Transfer them into a new 401(k) 4. Take a cash distribution
 With this in mind, here are my questions: • Aside from the four options presented to me, are there any other options I should consider? • Are there any time constraints I should consider for this kind of roll over? • What would you recommend I do with these funds? I’ve heard you repeatedly mention the benefit of having all of my assets under one dashboard, so I am leaning towards transferring the assets into my new 401(k). I currently do not have an IRA, and I’ve been meaning to get one set up for a while. This seems like a great opportunity to get one up and running as an alternative strategy. 
October 5, 2018
#154: Want to retire early? You'll need at least $5 million, more likely $10 million, says famous financial personality Suze Orman. I should know. She said that to me, directly, on my podcast. I asked Suze for her opinion about a frugal, flexible person who wants to retire early with a $2 million portfolio. She warned that retiring would be a massive mistake. "Two million dollars is nothing," Suze said. "It's nothing. It's pennies in today's world, to tell you the truth." Wait, what? "Listen," she said. "If you have $20 [million], $40 [million], $50 [million] or $100 million dollars, be like me, okay. If you have that kind of money ... and you want to retire, fine." "But if you only have a few hundred thousand dollars, or a million, or $2 million, I'm here to tell you ... if a catastrophe happens ... what are you going to do? You are going to burn up alive." But what's wrong with retiring early on $2 million? Assuming it's invested 50/50 in equities and bonds and harvested at a 4 percent withdrawal rate, a portfolio of $2 million could create annual investment income of $80,000. Surely that's enough, right? *Riiiight?* Nope. Suze says that's not enough. "I think that in the long run, $80,000, especially after taxes and as you get older, is not going to be enough. You may think it's going to be enough, but it's just not," she told me on the Afford Anything podcast. "You can do it if you want to. I personally think it is the biggest mistake, financially speaking, you will ever, ever make in your lifetime." I asked her if a $3 million portfolio at a more conservative 3 percent withdrawal rate would be okay for an early retirement. She said no. "Think about it logically," she said. Supporting a disabled family member who needs full-time care could cost $250,000 per year, she said. Ordinary cost-of-living would cost another $100,000 per year. This means you'll need $350,000 per year after taxes to cover your costs, which is $500,000 per year before taxes, which at a 5 percent withdrawal rate means that you'd need a portfolio of $10 million. If you don't have at least $5 million or $10 million, don't retire early, Suze said. "Here's what the FIRE people, you are not thinking about, so I'm going to give it to you straight here now," she said. She described the possibility of getting sideswiped by massive taxes and catastrophic emergencies. What if your home gets destroyed by an earthquake or flood and insurance denies your claim? What if you're in a tragic car accident and you need full-time care? What if the U.S. experiences 25 percent unemployment, which means you won't be able to find another job if you wanted one? What if your investment income gets consumed by massive future tax hikes? "When you get older things happen," Suze said. "You're hit by a car, you fall down on the ice, you get sick, you get cancer. Things happen." "Alright, you can do it if you want to," she said. "I'm just telling you, you will get burned if you play with fire." For more, visit the show notes at
October 1, 2018
#153: A few weeks ago, Suze Orman's team reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in chatting with Suze on my podcast. "Um, duh," I replied. Sure Orman is one of the most famous voices in the world of personal finance. From 2002 to 2015, she hosted The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. She's the author of 10 mega-bestselling books, she wrote a financial column for O, The Oprah Magazine, and she's made multiple appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I turned to Twitter and Facebook and asked this community, "What would you like me to ask Suze?" One question stood out far ahead of all others in popularity: What does Suze Orman think about the FIRE movement? I opened with that question. And Suze's response shocked me. "I hate it," she replied. "I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And let me tell you why." That's a direct quote. (Really.) She spent the next 30 minutes explaining why she thinks pursuing FIRE could be the biggest mistake of a person's life. Well, then. Why does Suze Orman hate the FIRE movement? Find out in today's episode, and join the discussion and help spread the FIRE by sharing your thoughts on today's episode in the show notes, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
September 24, 2018
#152: Dr. Brian Portnoy is an expert in making decisions. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, he's a Chartered Financial Analyst, and he's the Director of Investment Education at Virtus Investment Partners. Dr. Portnoy joins me on the podcast to discuss how to make smarter decisions -- not only about investments, but also generally in life. How do we sharpen our decision-making skills? How do we improve our critical thinking processes? Here are some of the takeaways from our conversation. 1. Beware of resulting. Great results can come from poorly-planned decisions. And wise decisions can lead to good results on occasion. Don't judge a decision based on its results; judge a decision based on the soundness of the thinking process through which you made that choice. 2. Manage your expectations. Your happiness with an outcome will depend on the gap between your expectations and reality. If you can't control reality (at least, not completely), then manage your expectations. It's the happiness variable that's most under your authority. 3. Don't make hasty evaluations. When you go to a restaurant, you order a (vegan?) cheeseburger, and based on the taste of that burger, you can immediately evaluate your decision. You can't do that with investments. When you make an investment decision, there's a huge time-gap between when you make the choice and when you see the results of that choice. This time-gap may last for decades. And this means that your decisions are tough to evaluate. Don't judge an investment decision on one-year or two-year results, as tempting as that may be. Judge your decisions based on the soundness of the thinking, not the short-term ramifications. 4. Automate. It's the best way to save you from yourself. 5. Define risk. Some people think that "risk" is synonymous with volatility. Others think that "risk" refers to the loss of capital. Know what "risk" means to you. Personally, I define it as probability x magnitude. Today's guest, Brian, points out that magnitude can happen in a multitude of dimensions and verticals. 6. Diversification, risk management, and behavior. When in doubt, pay attention to these three factors. In order to better manage your investing choices, manage these qualities. You cannot control broad market outcomes, but you can control your exposure, risk, and choices. 7. You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with frugal, ambitious, reasonable, wise, intelligent, kind, adventurous people -- and you will become stronger in those qualities. You are in charge of the community with whom you surround yourself. Even if you can't change your physical neighborhood, you can form an online or digital community of people who support your goals and reflect your philosophy. 8. Keep a decision-making journal. What gets measured, gets improved. If you want to improve your decision-making skills, keep a journal of the way in which you make decisions, e.g. your thinking process. Then in the future, when you have the benefit of hindsight, you can look back on your decision-making process. Remember, don't judge your choices based on outcome; judge your choices based on the soundness of the decision-making process itself. Dr. Portnoy dives into detail about how to make better decisions in today's episode. Enjoy!   For more, visit the website at
September 17, 2018
#151: We’re back with another “Ask Paula” episode of the show! As usual, my friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy joins me in answering your questions! Let’s dive right in. Hailey: I just graduated from college with a major in Computer Science and minor in graphic design. The whole time - it was rough. I come from a family that didn’t have a lot to give me going into this journey of getting a college degree. So I did it basically on my own - they gave me things here and there - but college is expensive. I wound up getting scholarships and taking on student loans to get through. It was a lot of hard work. Some days, I wanted to quit. I felt like I was never ever going to see the benefits of what I was doing. Well, I am now at a point in my life where I was able to secure a job (I started a week after graduation) making $80k a year. Obviously, this is great - this is what you’re supposed to do when you graduate with a Comp Sci degree. But for some reason, I don’t know if it’s guilt or shame, but I feel bad watching my friends and family struggle, while I don’t have those struggles anymore. I find myself asking if I deserve this - to have a nice apartment, to have nice things. Inherently I know I deserve it because I worked so hard, but I don’t know … My question  is - do you have any advice for me to help me understand what it is I’m feeling? How I can feel better about it? Chris: I’m 45 and my plan is to retire early - not super early - at 57. To keep numbers straight, I’m hoping to have a million dollars in a 401(k) and a million dollars in a taxable account with stocks. My thought was to - at 57 since I won’t have any income - to convert the 401(k) over to an IRA and then start converting that to a Roth at the max, keeping me in the 12% tax bracket, which is roughly $77,000, potentially more, and live off of the stock which will be at 15% tax and that shouldn’t go against my AGI because it’s an asset. Then at 67 I would start taking full retirement Social Security. Hopefully by age 70 I’d have very little to none in the 401(k) and most of that money would be in the Roth. Thoughts? Am I overthinking this?   Rose: My goal is FI in about 5 years. After maxing out my 401(k), I make automatic monthly contributions to a robo-advised fund, specifically a Schwab intelligent portfolio. I like that it rebalances and has tax loss harvesting because I’m in a high tax bracket. To me, it feels somewhat safer than putting everything into VTSAX because it’s diversified, but I don’t fully understand all of the different funds that I’m invested in through the robo advisor. Should I keep putting money into the robo advisor, or should I switch to VTSAX? Does your answer change at all with ongoing economic uncertainty and the benefits of being balanced across stocks and bonds?   Juan: I’m 24 and I live in NYC. I just graduated from engineering school and found a full-time position earning $75k/year before taxes. There’s a possibility of overtime so I might be able to make another $5-10k a year. I have $15k saved in cold hard cash; I have $6k in a Robinhood account which is doing well; and I have $5k in a Wealthfront account. I am planning on maxing out my Roth IRA ($5,500 a year starting now) and I have $2k there already. I also plan on participating in the employer’s contribution for the 401(k) traditional - which is maybe a 4% match. I don’t know where exactly I should put the money that I’m going to save to get the most out of it (mostly to beat inflation). $75k after taxes is probably around $55k and I plan on saving around 50% of that, or $30k a year for the next 3-5 years. I live by myself but my expenses are not high. I am very good with budgeting and everything is on track. I just want to get your suggestions/advice on where to put my money or what to do with it starting now. I am going to open an online savings account where I can get at least 2%.
September 10, 2018
#150: Chad Carson's friends called him a "nerdjock." When former college football linebacker Chad Carson graduated from Clemson University, he decided to start a business. But he didn't have any money. He was a 235-pound athlete who attended college on a football scholarship. He graduated debt-free with $1,000 in savings from various odd jobs. He wanted to become an entrepreneur, and he knew he was starting from zero. As Chad viewed it, starting from zero meant he had nothing to lose. He started jogging around local neighborhoods near the university. Whenever he noticed a property in disrepair, he'd ask if it was for sale. If he noticed a 'For Sale by Owner' sign in the yard, for example, he'd dial the number. If he noticed a home with an overgrown lawn and no curtains in the windows, he'd leave a note on the door, or he'd knock on the neighbor's doors to get the owner's phone number. By doing this, Chad started a real estate wholesaling business. He'd find off-market properties, enter into a sales contract with the owner, and then 'flip' the contract to an investor. He earned around $5,000 for each deal. The benefit to a wholesaling business, Chad discovered, is that he could get a foothold inside the real estate industry without much access to capital. He was a recent college graduate without any official employment, so most banks weren't interested in offering him loans. Wholesaling gave him a start in the industry. But after awhile, he wanted to chase bigger deals. He and a business partner decided to start flipping houses themselves. They earned profits of around $20,000 to $30,000 for each deal. While this was great, Chad wanted to transition into something that would provide a steady, stable income stream. He was running an active business; he wasn't accumulating a portfolio of passive investments. He and his business partner stopped flipping homes and began accumulating buy-and-hold rental properties. Today they have 90 units between the two of them. A few years ago, Chad realized that the passive income from his investments made him financially independent. He and his wife decided to enjoy their newfound freedom by moving to Ecuador with their two children, ages 3 and 5. They spent 17 months living in Ecuador, learning Spanish and enjoying a slower pace of life. They recently returned to the U.S. and are considering moving to either Spain or Germany -- or maybe Colorado? -- for their next adventure. In today's episode, Chad and I discuss real estate, financial independence, and international travel with children. Enjoy!
September 7, 2018
#149: Welcome to the September 2018 First Friday bonus episode! We recorded this episode at Camp FI, which stands for Camp Financial Independence. It's a gathering of people who are pursuing financial independence; we spend a few days eating, drinking, and having late-night poolside conversations about money. There are several Camp FI's throughout the year; I recorded this bonus episode at the Camp FI at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California in early August.    I invited several of the people at Camp FI to come to the microphone and share one thing: “Tell me a story about something you did that scared you."   Justin shared a story about getting invited by a corporate sponsor to take part in a mountainous 75-mile cycling ride, despite the fact that he wasn't trained or ready. Tim told the story of the first time he met his future father-in-law, and, to phrase it mildly, the meeting didn't go well. GingerFI shared a story about something she ate while traveling that ... well, I won't give away the ending, but let's just say that it's something she'll never forget.    Anna described moving from New Zealand to the U.S. to attend school, while Johanna talked about getting laid off from work and deciding to use her newfound joblessness as an opportunity to road trip from Maryland to Los Angeles. Jennifer described the resilience she discovered after surviving a disability, layoff and divorce. Wakefield talked about investing in real estate before he felt ready, and Vickie shared a childhood story of overcoming the intimidation she felt when she wanted to meet someone.    Listen to hear the stories they shared, and the life lessons they learned along the way.   Enjoy!   For more information, visit the show notes at
September 3, 2018
#148: Welcome to a special episode of Ask Paula! Today I’m answering questions about real estate investing, and I’ve brought a special guest on the show to join me. His name is Lucas Hall, and he’s a landlord with 5 properties in three locations (D.C., Virginia and Colorado). He’s also the founder of Landlordology and head of investor relations with Cozy. We met about five or six years ago through blogging about rental properties, and I invited him on the show today to answer questions alongside me. Anonymous asks: If you have significant equity in a home due to market appreciation, what’s the best way to leverage the value of this equity? Should you sell? Refinance? Something else? Here’s a quick snapshot of the answer: You have three options: sell, cash-out refinance, or take out a HELOC. If you’re unhappy with the property, sell it. There’s no reason to hang onto an undesirable or underperforming property. If you choose to sell, use a 1031 exchange to defer taxes on the capital gains and use the proceeds to purchase another property. Be aware, however, that the rules regarding a 1031 exchange are onerous, and there’s a chance that you might either miss the cutoff or you may be forced into trading one mediocre property for another. That said, wanting to tap equity is not a sufficient reason to sell. If you’re happy with the property, keep it and either use a cash-out refi or HELOC to tap the equity. On today’s episode, Lucas and I discuss the pro’s and con’s of both of these strategies, and explain which one is our favorite. (Lucas prefers the HELOC and I prefer the cash-out refi; on the episode you’ll hear each of us explain why.) Richard from Massachusetts asks: I’ve been listening to this podcast regularly, and thanks to this podcast I’ve opened a Roth IRA. I’ve saved $54,000 and I’m interested in investing in a Class B or Class C neighborhood in an out-of-state location. How can I find out if a neighborhood is Class B/C without visiting it? Catherine asks: I’m 27 and need investing advice. I make $75,000 per year and I have $60,000 in retirement savings. I max out an HSA. I have $12,000 in an emergency fund. I live in Los Angeles and I’d like to invest in real estate, but I don’t want to travel to another state. I’ve been thinking about Roofstock; what are your thoughts? Anonymous in Atlanta asks: My wife and I have $500,000 in savings, in addition to our 401k. We keep $130,000 of this in the market. We had an advisor that was charging a 1.6% fee, and we recently fired him. What should we do with the remainder of the cash in our savings accounts? Should we put this in Vanguard funds? I’d also like to get into real estate, but many homes in Atlanta don’t meet the one percent rule. Should we look at foreclosure auctions? Should we look further outside the city? We’re in our early 30’s and would like to retire in around 15 years. We answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!
August 27, 2018
#147: Which of the following two attitudes describes you? "I'm crunched for time." -- or -- "I have all the time in the world." I'm guessing your answer is the first, rather than the second. But what if you could feel like your time is expansive and abundant, without drastic changes to your schedule? Most of us want to feel "off the clock," enjoying an existence in which we can linger, without feeling pressure from the demands and stresses on our schedules. According to Laura Vanderkam, even the busiest, most-scheduled people can achieve this feeling. We can live off-the-clock. Laura is a time management expert, but her latest book isn't about *management* in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it focuses on *time perception* -- getting into the headspace of believing time is abundant, regardless of the demands imposed upon it. The brain stores memories efficiently, which means it vividly recalls novel experiences -- such as the one-week trip to Belize -- while compressing repetitive experiences, like a commute, into a single memory. For that reason, time feels like it passes more quickly when we encounter situations that are routine and familiar, and slows when we experience new situations. That's how a one-week conference feels long, but a routine week at the office flies by. Of course, we can't eschew familiarity; there are many benefits to adopting a routine. But we can slow time by savoring our everyday experiences. The more we engage mindfully in everyday activities -- from savoring each bite of food to noticing the flowers during our commute to work -- the more we're likely to feel relaxed about our time. We create happy memories, rather than compressing our experiences in our minds. Treating our hours with intention can also lengthen our experience of time. We plan and structure our workdays, deciding how to spend our hours between 8 am and 6 pm. But often, we aren't deliberate about how we'll craft the hours from 6 pm to 11 pm, and therefore can feel like we rarely see family, even if we're with them for three to four hours each evening. Deliberately crafting hours doesn't mean jam-packing our schedule in 30-minute increments. Scheduling a two-hour block of time to linger over a long dinner can blend intentionality with the art of savoring. In fact, Laura notes, those who are the most disciplined about their time are also more likely to feel that they enjoy plenty of free time. Structure creates freedom. Today on the podcast, Laura and I talk about how to make time feel abundant. For more information, visit the show notes at
August 20, 2018
#146: My friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer a multitude of questions on retirement savings and investing, so let's dive in. Elyse has two questions: 
#1: Through her job, Elyse has a 401(a) hybrid. Right now, she contributes 0.5% as her employer will contribute 2.5% only when she contributes 4%. Should she contribute the full 4%, or keep her contribution as low as possible, save it, and invest it on her own (which is what she's been doing)? #2: Elyse also has $18,600 invested in a mutual fund through her bank. Everything that she has read says to invest in index funds. So, should she pull her money out of the mutual fund and into Vanguard to avoid high fees? Anonymous also has a few questions:
 She has a 9-year job history with the state and local government, during which she has been enrolled in the Florida pension plan. Her new job offers a 457 Plan and/or a 403(b) Plan to supplement the pension earning. Her first question is: is a 403(b) better than a 457 Plan? Or should she enroll in both? Second, in her most recent job, she had a 457 deferred compensation Vanguard account which has $22,000 in it. Should she roll the Vanguard account over into one of the above plans, or leave it alone? Lastly, she has a 3-month old and wants to put a lump sum of $10,000 toward an account she can make contributions to, but she isn't sure which account would be best. Florida has a pre-paid program, but are there better options? Rachel has a question on retirement accounts as well!: 
Rachel recently left a government job where she had a TSP. In addition to that, she also has two IRAs - a small traditional IRA and slightly larger Roth IRA. She's actively contributing to the Roth IRA. When she left her job, she started an S-corp, and as she looks forward to business picking up, she wants to know how to best organize her retirement savings moving forward to make it easier to manage. She's also interested in tax optimization. What actions do we recommend she take? Stephen, a new listener, asks: 
If we're following the 4% rule route, does it make sense to fund an HSA, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, or 401(k) at work? Or should we put all of the money in a Vanguard fund? Essentially, if you're planning to retire in 10 years or less, which is more beneficial: splitting up your money, or focusing on one account? P.S. If you have a question you want me to answer on an upcoming Ask Paula episode, leave it here!
August 13, 2018
#145: When Rand Fishkin was 25 years old, he carried $500,000 in credit card debt. Less than a decade later, Rand was the Founder and CEO of a company that grossed $35 million in annual revenue. In this podcast episode, Rand shares the story of hitting his financial rock-bottom and making the ultimate comeback. _______ The saga began in 2001, when then-22-year-old Rand dropped out of his senior year of college to grow a business with his mom. His mom Gillian owned a small marketing company that helped local businesses with tasks like placing ads in Yellow Pages. (If you don't know what that is, ask someone over 30.) Rand had an early entrepreneurial streak, and had spent the late 1990's and early 2000's working part-time for his mom's business. By his senior year, he was ready to dive in full-time. Gillian and Rand both realized the internet was more than a passing fad. Households were switching from dial-up modems to broadband connections. Clients were more interested in websites than Yellow Pages ads. The mother-son duo decided to start designing websites for local businesses. From 2001 to 2004, they hired contractors, rented office space, hosted booths at conferences, and purchased advertising. They paid for most of this with personal credit cards in Rand's name. By 2004, they'd accumulated $150,000 in credit card debt. Then they defaulted. They couldn't make the minimum payments anymore. The interest and late fees grew this balance to an astronomical $500,000. They decided not to declare bankruptcy. Instead, they took a two-pronged approach: Rand's mom spent the next three years negotiating with creditors, getting big chunks of the interest and late fees waived in exchange for making payments on the principle balance. Meanwhile, Rand focused on growing the business. Several of his clients needed help with a specific aspect of internet marketing called search engine optimization, or SEO. Rand began researching SEO tactics and started a blog to share his findings. This blog attracted new clients, and soon Rand developed a reputation as an SEO expert. He created a company called SEOMoz, later rebranded as Moz, to offer consulting services for businesses. After a few years, his company started developing and selling subscriptions to SEO software tools, as well. By the time Rand stepped down from his role as CEO, the company had raised multiple rounds of funding and was collecting $35 million in annual revenue. But there's a difference between a company's earnings and the personal income of its founders. Today, Rand and his wife still have a liquid net worth that's less than one million. How did Rand transition from carrying $500,000 in debt to becoming the founder and CEO of a successful eight-figure company? Why isn't he a millionaire yet? And what lessons about entrepreneurship and finance can he share with the world? Find out in this podcast episode. ___ P.S. Rand's wife, Geraldine DeRuiter, is a hilarious travel writer and an alumni guest of this podcast. You can listen to her interview in Episode 77. P.P.S. If you'd like to learn more about starting a blog, check out this free tutorial.
August 6, 2018
#144: Today I’m answering your real estate questions! First up, Rich asks: What are your thoughts on real estate crowdfunding versus investing in a traditional REIT and non-retirement account? He doesn’t want to give up the time it takes to manage a rental property. He wants to spend more time with family and friends, and his eventual goal is to generate enough passive income to transition into becoming a social worker. Rob asks: As a real estate investor who also invests in index funds, how do I decide what percentage of my net worth to allocate towards the stock market versus real estate? Anonymous asks: How do you maximize value in real estate? Is real estate worth the sum of its parts? Should you strip out some of that before you sell a property to maximize its value? Laura asks: How did you develop your real estate course? How do you market a course? I answer these questions on today’s episode of the podcast. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at For more details, visit the show notes at
August 3, 2018
#143: Emma Pattee became a millionaire at age 26. But she hates it when I describe her like that. Here are other ways that Emma would prefer to be known: She's thoughtful. She's hilarious. She's kind. Emma is the child of hippies. She grew up in a tent in Oregon, at least for a portion of her childhood. She has a BFA in writing from Emerson College. She bought her first house at age 21. At the time, Emma was juggling a demanding full-time job with her ambitions of becoming a writer. This balancing act felt too tough. She felt motivated to quit her job as quickly as possible, so that she could devote her time to writing. She moved in with her boyfriend's parents, saved 70 percent of her income, and contemplated what to do next. She decided to "buy a small house in a not-so-nice neighborhood, and live for free by renting out enough rooms to cover my mortgage and make a little money on the side." But then she developed an addiction to real estate. She kept buying houses and converting them into rental properties. She DIY'ed some projects and hired contractors for other projects. She improved the homes and raised the rents. She reinvested the cash flow into buying more houses. She borrowed against the equity and bought even more houses. And that's how Emma, by age 26, became a millionaire. Her seven-figure net worth -- and more importantly, the cash flow that accompanied it -- allowed Emma to reach financial independence. She could stop trading her time for a paycheck. Emma quit her job at age 26 and dove into the world of self-employment, starting a lucrative one-woman enterprise as a professional ghostwriter. She writes books and articles, for which her clients receive authorship credit. In exchange for this effort, Emma makes a substantial amount of money. So who is Emma Pattee? She's a financially independent millionaire real estate investor who started a lucrative self-employment business as a writer. (Sound familiar?) Among the many words in that sentence, the most important word, to Emma, is the word "writer." That's why she started down this path. She wasn't trying to become wealthy. She wanted to become a self-funded artist. She wanted, simply, to write. __ Emma is a close friend. She was my guest of honor, my Plus One, when I delivered my keynote speech at the World Domination Summit last month. She's my travel buddy and real estate investing companion; we visited Alabama last year to check out potential investments in Birmingham and Montgomery. She and I have talked about meeting occasionally for writing retreats. In today's episode, Emma and I sit down at her dining room table, plug in a microphone, and hit "record." In the 30-minute conversation that follows, we talk about how and why we reached financial independence -- and what comes next. Enjoy.
July 30, 2018
#142: How can a family of four shift from earning two incomes to one, while still pursuing financial independence? How would a 55-year-old couple with $2 million saved know if they're ready to retire? Can parents use leftover money in their 529 plan to help their daughter with her college loans? If you start a job with an employer who doesn't offer high-deductible, HSA-compatible health insurance plans, could you use a plan from your old boss? And where should a father keep his daughter's Bat Mitzvah money? My friend and former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these five questions in today's episode. Here's a close-up look at each situation. Tyler asks: My wife and I both work 9-to-5 jobs. She's an elementary school teacher, and I work in sales. We've recently welcomed our first child into the world, and we're expecting our second. We'd like to transition to a one-income household, at least until the children are between three to five. We've maxed out my Roth IRA and 401k, funded a pension through my wife's work, funded a small Roth IRA for her, and started a 529 for our son. We have no credit card debt, but we have a mortgage, a car loan, and a student loan from my wife's graduate work. We're thinking about gradually phasing out her income, by reducing her "income" in 25 percent increments over time, and using that money to repay our debts. We hope to have the car loan and student loan paid off by the time our second child is born. What other recommendations would you offer as we transition into a single-income household? Heidi asks: We saved money in a 529 plan for our daughter's college education. We took out some loans for her freshman and sophomore years, thinking that we'd spend the rest of the 529 money during her junior and senior year. Then a wonderful thing happened: my daughter received $40,000 in scholarship money, covering her junior and senior years. Now my daughter has $13,000 in student loans from her first two years, and also $13,000 sitting in her 529 fund. Can we use the money in the 529 plan to repay her student loans? Or are our hands tied? Andrew asks: My 13-year-old daughter just had her Bat Mitzvah, and now holds $5,000 in a Schwab custodial account. Where should I put this money to preserve the capital, but also allow it to grow? She'll probably want to use a portion of this within the next five years. It's currently in a Schwab money market account, but I'm thinking about putting it in VFTSX, the Vanguard Social Index Fund. Anonymous asks: My husband just started a new job, and his employer doesn't offer HSA-compatible plans. His new employer only offers plans with low deductibles. I know that this isn't idea. Could he enroll in plan from his old job, so that he can still contribute to an HSA? Laura asks: Am I ready to retire? I'm 55 and my husband and I have $2 million, but we recognize that the market is volatile. How do we maintain our $2 million principal when we're no longer making contributions? My second question is about real estate. If the returns from both index funds and rental properties comes to around 8 percent, then why would you bother with the additional hassle of real estate? Enjoy!
July 23, 2018
#141: "I'll get around to rolling over my 401k ... next week." "Eventually I'll switch to a cheaper insurance plan." "I really should move my portfolio into lower-fee funds." "Yeah, yeah, I know I should create an estate plan. I'll do it later." ____ We know how to improve our financial lives. We know what steps we ought to take. I'm betting that everyone reading this can name at least one action, big or small, that you could take to improve your net worth. But we don't follow through. Why not? Why do we procrastinate? Why do we ignore the important, in favor of the urgent or the more-pleasant? Why do we act against our self-interests? Why is there a gap between our intentions and our actions? More importantly, how can we bridge this gap? How can we align our knowledge and intention with our behavior? Dr. Stephen Wendel is a behavioral economist and the head of behavioral science at Morningstar, an independent investment research firm. He joins us on the Afford Anything podcast to answer these questions. Here are a few tactics he shares: #1: Automate Set up systems that save you from yourself. #2: Create mental accounts Give every dollar a job. Earmark dollars for specific purposes, so that you don't view your money as commingled in a giant bucket that you can raid. Once you start thinking of piles of money as "my emergency fund" or "my kid's college fund," you'll be less likely to spend it on champagne and luxury hotels. #3: Imagine vivid scenes Our minds are predisposed to prioritize the vivid over the subtle, which is one reason why we suffer from "present bias" -- the tendency to only think about the present, often at the expense of the future. (For example, "I feel like sitting on the couch right now" takes priority over "If I workout, I'll feel better in the future.") In order to combat this, create vivid scenes in your mind that imagine the future in great detail. #4: Create artificial hindsight Imagine a future version of yourself, and from that perspective, look back in hindsight at yourself today. What will Future You regret doing, or regret not having done? This technique is called "prospective hindsight," and it allows you to anticipate the thoughts and emotions of your future self. #5: Simplify If you find yourself drowning in a sea of complex financial decisions, you might lose confidence in your ability to make choices, and therefore not take any action whatsoever. Reduce complexity by making moves that are 'good enough,' rather than perfect. Simplify in order to take action. Dr. Wendel shares more tactics and insights in this episode. Tune in for a deep-dive!
July 16, 2018
#140: Should you buy a rental property that mandates HOA payments? How do you adjust for cap rate over the years, as the property's rent increases with inflation? Should you buy an $88,500 house that rents for $1,250 a month? And can you dive into detail about how you work with contractors and property managers? I answer these four questions in today's Ask Paula episode, themed around real estate investing. Daria asks: My husband and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I've been looking at local properties and I notice that a lot of these properties, Class C+ or higher, come with HOAs. For example, I've found properties that cost $80,000, rent for $1,000 per month, and have HOA fees of around $150. What do you think about HOA fees in general, and how do these affect factors like cap rate? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sabrina asks: How does the cap rate on a property change over time, as the rent increases with inflation and other operating costs shift around? Jasmin asks: I'm looking at a rental property that costs $88,500 and needs $2,000 in initial repairs and other fees. My gross rent would be $1,250 per month, with estimated 8 percent vacancy. I estimate $555 monthly in expenses ($6,660 annually), including setting aside one percent of the purchase price for repairs and maintenance and another one percent of the purchase price for capital expenditures. What do you think of this deal? Rob asks: Can you please explain how you work with your contractors and property managers? On your blog, you describe texting with your contractor, but shouldn't the manager handle that? I'd appreciate any insight into how you handle these relationships.
July 9, 2018
#139: Five years ago, at age 29, Kim E. started her first professional, salaried full-time job, working as a firefighter for the City of Austin, Texas. She received a starting salary of $42,000. Today, five years later, she has saved: - one year's salary ($40,000) in an emergency fund - one year's salary ($42,000) in a workplace retirement fund - more than half a year's salary ($27,500) in a Roth IRA She also paid off her student loans ($10,000), paid off her car loan (roughly around $16,000-ish), and contributed to an H.S.A. account ($6,000, half of which came from an employer match.) Oh yeah, and she also bought and renovated a rental property. Translation? Kim has saved (or repaid debt of) $141,500 within five years, as a firefighter with a starting salary of $42,000, excluding the additional money she's invested into her rental. **She's saved more than 3x her starting salary, within her first five years on the job.** And she's done this while earning a middle-class public service salary in an expensive city. Wowza. How is Kim saving half of her firefighter salary? And before she became a firefighter, what other frugal tactics did she develop? How did she put herself through four years of college with less than $10,000 in debt? How did she travel before college, when she used to earn $10 per hour? Where does her resourcefulness and motivation come from? And what wisdom can she share with others? Find out in today's episode.
July 7, 2018
#138: There’s a famous quote that’s attributed to Henry Ford. The quote says, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”⠀ ⠀ There’s no proof that Henry Ford actually said this. But whether or not that quote is historically accurate, the point remains. If Elon Musk had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a car with better gas mileage.⠀ ⠀ But Elon never bothered asking. Because he knows you cannot change history from the middle of the bell curve. And he knows that design by consensus, by definition, leads to average results.⠀ ⠀ He may ask for input on the details. But he will never ask the crowd to guide his vision.⠀ ⠀ True innovation comes from vision. We see this in technology. We see this an art, music, writing. But often, we fail to see this in ourselves. We allow the crowd to dictate who we are: what our dreams are, what our goals are, what our fears are. We crowdsource our vision and live a life of “should.”⠀ ⠀ Authenticity is the art of not giving a sh*t about should.⠀ ⠀ This sounds fine on the surface, when we’re pontificating about our lives. But it’s much scarier in the real world, when you face the reality that people will judge you. They will criticize you. They will tell you that you’re wrong. ⠀ ⠀ The more you try to step away from should, the more shoulds they throw at you. You should be married. You should have kids. You should have a job.⠀ ⠀ The thing is, they may be talking about you, but it’s not really about you. Your decisions are triggering to them, and they’re reacting to that.⠀ ⠀ Authenticity means accepting that if other people get triggered, that’s not your responsibility. You may be the catalyst, but you’re not responsible for their emotions.⠀ ⠀ And in that regard, authenticity is also the art of setting boundaries.⠀ ⠀ That doesn’t mean you exclude people from your life. But it does mean that you set healthy emotional boundaries, such that their thoughts and feelings do not become internalized as your own.⠀ ⠀ _____ This is a snippet from a speech I delivered at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon last week. I'm sharing the speech for this July 2018 First Friday bonus episode. We broadcast one podcast episode per week, and on the first Friday of each month, we roll out a special bonus episode. Today's episode is July's special bonus episode, and I've divided it into two sections: during the first half, I share the speech that I delivered, and during the second half, I discuss how and why I wrote this speech -- and the key takeaway that I hope people learn from it. Enjoy! _______________________________________ For more ways to interact or listen to the show, go to
July 2, 2018
#137: Today's episode is an annuity sandwich: we answer one question about family and relationships, three questions about annuities, and one question about time management. My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer questions in what, I hope, is the most entertaining episode about annuities you'll hear. Here are the five questions that we'll tackle today. Anonymous asks: I didn't grow up with much money, and my father recently went into bankruptcy. I've worked hard to become financially stable. Unfortunately, my parents expect a handout. How do you handle parents and other family members who look for handouts when they see you're doing well? Zoey asks: I'd like to retire in the next 10-15 years. I'd like to understand the difference between an investment with a lump-sum payout vs. an annuity fund. What are the benefits and drawbacks of these options? How do annuities work? What are their benefits? How do I know what's right for me? Charlene asks: Let's say you're looking at your retirement portfolio, and you realize you're behind. You still have 10-15 years left. You have 10 percent of your portfolio in an annuity. Should you move this money into a stock fund? Or should you keep the annuity? Magy asks: My husband and I are both 32, and save 25% of their income for retirement. He has a 401(k) and maxes out a Roth IRA. I'm a teacher and make a pension contribution. I also max out my Roth IRA and contribute a small amount to a 403(b). My 403(b), however, has a variable annuity with no surrender charge, with a 1.5 percent account fee. Should I keep putting money in this 403(b)? I also have a side hustle; would it be better for me to open a retirement account through my side business? Also, since we're already saving 25% towards retirement, I'm curious if we should invest more for other goals. We're putting 3 percent of our income in non-retirement investment accounts and 1.5 percent of our income in our sons' 529 plans. How should we divide our savings between retirement vs. other long-term goals? Laura asks: You've often written about the importance of an emergency fund and cash reserves. Do you have any ideas in thinking about this way with regard to your time or focus? If you're spending at capacity -- whether you're spending money, time or focus -- you have no space for either emergencies or opportunities. How do you conceptualize this? How do you balance busy-ness with the importance of creating free time and space? We answer these five questions in today's episode. Enjoy! ______ Resources Mentioned: - Afford Anything podcast episode with Laura Vanderkam - Laura Vanderkam's book, 168 Hours - David Allen's book, Getting Things Done - Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist - RoseMarie Garner interview on the FinCon podcast - Afford Anything blog post, "I tracked my time in 15 min increments"   Visit the website at
June 25, 2018
#136: Rich Carey is a military millionaire. He's spent his career in the U.S. Air Force; he's currently stationed in Seoul, South Korea. He was stationed in Germany before this. He'll retire after this. Most of his fellow servicemembers, upon taking a military retirement, start a second career. But Rich doesn't need to. He's financially independent, thanks to his 20 rental properties. He bought most of these properties while stationed overseas. He's renovated them from afar. And he's bought everything with cash. To say his story is impressive is an understatement. Every week, I get emails and messages from readers who say things like: *"I'd like to buy a rental property, but everything in my city is expensive!"* *"I'd like to buy a rental property, but I'm not handy. I can't do any of the work myself."* *"I'd like to buy a rental property, but I only make a middle-class income."* *"I'd like to buy a rental property, but we're a one-income household."* *"I'd like to buy a rental property, but we have two kids, and they're expensive."* Rich's story illustrates how someone with a middle-class income can invest in rental properties from out-of-state. He earns a military salary. He lives in Korea. He's the sole breadwinner in his family. He supports a wife and two children. He's definitely not taking 2 a.m. toilet-fixing phone calls. In fact, he hasn't even seen several of his properties. As you'll hear in the interview, my friend Emma and I visited Montgomery, Alabama about a year ago. Rich's properties are located there. During our visit, I sent Rich an email, saying "Hey, I'm in Montgomery!," and he replied with, "Cool, I just bought another house there! You're welcome to drive by and see it from the outside." This means I've seen houses that he hasn't. *His* houses. ____ How did Rich start investing in rental properties? How did he grow a portfolio of 20 rentals? How could he build this free-and-clear, without taking out any loans? And how does he manage this from Germany and Korea? Find out in this interview. ______________________________ For more information, visit the show notes at
June 18, 2018
#135: Time to talk about houses! I answer your questions about rental property investing in this week's episode. Our first question comes from James, age 25. He lives in Florida, where he bought a $130,000, 3-bedroom, 2-bath condominium in the Class B range as his primary residence. He'd like to buy a second home and rent out his current home. He has $4,000 in cash and is eligible to take out $5,000 as a home equity line of credit. He makes $41,000 per year, after taxes. He'd like to buy one property a year. What funding options can he look into? If he had good credit, can he bypass the downpayment wall? What general advice would I offer to someone in his situation? Here's a short summary of what I tell James: 1. Keep a personal emergency fund. 2. Keep cash reserves for your rental. If your condo rents for $1,300 per month, you'll want at least 3 months' gross rent in reserves, or $3,900. 3. Look into FHA loans, which require only 3.5 percent down. 4. Wait until the HELOC can get you at least $10,000 to $15,000. Ideally you'll also want a little extra on the side for  closing costs and other unexpected costs. 5. Think of 'one house a year' as general guideline rather than diehard order. The more properties you purchase, the faster you can buy properties, because you can reinvest the cash flow from your existing properties. Your growth will be slowest in beginning and gets faster as you move along.   The next question comes from Berlinda. She works in a job she loves, with a great company, chill manager and fantastic team. She's signed a two-year contract, and she's six months into that term. She lives in metropolitan Chicago, but her boyfriend lives in New York. She's concerned that if she moves there, she might not find a job that she loves quite as much. She bought a duplex, and now owns a total of three rental units. She needs to upgrade these units. She projects that she'll need 14 rental units before she can live on the income. How can she scale her rental properties to the point at which she can live on their income? The third question comes from Katie from Mississippi. She started reading the Afford Anything blog in 2015, after she bought her first rental property. She now owns two rentals. She bought the first for $77,000 (purchase + initial repairs) and it rents for $975, and the other for $80,000 (purchase + initial repairs) and it rents for $900. After the PITI mortgage, they collect $603 per month, or $7,236 per year. Their operating expenses have consumed this amount, and in some years their operating costs exceed their income. What's going wrong? The final question comes from Ben. He and a business partner owns a multi-unit rental property, which they purchased two years ago. His business partner lives in one of the three units; the total income is $2200 from two of the three units (plus the partner lives in one unit for free). Their mortgage is $1475, plus $120 for insurance. Ben would like to get out of the deal, but he's not sure how. He'd like to refinance the property to get his name off the mortgage, either by selling his share to his business partner or by finding another partner to replace him within the deal. What should be do? ____ I answer these four questions in today's episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
June 11, 2018
#134: We often peek inside the world of business to look for lessons about how to simplify, optimize and innovate. But what can we learn when we examine world-class people who are hacking the system in any field -- including sports, politics and music? What can we learn when we're radically curious about everything? And how can we apply this knowledge to helping us lead more deliberate, curated lives? Today, we tap Shane Snow's brain for answers. Shane Snow is a co-founder of Contently, a company that matches freelancers with publishers. But we're not going to talk about that today. We're going to explore bigger themes. Because Shane isn't just a tech entrepreneur. He's also an award-winning journalist, which is another way of saying that he's an inquisitive person who lives in the world of storytelling and big ideas. His first book, SmartCuts, explores how people avoid climbing the normative career ladder. It showcases people across a variety of industries who hack the ladder, often by making unconventional lateral moves. And that is exactly the kind of thinking that appeals to anyone building financial independence, and trying to design a meaningful, autonomous and unconventional living. His latest book, Dream Teams, explores what it takes for a group of people to come together to create something amazing. How can the whole be greater than the sum of its parts. And he looks across industries, at everything from hockey teams to businesses and beyond, to find the universal threads inside these stories. A few accolades before we begin: GQ Magazine described Shane's work as "insanely addicting," and The New York Times refers to Shane as a "wunderkind." (I had to Google that term -- apparently, it refers to someone who achieves great success at a young age.) He has also, somehow, appeared on Gossip Girl and beat Super Mario 3. Let's find out what Shane has to say about innovation, curiosity, teamwork, and hacking the system. Oh yes, and kangaroos. For more information, visit the show notes at
June 4, 2018
#133: Andy from Michigan loved the episode with charity:water founder Scott Harrison. After the episode, he and his 6-year-old daughter started watching videos about charity:water, and now they're both inspired to give. Andy's question is on the topic of giving. His is to reach financial independence within 5 to 10 years. He and his wife are debt-free, including mortgage-free, and their retirement accounts are well-fueled. Now they're working on building passive income. In the meantime, though, they'd like to add a bigger charitable slice to their budget. He's not an overly religious guy, but he feels a calling to make more charitable donations than he does. What advice could we offer about how to boost his giving? JR's wife, before they got married, purchased two timeshares at a 17.9 percent interest rate. When the couple met, and she confessed, they immediately paid off the debt. They're now paying $160 per month in timeshare fees. JR is trying to figure out how to get rid of their timeshare, but he can't find any good options. How can he get rid of this? Angela's husband is turning 50, and she is 43. They're on-track to have $1 million in investments within 7 years. They have two rental properties plus a primary residence, all of which will be paid off in around 7 years, as well. They're active and healthy, but they know this can change quickly. What type of long-term care insurance do they need? Joelle works in the public sector. She has a 457(b) retirement account. How does this differ from a 401(k)? She plans to career-change in the next few years, and she's considering whether to keep her funds inside of her 457(b) or rollover her funds into an IRA. What are the pro's and con's of both? Ines from Portugal wants to start a podcast about financial independence, early retirement and real estate investing, specifically for people who live in Europe. The issues that affect people in Europe are different than those that impact people in the U.S., and she sees a need within the marketplace. What advice would I offer to anyone who wants to start a podcast in this niche? For more information, visit the show notes at
June 1, 2018
#132: BONUS EPISODE!! On the first Friday of the month for the remainder of the year, I'm rolling out an additional bonus episode. As you know, this podcast airs weekly on Mondays. I'm thinking about maybe -- MAYBE -- expanding the podcast to twice-a-week. Maybe. But before I make such a big commitment, I figured I'd test the waters by producing *one* extra episode per month. I'll release this on the first Friday of every month for the rest of 2018. Today's episode is the June 2018 First Friday Bonus Episode, in which I answer three questions from the Afford Anything community. Enjoy! ____ Cameron accepted a job in the Middle East, where he earns 60 percent more than he could make at a comparable job in the U.S. He also gets free health care and 30 vacation days annually, which gives him time to travel with his wife and four kids. And thanks to his income and benefits, he and his family are on-track to reach financial independence in six years. The problem? He's just not that into his job. He'd like to pursue something more interesting ... he's just not sure what. And since he doesn't know what's next, he's worried that he might be running *away* from something rather than running *into* something else. Should he tough out the next six years? Or should he quit, even if that will delay his journey to financial independence? __ Hailey is 22, and she bought her first home last year. She bought a condo for $103,000 with a 3 percent downpayment and a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 4.5 percent. Her condo was in mediocre shape at the time, so she's spent the past year renovating the space -- such as replacing the flooring and getting rid of the popcorn ceilings. Her neighbor recently sold his condo for $120,000, so Hailey is reasonably sure that -- between the comparable sale and the improvements that she's made -- her condo could appraise for at least that much. She'd like to get an appraisal, so that she can get rid of her $60 monthly PMI payment. But an appraisal costs between $660 to $850, and she's only planning to live in the condo for another year. She thinks she'll keep the condo for around three more years. Should she get an appraisal? Are there any red flags or drawbacks to doing this? ________ Danica called to say "congratulations!" on the 10-year anniversary of quitting my job. She's curious: how did I reach financial independence? I answer these three questions in today's First Friday Bonus Episode. Enjoy! For links to resources mentioned in this episode, visit 
May 28, 2018
#131: Scott Rieckens and his wife Taylor enjoyed a classic Southern California lifestyle. They lived near a gorgeous beach in sunny San Diego. They frequently dined at sushi restaurants. They drove a BMW. But after the birth of their daughter, everything changed. Taylor, an intelligent, career-driven, independent woman, suddenly didn't want to spend any time away from her new baby girl. And Scott had no idea what to do. Their luxury lifestyle depended on dual incomes. At first, he tried to come up with a million-dollar idea. If he could just create a wildly successful business, he thought, he could fix this problem. He started binge-listening to podcasts, trying to figure out how to pull in seven figures, fast. Then he discovered the financial independence movement. And suddenly everything made a lot more sense. Scott realized that if they gave up their consumption habits -- if they moved to an area with a lower cost-of-living, drove less expensive vehicles, or maybe even lived in an RV for awhile -- they could enjoy the life they wanted. They could trade luxury labels for time-freedom. He crunched a few numbers and realized that they could reduce their spending by 70 percent. But it would require HUGE changes, including an out-of-state move. He wondered how to suggest this idea to his wife. ______ What did Scott say? How did Taylor come on-board? And (spoiler alert!) ... how did they get so enthusiastic about financial independence that they decided to create a documentary about their journey into this lifestyle? Find out in today's episode.
May 21, 2018
#130: Anna and Dave want to get married ... eventually. But they want to buy a rental property together first. How should they approach this from a paperwork/legal structure standpoint? This is just one of the listener questions I play and address in this real estate edition of Ask Paula. For complete show notes and resources offered in this episode, go to
May 14, 2018
#129: Laura Adams grew up in an upper-middle-class family in South Carolina, and her parents supported her through college. She attended her top-choice school, met her husband while they were still students, and enjoyed a charmed life. When she graduated, she continued to live at a lifestyle to which she felt accustomed. She rented a beautiful apartment. She took vacations. When she felt lonely, she comforted herself with shopping sprees. Unfortunately, her spending habits weren't aligned with her meager post-collegiate, entry-level income. Laura quickly found herself buried under thousands of dollars of credit card debt. She began feeling anxious about the debt. Fortunately, Laura channeled that anxiety into action. She cut back on discretionary spending. She watched her monthly mortgage payments fall. She focused on ways to earn more. Every time she'd free a small chunk of money -- a hundred here, a hundred there -- she made an extra payment on her credit card balance. Eventually, Laura wiped out her debts. She decided to become a "serious student" of finance. She returned to school for an MBA, where she noticed that many of her classmates were intelligent, hardworking students who were superb at managing corporate balance sheets, but terrible at managing their own personal finances. She decided to spend her life solving this problem. In 2006, she began writing about personal finance; in 2007, she started a personal finance podcast; by 2008, she was invited to join the Quick and Dirty Tips Network as the host of the Money Girl Podcast. Her podcast on personal finance has been downloaded more than 40 million times. Laura has also authored several books on money management and appeared on more than 1,000 media interviews on NBC, FOX, Bloomberg and more. How did Laura transition from wearing "financial blinders" to a renowned financial expert? What advice would she give to anyone who's trying to overcome the "ostrich," head-in-the-sand mindset around their money? What important money issues are we not talking about enough? Find out in today's episode. For resources mentioned in today's episode, go to
May 7, 2018
#128: Antonia, 27, wants to retire in 15 years. She's trying to figure out whether to contribute to pre-tax or after-tax retirement accounts. Most financial advice for 20-somethings that she's encountered says to contribute to after-tax (Roth) retirement accounts. These articles assume that a 27-year-old will continue earning money for the next 30+ years, presumably escalating into higher tax brackets along the way. By paying taxes upfront, these articles say, you'll enjoy 30+ years of compounding gains, which you'll be able to withdraw tax-exempt. But what if, like Antonia, you're only 15 years from retirement? Should you stick with Roth tax treatment? Or is there wisdom in making retirement contributions with pre-tax money? _____ Marisa is young, high-income, and highly risk-tolerant. She'd like to know: what asset allocation would I suggest for a young, risk-tolerant person? And is rebalancing her portfolio necessary, or just a distraction? _____ Dylan owns his home outright. When he sells it, he'll collect about $100,000 after fees. He also has an additional $100,000 saved in cash. He'd like to buy a home free-and-clear. What's the best way to approach this? Should he take out a home equity line of credit? A bridge loan? Something else? _____ Pal lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He recently bought his first rental property, and he's interested in building passive income and reach financial independence. He's curious about credit card piggybacking, a side hustle by which a person with a high credit score adds another person with a low credit score as an authorized user to their card. It seems like a legitimate way to earn extra money. Why aren't more people talking about this? Is there a problem he's overlooking? _____ Anonymous, 24, says she knows next-to-nothing about investing. She has $6,500 in her Roth IRA, invested in a Washington Mutual Class A mutual fund, which is an actively-managed mutual fund with a front load. Should she keep her money there? Or should she move it? Her second question is about her 401k. She contributes 5 percent of her paycheck into a Roth 401k account, from which she invests in a Target Date retirement fund. Her employer doesn't match any contributions. Her total contributions to both accounts (her Roth 401k and Roth IRA) equal $5,500 per year. Should she stop contributing to her Roth 401k, so that she can focus her contributions on her Roth IRA? ____ Jeff and his wife are both 64. When he reads about retirement, the information is ambiguous about Social Security. Let's say that he has $1 million saved towards retirement, which generates $40,000 annually at the 4 percent rule of thumb. Let's also say that he is eligible for Social Security income of $40,000 per year. Doesn't this mean he could retire on $80,000 per year? If so, then why do "4 percent rule" projections only talk about the portfolio portion? ____ Former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy and I discuss these questions on today's episode. Enjoy!   For links to resources mentioned in this episode, go to
April 30, 2018
#127: Most people know what they “should” do — save for the future. Spend less than they earn. Why do so few people follow through? In this episode, Dr. Klontz and I discuss shame, guilt, and how to implement behavioral changes. We talk about how to contextualize our beliefs based on our family history, and how to recognize whether or not our beliefs are limiting or dysfunctional. For more, visit the show notes at
April 23, 2018
#126: It's time to answer real estate investing questions! Tom asks: "We're thinking about buying a duplex on a beach in a popular vacation destination in Florida. If the property stays 85 percent occupied as a short-term (VRBO) rental at current rates, the income from one unit of the duplex could cover the costs of a 30-year mortgage. "But if a recession hits, Florida real estate might tank. The rental rates or occupancy could drop. And we'd be stuck paying the mortgage out-of-pocket, which means we might not be able to retire. Should we take this risk?" Rachel asks: "Would you consider purchasing a beach house? Also, would you consider buying out-of-state?" Alfredo asks: "I own a couple of rental properties. I have to admit, my personal and business funds are completely co-mingled. I'm trying to separate these expenses, but it's a mess. If I hired professional help, how much might I pay?" Anonymous from the Northeast asks: "I'm gathering friends to invest. We live in the northeast, where home prices are expensive. I'd like to invest out-of-town. They'd like to invest locally. What talking points can you give me to convince them to invest out-of-state?" Mitzi asks: "Could you please explain the 1 percent rule-of-thumb around buying a rental property?" I answer these 5 questions in this episode. Enjoy! For more information, visit the show notes at
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