Podcast #48 Show Notes: Choose Financial Independence

We have had the Physician on Fire on the podcast before talking about financial independence and retiring early as it relates to physicians. This episode we have a couple of other podcasters and bloggers, an accountant and a pharmacist, who really focus on financial independence and why it is important even if you do not want to retire early. Brad and Jonathan from Choose FI are passionate about the rewards financial independence can bring into your life. You can really feel their passion and enthusiasm in this interview! Listen to the podcast here or it is available via the traditional podcast outlets, ITunesOvercast, Stitcher, Google Play. Enjoy!

Podcast # 48 Sponsor

[00:00:18] This episode is brought to you by 37th Parallel Properties. As you know, I'm primarily an index mutual fund guy. But there's a strong body of evidence supporting alternative investments – especially commercial multifamily investments. They can provide non-correlated equity growth and tax-advantaged income. Full disclosure, I've just started investing with 37th Parallel.  But, several members of White Coat Investor have invested with them and all seem to be happy with their results and reporting. With over $300M in profitable multifamily transactions, they've made the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies the past two years and are on pace to do it again this year.

One thing I really like is that 37th Parallel educates their investors. You can learn more about them and get a very informative introduction to how commercial multifamily investing works via their special report Evidence Based Investing. Check out 37parallel.com/ebi. 

Quote of the Day

[00:01:21] “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison

Main Topic

[00:02:14] In this episode we have an interview with Brad and Jonathan from Choose FI.

[00:02:50] Brad is a CPA and shares a little about his upbringing, education, and training.

[00:08:14] Jonathan is a pharmacist and shares a little about his upbringing, education, and training.


  1. [00:14:57] What message do you have for those who are pharmacists, they like pharmacy, they want to continue with their practice and that profession, what message do you have for them? As far as reaching financial independence and being financially successful without punching out, without going the entrepreneur route. What advice do you have for them?
  2. [00:20:40] Now you guys come from different backgrounds, different upbringings, obviously different education, training, and career. How did you guys meet?
  3. [00:23:05] Is Choose FI a blog with a podcast or is it a podcast with a blog?
  4. [00:25:48] Why did you guys decide to go the partnership route? And how does that lead you to make decisions about the business with each of you being a partner?
  5. [00:29:11] It seems like in the last five years there has been an explosion in people talking about FI. Is this just the trendy way to talk about personal finance or is something really shifted, is there something really different, or is this just what we are calling personal finance blogs and podcasts?
  6. [00:34:05] What does your audience look like? How does somebody know whether they fit into your audience?
  7. [00:40:30]  What is your message for the person, who is currently spending 200 or 300 thousand dollars a year, to be able to change their life in such a way that they could retire on two and a half million dollars?
  8. [00:47:20] You mentioned Camp Financial Independence. Tell us a little bit about this. I know you guys are big proponents of it so I want to hear your perspective on it and why that might be something that some of my listeners may be interested in doing.
  9. [00:49:43] A criticism that a lot of people who first find a fire podcast or a fire blog have is they say “I love my career. I don't want to punch out of my career. Why does FI matter if I don't plan to retire early? Why shouldn't I enjoy a few luxuries and just hit financial independence later in my career?”


[00:54:21]  Be sure to check out the Choose FI podcast.  And follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Full Transcription

Intro: [00:00:00] This is the White Coat Investor podcast where we help those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street. We've been helping doctors and other high income professionals stop doing dumb things with their money since 2011. Here's your host Dr. Jim Dahle.


WCI: [00:00:18] Welcome to Episode 48 of the white coat investor podcast. This is going to be a discussion with the founders of ChooseFI. This episode is brought to you by 37 parallel properties. As you know I'm primarily an index mutual fund guy but there's a strong body of evidence supporting alternative investments especially commercial multifamily investments they can provide non correlated equity growth in tax advantaged income. Full disclosure I've just started investing with 37 parallel but several members of the white coat investor community have invested with them in the past and all seem to be happy with the results in reporting. With over 300 million in profitable multifamily transactions they've made the INC. 5000 list of fastest growing companies the past two years and are on pace to do it again this year. One thing I really like is that 37 parallel educates their investors. You can learn more about them and get a very informative introduction to how commercial multifamily investing works via their special report evidence based investing. Check out 37 parallel dot com slash EBI.


WCI: [00:01:21] Our quote of the day today comes from Thomas Edison who said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”


WCI: [00:01:28] Thank you so much for what you do. The work you do on a daily basis really does matter. So as you're commuting into your job today or as you're headed home and getting all that stress off of your shoulders I hope this podcast can give you not only some tools that will help you to find financial success in your life but also the motivation to do so.


WCI: [00:01:50] We've had the Physician on Fire on here before talking about financial independence and retiring early as it relates to physicians today. I've got a couple of other podcasters and bloggers that are going to be with us who really focus on financial independence and retiring early. This is Brad and Jonathan from Choose FI dot com.


WCI: [00:02:14] So in this episode we've got some special guest today. It's actually the first time we've had an interview with two people the ones we have Brad and Jonathan from choose FI dot com who are with us today and we're going to have kind of a free ranging interview and talk about a bunch of different issues relevant to both of them. Learn a little bit more about their lives and their financial lives in particular as well as their Web site. But first let's let's get into meeting these guests a little bit and learn a little more about them. Brad you're a CPA. Tell us about your upbringing education and training.


Brad: [00:02:50] Yeah. Jim welcome. Thank you so much for having us. We really nice to meet you and nice to certainly be introduced to the White investor audience. So yeah I am a CPA by training.


Brad: [00:03:02] I grew up in Long Island New York so kind of upper middle class middle class family. Went to a I guess you'd say a kind of top tier college and had a really great accounting program with just this one phenomenal professor who basically taught by the Socratic method and it was just like the most challenging course of my life and it just really opened my eyes to accounting and the value of really critical thinking I guess. So that kind of led me into my major and then I started working for one. At the time it was the big five accounting firms and kind of quickly realize that that wasn't necessarily the life path that I had envisioned. Basically you know the 60 70 hour weeks during busy season it was just it just wasn't the life that I was looking for. And I think I just kind of very quickly came to the realization that by saving money I could eventually get my freedom and I don't know where frankly I came up with that idea. As a 22 year old kid. But so it predated certainly the famous fire blogs that Mr. Money Mustache and such but I just had this sense that I wanted to save money I wanted to live below my means I guess I'm like the typical like two marshmallow delayed gratification type person I guess I've always been like that to some extent but getting into the real world and realizing, oh wow you mean I can't take more than a week's vacation for essentially the rest of my life like that just it just didn't make sense to me. It didn't make sense to succeed quote unquote life and have that as my sentence until I was in my 60s. It just it just didn't add up.


WCI: [00:04:54] I love it sentence makes it sound terrible doesn't it.


Brad: [00:04:58] Oh poor me right. It's I'm working at it. Are you currently working as a CPA. I'm not actually so. Yeah I'm about I guess in February of 2015 I left my job so I graduated in 2001 so I worked for about 14 years and I left to work on multiple websites that I had. So this predated choose FI. I had a Web site and still have a website called Richman's saver's dot com where I basically I help people use credit card rewards points to travel primarily actually to Disney World for free or close to free and then I started up a more general travel rewards site called travel miles 101 actually with a fellow doctor Alexi Zemsky of milesdividendMD. I'm not sure if you're familiar with him.


WCI: [00:05:48] Yeah I know I know him well we've had correspondence over the years.


Brad: [00:05:51] Nice nice. Yeah brilliant guy and a great business partner and yeah we just kind of had different perspectives on the travel rewards game. And he was much more aggressive than me. I'm certainly much more conservative and we just made like a nice team to be able to present that strategy I guess on how to save potentially tens of thousands of dollars on travel to professionals. You know to CPA to doctors to people people like us essentially. So yeah it's it's been quite a journey. So yeah it's three years now.


WCI: [00:06:22] Very cool. And what do you think do you feel like you have that freedom you were seeking.


Brad: [00:06:26] Oh I certainly do. I mean yeah I'm talking to you right now from my spare bedroom I've got my kids coming home in two hours and I meet them at the bus every single day and we sprint back from the bus stop to our front door and race back in. I mean literally race and just sit and play games and read. It's it's an amazing lifestyle and I certainly am putting it nowhere near the the 40 to 60 hour weeks that I would have been as a as a CPA. So yeah it's it's a wonderful lifestyle and obviously being an entrepreneur is as you know Jim is not easy by any means. There are certainly many many ups and downs but in totality it's been phenomenal.


WCI: [00:07:07] Very cool. And you know I think a lot of my listeners can relate to working 60 or 70 hour weeks and feeling like that's a sentence in some ways because you commit to some of these careers you commit to them in your early 20s and you don't really know what kind of a person you're going to be in your mid 30s. I can remember when I went into the military at 23-24 is when I was really committed to it. And the first time I was deployed I think I was 33. My life was very different at 33 than it was at 23. You know it all looked like a great adventure in my 20s and by my 30s you know I had a couple of kids that I really didn't have a lot of interest in going and spending half a year in the Middle East without my family. And so it's interesting how we change over the years and how difficult it is in some of these professions with a long pipeline to know who you're going to be in a decade much less three decades from now. And I think that's one of the one of the difficult things about about being a professional really.


WCI: [00:08:03] Let's turn to you Jon and then you're a pharmacist like a fair number of our listeners and our readers here at the White Coat investor. Tell us about your upbringing and your education your training yeah.


Jonathan: [00:08:14] So I grew up in a lower middle class income family and I would say that in my mind entrepreneurship always just terrified me. I mean that was day a easy way to go bankrupt everybody knows that businesses failed. So in my mind I was always looking for if you're looking at the markers in terms of how to pick your profession or your job I was looking for one that had a higher salary one that had plenty of job prospects one that gave me plenty of flexibility. One that would provide that income in that lifestyle that I wanted for myself and for my family and pharmacy met all the markers and that became my guiding light and and I would say that you know that's a that's an eight year path right. You know for years for first for undergrad college and then four years for pharmacy school I got out and I came out of school at the age of 28 years old with 168 thousand dollars in student loan debt making an entry level six figure salary and realized wow. It's a lot more difficult to pay down six figures in student loan debt than it was to take it out.


Jonathan: [00:09:19] And the implications of that were that if I decided to to you know pay it off over 20 or 25 years I'm going to be paying a minimum of twelve hundred dollars a month for life. You kind of have this anvil of student loan debt hanging over your shoulders and the salary that I thought I was going to have after taxes were taken out and after you know after that monthly payment for my student loans was coming out. It just it wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be At face value. And so in my mind at this point I started really being interested in the math. What are people doing when it actually looks like what does it actually look like to win at this game of personal finance. And interestingly enough you know I found that Dave Ramsey got a little bit understood this idea of getting out of debt that really appealed to me but that messaging kind of drops off there and then I'm give you a shout out Jim. I actually stumbled on your Web site really in the early days. I think this was probably maybe 2011 2012 when you first started writing and.


WCI: [00:10:14] Yeah you might have been my first my first reader sounds like.


Jonathan: [00:10:17] The first person other than mom right. Hi mom.


WCI: [00:10:20] You know if I could get my mom to keep reading than I'd be doing well.


Jonathan: [00:10:24] But I stumbled on you and Mr. Money Mustache roughly around the same time and like my mind was blown. Clearly these were individuals that got it. And this is information that I'm not seen anywhere else. Your typical adviser is not giving you this information and it just feel felt like you guys had figured this out. This was a game that could be beaten.


Jonathan: [00:10:41] It was a game that you could win and you didn't need to have a doctorate to do it you just need to have some trusted resources need to have some people that were modeling and demonstrating these behaviors and then it was just a slow replicable path over time. So kind of between you three individuals Dave Ramsey, mustache, and Whitecoat investor. Honestly I started to formulate a game plan to I guess win this game of personal finance like I was referencing earlier and that a lot of that lit a fire under me to pay off my student loans in under four years I think I paid off 168 K in about three and a half years. And now this is very interesting though. So this represents like a 12 year period of time. So at the age of 32 years old I'm basically back to broke. I mean you're starting from scratch at 32 and I have this great salary but I'm also kind of burned out like I'm a little bit disillusioned with you know where what exactly this career that I promise exactly what it is that I'm doing. I find that I'm spending a lot of my time just processing third party insurance claims and dealing with stuff that really was had nothing to do with the skill set that I had developed over the eight years. And I at this point time I recognized that while this was a viable path and because I had been able to increase my savings rate so high that I could just continue that forward.


Jonathan: [00:11:58] What really happened is by paying off my student loans that aggressively being back to even I had bought myself a runway I'd bought myself flexibility and honestly I'd bought myself the freedom to choose a life that was more interesting to me. So we started this I guess this is kind of the next chapter that 32 is basically the time at which I am back to even. And now my life is starting into this next phase. But some opportunities afforded them self to me and now actually did back in this entrepreneurial path. Creating this podcast and the blog with Brad and that really has become my passion and that's that's what I'm doing now full time


WCI: [00:12:35] Very cool. So how many years did you were you working as a pharmacist.


Jonathan: [00:12:39] I did pharmacists for four years was in pharmacy for four years and I pursued it. Yes. I mean I was I knew I wanted to do it got my bachelor's degree for years did four years of pharmacy school and then four years of retail pharmacy. At the end of that 12 year cycle I was like huh. I don't think this is a good fit anymore.


WCI: [00:12:58] Yeah I'll tell you what a lot of physicians would love to be back to even by 32. You know I mean I can't believe how long it takes some people to get back to even. I was looking at the data for physicians just from a physician network survey and the the lower cortile of physicians gets back to broke on average at age 40. Yeah. Which is which is pretty crazy to think that these people that all of society thinks are rich and wealthy and high income they're not even you know they're as poor as the bum on the street.


WCI: [00:13:32] You know they're not in back to broke until until mid career really. Which is which is pretty unfortunate.


Jonathan: [00:13:38] And the amazing thing is that in many cases you do have this massive shovel that it works out in your favor in the long term. But I think it is that opportunity costs that really does need to be evaluated. You know especially when you're talking about your messaging for your kids and what path do you want them to follow. And does it have to be this one specific career path or really does it just come down to savings rate and you know coming up with a game plan because if you talk about it yes you have a multi 6 figure income going into age 40 and beyond that break even point right. But knowing how compound interest works if we back that up you could have a much smaller salary and it would still even out you know because you're able to start so much sooner. That's the math that I continue to grapple with and I think ultimately it's one of the things that drives our show and drives our podcast. What does the most optimized path actually look like. And while I think that you know doctors have one of the most honored professions it's a calling it has to be a calling because if you're just doing it for the money you're going to burn out. Right.


WCI: [00:14:39] I think I think that's absolutely true. I mean it's one of those things that I think if you can be talked out of it you should be talked out of it you know because the pipeline is just so long and so difficult that without true passion for it you're not going to get through the pipeline. You're certainly not going to have your humanity at the end of it.


WCI: [00:14:57] Now you guys. What message do you have particularly you Jonathan for those who are pharmacists they like pharmacy they want to continue with their with their practice and that profession. What message do you have for them. As far as reaching financial independence and being financially successful without punching out without going the entrepreneur out. What advice do you have for them.


Jonathan: [00:15:20] You know that is where I was hoping this conversation was going to go because this is totally although we kind of highlighted the negatives and the burnout and that sort of thing. The reality is once you if you don't let your lifestyle creep which is very insidious I have this six figure salary I need to demonstrate that I have this lifestyle. You know I think and in particular in your case with doctors or maybe even more societal pressure I think pharmacists can kind of sneak under the radar because nobody really expects us to have any particular societal metrics that you might think of. We're not expected to be in the country club or not expected necessarily to have our kids in the private school so it comes down to what do we want to do. And I think if you can resist some of that societal pressure you can crush this game. Ultimately what we have found over and over again is that it just comes down to simple math and it comes down to a savings rate.


Jonathan: [00:16:12] It's not about your income it's about your expenses and it's about what percentage of that you can put aside. So it really is as simple as if you can save 50 percent of your income you can get to a point where working is totally optional within a period of like 10 to 15 years. And the amazing thing is one of the things that motivated me to pay down my debt so aggressively was that I latched onto that math early on and realized that as soon as I get back to broke from there I'm looking at about 10 to 15 years. I'm not going to be having this reality check in my early 60s about you know what is my retirement going to look like very likely in my early 40s to work or not to work is going to be decisions based on how much do I value my job. How much am I enjoying what I'm doing. And it's not work and work in this job or not work at all or have you know start your own business. Rather it's if you're not enjoying what you're doing what would it look like to have a job in your career that you love doing what you're doing. And I think so many of us are operating from this place of financial scarcity where we're afraid to even push the envelope even a little bit with our with our bosses with our the corporation that we may work for because we're just afraid of being let go and saying well you know if you want to go that way you're going to have to leave and that mentality is usually caused by the fact that you have no financial runway.


Jonathan: [00:17:34] You know if your job disappears to more How are you going to pay your bills next week next month next year. If you can save 50 percent of your income for even a relatively short period of time suddenly you have years to figure this out and it changes everything. With regards to essentially hitting a reset button and finding a career specific job a civic path that you love.


WCI: [00:17:57] I love this concept the financial runway to little more space little more breathing room little more time to get over the trees at the end of the runway.


Brad: [00:18:05] And Jim we certainly do not have an anti job message by any means. That's that's not the point of choose FI or to me FI in general it's about truly financial independence so we have a pro freedom and pro flexibility message that's that's I think the important distinction a lot of people get hung up on that that fire right financial independence retire early but there's so many negative connotations of retiring and it's just a very loaded message. So we really focus on financial independence. You don't get into a high paying high prices job to be beholden to others. I think that's that's really where I'm coming from. It's you. What are those aspects of your job that you enjoy. And can you maybe just focus on those once you have. We kind of affectionately call it FU money in in the FI community where when you hold all the cards the power dynamic shifts very dramatically and you know frankly I don't know enough about the medical profession to know precisely how this would work.


Brad: [00:19:08] But based on conversations that I've had with physician on fire where I know he went down to I think it was point six time for for a while there and he may still be there. There are some options to be flexible so that might be that might mean flexible on your time. The percentage of your shifts or maybe flexible on things you don't like about your job the endless meetings the like Jonathan said with his pharmacy job filling out third party insurance forms I mean ridiculous things like that. I assume one doesn't get into medicine to fill out insurance forms right. That's kind of.


WCI: [00:19:43] I'm pretty sure that's nobody motivation going into better medical school.


Brad: [00:19:47] The understatement of the century right. So I mean when you have financial independence when you have that ability to regain the control back in your life. Things change. And I think that's that's really the kind of empowering message that we want to spread to our listeners and yours is that things change when again when that power shifts to your corner. And like you said before that lower cortile people with net worth of zero or below regardless of their income they're not wealthy. Right. And so many of us get caught up in oh they make a lot of money. So by definition they're wealthy. To me it's net worth. So I do everything I can to increase my net worth and that's both in my case on the the earnings side with my businesses and on the savings side


WCI: [00:20:40] Amen to that. Now you guys come from different backgrounds different upbringings obviously different education and training and career. How did you guys meet.


Jonathan: [00:20:48] So Brad is known in our space for being just amazing at travel rewards and to be honest with you coming from maybe the slightly more traditional personal finance world. This was a giant blind spot for me. So while I was open to all the optimizations that that you talk about including maxing out your HSA , backdoor Roth IRA and everything else and a lot of the people in the community were talking about the same stuff. Credit cards have always had this evil connotation that oh no if you're smart with your money you don't use credit cards. And suddenly out of nowhere I hear Brad featured on the mad fientist podcast Talking about how he uses travel rewards to travel the world for free. And this is a listen to them on a trusted resource with people that I agree with on 90 plus percent of everything and suddenly this guy is talking about. And in particular people that are in high you know marginal tax brackets can save upwards of ten thousand dollars a year and get that travel for free so not only are you not spending your money which is post-tax dollars on travel but then the travel you're actually doing is not taxed at all which is almost like a double benefit. So hearing this incorporated in my universe realize that even though I thought I was good at personal finance there was this massive blind spot and then somewhere in this particular episode I heard that he was in Richmond Virginia which is where where I was and suddenly you have one of these in real life connections and so I reached out to him and asked to get lunch.


Jonathan: [00:22:15] I pitched him on this idea of building a game plan. There's a lot of people that have had blogs really documenting what they had done but there was nobody really talking about turning this these concepts these amazing ideas into a podcast episode and having it build you know as it goes. Making sure that it's conversational that it's very relatable and hopefully somewhat motivational as well. And he for whatever reason without knowing anything about me other than my enthusiasm said Yeah that sounds awesome. I'm in. I wasn't exactly expecting him to say yes to that. I mean this is just a guy that you meet for the first time. And yeah it took off and there's been a real synergy there and I think you know my unbridled enthusiasm is tempered really well by his kind of accountant fact minded brain and we just bounce pretty well off each other and it's been a pretty fun ride.


WCI: [00:23:05] Very cool. Now choose F.I. a blog with with the podcast or is it a podcast with a blog.


Jonathan: [00:23:12] That's like going to the Apple store and trying to decide whether or not you want white or black. It's tough that's tough to answer but I would say that we are first and foremost a podcast. We started that way and it expanded naturally very naturally to a blog because both of those mediums give you a different way to express some of the same concept and solidify it in different ways so that you know there's audio learners and writing and people that learn by reading written content. But I think first and foremost we're known as a podcast.


WCI: [00:23:38] So where can people find your stuff where can they get the podcast where can they get the blog?


Brad: [00:23:43] Yes so the blog is at Choose f i dot com. And yeah the podcast if you're listening to this podcast you can find ours. Just search for choose F.I.. And it should come up whether you do it two words or one just choose F.I. And yeah we actually have a Jonathan mentioned before kind of that in real life connection and that's that's one of the things that we focus on mostly choose FI. It's really become this this community and this true gathering place so we actually have a Facebook group that has 14000 members which you know is great in and of itself. But what we've done is we've started local groups throughout the entire world. And now we have 140 plus local groups I think on. I forget Jonathan could tell you the candidates five continents and something like 15 or 20 countries. And yeah I mean people are meeting up to share ideas to just have a meet up over beers or play board games or whatever it may be. Get go out for a hike and just to have those people in a community where most of us in the FI community are kind of islands unto ourselves like we don't even in the personal finance world with your audience Jim. We don't talk about personal finance with other people because it's bad that one last great taboo.


Brad: [00:25:02] So to have people who you have this common bond with already has really made just an enormous difference in a lot of people's lives and amazingly our entire podcast and this whole ecosystem that we describe it just kind of it we only started it 14 months ago at this point. So it's amazing to see the groundswell and how this has has really made a difference again in people's lives.


WCI: [00:25:26] That's pretty amazing growth in 14 months. That's that's really quite impressive. That's very well done to you guys for doing that.


Jonathan: [00:25:33] And I think it speaks to the fact that there is just a whole I mean you know finding people that share this set of values and wanting to optimize their specific city they're really just for whatever reason there wasn't a way to do this at such a granular level. And yeah it's been a wild ride.


WCI: [00:25:48] You know now a two person blog is pretty unusual two person podcast is not so unusual. But why did you guys decide to go that route instead of two individual blogs. And then how does that lead you to make decisions about the business with you know each of you being a partner. I think it's Dave Ramsey that says the only ship that doesn't sale is a partnership. And I'm curious how you guys have worked that out over over the last 14 months to make business decisions and and what influenced you to do this as a partnership rather than to independent businesses.


Jonathan: [00:26:20] Jim I think I'm actually more surprised than you that it's been such a huge success. I mean I heard all the same stuff that you've mentioned that partnerships can be a disaster. That drama can rip them apart and you need to have very strong legal agreements and all this other stuff. And I sometimes go back and a question like why it has been the most drama free wonderful experience I ever could have imagined.


Jonathan: [00:26:42] I wonder if a piece of it isn't that because of the way we're coming at personal finance there isn't as much of a scarcity mindset. Maybe that's part of it and maybe Brad can can dive into it with a little bit more depth and detail but it has been the most amazing partnership that I could have ever imagine. And there hasn't been a literally a single moment since we started that I regretted it. And it's just a very simple business model is just kind of a 50 percent type deal.


Brad: [00:27:08] Yeah. And to your initial question Jim I'm not sure that we ever contemplated doing two separate sites or certainly the podcast we considered it all just part and parcel of the same the same business. So it it really did drive off of that initial podcast and the website just existed in tandem. So I don't think we ever had a thought to separate them in any way. And I had already had my web sites on the side and in another you know the travel rewards slash generic personal finance world then and this was our joint project in the financial independence world. So I think that's that's where the background came from that and yeah it's a tough question because to your point you obviously have 50/50 partners. It's not 51 49. There's not that one person who makes a decision at the end of the day.


Brad: [00:27:58] And you would think that that would lead to potential issues because frankly we didn't do our perfect due diligence on creating airtight operating agreements and all this stuff at the outset which I mean that's just stupid honestly and we've owned up to that on on our own podcast and it's just one of these things you get excited you. Hey let's start a podcast and we didn't think about sitting down with lawyers and hammering out every eventuality for 20 years down the road. So you know we really just started it from this place of enthusiasm. And it really yeah Jonathan it's hard to kind of put it into words but we just we just get along we know we work so well together. And I think neither of us internally believes that we are more important than the other because we hear over and over and over again. Hey I listened to this podcast in finance and independence but I just love the rapport you guys have. You know they listen to some other podcast but there's just something about our different perspectives and our different levels in not enthusiasm because obviously I'm enthusiastic as well. But Jonathan and I come with very different skill sets very different demeanor. So it's just a very natural partnership. And yeah we really work well together.


WCI: [00:29:11] Very cool. Thank you for sharing that. Now you mentioned a term a generic personal finance blogger generic finance blog and it seems like the last five years there's kind of been an explosion in people talking about F.I. about financial independence. Is this just the trendy way to talk about personal finance or is something really shifted is there something really different or is this just what we're calling personal finance blogs and podcasts.


Jonathan: [00:29:36] No I really think there is something shifting.I think that financial independence in a very meaningful way is taking an outside an outsized piece of the personal finance pie if you will. I think just because personal finance is so generic it lacks purpose. There's no y built into personal finance. There's clearly a Y built into financial independence and so it makes it a much more appealing gateway for someone that has never expressed any interest in this idea of getting a financial ground game if suddenly you can get. I think that's what personal finance lacked. It lacked an elevator pitch it lacked a quick short intro to introduce someone to the topic that didn't have them snoring at the end of 10 seconds. I think with financial independence you can very quickly express the idea that even on a middle class salary you can get to a point in time where your money is earning enough money for you. That working is optional not to say you don't work. Not to say that there is anything wrong with work but rather you're making the choice to go to work because you love it or that you value it. And isn't that what it always comes down to it comes down to value. And I think fi gives us a new way of framing that message that for whatever reason personal finance just simply doesn't doesn't offer


Brad: [00:30:58] And Jim to add to that I think and I don't mean to use that generic personal finance as such a pejorative but I'm thinking of like the seven ways to save money and you know your bills this month are those kind of like whatever they call them list of calls or something like that's the kind of cheesy thing that I'm talking about as opposed to to me financial independence.


Brad: [00:31:19] And our message specifically is about empowerment. It's about the pursuit of happiness. It's not about living this life that just is. As Jonathan calls it the hamster wheel that for most people it's you start work at 22. Obviously not in the medical profession but you know many of us started 22. If you're lucky you retire in your early to mid 60s. That's 40 years of just the same thing over and over again and that's that's not what I wanted out of my life. That's just not how I envision my life. And to me to be able to have saved so diligently for a fairly short period of time in the grand scheme of things 10 to 15 years and now have the ability to wrest control back of my life for the next five decades. That to me is an absolute no brainer. And that's a message that I can convey to anybody right. I get to now focus on my health. I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm 38 years old. I do Brazilian jiu jitsu and crossfit and I run around with my girls all the time. I'm in fantastic shape. I meditate every morning. I have a morning routine. I have these three businesses that I that I work on daily I'm home with my wife every single day. It's it's this wonderful life that I could have never envisioned as a 22 year old kid. But because it's it's it's not good and it's just because I did decide to focus on financial independence so to me that's the distinction.


Brad: [00:32:49] It's not just hey Max your Roth IRA and save some money. It's that why of fi it's the what are you looking to get out of your life.


Jonathan: [00:33:00] And Jim I got an e-mail from a physician last week it's super short would you like for me to read a paragraph?


WCI: [00:33:04] Let's hear it. I'm sure the readers are the listeners would love to hear it.


Jonathan: [00:33:07] This is explicitly their view on financial independence and she said being a busy physician I've come to view financial independence as holidays. I no longer need to work or overnight calls I don't have to take. I'm slowly working my way through the podcast and enjoy just listening to you talk about it so passionately but as I aggressively pay down my student loans and avoid lifestyle inflation you guys have been giving me affirmation that my already intentional lifestyle is the key for freedom and happiness. I came to this epiphany in my personal life a few months ago. I kept finding that I was miserable on the weekends. I love my husbands and kids. But by Sunday afternoon I was completely ready to go back to work and so essentially what she's saying is that it's kind of this reorientation on focusing not necessarily on how do I not work anymore but how do I have a life of meaning and value and be able to reallocate my time which ultimately is our most precious resource that all of us universally are running out of towards those things that bring back value.


WCI: [00:34:05] Very cool. It's a powerful message you have if you had to define your audience for both the blog and the podcast. What does your audience look like. How does somebody know whether they fit into your audience.


Jonathan: [00:34:19] You know I think we've gone I think more and more as we have I think more and more as we've really been thinking through this. We've had the realization that everybody wants this why would somebody not want this. They may just not know it yet. And so we've been going out of our way to find people that have been working towards or chief financial independence in really a myriad of different ways and have them share their stories and what we find is it isn't the story necessarily of someone quitting their job. I think maybe in the early days fire was really tethered to this idea of extreme frugality and how quickly can I quit my job. But rather it's finding examples of these people that have lives of value and the the the steps and processes they put into place to achieve this. And so I would say I mean clearly from my perspective from my perspective Jim you are FI Like I don't know if you would identify with that term or use that term but you have by every single metric that you could possibly hope for. You are going to work clearly at this point because you choose to because you love to do it. I don't know if you're going to say hey I have 22 you know that the 25 times x your annual expenses. But at this point in time going to work for you is a choice that you make based on the value that you're bringing in the value that you're getting. And I think that that is something that your audience can relate to and strive for as well.


WCI: [00:35:42] For sure there's no doubt about that. And really in the last two or three years we've tried to make changes in our lives. We basically sat down and drew a Venn diagram of what our ideal life looked like and what our current life looked like. And we've been trying to get those two circles to overlap as much as possible and as we do that we've found that yes it does indeed make us happier when we're living her ideal life. In my case that meant cutting back on some shifts. So about a year and a half ago I went to three quarter time and it also meant dropping nightshifts which I dropped a little over a year ago. And you know just taking out basically the unpleasant parts of my job. And so it's really made it much more pleasant. And I look around as I move toward Half-Time this summer that I look at and go I could do this forever. You know is completely enjoyable to go practice medicine on those kinds of terms without you know any overnight shifts without you know feel like I am going to be back in there six days in a row you know because I'm not. I don't work enough shifts to have to be in there six days in a row. And so I think you're absolutely right that having that independence really allows people to craft the life they're looking for. I'm 100 percent in agreement with that for sure.


Brad: [00:36:56] And yeah Jim just to kind of add to Jonathan's response there I would say our our audience is pretty diverse and varied. I find in fairness the vast majority probably would be in their 30s and 40s. If I had to guess we haven't done any demographic data certainly but I do see people from their early 20s people who are still in college even and haven't made those quote mistakes that many of us do all the way up to their 60s and 70s even people just learning about this message and maybe they were hopeless before and they've found this message and saying hey even no matter what mistakes you've made in the past and this is an important message that we try to get across. You can't beat yourself up about past mistakes. You can't beat yourself up about like Jonathan 168 thousand dollars where the student loan debt that now he's not even a pharmacist anymore. But that's irrelevant. It's you make decisions going forward that will put you in the best position possible. So I mean to me that's again another wonderfully empowering message. And of course it goes without saying that someone with a high income like your audience can reach FI faster. There's just more disposable income to save. And obviously depending on your lifestyle if you can keep your lifestyle somewhat under check. And I use that kind of tongue in cheek and that like even if you spent let's say you paid off your mortgage and all your student loans were gone and you spent a hundred thousand dollars a year. I don't know frankly how you would do that. I mean that's like what. I think I did the math. It's 274 dollars per day just in like discretionary spending essentially because at that point your savings rate has to be zero.


Brad: [00:38:43] This is assuming you're at your FI you need basically 2.5 million dollars saved up. That's kind of the the 25 times rule. Right. So the 4 percent rule I guess the opposite of that. So that allows you basically at this point when your student loans are paid off your home loan is paid off. You just have all this money to blow. I mean frankly again I don't know how you'd spend that much money but even just for argument's sake. Well I mean to save 2.5 million dollars on a physician's salary over 15 years with compound interest. I can't imagine that's terribly difficult. I unfortunately I didn't run the scenario before we started up this podcast. But just based on my own math and my own life based on a much much smaller managers salary and as a CPA in a in a company I was able to reach you know not all that far off from that. And that's with a fraction of a of a doctor salary. So and that's assuming a life of luxury. Again 274 dollars per day. I don't know how I could spend that if my life depended on it. I mean that's eating out every meal every single day. And so I mean you can live. This is not about deprivation. I think that's kind of my largest point here is that FI is not about deprivation in any way shape or form. It's about finding your priorities and moving your life toward that.


Brad: [00:40:05] So that might mean you need to cut quote unquote cut back on something that you otherwise would have spent money on an expensive car or something like that but if the pot at the end of the rainbow is an extra 20 years with your wife or your husband or your kids or whomever it is right isn't that worth it. So to me that's that's where I come at at this entire mathematical equation. And this the life equation.


WCI: [00:40:30] I think that's a great perspective for my listeners to hear because I tell you what. There are a lot of people who just heard what you said who goes spending 100000 dollars. I have no idea how I could cut spending just a hundred thousand dollars a year. You know they're thinking about the private school tuition they're paying for their two kids at twenty or thirty thousand dollars a year and they're thinking about this four thousand dollar a month mortgage they have. And they're thinking about you know the two car payments they've got in the student loan payment and their grocery bill where they go down to Whole Foods and buy all this organic food and they just almost are having difficulty relating to what you're saying. What's your message for that person who's currently spending 200 or 300 thousand dollars a year to be able to change their life in such a way that they could retire on Two and a half million dollars.


Jonathan: [00:41:23] So they is two different messages for two different aspects of your audience. You have your audience that are Residents coming out and then you have your individuals that are thoroughly entrenched and it just blatantly it is more painful to unwind lifestyle inflation than it is to enter it in the first place.


Jonathan: [00:41:38] So you know if you segment that out my pitch initially would be to the the early graduates that have just now inherited a salary that is multiples of what they were getting as a resident. Just think this through I mean maybe increase your lifestyle by 20 or 30 percent gradually over time and put the rest of your money towards essentially becoming this third income earner in the home right. You create a big enough portfolio that it essentially is earning money for you. And then the other aspect of that is the audience that you explicitly mention the ones that already have all of these purchases. And I think it ultimately is going to come down to value and just really looking at what value are these different recurring expenses. Adding to your life and then trying to maybe as a challenge yourself cutting some of them out and seen whether or not you truly miss it. There may be things that after you've cut them out of your life you're desperate for and you want to add it back and so I think that even even you maybe don't start with the private school maybe you don't start with the two car payments maybe just go and look at your recurring expenses and you look at all of the subscription services that you have kind of passively aggregated over time and you just go hardcore on those and test the waters and see. Did I even miss it. See what sort of a difference that makes and to even go back before that one step earlier. I would say that for the large percentage of people it always comes down to do you even know where your money is going. And even taken the time to track it. Do you have any concept of what your monthly expenses actually are. Doesn't it always start there with just tracking where your money is going.


WCI: [00:43:09] You know that's a great point and I can kind of share an anecdote I had a partner who showed up out of residency you know and like most docs out of residency with a dramatically negative net worth showed up with a brand new Audi into you know Parking in the doctor's lot. And obviously making payments on him because there's no possible way that this doc could have paid cash for the doc hadn't made any money yet. And after a few months of talking with myself and some my other partners and were fairly low key group as far as you know flashiness and bling. You know it is interesting that this doc went and sold that car and bought an inexpensive used car for cash you know using the paychecks that doc made in the first few few months. And and basically just reverted. And this happened pretty quickly right out residency perhaps before the doc had gotten used to that higher level of spending but it was interesting to see somebody cut back and cut back dramatically because of values. The doc valued being home with the children and a time of financial independence relatively early in career. And so I think even people that aren't total personal finance nuts can see that value and see a way to cut back on these expenditures that allow them to reach financial independence and have options in their lives.


Brad: [00:44:31] Jim I'm curious can you pass along to me and I guess the audience. Were there specific actions that you took when you spoke with that doc. Like how did how did this guy change so quickly. What did you chat about when. Because that's fascinating to me that somebody could change that quickly and not significantly.


WCI: [00:44:50] Well I think it was talking a little bit about you know these concepts that we've been talking about today on this podcast having choices and having you know resisting the siren call to spend more because this is very real particularly in the life of a doctor. Everybody thinks you're rich. You think you're rich. Your spouse thinks you're rich your kids think you're rich your neighbors think you're rich your parents think you're rich all your friends think you're rich right. Meanwhile you have a net worth of minus two hundred thousand dollars. And so I think resisting that and realizing that there are docs out there who are not driving brand new Audis bought on credit and there are docs out there who haven't bought the most expensive house that they qualify for on their income and their docs out there who got rid of their student loans in two or three years I think is eye opening and mind blowing for a lot of physicians that have just never considered anything other than putting their nose to the grindstone for 30 years and live in this doctor lifestyle. And so I think it's mostly focusing on what you guys talk about talking about choices and options. And what you really want out of life and in this Docs case it was to go part time as soon as possible. That was what the doc wanted. And so this was one of the steps required to get there really.


Jonathan: [00:46:03] I have chills down my spine. But the the glue they're the connecting thread was Who are you surrounding yourself with. And in my mind that's the value for your audience of listening to your podcast on a regular basis. You know what's at Jim Rhône quote you're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. And Dr. Dahle you're one of those five people for these individuals that are surround like you have become part of their life on a daily basis and the decisions that you make the value choices that you make directly reflect who's talking into your ear. What content you're reading and who are those five people that are in your life. And so I think that it is exactly these these in real life and these online connections that get us to move away from a Lifestyles of the rich and famous consumption driven lifestyle to one of intentionality in value. And the difference is not only millions of dollars for your very near future but it's decades of your life back. Let's not just pursue our golden years 65 and above. Let's pursue the best years of our life. The decades now and I promise you your kids will look back and thank you.


WCI: [00:47:07] That's a very very true. You know it's interesting to think about the next generation how you are affecting them as you make these financial decisions that you think are just affecting you. But really they do reverberate through the generations. No w we're getting a little short on time now.


WCI: [00:47:20] But I want to talk about a couple of things with you both on your blog and podcast. You mentioned camp FI or camp financial independence. Tell us a little bit about this and whether this is you know I had when I first hear about it it sounds kind of hokey going camping out with a bunch of people who are interested in financial independence. I know you guys are big proponents of it though so I want to hear your perspective on it and why that might be something that some of my listeners might be interested in doing.


Brad: [00:47:47] Yeah I would say it really is about finding your community. So I agree it does sound kind of hokey. We're not out in the woods camping. I mean these are at retreats centers or even potentially hotels and places like that. So we're sleeping in beds with no heat and air conditioning so it. I agree though Jim it sounded a little odd to me at first but it's about just spending time with like minded people with people in your community and you know finding that tribe if you will. And it's not a weekend of let's say 72 hours of talking about personal finance. I mean not really if I spend more than an hour out of the 72 talking about the nuts and bolts of personal finance it's probably a lot and I've been to a few of these things already. It's just about spending time with people who it's hard to almost explain. You become fast friends. It's just it's that tie that binds and that people who are looking at their life a little bit differently than the normal.


Brad: [00:48:50] Hey I'm I'm at a party on a Friday night and we're talking about the weather or our kids school. We're about the local sports team right like that's what you talk about and this kind of just cuts through it and it enables you to go deep. Like really quickly. And it's just a very special special time. And frankly it's just really easy to go to and now we are trying to expand these across the country and I know a physician on fire will be the one in the Midwest. He was at one here in Florida a couple of months ago and we're going to be at one in Virginia next month. So they are really really spreading and it's a simple low cost thing. I think it's like four hundred dollars for a three day weekend including food. So it's just a really wonderful time. And it kind of does belie that that Hokie sound of the camp FI when you first hear about it.


WCI: [00:49:43] All right. We're running short on time but I wanted to ask one more question and I think this is a criticism that a lot of people who first find a fire podcast or a fire blog have and basically they say I love my career. I don't want to punch out of my career. Why does F.I. matter if I don't plan to retire early. Why shouldn't I enjoy a few luxuries and just hit financial independence later in my career. I'd like to hear both of your responses to that one.


Jonathan: [00:50:10] I think in my case the future is just uncertain. You know you just said this earlier in this episode you know the decisions that you make now in the way you feel about things now may not reflect how you feel about things ten years from now the lifestyle creep that you embraced now may be more difficult to unwind Ten years from now. I think that the sooner you put you automate your financial game plan the sooner you get things rolling. You're never going to regret being a little bit more intentional at that. You know you can. This is time that you will never be able to get back in my mind. And almost every single case your tenure or future self is begging you to embrace these concepts early on. You can always slow down. You don't have to do it with any particular level of intensity but I suspect the earlier you get a game plan in place the more your future self will thank you.


Brad: [00:51:04] And I don't think fi needs to be anti job or quit as soon as you can. I don't think that's our message at all. Certainly and for the physicians out there listening you have a wonderful job that that provides great value obviously to yourself and to society. So by no means am I saying hey you have to quit. That's that's not the message I want to get across the message that I want to communicate is this is about taking power back in your life having more flexibility and options. Just like Jim you and physician on fire both are are not working full time anymore because you may have these entrepreneurial ventures but but you've saved a significant amount of money and you have the ability to do that.


Brad: [00:51:51] And now you don't have to put up with the garbage that you want into with the garbage that you didn't want to in your job previously. I mean not that's power. That's what having that freedom affords you. So to me that's the message it's not deprive yourself and then go retire and sit and look at a wall. It's not that at all. It's having the freedom and not having to worry about something going wrong in your life right like the hospital closes down or I don't know. I mean there are a million different things that can go wrong in your life. I mean obviously for regular W-2 employees it might be might be more significant but you lose your job for most people out there and they have no money saved up because they were living life for today. Right. And then they have a crisis situation in under 90 days their entire lives are essentially over or in crisis or they're going to lose their house or something ridiculous like that whereas if they just were more intentional along the way they could have saved money and again taken that power back. So that is what it's all about to me. And again not anti job in any way shape or form.


WCI: [00:53:06] Very nice. Jonathan and Brad thank you so much for being on our show today. I really appreciate you coming by. Those who would like to learn more and hear more from these two obviously vibrant personalities and huge F.I. enthusiasts can find more at choose FI dot com or on their podcast choose F.I. That can be found anywhere you download your podcasts and learn more about their philosophy and more about what they can teach you about creating the life you're looking for both in your financial life as well as in your non financial life by finding that freedom that Financial independence provides. Thank you very much for coming guys.


Jonathan: [00:53:44] Thank you Dr. Dahle for having us on the show.


Brad: [00:53:46] Yeah this is a real treat. Jim thank you.


WCI: [00:53:49] This episode was sponsored by thirty seventh parallel properties commercial multifamily investments can provide non correlated equity growth and tax advantaged income. I've one investment with 37 parallel but I've known their principles for several years and several members of the white coat investor community have invested with them and are happy with the returns and reporting you can learn more about thirty seventh parallel and get a very informative introduction to how commercial multifamily investing works via their special report evidence based investing. Check out 37 parallel dot com slash EBI For more information.


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