024 - FI180

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1 - 13 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright guys. Is anybody else but me excited that it's Monday. We're back Brad back here in the studio with me today and we have Joel and Alexis from FI 180 dot com. Super excited to do this. Brad how are you doing today buddy.
13 - 77 Brad Barrett I'm doing quite well. Yeah I'm very very excited for this episode. We had the good fortune of meeting Joel and Alexis down in Florida at the camp mustache event that we constantly talk about. They are just genuinely genuinely nice people and actually they just started their blog a couple of months back. Actually after camp mustache and they have a really interesting story. I think it kind of ties into what we're always talking about here where we're just living a middle class lifestyle just a little bit smarter. And that's what gets us to FI. That's what puts us on that path to FI at least. And we sat there and we had this conversation with them where they told us how they were just spending huge sums of money and they literally couldn't answer where it went. And that is fascinating to me because now they're saving upwards you know they'll tell us the exact percentage but I believe it's over 70 percent of their income and they're on a five year path to fi just by making a few changes. And that's what we just talked about before the call is you know fi is just a few steps away. And I think that is really essential for the audience to take away from this. I can't wait to chat with them.
Brad_Catchphrases, savings
77 - 84 Jonathan Mendonsa And you know what. Before they were buying stuff right. I'm sure it was just stuff. Now they're buying their freedom. So Joel and Alexis Welcome to the show. How are you guys doing today.
84 - 86 Joel - FI180 Hey good to be here.
86 - 88 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. Great. Thanks for having us.
88 - 98 Jonathan Mendonsa We're excited. Thank you for coming on. Joel maybe you want to go and start this thing off. Do you want to maybe give us a little bit of your background and kind of you know where you were coming into camp mustache what that what that story looks like.
98 - 127 Joel - FI180 Sure. We started our working career as software engineers. I guess what in 2007. And you know the salaries are pretty good and we never really thought about money that much we didn't we didn't know anything about money. So we made a lot of mistakes bought new cars new house and just started kind of not tracking. You know we never tracked our money. We didn't really know where it was going. And we just kind of had this lifestyle where we wanted something we bought it we figured day we get paid well.
127 - 132 Alexis - FI180 Yeah it was kind of like oh you know if the payment fits I gets you know.
132 - 155 Joel - FI180 It's you know. So we kind of went through and just went through the years not really thinking about anything. We did a lot of traveling back and forth across the states to visit friends and family and it was around what 2014 where 2015 where Alexis you got an A in a very serious car accident and the car was total. Luckily.
families, travel
155 - 156 Alexis - FI180 I came out unscathed.
156 - 157 Joel - FI180 You were ok.
157 - 158 Alexis - FI180 That car was done.
158 - 206 Joel - FI180 And that it just happened to be around the same time that a friend of ours pointed us to Mr. Money Mustache and we just kind of set ourselves like wait a minute do we want to buy another car right away like what we've got this. What was it $10000 from the insurance company. And I said maybe we don't need another car maybe we can kind of point ourselves in a different direction. So after after the accident we just kind of steered our life in a little bit different direction instead of going and buying that second car. We just decided let's put that money. It was like $10000 I think. Let's let's put it into Vanguard and let's start thinking about our life a little differently. And that's where we found Mr. Money Mustache. We started reading it on our drive to work everyday which at the time it was a half hour half hour into work 40 and.
206 - 216 Alexis - FI180 It was starting to increase over time because the area was starting to grow more so our traffic with our commute was starting to intensify a bit. And so it was just we had plenty of time.
216 - 222 Joel - FI180 Yes so we would drive to work reading Mr. Money Mustache as he face punched us for our 40 minute commute.
222 - 252 Jonathan Mendonsa What of the things that striked me is how willing people are to commute hours to work and they don't consider the cost. You know one of the most valuable things you have is time and you're running out of it. Right. You're absolutely going to run out of it and to spend an hour or commuting to work every single day. To me is crazy and I know people that make that choice just to make that extra dollar. But then that extra dollar is taxed at a higher rate so they get less and less for their return. So I don't know. Just an interesting little thought there but I'm glad that you guys were using it to completely change your worldview.
commuting, tax
252 - 261 Joel - FI180 Yeah it's nuts how much car commuting costs and people really underestimate you know that that cost and what it's what the opportunity cost of that is.
261 - 279 Alexis - FI180 People always talk about their health and everything like that. And they're in a car for an hour a day. But if they just cut their commute in half that could be 30 minutes that they could be doing exercise or improving their life. And we just forget about it because you're like well I'm getting paid to drive to this job. So I feel like it's OK because I got to make that dollar.
279 - 300 Joel - FI180 Last week I did a post on the blog called The car problem and it was like it started off small and it turned into like this 5000 word rant about you know I feel like cars is the part of the Mr. Money Mustache message that a lot of people kind of skip skip out on. They kind of buy into everything else. But then when it comes to reducing their car usage they're like yeah I am going to skip that part.
300 - 304 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah you're right. You're right. I employ that myself right now. I know that's me.
304 - 327 Joel - FI180 So that was you know I got inspired to write that article on that. But we have been over the years. We just we played this game where we said each month let's come up with one thing that we can do on our budget and we can reduce our spending. And you know we play a game and so every month I be like OK this month we're going to cancel cable This month we're going to lower you know the Internets.
327 - 353 Alexis - FI180 Funilly at all Joel's talking about well let's see what else we can take out of our budget. And I'm like what is there to take out. I don't see anything wrong with what we're doing. I guess we could reduce something. And it's just sort of like looking back at it you think about what you could take out. Like do I really need Hulu and Netflix. I barely watch Hulu now and it's just sort of it's just it seems so apparent now but it totally didn't. When we first started and I was a bit skeptical.
353 - 418 Joel - FI180 Yeah it's one of those things where until you start really tracking it, You don't realize the problem is there and it's one of those things where it's a problem that kind of everybody has. Especially if you have a decent salary everybody kind of just spends a lot of their money or at least that's how it would seem. And so you don't realize the problem until you kind of start tracking. And then we said Well what's our savings rate. Mr. Money Mustache had that post saying how to calculate savings rates. We looked at it we're like ha it's like 7 percent. Something horrible. And that's when we realized OK we need to get into gear and we just gradually shifted things around to the point where last year we were actually over 80 percent savings rate. All yeah we were at about 80 85 I think at all. And then we backed it off a little bit this year so. So we made a few changes. We moved closer to work finally which was a lifesaver. And then we backed off that savings rate after we paid off our previous mortgage we we then backed off that savings rate. And I think we're saving about 75 75 between 75 and 80 now and it's and it's much more comfortable.
418 - 433 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. Just just backing off that little bit just added so much more sanity back into my life because we were going. And if you're Dave Ramsey fan you were like go on hard core. And I was like you guys getting a little nutty.
433 - 445 Joel - FI180 We were pushing pretty hard which I guess. In hindsight it's it's a good exercise where you push yourself to see how far that frugality spectrum you can go,so I know we could do it again if we needed to.
445 - 500 Brad Barrett And that's very interesting because Brandon from the man fientist echoed almost the exact same sentiments when he was trying to save every penny and he did it at the expense of his happiness and his wife's happiness. It was this deprivation mindset where all consumed with FI. And that was everything. And what he actually did was he this past year they decided to really not worry about money but keep Obviously the structural benefits of a FI lifestyle but just not worry about hey we're going out to a brewery. Let's have an extra beer or two. Like the little things at the margins. And they found that they only spent about $2000 more in a year. Still I think their entire spending was 35000 for a year and they live this life of abundance then. So it's very interesting to hear you guys say that you know. But you dial back from 85 to 80 and that that has made a difference. So that's that is very intriguing to me.
500 - 545 Joel - FI180 Yeah it just that little five percent took the edge off. We were pushing a little too hard and not getting that much benefit out of it. And so I'm actually kind of going through this talking with my brother right now who is on his track to buy but he you know he's very competitive so he's trying to beat me. He started he started later in the game and so he's pushing real hard and. And so I was trying to tell him you know like hey it's not a race. You know you've got to kind of enjoy the journey while you're going. And that was the biggest thing that we did last year was moved to this new house and get close to our friends and our work. And no no regrets. I think we calculated maybe it would throw us off our FI path by maybe nine months to a year. Totally worth it.
545 - 560 Brad Barrett OK. Talk to us about your brother. How did you did you present FI to him like how did how did that come up. Because I think a lot of people have difficulty talking about this with friends and family. It's kind of an unusual lifestyle you know as opposed to the normal middle class. How did that come up.
560 - 683 Joel - FI180 Yes so I started doing this investing and just started reading JL Collins stock series and started saying hey let's let's do Vanguard let's you know put that $10000 from the car insurance in there instead of buying a second car. So I started reading I kind of I would talk to my brother occasionally. And I said yeah we're not going to get a second car and he was real interested. What are you going to do you going to car pool. I said Well no I found this guy Mr. Money Mustache. And I just kind of pointed him to it I said yeah tell me if you think this sounds legit. And you know I pointed him to this simple math post. And my brother's real good with numbers just like I am We're both we both have a kind of an engineering mind. And so we we both got to talking and we're like holy cow you don't need to work for 60 years you know. And I think my brother and I both shared kind of this not hatred but just this this is we did not like our jobs that neither one of us. And it's funny too because the job I have now is probably as good as it can get in software engineering. I have a lot of autonomy. I work with great people I have great benefits but it's just not where I want to be. It's not what I want to do. You know when the alarm goes off it at five 45 in the morning I don't want to get up you know and I want to be in control of my schedule and doing things that matter to me not helping the bottom line of a big company. And so my brother kind of felt that even more as much as I dislike my job he dislikes his even more so he kind of attached to this concept even stronger than I did. And he's like I'm going to race you guys there. He he is and he's doing it. I mean he's in the last year he's really gone on the path of increasing income whereas we kind of took the path of reducing spending. He really went on the increasing income path and he's what tripled his salary in the last. Goodness. Yeah he's killed two years now. He's Yeah he's killing it. So yeah it's kind of a company kind of trying to race with me there. I told him it's not a race because if you don't enjoy the journey and I think I think you guys spoke about this with Mr. 1500 if you're not enjoying the journey when you retire to F-I you're not going to know what to do. Yeah. You know.
insurance, stocks
683 - 744 Jonathan Mendonsa I love the idea of building your building your framework while you're on the journey. You build your framework but I also love about you know our community more than any other community out there we really do treat this like a game. This can be fun like what you guys did where you went from a 7 percent savings rate and then you gamified it right. You said each month what can we do. What's one thing we do. And what's so unusual and rare frankly and awesome and inspiring is that you did it as a couple and youre working on this common goal together so right now instead of me just interviewing Alexis or interviewing Joel we're interviewing you as a couple because this is a challenge that you set for yourself and you had fun doing it and you started at 7 percent and you worked your way all the way up 85 percent. That was the journey. And then once you came to the end of that you said you know let's dial down to our comfort zone which was 80 percent or 75 percent which is crazy. And now because you've done this radical change you have a story to talk about and share with other people and he said Oh no well you know there's nothing really fancy about making average choices you make a radical choice choice you make a radical transformation that's something you can share and your story inspires me. It's very cool.
744 - 805 Joel - FI180 And I'll tell you it brought us closer together because suddenly we've got this common goal. We've got this thing that we can aim for and you just now you're spending your evenings. You're not watching TV and if not you're strategizing you're planning your scheming and it's been great. And thinking about what's the next step. Where are we going to where are we going to go when we get there and we're at the point now where this might be my last year in full you know in full time work so it's going to happen sooner than later so. It's really exciting just seeing how fast you can get there when you when you really change that course. Now granted we have had pretty good salaries which has helped. I wouldn't say that that's been the key to our success. I would say what that's done is help us undo past mistakes quicker than some might. But in that in that light it's really just all it was was a course correction. There was no huge significant reduction of happiness actually the happiness increased along the way because suddenly we realized what makes us happy and it's not stuff.
805 - 820 Jonathan Mendonsa And by cutting out all the unessential stuff which is what allowed you to get to that extremely high savings rate. You were then able to determine you were able to determine exactly what the value of that stuff was and then if you wanted to add it back which then obviously reduced your savings rate. You did so with intentionality.
820 - 834 Joel - FI180 Exactly. And that's that's exactly what we did. Alex with your gym membership we got rid of the gym because I built a home gym and it was perfect for me. And we canceled our gym memberships. But for her she really valued what the fitness classes.
835 - 857 Alexis - FI180 I value the fitness classes I like kind of the camaraderie I kind of push myself a little bit further when I'm in a group mentality and so you know. I'd quit the gym membership for a few years and I was like Now I want this back. It was like definitely get value out of it so I'm going to keep this now. And and then once you start to realize what you really do value you know you you get more enjoyment out of your life. It was worth it.
fitness, valuist
857 - 902 Brad Barrett Yeah I agree completely and it's funny Alexis that I'm the exact same way with those classes at the gym I actually pay extra to get access to you know the unlimited classes. I'm at crunch fitness and it's. It's only like $20 a month. So it's not you know an exorbitant amount by any means. But yeah I just get value out of that and I don't mind spending the extra money. So I think that what you just touched on when you said your happiness has actually increased. You know I'd love to hear a little bit more about that because that that is such a crucial point in this like as Liz from frugal woods said in a prior episode this is not deprivation in any way shape or form. We're living these wonderful lives of abundance where we do focus on happiness so you know I'd love to hear you just kind of expand on that if you don't mind.
902 - 932 Joel - FI180 Yeah. So happiness is the goal. And when if we go back to 2012 we're sitting in 2012 we're spending six figures we're not actually happy we come home from a long day of work. And what do we do. Well we're going to either go out to dinner at an expensive restaurant try to blow off some steam we're going to go to what was I doing every weekend I'd go to Best Buy and if there was a new product that had WIFI I'd usually be bringing that home.
932 - 938 Jonathan Mendonsa I could just see the cloud of wireless networking going out of your house. You know if you have those goggles on it's just.
938 - 952 Joel - FI180 I think I had 8 devices on my router at one point or something and it was really incredible. And so what was happening is we were using our spending as a way to try to just kind of numb the effects of the work day.
952 - 959 Alexis - FI180 Yeah It was kind of like a self medication sort of thing just like well you know I worked really hard. I deserve these shoes.
959 - 966 Jonathan Mendonsa So you work so hard. I deserve it. Not realizing that it's those very choices that are keeping you in that job.
966 - 1024 Joel - FI180 Yeah. That's the handcuffs you get. You get stuck to the job too to maintain that. And the other things we learned along the way were like we didn't know how to cook well and it was so we were going out to eat twice a day when we finally started you know dialing it back and saying we need to learn not only how to cook but how to cook things that we enjoy. And this was huge and it took us a long time and I think I have a food post where I talk about this was not an easy transformation. This did take months to get right but now it's just like night and day how much happier it makes us to cook meals that we enjoy for you know pennies on the on the restaurant dollar and healthier too because you have control over everything that goes into your food that that's something that made us happy. Going out to eat actually didn't make us happy. It was just like this thing that we did twice a day without thinking about it and that we would go to expensive restaurants to the point where they weren't. There was no fancy experience anymore and that was just like every experience was a fancy restaurant.
cooking, health, mealplan
1024 - 1046 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. It became the status quo and then it doesn't feel special anymore and you kind of have to keep going to nicer and nicer things. And once we start to learn how to cook and after eating a lot of our own dog food we started to get better at it. And it's kind of interesting because you'll start to go out to places and you just kind of like I can make this I can I can do that is better.
1046 - 1048 Jonathan Mendonsa That's awesome. That's so cool.
1048 - 1095 Joel - FI180 Yes. So our happiness has has gone up because now we come home and we have this plan and we're always scheming. We were always getting something done. I mean this week actually we just sold our rental property. I had a post about the I think it was called How Not to buy a house. And it was about this horrible rental that we had and so we finally sold that this week. And so tonight we're having our little celebration at home with pizza from Aldies and some Aldies champagne and that you know total cost $10. But you know these are things that are making us happy being able to have these goals and set them up and then knock them down and move forward. And you know come next year I think it's going to be I'm going to pull the trigger on quitting the full time job and it's going to just be I think it's going to be amazing.
1095 - 1109 Brad Barrett All right guys so what I'm most interested in is is your your old spending right. So a hundred thousand dollars a year in discretionary spending. How. How on earth does that happen. Like what. What actually makes up $100000 in discretionary spending.
1109 - 1119 Alexis - FI180 It happens quickly. It's about not paying attention at all. Like I said earlier. If the payment fits I gets.
1119 - 1120 Jonathan Mendonsa I'd buy the t shirt.
1120 - 1137 Joel - FI180 So I think a lot of it was just you you don't know where your money is going. So for us in 2012 we spent six figures. And there's a post on the blog called our saving snowball and it kind of breaks down a side by side of 2012 to 2015.
1137 - 1142 Jonathan Mendonsa Wow. I'm looking at it right now. I cannot wait for you to explore this. That's crazy what a difference.
1142 - 1166 Joel - FI180 So. Yes so shopping for example $16000 in shopping in 2012 compared to 3000 in 2015. And I mean if I think about shopping you know we would have a new Amazon package on our doorstep. What three days a week. Maybe it who knows it was just one package.
1166 - 1173 Jonathan Mendonsa Amazon-prime the local warehouse distributions that are in the third party all spaced about three hours apart and then don't forget the post office one for each. Right.
1173 - 1175 Joel - FI180 Yeah. the U.P.S. guy knew us.
1175 - 1181 Jonathan Mendonsa I keep waiting for the drones man I was super disappointed when the drones never happened. I was I really had all my eggs in that basket.
1181 - 1187 Joel - FI180 Supposedly they're still testing that. But yes so shopping was a huge one and just cutting out the crap.
1187 - 1201 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. A lot of recurring subscriptions that just go under the radar because they're just automatically getting pulled from your account. The means that you don't see and sometimes you even forget that you that you own or subscribe to you are just ridiculous.
1201 - 1222 Joel - FI180 Our food was a disaster our food situation so 2012 we're looking at 13 grand in spending and you know besides the two restaurants per day kind of thing. We also had a food delivery service that would like bring fresh produce to the door most of which we would kind of waste because we weren't good cooks.
1222 - 1228 Alexis - FI180 Yeah a lot of times we would joke about how we'd go to the local supermarket so I could throw away their produce for them.
1228 - 1237 Jonathan Mendonsa That's awesome. You know when I see those ads on Facebook for blue apron or that sort of thing. All I see is mega dollars there. Right. So it has to be it has to be.
1237 - 1291 Joel - FI180 It was it was not. I think we were paying over $100 a month for produce delivering. It's ridiculous. And then we had water delivery on top of that. Travel was another big one 12 grand in 2012 and this was not travel that you would think of like oh we're going to see the world. We're going to other countries this was kind of like we're doing like guilt induced travel like two family members on the west coast and two friends that don't didn't even visit us in the first place. And so we were on a 980 schedule at the time which means we had every other Friday off of work. And so every other Friday we'd we'd get on a plane and we'd go to another state and we'd see some old friends or some family and nobody would ever kind of return the favor. We kind of were the couple we were the young couple. Oh Joel and Alexis they have money. They'll always come see us. And so we blew through $12000 in doing what I think was a chore. It was stressful doing that much travel.
families, travel
1291 - 1309 Alexis - FI180 Yeah it was very stressful especially when you'd finally get home late late on your Sunday and you're like I can't go to work tomorrow. How am I going to get through this. Yeah. And then you know he you recap with your friends and everything like you come visit us next time and they're like share or share. And then crickets.
1309 - 1334 Joel - FI180 There were times we were coming in on red eye from the West Coast and we'd just drive straight to work without even going home. This was something that just had to stop. The travel was outrageous and this was before we knew about you know your blogs Brad. We weren't we weren't travel hacking we were we were saying hey let's go fly out to the west coast on Fulfair next week. I'm sure the tickets will be reasonable.
travel, travelrewards
1334 - 1334 Jonathan Mendonsa You got it bad.
1334 - 1392 Joel - FI180 But yeah we we just are. Our travel spending was out of control back then. And that's you know and it's just all these things that add up. There's not one thing that I can point to and say hey reduce this and you're good to go. It's just tons of things that that add up our car spending when we worked far from home and we were driving 45 minutes a day. That was huge. Two cars at the time filling up the gas tank at least every week and yeah and so it just adds up. And so I have one post I think it's called like the 180 in depth or part 1 or part 2 where it kind of breaks down month by month. This saving snowball that we did where we kind of say all right month one let's reduce this spending month two let's reduce this spending. And yeah here it is 180 in depth part two. And by the end of it by the end of 12 months we found an extra thousand dollars a month in our budget just by cutting cutting certain luxuries and things that weren't necessary out of our budget.
savings, travel
1392 - 1403 Alexis - FI180 Yeah another thing is like discount stores so you know your Wal-Marts your targets and everything like that. That was that was something that was kind of our our black hole if you will of money.
1403 - 1408 Joel - FI180 Two hundred dollars at the end of the month what did we get at Target. Neither of us could remember what we got at target.
1408 - 1443 Brad Barrett Alright guys who you know we went through a lot of these line items and they're incredibly impressive. But you know this this show is choose FI. It's about a choice Alexis had that car accident in 2014 and it was this epiphany. Right it was. It was an awakening. Bring us back to that moment when you guys did choose FI and talk us through what you were thinking what the conversations were like. You know that is what's what's really most interesting to me because you know you had this lavish lifestyle obviously where you're spending over $100000 a year and something switched. So yeah I'd love to hear about it.
1443 - 1485 Joel - FI180 Sometimes when you get into a routine and you do something for long enough it just starts to feel normal it starts to feel like this is nothing you need to question. You don't need to second guess it. And our spending at that time we didn't think we had a problem. It felt normal it seemed like our friends were just as spendy as we were. And then after the car accident it was kind of like this this what would you say kind of. Well I guess Awakening is the best idea where you you're suddenly questioning things that you thought were normal and you're saying is this really normal. Right. I mean you were my wife is down in south Florida driving where the drivers are horrible.
1485 - 1542 Alexis - FI180 I was I was actually I was helping take care of my mom she had some surgery and so I was just leaving the South Florida area when they when the accident had happened. And like a week or so after when I got the check I was like What am I going to do with this one. Like one of those like what where am I going with my life like my life could have ended like what am I doing. I'm just kind of wasting away in my office and I was you know I got to rush back to work because you know I wasn't really injured. So I have to go back to work. I can't take time to it just kind of take a breather and just let things settle a bit. And you know that's around the time when a buddy of mine had introduced me to Mr. Money Mustache and of course I didn't have the second car so I wasn't driving myself to and from work. And you know I had some extra time waiting for Joel to pick me up from the office. I started reading Mr. Money Mustache's blog and I just kind of got enthralled with it. And that's after the math post and everything like that. I kind of had my awakening.
1542 - 1604 Joel - FI180 Well I'll tell you it for me it just so happened that right around that time as we started reading I guess somebody recommended the Harry Brown the finding freedom in an unfree world. And it just changed the way that I thought of things suddenly you know your circumstances weren't weren't out of your control you could zoom in on. These are the things that you have direct control over and suddenly you see the whole world through a completely different lens. You realize there's only so many things that I can control and there's a ton of stuff that is outside of my control that I'm not going to focus on. And your eyes are just open for the first time and that's how it felt for me. Between that and seeing the math behind the 4 percent rule and the Trinity Study and saying I don't need to work forever and I can I can take that the steps necessary to position myself for this. You suddenly have this overwhelming feeling of control that maybe you never had before. I know I didn't have that that feeling of control before that.
1604 - 1619 Brad Barrett Yeah FI seems to be a super power. That's that's how I describe it. It's like a life super power where you are actually taking this control back then that you've never had before. Yeah that's fascinating to hear you describe it in that manner so yeah I completely agree.
1619 - 1629 Jonathan Mendonsa All right guys. Back by popular demand. Are you ready for the hot seat. Yes. Let's do it.
1629 - 1656 Speaker In a world drowning in debt and rampant consumption trapped by the chains of lifestyle inflation these questions highlight the secrets of those who are broken free. Welcome to the choose F-I hot seat.
1656 - 1658 Jonathan Mendonsa You're ready for this don't be scared.
1658 - 1664 Brad Barrett Yeah. After that music they're a little shellshocked which I think is understandable. I'm shellshocked every time.
1664 - 1665 Joel - FI180 I'm pumped up now.
1665 - 1669 Jonathan Mendonsa I'll go ahead and start this thing off with question number one your favorite blog that's not your own.
1669 - 1691 Joel - FI180 OK. So Alexis and I have two different answers on this mine. Mine is still Mr. Money Mustache. Just because of his writing style and his face punching I really like you know that he doesn't he doesn't sugarcoat it. He's ready he's there he's ready to punch you in the face. I really like that. And his optimism. But Alexis you've been reading.
1691 - 1699 Alexis - FI180 Well I mean I like Mr. Money Mustache too because you know that's where it all started. But I've totally been diggin wealthy accountant lately that's been like my new fave.
1699 - 1715 Jonathan Mendonsa NO he's solid. In fact we're going to be interviewing him later this afternoon we love talking to Keith. I mean as you guys know he is just a treasure trove of tax hacks life hacks FI hacks. The dude's got it figured out and just just getting a chance to talk to him or read him. Just reading his blog you feel like you're right there next to him.
lifeoptimization, tax
1715 - 1716 Alexis - FI180 Yeah he's legit.
1716 - 1723 Brad Barrett All right. Question number two what is your favorite article of all time and it could be on either your side or someone else's.
1723 - 1759 Joel - FI180 OK. So for me there was a Mr. Money Mustache article that just really resonated with me. It was the. How big is your circle of control. And I kind of touched on it earlier that this idea that you can narrow the whole universe down of all the things all the things that could concern you and just zoom in on what you have a direct direct control over. And I think he got that from the highly 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If I'm not mistaken. But it's just the way that he wrote it and the way that he framed it. It just it just changed the way that I look at life and I look at obstacles in front of me that I just can't recommend that that post enough.
1759 - 1793 Jonathan Mendonsa That is awesome. You know that actually strikes me because essentially what we're doing because you now know the rules you're spending your time finding out the rules. You're essentially taking control of that first half which is your finding out what are the different levers that you can control that will have a direct impact on your life. And then just by doing that and acknowledging that there are two different categories things you can control and things you can't then takes the pressure off. I've done everything I can and my family is positioned well for it. You know to this point and the things that I can't control why would I waste my time and my energy worrying about it. And I think there's power there.
1793 - 1804 Joel - FI180 Exactly. It allows you to get this hyper focus. Maybe maybe that's the super power that we have. I think that is that focus that ability to focus in and I think that's what I think that's what does it.
1804 - 1804 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright Alexis go ahead.
1804 - 1813 Alexis - FI180 Well mine is pretty simple. It was it was just the MMM simple math post. That was like my favorite. I was like yeah OK.
1813 - 1828 Jonathan Mendonsa I did that was mine as well. That article changed everything for me in terms of the way that I looked at retirement no one else was talking about it that way. Everybody was thinking about a 40 year working career and how to make sure you were fine after you turned 65. And for me that just turned it on its head.
1828 - 1841 Joel - FI180 If you're a numbers person and you read that simple math post and you glance at the Trinity Study suddenly you're just like yep this works. This is legit and it just immediately turns on a light bulb that you didn't know was there.
1841 - 1849 Brad Barrett Yeah I'm talking about a five point 180 right. It's literally a game changing a life changing moment when you read that article. That's yeah. That's that was the one for me as well.
1849 - 1855 Jonathan Mendonsa All right question number three your favorite life hack and I'm actually excited about this one I have a feeling you have a good answer for us.
1855 - 1864 Joel - FI180 So a lot of these life hacks are things that we've kind of come up with over the years so there's one that really helped snap us out of our shopping habit.
1864 - 1881 Alexis - FI180 Yeah this was this was really corny but this is helping me get through my Ghazal moments. So I literally was not allowed to go into a target without a shopping list and I was not allowed to get a hand basket or a baggie. And I like it was literally what I could carry in my two hands.
1881 - 1886 Joel - FI180 That's how we started like my personal life. Babies when they are babies that's how we started it.
1886 - 1890 Alexis - FI180 I looked ridiculous. I had like hangers on my arms. It was like it's stupid.
1890 - 1943 Joel - FI180 Eventually we did put the hand-basket in but the rule was don't go shopping without a list and don't leave the store with things that aren't on your list and then you don't use the cart because the cart is huge and you can just keep throwing stuff in there. And that aligned with around the time we started reading the frugal woods they talked about their 72 hour rule where you know if you want to buy something you put it on a list for 72 hours and then you see can I get this for free. Can I get it used. Do I really need it. And then after 72 hours if you still need it then it goes on the shopping list and then then you can you know get out there and that just changed our habit. It's one of those things we have to break yourself out of almost like a subconscious habit and that's that that's the act when you're walking around a store carrying four things in your arms and you're like This is ridiculous that's breaking you out of your habit and forcing you to to kind of think about it.
1943 - 1952 Alexis - FI180 Yes especially when someone comes up to you and says Do you want a basket for all that. I'm like no no I'm fine. No I meant to do this.
1952 - 1957 Brad Barrett I'm just the crazy person with hangers coming off my arm right. Yes.
1957 - 2014 Joel - FI180 The other half. I think that goes in line with this was we start we changed our food shopping habits and we started shopping at Aldi which cut our budget in half. But we found out that we did this game called the $3 rule where if you're in Aldi the you can pretty much get any item you want for $3 or less. And so at the end of the day at the end of the line when we're in the in the grocery line we look in the car we say Yep I think everything is $2 OK. No. This week we've got two things that exceeded $3 and those we call them are luxury items like oh I'm getting this big jar of cashews and Alexis is getting some some treat usually cookies or whatever it is. And so I say OK these are luxury items. But everything else is under $3 and it's just a game we play and it's sounds so silly saying it out loud but it's kind of like we'll look at the receipt and you'll see like 50 items and they're all less than $3 and it's it's amazing it's changed the way that we shopped.
2014 - 2037 Jonathan Mendonsa What I love about all these is the fact that they make you pay a quarter to get the shopping cart and then to get that darn quarterback. You put it right back. There's never carts. They're just out in the parking lot nailing the cars. They're always filled away and that is like a pavlov thing. I think it totally retrains you and retrains everybody. But it's just it's genius. Everyone should do it. But yeah I was going to get my quarterbacks of that cart always got put back. Genius.
2037 - 2045 Joel - FI180 There's quite a few items at Aldi that you can get with that quarter too the other day they had lettuce on sale and it was like there was like 30 40 cents. Yeah.
2045 - 2058 Brad Barrett You know we don't shop at Aldi all that much. There's one that opened up just a couple of miles from my house so you obviously highly recommend it. What are your favorite items. Are there things there. You know honestly I don't know all that much about the store. So give us a couple hacks.
2058 - 2119 Joel - FI180 So. So Aldi's great because unlike your standard supermarket with 20 aisles aldi only has four or five aisles and everything in the store pretty much is generic and essential. So you're not going to find 50 versions of canned soup where you're going to find is here it is here's you can chicken noodle soup this is the one and. And so you just kind of get in and out much quicker. Everything is much cheaper. We wrote a post on food savings and we showed that switching from a luxury grocery store. Originally we used to shop at Publix is popular here in Florida and we switched originally to Wal-Mart and we saved 30 percent on our groceries. But when we switched from Wal-Mart to all the we saved an additional 30 percent so we're 60 percent lower on average on our grocery bill than we were at Publix for mostly the same stuff. Yeah. The idea at Aldis you just go through the aisles really quickly and you're getting all their all the brand products which are pretty great.
2119 - 2137 Alexis - FI180 Yeah your most commonly purchased items is what they have most. So all the French stuff that you would get at your full service grocer you're not going to have. So like there's no bakery there's no butcher. So you know your meat is already prepackaged your baked goods are already packaged. So that's that's kind of where they get their savings.
2137 - 2148 Joel - FI180 Yeah. Nobody's going to walk your food to your car for in like an expensive grocery stores. But but yeah the savings are are are huge and I can't I can't say enough good things about aldi.
2148 - 2150 Alexis - FI180 And the $3 wine.
2150 - 2156 Joel - FI180 Oh that's right. $3 wine. Can't beat that. Believe it's $2 an 88 cents for winking owl.
2156 - 2159 Alexis - FI180 I have no palate. So it works great.
2159 - 2178 Jonathan Mendonsa Though guys. Honestly when you watch all the Aldi's and Brad said he had never been there I was saying to myself aldi's is like if Brad made a grocery store. This is what it would be like simplicity efficiency minimalism like if you were to take those three words and then make your grocery store around them what would be the first name to come to mind. It's Aldi's not you know not even close.
2178 - 2185 Joel - FI180 Brad you need to you need to go there. And then after a few weeks you need to follow up with us and let us know about it.
2185 - 2259 Brad Barrett No yeah I'm in I'm in. That's very cool. I will let you know and I certainly will let everyone here in the audience know for sure. And just one thing I wanted to touch on real quick. You talked about the 72 hour rule that Liz from Frugalwoods mentions. I find that so powerful. And actually when when she was on the show we talked about that in particular how we almost bought this silly little game on Amazon and it was only like six or seven dollars. But that I actually like put that space between my normal reaction which is buy it's only seven dollars and actually clicking the button on Amazon. I think that's what you're talking about too is just creating a little bit of space by changing up your normal routine. Right. Like when Alexis is going to target instead of just throwing things haphazardly into a cart you're literally hanging them off your arms. Right so just creating that little bit of disruption in your brain causes such a change in your buying habits. It sounds silly until you actually do it. So I you know I really wanted to touch on that because it is an essential aspect of of just changing your normal habits. We all go through life and whatever percent of you know you hear these things. Ninety five percent of what you do in life is habit just causing some disruption makes a huge difference. So yeah I'm glad you brought that up.
2259 - 2290 Joel - FI180 Yeah it's just you don't need much you just need a little bit to kind of pull you out of the subconscious routine. And I think Pete Mr. Money Mustache talks about that. He has an article if I'm not mistaken just about the power of routines I think is what it's called The Power of Habit. It's something along those lines and he talks about like sometimes you just need to retrain your brain and intercept before you do the old the old habit. You need something to snap in and kind of grab your attention. And that's what did it for us. And yeah that Liz's rule is great.
2290 - 2308 Jonathan Mendonsa And you know what's funny about that we had a reader on our blog actually mentioned to us that she had read that as a child reading Little House On The Prairie that idea putting on a list and waiting for 72 hours was originally featured in Little House On The Prairie. How cool is that that these ideas are commonly repackaged for new generations as they take on new life.
2308 - 2310 Joel - FI180 That's cool. Yeah that's really cool I had. I had no idea.
2310 - 2315 Jonathan Mendonsa And neither did I neither did I. All right guys Question number four your biggest financial mistake.
2315 - 2351 Joel - FI180 So this has to be the house rental which thankfully we actually just sold this week and we're going to I'm going to have a new post about this coming up soon on my blog. But basically we moved here to the Space Coast we live on the space coast of Florida and we moved here right out of college in 2007 and we immediately bought a house. We didn't you know we didn't do you know what we should of which is you know rent for a year and wait we immediately bought this house and this was in June of 2007. So you can imagine the house.
college, housing
2351 - 2351 Brad Barrett In florida.
2351 - 2356 Joel - FI180 Yep in Florida within six months the house had lost 60 percent of its value.
2356 - 2360 Alexis - FI180 Know I think the word that comes to mind is DOH.
2360 - 2390 Joel - FI180 We had no idea what we were doing. We did. We didn't have any money. We actually just had letters from our employers with a job offer no money in the bank. I think maybe we had 200 dollars to our name. Luckily we didn't graduate school with a lot of debt or anything but we had no money. And they gave us 100 percent financing interest only arms and 80:20 So two mortgages and somehow we walked away from the closing with like $8000 and a set of keys. I don't I don't understand how this happened.
2390 - 2392 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. Predatory lending anyone.
2392 - 2429 Joel - FI180 That was the definition. And yeah by the next by the next spring the house was it had decreased by 60 percent in value. So is it more than less than half of what it was when we bought it. So we we lived there for what five years and then we just decided that it was too far away from everything. So we decided to move a little closer a little bit closer to work still not the place that we're in now but it was a little closer to work and rent out that property which it was a horrible rental to. We even with the rental income we still weren't paying the mortgage. So we were as it was by every definition just a bad property a bad rental. Never cash flowed.
2429 - 2434 Alexis - FI180 Yeah that place just kept teaching us lessons over and over.
2434 - 2455 Joel - FI180 No we didn't. There was so much drama leading up to the sale of this house. We didn't think it was going to sell this week. We actually went to the closing and we were we were like Is this really happening. Is this really the end of this chapter this decade long chapter of our lives so that that had to be our biggest mistake. We we lost definitely in the six figures on that property.
2455 - 2489 Jonathan Mendonsa You know this is actually really interesting guys we get a lot of feedback from people that suggests to us that real estate is a better investment than index investing. And Jim Collins makes a statement that you know index investing is a pure investment investment whereas real estate is a part time job and you know we're going to dive into this some more but I'm just curious. You know I have a feeling I already know your answer. People get burned on real estate or anti real estate and people to make out really well and real estate say it's the greatest thing ever. But just you know from your perspective index investing versus just doing maybe a rental real estate on the side. Your thoughts.
2489 - 2527 Joel - FI180 So Alexis and I differ a little bit on our opinion on this. My thought is that rentals can be great rental real estate can be great and it can actually be a shortcut to F-I in a lot of cases but it requires more strategy. It requires more planning. It requires more work. As you alluded to where as index investing is kind of the definition of passive. You know it it's it's no thought you put your money into it and you walk away and I prefer I prefer that. So at this point in our in our adventures in real estate I'm ready to take a break and kind of take a breather. But Alexis kind of feels a little bit differently.
2527 - 2547 Alexis - FI180 I kind of like the idea of the income through rental properties and real estate a little bit more. I will be taking a break for right now but I'm definitely not deterred or swayed by it because I can see where people do it well and it makes a lot of sense. And you can have that income regularly coming in if you diversify yourself properly.
2547 - 2586 Joel - FI180 I think that it also gives you a little more control than what you have in the in the investment market now. Not to say that things like 2007 can't happen again but if you have the right strategy if you're doing a strategic set of rentals or a strategic flip that's a level of control that you don't necessarily have in index investing and it can be a shortcut I think for a lot of people. For me I'm close I'm a year away I don't want to short cut anymore. I just kind of want that you know straight path predictable you know to an extent. I think real estate can be a lot of fun if you enjoy that kind of strategy if you enjoy the work that goes into it which Alexis you kind of do.
2586 - 2600 Alexis - FI180 You know I'll be like just stocking Zillow and Trulia and just you know always keeping my eye open while riding in the car and everything like that. So I I'm OK with like staring at MLS listings until like my eyes are red.
2600 - 2626 Joel - FI180 But I think you touched on something important. The right way to do real estate. And I think I talked about this when we were at Camp mustache with quite a few people who had done real estate there. If you're going to do rentals the right way to do it is get three or four five cashflow positive small rentals. So that way you're diversifying a little bit so if you have a tenant that's not paying you. It's not the end of your cash you know it's no big deal it's just a tiny tiny piece.
2626 - 2644 Alexis - FI180 Yeah. And another thing with the real estate is there is this one woman that was that can't mustache in. It was Allysa and she said something very important because she seemed she seemed like the real estate guru to me at that time and she said something very important which was the exit strategy which is also something very important.
2644 - 2646 Joel - FI180 Yeah know what your exit strategy is.
2646 - 2663 Alexis - FI180 And that was very important because we entered into you know income Well I guess negative income with our rental property. But we didn't really have an exit strategy. We didn't we didn't really have an entry strategy either so we're here to tell you we're here now. So.
2663 - 2664 Joel - FI180 That's what you do.
2664 - 2670 Alexis - FI180 Yeah just definitely plan more things out and how you want to get out as well.
2670 - 2672 Joel - FI180 It was the thing to do everybody bought a house when they graduated college.
2672 - 2674 Jonathan Mendonsa American dream right.
2674 - 2683 Joel - FI180 Yeah. And I think I coined it the American I think I coined it the American nightmare and in one of my posts when I was talking about the how it can hold you back if you do it wrong.
2683 - 2697 Brad Barrett That sounds about right. Hey real quick Alexis Joel has mentioned a couple of times that he is leaving his job next year. Are you as well as they say both of you approaching FI at the same time or at you know I was just struck by the language of that so I just wanted to ask.
2697 - 2731 Alexis - FI180 Oh yeah. I'm not well. I haven't. Like I'm still trying to figure out you know some sort of framework for myself because Joel has like all these passions and he has like all these you know avocations that he he really enjoys and and I'm just like what am I going to work on. I want to be working on Netflix. That's what I'm going to be working on if I leave for the next years sort of thing so I kind of picture myself kind of scaling back hours at work and giving myself a little bit more time so I can discover those things before I leave.
2731 - 2747 Joel - FI180 Yeah I think it's not a financial reason that she's going to keep working where by the end of this year we should be good to go financially. I think it's more of just figuring out what you want to transition to. And like you said maybe ramping down to like a reduced work week maybe like 30 hour work week or something like that.
2747 - 2755 Alexis - FI180 Yeah I'd like to like ease myself into the good life and right now I just I just I don't know yet.
2755 - 2779 Joel - FI180 Whereas whereas me you know every day you know I drop out of work and she's like Joel don't get fired today because I'm I'm at the point where I have like senioritis and I'm using that F-you money really really to my advantage Yeah. So if there's a meeting I don't want to go to I'm like I'm not going to go to this meeting it's a waste of my time. And she's just like dial that back until the day your 401k vests later this year.
401k, Jonathan_Catchphrases
2779 - 2783 Jonathan Mendonsa You can taste the FI line you can taste it you're so close.
2783 - 2788 Joel - FI180 I'm there yes so I'm going to dive in where she's kind of going on wade her feet in the water a little bit.
2788 - 2832 Jonathan Mendonsa And then it's like one of those what are you running to. I think that's what's so cool about our fi community like this is not the early retirement podcast right. Well we just want to go sit on our couch and do nothing for the next 20-30 years. In many cases we're running to our passions. And so the reason why FI is so attractive is because that enables you to do what's next. It's not don't work you know to not work. It is free up your time. Grab control of your life pursue your passions your freedoms your dreams and then while you're on this journey we're gaming things out. We're figuring out life we're figuring out the rules. Take the opportunity to take a step back and figure out what your dreams your passions you know what your goals actually are. Explore it. Don't graze be intentional.
2832 - 2857 Joel - FI180 Exactly. And that's that's that's it for me. I want to spend my days working on writing. I love writing. Working on music. I produce a lot of music and do that kind of thing. I want to have time to do an hour walk each morning have time for a leisurely breakfast maybe spend an hour or two on fitness every day. I can't wait. I've got my I've got my FI schedule already written out.
2857 - 2859 Brad Barrett That sounds absolutely lovely. Very very cool.
2859 - 2861 Alexis - FI180 It includes him making me breakfast.
2861 - 2873 Joel - FI180 That's right for a little while I'm going to be house husband so I'll be I'll be doing the cooking and cleaning and just you know you'll get home from work and I'll say your dinner's on the table sweetie.
2873 - 2876 Jonathan Mendonsa Joel. Question number five. The advice you would give your younger self.
2876 - 3122 Joel - FI180 So yeah I actually wrote a guest post on the fiery millennial blog earlier this month. Gwen who we also met at Camp mustache was super nice and super supportive. She was one of the people that actually convinced me to start up this blog and after hearing our story and so she wanted me to do a guest post and I thought wouldn't it be a great way to relate to millennials. If I kind of had a post about what would I tell my my 22 year old self if I wrote myself a letter what would I tell myself. And so that was the post that I did and it was it was pretty well received. So I can read you an excerpt from it right now. Kind of paint the picture of two different futures future one. Picture this you graduate from college moved to a new town. Get a high paying software engineering job. You immediately buy a beautiful new house new furniture new cars. You live in a fancy gated community with elaborate fountains and walking trails. Friends and family visit you and they marvel at all these nice things you buy all the newest tech toys every year and consider yourself an early adopter of technology. Sure you pay a premium for the privilege but you can afford it with your salary. You've always loved the latest computer gadgets and gizmos. That's why you got into computers to begin with. You get married to your high school sweetheart and enjoy an extravagant wedding tropical honeymoon weekly dinner at five star restaurants monthly massages at the spa and you're quite the jet setter. You travel every other weekend all across the United States visiting friends and family. Your credit card has no limit and when you think of something you want you just buy it. This feature is high class living that you blew past the Joneses years ago. Now future two picture this five days a week your alarm clock wakes you up super early and you stumble from bed groggy from lack of sleep you get dressed you make coffee you race out the door to sit in traffic on your half hour drive to work. When you finally alive when you finally arrive you sit in a cube and write code for hours and hours on end. Same sites same sounds. Day in day out. Same people same faces same widgets different day. You'd think that a technology job would interest you. But over the years you realize it's all the same right. Another version of an already existing widget for another program that's behind schedule and over budget. You've tried changing jobs but it's no use new code new cubicle same prison sentence. The fluorescent lights flicker above you and you glance down at your smartwatch and notice that it's 73 degrees and perfect outside your legs ache to run outside and enjoy it but you can't you're too behind on your milestones. You're always behind. You've tried coming in early or staying later working through lunch. Nothing works. You look at the clock every ten minutes hoping time would move faster. All you want to do is go home. Tick tick tick tick. The watch hand moves so slowly. When the day is done and you still haven't completed your milestones your you're still happy to leave you get back in your car sit another half hour in the coming home. Drive past the same sights and sounds you do some mental math and realize you've actually driven this route over twenty five hundred times. You've seen the same sights and sounds over twenty five hundred times. You've gone home and bedded down in front of the TV to clear your stressed out mind over twenty five hundred times. You're in an infinite loop and in just a few hours you wake you wake up at the crack of dawn to do it all again. Your health isn't as good as it was. You don't have enough time to exercise regularly. Hell you don't even have time to go on walks anymore. You don't have time to cook healthy and you can actually feel your health slipping away. It's gradual and it sneaks up on you over the years and your mind isn't as sharp as it once was. You look in the mirror and realize you aren't quite the person that you remember. You notice gray hairs starting to come in and you think about the email you received from your department administrator earlier in the week. Breaking the news that one of your coworkers passed away over the weekend. He was only in his early sixties a few years away from his retirement. This is the third email you've received like this this year. Which future do you choose. Hint it is a trap. They are exactly the same future.
families, health, travel
3122 - 3140 Jonathan Mendonsa Wow dude. I mean chills single tear that powerful. You painted the picture. I mean this is it isn't it. This is what the hamster wheel looks like. Yeah. And you guys the same. Yeah you changed all that. You made a choice and you chose Fi and I'm extremely happy for where your future is headed.
3140 - 3142 Joel - FI180 We're excited too.
3142 - 3161 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright Joel Alexis. Thank you guys so much for coming in the studio today. Thank you for taking your time unpacking your story. Going through the line items in your budget and sharing your vulnerabilities with us showing us your wins and your fails I mean it is incredibly powerful and we know our audience is going to relate to you all and relate to your message. How can they best connect with you and the story that you're trying to tell.
3161 - 3197 Joel - FI180 Yeah it was our pleasure coming on today. Thank you for having us. the best way to reach us is actually through the Web site. FI 180 dot com and on there there's a contact page where people can send us an email. They can also subscribe to us on Twitter Facebook Instagram. Soon enough. I'll get Alexis to write some guest posts on there because she she is behind the scenes. She doesn't always she's there but she's not always writing the article. She's kind of inspiring me and giving me the support on the articles so yeah if you head on over to the blog it's the best way to get in touch with us.
3197 - 3199 Alexis - FI180 Yeah I'm the shadow king.
3199 - 3228 Jonathan Mendonsa But that is legion right. Yeah I just watched it. It's so good. All right guys getting this opportunity to sit down with Joel and Alexis and just talk about these things talk about these choices that really most people have access to. That they have a high income. Absolutely. But can everybody identify with grazing through life and not you know just just letting life happen to you living for the moment and not thinking about the future and what happens if you actually wake up and realize you have a choice and you can change everything.
3228 - 3263 Brad Barrett And it doesn't take a horrific car accident to have that awakening. You can you can have that awakening in your life by reading Mr. Money Mustache by listening to this podcast. It's just creating that space between the way that you normally react. And this this new lifestyle that you've created for yourself and FI like we for FI is just a few steps away. They are not living this life of deprivation. They're living this wonderful life with increased happiness and abundance and they're less than a year away from FI. So that is really this was a remarkable episode. And I hope everyone out there enjoyed it as much as I did.
3263 - 3282 Jonathan Mendonsa All right everyone go home. Just think about your decisions. Are you crazy. Are you being intentional. Make the choice today that will have a profound influence on the life you want to live. Choose that life now and start doing something that can get you closer to your goal. The fire is spreading my friends and we'll see you next time. As we continue to go down the road less traveled.

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