Investing in AI

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the future. I enjoy putting it to use and talking about it for hours. But I realized I also need to put my money where my mouth is.

This is especially true for some of the largest tech companies. Nvidia is leading the way in making the hardware that is in demand, and has had an epic rise in the last year. Microsoft is benefiting from a large investment in OpenAI, the company behind the popular ChatGPT. There’s also Meta, Google, Amazon, Apple, & Tesla. Collectively they are known as the Magnificent Seven, and have contributed to the large portion of the gains in the top S&P 500 companies this past year.

So, I recently purchased one stock of each inside my tax-advantaged retirement account. And keep in mind that this is only a small portion of my investments, which I consider as fun money… I’ll continue to keep a large portion in low-cost stock index funds like VTSAX, & leverage tax advantaged retirement & similar accounts where I can.

If you have been slacking on making investment moves, you can learn more on my “Start Here” welcome page. And if you have questions then just reach out, as I love geeking out to that sort of thing.

How have your investments been performing lately, and what are you looking at investing into next? Let us know on Twitter @NextLevFi

ways to save

Argentina Top 3

Ever have a vacation that you felt you had to share? Well I thoroughly enjoyed our recent trip to Argentina, so I’ll share my Top 3 from my trip earlier this month:

  1. Summer skiing in Bariloche – July/August is the peak of winter there. I live in the flat lands of South Florida, so to escape from the heat to the mountains & do some skiing was very nice.
  2. Exploring the big city – we were definitely surprised by how nice the city of Buenos Aires was, like a fancier European version of New York. The city is also a melting pot with different cultures like Italian, so it felt like a second home.  We went to the theatre, did a tango lesson/show, explored the outdoor gardens, & even made our own empanadas.
  3. Enjoying time with the people, culture, & more –
    my favorite trips are ones where we can spend time with the locals, so having friends that grew up in the area definitely helped out. I’m grateful for the amazing service, steak, wine, & more. The US Dollar also stretches far there, so that was an added bonus for someone frugal like me 🙂

As they say in Argentina – Dale! (Let’s go 🙂

ways to save

Devices For Healthy Wallet

Devices & Services for a Healthy Wallet – Save Money and Stay Fit

Recently I got a new watch, new phone service, & replaced my phone screen. Luckily all three are actually saving me a lot & keeping me healthy. More on that:

  • Cell service – $15/mo Mint Mobile

    I was tired of being overcharged on cell service, especially living in a “dead zone” where all the providers are bad. So when my contract was up I saw Mint Mobile was offering a great plan for $15/mo. The service works off of T-Mobile’s network, & has been working great.

    Mint Mobile plans start at just $15/mo, and include high speed data, plus unlimited talk and text. Use my unique link and you’ll get $15 added to your Mint account, and I’ll get free Mint too. Win-win
  • Cell phone – $60 iPhone 11 DIY screen repair

    My last phone I decided to go without a case. When I slipped it cracked the screen, & I ended up having a local service repair the screen. When the screen started having problems just 13 days later, I hesitantly repaired it a second time with them.

    The phone worked for a while, but then got ocean water in it & had screen issues for a third time. I wasn’t about to overpay for another screen repair. I finally decided to try to replace the screen myself using a repair kit. It was really easy to do, & it is great having a working screen again.

    If you ever need to repair a phone screen like for iPhone 11, then just follow this link If your phone is a different brand/model, just change the search to look for a screen repair kit for that model phone, & you’ll see just how easy it is to do.
  • Watch – $15 Apple Watch

    I’ve always been hesitant to buy a watch, but luckily my health insurance plan has a program where I can earn a practically free Apple Watch by keeping up on activity. You can read more about the new Apple Watch I am enjoying at

How are you saving money on devices & services? Let us know @NextLevFi


Stacking Benjamins Book Tour

  • I know I don’t talk about my FIRE millionaire cult I’m in as much as before since it is pretty much automated. But with investments reaching close to the million mark, we definitely are deserving a celebration. I’m also using that time to help close family with their retirement accounts & highly encourage them to “VTSAX and chill.”

Our next gathering we’ll meet up on Sun 3/13 for the Stacking Benjamins podcast book tour. Find it at, and follow more on our events page


Bitcoin Crypto Challenge

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You may have noticed everyone has been talking about not only picking stocks, but also Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

There is the Wall Street Bets reddit, GameStop, and Snoop Dogg even made a recent DOGE video.

And many of us are scared to take action. But all it takes is small action each day.

You can start with freebies by just signing up and trying them. And as you learn more you can look into other options to expand into.

Sign up today for our FREE 5-Day Bitcoin Crypto Investing Challenge

Ride the future of investing today



Stock Market Investing Challenge Newsletter

I finally started a newsletter!

You can find the link to subscribe at the bottom of this site, or directly at & share this with others to keep in touch.

I’ll start it off with a 5-week challenge on stock marketing investing for those just getting started all the way to those that have been crushing it for years.

You can also expect other topics such as those from my letter below:

As time continues to fly & our daughters continue to grow, I’ve learned a lot along the way.

I wanted to share my knowledge with others that I care about, and really anyone that is interested. I started sharing on websites focusing on core areas:

  • Tech/Career
  • Money/Finance
  • Goals/Books/Learning
  • Fun/Games/Gaming
  • Fitness/Recipes

Although I don’t post as often as I’d like, you can expect 1-2 times a month for now. Since everyone has their preferred way to communicate it can be difficult to stay in touch.

To make it easier I’m putting together one newsletter to share what’s new in these areas. You can find it on the bottom of, or directly at

To start it off I’ll share what I’ve been up to lately…

Money/Finance NextLevelFI

  • Investing – The girls started investing! We’re using low-fee index funds like VTSAX/VTI for stocks, consolidating our retirement accounts, & continuing to fund our Roth IRA accounts
  • Income – I’m working on adding extra income through rewards cards, affiliate programs, & small side hustles to keep our investments growing
  • Coaching – I joined a financial coaching network and am starting to help clients for those that are interested

Goals/Books/Learning DestroyObstacles

  • Homeschool – We started homeschooling the girls! I was hesitant at first, but we found a lot of great resources for them to learn at their own pace, such as
  • Library – We are proud library card holders, which I used to read over 50 books last year with our Kindle & Echo devices. I shared my favorite books from last year & already have new favorites
  • Events – I’m attending free/online events like the Tony Robbins FREE 5-day event to make2021myyear

Tech/Career DigitalBeyond

  • Certifications – I used resources from the library to help pass my PMP test! It was a challenging & rewarding experiment in Ultralearning (great book)
  • Courses – our library cards also give us access to free online training, so we’ve learned coding, animation, & I even tried out some mixology. I continually look for free courses / opportunities to build my skill set, & work I can do from home or anywhere
  • Community – I’m in a few mastermind & mentoring groups that are local to South Florida. We have not been meeting locally due to COVID, but continue to have regular virtual meetings for those who are interested

Fitness/Recipes NinjaForLife

  • Recipes – I finally posted a recipe! With COVID going around I haven’t been training much for races or obstacle courses / Ninja Warrior, but after some experimentation in the kitchen I finally shared a recipe for a healthy sweet lemonade limeade. I’ll plan to share more this year to stay in shape

Fun/Games GamerWarrior

  • Games – Most importantly I’m learning to enjoy our extra time together as a family! We’ve kept up on playing board games & setting up video game competitions
  • Hobbies – I did try a few new beers this year, but made up for it by learning to play over 50 songs on our piano

So feel free to sign up at the bottom of, or directly at & share this with others to keep in touch.

Also if you are looking for anything in particular feel free to reach out.

Live Long & Prosper,



Earn Thousands in Free Bitcoin Stocks and More Rewards

Start the new year right by earning thousands of dollars in free offers!

Dubai New Years Fireworks

I was able to achieve many goals this past year, such as my PMP / 365 certifications & reading 60 books. This year I’ll focus on building business income through a home-based business / side hustle.

Luckily there are many ways to earn free money such as through rewards programs, & I made a goal of earning at least $500 worth of rewards within 30 days.

I started with what I knew – opening up a credit card (see my other post on Saving Thousands Using Travel Rewards and Other Hacks).

For credit cards we usually aim for $500 in rewards like travel. At first the Amazon Prime Rewards Card only offers $100, but it also offers 5% back on every Amazon purchase for Prime customers. We easily spend thousands a year there, which easily equates to a few hundred dollars in savings each year.

Next I looked at bank cards. Normally for bank cards they want you to hold a minimum amount, but the bank card I found offers $400 after 2 direct deposits are made.

As I searched for more offers to increase my earnings, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin started rallying up past the $20,000 mark & is projected to reach $400k. So I knew I wanted a little fun money in that as well as some stocks.

After delaying for over 2 years when it was at a low, I finally got Bitcoin using the popular Coinbase platform.

Normally you earn $5 in free Bitcoin for signing up, but if you buy at least $100 in crypto when using this Coinbase invite you’ll earn another $10.

Bitcoin is good to start with, but others like Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, & Litecoin are becoming popular to trade as well.

What makes it even better is you can watch quick videos to learn more about some of the up & coming cryptocurrencies, & earn money in those currencies. In fact, earn another $10 each once you’ve signed up using these two links:

Stellar Lumens


I also signed up for some of the stock apps for their offers, & my favorite so far is M1 Finance.

Their offer is similar to other platforms – if you invest at least $100 in a taxable account (or $500 for IRAs) you’ll earn $10 using this M1 Finance invite

There are also others like Robinhood you can check out.

Join with my Robinhood link and we’ll both get a gift stock for the holidays!

In total I know I’ll quickly surpass my $500 goal & am on my way to easily earn a few thousand in rewards for the year. There are other rewards I can take advantage as well, such as shopping clubs and survey rewards.

So every month I’ll keep a look out for the best offers to share so we can all earn thousands in rewards together.

Just keep in mind whatever you earn you’ll need to set aside the necessary taxes on the income you are receiving (more on the best ways to manage that in future posts).

What are your favorite rewards programs? Let us know in the comments


Year End Money Moves

Well 2020 is flying by!

COVID-19 definitely threw a curveball for a lot of us, but luckily our family had a strong financial plan in place.

We’ve had more time to connect more with our friends & family from all stages in life.

So what are some money moves to make by end of year if you haven’t already?

  1. Roth IRA

For 2020 anyone making under $124k single or $193k married adjusted gross income (AGI) can contribute up to $6,000 to a Roth IRA.

If you are age 50 or older, that limit moves up to $7,000.

The power of a Roth is that you can withdrawal contributions after they have been in the account for 5 years with no penalty.

Roth Conversion for lower-income

Also if your income was on the lower end this year, say under $40,000 AGI, you can consider converting money from a traditional retirement account to Roth. You would pay the taxes on what you convert, but staying in the lower income bracket of 12% means you pay a little tax now & that money is free from being taxed later.

If you are interested in converting, you’ll need to do so by end of the year.

For higher-income, you won’t qualify for a Roth IRA but can still look into a backdoor Roth.

2. Maxing out Retirement Accounts

For those of you that are making more than that, you’ll definitely want to optimize what taxes you’ll have to pay. Maxing out retirement accounts are a great way to lower your AGI. This can also help out if you are on an income-based school loan repayment plan.

3. Business Deductions

Another great way to optimize taxes is to start your own business. Businesses save on taxes, especially with the cuts the TCJA gave us.

Starting a business is might be different than what you think. Not a storefront selling stuff, or a time-consuming endeavor.  For example, taking care of 1-2 other peoples dogs at home can be a business…. Consulting can be a business. Renting your house, sharing products you love with others on websites, etc.

For those who are already doing all of that, there are always additional ways to optimize your finances. Maybe you want to start Saving Thousands using Travel Rewards and Other Hacks, invest in low-fee index accounts, or even just consolidate old accounts. Once that money starts compounding you’ll have money problems like my high-income friend who is starting his own foundation!

You can catch a recent ChooseFI 2020 Wins webinar for inspiring stories of others making major changes in this past year.

What changes have you made or planned to make by end of year? Let us know in the comments


Celebrating 3 Years Pursuing Financial Freedom

This week 7/7 marks 7 years until my goal of reaching full financial freedom while still in my 40s. Just a few years ago I felt trapped in a job while fighting massive debt & making little progress.

To celebrate progress towards money & life goals I toasted with a tasty drink (vanilla stout to be exact), enjoyed games with family/friends, & had a great trail run.

Whenever I feel the urge to spend, I remind myself that the money saved compounds to an astronomical figure that is not worth it to me.

For those new to FIRE I updated our welcome package that I give to family & friends that are open to the message.

My girls are also catching on, so next month we’re hosting a gaming tournament while also learning useful skills like coding to accelerate our pursuit of a life of Work Optional.

What are you going to do to celebrate your money & life wins? Let us know in the comments


Three Secrets to Achieve Goals

So what is the secret with achieving goals? Maybe you’ve reached some, but if you are like many you make big goals & then give up when it gets out of reach.

 In my younger years I struggled for years with keeping consistent with exercise. Then the TV show Ninja Warrior came along where I trained for 30 days & completed most of the obstacles. The same thing happened with my financial life – for years I lived in fear of picking the wrong investments, but now with the power of FIRE I’m on track to reach financial freedom in 7 years so my daughters can model the behavior.

Let’s look at what works:

  1. Fun – Make it a game with rewards along the way. I love trying new craft beer, so for me that is a great incentive along the way to keep me motivated. I also love competition, so  challenging others can also help.
  2. Strong Desire – Having a powerful purpose drives our passion. Having a WHY is critical – the 80% vs. the how 20%. We need an urgency to help motivate us daily, so a shorter time like 30 days is a great time to solidify a habit & get 1% better daily.
  3. System to stay on track – Our brains can tend to make something bigger than it is, so don’t let it. Break what you need to do in small steps where you can get into the habit even if it is just for 5min a day, & make sure you are building a Growth mindset so you won’t give up.

For more on the secrets above, check out the books Start with Why, Atomic Habits, & Grit.

So get started, now is the time! Give yourself a 30 Day Challenge & get excited while you challenge others to set their goals. If you need some ideas, I’ll share what our family is up to:


  • Code a playable video game – this includes designing the characters, story, sound. My daughters have been taking free virtual classes, & are even helping teach me. Along the way we’ve upgraded our computers & tried out old & new games, so look for an upcoming post on that.


  • Play 30 new songs on piano – I’ve always loved music in games & movies, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw myself wanting to learn piano. Practicing one key at a time has been very helpful, & you can see my previous post of the USB 32-key piano I’m using on my computer.


  • Running a new PR – I used to hate running, but when I started training with runners I learned the tricks of the trade. Just before COVID-19 I had my best time ever. So now I’m not only looking to reach that again, but also look into completing
  • The “Murph Challenge” – by later this year by starting with doing a shorter half-Murph. Look for a future post & a virtual 5K group that we’re starting.


  • Read 5 books – this is a perfect time since I’m pursuing certification while helping colleagues adjust to COVID-19 & working remotely. I’ve also added friends that are avid readers to my Goodreads so my list of books to check out will never run out.
  • Level up the Spanish Language – 5min on a language-learning app is something that can easily be done daily, & making it a game makes it fun.


  • Legacy document – this is crucial when you start building wealth so that your family has a clear path of what to do after your passing. I also want to
  • Challenge others to invest – in their future, even if they are just getting started. If you qualify, you can still contribute to a Roth IRA for the 2019 tax year.

What 30 Day Challenge are you going to tackle, & what reward will you choose? Let us know on Twitter using #30DayChallenge