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


YouTube Channel Next Level FI


My YouTube Channel is official! You can check out clips from my recent webinar for those looking to Master Money in Uncertain Times (aka COVID-19 Coronavirus). 

You can see part 2 where I cover compounding to millions to reach financial independence & retire early (FIRE) at   

Subscribe to the latest content at 

Next Level FI on YouTube 

What content do you want to see next? Let us know in the comments  


Mastering Money in Uncertain Times Webinar

So the COVID-19 Coronavirus has created a new normal for a while (see for more posts about that). Many are out of work, & those still with jobs have had to adapt. 

Seeing this as an opportunity to share the many ways to master money to save, invest, & optimize our finances, I created a FREE 30-min webinar on “Mastering Money in Uncertain Times,” including an optional Q&A session afterwards. Register for our next event on Thu 5/14 at 12pm EDT & I’ll “see” you there! 

What are some specific ways you save now or want to know more about? Let us know in the comments 


Covid-19 Stock Crash Stay The Course

My wife in the medical field has been urging our family for weeks about the Covid-19 Coronavirus turning life upside-down (see Destroy Obstacles for more), so I hadn’t been focused as much on how much my stock investments plummeted in the past couple weeks.

What also doesn’t help is watching others in online groups like ChooseFI panic when they know they are supposed to stay the course (I’ll admit even me since I am only a recently-graduated money nerd)

So times like we need wisdom such as from Mad FIentist’s recent interview with JL Collins:

His voice reassures us to stay the course, so WE GOT THIS!


How to Devour Books 25X

I met my goal of reading 25 books for the Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge! 

For many years I gave myself the excuse that I didn’t have the time to sit down and read, and barely read 1 book a year. So how did I do it? 

Well listening to audiobooks while driving or training for sports like American Ninja Warrior definitely help. Luckily books in Amazon Kindle format can also be read by Echo devices and even using the Alexa app. 

My Top 5 in 2019 were: 

Tools of Titans – audio / book 

Quit Like a Millionaire – audio / book 

Eight Dates – audio / book 

Open – audio / book 

Your Money or Your Life – audio / book 

You can see the full 2019 list & other books @GoodReads @DigitalBeyond  

This year should be 25 or more books easily, and you may find many of your favorites available at your local library. 

If you don’t already have devices to help check out the Kindle, and you can spread out multiple Echo Dots around the house to read to you when you are not using headphones. 

What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Let us know in the comments 


Start the holiday Playing with FIRE

My favorite time of year is Thanksgiving. Our family gets together to celebrate with lots of food and fun. This year is even more special as we get closer to financial FREEDOM. 

I also am passionate about sharing the message with others, but I know it’s important to start with small actionable steps. 

So as if it was timed perfectly for me to play on repeat while our family is together – the “Playing with FIRE” documentary that I reviewed the theater experience earlier this year is now available on Amazon or other formats. Note that I’m not referring to the comedy movie with the same name that also came  in theaters around the same time. 

They also have a “Playing with FIRE” book (not the steamy romance novel). If you can’t grab their attention for that long at least share a quick video to getting started to open the discussion of mastering money & designing their best lives. 

For an attention grabber, you can start talking about the health benefits of going on a financial diet with questions like “did you get all your FREE MONEY for this year?” If their employer has a 401k plan they may have a match, or even if they contribute to their own retirement plan that can lower the taxes that they pay. 

You’ll know quickly who is interested to learning more. The book that does a wonderful job at laying out a plan is “The Simple Path to Wealth.” It is available by audiobook on Audible, & if you try their subscription service it is free for the first 30 days. They can also check out the author JL Collins’s “Stock Series” on his blog website. Another great option is to listen to podcasts such as ChooseFI, which even has local groups that meet up regularly. 

There are a lot of resources out there and it is tempting to simplifying things by urging everyone you meet to save & invest half or more of their income, but remember that you have to learn to crawl before you walk. 

Happy Holidays! 


Saving Thousands using Travel Rewards and Other Hacks

Our family recently saved thousands using travel rewards and other hacks! 

So credit card debt is the opposite of building wealth, but once you are free of debt and can pay them off in full every month then you can use credit cards to your advantage. A while ago our family had opened up a few travel reward credit cards and had accumulated points that were sitting there. We finally redeemed them and saved over $2,000 on a 5-star hotel weekend getaway on the beach, as well as on flights for all four of us. 

When looking for credit cards you’ll want to look for a card that gives you  a big return of at least several hundred dollars, if not more. Travel rewards cards can be great at this, and our family loves to travel so it worked out nicely. 

The hacks don’t stop at the hotel booking though. Hotels can charge $30 plus a night for parking and tell you that valet is the only option, but you’ll find many times a cheaper parking lot for overnight parking close by. For our last trip since it was a 2 hour drive to the beach I brought my bicycle & found a park nearby that I could leave the car at. You may have to do a little work, but those few extra minutes saved me almost $100 & allowed me to explore the area. 

Another thing I always do when I arrive at the hotel is to fill up the ice bucket to let it melt into drinkable water for later, which avoids the crazy expense that the minibar can add up to. I also check out the gym since that will typically have water, and may have other things like apples. Finally a local grocery store I’ll stock up on basic items for the fridge for morning or evening snacks. 

If you have any questions on travel rewards or other cards, we now have a contact form to answer individually. Feel free to reach out or leave us a comment on your experiences with travel rewards. 


Fly high

Birds fly in every direction 

Don’t let limiting beliefs from others stop you from flying in your direction 

There are broke people spending all their money that are afraid you are saving and investing too high 

There are uneducated people who think we can’t learn topics like technology or money for ourselves and need to pay experts as the only way 

There are obese people that don’t want to think too much about the food that enters our bodies, and worry we’ll injure ourselves practicing sports like ninja obstacles 

Don’t be afraid to fly 

Fly high 

Imagine Dragons – Birds (Animated Video) 


Playing with FIRE SOLD OUT movie review and experience

The Playing with FIRE documentary movie premiere in South Florida earlier this week was great! I was introduced to the concept of FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early) by a wise friend just 2 years ago, so the night was also special to celebrate my FIREversary and introduce family and friends to the power of the FIRE movement at a SOLD OUT crowd.

So how do you explain FIRE in a short amount of time to others? A story of course! In this case, Scott Riekens the Executive Producer dives deep into it with his family, moving out of their expensive California home to sacrifice for a better life long-term. Don’t expect an action blockbuster, but all the big names in FIRE are there and the video quality from Director Travis Shakespeare is superb. Just to see Vicki Robin and Mr. Money Mustache on the big screen was perfect for me. 

Before the movie we were able to meet up for happy hour with food and drinks. I was expecting the crowd to all be retired 30 somethings, but it was a great group with over 20 of us from all walks of life. It was great to hear from others and their stories, including the events they gather at such as CampFI. 

After the movie we also stayed for a special surprise giveaways of books and other prizes from those in the community. We also heard from a couple enjoying their post-FI freedom while living in the Florida Keys. The prizes even included two tickets for FinCon, one of the biggest yearly events that the FIRE community meets for. I didn’t win those, but I did win a toy set for the kids and a FIRE bumper sticker for me that I proudly placed on my 12 year old Toyota Prius. Also my friend Ronald who is currently ranked #1 in the Florida Ninja League joined in and even took a couple pics of the fun. My mom, sister, and wife joined in on the fun as well, and my brother-in-law who was in town even made it to the happy hour beforehand. 

One of the challenges coordinating this event was that the movie is not available streaming at this time, and playing the movie at a theater required that we had at least 60 tickets minimum sold on a weekday. Steven from Even Steven Money was kind enough to setup the event, so I set a goal to tell everyone I know about it and invite them. We knew the event was also a great excuse to get together before-hand for a happy hour. Sharing with our local FI group from the ChooseFI podcast definitely helped, and I also had 5 others join me. 

You can attend or host your own screening in your town by visiting their events page at If you need to find people to join in on the fun there are usually local FIRE groups in most areas – e.g. Meetup, Facebook, etc. You can also find an e-mail template that Scott sends his friends to help explain FIRE, or you can point them to other helpful resources to get them started. 

I definitely will take advantage of opportunities like this so we can spread the power of FIRE to others. Maybe we can even create a Global Financial Independence Day? Sometime close to July 4 may work well for my American friends 🙂