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


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


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!