Afford Anything

By Paula Pant

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Category: Investing

Open in Apple Podcasts

Open RSS feed

Open Website

Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 1876
Reviews: 7

 Nov 10, 2020
Paula's insights and guests are always helpful and sometimes even inspiring. I've gained more confidence from this podcast than any other I've listened to.

 Jan 20, 2020

 Jan 6, 2020
While this is listed as a finance & money podcast, the range of topics is really wide and interesting. I love the way Paula asks such rich and poignant questions, and keeps the conversation flowing. I highly recommend.

Fernando V
 Aug 9, 2019
Absolutely love the podcast, topics and guests.

 May 1, 2019
This podcast helps me survive my 2 hr commute! Fave episodes are 59 and 60 (the teacher), 158 (Clark Howard), 127 (the Psychologist), and 115 (D Ramsey's daughter). Ms. Pant has lit a fire under my $$ journey and I'm so grateful!


You can afford anything, but not everything. We make daily decisions about how to spend money, time, energy, focus and attention – and ultimately, our life. Every decision is a trade-off against another choice. But how deeply do we contemplate these choices? Are we settling for the default mode? Or are we ruthlessly optimizing around a deliberate life? Host Paula Pant interviews a diverse array of entrepreneurs, early retirees, millionaires, investors, artists, adventurers, scientists, psychologists, productivity experts, world travelers and regular people, exploring the tough work of living a truly excellent life. Want to learn more? Download our free book, Escape, at

Episode Date
Ask Paula: I’m Bored at Work, and I’m 14 Years from Retirement; Should I Tough It Out?

#344: Russell’s job offers the option to contribute to a 457 plan. Since he’s in the highest tax bracket, should he take advantage of the tax deferral offered through the 457 or invest within a taxable brokerage account?

Anonymous is on track to be financially independent in 14 years, but isn’t living up to her potential working a boring job. How can she live up to her potential and do more without sacrificing her quality of life?

C wants to know what tax implications she should consider before working remotely from abroad?

Daan is wondering if he should stake or lend his current cryptocurrency portfolio to make additional gains on assets he plans to hold long-term?

Do you have a question on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing? Leave it here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 19, 2021
Are We Heading for a Housing Crash in 2022?

Hey Podcast family!
Enrollment for our flagship course, Your First Rental Property, is open from now until Thursday, Oct 14 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific!

If you want a structured, step-by-step framework to guide you from “clueless novice” to “confident investor,” this course is for you.

Your First Rental Property provides all the knowledge, structure, support, spreadsheets, checklists, red flag warnings, and other tools you need to make smarter investing decisions.

Last chance! Enrollment closes on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific:

See you in class!


The real estate market in 2021 has been bonkers.

That’s the technical term.

From 2012 to 2020, home prices nationwide rose at an annualized average of 5.8 percent per year.

From April 2020 to April 2021, home prices climbed 17.2 percent.

This sudden surge in prices has many homeowners and would-be investors fearful of a crash. The memories of the stark price run-up prior to The Great Recession are all too salient.

What goes up must come down, right?

Not exactly. In this episode, we walk through market fundamentals — discussing housing supply, lumber prices, and the distinction between cheap credit vs easy credit — to illustrate how today’s market is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

More importantly, we offer tips for everyone —.whether you’re a renter looking to get into your starter home, an empty-nester looking to downsize, an owner-occupant who wants to lock in your gains, or a curious aspiring investor who wonders if it’s too late.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 11, 2021
Ask Paula: How to Make Smarter Real Estate Decisions

Hey Podcast family!! 

Our flagship real estate investing course is re-open for enrollment ONLY from now until October 14!! 

If you want to stop thinking about maybe buying real estate someday but gee it’s so expensive now …  and you want to *actually take action,* this course is for you. 

Find out more here. Remember: if you want to stop waiting for a market crash ... and instead develop the structure, systems and judgment to make smart investing choices, even in a hot market like 2021, this real estate investing course is for you.

Deadline to enroll is October 14, 2021!

Alright, now … onto the show!


#342: Russell is a busy professional who’d like to invest passively in real estate. Is there data he can use to compare this approach to owning and managing their own properties?

Laura wants to purchase her first investment property in Miami. Should she cash out some RSUs and stock from her company to use as a down payment? And what type of mortgage is she eligible for since she already owns a home?

Jordan and his wife own three properties and are under contract on a new house since they have a new baby on the way. Should he sell any of his existing properties to be in a stronger cash position, thus mitigating the risk of future fluctuations in his income as a real estate broker? Or should he keep his rental properties since his goal is to reach financial independence through rental income?

Do you have a question on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing? Leave it here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 04, 2021
Courage and The Consequences of Inaction, with Ryan Holiday

Imagine a line.

Cowardice exists at one extreme end of that line. Recklessness exists at the other extreme end.

And in the balanced middle, you’ll find courage.

Today’s conversation is about courage. We’re not talking about inspiring physical acts of bravery in this episode; rather, we’re discussing moral and social courage.

The type of courage you need to make an investment. Buy a rental property. Invest in stocks. Start a business or side hustle. Retire early. Travel overseas. Have a difficult but diplomatic conversation. Express your feelings constructively rather than bottling them up inside. Raise an issue with immediacy rather than hesitation. Break bad news to someone. Ask for help. Launch an initiative. Try something new.

We’re talking about the type of courage that’s required to become a better, bigger person in your work, your relationships, your life.

We’re having this conversation with Ryan Holiday, the bestselling author of a series of books on Stoic philosophy.


Resources Mentioned:
Courage is Calling, by Ryan Holiday

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 02, 2021
How to Make $1 Million in Business with No Employees, with Elaine Pofeldt

Imagine this:

You start a side hustle. Maybe you sell planners or lead workouts in the park.

You make a few thousand dollars during your first year. It’s fun beer money, but not enough to quit your day job.

But you keep growing. You run this as a one-person operation, though you bring on freelancers or independent contractors.

Your revenue grows into the five figures. Then six figures. After a few years, you’re running a one-person, million dollar company.

This sounds like a pipe dream, right?

But it’s the true story of Laszlo Nadler, who created a line of planners and calendars. It’s the true story of Stacy Berman, who started leading 5:30 AM fitness bootcamp classes in the park.

And it’s the true story of hundreds of other solopreneurs interviewed by business journalist Elaine Pofeldt, who took a deep-dive look at the lives and businesses of entrepreneurs who run companies that gross more than $1 million, but have no employees.

In today’s episode, we take an inside look at the secrets behind one-person, million-dollar businesses.

If you’ve ever considered starting a side hustle or business of your own, don’t miss this.

This episode originally aired in March 2019.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 29, 2021
How to Invest in Real Estate, Debt-Free, from Thousands of Miles Away, with Rich Carey

Have you ever thought, “I’d like to invest in rental real estate but there are no cheap properties in my area!”

“Homes in my city are too expensive. I’d have to invest out-of-state, but that sounds terrifying.”

Or have you ever thought, “I’m curious about real estate but I’m not a fan of the idea of taking on all that debt.”

Today’s interview is right up your alley. We talk to Rich Carey, who bought 20 single-family rental properties in Alabama, totally debt-free, while stationed in Germany and South Korea.

He invested not just out-of-state, but entirely from outside the country.

He bought his properties free-and-clear. And he did it on a military salary while raising two kids.

This interview originally aired in June 2018. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Sep 24, 2021
Why Investors Need a Latticework of Ideas, with Morgan Housel

Here are three lessons from this conversation with investment writer Morgan Housel:

Lesson #1: Great investors need patience and humility.

Lesson #2: Read broadly.

Don’t just read books about finance and investing. Read from a broad multi-disciplinary array of subjects, so that you can form a latticework of ideas.

Lesson #3: Play a strong defense.

On the surface, it seems like playing defense is a conservative strategy. Emergency funds and a strong income-producing allocation, for example, both sound conservative.

But in the long-term it could prove to be the opposite.

Enjoy this interview, which originally aired in April 2018.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 14, 2021
Habits are Overrated, with Kristen Berman

Meet Kristen Berman, a top researcher in the field of behavioral economics. She’s the co-founder of Irrational Labs, which designs products that are evidence-based in the behavioral sciences.

Her co-founder, Dan Ariely, is the James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, and one of the most famous behavioral economists in the world.

Here are some of the (counterintuitive!) ideas that Kristen shares:

  • Habits are overrated. Automate instead
  • Budgeting doesn’t change your spending behavior
  • Commit in advance
  • Forget about the outcome
  • Focus on the process
  • You need accountability
  • Think about the Three B’s: behavior, barriers and benefits

Tune into this episode to hear Kristen elaborate on these research-backed, evidence-based ideas about how to improve our spending, saving and investing habits.

For more information, visit the show notes at

*Note: This interview originally aired in October 2019.

Sep 08, 2021
Ask Paula: Should We Sell a Condo if We’re Barely Breaking Even?

#336: Anonymous and his partner have a one-bedroom condo that they rent out in Pasadena, CA. The problem? They’re barely breaking even. Should they keep the condo, or sell it and make better use of the profits?

Sam wants to know: how much of an emergency fund does a rental property need?

Michael and his wife expect their taxable income to be less than $10,000 this year. Should Michael (age 56) take distributions from his 401k to minimize or eliminate their income tax burden?

Shanon wants to switch to an ethical bank with values that align with hers. How can she create a framework for making decisions about financial institutions when authentic information is scarce?

Sharon's husband purchased a property with a below-market loan in 2008. They now have an extra $4,000 per month, and Sharon wants to buy a property as a first-time buyer. They're torn between keeping the property or selling it. What should they do?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer more of your questions.

Do you have a question on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing? Leave it here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.

For more information and resources, go to

Sep 03, 2021
What You Think You Want vs. What You Really Want, with Luke Burgis

Have you ever spent years studying the wrong major, climbing the ladder at the wrong company, chasing the wrong career? 

Have you spent years living in the wrong city? Wrong relationship? Wrong lifestyle?

It’s hard to discern what *we think we want* from what we really want.

Society teaches us what we’re “supposed” to want. And we follow along.

The result is keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the hedonic treadmill. It’s lifestyle inflation. And it causes conflict, both within ourselves and with others. 

Today’s guest, Luke Burgis, discusses mimetic desire — how our “wants” are imitative — and how we can find our deeper truths. 

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 01, 2021
Ask Paula -- What Paintbrush Did Michelangelo Use? (said no one ever)

#334: In today’s episode, we answer three questions from a college senior named Rafael.

He asks about productivity tools and tactics, student debt, Robinhood and market investing, and how to establish yourself as an expert in a given domain.

We answer his questions by widening the lens.

People often ask about productivity tools. “Do you use Asana or Trello?” But nobody asked Michelangelo what paintbrush he used to paint the Sistine Chapel. The discussion around tools misses the point, which is to master the craft.

Sure, we answer his direct, overt questions. But we also dive deeper, refining these topics and exploring the questions *behind* his questions.

This is an episode in which we peel layers off the onion.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 25, 2021
The End of Recessions?, with Ben Carlson

#333: In the 1890s and early 1900’s, we had recessions every two years.

From 2009 to 2020, we enjoyed an 11-year bull run, the longest bull run in history. And when we finally had a recession, it lasted only two months. It was the shortest recession in U.S. history.

The duration between recessions is growing longer (these days, we average 10 years between recessions, as opposed to two years at the turn of the previous century).

And when recessions strike, we recover faster. The average length of recessions is growing shorter.

What does this mean? If we project these trends into the future, are we bound for the end of recessions?

That’s the question that kicks off this discussion with Ben Carlson, Director of Institutional Asset Management at Ritzhold Wealth Management and the host of the Animal Spirits podcast.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 18, 2021
Ask Paula: What’s the Point of Financial Independence if I’m Not Going to Retire?

#332: Ginger’s financial independence (FI) number is $2 million, but she doesn’t want to fully retire early. Once she hits ‘coast’ FI, she wants to 1) buy her time back with outsourcing, 2) take a mini-retirement, and 3) buy a vacation home. Does it make sense for her to divert retirement contributions to these goals, or should she aim to save $2M?

Wilson plans to have a two percent withdrawal rate in retirement. Given this low rate, should he go all-in on stocks? Or should he split up his retirement funds and invest one half conservatively and the other half aggressively?

Jennifer has a low-stress doggie-daycare, but she needs a bigger space to scale up. How the heck can she find a property to suit her needs in Austin, TX?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer another round of listener questions.

(If you have questions on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing, leave them here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.)

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 12, 2021
Four Thousand Weeks, with Oliver Burkeman


Four thousand weeks.

That’s how long we live if we’re lucky enough to celebrate our 80th birthday.

We rarely think of our lifespan in terms of weeks. When we do, it seems painfully short.

And that’s the point that Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks, wants to drive home.

Rather than fight a losing battle against time, Oliver recommends that we embrace our cosmic insignificance, redefine what a meaningful life looks like, choose what to fail at, burn bridges, and ruthlessly limit our works-in-progress.

If the financial independence movement is a rebellion against trading the rest of our limited time for pay, Oliver’s unconventional view on time management is a rebellion against trading the rest of our limited time for an illusion of productivity.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Aug 07, 2021
Ask Paula: How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Retire?

#330: Linda is 58 and wondering how to account for her Social Security benefits when thinking through the 25x expenditure equation. Her expected expenses are $100,000 - $150,000. How can she figure out if she’s ready to retire?

Alise has dreamed of living abroad for long periods of time and wants to buy a property in Portugal before the minimum spend requirement increases. Should she go through with this, or is there another way to gain dual citizenship or travel abroad for long periods of time?

An anonymous lawyer from Colorado has $250,000 in a SEP-IRA account that’s invested in mutual funds with fees ranging from 0.61 percent to 1.06 percent. Fees on these funds are projected at $200,000 over the next 20 years. Should he and can he transfer these funds to another SEP-IRA account? What are the consequences of doing that?

Mr. Man is eligible to retire with a full pension, health benefits, and social security at age 48. He has 20 years to go. Should he include his pension and social security benefits in his financial independence plan, or think of them as extras?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer more of your questions.

Do you have a question on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing? Leave it here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 02, 2021
Challenging Your Confirmation Bias, with Economist Larry Kotlikoff

#329: Have you ever thought about how an economist views financial planning? Would you guess that it's vastly different from how some financial planners approach this work?

Today's guest, Laurence Kotlikoff, is a Professor of Economics at Boston University. The Economist named him one of the world's 25 most influential economists in 2014. Professor Kotlikoff has written 19 books, and hundreds of professional articles and Op-Eds.

He's here to explain why economists take a different view than financial planners on investing, retirement planning, and risk mitigation.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 29, 2021
Ask Paula: I’m on the Verge of Retirement and My Taxes are Rising … Help!

#328: Sarah O Sahara’s parents sold their rentals and business of 24 years. They’d like to create a trust for their grandkids with boundaries in place to avoid entitlement. How should they structure this trust?

Anonymous in Canada has a fully paid off condo that she wants to turn into a rental once her new townhome is ready. Should she mortgage against the condo to reduce the mortgage on her townhome? Are there any tax benefits to having a mortgage on a rental?

Luis’s wife wants to start moonlighting in her field. Can she open and contribute to a Solo 401k even though she has a TSP account with her 9-to-5 employer?

Russell and his partner want to emigrate to Canada in the near future. Should they move their investments into Canadian funds?

Renee and her husband are in their 60s, and most of their retirement funds are in pre-tax accounts. They have federal tax credits they’d like to use to move these funds into taxable accounts. Is this a sound strategy?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me once again to answer your questions. Enjoy!

(Have an investing, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, or decision-making question you’d like us to answer? Submit it here!)

Jul 21, 2021
Decoding Greatness, with Ron Friedman, Ph.D

#327: The stories of success that highlight talent and hard work don’t tell a complete picture. The best artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs don’t always have innate talent. Not all of them have put in 10,000 hours of practice. What sets them apart is their framework for learning.

Award-winning social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman discusses his new book, Decoding Greatness, which answers the question, “why are some people so good at what they do, and what can we learn from this?” You’ll learn how to harness the power of reverse engineering, create a collection of masterworks from the best in your industry, and why practicing in three dimensions improves performance.

If you have a specific skill set you want to develop or improve, tune in for Dr. Friedman’s framework for developing greatness.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 14, 2021
Ask Paula: The Dangers of Frugality

#326: Anonymous is struggling with being too frugal, possibly to the detriment of her health. I mentioned in a previous episode that I struggled with frugality for a long time. She wants to know: in what ways was frugality a hindrance or an asset, and how did I get myself out of such a frugal mindset?

John and his wife aren’t sure how much they should contribute to their daughter’s Ohio 529 plan. They want her to graduate from undergrad debt-free, but they imagine she’ll get help from scholarships and that she’ll work as a teenager. How much is enough?

Rafael just got a job as a 1099 sales associate and is wondering how the heck to calculate what he’ll owe in taxes.

Rafael has a second question: he opened an account at Vanguard in December 2020 and noticed that he could still contribute to that account for the first few months of 2021. Which year should he have focused on contributing to?

Elizabeth has two rental properties: one that’s paid off and profitable, the other which shows a loss. If she put her profitable rental into an LLC, could she still combine the rent from both properties?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer another round of questions.

By the way, if you have questions on business, money, trade-offs, financial independence strategies, travel, or investing, be sure to leave them here and we’ll answer them in a future episode.

Jul 07, 2021
Bitcoin for Beginners

#325: Okay, so everyone and their dog is talking about Bitcoin — but what exactly is it? And what’s Ethereum? If you’re feeling lost in the topic and confused by the jargon, start with this episode in which we cover the basics about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. 

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 02, 2021
Ask Paula: I Make $50,000; How Can I Buy a House?

#324: Rob and his fiancé are grappling with what to do about her $400,000 of federal student loan debt. Should they pay it off immediately, or bank on a 20-year dismissal?

“Nurse Dreaming of FI” isn’t sure what her family’s next financial move should be. She’s torn between investing extra money into index funds, or using it to buy a fix-and-flip. Her goal is to make work optional. Which path will lead her there?

Daniel recently discovered the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement and got a job earning $50,000 per year. He wants to househack a duplex to get closer to FIRE, but how the heck can he find anything in this seller’s market?

Anonymous and her husband have 457s with the City of Chicago. However, they found out that Illinois has a horrible credit rating. How can they - and should they - protect their funds? How much should they rely on their pensions?

Nick is curious: how have my views on wholesalers changed over the years, and why?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions today.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 28, 2021
What's in Store for the Economy and the Future of Work?, with ChooseFI hosts Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa

#323 Brad and Jonathan from ChooseFI join us for a deep philosophical and practical discussion around what we learned from 2020. We explore...

  • What the pandemic taught us about work, finance, and life
  • The importance of being mentally and logistically nimble and flexible
  • The distinction between directionality vs methodology
  • What we’ve learned about how to get a job, what type of education to get, and what to do with the rest of our lives

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 21, 2021
Ask Paula: If I Retire at 50, How Do I Bridge the Gap?

#322: Jess wants to reach financial independence by the time she’s 50. But she’s worried that she doesn’t have enough money in cash or taxable brokerage accounts to bridge the gap in her first few years of retirement. What moves should she make, if any?

Yisell wants to invest money now. Should she cash out her $70,000 pension in hopes to generate more than the $1,000 per month she’s guaranteed from it?

Abbey is 22 and she would like to go back to graduate school for nurse anesthesia. Should she save up and pay for it in cash, or invest her money and take out federal loans?

Eliana enjoyed our interview with Paul Merriman on the two-fund portfolio. She’s curious about what growth stocks and value stocks are, and how they fit into a passive index fund investing strategy.

Finally, Sneezy wants to know: why aren’t stocks a good hedge against inflation?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 18, 2021
How to Transition to Your Dream Career, with Ashley Stahl

#321: Have you dreamed of making a career transition, only to realize you have no idea where to start, who to talk to, or how to convey your skills to interviewers? Career expert Ashley Stahl has the information you need to take control of your career and pivot into something new.

Ashley struggled with this, too -- but in the process, she figured out a system for identifying someone’s core skills and core nature to find a career and company more aligned with both.

She also chats about the 10 core skill sets you can use to propel your career forward; the five root causes of burnout and what to do about them; and four sabotaging job hunting myths that can hold you back.

If you enjoyed our interview with Gorick Ng, you’ll like this one.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 08, 2021
Ask Paula: Thinking about Money from First Principles

#320: Rob is hoping to retire at age 60, but he has a pesky mortgage balance he wants to eliminate beforehand. He and his wife expect to inherit $300,000. Should they use this money to pay off their mortgage or should they bulk up their retirement accounts?

Another anonymous caller has two separate questions. One is about the tax efficiencies of ETFs vs. mutual funds, while the other is about Ginny Mae funds and whether there are bond funds that have an inverse relationship with equities.

Priya is looking for information on home equity loans: where can you get the best terms, and what are the disadvantages? Additionally, she’d like to know which city is best for rental investing: Atlanta, Dallas, or Raleigh?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me on the show to answer your questions. Let’s dive in!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 04, 2021
The Scout Mindset, with Julia Galef

#319: Julia Galef is an acclaimed expert on rational decision making. She’s hosted the Rationally Speaking podcast for the last decade, and she’s passionate about good reasoning. Her book, The Scout Mindset, highlights the importance of looking at situations objectively and honestly. This is something a lot of people struggle with -- humans are often irrational -- but Julia argues that this is a skill that we can develop with self-awareness. 

In this interview, she shares the difference between what she calls a soldier mindset versus a scout mindset. She explains why we often default to the soldier mindset of defending ideas we desperately want to believe, and details several thought exercises that we can use to instead train our brains to scout for the truth.

Good decision making and ensuring you look for high quality sources of information can help when weighing trade-offs, and it can also save you from making costly investment mistakes. Julia and I also discuss specific examples of when having a scout mindset can prevent you from risk of ruin.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 01, 2021
Ask Paula: How to Think About Finances at the 30,000-Foot Level

#318: Joe is a new real estate agent and he’s looking for ways to save. Is opening a SEP IRA a good account when you’re no longer a W2 employee?

Grace has a similar concern: she’s a tutor, but she’s paid as a contractor. Should she forget about her Vanguard brokerage account and open a SEP IRA or Solo 401k?

Kim is newly divorced and celebrating the freedom to make her own financial decisions. She’s struggling to make a living -- also as a new realtor -- and wants to get started with real estate...but how can she do that on limited funds?

Kim also wants to know: should she move her funds from an actively managed Fidelity IRA to a Vanguard Roth IRA?

Chaz is 22 and has $2,100 - $2,500 left each month to put toward savings. Where should he keep this money if he’d like to move out-of-state in the near future?

Anonymous just got a raise, and while awesome, it might push her income to a level that prohibits her from making full Roth IRA contributions. Should she make a partial contribution this year, or start adding money to a Traditional IRA to do a backdoor conversion?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to tackle these questions. Let’s dive in!

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 25, 2021
How to Win at Work & Succeed at Life, with Michael Hyatt & Megan Hyatt Miller

#317: What if work and life can coexist together - without enormous trade-offs? What if all you have to do is ruthlessly prioritize within each area and manage the rest with automation and delegation?

If it sounds like a pipedream, it’s not.

Guests Michael Hyatt & Megan Hyatt Miller, authors of Win at Work & Succeed at Life, share how work/life balance is more achievable than you think. They also discuss how constraints increase productivity, why working over 40 hours a week can harm your mental and physical health, why rest is critical, and how self-care can give you an edge at work.

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 19, 2021
Ask Paula: I Doubled My Investments During the Pandemic. What Should I Do Next?

#316: Pauly from Portland doubled the inheritance money he received from $50,000 to $100,000 during the pandemic. Now he’s wondering if it’s okay to use this $100,000 as a downpayment on a home in Portland. Is that a wise use of the money?

Preethi accidentally withdrew funds from her Roth IRA as an excess distribution, and she’s already filed her taxes. What should she know for tax time next year?

Michele wants to reach financial independence (FI), and her grandparents are leaving her their house. She already owns a home, and she’s torn between six potential options that will propel her toward FI. What should she do?

Casey is in the market for a second rental property and wants to know: would we recommend purchasing a rental in a complex where she already owns a condo? Or should she diversify into a different complex in a different, nearby, more stable town?

Fred doesn’t have access to a workplace retirement plan. Besides opening a Roth IRA, what else can Fred do to juice up his retirement savings?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 11, 2021
The Science of Behavioral Change, with Katy Milkman

#315: Do you ever grapple with the differences between your present self and your ideal self? Katy Milkman, host of the Choiceology podcast and the James G. Dinan Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, shares the science of getting from where you are now to where you want to be. Her new book, How to Change, is a “science-based blueprint for achieving your goals, once and for all.” In this discussion, Katy reveals 1) why your strategy is key to making lasting change, 2) how we can pick the right strategy for our circumstances, and 3) the handful of science-backed tactics that bridge the gap between our present selves and ideal selves. For more information, visit the show notes at

May 07, 2021
Ask Paula: I’m Worried About My Parent’s Retirement. What Should I Do?

#314: Briale opened a Variable Annuity inside a 403b at work when she was 23. She has 17 years to go before retirement. As an elementary school teacher, her pension will be $6,000 per month. Should she stop contributing to the annuity and contribute to a Roth IRA instead?

Hunter put a credit freeze on his two children’s credit, which required sending each credit union documentation via mail. Experian and TransUnion confirmed the credit freeze, but Equifax didn’t. Upon calling, the representative gave Hunter a different mailing address for the documents. What should he do?

Debi has an extra $1,000 each month and isn’t sure where to save it. She also has $10,000 in a CD which will reach maturity in August 2021. Her goal is to buy a residence in the next five years. Should she save this all for a downpayment?

Anonymous is concerned about her parents retirement portfolio. Their advisor charges a fee of 1.5 percent assets under management. Her parents are frugal and they don’t realize how much they’re paying. Should she talk to them, or drop the issue?

Sarah isn’t sure whether she should put more of her savings towards a Roth 401k or a 529 fund for her future kids. Which option is best if she wants financial flexibility?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me once again to tackle these questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 05, 2021
The Unspoken Rules that Could Cost You Thousands, with Gorick Ng

#313: Do you know the unspoken rules about how to get ahead in your workplace or industry (and as a result, how to earn more)?

Unspoken rules, and the corresponding social norms, create a major impact in how we’re perceived in the workplace -- and therefore how often we’re promoted.

But these rules are rarely taught.

Managers expect us to understand these implicit rules, but they never explain them to us.

How are we supposed to succeed?

Gorick Ng, a career advisor at Harvard who specializes in working with first-generation, low-income students, shares his wisdom on navigating the workforce at all stages of your career.

His advice can help you make more money, get promoted, and accelerate your ability to save and invest.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 28, 2021
Ask Paula: How Should I Invest $5,000 Per Month?

#312: After paying basic living expenses and maxing out their 401k’s and Roth IRAs, Caroline and her partner have $4,000 - $5,000 left each month. Where should they put this money if their goal is to simply have their money work harder for them?

Sanjay is torn between selling his townhome or renting it out. The rental numbers don’t work on his 15-year mortgage -- should he refinance to a 30-year mortgage instead?

Kyle wants to construct a portfolio with the highest Sharpe ratios and wants to know: would the risk parity model work? What are the downsides?

G is curious: does the stimulus check received for their children count as earned income for the kids? If so, can they put it toward the Roth IRAs they opened for their children?

Anonymous has two unrelated questions: what are our thoughts on the housing market in relation to the moratoriums on mortgage payments and emergency bans on evictions? What will happen when they go away? Additionally, what tools, questions, or resources do we recommend to have a productive financial conversation with your partner?

Finally, another anonymous caller wants to know: do they need to submit receipts for the HSA contributions they make?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me as usual to tackle these questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 19, 2021
The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, with Jon Acuff

#311: Do you find yourself overthinking and getting stuck in unproductive thought loops?

According to a study commissioned by today’s guest, 99.5 percent of 10,000 people said they overthink. Chances are, you can relate.

That guest is Jon Acuff -- a New York Times bestselling author who loves to nerd out about goals. In this discussion, he shares 10 signs you're overthinking, explains the differences between overthinking and being prepared, and presents a framework called the three R’s (retire, replace, repeat) that can transform your destructive thought loops into healthy soundtracks.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 12, 2021
Ask Paula: What Should I Do With $25,000?

#310: Greta is tired of financial modesty. She wants to achieve financial independence through diversified income streams, and has her eyes set on owning local duplexes. What should she focus on to make this happen? 
Jeannie wants to know: when should you scale back 401k contributions so you can invest in something else, like real estate?

Steph and her husband came into $25,000 and aren’t sure what to do with it. Should they pay off their student loans, save it towards a house and starting a family, or purchase her company stock options?

J from California is curious: how do you strike a balance between optimization and simplicity in your financial plan? 

Dawn has $65,000 in a 403b through Ameriprise and the fees associated with it are outrageous. Should she take the money out and put it elsewhere, or leave it? 

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these five questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 07, 2021
Are We Due For Another Housing Market Crash?

#309: Are we in a housing bubble?

Are we going to see a repeat of 2006 all over again?

Are there any good investment deals to be found right now?

These are the questions playing on many people's minds, and we seek to explore the answers in today's First Friday bonus episode.

We start by exploring some of the forces that are at play in today's real estate market. What separates the market of 2006 from the market of today?

In the second half of the episode, Paula explains how and why she chose to buy a duplex in Indianapolis, despite it being a seller's market. There are deals to be had if you know where to look and what to look for. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 03, 2021
Ask Paula: I Want to Travel After I Retire; How Much Should I Save?

#308: Ziggy purchased an $890,000 property in San Mateo, CA in 2016. After living there for a year, he had to move, so he rented it out. Unfortunately, it’s cash flow negative. Is this property worth holding onto, or should he sell?

Vivek has a paid-off primary residence that he’s interested in renting out for a few years, before selling. He’s worried about capital gains tax – does turning the home into a rental impact the amount he’ll pay?

Anonymous in Virginia wants to travel after retiring, which will increase her expenses for the first seven or so years of her retirement. How can she plan for a higher withdrawal rate at the beginning of retirement, and a lower withdrawal rate in the middle of her retirement?

Given the talk around student loan forgiveness, Jess wants to know: should she pay the minimum on her student loan debt and save the payments she would otherwise make? Or should she keep throwing extra at her higher interest loans?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show. Let’s dive in!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 29, 2021
The Tax Risks That Could Blow Up Your Retirement Plan, with Ed Slott

#307: “Taxes are the single biggest factor that separates people from their retirement dreams.”

That’s a quote from today’s guest, Ed Slott, a nationally recognized IRA distribution expert, practicing CPA, and bestselling author. He argues that there’s a high likelihood that tax rates could rise in the future, and as a result, we need to shovel more money into tax-exempt accounts like Roth IRA and Roth 401k’s.

Ed says taxes are one of the biggest threats to our retirement plans, and draws attention to tax events that catch seniors by surprise, such as the so-called “widow/widower” tax. If you’re wondering how taxes could derail your retirement -- and what you should do about it -- you’ll learn an enormous amount from this episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 24, 2021
Ask Paula: How to Shift From Financial Independence to a Mini-Retirement?

#306: Jake and his wife want to retire in five years, at which point they’ll have 14 years before they can access their 401k funds. To help bridge that gap, Jake wants to know: what should their asset allocation look like for their taxable brokerage account?

This year, Kim’s employer enrolled all employees into a “fully funded indemnity program combined with a nationwide direct primary care membership.” What the heck is this program, and how might it impact Kim’s finances?

Burnt Out in Boston is switching their focus from financial independence to taking a mini-retirement. How can they financially and mentally prepare for this leap?

Matthew is torn: should he and his wife -- both 26 -- max out their Roth IRAs and then save up for a rental property, or simply save cash for the rental and worry about their Roth later?

Finally, Deva and her husband are fed up with their messy tenants. They’re kind and responsible, but they’ve left the yard a mess. They have a clause in the lease that addresses this, so beyond that, what can they do?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these questions on today’s show.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 17, 2021
The 7 Steps to Financial Independence + 7 Rules of Investing, with JD Roth

#305: Financial independence is a continuum, a spectrum. How do you know where you stand?

In this episode, financial writer JD Roth discusses the seven stages of financial independence, the seven rules of investing, the formula for calculating your lifetime wealth ratio, and the importance of managing your career as though it’s an asset.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 10, 2021
Ask Paula: Help! I Can Only Save $200 a Month

#304: Paige and her fiancé have two autumn 2021 goals: save for a wedding and an emergency fund. There’s one problem: they only have around $200 per month to save. How can they grow the gap when they’ve run out of things to cut and ways to earn more?

Kat’s investor friend connected her with a wholesaler who only deals in cash. How can she find $130,000 to buy her subject property?

Anonymous “Countryside Living” is renting their grandparent’s property, which they plan to make their forever home. It’s on the older side and needs renovations, but the repairs don’t need to happen immediately. How can they fund these repairs while also avoiding a mortgage payment in their 60s?

Annalis wants to know whose approach to business I prefer: Gary V’s, or Cal Newport’s? She also asks: how do you become a good speaker?

Anonymous “My Job Pays for My Housing” is planning for financial independence. Given that their employer covers their housing, when should they start looking for a house? Now, or in the last year of their job?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these five questions today. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 05, 2021
A World Without Email, with Cal Newport

#303: Can you imagine living in a world without email? Most of us can’t - how would we get work done? - but this is what Cal Newport advocates for in his newest book, A World Without Email. Cal cites a study that found the average knowledge worker checks various communication tools once every six minutes. At that rate, it’s a wonder we get any work done at all.

Cal argues that modifying our habits (like checking email at designated times) isn’t enough. We need to look for solutions outside the inbox and seek to reduce back-and-forth communication at all costs. If you’re drained by your inbox, we chat about strategies, processes, and systems that can help streamline your work and communication flow.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 03, 2021
The Financial Benefits of Optimism, with Michelle Gielan

#302: Did you know that optimists worry about their finances 145 fewer days than pessimists? They’re also more likely to save money, and are 7x as likely to experience better financial health.

Michelle Gielan, bestselling author of Broadcasting Happiness, defines optimism “as the expectation of good things to happen and the belief that our behavior matters.”

She shares specific tactics and mindset shifts we can make right now to become more optimistic and resilient, and, in the process, develop a better relationship with stress.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 24, 2021
Ask Paula: How Can I Reach FIRE in 11 Years?

#301: Amelia is worried that she and her husband are under-insured. Should her husband get a short-term disability policy, even though it’s expensive and they’re unlikely to need it?

Sarah wants to refinance her owner-occupied triplex, but she’s torn between a 15-year and a 30-year option. Which is better in her situation?

Steven just discovered the financial independence (FI) movement in July 2020, and he wants to reach FI in 11 years. He has $30,000 in cash and $26,000 of student loan debt. How should he use his cash given his FI goal?

The South American Anthropologist wants to make a career change. His baby daughter has inspired him to become an example of living life on your own terms. Will his financial independence plan sustain him and his family for years to come?

Annalis and Mike are hunting for their first rental property, but they haven’t found anything nice that meets the one percent rule. Should they purchase a mansion and rent the rooms on Airbnb?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 16, 2021
The Two-Fund Investment Portfolio, with Paul Merriman

#300: Here’s the deal: Target Date Retirement Funds are simple, automated, easy. The problem? What’s simple might not be optimal. Investment expert Paul Merriman joins us to discuss the two-fund portfolio, a mix of one target date fund and one small cap value fund.

He describes why this could be the ultimate portfolio for buy-and-hold investors who want to boost their returns, without excessive complexity or risk. If you’re wondering what to do with your 401k, tune in.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 09, 2021
Ask Paula and Joe: Should I Sell My $575,000 in Tesla Stock?

#299: Chris bought Tesla a few years ago and Jinko Solar eight months ago. Both of these have gone up in value by a lot. What tax strategies can he use to sell these shares?

Holly and her three sisters stand to inherit two side-by-side duplexes. How can they structure the ownership of these properties in a fair way?

Eric feels hopeless about health insurance as a self-employed business owner. Are DPCs or healthshares the way to go?

Frank and his wife have a nine-year retirement plan that involves selling their home and moving to Costa Rica. How can they maximize their savings and existing investments to set themselves up for success?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these four questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 05, 2021
How to Talk to Friends about Money, with Erin Lowry

#298: Money conversations with friends, family members, or significant others are unavoidable. Most of us dread these conversations - they’re awkward, heated, or draining.

Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial Talks Money, shares tips and scripts for tactfully setting financial boundaries and expectations without drama. If you’re anxious about being in a wedding, splitting the tab with friends, or asking your siblings about taking care of your parents, this episode is for you.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 03, 2021
PSA Thursday Part II: Let the People Trade!

This morning, almost every major brokerage halted trading on the most volatile stocks, including GameStop, BlackBerry, Bed Bath & Beyond, Nokia, and AMC Theaters.

We're in a situation where major trading platforms are blocking retail investors - us - from placing trades, while allowing hedge funds and institutional investors to drive prices.

That is not a free market.

When you don't let people buy, and you don't let people sell, you're locking people out of the game entirely.

Yesterday, I was worried that grandma and grandpa would make the wrong investment choices and irrationally bet their life savings away. Now, they're prohibited from making any choice. 🤯

We deserve the right to make our own trading decisions.

For the latest updates, follow me on Twitter ( or Instagram (; check out my stories). I'm updating there as things unfold.

Jan 28, 2021
PSA Thursday: Wall Street Bets, GameStop, and the Rise of Meme Stocks

If you blinked, you missed the biggest stock market story since the crash of March 2020. It’s a story that led GameStop, a brick-and-mortar company that sells *physical* video games (remember when games came on 5.25-inch floppy disks?), to skyrocket its share price by 700 percent in two weeks.

It’s a story of short selling, of high-frequency trading, and of individual investors who harbor deep anger towards hedge funds. It’s a story of social media vs. Wall Street ... and the innocent bystanders who get caught in the crossfire. That's the story we cover in today's episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 28, 2021
Ask Paula: Should I Househack or Pay Off My Student Loans?

#297: George is torn between paying down his student loan debt (which he deferred) or buying a househack. Which is better for his long-term goal of reaching financial independence?

Mario is curious to know: is his two-fund portfolio at a 90/10 split is a good asset allocation for his Roth IRA?

Hanan wants to figure out if a backdoor Roth IRA conversion will work for her. She also wants to investigate whether a Vanguard Institutional 500 Index Trust and a Vanguard Institutional Total Bond Market Index Trust are ideal. Are trusts different from index funds or mutual funds and if so, how?

Vivian is worried about bridging the gap between when she retires and when she claims Social Security. Will her plan of doing a Roth conversion ladder work out the way she hopes?

Lastly, June and her husband netted $400,000 from the sale of some golden parachute ISOs. They want to help their children pay for college and are trying to figure out how to strategically use this money. Should they pay off their home, buy rentals, fund 529s, or Roth their 401ks?

My friend and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer these five questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 25, 2021
Investing is the Art of Probabilistic Thinking

#296: There’s a lot happening in the market. The Dow is at a new high, there are runaway stocks causing irrational exuberance, and yet, unemployment claims are on the rise.

How can this be?

To make sense of this, we discuss how improving judgment and using mental models can protect us against risks and short-term thinking. We review one question people rarely ask that might save them from making costly investment mistakes. We then wrap up with a discussion on the so-called death of cities, and what this means for real estate investors.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 20, 2021
What Your Childhood Taught You About Money, with Rachel Cruze

#295: How well do you know yourself and the reasons why you manage money in the way that you do? You might not know at all, or you might have some degree of understanding, but digging into your money story can shed insight on your behaviors with money today.

Rachel Cruze, four-time bestselling author and daughter of Dave Ramsey, shares three frameworks that can help us better understand our money habits.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 12, 2021
Ask Paula: If I Were to Interview Suze Orman Again Today, How Would It Go?

#294: Jeffrey is curious: if I were to interview Suze Orman today, would I agree more or less with her thoughts on the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement?

Matt wants to know: if a property cash flows really well, is it worth paying significantly more than the appraised value to purchase that income stream?

Sara and her husband are returning to the states after living abroad for a few years. They’re moving to an expensive area where three to four bedroom homes cost $800,000+. They have $150,000 saved for a downpayment, but a $600,000 mortgage isn’t what they had in mind. What should they do?

Eva and her partner are squirreling away money before the birth of their baby. They’d like to pay off their $90,000 mortgage in three years, but they’re afraid to use the money in case of unexpected baby expenses. What’s their best move?

Justin and his wife want to take a gap year with their children in three years. They plan to visit Spain and London for six months each. What are unexpected expenses that they should factor into their budget?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 04, 2021
The One Question That Makes Everything Easier, with Geoff Woods

#293: Geoff Woods, Vice President of The ONE Thing and host of The ONE Thing podcast, is an expert on ruthless prioritization, habit development, and goal setting.

The simple framework he presents allows you to focus deeply and commit to the actions you need to take if you want to take your productivity to the next level this year.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 01, 2021
PSA Thursday: Kickoff 2021 with a 31-Day Challenge

Sign up to take the 31-Day Challenge for an Awesome 2021 at

Dec 31, 2020
Ask Paula: I’m an Investor Who likes Volatility; What Should I Buy?

#292: Three Kids, FI has an all-equities broad stock market index portfolio that he’s held for years. He’s confident he can handle maximum volatility, so what investments can he lean into to that will provide him with great long-term returns?

Jordan is a new listener and he has three questions: should he use $100,000 to buy more rental properties or invest in a brokerage account? Should he and his wife upgrade their home and buy a property that’s worth double their current home? And finally, how can self-employed individuals who earn more lower the cost of health insurance?

Alex’s wife lost her job due to the pandemic. They live in Washington state and are married filing separately due to his wife’s student loans. Can he use half of his income to qualify her for Roth IRA contributions?

Sarah rounds out this episode with a concern: a financial advisor told her that investing in VTSAX over-indexes her in large cap funds and technology stocks. Is this true, and what should she do about it?

I answer these four excellent questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 29, 2020
PSA Thursday - Year-End Tax Moves to Finish 2020

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a weekly-ish segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the year that is 2020.

Today, we focus on the importance of end-of-year tax planning before you ring in 2021.

We cover these tips:

  1. Open a retirement account 
  2. Adjust your tax withholdings
  3. Check your 529 Plan 
  4. Make charitable contributions
  5. Why this could be a good year to make a Roth conversion
  6. Spend down the balance in your FSA

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 24, 2020
How to Command Respect at Work, with Tracy Tutor

#291: Tracy Tutor is the author of Fear is Just a Four-Letter Word as well as the first female real estate broker on Million Dollar Listing LA. Tracy took her 20 years of experience in the industry and distilled the lessons she learned into this book.

During our conversation, she shares tips and tactics for overcoming a fear of speaking out, how humor can help us connect with others, and why it’s important not to silence our inner voices.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 22, 2020
Ask Paula: Is Upgrading Our Lifestyle Worth Mortgaging a More Expensive House?

#290: Sharon owns two condos that are worth $1.4M and has a cash cushion of $120,000 plus a $50,000 emergency fund. She’d like to move into a small house while keeping her cash cushion intact. Should she take out a home equity loan on her mortgage to essentially pay for her house in cash, or get a traditional mortgage and use her savings towards the downpayment?

Jury and her partner are torn between two options: buying a condo, which would allow them to live off of one salary and invest the other, or buy a more expensive house – a much more attractive lifestyle option. Which should they purchase?

Daine’s IRA balance is a result of 401k rollovers. He’s concerned that his lack of monthly contributions cause him to miss out on compound interest. What can he do to grow his retirement funds?

Molly and her husband want to reach financial independence (FI) in 15 years, at age 50. They’re unsure of whether their rental property income will sustain their FI lifestyle. How can they plan for this?

I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 15, 2020
PSA Thursday: What’s Happening with Student Loans?

An update on the latest news in student loan forgiveness and forbearance, plus smart strategies for student loan repayment in 2021.

Dec 11, 2020
Business Principles that Improve Your Life, with Josh Kaufman

#289: Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of The Personal MBA, discusses the five parts to every business and how this information applies to everyone - not just entrepreneurs.

He shares many examples and ideas on how to level up your business or career through simple steps.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 08, 2020
Ask Paula: How Should You Invest a $1 Million Lump Sum?

#288: Karen and her wife are in their 50s, financially independent, and partially retired. They need $150,000 to buy a new home, and they aren’t sure which option is best. Should they take advantage of the CARES Act and pull money from their traditional IRAs? Raid their Roths? Or take out a mortgage?

Ingrid’s mom is retiring this year. To fund her retirement, she’ll sell her property for $1 million. How should she invest this money so that she can live off of it in perpetuity?

Elaine has saved $20,000 in a 529 plan for each of her two kids, but she realizes that they may not attend college. Should she keep the 529 plans, or save money elsewhere?

Amanda is afraid to tap the equity in her home and use it to purchase a rental property. How should she think through whether this move is right for her?

Lisa and her family plan to sell their home and move across the country. They might have the option to pay cash for a home, but they also want to buy an investment property. Should they get a mortgage on their new home or pay cash?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer your questions on this episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 04, 2020
PSA Thursday: To Buy or Not to Buy?

Many people in the personal finance / FIRE community have a complicated relationship with the concept of consumer spending.

They may see family, friends and neighbors demonstrate one extreme -- they’re profligate spenders who will buy anything -- and, in an effort to be nothing like them, they may overcompensate by becoming extreme penny-pinchers. (I see this often at the start of a person’s FIRE journey, when the pendulum is swinging sharply in the other direction).

The reality is that neither extreme is healthy.

There’s a middle ground between being so gullible that you’ll buy anything vs. being so cynical that you build a wall that shuts real value out of your life and hampers your growth.

In recognition of that balanced middle path, today’s PSA Thursday episode focuses on five questions that you should ask yourself before making a purchase.

#1: Do I have high-interest debt or an inadequate emergency fund?
#2: Is this a purchase or an investment?
#3: How long have I been thinking about this?
#4: Is this only serving an emotional need, or does it also have greater utility?
#5: The five “ity’s” -- longevity, durability, applicability, versatility, utility.

We elaborate on these five points in today’s PSA Thursday episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 03, 2020
Put Yourself on the Hook, with Seth Godin

#287: Seth Godin is the author of 19 bestselling books on mastery, creativity, business and marketing. His books have been translated into 35 languages, and one of his books was the top bestselling marketing book of the last decade. He’s an inductee to the Marketing Hall of Fame (yes, it exists).

Seth joins us today to talk about creativity, the importance of practice, and how to overcome your limiting ideas.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 30, 2020
PSA Thursday: How to Slash Your Food Budget, with Rosemary Fotheringham

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, Americans spent just over $8,000 on food.

If you're on a tight budget, slashing your grocery bill is one of the easiest ways to spend less. But what if you don't want to compromise on healthy eating?

Today's guest, Rosemary Fotheringham, is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP) who's also on the path to financial independence. She and her husband slashed their monthly grocery bill from $1,200 down to $300 - without eating pasta every night. She's here to explain their framework for healthy eating and her best tips for eating well on a tight budget.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 26, 2020
Ask Paula: How Long Will It Take Me to Become a Millionaire?

#286: Kaitlyn has $78,000 saved for a property, but she isn’t sure whether she should buy a personal residence, a rental property, or both. How can she best use this money?

An anonymous listener wants to lower their housing expenses. Should she and her husband buy a cheaper property and turn their current home into a rental, or should they stay and pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible while saving for a downpayment on another property?

Alex is just getting started with financial independence and asks: how can you calculate your financial independence date, and how do you know how much you need to save to reach that number at a certain age?

Ell wants to know: what’s the difference between a high-yield savings account and a money market account, and how can you maximize the interest you earn in these accounts?

Jenn wants to know: is it possible for Canadians to find cash-flow positive real estate deals, either in Canada or the United States?

I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 25, 2020
Ask Paula: How Can I Pay for Grad School?

#285: Sam wants to use the funds in her Vanguard S&P 500 index funds for a downpayment on a house. She isn’t sure if she should keep her savings in the market. Should she move her money, and where?

Hailey purchased a duplex in March and is already looking to sell due to a hostile tenant during the purchase process. How can she shift her focus from her initial return on investment to a long-term outlook?

Zoe dreams of attending grad school, but her savings are locked away in retirement accounts. How can she save for grad school in the next two to three years?

Mohamed wants to monetize a new podcast with affiliate relationships, but the service providers he wants to promote don’t offer affiliate programs. Can he still make this work, and how?

I answer these listener questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 20, 2020
PSA Thursday: Broadcasting Live from FinConX

Paula Pant and Andy Hill broadcast from Dallas, where they’re part of a bare-bones skeleton production crew that’s hosting the 10th annual FinCon, a conference for a community of personal finance podcasters, YouTubers and bloggers.

On the evening before the event, they reflect on the importance of community, especially when it comes to learning about money management. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes glimpse.

Nov 13, 2020
The Psychology of Money, with Morgan Housel

#284: Morgan Housel is an award-winning financial journalist, and he’s a leading thinker and author in the world of investing. His new book, The Psychology of Money, highlights the influence that our behavior has on our financial success.

We discuss developing self-awareness around our biases, saving like a pessimist and investing like an optimist, being critical of who we take investment advice from, diversification, expectation management, tail risks, and much more on the topic of behavioral finance.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 09, 2020
PSA Thursday: Teaching Technology to the Elderly

Many of us have experienced disconnection from our loved ones this year, especially with older family members. It can be difficult to stay in touch when parents and grandparents aren't technologically savvy. They might not know how to text, how to use their cell phone to place a call, or how to initiate a video call.

We hope that can change after you listen to this episode. To help us learn how we can stay connected with the senior citizens in our lives, we brought on Bria Sullivan. For the past six years, Bria has had a side hustle teaching seniors how to use technology. Today, she shares her best tips on how we can do the same with the elders we love.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 05, 2020
Ask Paula: Could the Stock Market Be Too Much of a Gamble?

#283: Andrea’s parents have a seemingly salesly financial advisor. He tried to get them to purchase a second life insurance policy, among other potentially pushy moves. Are her parents better off without his advice?

Teresa can’t shake the feeling that the stock market is more of a gamble than an investment. Is there any advantage to holding funds for the long-run if the market drops and you lose your gains?

June is curious about the best college planning strategies for families who are working toward, or close to, financial independence. How can you help your children while securing your financial future?

Big Sister’s little sister rents a mobile home in an area she loves. The owner wants to sell, but her little sister might not obtain financing. Should Big Sister buy the property and sell it to her via seller financing?

Managing for Mom in Massachusetts has an investment strategy that he wants to run by us. Does it make sense to shift a 50/50 stocks and bonds portfolio to 100 percent stocks, and shift back to a 50/50 split after the market returns to pre-pandemic numbers?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 02, 2020
PSA Thursday - The Affordable Care Act, with Tanja Hester

With the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) looming before us, many are asking:

How can we plan for healthcare - now and in the future? How much will I need to save to cover healthcare in retirement? What can I do if I can't afford the expensive premiums? 

As a community of entrepreneurs and early retirees, this is a major concern.

To help us understand the healthcare landscape, Tanja Hester, author of Work Optional and the blog Our Next Life, joins us.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 31, 2020
The Smart Way to Start a Side Hustle, with Alan Donegan

#282: Alan Donegan is the cofounder of PopUp Business School.

His mission is to change the way entrepreneurship is taught and to make it more accessible. If you’ve daydreamed of starting a side hustle, Alan’s simple advice and actions will give you the knowledge you need to get started now.

You’ll know if your idea is viable within a month.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 30, 2020
PSA Thursday - What’s in Store for the Rest of 2020?

After a brief hiatus, PSA Thursday is back!

For this episode, we take a short break from covering current events to

1) reflect on why this show exists, and

2) give you a sneak peek of future PSA Thursday episodes.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 15, 2020
The Art of Decision-Making, with Annie Duke

#281: Annie Duke, best-selling author of Thinking In Bets and former world champion poker professional, discusses the decision making strategies and tools outlined in her new book, How to Decide. Learn how to make quicker decisions, overcome hindsight bias, make decisions with incomplete information, and improve your decision making skills.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 14, 2020
Ask Paula - Could This NYC Couple Contribute Only $10,000 Per Year Towards Retirement?

#280: Amy and her husband have $900,000 saved for retirement. They’re 40 years old and plan to retire at 65. Due to a job change + pay cut, they might only have $10,000 per year to save for the next 25 years. Will this be enough, given their yearly expenses of $144,000?

Janie wants to get a solar power system for her house, but isn’t sure how to pay for it. Should she borrow funds from her seven-month emergency fund, or use funds from a taxable brokerage account that were earmarked for retirement?

CJ and his wife netted $200,000 from the sale of their home. They aren’t sure when they’ll purchase their next home – their timeline could be as short as three years or as long as six years. Where should they keep the $200,000 to use towards a downpayment on their next home?

Brandon wants to retire in the next five to ten years. He contributes 20 percent to his Roth 401k. Since he can’t withdraw those contributions early, does it make more sense to contribute up to the match of his 401k and invest the rest in an IRA with the goal of doing a Roth conversion?

Anonymous “am I missing out?” wants to know the deal with tax-loss harvesting. When is it worthwhile?
My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 06, 2020
How to Avoid Financial and Life Disasters, with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

#279: You might know several decision-making principles, but do you have a step-by-step strategy that pieces those principles together?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally-recognized thought leader on decision-making strategies. He shares two decision-making techniques for any aspect of your life in this episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 02, 2020
The Loopholes That Destroy Our Ability to Form Habits, with Gretchen Rubin

#278: Does this sound like you?

You want to exercise, but you can never find the time for a workout. Eventually, you grow tired of putting exercise off. You commit to working out every morning. You become so enthusiastic, you buy new gym clothes for the occasion.

Your enthusiasm carries you for five days, and on day six, you’re swamped with work. You promise yourself you’ll exercise tomorrow - after all, taking a break for one day won’t hurt. And then … you never get back on the wagon. The cycle repeats.

Most habits and routines start with good intentions. But good intentions aren’t enough to carry you through tough times. Good intentions aren’t enough to overcome the excuses you’ll make, either.

That’s what today’s guest, Gretchen Rubin, is here to explore.

Gretchen Rubin is the New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies. She joins us on the podcast to discuss the loopholes that we use - the excuses that we make - when it comes to breaking bad habits and forming good habits. Why is this important? The more aware we are of loopholes, the better we can resist them.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 29, 2020
Timeless Financial Lessons from My Grandma, with Michelle Singletary

#277: Michelle Singletary writes a Pulitzer-nominated personal finance column, The Color of Money, for The Washington Post. Her column is syndicated in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. She’s the author of three finance books and holds an MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

But her strongest financial education came from her grandmother.

Her grandmother raised five grandchildren while working full-time as a Nursing Assistant at a hospital. She earned $13,000 per year, but never took welfare, was never late on a bill, and “handled her money like a pro.”

In this podcast episode, Michelle shares timeless financial lessons she learned from her grandmother, including:

Save from every penny or dollar you receive
Live below your means
Hate debt like it’s the devil
Save for the future
Don’t buy more than you can afford
Don’t care about what other people think about what you wear or drive

Michelle’s grandmother taught her resourcefulness, humility and the value of a strong work ethic.

Michelle joins us to chat about the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement, emotional spending, how her experience growing up poor gives her a unique perspective in financial media, and the falsehood behind the phrase “it’s not what you earn, it’s what you save.”

You’ll enjoy this episode if…

You’re new to the world of personal finance or FIRE and want to learn more about the basics. (#lessonsfromgrandma)
You can’t relate to some of the discussion around FIRE because it seems unachievable to you.
You love down-to-earth guests who tell it like it is.

For more, visit

Sep 21, 2020
Cut the Fluff and Become a Digital Minimalist, with Dr. Cal Newport

#276: Have you found yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds over the last few months? Have you also found yourself in a state of sadness, anxiety, or aggravation afterwards?

We live in an increasingly noisy world. A world in which many of us use social media, or the internet in general, to escape. But our escapes often leave us feeling empty and annoyed at ourselves for wasting several hours of precious time.

Here’s one possible remedy for this tiring, relentless cycle: embrace the philosophy of digital minimalism.

"Okay, I’m in. But...what’s digital minimalism?"

Digital minimalism is a term coined by Dr. Cal Newport, today’s guest.

It describes a three-step process:

  • Cull the time you spend staring at a screen
  • Spend more time on digital activities that align with your values
  • Ignore everything else

For more information, visit

Sep 15, 2020
Avoid These 13 Hidden Money Mistakes That Most People Make, with Jill Schlesinger

#275: Even the nerdiest of money nerds are susceptible to making a dumb financial mistake. “Nope, not me! There’s no way I make any financial mistakes. I live and breathe this stuff.” You’re not capable of making any financial mistakes? Even 'hidden' mistakes, like having the wrong life insurance policy, not having an estate plan, or listening to the wrong ‘experts'? Exactly.

Jill Schlesinger, author of The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money, sets the record straight on 13 things you shouldn't do with your hard-earned cash.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 08, 2020
Finding Hope and Happiness in a Confusing World, with Mark Manson

#274: What does it take to create a sustainable sense of hope? That’s the question that I invited Mark Manson, megabestselling author of Everything is F*cked and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, to answer. Mark says that three basic factors contribute to a sense of hope: 1) autonomy, 2) purpose, and 3) community.

Mark and I keep these three factors in mind as we discuss how to define success, find new challenges, and choose what’s meaningful in life. We touch on the importance of emotional regulation and avoiding crises of hope. And we talk about how they relate back to the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 04, 2020
The Emotional Complexity of Money, with Dr. Dan Ariely

#273: Dr. Dan Ariely, famed behavioral economist and best-selling author of Predictably Irrational, returns to discuss how to handle the emotional and financial volatility of 2020.


  • Preparing for a job loss
  • The value of resilience
  • Handling emotional spending
  • Cutting through the noise to find a signal.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 31, 2020
PSA Thursday - How to Avoid Parental Burnout, with Andy Hill

Andy Hill, father of two and founder of Marriage, Kids, and Money, joins us to discuss parental burnout in the midst of the pandemic.

He shares his best tips on creating a family schedule, learning to embrace the reality of working from home with interruptions, and maintaining sanity as kids venture back to school - all while being a good enough parent and partner.

For more PSA Thursday episodes, go to

Aug 27, 2020
Ask Paula: I’m Three Years from Retirement. How Should I Invest?

#272: “Anonymous Moving-Back-home” and her partner earn $150,000 per year after taxes. They’re currently saving 80 percent by living with family. What should they do with their savings?

Leigh and her husband are three years away from retirement. They have an extra $50,000 in income this year and plenty of options for where to invest this money. Which one is the best?

Kelsey doesn’t feel comfortable investing in total stock market index funds and would rather invest in ESG funds. How can she tell if she has the necessary $2,000 invested in a company to submit a proposal to participate in a proxy voting? Also, Vanguard has a poor history of supporting shareholder resolutions. What can we do about this?

Dylan and his wife rolled her 401k into a rollover IRA with pre-tax contributions. They’ve continued contributing to this IRA with post-tax contributions. Should they separate the accounts, or can they worry about this when they’re ready to retire?

Anonymous wants to buy and househack one duplex every year to achieve financial independence and leave his office job within the next three to four years. Is his plan realistic?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 24, 2020
PSA Thursday - Here's a simple framework for deciding how to earn extra income

Millions of people are in financial limbo now that the $600 supplemental federal unemployment benefit has expired. The new $300 supplemental benefit is slooowly getting approved by FEMA, state-by-state, through an excruciatingly snail-like process, and you might not have time to wait. This episode will help you take action. We cover how to think about the ways in which you can earn extra income and decide which path is best for you.

For more information, check out our guide at

Aug 20, 2020
Retirement Planning in 2020, with Dr. Wade Pfau

#271: Dr. Wade Pfau, one of the foremost experts in the academic field of retirement planning, joins us to talk about how the events of 2020 might impact your retirement plans. If you’re wondering if you need to change your investing strategy, Wade’s recommendations may fascinate you.

Watch out! These are NOT the recommendations you’re expecting from a typical financial independence retire early show. Prepare to be caught off-guard by what he says.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 19, 2020
Ask Paula: Buy a Home, Buy Investments, or Pay Off Debt? How Do I Decide?

#270: Briana and her husband want to buy a home, but they don’t have enough saved for a downpayment. They also have student loan debt and a car loan. Which should they prioritize?

Javier is sick of being in debt. What can he do to put himself in a better situation?

Tracie wants to buy her first rental property, but she has student loans and a car loan to pay off. If she receives $20,000 from a cash-out refi, how should she use this money?

Vanitha wants to start a non-profit organization in memory of her uncle. She wants to know: what does this process look like?

Margie went under contract on a primary residence listed as a six-bedroom property. She found out that, legally, it’s a four-bedroom home. Should she re-negotiate the price, or ask for credits at closing?

I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 13, 2020
How to Ask Better Questions, with Charles Duhigg

#269: Are you scared to take the first step toward the habits that you want to build? Do you believe in your ability to change? Or are you completely lost as to where to start?

Charles Duhigg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of the best-selling books The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better, and host of the How To! podcast, joins us to tackle these questions. By asking “why” instead of “how,” layer-by-layer we can reveal the factors that truly hold us back from taking action.

For more, go to

Aug 07, 2020
PSA Thursday - Get Ready for a School Year Like No Other with Mandy Bert and Rob Phelan

Do you have school-age children? If so, then brace yourself for a school year like no other.

This year, some children will return to school five days a week. Others will learn from home five days a week, and yet others will experience a hybrid of the two.

You and your kids may face wildly different schedules and challenges than anything you've encountered before.

How can you cope with this? Mandy Bert and Rob Phelan, who both work as teachers and are on the K-12 Education Team at the ChooseFI International Foundation, join us to share tips to help your children - and you! - survive the school year.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 06, 2020
Ask Paula: Should I Invest or Pay Off My Mortgage Early?

#268: Natasha has $3,300 per month to either invest or use toward an early mortgage payoff. Which option should she choose?

An anonymous caller and military member wants to know if she should move money from a USAA brokerage to Vanguard to pay less in fees. Her goal is to retire in 12 years with $3,000/month in passive income from rental properties, which will supplement her military pension. Should she only contribute to her TSP up to the match, and invest the rest in rentals?

Chaim and his wife live in the Middle East and have $30,000 in a U.S. bank account. However, they don’t plan to relocate. How can they best use this money?

June and her husband are in a sticky situation: they bought their dream house in Michigan last winter, ahead of plans to relocate there. June lives there with their kids, but her husband is unable to find a job despite the numerous contacts he has in the state. He currently works in a job that he dislikes in Southern California, living apart from his family. They’re currently a one-income family, though June has plans to open a firm in Michigan. What should they do?

Anonymous in Portland has three questions: is a 75/25 US stock/international stock split aggressive? Is an S&P 500 index a close enough equivalent to a total US stock index? Is Betterment worth it for automatic tax harvesting?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these questions. Enjoy!

For more, go to

Aug 04, 2020
How to Talk To Your Tenants About Financial Difficulties

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a mostly-weekly segment (sometimes on Thursdays) in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic.

This week, we continue the conversation on what landlords can do to create and maintain open lines of communication with tenants. Doing so can help you avoid a situation in which your tenants ghost you.

If you find these tips helpful, head to to download word-for-word scripts you can use with your tenants.

Jul 31, 2020
This Year’s Financial Reckoning, with Farnoosh Torabi

#267: This week, one of the most acclaimed names in the world of personal finance journalism joins us to reflect on the events of 2020.

Farnoosh Torabi started covering personal finance in 2003 as a reporter for Money Magazine. She later became a correspondent for Jim Cramer's The Street and the host of CNBC's primetime show Follow the Leader. She's the host of the award-winning So Money podcast and the author of several bestselling personal finance books, including When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women.

She's a contributing editor to NextAdvisor, a personal finance platform in partnership with TIME, as well as a financial columnist to O, The Oprah Magazine and a contributing editor for Bloomberg Business.

She joins us to discuss how the events of 2020 have led to a great financial reckoning.

You'll enjoy this if:
- You want to hear candid discussion about race, privilege, and the wealth chasm
- You're curious to hear about how the personal finance landscape has changed in the last two decades
- You're wondering if, in fact, "this time it's different"

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 28, 2020
Ask Paula: Your Real Estate Questions, Answered

#266: Paul’s parents own a property worth $100,000, and they owe $80,000 on the mortgage. If he wants to buy this property from them, how should he do it?

Max is torn between investing in a rental property or taking advantage of a mega backdoor Roth 401k through his company. Which is the better option?

Ali is a travel nurse and wants to get into real estate investing. Should she buy a duplex that needs fixing up or a cheaper apartment that’s rent-ready?

Kate and her husband own a townhome that has appreciated substantially, but they need a bigger house. They’re wondering: is it wise to keep it, rent it out, and use a cash-out refinance as a downpayment on their next property?

I answer these questions on today's episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 22, 2020
PSA Thursday: The Impact of Evictions, with Princeton University Eviction Lab expert Alieza Durana

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a mostly-weekly segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic.

This week, our focus is on answering a question that many landlords in our community have asked in recent months: what do we do when our tenants can't pay the rent, and our bills are due? 

To answer this, we asked Alieza Durana, a journalist who works with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, for her expertise. 

The Princeton Eviction Lab is a group that rigorously researches the causes and consequences of the affordable housing crisis, housing instability, and the impact of evictions. Alieza shares data gathered from The Eviction Lab and offers tips for landlords who want to be part of the solution, but struggle with the reality of having their own bills to pay.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 17, 2020
Personality Isn’t Permanent, with Dr. Benjamin Hardy

#265: Are you the same person you were five years ago? Ten years ago? Fifteen years ago?

Of course not. Things in your life have changed: your interests, hobbies, decision-making process, and habits are different than they were a decade ago.

Likewise, our personality changes -- and this means we can decide who we want to become.

Today’s guest, organizational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Hardy, literally wrote the book on personality impermanence. During this episode, he shares research on why our personalities aren’t as fixed as we think they are and the strategies we can use to change.

Dr. Hardy is the bestselling author of Willpower Doesn’t Work and Personality Isn’t Permanent. He’s a contributor to Inc. and Psychology Today. From 2015-2018, he was the number one writer on

If you want to rise to the level of your goals, rather than fall to the patterns of your past, this episode is for you.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 14, 2020
How to Stay Safe During the Reopenings

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a mostly-weekly segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic.

This week, we focus on life and staying safe when venturing outside of your home.

Many of us are concerned with reducing the risk of coronavirus infection in places like grocery stores, gas stations, or backyard BBQs, but the guidelines on how to stay safe aren't always clear.

In this episode, we discuss specific precautions to take...

  • When using a public toilet
  • When picking up food at a quick-serve restaurant
  • When you're exercising at the gym
  • When filling your car with gas
  • In your general day-to-day life when you're out and about

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 09, 2020
Ask Paula: How Do I Pick the Right Mix of Investments for My Retirement Portfolio?

#264: An anonymous listener, whom we call “Mary,” is curious about the auto-rebalancing feature offered by M1 Finance. Is it too good to be true?

J isn’t happy with the target date retirement fund she chose for her 401k. She has limited options and is wondering: should she move funds around? If so, is now a bad time, considering the market volatility?

Another anonymous listener is wondering how to choose the right mix of investments for a retirement portfolio. She also wants tips on rebalancing a portfolio. And when should she execute a Roth conversion?

Tami has $160,000 in a G fund in her TSP. Should she move this money to a Lifestyle fund to increase her earnings?

Andy and his wife contribute the maximum to their children’s 529 accounts, and they have three investment options to choose from. Should they continue with an aggressive managed portfolio, or choose something less risky?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 06, 2020
PSA Thursday: The History of the PPP -- and 4 Extra Relief Options for Entrepreneurs

Here's the sordid history of the Payroll Protection Program, plus four additional options for getting pandemic relief as an entrepreneur.

In this episode we share the following resources for small businesses:

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
Employee Retention Credit.
SBA 7(a) Program
Mainstream Lending Program


For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 02, 2020
How to Build Financial Resilience in 2020, with Dr. Brad Klontz, financial psychologist

#263: It’s been a tough year, and we’re only halfway through it.

Today’s guest has insights and actions to help you build financial resilience in 2020. Not only will you emerge from the events of this year stronger, you’ll also face future personal challenges and economic downturns with more confidence and knowledge.

Our guest is Dr. Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist and Certified Financial Planner. He’s the author of five books on the psychology of money, a founder of the Financial Psychology Institute, a managing principal of Your Mental Wealth Advisors, and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. He’s also a former associate professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State.

Dr. Klontz appeared on our show in April 2018 to discuss unhealthy attitudes towards money. We invited him back for his expertise on coping with recent situations and developing financial resilience

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 30, 2020
Ask Paula: I'm Taking a Mini-Retirement in a Pandemic. What Should I Do?

#262: Tyson is taking a year off of work and plans to devote some of his time to domestic travel, volunteer work, and bolstering his rental property portfolio. He originally planned to travel internationally, but won’t due to the pandemic. How does this plan sound?

Jace is wondering whether she should take advantage of the low stock market prices or keep a larger emergency fund due to the pandemic. Which is the better option, given her goal of financial independence?

Jace also wants to know: where do you park your money after maxing out a 401k and Roth IRA?

Venkat had to relocate after living in a condo for one year. He rents out the condo, but he’s in the red. Should he sell this condo? If so, when?

TW has $250,000 in cash that he can use to either pay off his rental property or purchase two more properties. Which is the better option?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 23, 2020
PSA Thursday - Your Complete Guide to Donor Advised Funds

For more information, go to

Jun 19, 2020
Why I Quit My Job in the Middle of a Recession -- Interview from Lessons from a Quitter

#261: I quit my job at the beginning of a recession and made it work. Two years ago, I did an interview with Lessons From a Quitter explaining how.

Given that so many community members want to leave their jobs for something better in the future, whether it's freelancing, self-employment, or early retirement, I'm re-airing the interview.

I hope my story sheds light on what's possible in the most inopportune times.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 15, 2020
PSA Thursday - How Does the CARES Act Impact Student Loans?

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a mostly-weekly segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic.

In this episode, we cover how to manage student loans in the midst of the pandemic with Travis Hornsby, a Chartered Financial Analyst and the founder and CEO of Student Loan Planner. He's an expert in the complex topic of student loans.

Travis shares deep insights into the changes that have occurred, and how those changes might alter the way you think about and manage your student loans going forward.

Jun 11, 2020
Ask Paula: Should I Fire My Financial Advisor During a Pandemic?

#260: Katelyn wants to fire her financial advisor and move her investments from mutual funds into Vanguard index funds. Should she do this during the pandemic? Or should she wait?

Marisa asks: can you invest in a Roth IRA if your income is inconsistent and might exceed the cap?

Anonymous Moving-for-a-New-Job had a Simple IRA at her old job that she can no longer contribute to. She also can’t contribute to a 401k until she’s been at her new job for a year. Where should she put her money in the meantime?

Anonymous “Olivia” is interested in a Roth conversion ladder, but wants to know: does the pro-rata rule apply here as it does with a backdoor Roth conversion?

Mary received an $80,000 grant of RSUs from her employer when she started. These RSUs began to vest after one year, and the price per share has increased 44 percent. What should she do with the shares?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 08, 2020
How to Lead with a Vision, with Michael Hyatt

#259: Leadership comes in all forms. Whether you’re a small business owner, a manager or department head at work, or the head of a volunteer organization, having a crystal clear vision is critical to success. Without a clear vision, you’re likely to stumble along a path that leads to nowhere -- or worse, a dead end. Wouldn’t it be better to have an idea of where you’re going?

Michael Hyatt, a prolific bestselling author on the topics of business and leadership, shares the pitfalls of not having a vision and 10 ways to nail down a solid vision that will lead you to the path you want to be on.
Check out bonus resources:

Jun 05, 2020
PSA Thursday -- Actions Speak Louder Than Words

We have muted the podcast thusfar this week, in support of the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement and in support of the #theshowmustbepaused movement.

We have assembled a list of resources that highlight books, websites, podcasts, nonprofit organizations and GoFundMe campaigns that I would like to direct your attention to in lieu of our normal programming. These resources can be found at

We are also matching $3,000 in donations to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and the Children's Development Association. Please DM me on Instagram with a screenshot of your donation and I'll match it. Instagram: paulapant

Jun 04, 2020
PSA Thursday - Your Guide to Giving: How to Donate, Volunteer and Practice Spontaneous Kindness

Let's start with the good news: the majority of U.S. households, 6 in 10, donate money to nonprofits and charities, and 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. volunteer their time and talent.

The only way our society is going to get through the struggles and the stresses that we face is if we are good to each other. Compassion and common humanity are crucial.

In this PSA episode we discuss strategies around giving, including how to donate money and volunteer time effectively, as well as how to embrace the opportunity to practice informal, random, spontaneous acts of kindness.

May 29, 2020
Ask Paula: Can I Quit My Job Before I'm Financially Independent?

#258: “Burned Out in Boston” wants to reach financial independence.

But she’s not sure she can stick it out in Boston much longer.

She and her husband want to move to an area that doesn’t have many job prospects, and they want to make this leap soon, ideally before they reach FI. How do they know when it’s the right time to jump ship to their dream location?

We tackle this topic, plus four other questions about stock market and real estate investing strategy, on today's Ask Paula episode.


For more information, visit the show notes at

May 26, 2020
How to Stop Screwing Up Our Finances, Even in a World That Leads Us Astray -- with Dr. Dan Ariely

#257: “The checking account is like the trash can of personal finance.”


Today’s podcast guest, the famed behavioral economist Dr. Dan Ariely, is not a fan of checking accounts. Or supermarket end caps. Or anything that distracts us from our financial goals.


In this episode, he explains why.


Dan Ariely is one of the world’s most renowned behavioral economists. He’s the James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University.


His TED Talks have been viewed more than 15 million times. In 2018, he was named one of the 50 most influential living psychologists in the world.


He’s the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including Predictably Irrational, a book that challenges our assumptions about our ability to make rational decisions. He also wrote Dollars and Sense, a book about our cognitive biases, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, a book about how we lie to everyone, including ourselves.


For more information, visit the show notes at

May 18, 2020
PSA Thursday: How Can I End 2020 in a Stronger Position Than I Started It?

How can you find business and investment opportunities in today’s tough pandemic bear market?

What should you do to emerge from 2020 stronger than you started?

We cover 7 specific, immediate actions that can set you up to succeed in this recession. Here's a peek: think about hiring a team, create an original piece of work, take online classes, and keep your plans intact (even if that means quitting an unfulfilling job).


For more information, visit the show notes at

May 14, 2020
Ask Paula: Bonds Are Tanking. Should I Switch to Real Estate Instead?

#256: Jon is wondering if now is a good time to move his RRSP into a tax-free savings account, given the market downturn. He knows you can’t time the market, but the opportunity is tempting. What should he do?

Laurel’s question revolves around the CARE Act and early withdrawal from a 401k. She needs to rebalance her 401k and wants to buy a rental. Instead of selling stocks, should she sell bonds as a form of rebalancing and to withdraw for a rental property?

After seeing so many businesses experience financial hardship, Rebecca and her husband are curious: why don’t companies have emergency funds?

Salome sees the stock market downturn as an opportunity for tax-loss harvesting, but does this hold if you’ve held stocks for less than a year?

Sheena has the option to purchase company stock at a 15 percent discount through an Employer Stock Purchasing Plan. However, it’s volatile right now. Should she contribute the maximum amount, or nothing?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer these questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 11, 2020
PSA Thursday: How Is The Pandemic Affecting the Housing Market?

Before the pandemic, the U.S. housing market was strong. Home prices were at historic highs. Borrowers were more qualified than ever, with two-thirds of mortgage originations going to borrowers with excellent credit. As of January 2020, delinquencies (borrowers more than 30 days late on a payment) reached a 20-year low.

How has the pandemic affected the market? Are we due for another spate of foreclosures? What's going to happen to housing supply? What about demand? Are buyers still buying? Are sellers still selling? And if you're thinking about buying a home -- either as an owner-occupant or as a rental property investor -- what do you need to know about the new pandemic landscape?

We dig into depth in this short, researched-packed PSA Thursday episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 07, 2020
How Your Personality Affects Your Finances, with Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw

#255: When a crisis hits, do you stay calm and collected, or do you launch yourself down a rabbit hole of worry and worst-case scenarios?

When the stock market spirals downward, do you shrug and stay the course, or do warning bells explode in your brain?

When news of the pandemic hit, was your first instinct to form a calm and reasoned action plan, or rush to the store to buy months of supplies?

Your personality influences your reactions to these scenarios.

Today’s guest, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw, has a Ph.D. in applied psychology and is the founder of DataPoints, a research firm based on the science of building wealth.

What links between personality and money management has research uncovered? We discuss this topic in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 04, 2020
Ask Paula: Should I Invest During the Pandemic?

#254: Lydia earns income as both a 1099 contract worker and a part-time W2 employee. She filed for unemployment as a W2 worker, but can’t find information on how to file as a contractor. Is there a process contractors can follow to file for unemployment?

Florina and her husband have $70,000 in cash to invest. Where should they put this money in light of the current market?

Ali and his wife saved eight months of living expenses in their emergency fund in case they get laid off during the pandemic. Is this too excessive?

Danielle wants to take advantage of pandemic stock prices - what should she invest in?

Anonymous in Real Estate wants to buy a multifamily property with the equity in their first rental as a downpayment. Their husband doesn’t want three mortgages. Should they accelerate mortgage pay-down and be one mortgage down in four years?

I answer these five questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 01, 2020
PSA Thursday: How Bad Is the Stock Market Crash?

Welcome back to PSA Thursday, a segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic.

Today, our focus is on money - specifically, the stock market.

Why did it crash in March? What effect did that have on us as a society? Why has it rebounded in the middle of a shutdown, and what does that mean? Are valuations too high relative to earnings?

How can we handle our investments and retirement savings at a time when the movements of the market seem irrational and unpredictable?

We explore these questions in today's episode.

Apr 30, 2020
The Thinker's Guide to Market Volatility, with Dr. Steve Wendel and Sam Lamas

#253: Dr. Steve Wendel is a behavioral economist and the head of behavioral science at Morningstar, an independent investment research firm.

Samantha Lamas is also a behavioral researcher at Morningstar.

They discuss the hidden biases in our decision making and how these hidden biases affect us - particularly during this pandemic and during times of high anxiety and stress.

They also discuss techniques that will help us avoid deceiving ourselves.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 27, 2020
Ask Paula: Will the Stimulus Cause Massive Inflation?

#252: The government issued a $2 trillion stimulus. How will that affect the economy? Could we endure massive inflation or hyperinflation?

Bradley kicks off today’s Ask Paula episode with this timely question. What inflation rate will we see in 2020, and how can we prepare? How should we hedge against hyperinflation?

Anonymous Retiree (whom we call Sequencing Sally) is 64 and retired last year. She lives off of monthly withdrawals from a Vanguard portfolio. Given the bear market, should she leave her portfolio alone and spend from an emergency fund?

Additionally, her target allocation is off-kilter. Should she rebalance now or later?

Jay wants to reach financial independence in five years, but she’s in a job that will pay her $270,000 student loan balance if she stays there for another 17 years. Should she stay, or quit and face the balance?

Jan has $500,000 in a managed fund with a three percent annual fee. He wants to move his funds into his Vanguard personal brokerage account, without incurring a ton of taxes from the sales of his holdings. How can he accomplish this?

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 20, 2020
PSA Thursday: 31 Tips to Stay Productive as you Work From Home

Download the 31 Tips to Stay Productive as you Work From Home at

Apr 16, 2020
From High School Dropout to Successful Entrepreneur, Author and World Traveler -- with Chris Guillebeau

#251: Do you love the idea of making money on your own -- without a boss?

Can you imagine deciding how you spend each day?

Are you bored and looking for a challenge? Do you love the thought of adventure?

Today’s guest, Chris Guillebeau, knows all about hustling, living an unconventional life, working towards seemingly impossible goals, and combining his interests into an epic lifestyle business that brings him freedom and joy.

Chris is the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Non-Conformity, The $100 Startup, and The Pursuit of Happiness. He has traveled to 193 countries, served four years as a volunteer on a hospital ship in West Africa, and is a successful speaker, writer, and entrepreneur.

Oh yeah, and he’s a high school dropout. (A super accomplished high school dropout.)

How did Chris accomplish so much without a high school degree? How did he forge a path toward his goals despite depression and anxiety? What advice does he have for aspiring side hustlers and entrepreneurs? Find out in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 13, 2020
PSA Thursday: How to Build an Emergency Fund During an Emergency

A weekly segment in which we talk about how to handle money, work, and life in the middle of a pandemic. Here's how to build an emergency fund during an emergency, and how the bear market affects your investment strategy.

Apr 10, 2020
Ethical Investing 101, with Dr. Jon Hale, Head of Sustainability Research for Morningstar


Should we invest in sustainable funds?

If we choose sustainable funds, will our investment returns suffer? Will our expense ratios be sky-high? What drawbacks might we face?

How do we know that these funds are actually ethical? And what choices are out there for people who want to invest ethically or sustainably?

We invited Dr. Jon Hale to our show today to answer these questions.

Dr. Jon Hale is a chartered financial analyst and the global head of sustainability research for Morningstar. He directs Morningstar’s research on sustainable investing, which launched with the Morningstar Sustainability Rating for Funds in 2016.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 08, 2020
How to Talk to Your Parents About Retirement and Beyond — with Cameron Huddleston

#249: I’m recovering from Covid-19 at the moment, so I couldn't put together a new episode this week. But in honor of the First Friday of the month, I wanted to re-air this interview with Cameron Huddleston, which we originally aired in August 2019.

In this interview, we discuss how to have those important but awkward conversations with your parents and grandparents about estate planning, wills, trusts, power of attorney, and more.

Apr 03, 2020
PSA Thursday: I Tested Positive for Coronavirus. Here's What It Feels Like.

Paula describes the experience of having Covid-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

Apr 02, 2020
Covid-19 and the Bear Market


We are living in a time of extreme uncertainty.

Many of us are questioning how we can best use the funds we have to survive it.

“Should I sell the funds I have invested in the market, or keep contributing?”

“Should I continue with my plans to invest in real estate?”

“Should I hoard all of my cash in case this gets worse?!”

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me on today’s show to shed light on the answers and how to handle the stock market collapse.


Here are the key points we discuss in this episode:

  1. Don’t panic sell and convert paper losses into real losses. Stay the course.
  2. If this is your first bear market, welcome to being a real investor! This is how you grow in the long-term.
  3. Dollar-cost averaging is your best friend.
  4. How this upcoming recession might be different. The silver lining? The economy was doing well going into this. But the speed at which our markets recover depends on the speed and dedication with which we flatten the curve.
  5. The financial principles you can use that will guide you to security in these rough times.

P.S. – Unless you’ve been tested, default to the assumption that you’re infected and act accordingly.

For more information, visit

Mar 25, 2020
OMG Monday: Welp, I Have a Fever of 102.3 Degrees

It's Quarantine Day 10, and thank goodness I've been staying in, because yesterday I learned that I have a 102.3 degree fever.

I don't know if it's Covid-19 or if it's a fever with extraordinarily bad timing.

Mar 23, 2020
PSA Thursday: Social Distancing is Social Solidarity

A new segment giving tips to help flatten the curve and manage your money during this global event.

Mar 19, 2020
Ask Paula: Is the Stock Market Going to Crash in 2020? How Should I Invest in a Bear Market?

#247: Caroline wants to buy her first home in Denver, CO. How can she calculate how much mortgage she can comfortably afford?

Anne plans to retire later this year on rental income (woohoo!). She’s saved up a hefty emergency fund for her properties, and she wants to know 1) if she should invest a portion of this in index funds, and 2) whether she should rebalance her portfolio to account for this huge cash allocation.

Anonymous Nurse has over $100,000 in debt, not including their mortgage. They want to invest in rental properties, but with so much debt, they're thinking of selling their home or renting it out. Which option is best given their interest in real estate?

Joy wants to know if she should put $50,000 towards her primary residence mortgage, or use it as a downpayment on her first rental property. What are the pros and cons of each option?

Anonymous owns a cash-flow positive condo...on leased land. The land will revert back to the owners in 32 years. When is the best time to sell this property?

I answer these five questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 16, 2020
Pain, Grief, and the Pursuit of Financial Independence, with Jillian Johnsrud

#246: At 19 years old, after completing her first year of college, Jillian married her husband. 

During their first year of marriage, they lived in a camper and earned a combined salary of $12,000.

One year later, Jillian's husband graduated college and joined the military. They relocated to Washington D.C., where they earned a combined $60,000 per year. They saved half of their income and used that savings to chip away at $55,000 of debt.

At 22 years old, Jillian and her husband adopted a son.

Not long after that, they had a biological newborn.

At 24 years old, they accumulated their first $100,000.

Jillian and her husband remained committed to saving half of their income. This allowed them to buy a house in cash, invest in two rental properties, and invest in index funds.

At 32 years old, Jillian and her husband achieved financial independence. All on a modest five-figure income. 

How did Jillian and her husband live on $12,000 per year? How did they save $100,000 after three years on a $60,000 per year salary? What sacrifices did they make? And how did they transition from saving to spending? Find out in this raw, emotional interview.


You'll enjoy this episode if:

  • You earn less than six-figures and question your ability to reach financial independence
  • Guilt prevents you from spending the money you’ve saved (“I can’t spend on X if I want to achieve FIRE!”)
  • You want a relatable, realistic take on the journey to financial independence

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 09, 2020
Ask Paula: I’m 24 and Won a $1 Million Settlement. How Should I Handle This Money?

#245: Joe has a 24-year-old friend who won a $1 million settlement. How can she use this money to set herself up for financial independence?

Jay is 52 years old and wants to retire at 59.5. He began investing in individual stocks to achieve this goal, and has had excellent returns so far. Is this a sound plan for early retirement? Or should he work until age 62 for Social Security?

Steve is 54 years old. He plans to retire at 60, which is when he can collect 67 percent of his pension. A Vanguard advisor suggested that he direct some of his 403b contributions as Roth contributions, rather than pre-tax contributions. Should he act on this suggestion?

Anonymous in New York City wants to invest their HSA contributions this year, but the expense ratios seem high. Can they move their HSA to a different provider? What fees are normal for HSAs?

Brit has a similar question. She wants to know: is it possible to invest in the S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free Index through Vanguard?

My friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me on the show to answer these six questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 06, 2020
Why I Quit My Job with No Savings When My Wife Was Five Months Pregnant (and What Happened Next?!), with Grant Baldwin

#244: Grant Baldwin felt burned out.

He worked as a youth pastor, which felt like a 24/7 profession. He had to attend student events held late into the night, which left him exhausted.

One night, he came home to find his wife crying. She told him that she felt like she had a roommate, rather than a husband, because he was gone so often.

So Grant did something drastic: he quit his job, with negligible savings, when his wife was four to five months pregnant.

For the following year, he waited tables and worked odd jobs, cobbling together gig-economy money while raising a newborn. During his rare unscheduled moments, he started crafting a new career for himself as a self-employed public speaker.

Today, Grant Baldwin is a speaker, entrepreneur, coach, and author of The Successful Speaker. He’s earned multiple seven-figures in speaking fees and has helped over 2,000 people become professional speakers.

He shares how he made his dream a reality in this episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 02, 2020
Ask Paula: How Can I Retire in 10 Years with Rental Properties?

#243: Adam is 23 years old and wants to achieve financial independence as quickly as possible. However, he’s nervous about investing in the stock market and real estate. How can he overcome his fears?

Paris, age 35, has a similar question. She earns $150,000 per year, is debt-free, and doesn’t own a home. How can she reach financial independence in less than 10 years?

Paul wants to househack his first home, but none of the properties he's seen meet the one percent rule. He doesn’t want to rent forever. Does he need to compromise on his commute time, or wait until he finds an undervalued gem?

Anonymous Househacker rents an apartment with three bedrooms, two of which he rents out on an inconsistent, short-term basis. They want to know: does the money they earn count as rental income if they aren’t making a profit on it?

Ben is a real estate investor who’s curious about growing his portfolio from four units to 20 units. What’s the best approach to take?

I answer these five listener questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 27, 2020
The Art of Trusting Your Most Dangerous Ideas, with Ash Ambirge, The Middle Finger Project

#242: Ash Ambirge grew up in a trailer park in Pennsylvania. She never met her father. Her disabled mother, who raised her on government assistance, passed away when she was 20.

Her childhood goal? To join the middle class. She dreamed of becoming one of those people who eats lemon pepper chicken. What’s more middle-class than that? 

She attended college on a full scholarship. When she graduated and accepted her first cushy office job, earning $30,000 per year, she blew her paychecks. She bought a brand-new car, rented a luxury apartment and financed a $5,000 mattress. Yet despite her material luxury, she felt that some important element was lacking.

In her quest to find meaningful and creative work, she launched The Middle Finger Project, a company that teaches skills like entrepreneurship, battling perfectionism, and trusting your most dangerous ideas. 

She joins us on today’s podcast episode to share her incredible story about struggling to join the middle class, shrugging off a conventional career, and trusting her most dangerous ideas.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 17, 2020
Ask Paula: Should I Raid My Retirement Savings to Pay for School?

#241: Anton wants to accelerate his flight training so he can get hired within two to three months, rather than two to three years. He has to raid his retirement savings to achieve this. Should he?

Linda and her husband have their eyes on early retirement, but they aren’t sure what their post-retirement lifestyle will cost. How can they budget for unknown expenses that include travel?

Joseph contributes 15 percent of his income to both a Roth 457b and Roth IRA. He wants to retire before age 59.5. Given his early retirement goal, should he focus solely on his Roth 457b?

Henry wants to know how rebalancing and dollar cost averaging interact with each other. Should he rebalance his all-equities portfolio? If so, what approach should he take?

Joe maxes out his 401k and IRA each year. He can make after-tax 401k contributions, or fund his Vanguard taxable brokerage account. Which should he prioritize?

As usual, my friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me on the show to answer these five listener questions. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 10, 2020
10 Questions to Master Successful Investing, with David Stein

#240: Are you investing, speculating, or gambling?
What are the three drivers of asset performance?
Are you aware of who’s getting a cut from your investments?
Do you even know who’s on the other side of the trade?

David Stein is the author of Money for the Rest of Us, a book that answers these questions. He’s the former Chief Investment Strategist & Chief Portfolio Strategist at Fund Evaluation Group, a $70 billion investment firm. If you’re thinking of adding a new investment to your portfolio, David’s investment philosophy and framework can help you avoid expensive mistakes.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 07, 2020
Ask Paula: Should I Put My Student Loans in Forbearance? Should I Buy a Vacation Rental? and More

#239: Lo is in a good spot with her career, but she’s struggling with a ton of student loan debt, and consequently, credit card debt. What should she do to manage it?

Anonymous wants to know how to set up a backdoor Roth IRA.

Eric and his wife own a property in Savannah, GA that brings in more money as an Airbnb than a traditional rental. They want to invest in more properties and are wondering if this model is the best path to take.

James wants to own a vacation rental in the Vermont mountains that he can use when it’s vacant. What features or qualities would make a profitable vacation rental? What red flags should be on his radar?

Ayesha is looking at buying a rental property that has a partial HUD claim on it. What kind of complications should she anticipate? Or should she let this property go completely?

Shelbi and her husband own a rental property that they purchased for $178,000 that’s now valued at $300,000. They’re looking at a multitude of options - sell it, move into it, or keep it. What’s best given their FIRE goal?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 03, 2020
How to Stop Making So Many Money Mistakes, with Jeff Kreisler

#238: “If I had more willpower, I’d achieve my financial goals.” “I’m doomed to fail with money.” “I’m horrible for not keeping to a budget.”

These are common thoughts, but they’re erroneous.

You can’t willpower your way through money management, you’re not doomed to fail, and you’re not horrible for blowing your budget.
You’re human, and humans make emotional decisions.
Those emotional decisions don’t have to mean a financial death sentence, though.

Jeff Kreisler, co-author of Dollars and Sense and Editor-in-Chief of, tells us how we can avoid common money mistakes and rewrite our financial future.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 27, 2020
Ask Paula and Joe -- Should I BUY a Business, Instead of Starting One?

#237: Katie wants to know how to purchase a business that’s already cash-flow positive. What indicators can she look for?

Rob will retire from the military with an inflation-adjusted pension. Does he need a bond allocation in his investment portfolio?

Brian conquered a large sum of credit card debt, but still has student loan debt and a mortgage. Should he pay off his student loans, refinance them, or refinance his mortgage?

Jeff is curious about the pros and cons of investment apps. When should you use them?

Another Kati (without an e!) wants to live a healthy and wealthy life before she’s 70. Where should she allocate her savings so she can retire early?

We answer these five questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 20, 2020
How We Saved $1 Million and Retired at 31 and 32, with Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung

#236: Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung achieved financial independence four years ago at age 31 and 32. They saved $1 million and live on $40,000 per year while traveling the world.

Kristy and Bryce don’t worry about running out of money, they created new identities after quitting their jobs, and their community has quadrupled in size. Here’s how they achieved this lifestyle.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 13, 2020
Ask Paula: Sooo … I Quit My Job. What Type of Business Should I Start?

#235: Anna has made the leap to self-employment … but what’s next? She lives in the Bay Area and she’s trying to choose between five business ideas; she needs to make enough money to stay in her high-cost area.

Doug recently won $9,000 from an online poker side gig and is wondering how best to use the funds: pay off high-interest student loan debt, or keep it to increase his poker earning potential?

Alex and his partner want to househack a single-family property with a mother-in-law suit. What should they consider as far as zoning goes?

Darrell is on track to retire in two years at age 55 and wants to know what he should do with his primary residence. Should he rent it out? Or should he sell it and use the profit to invest in rental properties? Or use the profit to buy his retirement home?

Mara is curious about 1031 exchanges. She has equity in a rental property that she’d like to harvest, but she wants more information before making the move.

Michael and his wife are struggling with competing goals. They want to invest in real estate, but they also want to move into an apartment closer to work to reduce their long commutes. Should they sell their home and invest the equity into a rental property, or should they take a HELOC on their home instead?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 06, 2020
26 Easy Moves to Improve Your Finances in 2020

#234: We review 26 quick, easy actions that improve your financial life, plus 10 new added bonus ideas that came directly from our community. We issue a challenge for you to tackle one action per week for the first 26 weeks (six months) of the year, so you’ll build stronger financial health by summertime.

Download the free book that accompanies this episode at and join us in the 2020 One Tweak a Week challenge!

Jan 03, 2020
Ask Paula: How Can I Retire in 12 Years?

#233: Deepak is considering downsizing his family’s home, but wants to know if the savings are worth the transaction costs he’ll have to pay.

Anonymous and her husband hold $900,000 worth of privately-owned company stock. How should they plan for handling this money?

Shelby is 25 years old and works for a company that awarded her restricted stock units. What should she do with these? Additionally, she traded in a 2013 Prius for a 2018 Subaru, for which she now owes $19,000. Should she sell it for a used vehicle or stick it out?

Katelyn is interested in learning more about annuities. What should she know in order to make an informed decision?

Max FI and his wife want to retire in 12 years. How should they invest to achieve this?

Anonymous’s former employer offered a Roth and Traditional 401k, and his new employer only offers a Traditional option. How should he rollover his former Roth 401k?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 31, 2019
How to Avoid College Debt, with Anthony ONeal

#232: Anthony ONeal is the bestselling author of Debt-Free Degree, a book that teaches parents how to help their children graduate from college without student loans.

He’s part of the Dave Ramsey Solutions team, which teaches people how to pay off and avoid debt, and he's the co-author of Graduate Survival Guide, along with Rachel Cruze.

Anthony joins us on this episode to share tips and hacks to help you save on tuition and find money for college.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 27, 2019
Ask Paula: How Can I Get My Spouse Interested in Frugality?

#231: Avie needs to decide between two options: paying off a rental property, or funding a retirement account. Which should she choose?

Lisa wants to know: when should you fund an HSA account?

Sofia’s parents have lived with her for the past few years, but Sofia’s job is relocating her out-of-state. How can she transition her home to a rental for her parents?

Jim is a saver and his wife is a spender. How can he interest her in frugality?

Candice wants to know my thoughts about online real estate investment crowdfunding platforms. Good idea or bad idea?

Kristen has a mortgage on her primary residence and a rental property. They have similar interest rates. Which should she pay off first?

I tackle these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 16, 2019
How to Develop Emotional Agility, with Dr. Susan David

#230: Dr. Susan David, a psychologist on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, joins us to talk about emotional agility.

Dr. David has researched emotional agility for around 20 years. A few years ago, she summarized her work on this concept for the Harvard Business Review. Her article became one of the most popular articles of the year, and the publishers heralded it as the Management Idea of the Year.

Dr. David gave a TED talk on emotional agility, which went viral, gaining more than a million views. She then published a book called Emotional Agility which became a #1 Wall Street Journal Best Seller.

The concept of emotional agility won the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award. She’s provided consulting around this concept with clients that include the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the NASDAQ, Google, and Microsoft.

She joins us today to explain how to define emotional agility, how to develop it in your life, and how it applies to any goal that you want to pursue - whether that’s financial independence, early retirement, career advancement, or greater success in your health and your relationships.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 09, 2019
Ask Paula: Help! My Mom or Dad Took Out a Credit Card in My Name. Am I On the Hook?

#229: Normally, we’re a once-a-week podcast, with episodes airing every Monday. But on the first Friday of every month, we have a First Friday bonus episode!

Helen discovered that her mother fraudulently opened credit card accounts in her name. Eek! How can she protect herself? What will happen to these accounts once her mother passes away?

Amelia and her husband cannot fire their financial advisor. How can they minimize the damage and maximize the benefit they receive from him in the meantime?

Anonymous asks if she should live off an inheritance and max out her 401k contributions during her first year of working full-time. She wants to reduce her taxable income. Is this a good idea?

A different anonymous caller read a USA Today article claiming that “index funds are in a bubble.” How true is this? How can index funds be in a bubble?

Shawn is self-employed. He invests in a Solo 401k that features both a Roth and Traditional component. How should he manage this account?

Another anonymous listener is thinking about downshifting to part-time work. He holds around $278,000 in home equity. How can he capitalize on this?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions on today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 06, 2019
What I Learned from Losing $170 Million, with Noah Kagan

#228: In November 2005, when Noah Kagan was 24, he was hired as Employee #30 at Facebook. His stock options would have been worth $170 million if he’d cashed out in 2014, he says.

But he didn’t see a dime.

In June 2006, merely 9 months after he started working at Facebook, Noah got fired. Instead of making $170 million, he made zero.

He fell into a deep depression for a year. Then he rescued himself by becoming a serial entrepreneur. He tried his hand at a lot of things -- including developing Facebook games, selling discount cards, creating a payment processor in the gaming space -- but he’s best known for his two most successful companies.

In 2010 he started a company, AppSumo, which offers discounts on small business software. By 2012, AppSumo was grossing $4 million per year in revenue, with annual net profits of $500,000.

Yet Noah wasn’t fulfilled. He pivoted. In 2015 he started a sister company,, which develops marketing tools for websites and online businesses.

In today’s episode, Noah and I discuss reflections on business, money and life.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 02, 2019
Ask Paula: How Can I Get the Most from My Mini-Retirement?

#227: Lien is taking a year off of work to live the van life with her husband. She wants to know how she can make the most of this sabbatical to figure out how to turn her less-than-inspiring career into a lifestyle that she loves.

Lien called in again to say that she wants to start a new business and a family when she returns from her gap year. Her former job offered excellent health benefits and maternity leave, but she doesn’t really want to go back. What should she do?

Eddie wants to build his real estate portfolio. How should he approach downpayments - put down more to net more profit, or put down less to acquire more properties?

Wilson is wondering if it’s a good idea to partner with a friend on real estate ventures. What are the downsides?

Wilson also wants to know about real estate business expenses, and the pros and cons of short-term rentals vs. long-term rentals.

Sean has an inconsistent employment history and is struggling to find a lender that will give him a mortgage. He wants to know if there are any other ways he can get a mortgage for a 4-plex?

An anonymous listener is thinking about taking the leap into real estate investing and wants to know how to overcome the fear they have about it. Also, should they put all of their savings towards real estate?

Anonymous is also wondering: how do you calculate net worth when you’re married?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 25, 2019
How to Make Time for Things That Matter, with John Zeratsky

#226: Feeling time-crunched? Today’s episode is for you.

Today’s episode features productivity expert John Zeratsky, who shares specific, action-packed time management strategies, with a focus on email management. If the term inbox zero sounds laughable, these strategies are up your alley.

John’s interest in productivity began one winter morning in 2008, when he realized that the past few months had been an eerie blur. He realized that time was slipping away. He knew he needed to figure out a better way to manage his time - and his life.

He started deep-diving into time management strategies and eventually co-authored a book, Make Time.

If you want to learn how to redesign your daily schedule, you’ll enjoy this episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 18, 2019
Ask Paula: How to Invest for the Next Five Years

#225: Lauren is 26 and earns $48,000 per year after taxes.

She saves $12,000 annually in retirement accounts, and an additional $18,000 per year for a downpayment on a home.

She wants to buy a home in the next five years. Where should she keep her savings in the meantime?

Sawyer has a five-year financial independence plan. She owns two high-end condos in a NYC suburb. She lives in one unit and rents the other, but she’s bothered by the fact that she’s forgoing collecting rent on her home unit. Should she move?

Katie’s husband is going to grad school and they want to pull money out of a Vanguard account to fund his tuition. Should they do this?

Cassie is in the process of finalizing a divorce. She and her daughter will receive between $80,000 - $116,000. Should they use the funds to buy a home with a 20 percent down payment or pay off their $30,000 debt?

Andy is curious: should you re-adjust the 4 percent withdrawal rule if your investment portfolio grows?

Joe wants to become self-employed but is concerned about health insurance. What are some affordable options?

Laura is ready to retire. She’s also engaged, and her fiance wants to keep working. Should they file taxes jointly or separately?

Doug is interested in learning more about equity sharing programs. Are these safe investments?

Tania wants to know: can you open and fund a Roth IRA if your only source of income is alimony?

Brian took out a 401k loan to buy a car. He regrets his decision. Should he take out a personal loan to pay back the 401k loan?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 11, 2019
The Science of Rapid Learning, with Scott Young, author of Ultralearning

#224: Scott Young, author of Wall Street Journal best-selling book Ultralearning, talks about the 9 principles of Ultralearning, which can help you learn new skills, reinvent yourself, stay relevant, and adapt to whatever life throws at you. If you think you know the best way to learn something, think again. This book will challenge your assumptions.

Whether you want to develop hard skills to become more valuable at your job, soft skills for your journey to self-improvement, or you want to honor your love for learning, these 9 principles will help you become more effective at developing new skills.

If you enjoyed my interviews with James Clear or Cal Newport, you’ll enjoy this one.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Nov 04, 2019
Ask Paula: Should I Choose This or That? How to Weigh the Tradeoffs

#223: Elizabeth is curious to know: what does a good net worth breakdown look like? Is it appropriate to have a lot of your net worth tied up in real estate?

Marie wants to start her own business, but she’s living paycheck-to-paycheck. Is incurring debt her only option to make this dream a reality?

Bria wants to take a second mini-retirement and has a good chunk of money saved up. She wants to come back to the workforce with a cash cushion. What should she do with her money while traveling?

Connor is facing a dilemma. Is he correct in not prioritizing 401k contributions given that his employer doesn’t offer a match, combined with his goal for financial independence? Is his strategy of using his savings for real estate investing better?

Caroline is wondering: should she aggressively pay off her home and her rental properties, or use her excess savings to fund a brokerage account?

Anonymous is relocating from Southern California to Florida. She wants to know if she should rent an apartment and buy a rental property, or buy a primary residence with the $150,000 she has saved.

Today’s episode is full of exploring and weighing tradeoffs.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 01, 2019
Seven Ways to Escape the Rat Race - with Michael Robinson

#222: Michael Robinson and his wife, Ellen, achieved financial independence at age 33. They ‘retired’ (they still enjoy working) three years later at age 36 on two five-figure incomes. Today, Michael and Ellen are raising their two children to be bilingual by slow traveling throughout Latin America.

Michael and Ellen blog about their FIRE adventures at They believe that “the Uncommon Dream is the dream pursued – the dream met with planning, action, and sacrifice. With just a dream and those three tools, you can accomplish almost anything.”

Today, Michael joins us on the show to talk about the seven ways that he and Ellen escaped the rat race and achieved FI at 33. If you enjoy hearing stories and case studies from people in this community who have reached FI, then you’ll love this interview.

For the full show notes, go here:

Oct 28, 2019
Ask Paula: How Much of My Company Stock Should I Buy?

#221: Vanessa is curious about Fidelity and Vanguard. She asks: what are your thoughts on the no-fee Fidelity index funds? What are your opinions on Vanguard’s financial advisors?

Andy wants to know: should my wife and I continue maxing out our traditional 401k and backdoor Roth IRA, or should we start contributing to the Roth 401k my employer offers?

Kyle is wondering - how can he minimize his taxes when he earns $450,000/year?

Rob is self-employed and has been maxing out a Roth IRA, but recently discovered that he can open a self-employed IRA. Should he move his Roth IRA money over, or just open a new account and fund it from scratch?

Christina is torn. Her and her husband have been saving to buy a house, but because they live in New York, their savings won’t go very far. Is it a good idea for them to continue renting, despite their dreams?

Mercedes is wondering how REITs compare to stocks and owning actual real estate. Additionally, she’d like to know more about Forex trading.

Craig has an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP). Since these tend to be risky, he’s wondering: is he better off moving the $25,000 that he puts towards the ESPP into mutual funds? Or is an ESPP a good way to diversify his funds?

Myself and former financial planner, Joe Saul-Sehy, answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 21, 2019
Stillness is the Key, with Ryan Holiday

#220: In a hectic world, stillness is the key to a calm, enjoyable life.

That idea comes from Ryan Holiday, author of Stillness is The Key.

Stillness is finding flow, staying present, and being impervious to the pressures of the outside world. It doesn’t mean removing yourself from society and sitting in a forest; to the contrary, many CEOs and world leaders have practiced remarkable stillness during times of crisis.

Bestselling author Ryan Holiday discusses actionable tips on how to practice the art of stillness, as well as its applications to the pursuit of financial independence or any massive goal.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 14, 2019
Ask Paula: How Should I Invest $4,000 Per Month for Early Retirement?

#219: Stella is working toward FIRE and wants to know: how can she create passive income in her retirement years? Is a portfolio with stocks and bonds enough, or should she invest in real estate?

Travis and his wife are also on the FIRE path, and are comparing their investment options. Travis is concerned about the inefficiency of reinvesting returns in real estate. How can you factor this into your decision when buying a property?

Stephanie and her husband are also interested in FIRE (hooray!) and they have $20,000 to invest. How can they best use this money to help them FIRE sooner?

Cade, a 24-year-old listener, wants to FIRE by age 30 (we’re on a roll!). He’s saving $4,000/month and wants to know how to invest these savings.

Anonymous and their partner are taking a mini-retirement and have questions surrounding the logistics of healthcare. What options should they consider?

On a different note, Amanda works in academia. After listening to Episode 12, she’s looking for tips on managing long-term, complex collaborative projects now that she’s in a leadership position.

Steve’s question brings us to the topic of building an online business and social media following. Should he have one brand for all of his interests, or divide these interests into separate channels?

I tackle these questions in today’s episode of the show. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 07, 2019
Why We're Irrational with Money - with Kristen Berman

#218: Kristen Berman is co-founder of Irrational Labs, a behavioral product design company, along with Dan Ariely.

She has a fascinating job that involves looking into why people behave the way they do with their money, and discovering the easiest solution to help them create more positive financial behavior.

In short, she’s a proponent of redesigning the current financial system to make saving automatic and easy, and that’s part of what we discuss in this episode.

If creating better financial habits has been a challenge for you, or if you have trouble framing spending as a positive thing, rather than a loss, then Kristen has awesome advice for you.

Here are some key takeaways from the interview:

1. Habits are overrated - one-time decisions are more effective.
2. Simplify decision-making by giving yourself a rule-of-thumb to follow.
3. Pre-commit to your financial goals.
4. Measure process versus outcome.
5. Use accountability partners to reach your goals.
6. The Three Bs - Behavior, Barriers, and Benefits.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Oct 04, 2019
Interview on the FI Show: Financial Independence Philosophy and Origin Story | Paula Pant from Afford Anything

#217: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe.

In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts.

Earlier this year, Cody and Justin from The FI Show interviewed me and asked some excellent questions about my journey to financial independence, entrepreneurship and passion, and minding the gap between your income and expenses.

We talk about the importance of side hustling and how to create a well-paying job from your skills.

We touch on real estate and why I chose this strategy to reach FI.

We also discuss the bone I have to pick with the financial independence movement.

Finally, we chat about what financial independence is really about, because it’s not about sipping margaritas on a beach. It’s about having the freedom to use your time in whatever way you want.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thank you to Cody and Justin for giving us permission to air this interview.

P.S. - Starting with the next episode, we’ll return to our usual routine of brand new interviews and Ask Paula episodes. :)

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 30, 2019
How Much Can I Spend in Retirement? - with Dr. Wade Pfau

#216: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe.

In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts. 

Welcome to another episode from our archives! This one was recorded in March 2018, and Dr. Wade Pfau had a ton of insight into the four percent rule that so many of us are concerned with.

First, here’s a brief history of how the four percent rule came to be. 

In 1994, William Bengen decided to look at 30-year timespans throughout U.S. History, beginning with the year 1926. 

He worked under the assumption that a retiree held 50 percent stocks (in the form of S&P 500 Index), and 50 percent bonds (intermediate-term government bonds). 

He looked at two things: the worst-case scenario, and how much an investor could sustainably withdraw from their portfolio under that worst-case scenario. 

The year 1966 ended up being one of the worst to retire during, and an investor could withdraw 4.15 percent during the first year, and 4.15 percent, adjusted for inflation, every subsequent year. 

That is how the 4 percent rule came to be. 

Dr. Wade Pfau, a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services, argues that the 4 percent rule may not be the end-all-be-all we think it is.

He voices his hesitations and explains how you can determine how much you can afford to spend in retirement on this episode. 


P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October! 

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Sep 23, 2019
The Seven Stages of Financial Independence, with Joshua Sheats

#215: We are really digging into the archives with today's episode. This originally aired back in 2016!

Besides being another fun and fascinating interview, this is one of our most popular episodes. Which isn't surprising, given the topic we're exploring. :-)

Financial independence means many things to many different people, which might be why we find it challenging to settle on a definition that everyone can agree on.

Regardless of what your personal definition is, Joshua Sheats, a financial planner and host of the well-known Radical Personal Finance podcast, says that financial independence can be separated into seven stages.

We explore these seven stages of FI in this episode, and we also talk about how to enjoy the journey no matter what stage you're at.


For details, visit the show notes at

Sep 16, 2019
ChooseFI Interview

#214: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe.

In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts.

I’m super excited to share an interview I did with Brad and Jonathan of ChooseFI back in December 2018. It was fun to have the tables turned, and Brad and Jonathan left no stone unturned in their interview with me.

If you ever wanted to know my origin story, including where my love for travel comes from, where my desire for freedom came from, and how I combined both, then give this interview a listen.

We talk about everything from:

  • How travel wasn’t a big part of my life until college
  • How I prefer to travel
  • Why the idea of mini-retirements is so important
  • Making the transition from freelancing to having my own business and giving up that business in favor of focusing on Afford Anything
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • Overcoming and working with a scarcity mindset
  • What financial independence means to me
  • The importance of self-care

Brad and Jonathan are two of the most thorough interviewers I’ve ever recorded with, and this interview was a lot of fun. If you want to learn more about them, I returned the favor by interviewing them on this show on this episode

Thanks to Brad and Jonathan and ChooseFI for giving us permission to air this interview!

P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 09, 2019
Andrew Hallam (Part Two): The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School

#213: It’s September! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe.

In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts.

If you missed the last episode, you might want to listen to it before diving into this one, as Andrew and I go into the finer points of investing here.

Seriously. This is one of the most in-the-weeds shows I’ve done to date.

If you’re playing catch up: Andrew Hallam is a teacher who became a millionaire in his 30s and reached FIRE in his 40s. His starting salary was $28,000 - net.

If you want to know how he did it, and what his first three rules of building wealth are, then listen to episode 212.

Otherwise, tune into this episode, where we review his six other rules that can turn middle-class people into millionaires:

Understand your inner psychology. Conquer the enemy in the mirror.
Learn how to build a balanced, responsible portfolio.
Create an indexed account, no matter where you live.
Don’t resign yourself to taking this journey alone.
Inoculate yourself against slick sales rhetoric.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.a

While these rules sound simple on the surface, Andrew and I go way beyond that, talking about hedge funds, human psychology, and casinos.

This was a favorite among listeners back in 2017 and it’s one of the most enjoyable interviews I did. I hope you enjoy!

P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Sep 06, 2019
Andrew Hallam (Part One): How I Became a Millionaire on a Teacher's Salary

#212: It’s September!! If you’ve been listening to the show for the past few months, then you know that I’m on what I’ve dubbed my September Sabbatical, in which I’m taking a break from podcast production and traveling the globe.

In light of that, we’re digging through the archives and airing some of my favorite interviews on the show, in between airing interviews I’ve done on other podcasts.

First up is a two-part interview with Andrew Hallam, a teacher who became a millionaire in his 30s and reached FI in his 40s.

How? Beyond investing small sums (we’re talking less than $100 per month) throughout college, he also saved half of his starting salary of $28,000.

This episode is for anyone who thinks it’s impossible to reach FIRE on a low salary.

I originally interviewed Andrew in January 2017, and we could not stop talking. Which is why our three-hour interview was divided into two parts.

In this first part, Andrew shares his story - how he became a millionaire, and why he wanted to achieve FIRE in the first place.

He also shares three principles from his book, Millionaire Teacher: Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School:

Rule 1: Spend like you want to grow rich. (Don’t waste money on junk.)
Rule 2: Use the greatest financial ally you have. (Time.)
Rule 3: Small percentages pack big punches. (Avoid high-fee funds.)

As for the other six, they’re coming up in Part 2. :)


P.S. - We’ll return to our regular podcast production schedule in October!


For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 02, 2019
What’s Your Why? Financial Independence, Debt Freedom and More

#211: Hey there!

I’m writing this from Croatia, where I’m beginning five weeks of travel that I’m calling my September Sabbatical. From now through September 23rd, I’ll be exploring the globe and enjoying a one-month break.

Today, I’m kicking things off with a community-based episode. Here’s the backstory behind today’s show:

There’s an event called CampFI, which is a 3-4 day gathering for people who are interested in financial independence. CampFI holds around half a dozen events per year in various locations; I spoke at one in Colorado Springs this past July.

While I was there, two other podcasters and I decided to interview the participants to find out their “why of FI.” What motivates them to build financial independence?

These interviews and stories from the community are today’s episode.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 26, 2019
How to Be an Adult - with Mark Manson

#210: We live in a fascinating era: huge sections of society are more prosperous, advanced and safe than at any other point in human history, yet depression and anxiety are at record highs. It’s a paradox of progress: the richer the nation, the more likely its citizens are to suffer from mental health issues and report feeling crushing isolation and unhappiness.

What gives?

At the individual level, pursuing financial independence and early retirement (FIRE) often fills people with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning. Yet once people reach FIRE, they often report feeling purposeless or rudderless. It’s a paradox of hope: nothing kills a dream like achieving it. And in the absence of anything else for which to hope, a person becomes, by definition, hopeless.


When we’ve taken care of the bottom of the Maslow Pyramid, how do we find hope and meaning? How can we create purpose in a vast world?

This week, I invited one of my favorite writers, megabestselling author Mark Manson, to join me on the Afford Anything podcast to discuss these critical issues.

Mark Manson is the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, which sold six million copies and became the #1 bestseller in 13 countries. His latest book, Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope, lays a framework for finding hope and happiness in a confusing world.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 19, 2019
Ask Paula: Are Index Funds Unsafe?

#209: Anonymous wants to retire early and often. They’re going overseas, where they’ll make their annual salary within six months. Where should they put their extra income?

Anonymous also wants to know: how can they find a financial advisor they can actually trust?

Another anonymous listener wants to know - is it possible to spend more while minimizing taxes in early retirement?

JuanCarlos asks: is $20,000 too little to invest with a financial advisor?

Angela is wondering how to create a Roth IRA account for a teenager.

Rose is thinking about switching from mutual funds to index funds because it means encountering less fees, but her and her husband are in their 60s. Does this make sense?

Ari has $700,000 to invest in a taxable brokerage account. He wants to know if a 90 percent total stock market index and 10 percent bonds is a good asset allocation.

Dave and his wife want to use their defined benefit plans as their primary income stream in retirement, and supplement with Roth and 457 incomes. Where else should they be saving?

Myself and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy answer these questions on today’s episode.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 12, 2019
How to Talk to Your Parents About Retirement and Beyond -- with Cameron Huddleston

#208: Well, this could get awkward.

Your parents and grandparents are aging. (Duh.) You want to have a few important financial conversations with them. It’s time to get the answers to questions like:

“So … are you ready for retirement?”

“You’ve been retired for 10 years … how’s that going? How are your finances looking?”

“Do you have a will or legal trust? What’s your estate plan situation?”

“Do you have an advance health care directive?”

“To whom have you given your power of attorney?”

“What types of accounts do you have, and how can I -- or someone whom you designate --  access the passwords if and when the appropriate time comes?”

These financial conversations are important, but awkward. Most people would rather discuss the news, the weather, or the Kardashians. 

How do you introduce these conversations to your family? What specific topics should you cover? What documents and other information should you gather? How do you manage these conversations when siblings, half-siblings and step-siblings are involved? What about step-parents? What if your parent lives outside of the U.S. and the laws are different; how should you plan?

In today’s podcast episode, award-winning personal finance journalist Cameron Huddleston discusses these critical issues. 

Huddleston has spent nearly two decades writing about money for Kiplinger Personal Finance, the Chicago Tribune, Fortune, USA Today, MSN and more. She’s the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances. 

She joins us to discuss how to navigate these tricky family conversations.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 09, 2019
Ask Paula: Should I Take a $30k Paycut for Better Work-Life Balance, or Stick it Out?

#207: Matt and his fiance earn $7,500 per month combined. They save more than half of their income. He’d like to take a different job that will decrease his income by $2,000 per month, but improve his quality of life. Should he?

Suja wants to take out a loan for business growth. What red flags should she watch for?

Anonymous and her husband are thinking about buying half-million-dollar home, purchasing a second car, and having a baby. They’ve saved an emergency fund and a 20 percent downpayment. Are they ready?

Trayci wants to quit her 9-to-5 and start working as a 1099 self-employed lifestyle. How should she manage this transition?

Daria is curious about the economics of a podcast. What do the income and expenses look like?

Jared wants to retire early and then sell off his rental properties, but he’s worried about the depreciation recapture tax rate. How should he plan?

Ali wants to set up a long-term giving plan, but most of the advice out there is geared towards wealthy donors. How should middle-class workers set up their charitable giving?

Financial planner Sophia Bera (hailed by Investment News as one of the Top 40 Under 40) joins me on today’s episode to answer these seven questions.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Aug 05, 2019
When Career Zigzagging is Smarter - with David Epstein

#206: We live in a society that values career specialization.

You’re not a “doctor” -- you’re a pediatrician, an anesthesiologist, an oncologist.

You’re not a “lawyer” -- you practice family law, or bankruptcy, or criminal law.

You’re not an “engineer” -- you’re an electrical engineer who specializes in solar technologies, or a civil engineer who specializes in the application of artificial intelligence in highway traffic design.

Specialization is beneficial and necessary, but specializing too early in life or too narrowly can also have drawbacks. According to today’s podcast guest, New York Times bestselling author David Epstein, overspecialization can stifle innovation if we’re all digging in parallel trenches. Sampling a broad range of subjects prior to specializing (e.g. at the undergraduate level, or as a hobby) allows people to make connections between far-flung domains and ideas.

If you’re an athlete, spend your childhood playing a variety of sports before you commit to the one you’d like to develop.

If you’re a musician, try learning different instruments before you pick your primary focus.

If you’re bound for a graduate degree in a STEM field, consider a multidisciplinary undergraduate that pulls from chemistry, physics, biology and perhaps even art. Specialization can come later.

We hear stories of people who specialized early in life. Tiger Woods won his first golf competition at age two, beating everyone in the age-10-and-under category. Many world chess champions started training in early childhood. The notion is that early specialization provides a headstart; if you haven’t started training at chess or golf by age 12, it might be too late.

But chess and golf are limited in their scope. They’re contained games with fixed, predictable rules.

In the wider world, in which challenges and assumptions fluctuate and problems are ill-defined, being a generalist is a lifehack.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 29, 2019
Ask Paula: Am I On-Track for Retirement?

#205: Is it ever a good idea to use your 401(k) as an emergency fund?

What's the best way to break up with your financial advisor so that you can move all of your funds to Vanguard?

Should you put all of your Roth IRA money into index funds, or is there a better option for your money?

A listener has a job offer working less hours for more money, but without a retirement plan. Is this a good move?

When running a small business as a sole proprietor, are there tax advantages to incorporating or forming an LLC? If so, what should you consider?

What's the best way to maximize the earnings on a large amount of savings while keeping the savings liquid? Can a robo-advisor help with this?

Myself and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy tackle these six questions in today's episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 22, 2019
Upgrade Your Thinking, with Super Thinking authors Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann

#204: You make decisions on a daily basis about your career, family, friendships, health and investments; these choices shape your life.

But how much have you thought about how to think?

There are common threads and collective wisdom across disciplines. These common threads create mental models, which are frameworks for understanding the world. Mental models allow us to apply insights from a variety of unrelated fields, using reasoning by analogy to make better choices about our lives.

For example:

Critical mass is a concept from physics that can be applied to our understanding of microeconomics or entrepreneurship.

The availability heuristic and filter bubble are concepts that we can use to check in with ourselves whenever we’re assessing risk in our businesses, careers or personal safety.

Loss aversion and information aversion are notions that, when articulated, allow us to understand why we hesitate to learn more about investing during recessions.

Mental models can make us better thinkers. Warren Buffett’s business partner, Charlie Munger, says he relies on mental models to evaluate businesses and make investing choices.

What we know is that we’ll never be right. But mental models can help us become less wrong.

On today’s episode, Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann join us to discuss Super Thinking, their book about how to use mental models to improve the skill of thinking.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jul 15, 2019
Ask Paula: Early Retirement and The Four Percent Rule

#203: Many people in their 50’s or 60’s warn us about catastrophic or ‘black swan’ events. But what’s the likelihood that this will actually happen?

How can you use the 4 percent withdrawal rule for early retirement planning, given that your portfolio will be split among accounts with different tax treatments? How do you adjust your retirement plan for future taxes?

Should a couple in their 30’s switch from term life to whole life insurance?

Should a couple in their 50’s with adult children bother buying life insurance in the first place?

Is it okay to keep all your assets at one investment brokerage, like Vanguard or Fidelity?

And can you deduct rental losses if your income is over $150,000?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 08, 2019
Slow Travel is Cheap Travel - with Nomadic Matt

#202: In 2006, Matt Kepnes worked at a hospital in Boston, and he felt miserable. He dreaded fighting traffic, spending his days under his offices’ fluorescent lighting, drinking stale coffee.

He decided to take one year off -- a “gap year” -- thinking that after his sabbatical, he’d resume another 40 years of punching the clock.

He worked 60-hour weeks in order to save money for his sabbatical year. He saved $30,000, then handed his boss a resignation letter.

Matt traveled for 18 months, returned to Boston, and realized he had lost his willingness to punch the clock. He couldn’t sit still in an office any longer.

He re-packed his bags, bought a one-way flight to who-knows-where, and reinvented himself as a travel writer known as Nomadic Matt. He lives on a budget of $18,250 per year, or $50 per day.

In the last decade, his travel information website,, has become one of the most popular travel blogs in the world, drawing millions of visitors. His writing has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, National Geographic Travel, and the BBC. He’s a New York Times bestselling author, and he’s traveled to more than 100 countries.

In today’s episode, Matt and I discuss the art of slow travel.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 05, 2019
Ask Paula: Which House Should I Pay Off First?

#201: Ross and his wife are both in the Navy. They bought a home while they were stationed in Hawaii. Then the Navy sent them to Virginia, where they currently live; they’ve purchased a home there, too. They kept the Hawaii home as a rental property, and they’d like to move back into it when they retire. Which home should they repay first?

Mike is 33, debt-free except for his mortgage, and earns more than $200,000 per year. He saves half of his income. What should he do with his savings? Pay off his mortgage? Invest?

Josh has a nervous habit of checking his investment account balances daily. How can he break this habit?

Amanda and her husband live in a duplex. They have $115,000 in equity in their home, and another $115,000 remaining on the mortgage. They’d like to move. Should they hold the duplex as a rental? Or should they sell and use the proceeds to buy a cheaper home, with a goal of being mortgage-free?

Christy wants to know how to compete with other aggressive real estate investors who are bidding on homes.

I answer these five questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jul 01, 2019
What I’ve Learned from Interviewing 500 Millionaires -- with Jaime Masters of Eventual Millionaire

#200: Nine years ago, I had no idea that personal finance blogs existed.

Then, as I was flipping through an issue of Kiplinger magazine, I came across an article about a woman who paid off $70,000 in debt in 16 months.

Her name was Jaime, she lived in Maine, and she earned 3x her husband’s income. He made $30,000 per year; she made $100,000. They wanted to have a baby, and she wanted to stay at home for the first year, but their debt load made this impossible.

She aggressively went into debt-crushing-mode, working 70 hour weeks while 7 months pregnant in order to tackle their debt. She started a blog (and later a podcast), Eventual Millionaire, to track her journey and interview millionaires.

This article made me aware of the existence of personal finance blogs. I immediately thought, “I want one.”

The following year, I started my own site, Afford Anything. Like Eventual Millionaire, it later became a podcast, as well.

Today, we’re celebrating Episode 200 of the Afford Anything podcast. And so it feels fitting that the special guest for Episode 200 should be the woman whose story inspired the creation of this platform, Jaime Masters.  

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 24, 2019
Ask Paula: The Three-Year Reunion with J. Money

#199: Ashley is paying affordable rent for a home she enjoys, but she feels certain that the real estate market in her local market will stay strong. She’s thinking about buying a home with 3 to 5 percent down, but she doesn’t have much in savings.

Should she wait for a year to save more? Or should she take advantage of a rising market and relatively low interest rates?

Ian and his girlfriend live together in Washington D.C. and have a combined 40 percent savings rate. He’d like to buy a rental property, but his girlfriend has $18,000 in student loans and is about to re-enroll in school. Should they buy an investment home, or use their cash to repay her loans and cash flow her new academic program?

Annette is about to travel to Spain with her family. How can she plan an affordable and high-value international trip?

William is concerned about losing his job. What if he can’t pay his bills, especially his new mortgage? How can he protect himself?

Anonymous is a renter, and she often encounters surprise fees and charges when she arrives at the lease signing. Can she negotiate with her landlord?

I answer these five questions in today’s episode, and I also feature a short interview with special guest J. Money, my former podcast co-host from the early days!!


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 17, 2019
The Japanese Art of Being a Zen Millionaire, with Ken Honda

#198: Money flows.

When you receive money, you’re in the path of this flow.

Money flows from someone else to you, and eventually, it’ll flow from you to someone else, either in the form of a purchase or an investment.

A healthy relationship with money is to feel gratitude when money flows towards you, and to release your money without attachment or resentment when it flows away from you.

Today's guest, Ken Honda, is known as the “Zen Millionaire” of Japan. He’s sold more than seven million books in Japan about the intersection between wealth and happiness. In today’s podcast episode, we discuss four core principles for developing a healthy emotional relationship with money.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 10, 2019
Ask Paula: Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA -- What Should I Choose?

#197: Should Bret invest in a Traditional IRA or a Roth IRA?

If Amanda gets married, how will her child support be affected? What about her student loan forgiveness?

Joe is investing in bonds, which average a rate of return that’s equal to the interest rate on his mortgage. Should he switch to all-equities and redirect his bond investments into mortgage payoff, instead?

Taunia has a car loan, a 401k loan, a home improvement loan, a primary mortgage, and a second mortgage. She also has an emergency fund that only covers two months of expenses, and she’s trying to save for college for her two children. What should she prioritize?

Mickey has a six-month emergency fund. Should he leave it in a savings account or invest in bond ladders?

David made $10,000 from a side hustle last year. Can he open a Solo 401k or SEP-IRA for his side hustle business? If so, which one should he choose?

Should Andy invest in a Target Retirement Date fund, or should he split his money between a U.S. index fund and an international index fund?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these seven questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 07, 2019
Starting Over at 40 with Six Kids, with Wendy Mays

#196: When Wendy Mays was in her early 20’s, she earned $12 an hour working as the office manager of a pest control company.

She wanted higher income, so she enrolled in college at age 22. By the time she finished her undergraduate degree, she was 26, married, with a child.

Her husband worked low-paying jobs to make ends meet. They struggled to pay the bills. Wendy decided to enroll in law school, so that she could bring in more money. She graduated around age 30, and became the primary breadwinner for the household. She opened her own law practice.

The couple starting bringing in a combined household income of around $200,000 annually. They bought a large house, with a swimming pool. Sounds like the American Dream, right?

Except it was all financed.

By age 38, Wendy and her husband accrued nearly $800,000 in debt. Around $480,000 came in the form of mortgage debt. Another $20,000 comprised of vehicle loans. The other $300,000 came in the form of student loans. They lived paycheck-to-paycheck.

They decided to expand their family through adoption. Rather quickly, Wendy and her husband had six children.

They realized they needed to repay their debt in order to give their family a more stable home life. At age 38, Wendy and her husband committed to repaying their debt, building their retirement accounts, and getting themselves onto a smart financial track.

How did they re-start their financial life at age 38, with six children and $800,000 in debt? Find out in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jun 03, 2019
Ask Paula: I Make $168,000 Per Year and Spend $5,000 Per Year. What’s Next?

#195: Alex makes $168,000 per year, combined between her full-time job and her side hustle. Her company pays for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the work week, plus a cell phone subsidy, health, dental and vision insurance, a gym membership, and commuting costs. She also househacks, so her living expenses are only $400 per month. What should she do with her ample savings?

Christine is 38 and earns $70,000 per year running her own business. She holds $70,000 in investment accounts, has another $16,000 in savings, bought a condo with 20 percent down, and has no debt. What can she do to fast-track her path to financial independence?

Amy is unsure whether she should pay off her mortgage, downsize to a smaller home, or invest.

Katherine is 23 and househacking into a duplex. How much should she set aside for cash reserves?

Miriam started a podcast and wants to know how to morph a passion into a lucrative income stream.

Nick wonders if the FIRE movement should plan an annual gathering … you know, like a FIRE Festival. (But not like the Fyre Festival.)

I tackle these six questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 27, 2019
The 7 Faces of Fear -- with Ruth Soukup

#194: Fear shows up in our lives in countless ways.

Sometimes, fear takes the form of procrastination. We're afraid of botching something, or we don't like the feeling of anxiety that a project gives us, so we avoid it, dodge it, and indefinitely put it off.

Other times, fear takes the form of perfectionism through endless iterating and tweaking. We want to keep tinkering with a project, to get it "just right." We applaud ourselves for our attention to detail.

Fear takes the form of making excuses and rationalizations for why we can't pursue a goal or dream. We tell ourselves that some outside factor is to blame.

Fear takes the form of throwing ourselves pity parties and locking ourselves into a negative self-talk spiral. We get easily discouraged.

Fear takes the form of thinking others can't be trusted, and pushing people away.

Fear has many faces.

Today's podcast guest, Ruth Soukup, surveyed 4,000 people to find out how fear manifests in their lives. She joins us on this episode to discuss the seven fear archetypes that she discovered.

Those archetypes are:

The People Pleaser: This is the fear of disapproval and fear of not being liked, expressed in the form of weak boundaries and putting others needs first to a self-harming extent.

The Procrastinator: This is the fear of making a mistakes. This shows up as over-planning to the point of "analysis paralysis," of spending all your time researching and none of your time taking action. Perfectionism is an overlapping quality, as well.

The Rule Follower: This is a fear of authority. This person is afraid of breaking the rules or doing something in a way in which it's not 'supposed' to be done.

The Outcast: This is the fear of rejection, which often -- ironically -- causes this person to reject others first so that they cannot get rejected. They're highly self-motivated and driven to succeed and feel the need to prove themselves, but they have trouble collaborating and working in groups.

The Self-Doubter: This is the fear of inadequacy, of not being good enough, which causes the self-doubter to forgo opportunities, play it safe, and not take risks. They can also be highly critical of others.

The Excuse Maker: This is the fear of taking responsibility or being blamed, which shows up in the form of always having a justification as to why this person can't pursue a goal, or why an outcome isn't their fault.

The Pessimist: This is the fear of pain or adversity, often held by people who have been through an immense amount of pain or trauma. The pessimist gets locked into patterns of negative self-talk and self-pity, and believes that they have it worst than most. They can be sensitive to criticism, feel emotion intensely, and has trouble moving beyond the challenges from their past.

In today's episode, Ruth and I discuss these seven fear archetypes and cover specific action plans that people can take if they recognize these tendencies within themselves.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 20, 2019
Ask Paula: I Spent Ten Years in School, and Now I’m Behind on Retirement Savings

#193: Lori is behind on retirement savings, as a result of being a full-time student for more than a decade. She makes good money and lives frugally, but she’s aware that she’s behind for her age. What should she do?

Sierra wonders whether she should apply her savings towards paying off her mortgage or building investments.

Jenessa plans to retire at age 35, and she’s wondering if the 4 percent withdrawal rule applies for such a long time horizon. Her friend swears that it’s designed to cover a 30-year retirement, not a 60+ year retirement. Is that correct?

Jacqui is 24 and recently married. She’d like to open a 529 College Savings Plan for her future children, which she doesn’t plan on having for another 8 to 10 years. Should she do this?

David is on-track to reach financial independence at age 50. He would like to start adding bonds to his taxable brokerage accounts. How should he manage this?

Mikayla lives in Atlanta. Her employer gives her a stipend to use public transportation. This money can only be used for that purpose. She’s thinking of getting rid of her car so that she can start using public transit, and applying the cost-savings of getting rid of her vehicle into a downpayment fund for a future home. Should she do this?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these six questions on today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 13, 2019
The Latte Factor, with author David Bach

#192: “Don’t buy lattes.”

This classic snippet of personal finance advice isn’t specifically anti-Starbucks. “Lattes” are a metaphor for the tiny expenses that leak money from our pockets, often without us realizing how much we’re spending.

Your “latte” could be a pile of subscriptions: HBONow, YouTube Red, Spotify Premium, Netflix, Hulu Plus, the CostCo membership that you haven’t used in two years, and -- for that matter -- the gym membership that you also haven’t used in two years. (Ahem.)

Your “latte” could be buying bottled water and snacks at the airport, or absentmindedly shopping online when you’re bored, or ordering restaurant take-out or delivery too often.

Your “latte” might be spending too much on trinkets and souvenirs during your vacations, when photographs would capture the memory.

David Bach is the New York Times bestselling author who created the phrase “don’t buy lattes.” He joins us on today’s podcast episode to discuss The Latte Factor.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 06, 2019
Ask Paula — Would You Live in an RV to Save Money?

#191: Should Russell rent a cheap apartment, or should he take out a loan for an RV in order to save money on rent?

Carl is working two jobs that each pay $12 per hour. He has $5,000 in student loans. What can he do to improve his situation?

Caroline is about to finish paying off her student loans, and in the next few years she wants to buy a home. Where should she park her savings in the meantime?

Philip is saving for financial independence, but he’s not sure what to do with his time once he quits his job. How can he discover what ignites him?

Amanda is receiving an inheritance, a New York City 4-plex valued at $500,000. How should she handle this?

And an anonymous caller wants to know what the step-by-step path to wealth building would look like.

I answered all of his questions in today’s episode, plus I feature a short follow-up interview with Kim, the firefighter whom we met in Episode 139.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

May 03, 2019
The Next Millionaire Next Door, with Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw

#190: More than 20 years ago, affluence researchers Dr. Thomas Stanley and Dr. William Danko surveyed a vast number of millionaire households in the United States.

What they discovered was groundbreaking at the time.

The average U.S. millionaire, they found, lives a frugal lifestyle. They are disproportionately clustered in modest, middle-class neighborhoods. They drive used cars. They don’t spend money on jewelry, watches, boats or other high-ticket items. They’re self-made, meaning they did not inherit their wealth; they’re first-generation millionaires.

In 1996, the researchers published their findings in a book called The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. The book became a mega-bestseller and, to this day, remains a top personal finance classic.

Fast-forward to 2012.

Dr. Thomas Stanley’s daughter, Sarah, followed in her father’s footsteps. She’s grown up to become a researcher, earning a Ph.D. in applied psychology and exploring the world of behavioral finance. She became the Director of Research for the Affluent Market Institute, the research company her father founded, and she launched her own research firm, DataPoints.

In 2012, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw and Dr. Thomas Stanley decided to update their research on millionaire households in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Millionaire Next Door. They wanted to see what attributes are different, 20 years later, and what qualities remain the same.

They crafted another large-scale survey of millionaires. Yet before they could complete the project, tragedy intervened.

In 2015, Dr. Thomas Stanley was killed in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver.

His daughter resolved to finish the research that the two of them started together. She sent out the survey they created, gathered and analyzed the results, and published a sequel, The Next Millionaire Next Door, co-authored with her late father.

The book is Dr. Thomas Stanley’s final, posthumously-published book. The book was released in October 2018, twenty-two years after the original.

On today’s podcast episode, Dr. Sarah Stanley Fallaw joins us to describe what’s different about millionaires, more than two decades later …

… and what’s remained the same.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 29, 2019
Ask Paula: How Does My Net Worth Compare to Others My Age?

#189: Julie, age 27, calculated her expected net worth based on the formula taught in the classic personal finance book The Millionaire Next Door. She’s concerned. Her current net worth is significantly lower than the number that the formula revealed. Is she on-track?

Anonymous wants to save for a downpayment on a home. Should she reduce her 401k contributions in order to amass these savings? Should she store some of that money in a Roth IRA?

Samantha is more than halfway finished with paying off her debt. In order to make this happen, she took on a second job. How much will she owe in taxes?

Maxime works at a job in which his 401k only offers expensive choices. Should he put his money in a taxable brokerage account, instead?

Leslie’s parents are going to retire in five years, but they’ve only saved $65,000. What should they do? How can she help?

Claire is creating an estate plan. What should she be thinking about?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these six questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 22, 2019
The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, with Daniel Pink

#188: In May 1915, a renowned 58-year-old sea captain, Captain William Thomas Turner, made a series of questionable decisions.

He was the captain of the Lusitania, a ship with 1,959 passengers, sailing from Manhattan to London. The first World War was taking place around them, and Captain Turner knew he needed to move swiftly to evade German submarines.

His ship approached England; land was in sight. They had almost made it. Yet for reasons that will always remain a mystery, around 1 pm on May 7th, Captain Turner slowed the speed of the vessel to around 18 knots, slower than the 21 knots that they needed to outpace the threat of submarines. Around 45 minutes later, he executed what's called a "four-point bearing," which forced him to pilot the ship in a straight line rather than a zigzag course, which would be better for outmaneuvering torpedoes.

At 2:10, the ship was ripped apart by a torpedo. Nearly 1,200 people were killed. Since that fateful day, historians have pondered why he made those two decisions, simple choices which may have permanently altered the lives of thousands.

Today's podcast guest, Daniel Pink, has an unusual theory. He believes Captain Turner may have made those sloppy choices because it was the afternoon.

Daniel Pink is the author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In his book, he makes the case that the time-of-day in which we take actions -- early morning, mid-afternoon, or nighttime -- makes a bigger impact than we realize. Our energy and attention unfold in waves, with a rise, then a drop, then a resurgence.

The secret to perfect timing isn't simply a matter of managing daily routines, however. Daniel Pink also shows how this pattern emerges over the span of a natural human life, with the choices we make in our sunset years more prone to editing, to curating, than the choices we make in our younger years when time feels abundant. Senior citizens may have smaller circles of friends, he says, not due to loneliness but rather because they're editing their circles down to the few people who matter most.

He discusses how midlife is a fascinating point in which our brains signal that we've squandered half of our time. These midpoints can act as either a slump or a propellant.

He talks about how we appreciate things more if we believe that they're ending. In one study, researchers gave five Hershey Kisses to subjects; they asked the subjects to rate their taste and enjoyment. When the researchers handed out the fifth Hershey Kiss, they told half of the subjects "here is your fifth chocolate," and they told the other half of the subjects, "here is your final chocolate." The ones who were told that they were receiving the final chocolate rated their enjoyment of it more highly.

How much does timing affect our lives? How do we manage our days, and our decades, with a stronger awareness of the way that chronology impacts our mood, energy and priorities?

Daniel Pink answers these questions in his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He talks about it on today's show.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 15, 2019
Ask Paula - The Real Estate Episode

#187: Sarah needs $36,000 per year in rental income to reach FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). She owns several rentals. When can she comfortably consider herself FIRE?

AyV wants to rent out his primary residence. Should he renovate?

Anonymous lives in a high-cost-of-living city, but she found a small city nearby with Class B and C+ multifamily properties. These properties need a little work. How can she estimate repair costs?

Carly bought a property that underperformed the one percent rule. It’s appreciated in value. Should she sell?

Erin is trying to decide if she should buy a $270,000 personal residence in northern Virginia, or a $50,000 rental property in Huntsville, Alabama.

Nancy wants to buy rental properties from overseas, but she’s having a tough time finding real estate agents who take her seriously as a buyer. What should she do?

I answer these six questions in today’s final Ask Paula - Real Estate episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 08, 2019
How Mike and Lauren Retired at 30 with an Average Income of $56,000 / Year

#186: Mike and Lauren have run a cleaning company, started and sold a biodiesel company, repaired and resold motorcycles, opened a coffeeshop, owned a DVD rental box, sold e-cigarettes, bought a storage warehouse, launched a YouTube channel with nearly 150,000 subscribers, moved to Manhattan, moved back to Florida, backpacked across Europe and gave birth to two children in Costa Rica.

Whew. I’m exhausted by just writing their list of entrepreneurial experiments.

Their willingness to take risks has paid off … big time.

Mike and Lauren reached financial independence at age 30 and 29, respectively. Today, they join us on the Afford Anything podcast to discuss how they did it.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 05, 2019
Ask Paula: How Do I Talk to Friends who Ridicule the Idea of FIRE?

#185: Hello from Austin, Texas! I’m living in an Airbnb here for the next 5 weeks. Listen to the end of today’s episode to find out why … and discover how these next 5 weeks, for me, exemplify the “why” of financial independence.

In the meantime, though, the show must go on! Here are the questions that we’re answering in today’s episode.

An anonymous listener named Seeking FIRE wants to know how she can talk about financial independence with people who ridicule the topic. What do you say to those who laugh at the very idea?

Russell owns a landscaping company and is also a part-time student. He’d like to earn more money on the side, but his schedule is overbooked. What can he do?

Nick and his family are moving to the Washington D.C. area for approximately two to six years. They own two rental properties free-and-clear, and would like to buy a personal residence when they move. How should he save for the downpayment?

Gerardo lives in Mexico and wants to retire on his investment portfolio, using the 4 percent withdrawal rule. How should he invest, given currency fluctuations and other international factors?

Anonymous left her job and wants to know if she should roll over her 401k from her old employer.

We tackle these five questions in today’s episode. We also answer a comment from a listener who says that individual stock-picking and active management doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Apr 01, 2019
The Alter Ego Effect, with Todd Herman

#184: In 2003, Beyonce Knowles-Carter felt shy about performing sultry lyrics and dance routines on stage. She needed a tactic to overcome her nerves and stage fright. So she created an alter ego, Sasha Fierce, to bring out her more assertive side.

Beyonce is one of many top performers -- along with other top artists, athletes, executives, speakers, investors, bankers, lawyers, negotiators, and more -- who use alter egos as a tactic to overcome their insecurities and become better versions of themselves.

Today's podcast guest, Todd Herman, is an expert at the practice of creating alter egos to improve your performance in any arena of life. He says that crafting an alter ego can help you become a better worker, leader, manager, investor, and even a better parent.

Todd joins us on today's podcast to describe the "why" and "how" of creating an alter ego at work, at home, and in social settings.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 25, 2019
Ask Paula: Should I Sell My Rental Property to Pay Off My Student Loans?

#183: Should a newlywed couple with two cash flowing rental properties sell one to pay off $92,000 of student loan debt?

What percentage of your portfolio should you have in rental properties?

What's the smartest way to approach rental property investing, particularly if you get anxiety thinking about tenant requests?

How much should high interest rates impact your decision to buy a rental?

I answer these four questions on today's episode, plus, I have a big announcement regarding the future of real estate Ask Paula episodes, so check it out. :)


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 18, 2019
Thirteen Dumb Mistakes Smart People Make with Their Money - with CBS News analyst Jill Schlesinger

#182: Millions of smart, educated and successful people make dumb mistakes with their money ... and they don't realize it.

I'm not talking about obvious dumb mistakes, like spending 85 percent of your income on a fleet of Ultra-Luxe-Fancymobiles for your 16-car garage. That's clearly a bad idea.

Instead, I'm talking about hidden dumb mistakes that you may not realize until it's too late.

Perhaps you don't have enough insurance, or you hold the wrong types of policies for your age and life situation.

Maybe you don't have an estate plan, or you haven't updated your estate plan after your childbirth or divorce or remarriage.

What if you're taking financial advice from the wrong people, or buying products that you don't understand? Are you rushing to buy a home too soon? Did you take out too much debt for college?

Today's podcast guest, Emmy-nominated CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger, describes 13 dumb mistakes that smart people make with their money.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 11, 2019
Ask Paula: How Should I Plan a Mini-Retirement?

#181: Imagine that you’re going to take a 6-month to 9-month mini-retirement. How should you plan? What should you do? Sure, you’ll need to have enough savings to cover your expenses. You might want to find some part-time work. You may need to sell off a few investment. And of course, you’ll need to think about health insurance.

But what else should you consider? And how will your first taste of voluntary unemployment impact your mental and emotional health?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I discuss this in today’s podcast episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 04, 2019
The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, with Elaine Pofeldt

#180: Nearly two decades ago, Stacy Berman, a personal trainer, launched a fitness bootcamp in New York City. She called it Stacy’s Bootcamp.

She invited her clients to join her for 5:30 am outdoor workout classes in Central Park. At first, only three or four people showed up. Then the group grew to 10 people. Then 20 people. Then demand grew beyond a capacity she could reasonably accommodate.

She hired personal trainers as independent contractors who led additional classes. She limited class size to 20 people who paid $30 to $37 per class, depending on the package they purchased.

Her business expanded to Manhattan’s Battery Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. After six years, Stacy’s Bootcamp grossed more than $1 million. The company had zero employees; the other teachers were contractors.

Stacy is one of the many entrepreneurs profiled by Elaine Pofeldt, author of the book The Million Dollar, One Person Business. In today's episode, we talk about solopreneurs who make a million without any employees.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Mar 01, 2019
Ask Paula: We Want to Start Househacking in a Duplex. Should We?

#179: Should a couple in New Orleans sell their single-family home and use the sale proceeds to househack into a duplex?

What do you think about turnkey investments?

What tax consequences will someone face if they transfer their property to their parents?

How do you handle tough situations related to the way some home renovation contractors treat women?

What’s the latest update on your real estate course?

I answer these five questions on today’s podcast.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 25, 2019
How to Make Work Optional, with Tanja Hester

#178: Tanja Hester retired at age 38.

She had a negative net worth until her late 20's, thanks to a combination of student loans, buying expensive cocktails and clothes, living far beyond her means, and not paying attention to her money. If you were to have met the 27-year-old version of Tanja, you wouldn't guess that she'd be a likely candidate for retiring early.

Yet a decade later, she's saved 40x of her annual cost of living.

How? Tanja worked as a political consultant in Los Angeles, and during her career, ascended to important high-ranking roles. Every promotion came with more grueling hours, accompanied by a raise.

Tanja maintained her same standard of living, banking every raise. This simple strategy allowed her to rapidly grow her net worth.

She didn't obsess about penny-pinching. She didn't clip 50 cent coupons for shampoo and soap. Instead, she focused her efforts on getting that next promotion, that next raise, and when it arrived, she saved and invested every additional cent.

Today, at age 39, Tanja has published her first book, Work Optional, about saving enough to retire and live a lifestyle in which paid work is an option rather than a necessity.

She joins us on this week's podcast to talk about the lessons she outlines in Work Optional.

Here are 5 takeaways from this conversation.

#1: We're taught that "you are what you contribute to the economy." Most of us learn, either explicitly or implicitly, that our self-worth is directly correlated with our economic efforts. This is an idea that we need to unpack and process as we face retirement, a mini-retirement, or any career transition.

#2: Research shows that we perceive all change as loss, even if the change is positive. Retirement is a loss of identity. It's one of the most stressful and anxiety-producing life events.

#3: Retirement and wealth will not create happiness. Money won't magically fix your life, health, relationships, outlook, or anything else. It's a tool that can help, but it's not a silver bullet.

#4: A morning routine is grounding. It's an effective way to start your day feeling centered and calm. I'd recommend this for everyone, regardless of whether you're retired or not.

#5: The easiest way to save is to keep living at the same level you're currently at, while earning more.

Enjoy the podcast episode!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 18, 2019
Ask Paula: Should I Buy a House or Catch Up on Retirement Savings?

#177: Imagine that your job is extremely well-paying, but you don’t enjoy it.

You’d like to switch employers, even though this will probably require a paycut. But before you make the switch, you want to accomplish two goals: buy a home and catch up on retirement savings.

Should you pursue both goals? Or should you defer the home purchase, given the potential future paycut?

If you decide to pursue both goals, which one should come first?

This is one of the five questions that former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer in this week’s podcast episode.

We also answer a question from a listener who’s self-employed and wants to contribute more to his retirement accounts. We talk to another listener who’s living on $600 monthly paychecks while maxing out his Mega Backdoor Roth contributions.

We talk to a 22-year-old with an $80,000 salary who’s debating between paying off her student loans vs. investing. And we answer a question from a listener who’s wondering what she should do with 401k accounts from previous employers.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 11, 2019
Digital Minimalism - with Dr. Cal Newport

#176: Cal Newport created a philosophy called digital minimalism, which is idea of reducing your digital life down to only the most important core essentials. Remove the apps from your phone, then slowly re-introduce only the ones that are the most useful and beneficial. Take control of your smartphone, rather than letting it control you.  

Digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use. This philosophy pulls from the concepts of minimalism, essentialism, the slow movement, and the 80/20 principle, applying these ideas towards your digital life.

Cal discusses the digital minimalist philosophy on today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 04, 2019
Three Percent is the New Four Percent - with Larry Swedroe, Retirement Planning Expert

#175: Larry Swedroe is one of the most respected investment thinkers and writers of our time.

He's published 8 books on investing, including one of the first books to explain the science of investing to a layperson audience. He recently wrote an ultra-comprehensive guide to retirement planning.

He joins us on the show today to discuss the nuances of investing and retirement planning. We talk about the stock market (is it going to fall soon? Are we heading for a recession?), we talk about risk (including three dimensions of risk that all investors should consider), and we talk about what traditional retirees vs. early retirees should know.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Feb 01, 2019
Ask Paula: I'm 48 and Retiring Next Year. Should I Buy More Rentals?

#174: Should a 48-year-old New Yorker who’s retiring next year buy more rental properties? Should a Michigan-based first-time homebuyer use an FHA loan to buy a duplex for $135,000 that rents for $1,800 per month? Should a 40-year-old music professor who owns a duplex transfer his property into an LLC? Should a New Jersey condo owner sell her unit as For Sale by Owner? And should a woman who’s anxious about owning her own rental properties dive into real estate crowdfunding deals instead? I answer these five rental property questions in today’s podcast episode. For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 28, 2019
When a Child of Financial Chaos Stumbles into Adulthood - with Paulette Perhach

#173: Paulette Perhach is a journalist who has been published in The New York Times, Slate, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.

But we’re not going to talk about that today. We’re going to talk about the fact that she’s made every decision by putting her life first, and then forcing her career to follow.

She’s hiked through jungles and watched eclipses and volunteered with the Peace Corps. She’s been on crazy adventures in far-flung places. She endured unimaginable pain and it’s because of those challenges -- not despite them, but because of them -- that she knows her one precious, wild life is too short to spend in a cubicle.

Many people who pursue financial independence are looking for a fully-funded lifestyle change. But Paulette made an unfunded change. She lives her life, and then figures out how the money follows.

What can we learn from her resourcefulness? Find out in this episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 21, 2019
Ask Paula: Should I Buy a Nice Car or Save My Money?

#172: Should a 25-year-old homeowner with healthy savings and no debt (other than his mortgage) upgrade his car? Should he make this choice if his current car is fine, and upgrading puts him into new debt?

Should a couple without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan put their savings into a taxable account, or should they save for a downpayment on a rental property?

The market is fluctuating like mad; if someone has a lump-sum of cash, should they invest it now or should they slowly meter it in?

Should someone without an emergency fund enroll in an HSA-qualified health insurance plan? Or should they stick with a plan that has a smaller deductible?

How should a husband-and-wife team that’s self-employed and running a company together handle their health insurance?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these five questions on today’s podcast. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 14, 2019
The biggest study of everyday millionaires in 25 years - with Chris Hogan

#171: Chris Hogan surveyed 10,000 millionaires in the United States. Here's what he discovered:

- 89 percent of millionaires have a net worth between $1 million to $5 million dollars

- 62 percent graduated from public state schools

- 9 percent didn't graduate from college

- Close to 50 percent had a B average or less in school

- 55 percent give to charities and churches on a regular, monthly basis

- 73 percent never had a penny of credit card debt

- 18 percent are self-employed

- 62 percent earned a household income of less than $100,000 annually

- 80 percent exercise at least three times a week.

On average, their homes are 2,600 square feet, and they've lived there for an average of 17 years. Two-thirds have a paid-off mortgage. They paid off their home on average in 11 years.

Their net worth breaks down as one-third their home, and two-thirds their investments. They became millionaires at the average age of 49.

They spend, on average, $35 on a pair of jeans.


What can we learn from these everyday millionaires? Find out in today's episode! For more, visit 

Jan 07, 2019
Ask Paula - When Should I NOT Use the One Percent Rule for a Rental Property?

#170: When should you NOT use the one percent rule for rental property investing? In today’s episode, I encourage two callers to violate the One Percent Rule for real estate that they already own.

WHAAATTTT? Why would I say that? Especially given that I’ve gained a bit of a reputation as The World’s Most Staunch Advocate of the One Percent Rule? (Long title, I know, but someone’s gotta wear it.)

And if you’re not going to use the One Percent Rule, how should you make decisions about your real estate investments instead?

Find out in this podcast episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Jan 04, 2019
One Tweak a Week in 2019 -- Easy Improvements to Your Financial Life in 2019

#169: Happy New Years! To kickoff 2019, we've created a free book called One Tweak a Week, outlining 26 easy, actionable ways that you can improve your financial life.

Today's podcast episode covers these 26 tweaks, so you can listen in audio format, in addition to reading the book.

If you put these into action for the first six months of 2019, you'll be in a more stronger position in June than you started in January.

Each tweak takes less than one hour (some are as quick as five minutes), and taken together, these tweaks can accumulate into a serious impact.

Improve your money management and get closer to financial independence with our free book, One Tweak a Week. You can download it here: 

Dec 31, 2018
How to Optimize Your Time and Energy -- with Mike Vardy, The Productivityist

#168: You can do anything, but not everything ... and definitely not everything at the same time.

How can you optimize your time and energy? How do you choose what's worthwhile and what's a waste of time?

How can you eliminate small decisions so that your mind is free to focus on the few choices that make a massive 10x impact?

How can you spend less time struggling with your Inbox, and more time on long-term projects that can boost your income?

When inspiration strikes or new opportunities present themselves, how can you decide whether or not this new project is worth your time?

What's the difference between being efficient vs. being effective?

How can you eliminate distractions? Can you train yourself to pay attention to important tasks, rather than getting distracted by Facebook, email, television and other time-wasters? When is it okay to relax?

And what are the keys to a great morning routine?

In today's episode, productivity expert Mike Vardy describes his answers to these questions.

Here are five of the nine takeaways from today's episode:

1) Eliminate decisions. Don't waste your time and energy deciding what to work on; create a system that makes this decision for you in advance, and review that system periodically. Your decisions, therefore, are focused on the system, not the daily tasks inside of it.

2) Create boundaries, so that you know your limits, and also don't be afraid to break them. Boundaries are a guidepost, not a strict law.

3) Rather than setting New Years Resolutions, choose three words that will be the "theme" of your year. These words will be the values that guide your decisions throughout the year, helping you identify what projects to undertake and which ones to defer or decline.

4) Time-management tactics are really meant to be a compass. The purpose of "productivity hacks" is not tactical task-management; it's strategic decision-making.

5) Productivity is not about getting things done. It's about aligning your attention with your intentions.


For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 24, 2018
Ask Paula: Should I Pay Off Student Loans While in School?

#167: Angelisa is a college senior with $30,000 in student loans. She has a part-time job, from which she’s saved $2,500. Should she keep saving money, or should she get a headstart on paying down her student loans while she’s in school?

Mackenzie is also a college senior with some student loans. She recently received a settlement from a car accident. Should she invest this money? If so, how?

Franchesca is 35 and is carrying $212,000 in debt, mostly student loans. Could she reach financial independence, even with a late start?

Erica wants to make environmentally-friendly investments. How should she approach this?

Caroline is 42 and has started making after-tax (non-Roth) 401k contributions. Is this a good idea?

Schaffer is curious about podcasting. How did I get started?

I answer these six questions on today’s podcast episode, alongside former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 17, 2018
Everything I Learned About Money Came from My Grandmother - with Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post

#166: Michelle Singletary learned everything she knows about money from her grandmother.

Well, okay, I shouldn't say "everything" that she knows. After all, Michelle also has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She writes about personal finance for the Washington Post. Her nationally-syndicated personal finance column, The Color of Money, is published in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. She's written three financial books.  

Oh, and guess what? Her column was nominated for a Pulitzer. 

Michelle has been learning, thinking, writing, researching and speaking about money management for decades. Yet the most important education she received, she says, came from the lessons her grandmother taught her. 

Today, Michelle joins us on the Afford Anything podcast to talk about what she learned about financial independence, and her views on the FIRE movement.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 10, 2018
Ask Paula - Should I Invest in Index Funds or Rental Properties?

#165: Should Kim, an entrepreneur, invest in index funds or rental properties?

Should Nick, an MBA student, househack into a more-expensive home with stronger cash flow, or a cheaper home with more budgetary wiggle room?

Should Kelly, who is getting married soon, sell her current home and use the proceeds to buy multiple rentals? Or should she use her current home as a rental property?

Should Trayci and her sister invest in rental properties or bare land?

I answer these four questions in today’s episode.

We’re a weekly show, but on the first Friday of the month, we air a bonus episode. This is our December 2018 First Friday Bonus Episode.


More resources and be found at 

Dec 07, 2018
How and Why I Took a Mini-Retirement, with Bob Lotich

#164: As an entrepreneur, Bob Lotich loves growing and expanding. But after a particularly stressful year, he realized he had burned out.

He woke up one Monday morning and, for the first time since he’d started self-employment, he realized he didn’t want to go to work. This was a new and uncomfortable feeling.

He decided to take a mini-retirement.

He had taken long breaks before. In the past, Bob had taken a full month off of work. This time, he wanted to a more ambitious break. He wanted to take a quarter off.

He went to his whiteboard. He wrote the goal “take a sabbatical,” intending for this to last for three months. But then he paused. He wondered if he spelled the word “sabbatical” correctly.

He Googled the word, then started reading about the concept. Bob learned that a sabbatical is historically a one-year break. Hmmm.

That’s when he changed direction.

Bob Lotich shares the reasons he decided to take a full year off work.

For more information, visit the show notes at 

Dec 03, 2018
Ask Paula - The Future of Index Fund Investing

#163: Does my employer match count against my 401k contribution limits?

Should I invest in a Traditional or Roth TSP?

Should I invest more aggressively in stocks right now, or should I hold cash and bonds until the next downturn?

Should I get a mortgage or keep renting until I can buy a home in cash?

Do you think index investing will dramatically change in the coming decades?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these four questions in today’s episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 26, 2018
AI and The Future of Jobs - with author Darrell West

#162: How will artificial intelligence, AI, impact jobs? Former Harvard president and leading economist Larry Summers predicts that one-third of men will be out of work by 2050. Finance guru Suze Orman says not to be surprised if we see 25 percent unemployment by 2030. And major research institutions predict anywhere from 14 percent to 50 percent unemployment.

But could this really be possible? Or is everyone panicking about what will essentially be a shift in the types of jobs that people hold — reminiscent of our shift from farm to factory, and from factory to office — but not an actual net job loss?

To answer these questions, we talk to Darrell West, author of The Future of Work, about artificial intelligence, robots, and the future of jobs.


For more information, visit the full show notes at 

Nov 19, 2018
Ask Paula - How Can I Get My Friends Interested in FIRE?

#161: Matt is interested in achieving financial independence, and he wants to encourage his friends to pursue the same goal. What podcast episodes provide a light, digestible introduction to the world of financial independence and retiring early?

Daniel wonders why everyone pursuing financial independence seems to have a blog or podcast about this topic. Is the purpose of FIRE to sit around writing and talking about how you’re FIRE? If so, then what’s the point?

Tom is an entrepreneur with an LLC in California. Should he buy a rental property through that LLC?

Anonymous from California wants to know how I decide whether to use a property manager vs. self-manage my rental properties. She also wants to know how to estimate the cost of repairs and maintenance. And how should the tax benefits of rental properties play a role in choosing a property?

Brett owns a rental property in Las Vegas, which used to be his primary residence. He’s getting a strong cap rate but a marginal return on equity. Should he hold the property in the hopes that it will rise in value? Or should he sell the property?

Anonymous is an Indian citizen who lives in California on an H1-B visa. There’s a chance that his visa won’t be renewed, which means he’ll need to move back to India. What should he do with his rental properties? Can he manage his properties from another country? If so, should he purchase more?

I answer these six questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Nov 12, 2018
The Paradox of FI -- with Jonathan Mendonsa and Brad Barrett of Choose FI

#160: When Jonathan Mendonsa was 18, he researched which college degrees lead to the highest income.

Pharmacy was near the top of the list of high-paying degrees, so Jonathan decided to become a pharmacist. He wasn't motivated by passion or calling. His decision was purely tactical. He wanted to make money.

He spent four years in college, followed by another four years of graduate school. By age 28, he held a Doctorate in Pharmacy and an astounding $168,000 in debt.

This debt burden might have been bearable if Jonathan loved his chosen profession. For people who love their fields, tuition is the price of being able to enjoy a lifetime of work they love.

Unfortunately, that wasn't Jonathan's story. He never held a passion for pharmacy; he viewed it purely as a means to an end. Perhaps it wasn't surprising, then, that shortly after becoming a pharmacist, he realized that this wasn't what he wanted to do with his life.

He wanted to change careers. He wanted to pursue more meaningful, fun, interesting work.

He spent the next four years repaying his student debt. And finally, at age 32, he brought his net worth up to zero.


Brad Barrett wasn't thinking about income when he chose his profession.

He had received acceptance letters to some Ivy League schools, but he wanted to graduate from college debt-free, so he enrolled at the University of Richmond, which gave him a partial scholarship.

While studying there, Brad encountered an accounting professor who challenged him and his classmates in the best possible ways.  Brad felt inspired to major in accounting.

His decision didn't come from a rigorous analysis of lifetime income potential. He wasn't scrutinizing labor statistics spreadsheets. He was simply following a route that he found fascinating.

After he received his undergraduate degree, Brad decided not to enroll in any further education. Instead, he started working for one of the Big Five accounting firms, with a starting salary in the low $40,000's.

He and his future wife both lived at home with their parents for the first few years of their professional life, which allowed each of them to save dramatic amounts. Brad saved more than 90 percent of his after-tax income. 

Perhaps it's not surprising that the couple, who now have two children, are financially independent.


Both Jonathan and Brad are college-educated professionals in their thirties. They both live in Richmond, Virginia. They're both married with children (Jonathan has a son; Brad has two daughters).

Yet their stories could not be more different.

What can we learn about careers, work, income, spending, and financial independence from their life experiences?

Find out in today's podcast interview with Jonathan and Brad, the co-hosts of the ChooseFI podcast.

Nov 05, 2018
Ask Paula - I Have Three Kids and I'm Hoping for Financial Independence

#159: Should a 36-year-old father of three invest primarily in Traditional or Roth retirement accounts? Should Rose, a grandmother of four, open a Vanguard account for each of her grandchildren?

Should Nancy, who lives overseas and is the sole breadwinner in her family, invest in a Traditional or Roth TSP? Should Scott’s wife rollover her 403(b) from her former employer into an IRA? Should Patrick, age 35, cancel his life insurance plan?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer these five questions in today’s episode.

Our first caller is Mr. “Three Kids and Still Hoping for FI,” who asks:
As a young man I saved heavily into my traditional 401(k), less because of good long-term planning and more because that’s my natural way.

Last year learned about the FI movement, and I’m hoping to reach FI.

However, I’m 36 and married with 3 young kids, and I’m battling my expenses to regain the deep saving rates of my youth. While I have a healthy traditional 401(k) which has been my main investment for a decade, my work also offers the dual option of a Roth 401(k). I’ve saved about 5 percent of my worth there.

I’ve worked hard to widen the gap by raising my income, and with my salary now scraping against the eligibility ceiling for Roth IRA investments, I’m unsure of how to move forward.

Some people think that because I’m eligible to hold both a Roth 401(k) and a Roth IRA, I should open a Roth IRA and pump all my savings dollars after-tax into both, especially since any future raise or promotion would likely make me ineligible.

Others think that because my tax rate has been rising with my salary, I should be pushing my dollars into the traditional 401(k) because I will likely be in a lower tax bracket in retirement.

I would rather eat a live cockroach than pass up my company match or my maxed-out family HSA. But because of the expenses of three kids, I don’t yet have the savings rate to also be able to max out the $18,500 level.

Should I be trying to grab as many Roth dollars as I can before I can’t contribute anymore? Or should I just pour dollars into my traditional 401(k) and have my Roth conversion ladder and/or SEPP-72(t) ready?

I can afford any investment, but I can’t afford every investment. Which one should I choose?

Rose asks:
I have 4 grandchildren, ages 7 months to 6 years, and I’m saving around $30 per month for each grandchild. My intention is to eventually open a Vanguard account where I can leave the money there until they turn 18 years old.

I know some funds have a minimum amount required to start investing. I have about $1,200 for two of the kids. Can you please suggest the best fund I can start with?

Can you also suggest options for birthday gifts? I like giving money, and the kids don’t need anything materialistic. Stocks, perhaps? One stock at a time? Government bonds? I’d like it to be something I can give to them inside a card instead of cash.

Nancy asks:
I’m calling to get some information about the benefits of a Roth versus a regular TSP.

I’m 33 years old, married, and have an 8-month old. I work for the Federal government and we have a TSP. We’re living abroad and my spouse isn’t working. I’d like to retire within the next 20 years.

We’re conflicted about whether we should invest most of our money into a Roth or not. We keep getting conflicting information about whether we should take the tax deferment now, or whether we should pay the taxes now and not worry about it when we retire.

We don’t have much debt, and we have international properties as well as two properties in the Washington DC area. We’d like to know how best to manage the tax issue.

Scott asks:
My wife recently left a job at a hospital where she had a 403(b) and a Health System Defined Contribution Plan. What can I do with that money? Can I roll it over into something else?

Second, what do we do with the 403(b)? My first instinct is to roll it over into an IRA, where I have more control, but my wife and I (with our current income) cannot contribute to a Roth IRA so we’re making use of the Backdoor Roth conversion. It’s my understanding that rolling money from a 403(b) into an IRA will affect our ability to execute a Backdoor Roth conversion. Am I understanding that correctly?

Patrick asks:
I’m about 35 years old and recently married. My wife and I have a combined gross income of about $100,000.

I have some concerns about our MassMutual life insurance retirement accounts. I think MassMutual is a good product, but I think we are over-invested.

We’re both putting away a premium of about $500 a month (about $1,000 combined) into our MassMutual. The payout that we’re expected to receive at the end is about $350,000 for me, and about $400,000 for my wife.

I’m concerned that our premiums are too high and we could be using that money in better, more effective places. I tried to reduce my MassMutual payment a few months ago, and the cut in benefit was pretty drastic and not proportionate … it didn’t seem very fair to me. Any advice?


We answer these five questions in today’s podcast episode. Enjoy!

By the way -- TRIVIA TIME!! At roughly the 36-minute mark of today’s episode, Joe and I talk about the late Senator William Roth, the namesake of the Roth IRA and Roth 401k. His birthday is July 22, 1921, which means his half-birthday is January 22. Which means we can celebrate his half-birthday soon!! Tune into the episode to hear our only-half-joking conversation about this. :-)   #AllTheCheesyBiscuits

Nov 02, 2018
What I Love About the FIRE Movement - with Clark Howard

#158: Clark Howard loves the FIRE movement. That's because he's one of us.

Clark began investing in real estate at age 22, started a travel agency at age 25, and retired at age 31.

He sold his travel agency, moved to the beach and relaxed for four years; then he started a second career as the host of The Clark Howard Show, a popular radio show that's syndicated nationwide.

Today, he's a personal finance celebrity. His website receives more than 50 million views per year. He has more than 1.1 million followers on Facebook.

He's the former co-host of Evening Express on CNN Headline News, now called HLN, and he also hosted a weekend show on HLN.

He's published 10 books, many of which became mega-bestsellers. His book Living Large in Lean Times reached the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

Clark is a consumer advocate and personal finance voice who walks the talk. He doesn't accept sponsorships that conflict with his values. He loves frugality and efficiency. Last week, he was traveling in New York on a company expense account, yet he still rode the subway, because he didn't like the idea of wasting money on a taxi ... *even if it wasn't his own money.*

He's a philanthropist who leads with a service-first framework. During Hurricane Katrina, he volunteered with a team that handled medical evacuations. After September 11th, he joined the Georgia State Defense Force, which is an unpaid, unarmed volunteer component of the state Department of Defense.
He sponsored the construction of 74 houses through Habitat for Humanity. He's provided toys for more than 150,000 foster children at Christmas.

He's a multimillionaire and he flies in coach.

When the now-infamous Suze Orman episode came out, Clark immediately issued a response on his own syndicated radio show. He came out in strong support of the FIRE movement. He said that he couldn't imagine how anyone could criticize the notion of saving half of your income.

When I heard his remarks, I invited him on this show to elaborate. What does he think about the FIRE movement? Why does he like it? How would he respond to the objections?

Here are four takeaways from our conversation.

#1: We are social creatures. Our idea of a "normal" savings rate, as compared to an "extreme" savings rate, is a cultural construct.

Many Asian cultures encourage and normalize a higher savings rate. The household savings rate in China, Singapore and India is significantly higher than the savings rate in the U.S.

This is why it's important to fuel the FIRE subculture. By surrounding yourself with voices that normalize a high savings rate, enthusiasm for investing, and a frugal lifestyle, you can encourage yourself to save more.

#2: A bull market is irrelevant if you're not saving and investing.

Sure, we've experienced an incredible bull market run in the past nine years. Guess who benefitted from this? The people who lived on less than what they earned and invested their savings.

If you have investments, you can benefit from a bull market. If you don't, then the best markets in the world won't have any effect on your net worth. That's why saving and investing is the cornerstone to growth.

It's easy to dismiss your own accomplishments by saying, "Well, I got lucky because the markets were good."

That's like playing soccer, scoring the game-winning goal, and saying, "Well, I got lucky because my teammate passed me the ball at the right moment, when I was positioned to kick the ball into the net."

Sure, there may be luck on the field. But you would never experience this if you didn't train, practice, and play the game.

#3: Retire early AND often. Don't get so caught up in the goal that you miss the journey.

If you're not financially independent yet, don't let this stop you from enjoying life. Take a vacation with your family, or enroll in a wine tasting class, or fly across the country to spend Thanksgiving with awesome people whom you love. Don't defer your happiness and experiences to a later date.

All the compound interest in the world can't bring back this era of your life. Enjoy your life, no matter what your financial situation. The most sustainable financial plans are balanced.

#4: Don't allow your fear of black swan events to convince you to revert to the status quo. Yes, catastrophes happen, but the normalized American pattern of going into consumer debt, saving less than 5 percent of your income and woefully underpreparing for a traditional retirement is not the solution to the possibility of a future calamity.

If you reach financial independence, you'll be in a stronger position to handle most major disasters that come your way. If you're a few paychecks away from disaster, you'll be in a much more financially precarious position.

Listen to this interview for more insights from Clark Howard. Enjoy!

Oct 29, 2018
Ask Paula - Can You Force a Rental Property to Cash Flow?

#157: We're back with another Ask Paula - Real Estate Edition of the show!

In this episode, we cover down payments, cash flow, investing in condo hotels, building a rental on the side of your own house, selling your properties, and whether it's better to buy actual properties or REITs.

Erin asks:
Would you ever put 30% down (or more) in order to make a rental property cash flow positive?

Avy asks:
In 4-5 years, I'd like to have a rental property for diversification and passive income. Is it better to stick with the plan to buy rentals, or should I go into REITs?

Additionally, if I want to invest in rentals, where should I look?

Rod asks:
Could you tell me if investing in condo hotels as a rental property is a good idea? I'm 10 years away from retirement, and I was thinking of buying one in Las Vegas, since I plan to move there when I retire.

Being a traditional landlord doesn't appeal to me - I don't want to deal with the hassle of bad tenants or repairs when I'm retired. I'm hoping a condo hotel might be a way for me to get income from a rental property without all the hassle. What are the pros and cons I should consider?

Tom asks:
I want to build a small two-bedroom house on the side of my personal residence (located in Texas) to use as a rental. What advice can you offer to help me execute this plan?

Sandra asks:
I live in California, and 5 years ago I purchased 3 properties free-and-clear in Memphis, TN. While they’ve been working great for me, I think they have much more potential, but I’m no longer interested in managing them, or my property managers. It’s too much for me as I changed careers; I’m now going in a much different direction. All I want is to cash out and invest that money into my new business, as that’s more fulfilling to me.

I know to sell them cash is the first choice but investors are in the game of low-balling - way too low. Selling retail is an option, but it’ll take longer, and I don’t know if the market is in my favor. Seller financing drags things out, and lease options are not great for me, so I’m interested in your feedback.

Oct 22, 2018
How to Build Incredible Habits - with James Clear

#156: James Clear wanted to start flossing, but he never managed to follow through. Despite his best intentions, his dental floss sat unused in a bathroom drawer.

Fortunately, James had learned a thing or two about human behavior and habit formation. As a self-improvement writer, he'd spent hours pouring over scientific data about behavior changes. He decided to apply a few of these concepts to his own quest.

First, he placed the floss on the bathroom counter, rather than tucking it inside a drawer. He made the floss visible.

Second, he realized he didn't enjoy the tactile sensation of wrapping floss around his fingers, so he replaced it with floss picks. He made the floss more enjoyable.

Finally, he decided to floss immediately after brushing his teeth. He used a technique called "habit stacking," in which a new habit is more likely to stick if it's tied, or triggered, by an existing habit like toothbrushing.

Thanks to these techniques, James built a flossing habit. He shares these tactics and more in today's podcast episode.

James Clear is one of the most well-respected and widely-known thinkers and writers in the world of habit formation and behavior change.

His website,, gets more than one million visitors every month.

In this week's episode, we deep-dive into how to create impressive habits and how to break the terrible habits that hold you back

If you'd like to start new habits like exercising, saving more, investing, meditating, journaling, practicing yoga or flossing, but despite your best intentions you can't seem to make the habit stick, then this week's podcast episode is for you.

Oct 15, 2018
Ask Paula - How Can I Send My 4 Children to College?

#155: How can a schoolteacher dad and stay-at-home mom send their four kids to college? Where should a 23-year-old keep the savings that she’s accumulating to buy a home by the time she’s 27 or 28? What should we know about retirement planning if we have a pension? And should I rollover my 401k from my old employer?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these four questions in this week’s episode. Here are the details.

Miguel asks:
When I hear friends and coworkers talking about college tuition for their kids, all I can think about is how in the world am I going to send my four kids to college? I think I have a plan - I’d love to hear your opinion.

From what I hear, college can be between $20-50k per year.

I currently own two houses - one is a rental and one is our personal residence. We’re working on paying those mortgages down in about 7 years. I want my kids to get their basic courses from a community college to save some money, but for the rest I really think that taking a loan will be the best option. Usually these loans don’t have to be paid until they graduate, so I feel like that will give me some more time to become more financially stable.

If I get to pay those mortgages in the time that I’m thinking, I’d like to buy a couple more rentals. I’m currently halfway to max out my contribution for my 403(b) plan. I’m a teacher, I’m making about 91k per year and my wife stays home. I would love to hear your opinion on my plan. I feel like if I had that kind of cash - $20-$50k a year - I would rather invest it and help my kids down the road.

Anna asks:
I am 23 and I’m saving to buy a primary residence in 4-5 years. In the meantime, I’m wondering where to invest my money so that it will grow but won’t be too susceptible to market fluctuations since I’ll be needing the cash relatively quickly.

Andy asks:
You’ve written before that if we contribute 10% of our salary towards retirement and our employer matches 5% automatically, we are saving 15% for our retirement.

My question is, does the same principle apply to pensions? For instance, if I’m contributing 5% of my salary towards my pension and my employer is contributing 9 to 10%, making it around a 15% contribution overall, should that then count as a 15% retirement savings?

Drew asks:
I have a question about a 401(k) rollover. I recently switched employers and so far I’m very happy with the transition. With my new compensation, I’m now able to more than double my 401(k) contributions, and I’m on track to max out my new HSA while still maintaining the same take-home pay from my old job.

My old employer had a 401(k) through Merrill Lynch and I was able to do a mix of contributions to both Roth and Traditional. My new 401(k) through Charles Schwab has this option. According to the documentation I’ve received from Merrill Lynch, I have four options at my disposal:

1. Keep assets where they are
2. Roll them into some kind of IRA
3. Transfer them into a new 401(k)
4. Take a cash distribution

With this in mind, here are my questions:

• Aside from the four options presented to me, are there any other options I should consider?
• Are there any time constraints I should consider for this kind of roll over?
• What would you recommend I do with these funds? I’ve heard you repeatedly mention the benefit of having all of my assets under one dashboard, so I am leaning towards transferring the assets into my new 401(k). I currently do not have an IRA, and I’ve been meaning to get one set up for a while. This seems like a great opportunity to get one up and running as an alternative strategy. 


Oct 08, 2018
Suze Orman Says $2 Million is Nothing; You Need $10 Million to Retire Early. Internet Explodes

#154: Want to retire early? You'll need at least $5 million, more likely $10 million, says famous financial personality Suze Orman.

I should know. She said that to me, directly, on my podcast.

I asked Suze for her opinion about a frugal, flexible person who wants to retire early with a $2 million portfolio. She warned that retiring would be a massive mistake.

"Two million dollars is nothing," Suze said. "It's nothing. It's pennies in today's world, to tell you the truth."

Wait, what?

"Listen," she said. "If you have $20 [million], $40 [million], $50 [million] or $100 million dollars, be like me, okay. If you have that kind of money ... and you want to retire, fine."

"But if you only have a few hundred thousand dollars, or a million, or $2 million, I'm here to tell you ... if a catastrophe happens ... what are you going to do? You are going to burn up alive."

But what's wrong with retiring early on $2 million? Assuming it's invested 50/50 in equities and bonds and harvested at a 4 percent withdrawal rate, a portfolio of $2 million could create annual investment income of $80,000. Surely that's enough, right? *Riiiight?*

Nope. Suze says that's not enough.

"I think that in the long run, $80,000, especially after taxes and as you get older, is not going to be enough. You may think it's going to be enough, but it's just not," she told me on the Afford Anything podcast.

"You can do it if you want to. I personally think it is the biggest mistake, financially speaking, you will ever, ever make in your lifetime."

I asked her if a $3 million portfolio at a more conservative 3 percent withdrawal rate would be okay for an early retirement. She said no.

"Think about it logically," she said. Supporting a disabled family member who needs full-time care could cost $250,000 per year, she said. Ordinary cost-of-living would cost another $100,000 per year. This means you'll need $350,000 per year after taxes to cover your costs, which is $500,000 per year before taxes, which at a 5 percent withdrawal rate means that you'd need a portfolio of $10 million.

If you don't have at least $5 million or $10 million, don't retire early, Suze said.

"Here's what the FIRE people, you are not thinking about, so I'm going to give it to you straight here now," she said.

She described the possibility of getting sideswiped by massive taxes and catastrophic emergencies. What if your home gets destroyed by an earthquake or flood and insurance denies your claim? What if you're in a tragic car accident and you need full-time care? What if the U.S. experiences 25 percent unemployment, which means you won't be able to find another job if you wanted one? What if your investment income gets consumed by massive future tax hikes?

"When you get older things happen," Suze said. "You're hit by a car, you fall down on the ice, you get sick, you get cancer. Things happen."

"Alright, you can do it if you want to," she said. "I'm just telling you, you will get burned if you play with fire."

For more, visit the show notes at

Oct 05, 2018
Why I Hate the FIRE Movement, says Suze Orman

#153: A few weeks ago, Suze Orman's team reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in chatting with Suze on my podcast.

"Um, duh," I replied.

Sure Orman is one of the most famous voices in the world of personal finance. From 2002 to 2015, she hosted The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. She's the author of 10 mega-bestselling books, she wrote a financial column for O, The Oprah Magazine, and she's made multiple appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I turned to Twitter and Facebook and asked this community, "What would you like me to ask Suze?"

One question stood out far ahead of all others in popularity: What does Suze Orman think about the FIRE movement?

I opened with that question. And Suze's response shocked me.

"I hate it," she replied. "I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And let me tell you why."

That's a direct quote. (Really.)

She spent the next 30 minutes explaining why she thinks pursuing FIRE could be the biggest mistake of a person's life.

Well, then.

Why does Suze Orman hate the FIRE movement?

Find out in today's episode, and join the discussion and help spread the FIRE by sharing your thoughts on today's episode in the show notes, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

Oct 01, 2018
How to Make Better Decisions -- with Dr. Brian Portnoy

#152: Dr. Brian Portnoy is an expert in making decisions.

He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, he's a Chartered Financial Analyst, and he's the Director of Investment Education at Virtus Investment Partners.

Dr. Portnoy joins me on the podcast to discuss how to make smarter decisions -- not only about investments, but also generally in life. How do we sharpen our decision-making skills? How do we improve our critical thinking processes?

Here are some of the takeaways from our conversation.

1. Beware of resulting.
Great results can come from poorly-planned decisions. And wise decisions can lead to good results on occasion.

Don't judge a decision based on its results; judge a decision based on the soundness of the thinking process through which you made that choice.

2. Manage your expectations.
Your happiness with an outcome will depend on the gap between your expectations and reality. If you can't control reality (at least, not completely), then manage your expectations. It's the happiness variable that's most under your authority.

3. Don't make hasty evaluations.
When you go to a restaurant, you order a (vegan?) cheeseburger, and based on the taste of that burger, you can immediately evaluate your decision.

You can't do that with investments.

When you make an investment decision, there's a huge time-gap between when you make the choice and when you see the results of that choice. This time-gap may last for decades. And this means that your decisions are tough to evaluate.

Don't judge an investment decision on one-year or two-year results, as tempting as that may be. Judge your decisions based on the soundness of the thinking, not the short-term ramifications.

4. Automate.
It's the best way to save you from yourself.

5. Define risk.
Some people think that "risk" is synonymous with volatility. Others think that "risk" refers to the loss of capital.

Know what "risk" means to you. Personally, I define it as probability x magnitude. Today's guest, Brian, points out that magnitude can happen in a multitude of dimensions and verticals.

6. Diversification, risk management, and behavior.
When in doubt, pay attention to these three factors. In order to better manage your investing choices, manage these qualities. You cannot control broad market outcomes, but you can control your exposure, risk, and choices.

7. You're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Surround yourself with frugal, ambitious, reasonable, wise, intelligent, kind, adventurous people -- and you will become stronger in those qualities.

You are in charge of the community with whom you surround yourself. Even if you can't change your physical neighborhood, you can form an online or digital community of people who support your goals and reflect your philosophy.

8. Keep a decision-making journal.
What gets measured, gets improved. If you want to improve your decision-making skills, keep a journal of the way in which you make decisions, e.g. your thinking process. Then in the future, when you have the benefit of hindsight, you can look back on your decision-making process.

Remember, don't judge your choices based on outcome; judge your choices based on the soundness of the decision-making process itself.

Dr. Portnoy dives into detail about how to make better decisions in today's episode.



For more, visit the website at

Sep 24, 2018
Ask Paula: "I Feel Like I Don't Deserve My Success. What Should I Do?"

#151: We’re back with another “Ask Paula” episode of the show! As usual, my friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy joins me in answering your questions!

Let’s dive right in.

I just graduated from college with a major in Computer Science and minor in graphic design. The whole time - it was rough. I come from a family that didn’t have a lot to give me going into this journey of getting a college degree. So I did it basically on my own - they gave me things here and there - but college is expensive. I wound up getting scholarships and taking on student loans to get through. It was a lot of hard work. Some days, I wanted to quit. I felt like I was never ever going to see the benefits of what I was doing.

Well, I am now at a point in my life where I was able to secure a job (I started a week after graduation) making $80k a year. Obviously, this is great - this is what you’re supposed to do when you graduate with a Comp Sci degree. But for some reason, I don’t know if it’s guilt or shame, but I feel bad watching my friends and family struggle, while I don’t have those struggles anymore. I find myself asking if I deserve this - to have a nice apartment, to have nice things. Inherently I know I deserve it because I worked so hard, but I don’t know …

My question  is - do you have any advice for me to help me understand what it is I’m feeling? How I can feel better about it?

I’m 45 and my plan is to retire early - not super early - at 57. To keep numbers straight, I’m hoping to have a million dollars in a 401(k) and a million dollars in a taxable account with stocks. My thought was to - at 57 since I won’t have any income - to convert the 401(k) over to an IRA and then start converting that to a Roth at the max, keeping me in the 12% tax bracket, which is roughly $77,000, potentially more, and live off of the stock which will be at 15% tax and that shouldn’t go against my AGI because it’s an asset. Then at 67 I would start taking full retirement Social Security. Hopefully by age 70 I’d have very little to none in the 401(k) and most of that money would be in the Roth. Thoughts? Am I overthinking this?


My goal is FI in about 5 years. After maxing out my 401(k), I make automatic monthly contributions to a robo-advised fund, specifically a Schwab intelligent portfolio. I like that it rebalances and has tax loss harvesting because I’m in a high tax bracket. To me, it feels somewhat safer than putting everything into VTSAX because it’s diversified, but I don’t fully understand all of the different funds that I’m invested in through the robo advisor.

Should I keep putting money into the robo advisor, or should I switch to VTSAX? Does your answer change at all with ongoing economic uncertainty and the benefits of being balanced across stocks and bonds?


I’m 24 and I live in NYC. I just graduated from engineering school and found a full-time position earning $75k/year before taxes. There’s a possibility of overtime so I might be able to make another $5-10k a year.

I have $15k saved in cold hard cash; I have $6k in a Robinhood account which is doing well; and I have $5k in a Wealthfront account. I am planning on maxing out my Roth IRA ($5,500 a year starting now) and I have $2k there already. I also plan on participating in the employer’s contribution for the 401(k) traditional - which is maybe a 4% match.

I don’t know where exactly I should put the money that I’m going to save to get the most out of it (mostly to beat inflation). $75k after taxes is probably around $55k and I plan on saving around 50% of that, or $30k a year for the next 3-5 years.

I live by myself but my expenses are not high. I am very good with budgeting and everything is on track. I just want to get your suggestions/advice on where to put my money or what to do with it starting now. I am going to open an online savings account where I can get at least 2%.

Sep 17, 2018
How I Reached Financial Independence through Real Estate - with Chad Carson

#150: Chad Carson's friends called him a "nerdjock."

When former college football linebacker Chad Carson graduated from Clemson University, he decided to start a business. But he didn't have any money.

He was a 235-pound athlete who attended college on a football scholarship. He graduated debt-free with $1,000 in savings from various odd jobs. He wanted to become an entrepreneur, and he knew he was starting from zero.

As Chad viewed it, starting from zero meant he had nothing to lose.

He started jogging around local neighborhoods near the university. Whenever he noticed a property in disrepair, he'd ask if it was for sale.

If he noticed a 'For Sale by Owner' sign in the yard, for example, he'd dial the number.

If he noticed a home with an overgrown lawn and no curtains in the windows, he'd leave a note on the door, or he'd knock on the neighbor's doors to get the owner's phone number.

By doing this, Chad started a real estate wholesaling business. He'd find off-market properties, enter into a sales contract with the owner, and then 'flip' the contract to an investor. He earned around $5,000 for each deal.

The benefit to a wholesaling business, Chad discovered, is that he could get a foothold inside the real estate industry without much access to capital. He was a recent college graduate without any official employment, so most banks weren't interested in offering him loans. Wholesaling gave him a start in the industry.

But after awhile, he wanted to chase bigger deals. He and a business partner decided to start flipping houses themselves. They earned profits of around $20,000 to $30,000 for each deal.

While this was great, Chad wanted to transition into something that would provide a steady, stable income stream. He was running an active business; he wasn't accumulating a portfolio of passive investments.

He and his business partner stopped flipping homes and began accumulating buy-and-hold rental properties. Today they have 90 units between the two of them.

A few years ago, Chad realized that the passive income from his investments made him financially independent. He and his wife decided to enjoy their newfound freedom by moving to Ecuador with their two children, ages 3 and 5.

They spent 17 months living in Ecuador, learning Spanish and enjoying a slower pace of life. They recently returned to the U.S. and are considering moving to either Spain or Germany -- or maybe Colorado? -- for their next adventure.

In today's episode, Chad and I discuss real estate, financial independence, and international travel with children.


Sep 10, 2018
Tell Me About Something That Scared You - from Camp FI
#149: Welcome to the September 2018 First Friday bonus episode!

We recorded this episode at Camp FI, which stands for Camp Financial Independence. It's a gathering of people who are pursuing financial independence; we spend a few days eating, drinking, and having late-night poolside conversations about money. There are several Camp FI's throughout the year; I recorded this bonus episode 
at the Camp FI at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California in early August. 
I invited several of the people at Camp FI to come to the microphone and share one thing: “Tell me a story about something you did that scared you."
Justin shared a story about getting invited by a corporate sponsor to take part in a mountainous 75-mile cycling ride, despite the fact that he wasn't trained or ready. Tim told the story of the first time he met his future father-in-law, and, to phrase it mildly, the meeting didn't go well. GingerFI shared a story about something she ate while traveling that ... well, I won't give away the ending, but let's just say that it's something she'll never forget. 
Anna described moving from New Zealand to the U.S. to attend school, while Johanna talked about getting laid off from work and deciding to use her newfound joblessness as an opportunity to road trip from Maryland to Los Angeles. Jennifer described the resilience she discovered after surviving a disability, layoff and divorce. Wakefield talked about investing in real estate before he felt ready, and Vickie shared a childhood story of overcoming the intimidation she felt when she wanted to meet someone.   

Listen to hear the stories they shared, and the life lessons they learned along the way.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Sep 07, 2018
Ask Paula - Should I Sell My House and Invest the Equity?

#148: Welcome to a special episode of Ask Paula!

Today I’m answering questions about real estate investing, and I’ve brought a special guest on the show to join me.

His name is Lucas Hall, and he’s a landlord with 5 properties in three locations (D.C., Virginia and Colorado). He’s also the founder of Landlordology and head of investor relations with Cozy. We met about five or six years ago through blogging about rental properties, and I invited him on the show today to answer questions alongside me.

Anonymous asks:

If you have significant equity in a home due to market appreciation, what’s the best way to leverage the value of this equity? Should you sell? Refinance? Something else?

Here’s a quick snapshot of the answer:

You have three options: sell, cash-out refinance, or take out a HELOC.

If you’re unhappy with the property, sell it. There’s no reason to hang onto an undesirable or underperforming property. If you choose to sell, use a 1031 exchange to defer taxes on the capital gains and use the proceeds to purchase another property. Be aware, however, that the rules regarding a 1031 exchange are onerous, and there’s a chance that you might either miss the cutoff or you may be forced into trading one mediocre property for another.

That said, wanting to tap equity is not a sufficient reason to sell.

If you’re happy with the property, keep it and either use a cash-out refi or HELOC to tap the equity. On today’s episode, Lucas and I discuss the pro’s and con’s of both of these strategies, and explain which one is our favorite. (Lucas prefers the HELOC and I prefer the cash-out refi; on the episode you’ll hear each of us explain why.)

Richard from Massachusetts asks:

I’ve been listening to this podcast regularly, and thanks to this podcast I’ve opened a Roth IRA. I’ve saved $54,000 and I’m interested in investing in a Class B or Class C neighborhood in an out-of-state location. How can I find out if a neighborhood is Class B/C without visiting it?

Catherine asks:

I’m 27 and need investing advice. I make $75,000 per year and I have $60,000 in retirement savings. I max out an HSA. I have $12,000 in an emergency fund. I live in Los Angeles and I’d like to invest in real estate, but I don’t want to travel to another state. I’ve been thinking about Roofstock; what are your thoughts?

Anonymous in Atlanta asks:

My wife and I have $500,000 in savings, in addition to our 401k. We keep $130,000 of this in the market. We had an advisor that was charging a 1.6% fee, and we recently fired him. What should we do with the remainder of the cash in our savings accounts? Should we put this in Vanguard funds? I’d also like to get into real estate, but many homes in Atlanta don’t meet the one percent rule. Should we look at foreclosure auctions? Should we look further outside the city? We’re in our early 30’s and would like to retire in around 15 years.

We answer these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!

Sep 03, 2018
How to Believe Your Time is Abundant -- with Laura Vanderkam

#147: Which of the following two attitudes describes you?

"I'm crunched for time." -- or --
"I have all the time in the world."

I'm guessing your answer is the first, rather than the second. But what if you could feel like your time is expansive and abundant, without drastic changes to your schedule?

Most of us want to feel "off the clock," enjoying an existence in which we can linger, without feeling pressure from the demands and stresses on our schedules. According to Laura Vanderkam, even the busiest, most-scheduled people can achieve this feeling. We can live off-the-clock.

Laura is a time management expert, but her latest book isn't about *management* in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it focuses on *time perception* -- getting into the headspace of believing time is abundant, regardless of the demands imposed upon it.

The brain stores memories efficiently, which means it vividly recalls novel experiences -- such as the one-week trip to Belize -- while compressing repetitive experiences, like a commute, into a single memory. For that reason, time feels like it passes more quickly when we encounter situations that are routine and familiar, and slows when we experience new situations.

That's how a one-week conference feels long, but a routine week at the office flies by.

Of course, we can't eschew familiarity; there are many benefits to adopting a routine. But we can slow time by savoring our everyday experiences.

The more we engage mindfully in everyday activities -- from savoring each bite of food to noticing the flowers during our commute to work -- the more we're likely to feel relaxed about our time. We create happy memories, rather than compressing our experiences in our minds.

Treating our hours with intention can also lengthen our experience of time. We plan and structure our workdays, deciding how to spend our hours between 8 am and 6 pm. But often, we aren't deliberate about how we'll craft the hours from 6 pm to 11 pm, and therefore can feel like we rarely see family, even if we're with them for three to four hours each evening.

Deliberately crafting hours doesn't mean jam-packing our schedule in 30-minute increments. Scheduling a two-hour block of time to linger over a long dinner can blend intentionality with the art of savoring.

In fact, Laura notes, those who are the most disciplined about their time are also more likely to feel that they enjoy plenty of free time. Structure creates freedom.

Today on the podcast, Laura and I talk about how to make time feel abundant.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Aug 27, 2018
Ask Paula - Where Should I Keep My Money if I Want to Retire Early?

#146: My friend and former financial advisor, Joe Saul-Sehy, joins me to answer a multitude of questions on retirement savings and investing, so let's dive in.

Elyse has two questions:

#1: Through her job, Elyse has a 401(a) hybrid. Right now, she contributes 0.5% as her employer will contribute 2.5% only when she contributes 4%.

Should she contribute the full 4%, or keep her contribution as low as possible, save it, and invest it on her own (which is what she's been doing)?

#2: Elyse also has $18,600 invested in a mutual fund through her bank. Everything that she has read says to invest in index funds. So, should she pull her money out of the mutual fund and into Vanguard to avoid high fees?

Anonymous also has a few questions:

She has a 9-year job history with the state and local government, during which she has been enrolled in the Florida pension plan.

Her new job offers a 457 Plan and/or a 403(b) Plan to supplement the pension earning.

Her first question is: is a 403(b) better than a 457 Plan? Or should she enroll in both?

Second, in her most recent job, she had a 457 deferred compensation Vanguard account which has $22,000 in it.
Should she roll the Vanguard account over into one of the above plans, or leave it alone?

Lastly, she has a 3-month old and wants to put a lump sum of $10,000 toward an account she can make contributions to, but she isn't sure which account would be best. Florida has a pre-paid program, but are there better options?

Rachel has a question on retirement accounts as well!:

Rachel recently left a government job where she had a TSP. In addition to that, she also has two IRAs - a small traditional IRA and slightly larger Roth IRA. She's actively contributing to the Roth IRA.

When she left her job, she started an S-corp, and as she looks forward to business picking up, she wants to know how to best organize her retirement savings moving forward to make it easier to manage. She's also interested in tax optimization.

What actions do we recommend she take?

Stephen, a new listener, asks:

If we're following the 4% rule route, does it make sense to fund an HSA, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, or 401(k) at work? Or should we put all of the money in a Vanguard fund?

Essentially, if you're planning to retire in 10 years or less, which is more beneficial: splitting up your money, or focusing on one account?

P.S. If you have a question you want me to answer on an upcoming Ask Paula episode, leave it here!

Aug 20, 2018
How I Paid Off $500,000 in Credit Card Debt, then Launched a Company with $35 Million in Annual Revenue -- with Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

#145: When Rand Fishkin was 25 years old, he carried $500,000 in credit card debt.

Less than a decade later, Rand was the Founder and CEO of a company that grossed $35 million in annual revenue.

In this podcast episode, Rand shares the story of hitting his financial rock-bottom and making the ultimate comeback.


The saga began in 2001, when then-22-year-old Rand dropped out of his senior year of college to grow a business with his mom.

His mom Gillian owned a small marketing company that helped local businesses with tasks like placing ads in Yellow Pages. (If you don't know what that is, ask someone over 30.)

Rand had an early entrepreneurial streak, and had spent the late 1990's and early 2000's working part-time for his mom's business. By his senior year, he was ready to dive in full-time.

Gillian and Rand both realized the internet was more than a passing fad. Households were switching from dial-up modems to broadband connections. Clients were more interested in websites than Yellow Pages ads.

The mother-son duo decided to start designing websites for local businesses.

From 2001 to 2004, they hired contractors, rented office space, hosted booths at conferences, and purchased advertising. They paid for most of this with personal credit cards in Rand's name.

By 2004, they'd accumulated $150,000 in credit card debt. Then they defaulted. They couldn't make the minimum payments anymore.

The interest and late fees grew this balance to an astronomical $500,000.

They decided not to declare bankruptcy. Instead, they took a two-pronged approach: Rand's mom spent the next three years negotiating with creditors, getting big chunks of the interest and late fees waived in exchange for making payments on the principle balance. Meanwhile, Rand focused on growing the business.

Several of his clients needed help with a specific aspect of internet marketing called search engine optimization, or SEO. Rand began researching SEO tactics and started a blog to share his findings. This blog attracted new clients, and soon Rand developed a reputation as an SEO expert. He created a company called SEOMoz, later rebranded as Moz, to offer consulting services for businesses.

After a few years, his company started developing and selling subscriptions to SEO software tools, as well.

By the time Rand stepped down from his role as CEO, the company had raised multiple rounds of funding and was collecting $35 million in annual revenue.

But there's a difference between a company's earnings and the personal income of its founders. Today, Rand and his wife still have a liquid net worth that's less than one million.

How did Rand transition from carrying $500,000 in debt to becoming the founder and CEO of a successful eight-figure company?

Why isn't he a millionaire yet?

And what lessons about entrepreneurship and finance can he share with the world?

Find out in this podcast episode.


P.S. Rand's wife, Geraldine DeRuiter, is a hilarious travel writer and an alumni guest of this podcast. You can listen to her interview in Episode 77.

P.P.S. If you'd like to learn more about starting a blog, check out this free tutorial.

Aug 13, 2018
Ask Paula - What Do You Think of Real Estate Crowdfunding?

#144: Today I’m answering your real estate questions!

First up, Rich asks:
What are your thoughts on real estate crowdfunding versus investing in a traditional REIT and non-retirement account?

He doesn’t want to give up the time it takes to manage a rental property. He wants to spend more time with family and friends, and his eventual goal is to generate enough passive income to transition into becoming a social worker.

Rob asks:
As a real estate investor who also invests in index funds, how do I decide what percentage of my net worth to allocate towards the stock market versus real estate?

Anonymous asks:
How do you maximize value in real estate? Is real estate worth the sum of its parts? Should you strip out some of that before you sell a property to maximize its value?

Laura asks:
How did you develop your real estate course? How do you market a course?

I answer these questions on today’s episode of the podcast.


For more information, visit the show notes at

For more details, visit the show notes at

Aug 06, 2018
Life After Financial Independence - with millionaire investor Emma Pattee

#143: Emma Pattee became a millionaire at age 26. But she hates it when I describe her like that.

Here are other ways that Emma would prefer to be known: She's thoughtful. She's hilarious. She's kind.

Emma is the child of hippies. She grew up in a tent in Oregon, at least for a portion of her childhood. She has a BFA in writing from Emerson College.

She bought her first house at age 21. At the time, Emma was juggling a demanding full-time job with her ambitions of becoming a writer. This balancing act felt too tough. She felt motivated to quit her job as quickly as possible, so that she could devote her time to writing.

She moved in with her boyfriend's parents, saved 70 percent of her income, and contemplated what to do next.

She decided to "buy a small house in a not-so-nice neighborhood, and live for free by renting out enough rooms to cover my mortgage and make a little money on the side."

But then she developed an addiction to real estate.

She kept buying houses and converting them into rental properties. She DIY'ed some projects and hired contractors for other projects. She improved the homes and raised the rents. She reinvested the cash flow into buying more houses. She borrowed against the equity and bought even more houses.

And that's how Emma, by age 26, became a millionaire.

Her seven-figure net worth -- and more importantly, the cash flow that accompanied it -- allowed Emma to reach financial independence. She could stop trading her time for a paycheck.

Emma quit her job at age 26 and dove into the world of self-employment, starting a lucrative one-woman enterprise as a professional ghostwriter. She writes books and articles, for which her clients receive authorship credit. In exchange for this effort, Emma makes a substantial amount of money.

So who is Emma Pattee? She's a financially independent millionaire real estate investor who started a lucrative self-employment business as a writer. (Sound familiar?)

Among the many words in that sentence, the most important word, to Emma, is the word "writer." That's why she started down this path. She wasn't trying to become wealthy. She wanted to become a self-funded artist. She wanted, simply, to write.


Emma is a close friend. She was my guest of honor, my Plus One, when I delivered my keynote speech at the World Domination Summit last month. She's my travel buddy and real estate investing companion; we visited Alabama last year to check out potential investments in Birmingham and Montgomery. She and I have talked about meeting occasionally for writing retreats.

In today's episode, Emma and I sit down at her dining room table, plug in a microphone, and hit "record." In the 30-minute conversation that follows, we talk about how and why we reached financial independence -- and what comes next.


Aug 03, 2018
How Can We Downsize from Two Incomes to One?

#142: How can a family of four shift from earning two incomes to one, while still pursuing financial independence?

How would a 55-year-old couple with $2 million saved know if they're ready to retire?

Can parents use leftover money in their 529 plan to help their daughter with her college loans?

If you start a job with an employer who doesn't offer high-deductible, HSA-compatible health insurance plans, could you use a plan from your old boss?

And where should a father keep his daughter's Bat Mitzvah money?

My friend and former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these five questions in today's episode. Here's a close-up look at each situation.

Tyler asks:
My wife and I both work 9-to-5 jobs. She's an elementary school teacher, and I work in sales. We've recently welcomed our first child into the world, and we're expecting our second. We'd like to transition to a one-income household, at least until the children are between three to five.

We've maxed out my Roth IRA and 401k, funded a pension through my wife's work, funded a small Roth IRA for her, and started a 529 for our son.

We have no credit card debt, but we have a mortgage, a car loan, and a student loan from my wife's graduate work.

We're thinking about gradually phasing out her income, by reducing her "income" in 25 percent increments over time, and using that money to repay our debts. We hope to have the car loan and student loan paid off by the time our second child is born.

What other recommendations would you offer as we transition into a single-income household?

Heidi asks:
We saved money in a 529 plan for our daughter's college education. We took out some loans for her freshman and sophomore years, thinking that we'd spend the rest of the 529 money during her junior and senior year.

Then a wonderful thing happened: my daughter received $40,000 in scholarship money, covering her junior and senior years. Now my daughter has $13,000 in student loans from her first two years, and also $13,000 sitting in her 529 fund. Can we use the money in the 529 plan to repay her student loans? Or are our hands tied?

Andrew asks:
My 13-year-old daughter just had her Bat Mitzvah, and now holds $5,000 in a Schwab custodial account. Where should I put this money to preserve the capital, but also allow it to grow? She'll probably want to use a portion of this within the next five years. It's currently in a Schwab money market account, but I'm thinking about putting it in VFTSX, the Vanguard Social Index Fund.

Anonymous asks:
My husband just started a new job, and his employer doesn't offer HSA-compatible plans. His new employer only offers plans with low deductibles.

I know that this isn't idea. Could he enroll in plan from his old job, so that he can still contribute to an HSA?

Laura asks:
Am I ready to retire? I'm 55 and my husband and I have $2 million, but we recognize that the market is volatile. How do we maintain our $2 million principal when we're no longer making contributions?

My second question is about real estate. If the returns from both index funds and rental properties comes to around 8 percent, then why would you bother with the additional hassle of real estate?


Jul 30, 2018
The Gap Between Knowing and Doing - with Dr. Stephen Wendel from Morningstar

#141: "I'll get around to rolling over my 401k ... next week."

"Eventually I'll switch to a cheaper insurance plan."

"I really should move my portfolio into lower-fee funds."

"Yeah, yeah, I know I should create an estate plan. I'll do it later."


We know how to improve our financial lives. We know what steps we ought to take. I'm betting that everyone reading this can name at least one action, big or small, that you could take to improve your net worth.

But we don't follow through.

Why not?

Why do we procrastinate? Why do we ignore the important, in favor of the urgent or the more-pleasant?

Why do we act against our self-interests? Why is there a gap between our intentions and our actions?

More importantly, how can we bridge this gap? How can we align our knowledge and intention with our behavior?

Dr. Stephen Wendel is a behavioral economist and the head of behavioral science at Morningstar, an independent investment research firm. He joins us on the Afford Anything podcast to answer these questions.

Here are a few tactics he shares:

#1: Automate
Set up systems that save you from yourself.

#2: Create mental accounts
Give every dollar a job. Earmark dollars for specific purposes, so that you don't view your money as commingled in a giant bucket that you can raid. Once you start thinking of piles of money as "my emergency fund" or "my kid's college fund," you'll be less likely to spend it on champagne and luxury hotels.

#3: Imagine vivid scenes
Our minds are predisposed to prioritize the vivid over the subtle, which is one reason why we suffer from "present bias" -- the tendency to only think about the present, often at the expense of the future. (For example, "I feel like sitting on the couch right now" takes priority over "If I workout, I'll feel better in the future.") In order to combat this, create vivid scenes in your mind that imagine the future in great detail.

#4: Create artificial hindsight
Imagine a future version of yourself, and from that perspective, look back in hindsight at yourself today. What will Future You regret doing, or regret not having done? This technique is called "prospective hindsight," and it allows you to anticipate the thoughts and emotions of your future self.

#5: Simplify
If you find yourself drowning in a sea of complex financial decisions, you might lose confidence in your ability to make choices, and therefore not take any action whatsoever. Reduce complexity by making moves that are 'good enough,' rather than perfect. Simplify in order to take action.

Dr. Wendel shares more tactics and insights in this episode. Tune in for a deep-dive!

Jul 23, 2018
Ask Paula - Should I Buy a Rental Property with an HOA?

#140: Should you buy a rental property that mandates HOA payments? How do you adjust for cap rate over the years, as the property's rent increases with inflation? Should you buy an $88,500 house that rents for $1,250 a month? And can you dive into detail about how you work with contractors and property managers?

I answer these four questions in today's Ask Paula episode, themed around real estate investing.

Daria asks:
My husband and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I've been looking at local properties and I notice that a lot of these properties, Class C+ or higher, come with HOAs. For example, I've found properties that cost $80,000, rent for $1,000 per month, and have HOA fees of around $150. What do you think about HOA fees in general, and how do these affect factors like cap rate? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sabrina asks:
How does the cap rate on a property change over time, as the rent increases with inflation and other operating costs shift around?

Jasmin asks:
I'm looking at a rental property that costs $88,500 and needs $2,000 in initial repairs and other fees. My gross rent would be $1,250 per month, with estimated 8 percent vacancy. I estimate $555 monthly in expenses ($6,660 annually), including setting aside one percent of the purchase price for repairs and maintenance and another one percent of the purchase price for capital expenditures. What do you think of this deal?

Rob asks:
Can you please explain how you work with your contractors and property managers? On your blog, you describe texting with your contractor, but shouldn't the manager handle that? I'd appreciate any insight into how you handle these relationships.

Jul 16, 2018
How I Save Half of My Income as a Firefighter, While Living in an Expensive City -- with Kim E.

#139: Five years ago, at age 29, Kim E. started her first professional, salaried full-time job, working as a firefighter for the City of Austin, Texas. She received a starting salary of $42,000.

Today, five years later, she has saved:
- one year's salary ($40,000) in an emergency fund
- one year's salary ($42,000) in a workplace retirement fund
- more than half a year's salary ($27,500) in a Roth IRA

She also paid off her student loans ($10,000), paid off her car loan (roughly around $16,000-ish), and contributed to an H.S.A. account ($6,000, half of which came from an employer match.) Oh yeah, and she also bought and renovated a rental property.

Translation? Kim has saved (or repaid debt of) $141,500 within five years, as a firefighter with a starting salary of $42,000, excluding the additional money she's invested into her rental.

**She's saved more than 3x her starting salary, within her first five years on the job.**

And she's done this while earning a middle-class public service salary in an expensive city.


How is Kim saving half of her firefighter salary? And before she became a firefighter, what other frugal tactics did she develop? How did she put herself through four years of college with less than $10,000 in debt? How did she travel before college, when she used to earn $10 per hour? Where does her resourcefulness and motivation come from? And what wisdom can she share with others?

Find out in today's episode.

Jul 09, 2018
How to Create an Authentic Life

#138: There’s a famous quote that’s attributed to Henry Ford. The quote says, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”⠀

There’s no proof that Henry Ford actually said this. But whether or not that quote is historically accurate, the point remains. If Elon Musk had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a car with better gas mileage.⠀

But Elon never bothered asking. Because he knows you cannot change history from the middle of the bell curve. And he knows that design by consensus, by definition, leads to average results.⠀

He may ask for input on the details. But he will never ask the crowd to guide his vision.⠀

True innovation comes from vision. We see this in technology. We see this an art, music, writing. But often, we fail to see this in ourselves. We allow the crowd to dictate who we are: what our dreams are, what our goals are, what our fears are. We crowdsource our vision and live a life of “should.”⠀

Authenticity is the art of not giving a sh*t about should.⠀

This sounds fine on the surface, when we’re pontificating about our lives. But it’s much scarier in the real world, when you face the reality that people will judge you. They will criticize you. They will tell you that you’re wrong. ⠀

The more you try to step away from should, the more shoulds they throw at you. You should be married. You should have kids. You should have a job.⠀

The thing is, they may be talking about you, but it’s not really about you. Your decisions are triggering to them, and they’re reacting to that.⠀

Authenticity means accepting that if other people get triggered, that’s not your responsibility. You may be the catalyst, but you’re not responsible for their emotions.⠀

And in that regard, authenticity is also the art of setting boundaries.⠀

That doesn’t mean you exclude people from your life. But it does mean that you set healthy emotional boundaries, such that their thoughts and feelings do not become internalized as your own.⠀


This is a snippet from a speech I delivered at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon last week.

I'm sharing the speech for this July 2018 First Friday bonus episode.

We broadcast one podcast episode per week, and on the first Friday of each month, we roll out a special bonus episode.

Today's episode is July's special bonus episode, and I've divided it into two sections: during the first half, I share the speech that I delivered, and during the second half, I discuss how and why I wrote this speech -- and the key takeaway that I hope people learn from it.



For more ways to interact or listen to the show, go to

Jul 07, 2018
Ask Paula: What the F**k are Annuities?

#137: Today's episode is an annuity sandwich: we answer one question about family and relationships, three questions about annuities, and one question about time management.

My friend and former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer questions in what, I hope, is the most entertaining episode about annuities you'll hear.

Here are the five questions that we'll tackle today.

Anonymous asks:
I didn't grow up with much money, and my father recently went into bankruptcy. I've worked hard to become financially stable. Unfortunately, my parents expect a handout. How do you handle parents and other family members who look for handouts when they see you're doing well?

Zoey asks:
I'd like to retire in the next 10-15 years. I'd like to understand the difference between an investment with a lump-sum payout vs. an annuity fund. What are the benefits and drawbacks of these options? How do annuities work? What are their benefits? How do I know what's right for me?

Charlene asks:
Let's say you're looking at your retirement portfolio, and you realize you're behind. You still have 10-15 years left. You have 10 percent of your portfolio in an annuity. Should you move this money into a stock fund? Or should you keep the annuity?

Magy asks:
My husband and I are both 32, and save 25% of their income for retirement. He has a 401(k) and maxes out a Roth IRA. I'm a teacher and make a pension contribution.

I also max out my Roth IRA and contribute a small amount to a 403(b). My 403(b), however, has a variable annuity with no surrender charge, with a 1.5 percent account fee. Should I keep putting money in this 403(b)? I also have a side hustle; would it be better for me to open a retirement account through my side business?

Also, since we're already saving 25% towards retirement, I'm curious if we should invest more for other goals. We're putting 3 percent of our income in non-retirement investment accounts and 1.5 percent of our income in our sons' 529 plans. How should we divide our savings between retirement vs. other long-term goals?

Laura asks:
You've often written about the importance of an emergency fund and cash reserves. Do you have any ideas in thinking about this way with regard to your time or focus?

If you're spending at capacity -- whether you're spending money, time or focus -- you have no space for either emergencies or opportunities. How do you conceptualize this? How do you balance busy-ness with the importance of creating free time and space?

We answer these five questions in today's episode. Enjoy!


Resources Mentioned:

- Afford Anything podcast episode with Laura Vanderkam
- Laura Vanderkam's book, 168 Hours
- David Allen's book, Getting Things Done
- Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist
- RoseMarie Garner interview on the FinCon podcast
- Afford Anything blog post, "I tracked my time in 15 min increments"


Visit the website at

Jul 02, 2018
How I Bought 20 Houses, Debt-Free, While Serving Overseas in the Military - with Rich Carey

#136: Rich Carey is a military millionaire. He's spent his career in the U.S. Air Force; he's currently stationed in Seoul, South Korea. He was stationed in Germany before this. He'll retire after this.

Most of his fellow servicemembers, upon taking a military retirement, start a second career. But Rich doesn't need to. He's financially independent, thanks to his 20 rental properties.

He bought most of these properties while stationed overseas. He's renovated them from afar. And he's bought everything with cash.

To say his story is impressive is an understatement.

Every week, I get emails and messages from readers who say things like:

*"I'd like to buy a rental property, but everything in my city is expensive!"*

*"I'd like to buy a rental property, but I'm not handy. I can't do any of the work myself."*

*"I'd like to buy a rental property, but I only make a middle-class income."*

*"I'd like to buy a rental property, but we're a one-income household."*

*"I'd like to buy a rental property, but we have two kids, and they're expensive."*

Rich's story illustrates how someone with a middle-class income can invest in rental properties from out-of-state.

He earns a military salary. He lives in Korea. He's the sole breadwinner in his family. He supports a wife and two children.

He's definitely not taking 2 a.m. toilet-fixing phone calls. In fact, he hasn't even seen several of his properties.

As you'll hear in the interview, my friend Emma and I visited Montgomery, Alabama about a year ago. Rich's properties are located there.

During our visit, I sent Rich an email, saying "Hey, I'm in Montgomery!," and he replied with, "Cool, I just bought another house there! You're welcome to drive by and see it from the outside."

This means I've seen houses that he hasn't. *His* houses.


How did Rich start investing in rental properties? How did he grow a portfolio of 20 rentals?

How could he build this free-and-clear, without taking out any loans?

And how does he manage this from Germany and Korea?

Find out in this interview.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 25, 2018
Ask Paula - How Can I Get a Downpayment for a Rental Property?

#135: Time to talk about houses! I answer your questions about rental property investing in this week's episode.

Our first question comes from James, age 25. He lives in Florida, where he bought a $130,000, 3-bedroom, 2-bath condominium in the Class B range as his primary residence. He'd like to buy a second home and rent out his current home.

He has $4,000 in cash and is eligible to take out $5,000 as a home equity line of credit. He makes $41,000 per year, after taxes. He'd like to buy one property a year.

What funding options can he look into? If he had good credit, can he bypass the downpayment wall? What general advice would I offer to someone in his situation?

Here's a short summary of what I tell James:

1. Keep a personal emergency fund.
2. Keep cash reserves for your rental. If your condo rents for $1,300 per month, you'll want at least 3 months' gross rent in reserves, or $3,900.
3. Look into FHA loans, which require only 3.5 percent down.
4. Wait until the HELOC can get you at least $10,000 to $15,000. Ideally you'll also want a little extra on the side for  closing costs and other unexpected costs.
5. Think of 'one house a year' as general guideline rather than diehard order. The more properties you purchase, the faster you can buy properties, because you can reinvest the cash flow from your existing properties. Your growth will be slowest in beginning and gets faster as you move along.  

The next question comes from Berlinda. She works in a job she loves, with a great company, chill manager and fantastic team. She's signed a two-year contract, and she's six months into that term.

She lives in metropolitan Chicago, but her boyfriend lives in New York. She's concerned that if she moves there, she might not find a job that she loves quite as much.

She bought a duplex, and now owns a total of three rental units. She needs to upgrade these units. She projects that she'll need 14 rental units before she can live on the income. How can she scale her rental properties to the point at which she can live on their income?

The third question comes from Katie from Mississippi. She started reading the Afford Anything blog in 2015, after she bought her first rental property. She now owns two rentals. She bought the first for $77,000 (purchase + initial repairs) and it rents for $975, and the other for $80,000 (purchase + initial repairs) and it rents for $900. After the PITI mortgage, they collect $603 per month, or $7,236 per year. Their operating expenses have consumed this amount, and in some years their operating costs exceed their income. What's going wrong?

The final question comes from Ben. He and a business partner owns a multi-unit rental property, which they purchased two years ago. His business partner lives in one of the three units; the total income is $2200 from two of the three units (plus the partner lives in one unit for free). Their mortgage is $1475, plus $120 for insurance.

Ben would like to get out of the deal, but he's not sure how. He'd like to refinance the property to get his name off the mortgage, either by selling his share to his business partner or by finding another partner to replace him within the deal. What should be do?


I answer these four questions in today's episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 18, 2018
How Radical Curiosity Leads to Innovation in Life and Work - with Shane Snow, founder of Contently

#134: We often peek inside the world of business to look for lessons about how to simplify, optimize and innovate.

But what can we learn when we examine world-class people who are hacking the system in any field -- including sports, politics and music?

What can we learn when we're radically curious about everything? And how can we apply this knowledge to helping us lead more deliberate, curated lives?

Today, we tap Shane Snow's brain for answers.

Shane Snow is a co-founder of Contently, a company that matches freelancers with publishers. But we're not going to talk about that today. We're going to explore bigger themes.

Because Shane isn't just a tech entrepreneur. He's also an award-winning journalist, which is another way of saying that he's an inquisitive person who lives in the world of storytelling and big ideas.

His first book, SmartCuts, explores how people avoid climbing the normative career ladder. It showcases people across a variety of industries who hack the ladder, often by making unconventional lateral moves. And that is exactly the kind of thinking that appeals to anyone building financial independence, and trying to design a meaningful, autonomous and unconventional living.

His latest book, Dream Teams, explores what it takes for a group of people to come together to create something amazing. How can the whole be greater than the sum of its parts. And he looks across industries, at everything from hockey teams to businesses and beyond, to find the universal threads inside these stories.

A few accolades before we begin: GQ Magazine described Shane's work as "insanely addicting," and The New York Times refers to Shane as a "wunderkind." (I had to Google that term -- apparently, it refers to someone who achieves great success at a young age.) He has also, somehow, appeared on Gossip Girl and beat Super Mario 3.

Let's find out what Shane has to say about innovation, curiosity, teamwork, and hacking the system. Oh yes, and kangaroos.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 11, 2018
Ask Paula and Joe -- How to Give More to Charity While Also Building Financial Independence

#133: Andy from Michigan loved the episode with charity:water founder Scott Harrison. After the episode, he and his 6-year-old daughter started watching videos about charity:water, and now they're both inspired to give.

Andy's question is on the topic of giving. His is to reach financial independence within 5 to 10 years. He and his wife are debt-free, including mortgage-free, and their retirement accounts are well-fueled. Now they're working on building passive income. In the meantime, though, they'd like to add a bigger charitable slice to their budget. He's not an overly religious guy, but he feels a calling to make more charitable donations than he does. What advice could we offer about how to boost his giving?

JR's wife, before they got married, purchased two timeshares at a 17.9 percent interest rate. When the couple met, and she confessed, they immediately paid off the debt. They're now paying $160 per month in timeshare fees. JR is trying to figure out how to get rid of their timeshare, but he can't find any good options. How can he get rid of this?

Angela's husband is turning 50, and she is 43. They're on-track to have $1 million in investments within 7 years. They have two rental properties plus a primary residence, all of which will be paid off in around 7 years, as well. They're active and healthy, but they know this can change quickly. What type of long-term care insurance do they need?

Joelle works in the public sector. She has a 457(b) retirement account. How does this differ from a 401(k)? She plans to career-change in the next few years, and she's considering whether to keep her funds inside of her 457(b) or rollover her funds into an IRA. What are the pro's and con's of both?

Ines from Portugal wants to start a podcast about financial independence, early retirement and real estate investing, specifically for people who live in Europe. The issues that affect people in Europe are different than those that impact people in the U.S., and she sees a need within the marketplace. What advice would I offer to anyone who wants to start a podcast in this niche?

For more information, visit the show notes at

Jun 04, 2018
Ask Paula - I'm Six Years Away From Financial Independence, But I Want to Quit Now

#132: BONUS EPISODE!! On the first Friday of the month for the remainder of the year, I'm rolling out an additional bonus episode.

As you know, this podcast airs weekly on Mondays. I'm thinking about maybe -- MAYBE -- expanding the podcast to twice-a-week. Maybe.

But before I make such a big commitment, I figured I'd test the waters by producing *one* extra episode per month.

I'll release this on the first Friday of every month for the rest of 2018.

Today's episode is the June 2018 First Friday Bonus Episode, in which I answer three questions from the Afford Anything community. Enjoy!


Cameron accepted a job in the Middle East, where he earns 60 percent more than he could make at a comparable job in the U.S. He also gets free health care and 30 vacation days annually, which gives him time to travel with his wife and four kids. And thanks to his income and benefits, he and his family are on-track to reach financial independence in six years.

The problem? He's just not that into his job. He'd like to pursue something more interesting ... he's just not sure what. And since he doesn't know what's next, he's worried that he might be running *away* from something rather than running *into* something else.

Should he tough out the next six years? Or should he quit, even if that will delay his journey to financial independence?


Hailey is 22, and she bought her first home last year. She bought a condo for $103,000 with a 3 percent downpayment and a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 4.5 percent. Her condo was in mediocre shape at the time, so she's spent the past year renovating the space -- such as replacing the flooring and getting rid of the popcorn ceilings.

Her neighbor recently sold his condo for $120,000, so Hailey is reasonably sure that -- between the comparable sale and the improvements that she's made -- her condo could appraise for at least that much.

She'd like to get an appraisal, so that she can get rid of her $60 monthly PMI payment. But an appraisal costs between $660 to $850, and she's only planning to live in the condo for another year. She thinks she'll keep the condo for around three more years.

Should she get an appraisal? Are there any red flags or drawbacks to doing this?


Danica called to say "congratulations!" on the 10-year anniversary of quitting my job. She's curious: how did I reach financial independence?

I answer these three questions in today's First Friday Bonus Episode. Enjoy!

For links to resources mentioned in this episode, visit 

Jun 01, 2018
How We Slashed Our Costs 70 Percent and Gained Happiness -- with Scott Rieckens

#131: Scott Rieckens and his wife Taylor enjoyed a classic Southern California lifestyle.

They lived near a gorgeous beach in sunny San Diego. They frequently dined at sushi restaurants. They drove a BMW.

But after the birth of their daughter, everything changed. Taylor, an intelligent, career-driven, independent woman, suddenly didn't want to spend any time away from her new baby girl.

And Scott had no idea what to do. Their luxury lifestyle depended on dual incomes.

At first, he tried to come up with a million-dollar idea. If he could just create a wildly successful business, he thought, he could fix this problem. He started binge-listening to podcasts, trying to figure out how to pull in seven figures, fast.

Then he discovered the financial independence movement. And suddenly everything made a lot more sense.

Scott realized that if they gave up their consumption habits -- if they moved to an area with a lower cost-of-living, drove less expensive vehicles, or maybe even lived in an RV for awhile -- they could enjoy the life they wanted. They could trade luxury labels for time-freedom.

He crunched a few numbers and realized that they could reduce their spending by 70 percent. But it would require HUGE changes, including an out-of-state move.

He wondered how to suggest this idea to his wife.


What did Scott say? How did Taylor come on-board?

And (spoiler alert!) ... how did they get so enthusiastic about financial independence that they decided to create a documentary about their journey into this lifestyle?

Find out in today's episode.

May 28, 2018
Ask Paula - Should I Sell Stocks to Buy a Rental Property

#130: Anna and Dave want to get married … eventually. But they want to buy a rental property together first. How should they approach this from a paperwork/legal structure standpoint?

Note: They’re thinking about having one partner purchase the home, with the other partner acting as a lender (with proper paperwork in place). Would this be a wise approach?

Fred lives in Saskatchewan, Canada and owns two duplexes. He’s thinking of buying rental properties in the U.S., and he has 4 questions:

  1. What requirements or criteria do you establish ahead of time? For example, do you look for a minimum cap rate? Or a specific type of property?
  2. When you’re looking out-of-state, what steps do you take to identify a community? How about the type of property?
  3. What market research do you undertake?
  4. How would you caution an international investor who wants to start investing in U.S. properties?

Jordana wants to build financial independence. She’s thinking about selling off stocks and index funds in order to buy her first rental property. Is this a good idea?

Cheryl lives in Texas, where property taxes are astronomical. How should she factor this into her rental property decisions?

Rachel is worried about bed begs. (Yuck!) Have I dealt with these in any of my rental properties? How do I protect against pests, termites and roaches?

I tackle these five questions in today’s episode, which is dedicated to rental property investing. Enjoy!

P.S. Need software to manage your rental properties? Collect applications, screen tenants, and collect rent online with

(And P.P.S. — If you’re not interested in rental investing, don’t worry! Check out last week’s episode about debt payoff with Laura Adams, or the previous week’s episode, in which Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer a smattering of general personal finance questions. Have fun!)

For more information, visit the show notes at

May 21, 2018
How I Paid Off Thousands in Credit Card Debt - with Laura Adams, from Money Girl Podcast

#129: Laura Adams grew up in an upper-middle-class family in South Carolina, and her parents supported her through college. She attended her top-choice school, met her husband while they were still students, and enjoyed a charmed life.

When she graduated, she continued to live at a lifestyle to which she felt accustomed. She rented a beautiful apartment. She took vacations. When she felt lonely, she comforted herself with shopping sprees.

Unfortunately, her spending habits weren't aligned with her meager post-collegiate, entry-level income. Laura quickly found herself buried under thousands of dollars of credit card debt.

She began feeling anxious about the debt. Fortunately, Laura channeled that anxiety into action.

She cut back on discretionary spending. She watched her monthly mortgage payments fall. She focused on ways to earn more.

Every time she'd free a small chunk of money -- a hundred here, a hundred there -- she made an extra payment on her credit card balance. Eventually, Laura wiped out her debts.

She decided to become a "serious student" of finance. She returned to school for an MBA, where she noticed that many of her classmates were intelligent, hardworking students who were superb at managing corporate balance sheets, but terrible at managing their own personal finances.

She decided to spend her life solving this problem.

In 2006, she began writing about personal finance; in 2007, she started a personal finance podcast; by 2008, she was invited to join the Quick and Dirty Tips Network as the host of the Money Girl Podcast.

Her podcast on personal finance has been downloaded more than 40 million times. Laura has also authored several books on money management and appeared on more than 1,000 media interviews on NBC, FOX, Bloomberg and more.

How did Laura transition from wearing "financial blinders" to a renowned financial expert?

What advice would she give to anyone who's trying to overcome the "ostrich," head-in-the-sand mindset around their money?

What important money issues are we not talking about enough?

Find out in today's episode.

For resources mentioned in today's episode, go to

May 14, 2018
Should I Choose a Roth vs. Traditional IRA and 401k for Early Retirement?

#128: Antonia, 27, wants to retire in 15 years. She's trying to figure out whether to contribute to pre-tax or after-tax retirement accounts.

Most financial advice for 20-somethings that she's encountered says to contribute to after-tax (Roth) retirement accounts. These articles assume that a 27-year-old will continue earning money for the next 30+ years, presumably escalating into higher tax brackets along the way.

By paying taxes upfront, these articles say, you'll enjoy 30+ years of compounding gains, which you'll be able to withdraw tax-exempt.

But what if, like Antonia, you're only 15 years from retirement? Should you stick with Roth tax treatment? Or is there wisdom in making retirement contributions with pre-tax money?


Marisa is young, high-income, and highly risk-tolerant. She'd like to know: what asset allocation would I suggest for a young, risk-tolerant person? And is rebalancing her portfolio necessary, or just a distraction?


Dylan owns his home outright. When he sells it, he'll collect about $100,000 after fees. He also has an additional $100,000 saved in cash.

He'd like to buy a home free-and-clear. What's the best way to approach this? Should he take out a home equity line of credit? A bridge loan? Something else?


Pal lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He recently bought his first rental property, and he's interested in building passive income and reach financial independence.

He's curious about credit card piggybacking, a side hustle by which a person with a high credit score adds another person with a low credit score as an authorized user to their card.

It seems like a legitimate way to earn extra money. Why aren't more people talking about this? Is there a problem he's overlooking?


Anonymous, 24, says she knows next-to-nothing about investing. She has $6,500 in her Roth IRA, invested in a Washington Mutual Class A mutual fund, which is an actively-managed mutual fund with a front load.

Should she keep her money there? Or should she move it?

Her second question is about her 401k. She contributes 5 percent of her paycheck into a Roth 401k account, from which she invests in a Target Date retirement fund. Her employer doesn't match any contributions.

Her total contributions to both accounts (her Roth 401k and Roth IRA) equal $5,500 per year.

Should she stop contributing to her Roth 401k, so that she can focus her contributions on her Roth IRA?


Jeff and his wife are both 64. When he reads about retirement, the information is ambiguous about Social Security.

Let's say that he has $1 million saved towards retirement, which generates $40,000 annually at the 4 percent rule of thumb. Let's also say that he is eligible for Social Security income of $40,000 per year. Doesn't this mean he could retire on $80,000 per year? If so, then why do "4 percent rule" projections only talk about the portfolio portion?


Former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy and I discuss these questions on today's episode. Enjoy!


For links to resources mentioned in this episode, go to

May 07, 2018
Four Unhealthy Attitudes Towards Money -- with Dr. Brad Klontz, Financial Therapist

#127: Most people know what they “should” do — save for the future. Spend less than they earn.

Why do so few people follow through?

The answer may have less to do with tactics, and more to do with a person’s deep-seated beliefs, fears and anxieties around money.

Your income, debt, and spending habits aren't merely a function of your actions. They're a reflection of your deep-seated inner psychology around money.

Dr. Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist and financial planner, joins me on today's show to discuss four "money scripts" that may be harming us. These scripts include:

Money avoidance -- We believe money corrupts or that staying poor is noble, so we self-sabotage our success. Yet at the same time, we also desperately (at the conscious level) want more money in our lives, and feel trapped between these conflicting ideas.

Money worship -- We believe money will solve our problems. And even though we know that the research says that, after a tipping point, it won't, we don't internalize that idea.

Money status -- We believe our net worth is our self-worth, and we overly identify with our investment and bank balances. We may display conspicuous consumption or place a high priority on making the "right" friends.

Money vigilance -- We watch our money carefully, but we may also feel anxious about running out. We may also downplay the amount of money that we have, if we're outperforming our friends, because we feel guilt and imposter syndrome.

In addition to these four "money scripts," we also grapple with innate cognitive biases around how we manage money.

Let’s take a look at loss avoidance, for example, which is a common cognitive bias. Humans are hardwired to fear losing money, far more than we fear missing opportunities for growth. As a result, we might hold onto an investment for longer than we should. Or we might become preoccupied with penny-pinching, at the expense of earning more.

In this episode, Dr. Klontz and I discuss shame, guilt, and how to implement behavioral changes. We talk about how to contextualize our beliefs based on our family history, and how to recognize whether or not our beliefs are limiting or dysfunctional.

Dr. Klontz shares his story about graduating with $100,000 in student loan debt, and feeling anxious about whether or not he could repay this loan. He decided to sell his car, poured the proceeds into tech stocks, and watched this investment disappear. That’s when he started questioning why someone like himself, someone of relative intelligence, would do something so ill-thought-out. And this sparked his lifelong passion in financial psychology.

How can you develop a healthy relationship with money? Find out in today's episode.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 30, 2018
Ask Paula - Should I Buy a Beachfront Rental Property?

#126: It's time to answer real estate investing questions!

Tom asks:
"We're thinking about buying a duplex on a beach in a popular vacation destination in Florida. If the property stays 85 percent occupied as a short-term (VRBO) rental at current rates, the income from one unit of the duplex could cover the costs of a 30-year mortgage.

"But if a recession hits, Florida real estate might tank. The rental rates or occupancy could drop. And we'd be stuck paying the mortgage out-of-pocket, which means we might not be able to retire. Should we take this risk?"

Rachel asks:
"Would you consider purchasing a beach house? Also, would you consider buying out-of-state?"

Alfredo asks:
"I own a couple of rental properties. I have to admit, my personal and business funds are completely co-mingled. I'm trying to separate these expenses, but it's a mess. If I hired professional help, how much might I pay?"

Anonymous from the Northeast asks:
"I'm gathering friends to invest. We live in the northeast, where home prices are expensive. I'd like to invest out-of-town. They'd like to invest locally. What talking points can you give me to convince them to invest out-of-state?"

Mitzi asks:
"Could you please explain the 1 percent rule-of-thumb around buying a rental property?"

I answer these 5 questions in this episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 23, 2018
How to Gain a Competitive Edge, with Morgan Housel

#125: Morgan Housel has spent thousands of hours reading about investing.

As a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal and The Motley Fool, he's spent more than a decade reading, interviewing, thinking and writing about how to manage money.

And he's come to a simple conclusion: less is more.

Doing nothing is often the best course of action.

Patience, humility and long-term thinking give individual investors a massive competitive edge over major institutions.

The classic strategy of dollar-cost averaging into index funds is a smart approach.

And ultimately, success is based more on emotions than Excel.

This week, Morgan joins me on the podcast to discuss how to gain a competitive edge as an investor.

For more information, visit the show notes at

Apr 16, 2018
Ask Paula and Joe - Should I Sell My Brand-New Car (and Lose $6,000 in 4 Months)?

#124: Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy and I answer five questions about investing, retirement, insurance, travel and selling an expensive car.

Eliana is 25 and makes $63,000 per year, plus a little extra from freelance work. She holds $95,000 in cash, $67,000 in retirement investments, and no debt. She doesn't necessarily hold early retirement as a goal, but she'd like the option to access her funds before she's 59-and-a-half.

She asks two questions: First, she's been spreading her money between a Roth IRA, pre-tax 403b, and taxable brokerage account to spread her risk. Should she not contribute so much to the taxable account?

She's also paying $88 per month for a $25,000 life insurance policy for her mother, who is 57 years old. She likes the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing it'll be there to cover funeral expenses, if needed. But she recognizes that there's a huge opportunity cost that comes from paying for such an expensive plan. Should she drop it?

Rudy's employer offers two options: a pension or a retirement plan that essentially functions as an annuity. He would need to contribute 3 percent of his income, regardless of which option he chooses. Which one should he pick?

Nicole lives in Canada. She has a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), to which she contributes monthly. She's been with her employer for almost 10 years, but she's about to switch into a new field. She'll have about $45,000 in a pension plan from the employer that she's leaving. What should she do with this money?

Julie is a frugal single mom of two. Four months ago, she purchased a brand-new vehicle for $39,000 and instantly regretted it. She'd like to sell it, but she could only recoup around $33,000 of value. She'd lose $6,000 from a car she's owned for 4 months. Should she take the hit? Or should she hang onto her car, since the damage has already been done?

Finally, an anonymous caller wants to know more about long-term travel. How do you acquire visas that will let you stay in a country for many months? How do you find health insurance with overseas coverage? And what should you do with your snail mail?

We tackle these questions in today's episode. Enjoy!


Resources Mentioned:

Julie's question:
Articles on selling a car, private party:

Articles on buying a car, private party:

Travel question:
Overseas health insurance:

How to handle mail while overseas:

Apr 09, 2018
Your Money or Your Life -- with Vicki Robin, bestselling author

#123: In the 1970's, a woman named Vicki Robin teamed up with a man named Joe Dominguez.

They came from different backgrounds: she was an Ivy League graduate with a comfortable upbringing; he was raised in Spanish Harlem on "welfare cheese."

But they shared one common thread: a commitment to financial independence, not just as a money management strategy, but as a philosophy on life.

Vicki and Joe became partners in both work and life. They united over a definition of "FI" that expanded beyond paying your bills through your savings and investments. They saw FI as a lifestyle that exists in three dimensions:

1: Financial Intelligence -- Your ability to think about money in an objective, unbiased and non-emotional manner.

2: Financial Integrity -- Your ability to earn and spend in a manner that's consistent with your values, and to stay aware of the impact of your earning/spending choices on yourself, your family and your planet.

3: Financial Independence -- Your ability to break the shackles of paycheck dependence, and ALSO your ability to declare independence from limiting beliefs, fears, and the perception that money will solve your problems.

In 1992, Vicki and Joe co-authored a book called Your Money or Your Life, outlining the FI philosophy. Their book became a mega-bestseller, selling more than one million copies. It landed on the New York Times bestseller list and spent more than 5 years on the BusinessWeek bestseller list.

Oprah Winfrey said: "This is a wonderful book. It can really change your life."

Vicki and Joe devoted the next five years to spreading the message of FI. They appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR. They were written about in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, and Newsweek.

Joe passed away in 1997, and Vicki continued spreading the FI message for another five years, before her cancer diagnosis caused her to take a step back.

Today, Vicki is 72, healthy, and still spreading the FI message. And she'd like to discuss a fourth dimension to FI:

4: Financial Interdepedence -- Your ability to live within a flow of giving and receiving. Interdependence comes from our relationship with our communities, our nation, and the natural world.

In today's podcast episode, Vicki discusses how we can move from financial independence to financial interdependence.


For more, go to

Apr 02, 2018
Ask Paula - I'd Like to Airbnb a Yurt. Should I?

#122: Tony lives in Chicago, where the returns on rental properties are so-so. He's thinking about investing in Indianapolis, where he consistently finds rental properties with cap rates that are greater than 8 percent. Should he invest locally, so that he can get a primary residence mortgage and keep a closer eye on the space? Or should he invest out-of-state, where the returns are stronger?

Dan lives in California. He's curious: where should he look for rental properties? And when should he buy? Dan holds $150,000 in a savings account and carries a mortgage and car loan with less-than-2-percent interest rates. Should he continue saving, or is he ready to take the plunge?

Isaiah and his friends want to buy a plot of land and build two yurts, complete with internal bathrooms and kitchenettes. They estimate this will cost $120,000 and they can Airbnb the yurts for $100 per night. They'd like this to be a hybrid between an investment and a personal vacation spot. Should they do it?

Evelyn lives in Brooklyn, where she's an Airbnb host within her primary residence. She'd like to sell her home and she expects to clear $1 million in equity. What should she do with this windfall? She holds $100,000 in a SEP-IRA and $10,000 in credit card debt, and she can't qualify for another mortgage.

I tackle these questions on today's episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 26, 2018
How I Retired at Age 32 - with Liz Thames from Frugalwoods

#121: After Liz Thames graduated from college, she couldn't find a job.

"Nowhere would hire me," Thames says. "I had what I thought was this nice resume, and I sent out over 50 applications. Nowhere called me back."

She took a temporary job at a document-scanning agency, then joined Americorps to serve as a full-time volunteer in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. She lived on a stipend of $10,000 annually, plus food stamps and a transit pass.

She saved $2,000 from her $10,000 stipend, while paying rent in New York.

To say that Thames is a natural saver is an understatement.

Her frugality stayed intact throughout her twenties. She got married, earned a free masters degree and advanced into higher-paying roles. But she and her husband, who was equally frugal, continued saving as much as possible -- at times pushing their savings rate to as high as 70 percent of their income.

When they were 30, they decided to shoot for financial independence. They shared a dream of moving to a rural farm, where they could raise children and spend everyday outdoors.

By age 32, they achieved financial independence. Their investment portfolio is robust enough that they could draw down, in perpetuity, for the rest of their lives.

They rented out their home in Cambridge, quit their office jobs, and moved to a 66-acre farm in Vermont. These days, they live on a combination of their rental income and 'side hustle' income from their blog, Frugalwoods. They have two children.

Today, Liz joins me on the Afford Anything podcast to share the story of how she and her husband achieved financial independence by age 32.

Resources Mentioned:
Book: Meet the Frugalwoods


For more information, visit the show notes at

Mar 19, 2018
Ask Paula - I'm Retiring at 53. How Will Early Retirement Impact My Social Security?

#120: Roger Whitney, age 51, calls himself The Retirement Answer Man. As a financial planner, investment analyst and podcast host, he focuses on helping Baby Boomers craft a traditional (past-age-60) retirement.

Today, he joins me to answer two questions that come in from our community.

Our first question is from Emily, who says:

“I’m trying to help my mom decide if she should retire.”

“My dad was a CPA and then a CFO, making great money, until 16 years ago when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. My mom never took care of their finances before, or knew anything them … she took a few years to get everything in order, but during that time, they burnt through their retirement savings.”

Their house sold in fall 2009, for just enough money to cover their mortgage balance and keep another $75,000 to invest.

Today, Emily’s mom is 64 and wants to retire. She’d like to use her small investment balance to buy a home outright, in cash, so she won’t have to worry about rent or mortgage in retirement.

Emily’s recommendation is that her mom waits until she’s 65 so she gets Medicare. But what if market correction happens? Will they regret not cashing out the investment at the peak?

Our second question is from Yvonne, who asks:

I’m 52, and I’m going to retire at age 53-and-a-half. (Hooray!!)

I’ve been getting notices from Social Security, telling me that “if I keep working” until age 62, or 65, my payment will be such-and-such amount. The key words, of course, are “if I keep working.”

How will an early retirement affect my Social Security benefits?


After taking these two calls, Roger and I chat about his new book, Rock Retirement.

We’re also GIVING AWAY 10 FREE COPIES of Rock Retirement. To enter the contest, go to, follow the account, find the photo of the book cover, and like and comment on that photo. We’ll pick 10 lucky winners who will receive a free copy of the book in the mail. The contest entry deadline is Sunday, March 18th, 2018 at 5 pm Pacific. Winners will be notified by direct message (DM) on Instagram.

Mar 12, 2018
How Much Can I Spend in Retirement? - with Dr. Wade Pfau

#119: Once upon a time, in southern California in 1994, there lived a man named William Bengen.

He read many claims, widespread at the time, that said that since the markets return at least 7-9 percent compounding rates on average, retirees could withdraw and spend 7 percent of their portfolio.

William had a hunch that this was misguided. He decided to prove it.

He looked at 30-year timespans in U.S. history, starting from 1926. The first timespan ranged from 1926 to 1955. The second timespan ranged from 1927 to 1956. And so forth.

He assumed that the retiree held 50 percent stocks, in the form of an S&P 500 Index, and 50 percent bonds, in the form of intermediate-term government bonds.

Then he asked two questions:

First, what was the worst-case scenario? Retiring in 1966. The 16-year timespan from 1966 to 1982 was extra-rough, and experiencing this sequence of returns at the start of retirement made for one sad, sad puppy.

Second, how much could an investor sustainably withdraw from her portfolio during that worst-case scenario? The answer was 4.15 percent in the first year, and 4.15 percent, adjusted for inflation, every subsequent year.

And thus, the 4 percent rule-of-thumb was born.

And we all retired happily ever after.


Or did we? This week's episode features an interview with Dr. Wade Pfau, who offers counterintuitive ideas about retirement income.

Dr. Pfau is a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton. He's a chartered financial analyst. He won two awards for "most outstanding contribution" from the Journal of Financial Planning. He won another award for "best paper in retirement planning" from the Academy of Financial Services.

This guy knows his stuff.

And he's ... *cautious* ... about the 4 percent rule of thumb.

What are his concerns?

What can we expect?

And how much money can we spend in retirement -- whether we enjoy a traditional or early retirement?

Find out in today's episode.


For resources mentioned, visit

Mar 05, 2018
Ask Paula - How Do I Buy a Foreclosure? - and Other Real Estate Questions

#118: Questions -- I get questions! Today, I’m tackling four queries about real estate investing that come from the audience. Here are the details:

Sam says:
I work full-time and I’m not handy, so I definitely need a property manager. I’ve found an amazing property management company, but they only serve a small, specific neighborhood. Should I buy a property in this neighborhood so that I can use this fantastic property management company?

Terri asks:
I’ve heard that if you’re above a certain income level, you’re unable to carry-over losses from your income property. My accountant says it doesn’t make sense to buy a rental property if you can’t carry-over losses. Is this true?

Anonymous asks:
I’d like to buy my first rental property when I’m in graduate school. I’ll live in one room and rent out the other. What should I consider?

Noelle says:
We’d like to sell our home, and use the proceeds to pay cash for a foreclosure in the South. How do we find a foreclosure or short sale?

We cover these questions in today’s episode. Enjoy!


Resources Mentioned:
Amazon - nolo every landlord's tax deduction guide

Feb 26, 2018
How to Avoid Killing Your Spouse (and Should You Get Married in the First Place?) - with Farnoosh Torabi

#117: My friend and financial expert Farnoosh Torabi joins me to answer a relationship & money question from a listener named Janice.⠀⠀
Janice is engaged, and she calls to ask: Should she get married?⠀⠀
She earns double what her fiancé makes. She has no debt except her mortgage. Her retirement accounts are well-funded.

He makes half of her salary. He’s carrying $20,000 in credit card and student loan debt. He has two children from a previous marriage and pays 25 percent of his income to child support. He has zero retirement savings other than his state-funded teachers pension.

They’ve been together for 8 years and engaged for three. But she’s unsure about whether or not she should walk down the aisle.

Should they get married? Is this a smart financial decision?⠀⠀
Farnoosh and I both tackle this question together — and we disagree on some points, which makes this conversation better!!

Farnoosh is the bestselling author of When She Makes More, a book that takes an in-depth look at households in which the woman earns more than the man. She hosted a primetime show on CNBC, makes regular appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America, and writes a monthly financial column for O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s a former reporter for Money Magazine.

She's the perfect guest for a conversation about relationships, marriage, money, debt, family.⠀


For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 19, 2018
Ask Paula -- Help! I'm Underwater on My Car!

#116: Stacy and her boyfriend would like to downsize to one vehicle. But they're collectively $14,500 underwater on their car loans.

Stacy owes $11,000 on her car, but its trade-in value is $7,200. She's paying a 12.74% interest rate and her payoff date is 2021. 

Her boyfriend is in worse shape. He owes $18,500 on his vehicle, but its trade-in value is $7,800. He's paying a 21.5% interest rate and his payoff date is 2022.

Theoretically, they could sell Stacy's car to a private party, and she could pay off the rest of her loan. But the boyfriend's car is not in great shape, and probably won't survive for the next couple of years. And neither of them have found better refinancing deals.

What should Stacy and her boyfriend do?


Rachel earns $65,000 per year. She’s 27 years old, contributes 20 percent to her retirement account, and holds $5,000 in savings. 

She owes $19,000 on a car loan, at a 4 percent interest rate, and $170,000 on student loans, all with different interest rates, but the highest at 7.9 percent.

She’s hesitant to consolidate her student loans, because she’s currently on a government plan that gives her flexibility, and she doesn’t want to switch into a plan that requires her to make a fixed monthly payment.

She’d like to know if she should use her savings to invest, or repay her loans.


Misty is 40 and has no retirement savings. She lives overseas and is able to save about $20,000 per year. She plans on living overseas for a couple more years before returning to the United States.

Her employer doesn’t offer any retirement benefits or match, and her health insurance accounts are not HSA eligible.

She’d like to contribute to index funds. Is this a good strategy? Does the fact that she lives overseas change her considerations?


Nicole is from New York and is living in Abu Dhabi. She’s been living there for three-and-a-half years and makes good money. She’s repaid her student loans and has a lot of cash saved. She’s single.

She wants to become financially independent. What should she start doing now?


Karen is 32 and lives in Los Angeles. Her take-home pay is $4,300 per month. She supports her parents financially, which costs $1,200 per month; she also lives with them. 

She paid off $60,000 in student loans in 5 years. She’s has $100k in a high-yield savings account and $100k in 403b. She holds $12k in student loan debt from graduate school.

She wants to make 20 percent downpayment on a home with the cash that she’s saved. She’d like to live there, but also have the potential to rent out this home if, at any point, she decides she doesn’t want the burden of a mortgage anymore. She’d like to keep her mortgage to $2,000 per month.

Given that the housing market is so high, should she buy a home? Or should she wait for a market crash and keep saving in the meantime?


Former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy and I tackle these questions in this episode. Enjoy!

For more information, visit the show notes at

Feb 12, 2018
How Dave Ramsey Taught His Kids About Money -- with Rachel Cruze

#115: Rachel Cruze was born the year her father, Dave Ramsey, filed for bankruptcy.

During her childhood, she watched her parents transition from struggling and rebuilding from their bankruptcy, to becoming debt-free multimillionaires.

Her dad went on to become the host of The Dave Ramsey Show, a money management radio show and podcast that reaches more than 12 million people per week. It’s central message is to budget carefully and avoid debt.

Despite their success, the Ramseys committed to raising money-smart kids. They didn’t want their children to become lazy or entitled. Rachel paid for toys as a child. She partially paid for her car as a teenager. She worked throughout college.

Rachel, now in her late 20’s, grew up to become an accomplished speaker and New York Times bestselling author. She and her father co-authored the book Smart Money, Smart Kids, which reached the number one spot on the NYTimes bestseller list. Her latest book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, is also a mega-bestseller.

In this episode, Rachel describes the lessons she learned about saving, spending, budgeting, debt and giving as the daughter of Dave Ramsey.

We discuss “Instagram envy” -- the act of comparing your life to someone elses’ -- and how to avoid the traps of consumerism and materialism.

Read the full show notes -- and download a FREE gratitude worksheet -- at

Feb 05, 2018
Ask Paula -- How Should I Invest $100K in Real Estate?

#114: This week, I answer four questions about real estate investing from the audience.

Joelle asks: I own a home outright on the West Coast. I’m thinking about taking out $100,000 from my home equity, and using this money to buy a rental property. I found a community out east where I can buy a property outright in cash for $100,000 in a good neighborhood. Should I pay cash for one house (via the home equity loan)? Or should I split this $100,000 into multiple down payments on many homes?

Yasin asks: My wife and I are living on one income and investing the other. We save $60,000 per year. We’re looking at duplexes in Minnesota that cost $160,000 to $180,000. Our plan is to purchase a duplex, move into one unit, rent out the other, and aggressively pay off the mortgage in about 1.5 years. We’d move out and repeat this process until we have $7,000 per month in passive income, at which point we’d be financially independent. Should we pursue this plan? Or should are we playing it too safe? Should we buy more properties upfront, rather than waiting for two years between each purchase?

Anonymous asks: I own four rental properties, each of which have an average rent of $1,350 per month. I purchased all of my properties within the past 24 months, and each one has been recently renovated. My goal is to own 20 rental properties. I’d like to make sure that I have adequate cash reserves, in case of emergencies. Each of my properties have insurance with a $5,000 deductible. How much money should I keep in cash reserves? What factors should I consider?

Kim asks: I own one rental property. I recently moved into a single-family home in Scottsdale, Arizona, with the intention to live here for one year and then make this my second rental property. My mortgage is $1,500 per month, and I could collect rent of $2,250 per month – or more, if I Airbnb it. The neighborhood is booming; the housing here is appreciating at an astronomical rate. However, I’m concerned about the longevity of the plumbing in my current home, which was built in 1960s. I may have an expensive repair on the horizon. Here’s my question: Should I hold onto this property, despite the looming repair bills, and turn this into my second rental property? Or should I live in this home for two years and then sell it, cash out, and repay all my student loan and consumer debt? I hold a $60,000 student loan, $7,000 in vehicle loans, and $5,000 on a credit card. My goal to own many cash-flowing properties.

Anonymous asks: A year ago, I relocated to Silicon Valley. I’m thinking about buying a townhouse-condo hybrid. I like the neighborhood and it suits my family’s needs. The property will become a rental in 5-7 years. It’s in a distressed area and could see a lot of potential appreciation. What loan should I consider, given that this property will become a rental within 5-7 years? I’m debating between a 7/1 ARM or a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Also, should I redirect most of my income to paying off the principal as quickly as possible? There are two schools of thought on this: (1) build equity and use a HELOC to buy another property in 5-7 years, or (2) make only the minimum payments on your mortgage. What do you think?

Tune in for the answers!

Jan 29, 2018
How I Run a Six-Figure Business and Host an Airbnb while Traveling the World -- with Natalie Sisson

#113: Natalie Sisson was tired of the corporate world. She wanted freedom, adventure and fulfillment.

In 2008, she quit her job and co-founded a tech company -- but soon she discovered that running a company felt a lot like having a day job.

Two years later, she quit her own company in order to truly strike out on her own.

Since 2010, Natalie has run an online business from her laptop while traveling the globe. She's visited 70 countries, living out of a suitcase while running a lucrative six-figure business.

She also owns investment real estate in Portugal and New Zealand.

In this interview, Natalie and I discuss:
- The four phases of entrepreneurship: The Dreamer, The Hustler, The Superhero and The Freedomist.
- Why Natalie transitioned from a steady paycheck to the financially volatile life of an entrepreneur.
- How Natalie coped when her bank account dwindled to her last $17.
- The major family crisis that reinforced why freedom and flexibility matter more than any job.
- How she bought a property in a foreign country.
- How she manages an Airbnb rental property from halfway around the world.
- Why a minimalist attitude towards possessions is crucial for a traveler and entrepreneur.


Visit for more information

Jan 22, 2018
Ask Paula - How to Convince a Spouse to Invest in Low-fee Index Funds?

#112: How can I convince my spouse to invest in low-fee index funds? How should my fiancé and I combine our finances? If I'd like to invest in rental properties, should I also buy stocks?

Former financial planner Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to tackle these audience questions and more.

Thomas asks:
My wife is suspicious of Vanguard. She questions how they could stay in business while charging low fees -- isn't there a catch?

She's also reluctant about investing the majority of our money in a broad-market index fund like VTSAX. She'd prefer more diversification.

Recently, we met with a major brokerage firm that charges a 1.75 percent management fee. How can I get my wife to see the detrimental effects of choosing this high-fee broker?

Shy asks:
My fiancé and I are getting married soon. We both live with our families at the moment; we'll form a new household after our wedding.

Neither of us has ever lived independently before. How should we budget for this, given that we're not sure what expenses to expect?

Also, any tips on how to commingle finances?

Paris asks:
I'd like to invest in rental properties. Should I still make stock market investments? Should I contribute to a 401k?

Kristin asks:
I've been DIY'ing my household's finances and taxes. So far, our situation has been simple.

However, in a few years, my husband is going to retire. When this happens, we'd like to sell our home, perhaps invest in rental properties, and move either out-of-state or out-of-country.

Our financial and tax situation is about to become a lot more complicated.

I'd like to talk to a financial professional ... but whom should I choose? Should I hire a financial coach? a financial planner? an accountant? an investment advisor? someone else?

We tackle these four questions on today's show. Enjoy!


Resources Mentioned:

Calculator - How do expenses impact fund returns?

Article - How a 1% fee could cost $590,000 in retirement savings

Article - The Impact of Investment Costs

Article - The Anti-Budget

Article - Three Methods for Co-Mingling a Couple's Finances

FINRA Broker Check website
Guidevine (website)
XY Planning Network

Jan 15, 2018
How We Retired at Age 38 and 41 -- with Tanja Hester & Mark Bunge

#111: Tanja Hester and Mark Bunge used to have demanding but fulfilling careers as political and social cause consultants.

While they loved the mission behind their work, they grew tired of the exhausting hours and grueling travel. Their home felt like a weekend crash pad. They had no time or energy to pursue outside passions like skiing, biking and volunteering.

Six years ago, they read a book that changed the course of their lives.

The book, How to Retire Early, set the couple on the path of financial independence. They moved from pricey Los Angeles to the more affordable North Lake Tahoe. They started automatically saving and investing huge chunks of their paycheck. They crafted detailed spreadsheets, plotting precisely how much they'd need to save before they could comfortably quit their jobs.

Today, Tanja and Mark are newly-retired ... at the ages of 38 and 41.

How did they progress towards early retirement so quickly? And what lessons would they share with anyone else who wants to escape the 9-to-5 grind?

Find out in today's episode.


For more information, visit the show notes at

Jan 08, 2018
Ask Paula -- Get Ready for the Next Recession

#110: Happy New Years! We're kicking off this year on a bright and cheerful note -- with a conversation about the impending recession! Yay!

The U.S. stock market is at a peak, continuing its 9-year bull run. The markets have been rising since March 2009 without any major corrections or pullbacks.

We are living in one of the longest periods of economic expansion in our nation's market history.

That's worrisome.

Speculators with short memories are popping champagne corks thinking the good times will last forever, while those of us who are students of history know that what goes up must come down.

Trying to guess WHEN the next recession will happen is a waste of time. A more efficient use of time is to prepare ourselves such that when it does happen -- whenever that may be -- we are ready.

How can we prepare for a recession? That's one of the four topics I cover in today's episode.

Specifically, here's what we chat about in this first episode of 2018:

Thayne asks:
1) Broadly -- What are the best investments overall if you're
going into a recession?

2) Specifically -- What's the most recession-proof type of real estate investment?

Aaron from Portland, Oregon asks:
In Episode 96, you discussed the benefits of real estate investing -- but you didn't mention the use of leverage, nor did you mention that real estate is an inefficient market. Why not?

Anna from the San Francisco Bay Area asks:
I've moved out of my condo, which I'm renting out. But the rent only covers the mortgage (PITI) and HOA. Should I sell the condo? If so, I could use $250,000 in equity for an alternate investment, such as buying rental properties out-of-state.


Resources Mentioned:
How to Calculate Cap Rate and Cash-on-Cash Return --


Jan 01, 2018
How to Create a Complaint-Free World -- with Will Bowen

#109: Happy holidays! I thought it would be nice to wrap up this year with a lighthearted holiday episode about the importance of keeping a positive attitude.

Will Bowen, my guest on the final episode of 2017 (wow!), started a campaign to motivate people to complain less.

He noticed that many people in his community said they wanted more stuff -- more possessions -- but they complained about what they already had.

So he wondered if perhaps people could find happiness not by purchasing more, but rather by complaining less.

In this episode, he discusses how we can move towards a complaint-free lifestyle.

I thought this would be a cheerful, light interview to round out this year. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

- Paula


For more information, visit the show notes at

Dec 25, 2017
Ask Paula - I Don't Know How to Invest

#108: Former financial advisor Joe Saul-Sehy joins me to answer audience questions about investing strategies, early retirement, and tax planning.

Whitnee calls in with this:

I'm 31, and my husband and I save half of our combined income. We've maxed out our H.S.A. accounts and we're getting an employer match in our 401k. We have $80,000 stashed as cash in a checking or low-yield savings account.

We're paying nearly $2,000 per month for insurance policies, most of which is a whole life insurance policy. We have a rental property that cash flows $210 per month; we pocket $150 and use the other $60 as an extra principal payment.

What should we do differently? How can we learn about investing? What funds should we focus on? Should we sell our rental property and invest the proceeds, or hold onto this? If we hold, should we focus on repaying the mortgage as quickly as possible?

Kim asks about the 4 percent withdrawal rule in early retirement. When you're calculating your savings goal, do you need to account for the tax implications of this withdrawal? Any tips on how to optimize this?

Susan says:
I loved your explanation about how to use a Roth Conversion Ladder to avoid paying stiff early-withdrawal penalties in retirement. (Episode 94).

Here's my follow-up question: How long should my money sit inside of a Traditional IRA before I convert it to a Roth IRA?

We tackle these three questions on today's episode. Enjoy!


Resources Mentioned:

Whitnee's question:

Investing Made Simple by Mike Piper
Can I Retire? by Mike Piper
The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
The Wealth Barber by David Chilton
The Truth About Money by Ric Edelman

Oblivious Investor by Mike Piper
FINRA Broker Check
Afford Anything article: I Don't Know How to Start Investing and I'm Afraid of Expensive Mistakes

Kim's question:
Two articles critiquing the 4 percent withdrawal rule:

Susan's question:
Episode 94 - The Early Retirement Episode

Dec 18, 2017
How Scott Harrison Brought Clean Water to 7.3 Million People

#107: Scott Harrison spent 10 years as a New York City nightclub promoter, partying until sunrise every morning and ingesting almost every substance imaginable.

But when he was 28, he realized his life lacked meaning.

"My tombstone might say, 'here's the guy who got thousands of people drunk,'" Harrison said.

Feeling lost, he decided to volunteer for a medical charity in Liberia.

Harrison spent the next year-and-a-half in West Africa, where he encountered people with diseases he'd never seen before -- such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and fatal cases of diarrhea and dehydration.

He smelled the yellow-brown parasitic dirty water that millions of people were drinking. He discovered that unsafe, unclean drinking water is the world's leading cause of death.

When he returned to New York City, he couldn't bring himself to sell expensive bottled water at nightclubs anymore.

Instead, Harrison moved into a tiny closet and launched a nonprofit, Charity: Water.

Today, Charity: Water has funded more than 24,000 water projects that have brought safe, clean drinking water to more than 7.3 million people.

That's the good news.

The bad news? There are still 663 million people without access to clean water. That's around double the population of the U.S.

And water-borne diseases kill about 16,000 people each week, almost half of whom are children under age 5.

There's still a long way to go.

Today, Scott joins me on the podcast to talk about how he started and grew a major charitable organization.

- How does a nightclub promoter with zero business experience launch a massive nonprofit organization?
- What mistakes did he make?
- How did he differentiate his organization from the thousands of other charities out there?
- Who did he first hire?
- What advice would he offer to anyone who's goal is to create a nonprofit?

Learn the answers to these questions and more in this excellent episode with Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity: Water.


Resources Mentioned:

Charity Water -- Short Film

Charity Water - Projects

World Health Organization - Drinking water fact sheet

Dec 11, 2017
Ask Paula - How to Estimate Repair Costs, File Taxes on Rental Income, and More

#106: How do you search for rental properties out-of-state? Should I offer a lease-option contract to my friends? How can I estimate repair and maintenance costs? And can you deep-dive into bookkeeping and taxes for rental real estate?

I tackle these four questions in this episode of Ask Paula - real estate edition.


Saul from Salt Lake City asks:

I'm converting the first floor of my home into a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment. My "hacked duplex" will soon be ready for my first tenant.

Can you deep-dive into the taxes and accounting? How should I keep records of my expenses, and what should I file?


Terri asks:

I'm analyzing real estate deals, but I'm getting stumped about how to estimate the repair, maintenance and capital expenditures.

It seems like everyone has a different approach for calculating this. Should I estimate a percentage of the purchase price? A percentage of the rental income? A flat amount per unit? Or something else? How can I estimate costs accurately?


Kirsten from Madison, Wisconsin asks:

My husband and I recently moved to Madison, but we've kept our old home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The home is worth $120,000, and we have a 15-year note.

Our friends would like to purchase that home, but their credit is bad. They'll need two years to improve their credit situation.


We're considering renting to them through a lease-option contract. Our mortgage is $950 per month; we're thinking of charging them $1,100 - $1,200 per month on a rent-to-own lease. Do you think this is a good idea?


Chrissy from North Vancouver, Canada asks:

I loved your description in Episode 92 about building a team in a different state.

Could you please further flesh out the steps that you use when you're searching for a rental property in a different state?

I tackle these four questions in today's episode. Enjoy!



For more, visit the show notes at 

Dec 04, 2017
Life as an Experiment -- with A.J. Jacobs

#105: A.J. Jacobs is the Editor-at-Large of Esquire Magazine and the New York Times bestselling author of multiple books. His three TED Talks have collectively garnered more than three million views. He describes himself as "a father of three, husband of one, and cousin to millions."

And he's probably your cousin. Twice removed.

AJ joins me on this episode to chat about motivation, habits, and living life as an experiment.

Here are some of the stories we cover:

- Why AJ divulged his entire sexual history to actress Scarlett Johansson.
- How AJ successfully and frequently changes his behaviors and habits.
- AJ's experimental approach to life.
- Why the adage "fake it 'til you make it" -- or rather, "fake it 'til you become it" -- is essential for developing habits.
- How gratitude at extreme levels can become a mindset game-changer.
- How healthy living nearly killed him.
- AJ's quest to demonstrate the idea that we're all related -- and throw the world's largest family reunion.

Resources Mentioned:

  • A.J.'s Books:
  • It's All Relative
  • My Life as an Experiment
  • A Year of Living Biblically
  • Drop Dead Healthy
  • The Know-It-All

A.J.'s TED Talks:
My Year of Living Biblically

How Healthy Living Nearly Killed Me

The World's Largest Family Reunion


Nov 27, 2017
Ask Paula - How Can I Learn about Money from the People Around Me?

#104: This week, I answer 4 questions about quitting a depressing job, learning how to ask probing questions, saving for a downpayment, and more.

Edward asks:
How can I learn from other people around me? I'm 28, and my wife and I have some money that we'd like to invest. We know people who've had both successes and losses in the investing world, but when I ask them questions, they tend to become a little more private and shy away. How can I encourage them to open up, so that we can learn from them?

Sara asks:
For the last 2 years, my husband and I have lived on one income and used the other to pay off our student loans. We also saved $40,000 to make a downpayment on a house.

We need to move to England for 2 years, and we'll buy a house when we return to the U.S. In the meantime, what should we do with the $40,000 downpayment that we've saved?

We'd hate to see the money in a savings account, but it doesn’t seem wise to invest in index funds. What should we do?

Britney asks:
I’m at a job that I hate. I’d like to start a small business and find other part-time work so that I can quit my job.

I’m planning to move in with my in-laws, so my cost-of-living will be low. Do you recommend that I start a blog as a side hustle, so that I can pay the bills after I quit my job?

A listener in the Midwest asks:
I’m a 37-year-old single woman living in the Midwest. I live in a one-bedroom with my 5-year-old son.

I bring home $3,800 per month. My rent is $1,150 and my son's preschool is $700 per month. I have $40,000 in retirement savings and a $3,000 emergency fund.

I don’t want to be making rent payments in retirement. Should I take $20,000 from my 401k to make a downpayment on a rental property?


I answer these questions in today's episode. Enjoy!

For more, visit the show notes at 

Nov 20, 2017
Random Smattering of Lessons on Money, Work and Life — plus A Call for Radical Authenticity

#103: On today’s show, I'm sharing this random smattering of lessons on money and life.

1) Simplify everything.

2) Risk = Probability x Magnitude.

3) Curate.

4) Never delay gratification.

5) Know your net worth, relative to your lifetime earnings.

6) Don't half-ass anything. (Whole-ass a few things.)

7) When you're not at work, don't be at work.

8) Yes, and.

9) Money can't make you happy, but a lack of money can make you unhappy.

10) Every conversation about money is really a conversation about values.

11) The less you try, the better.

12) Work with your nature, not against it.

13) The thing should be its own reward.

14) Practice radical self-reliance.

15) Achieve being through doing.

16) What is stated, happens.


I elaborate on each of these in today’s episode. In addition, I’m also sharing my mini-keynote from FinCon on the importance of authenticity and passion in online business.




You can subscribe to show updates at -- just throw your email address into that big box above-the-fold.

Nov 13, 2017
Ask Paula - Should I Sell My Rental Property and Invest the Proceeds in the Market?

#102: This week, I'm back to answering questions posed by listeners of the podcast.

An anonymous listener asks:

Should we continue to rent out our home, or should we sell it? We bought a home in California but have since moved to New York and have been renting there. After all expenses on the rental are accounted for, we receive $150/mo in profit. We estimate that even with repairs factored in, we'll still be in the positive.

However, my husband thinks it's better to sell the property and invest the profits. I think we're better off keeping the house and having someone else pay the mortgage. Who has the better idea? What would you do?


Jessica asks:

My husband and I are about to relocate from the mid-west to Colorado Springs, and we anticipate making $80,000 from the sale of our house.

Should we take the proceeds from the sale and put it toward our next home? Or should we put that money in index funds instead?

For context, we plan on buying either a duplex or triplex, or doing a fix-and-flip like we did with our current home.

Terri asks:

How can I find a good real estate agent - especially one who is good with short sales and foreclosures? What are the signs of a good real estate agent?

Laura asks:

My husband and I currently own a three-family home (in which we live on the bottom floor), but in light of getting a new job that requires me to commute an hour each way, we are thinking about either converting the three-family home into three condo units and selling them, or buying another house and keeping the three-family home as a rental.

There's another factor to consider, though: the property is located on a peninsula, and with sea levels rising, we don't think it has long-term potential (in terms of equity).

What should we do?


For more, visit the show notes at 

Nov 06, 2017
The Code of Trust, with Robin Dreeke

#101: Robin Dreeke is former head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program.

His primary role, at the time, was to thwart foreign spies and  recruit American spies. That's not an easy task.

To accomplish this, Dreeke needed to gain people's trust -- even when they had no reason to trust him.

He spent years developing and testing systems on how to develop trust with others in high-stakes situations.

Today, he joins us on this podcast to describe The Code of Trust, a set of practices that he developed during his days as a high-ranking counterintelligence expert.


This system is based on 5 simple principles:

  1. Suspend Your Ego
  2. Be Nonjudgmental
  3. Honor Reason
  4. Validate Others
  5. Be Generous


Tune in to hear him elaborate on each principal, and discuss how this applies to anyone who wants stronger, more trustworthy relationships at work and home.

For more information, including links to resources mentioned in this episode, visit 

Oct 30, 2017
Life After Financial Freedom, with Brandon - the Mad FIentist

#100: Over a year-and-a-half and two million plus downloads later, the Afford Anything podcast has hit another awesome milestone: the 100th episode!

To celebrate, I recorded this one live from Ecuador with my good friend Brandon, otherwise known as the Mad FIentist.

If you've been a listener since the early days, you may remember Brandon from episode #7. He was the first guest to appear on the podcast, and I'm thrilled to have him back on for round two!

In this episode, we focus on life after financial freedom:

  • What projects has Brandon been working on?
  • What are the biggest lessons he's learned from being FI so far?
  • How does he maintain motivation to get things done now that money isn't an issue?
  • What does a typical day look like for Brandon?
  • How Brandon's wife became a FIentist after some initial resistance.
  • Why full-time travel after FI didn't work out for him
  • and more!

Enjoy, and thanks for listening!

For show notes, go to