Choose FIEarlier this year, I attended Camp Mustache Southeast in Gainesville, Florida. Among the many awesome people in attendance were Jonathan and Brad, two charming fellows with a passion for financial independence.

At the retreat, Brad told me a story that gave me warm fuzzies. In April 2011, I wrote an article at GRS about a British Airways travel card that offered 100,000 bonus miles when certain conditions were met. I was still a little wary of credit cards, but I decided to sign up. Brad read that article and decided to get the card too. “I got over $4000 in travel value out of that one card!” he told me. Now Brad runs a site called Travel Miles 101, which teaches families how to make the most of their credit cards.

Soon after that weekend north of Orlando, Brad and Jonathan decided to team up. They launched, Choose FI, a blog (and podcast) about designing the life you want, and about their experiments on the road to financial independence.

I’m pleased that this first-ever installment of Get Rich Slowly Theater (which I hope will be a regular Saturday column) features Brad and Jonathan’s latest episode from the Choose FI podcast. This particular episode is built around an interview with none other than yours truly, J.D. Roth.

During our hour-long conversation, we covered a wide range of topics. The guys asked me to recount my journey from debt to wealth. We talked about the importance of taking action, about trying to teach everyone how to be better with money, and about the current state of the financial independence community.

Other highlights include:

  • I tell one of my favorite stories: How I chose my first bank account because it came with a free Frisbee. I used the Frisbee only for an afternoon, but I kept the bank account — and the monthly fee that came with it — for nearly seventeen years. That “free” Frisbee wasn’t free. In the end, it cost me nearly $1500!
  • I also talk about how I attended college on scholarship, and how I made that happen. The secret? I worked hard in high school, I was involved in lots of activities, and I tested well. I should have mentioned Ramit Sethi’s excellent guide to getting college scholarships, but it didn’t occur to me during the interview.
  • We discuss optimization vs. what works. In the world of personal finance, there’s usually more than one way to accomplish any given task. Some methods are more efficient than others. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that if you don’t take the optimal path to your goal — buying a house, getting out of debt, retiring early — then you’re not doing it right. I think that’s bullshit. The right way to do something is the way that works for you, the method that actually allows you to accomplish whatever it is you’re after. “Suboptimal and following through is infinitely better than perfect optimization where you bail out,” Jonathan says, and he’s right.

We also spent a lot of time walking through the six stages of financial freedom, including a discussion of the huge gap between financial agency and financial security.

I listened to this podcast again this morning while walking my dog, and I was pleased. I don’t always like listening to myself, but in this case I felt like Brad and Jonathan did an excellent job steering the conversation, keeping me on task. I think there’s some interesting and useful stuff here. You might like it too!

Do you know of a podcast episode or YouTube video I should share with GRS readers? Let me know about it! For the time being, submit suggestions for GRS Theater by email to user jdroth at my Money Boss domain. (GRS email should be operational soon, but it isn’t yet.) Also, please note that comments are still broken and will appear in ALL CAPS.



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