This was the original financial independence retire early (FIRE) blog. Jacob, the author wrote a book called “Early Retirement Extreme”. The blog details how he was able to drastically cut his spending in order to retire within 5 years. He did this by dramatically cutting his housing, transportation, and food costs. He found rent of $200 per month, biked or walked everywhere, and prepared all of his food (no restaurants). Most people are not as willing to be as extreme as Jacob in cutting their expenses, but the mindset is valid for anyone, and many of the suggestions can be used as is or watered down for positive effects to your life. The 21-day makeover is an excellent spot to start.
Mr. Money Mustache (MMM) is probably the most popular of the many financial independence retire early bloggers (FIRE). MMM took a slower approach to FIRE than Early Retirement Extreme by retiring at age 30. He has a nice house, a car, and a child which makes his approach more palatable to a broader audience. However, he has construction skills to fix up his house nice, he bikes almost everywhere and uses his car sparingly, and he had his child after he was able to retire. MMM speaks extensively on his philosophies that allow him to feel like he lives a luxurious life on a relatively small amount of spending. One of his most popular posts is “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement“.
The stock series by J L Collins is excellent. He covers the mindset you need to develop in order to invest and also the simplest way to invest for a novice investor which ironically is also better than the vast majority of professional investors too. My kind of win-win! He wrote the stock series based on some letters he wrote to his then-teenage daughter. He later wrote an excellent book on the topic called “The Simple Path to Wealth” that I highly recommend.
J L Collins along with Jack Bogle sold me on the benefits of investing in a total market index fund. I had known they were good for novice investors but had assumed that I would be able to do better than average. Jim’s website and both of their books helped me to see that index funds actually give superior returns than experts and that my ego was getting in my way by making me think I could do better. So I realized that by trying to beat the market I was increasing both my risk and my costs for transactions and taxes so I could get worse returns.
The Mad Fientist has created many useful features not found on the other FI blogs. He has a podcast where he interviews other financial independent people, retirement experts, and the author of, “Your Money or Your Life”. I like this a lot because it allows me to listen to him while I do other things around the house or while driving.
He has also created the “FI Lab”, which is a simple web app that allows you to track your progress toward financial independence. I had already created my own spreadsheets to do the same thing as this, but his look much nicer and would’ve saved me the work of creating the spreadsheet if I had known about it before I made mine.
The biggest benefit to the Mad Fientist site to me was his material on taking advantage of tax-advantaged accounts. I initially assumed the Roth IRA was superior to a traditional IRA and I discounted the benefits of either. First, the majority of financial advice says that the Roth IRA is better, but when you do the math, almost all scenarios show that the traditional IRA and 401k are superior. The second thing was that I was working so hard trying to pick stocks hoping to outperform the market by a percent or two, but wasn’t even taking full advantage of tax savings that could save me 15-25%. This inspired me to start maxing out my 401k and switch my contributions over a traditional IRA from my Roth IRA.
Click this link for the best place to start to explore this site as there are many links to follow if a topic interests you.
Early Retirement Now (ERN) has excellent material on the safe withdrawal rates for early retirement. I appreciate how intelligent and thorough his articles are. I read a lot of finance articles and books and the vast majority recycle the same information over and over again. I appreciate how ERN does original studies for topics that are relevant to me. The most popular one is his safe withdrawal rate series.
What are your most influential blogs? Please leave a comment letting me know so I can check them out.
ChooseFI has become my goto blog/podcast. While I haven’t picked up a lot of new information from the podcast after reading all the other blogs, I have picked up a much greater connection with other members of the FIRE community as a result of the efforts of Choose FI to make local and global Facebook groups. The other thing that makes Choose FI so special is their 2 podcasts a week posting schedule. As many of the more established bloggers have been at FI for years and seem to have lost some interest in making new posts, Choose FI continues to post frequently. This provides excellent motivation by refocusing me on my goals twice a week. The last thing I like about Choose FI is how they put out an idea and let the community debate the topic to arrive at a much more refined point of view than any single blogger could do on their own no matter how smart.