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Cody on Stairs

Where to Start?

So, you’ve heard about financial independence, but you have no idea how to get there. Don’t worry — I remember the feeling too. Basically, financial independence boils down to three crucial principles: 

1) Earning, 2) Saving, and 3) Investing.

Earning More

In this technological age, it has never been easier to increase your income. I like to break income sources down into three tranches.

  1. Day Job (Ye Ol’ Nine-to-Five)
  2. Building Your Own Business
  3. Side Hustling / Freelancing
Always remember that EVERY dollar counts. You may think that something isn’t worth your time, but every additional dollar you earn moves you one step closer to financial freedom.
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Spending Less

One of the most common misconceptions about the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement is the idea that frugality = deprivation. The truth is, the average American spends nearly 62% of their income in three distinct categories.

  1. Housing (32.9%)
  2. Transportation (15.8%)
  3. Food (12.6%)
Entertainment only accounts for 5.1% of average spending! Once you understand these numbers, it’s plenty possible to live a life that you love AND save a large percentage of your income.


Investing the Difference

After you’ve created a gap between your income and expenses, you’ll want to invest the difference. I have three investment platforms that I like to recommend.

  1. Vanguard – This is certainly a favorite within the personal finance community and for good reason. It has some of the lowest expense ratios (fees) in the industry and their customer service is amazing. Check out my Vanguard 101 course to get started!
  2. M1 Finance If you’re looking for a more modern interface and some free robo-advising and asset reallocation features, I recommend M1. You can invest in a number of pre-built portfolios or various stocks and ETFs. Check out my M1 Finance Setup Guide.
  3. Robinhood – Although I definitely prefer Vanguard and M1, Robinhood is a great choice for someone looking to dabble in individual stock investing. Plus, if you sign up you get one random stock for FREE!
No matter what you choose, the most important thing is to invest as early and often as possible. The power of compound interest is a force to be reckoned with.
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