Ask Me Anything – Round 1

Happy Saturday y’all!

Thanks for all the questions yesterday! As promised I’m sharing them all along with the answers below…


Can you share an update on your foster or adoption process? (From Peter)

Starting off with a real personal one!… As some of you might know my wife and I are exploring the process to foster/adopt kids through LA county. We’re in the final phases, the next step is to be assigned a new social worker, who will hopefully match us with a kid (or two). They said it could be within the next few weeks (but, they’ve been saying that for the last few months so we have no real timeline)

How/where did you meet your wife? (Susan and Lisa both asked this)

We met at a bar one night in Hawaii! We stayed until the bar closed, then went to another one. After that one closed we continued walking and talking in the streets. Been inseparable ever since. πŸ™‚

One of our first dates in early 2009 πŸ™‚

What is your day job? Are you a financial planner? (from Sage)

I work part time as a writer/editor for some financial websites. I’m not a financial planner, advisor, or certified in anything. Just a personal finance enthusiast and money nerd.

I’d love to learn more about your career path. Would you consider yourself a full-time β€œdigital nomad” at this point? And if so, what’s the 1-2 biggest steps you took that allowed the transition to digital nomad life?! (from Jesse)

I never really followed a specific career path, almost every job I’ve had has been by accident. When I got out of high school I jumped right into sales –> and continued doing that until I left my last full time position 3 years ago. My plan was to take a 1 year sabbatical from sales, but somehow I started typing daily blogs on the internet and randomly got offered the part time position I have now. I don’t know what “digital nomad” really means, but yes I work behind a laptop and can do it anywhere, anytime. I’ve only been doing this for a little while and what I’ve learned so far is that traveling while working sounds more fun than it really is.

What are your thoughts on the covid vaccine? Still deciding if I want to get it or not πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ(From G)


Hello there Mr Joel, Happy Friday. My question for you is do you like the 3 fund portfolio.? I think its genius for a set it and forget about it investing. P.S. Any chance a Zoom Happy Hour in the near future. (from Bowen)

I’m a big fan of low cost index funds and yes the 3 fund portfolio is pretty much my strategy. VTI, VXUS, and BND. I do hold some other tiny positions, but the majority of my stuff is just VTI. Yes, we can do another group happy hour if y’all want to? I had fun meeting everyone on the last one!

What brought you to the US? (from Kiley)

An airplane. 🀣 Just kidding. It started as a holiday – was only intending to stay for a year or so in Hawaii – but I ended up accidentally falling in love and building a life in the US. I like it here πŸ™‚

On your FIRE journey, did you just start out by budgeting, (and if you did, what was your method)? (Kiley again)

Actually my first step was just to track expenses. I use (the mobile app mostly – it’s free) to track everything. Each month I download the transactions into excel and then sort by category. After years of this, I started developing a more formal budget based on my spending. I still use excel to budget.

Swimming or Running? (from Christina)

Both! Actually, swimming – because it’s so hot right now and I love the water!

Getting up at 5:00 am, do you ever need to take an afternoon nap or do you just go to bed really early in the evening? (from Susan)

Great question! I’m in bed between 9-10pm most nights, so that’s about 7-8 hours sleep. I also take naps regularly! 😴

How do you stay so positive all the time? (Max, Jason, Stef and Ben all asked variations of this question :))

Daily appreciation and gratitude is my secret. I remind myself every day of all the things I DO have, vs. the things I don’t have. I also drink a lot of beer and celebrate every tiny little thing in life which keeps me happy πŸ™‚

How does one use debt to one’s advantage? I’ve heard of people where I’m from in Richmond, building their rental property/real estate empires with debt rather than tying up their cash when expanding. My wife and I just finished paying off all our student debt and are looking at buying land/house/condo but want to do it so we’re not jumping back into the frying pan of debt. (from Chris)

“Good debt” is when you borrow money to buy an appreciating asset. Typically, you want to borrow at a lower interest rate than the return your asset provides. (For example, you get a mortgage paying 5% interest, but the property is making you an 8% return… In this scenario, you are making money at a faster rate than the debt is costing you, so this is good. The more you borrow, the more you make.

Debt also has other advantages, like maybe tax deductions and freeing up your cash for other opportunities. BUT, all this being said, if you are not comfortable with debt and it makes you nervous, be very careful leveraging beyond your comfort zone.

I’ve owned 7 rental properties in my life, had some winners and some losers. If there’s any advice I would give a new real estate investor it’s to not do what everyone else is doing. Instead, do what you feel is comfortable for your situation.

What is your top recommended book to others? Can be anything, financial, fiction, self-help, etc. (from Matt)

Financial: The Millionaire Next Door
Novels/Stories: Shantaram
Self-help: Extreme Ownership

That’s it for now!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Love, Joel

Another puppy pic of Cooper I found yesterday!

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