We've met so many folks on the path to FIRE, and are often asked about resources we love. So we thought we would make a list to make it easy. That said, we would encourage you to consider each and every time you open up your wallet and ask "Is there a different way to solve this problem?"
Tools, Services and even Products can prove incredibly useful in automating your finances, improving your well-being and expanding your world.
During our journey to FIRE, we've met plenty of awesome folks who happen to work on the solutions below, so some of these links may support the costs related to this site at absolutely no cost to you (in some cases, to your benefit!). We are all about those symbiotic relationships, and appreciate your support!
If you've read our book, you'll know that our stock portfolio is invested nearly 100% in Vanguard. If you've read The Simple Path to Wealth, you'll understand why. In a nutshell, "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders—including you if you're a Vanguard fund investor. Their unique client-owned structure allows them to return profits to our fund shareholders in the form of lower expenses. Low costs help their clients keep more of their returns, which can help them earn more money over time." That's a company I can trust with my money.
We are excited about diversifying our portfolio a bit using real estate investing. If you are considering a similar path, Bigger Pockets is a treasure trove of tools, forums, community, information, and resources.
Taylor and I started using Mint way back in 2014. It didn't stick. It wasn't fun to see how bad we were at saving money. Then, I found FIRE and everything changed. I needed to TRACK my money, to know where it was going and how we to redesign our lives with our new FIRE goals in mind. Mint made it super easy to plug in our accounts and quickly see the pie chart of our decision making. And, it was free. That said, the budgeting tool leaves a lot to be desired, they are constantly selling crap credit cards. Plus, no one likes looking at an app to tell them how much they spent at restaurants last month. They want help with their future! That's why Mint didn't stick with us back in 2014. And why I rarely use it now. But early on, it's all about tracking your money, and doing so without spending a dime. We recommend this tool when you are early in your journey..
I graduated from Mint to Personal Capital after reading many of my FIRE hero's talking about their own use cases. Most exceptional, they have a tool that automatically analyzes the fees on your investment accounts. Since fee's are your enemy, and assessing your investment portfolio early on can be daunting, I found this especially delightful. I use Personal Capital to monitor my money daily (or weekly when I’m especially busy). I think their interface is beautiful and robust, so I love tracking my investment portfolio from their dashboard. And their retirement calculator is pretty great, with lots of options to play with various scenarios. We have a retirement calculator here at Playing with FIRE, which we modeled to e easy to use and very basic, by design. But as you get further along in your journey, you may want a more robust option. Just be warned, they will hound you with phone calls to sign you up for their financial advisor services. We don't use a financial advisor, so we can't comment on their services, but generally, we attempt to avoid fees at all costs.
If you are in debt or love geeking out with your money, we HIGHLY recommend You Need a Budget (YNAB). Unlike Mint, this budgeting tool requires you to be proactive with your money. It requires you to assign a job to your dollars, ahead of time. And if you stick with it, your life with be forever changed. You'll gain control of your money, and once you do, you'll chase that feeling for the rest of your life. But you must be ready to COMMIT. This tool is relatively easy to use, but it can be a bit daunting if you aren't used to deep diving into your finances. I didn't immediately take to YNAB, because I wasn't ready to have such an intimate relationship with my bad habits. I needed to ease in. But we were also in the fortunate position of being debt-free. We weren't quite in emergency mode. If you are, this tool is for you, whether you are ready or not. Do it. YNAB is not some faceless corporation, they are run by good people. Jesse Mecham originally built the tool for him and his wife to track their money. He ended up turning that tool into the business it is today, and you have to love a good entrepreneur story. We also recommend his book, which walks you through the 4 simple rules to redefine your relationship with money.
This may be the ultimate FIRE resource. New Retirement currently has the most robust DIY tracking tools, calculators, planners and comparison tools on the market. We recommend NewRetirement if you are a hyper-analytical DIY'er with a complex financial landscape.
It's not often you find a bank that starts with a commitment to: Do Right, Obsess over the Customer and Tirelessly Innovate. Instead of spending money on expensive branches (voted "best online bank" by Money Magazine), they pass the savings on to you. We've opened a savings account for our emergency fund with Ally, and we enjoy their high APY (Annual Percentage Yield) which helps us hedge against inflation. There are a few competitors in the space who also offer competitive rates, but Ally's customer service, ease of use and dedication to the customer has got me sticking with them.
Google's plans are designed to fit your data usage and give you all the good stuff, like high-speed data abroad, without contracts or cancellation fees. Plus, if you are traveling internationally, they offer data abroad at no extra charge!
Recently updated, YMOYL is widely considered the original FIRE literature, this book has been inspiring future FIRE practitioners to consider the correlation between the time value of their money. Also, Vicki Robin is an absolute legend.
We wish this book had been written when we started our journey. Jonathan and Brad were a weekly source of inspiration and information that kept us going in the early days when we were packing our bags and slashing budgets. Fast forward a few years, and these guys have become authors, orators, community leaders and philanthropists. We highly recommend their podcast as well, and appreciate the blueprint they've laid out in this book for those getting their start.
We've gifted this book more than any other. Originally known as the Stock Series, written for his daughter, JL Collins turns his blog into a book and lays down a rock-solid case for investing heavily in low-cost index funds. Equally important, he explains how the stock market works and how to use that knowledge to ride out of the constant ups and downs. You want a simple and stressfree way to achieve financial independence? Read this book.
Kristy and Bryce coined one of our favorite phrases "Math that Sh*t Up". As a former math flunkie, I've used this phrase repeatedly to believe in myself when opening up the spreadsheets. It's a call for empowerment. And so is this book. You'll be packing your bags and living abroad with a million bucks in the bank in no time.
Grant Sabatier is a passionate entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster and author, most passionate about helping others achieve financial freedom just like he did. He encourages readers to save, but also provides loads of valuable information on how to increase your INCOME to expedite your journey to financial freedom.
If you want the smartest way to manage money, look no further than the YNAB methodology. And while the execution may be a bit daunting for some, Jesse has a way of making you feel inspired and encouraged to follow his lead.
Often times, the FIRE movement is criticized for "hating work". I find this accusation mostly leveled by people who clearly haven't read through the countless FIRE blogs who concede that work is incredibly important to one's well-being. The FIRE movement is all about making the work you are doing now, optional. So, if you are one of those people who is initially turned off by the misguided notion that FIRE is about hating work, you’re in luck. Tanja Hester has written a book that helps clarify this notion, while giving a very detailed framework to achieve a "work optional" status in your own life.
If you are about to head out to college, or just becoming a young professional, this book is for you. With all that energy and time ahead of you, you'll learn how to save 50+% of your income while still having fun, increase your income and use all that effort to build your wealth in record time. Reaching FI in his 20's and currently the CEO of Bigger Pockets, Scott Trench is a force to be reckoned with. And you will be too after reading this book.
If you are interested in real estate as a vehicle to achieve financial independence, this book is for you. A good friend of ours, Chad Carson is our favorite FIRE Real Estate Blogger. He's built a real estate empire to fund his FI lifestyle, and wants you to do the same. In his book, he helps you understand which real estate strategy best fits your lifestyle. Taylor and I have come back to this book time and again, and love gifting this book alongside "The Simple Path to Wealth" when sharing investment strategies with friends.
If you suffer from imposter syndrome in any capacity, this book is for you. I have found this book incredibly useful, finding a newfound belief in myself and how I see my potential and the potential of those around me. I make it a point to read this book at the start of every new year, and suggest you do the same.
We have all heard that journaling is a great way to live in the present, become more focused and grateful and improve your happiness. But who the heck has time to open a notebook and start writing down your day? This journal is my daily go-to, you simply read the daily affirmation, and answer 3 simple questions. Take it a step further and open this up before going to sleep every night, recapping the day with 2 questions. This takes about 5 minutes a day, and I've enjoyed major improvements in my capacity for daily gratitude as a result. Highly recommend adding this to your daily life.
Gasp! Buying things? Isn't this anti-FIRE? NO. Buying quality products (preferably built for life or with lifetime warranties), especially when they are necessities, is very FIRE friendly. And sometimes, buying the right gear can help you avoid fees, like extra baggage fees. I know many of you travel. I've become something of an expert through my work as a video producer over the past decade. In fact, in 2016, I reached the Southwest Companion Pass Status... without taking out a SW credit card. That's 100 one way flights. That said, if you don't travel often... perhaps consider refraining.
As the son of a Navy SEAL, I have always been taught to pack light and be prepared for anything. I very rarely check bags unless we are traveling with our child or I've got pelican cases for work. But if it's just Taylor and I, we usually only have a backpack, carry-on or both. This saves tons of money in baggage fees and forces us not to overpack. A little planning ahead mixed with the right gear, and you can take over the world.
And you can start with this backpack. I've included the 20L and the larger option, as they are both incredible options for travel and general mobility. I've never encountered a more thought out and durable product in all my travels. The number of features hidden in this beautifully designed bag will leave you marveling at the thing years into ownership. The bag is waterproof. The straps fold away under magnetic flaps, quickly allowing you to turn the bag into a "duffel" of sorts. There are side, back and top handles that make it SO easy to grab out of the overhead bins, your trunk and anywhere else you've set it down. The zippers are military grade and there are pockets all over the place. There are multiple access points allowing for easy access in stressful situations (like grabbing your computer before heading into that window seat without holding up the entire line of folks trying to sit down). They are incredibly comfortable to wear. And most importantly, they are guaranteed for life. This is literally the last backpack I'll ever buy.
This Eagle Creek bag is incredibly rugged and versatile. I've traveled the world over with this thing for nearly 5 years, and it still looks brand new. Durability in luggage is so hard to come by, that should be enough. But there's so much more. Every edge that takes a beating has reinforced padding. The wheels are rugged and fortified with a laminated exoskeleton. There are convenient pockets for storing small essentials(headphones, wallet and phone when going thru security). The zippers feel military-grade, and hold up when you are really trying to stuff that extra jacket in. Probably my most favorite feature is the multiple grab handles, especially the one on top. It makes it SO easy to grab out of the overhead compartment, the conveyor belt, or the trunk. And when you are traveling like crazy, these little luxuries make a huge difference.
These pack it cubes make organizing a breeze, keeps my clothes a bit less wrinkled (there's no way to avoid this entirely) and seem to allow us to pack more into less. Plus, it's easy to find things in a pinch, which can eliminate unnecessary stress.
When I'm not flying on airplanes, I'm attempting to avoid driving in cars. We have designed our life to revolve around 1 vehicle, and it's been one of our favorite decisions since starting our FIRE journey back in 2017. And while I try to use my $200 Marin Roadbike craigslist special as often as possible, there are times that Taylor is using the car and I need to travel a considerable distance and would prefer not to sweat. That's where my Rad Mini comes in. This incredible electric bike has a 40 mile range, 20 MPH top speed and FOLDS IN HALF. This makes it easy to throw in the back of our car, which makes our 1 car family that much more versitale. With front and back fenders, front and seat post suspension, and fatty knobby tires, I can ride this thing long distances in any weather. And did I mention how FUN it is? If you have a large family, consider the Rad Wagon, which is literally marketed as a vehicle replacement. If you get rid of one of your vehicles and buy a brand new Rad Bike, you'll save money, increase your happiness and health AND help heal the planet. This is a no brainer.