Choose FI Book Review: Your Blueprint To Financial Independence

For those who don’t know, I earned my M.B.A. by listening to podcasts.  For years I drove 60-90 minutes each morning and evening in the notorious Atlanta rush hour traffic, and it was only by listening to podcasts that I remained sane.  I listened to thousands of hours across an entire host of podcasts and became good at recognizing the “Great” versus the “Good”.  For the record, I also listen in 2X speed, so I was filling my brain with ~6 hours of podcasts every day.  For years.  Thousands of hours, indeed.

In all my years of listening to podcasts, I’ve never seen the explosive growth of any personal finance podcast match the performance that the Choose FI podcast has been able to achieve.  From the early days when I first appeared on their podcast (Episode 43:  Drawdown Strategy) to today, they’ve become a cultural sensation.  For good reason, as this is one great podcast. (Thanks again, Jonathan & Brad, for having me on your show!).

ChooseFI has experienced the most explosive growth of any Personal Finance podcast I've ever seen. It's only appropriate that they now have a book. Click To Tweet

The hosts, Jonathan Mendonsa and Brad Barrett are on to something, and it shows.  (For the record, they’re also really nice guys.  I met them back in 2017, and was impressed with their humility and intelligence). Their ChooseFI Facebook group has over 50k followers, they’ve recruited some of the best writers in the business to showcase on their blog, and they’ve created hundreds of MeetUp groups in cities around the world.  But they’re not stopping there.  They’ve got a lot of new initiatives in the pipeline, and it’s fascinating to watch the expansion of this impressive team.  I can only imagine the impact their show is having on the lives of their listeners; I know it’s impacted mine. They’ve got a real passion for improving the well being of people throughout the world, and a lot of smart people are starting to pay attention. 


Choose FI Book Review

It seems only natural, then, that Chris Mamula (blogger @ CanIRetireYet.com) would take the lead on documenting this phenomenon with a new book, Choose FI:  Your Blueprint To Financial Independence, which became available on October 1. I was honored to receive an advance copy and I devoured it.   As one of the podcast guests mentioned in the book, I felt it only appropriate for me to contribute this Choose FI book review.  

For anyone who has been under a rock for the past few years and is not familiar with what the folks at ChooseFI have been up to, this book is a must-read.  Chris Mamula (who I met when we had dinner together in Salt Lake City during our Great American Road Trip and is also a nice guy!) has done a masterful job of compiling the first ~100 podcast episodes into a well-organized book, which is broken down into 5 sections, each containing 3-4 chapters:

  • Get Started:  Intro, The Stages Of FI, Start with your “Why?”, Develop a Growth Mindset.
  • Spend Less:  Become a Valuist, Live Better While Spending Less, Pay Fewer Taxes, See The World
  • Earn More:  Hack College, Invest In Your Career, Build A Network
  • Invest Better:  Lay A Foundation Under Your Investments, Invest in Index Funds, Build A Business, Invest in Real Estate
  • What’s Next:  Enjoy the Journey, Rediscover Possibility

In each chapter there is a clear and logical flow as the content from various guests is used to outline the topic and make suggestions for personal improvement.  There’s a handy “Episode Reference” in the back which points to each podcast episode referenced by chapter which aids a reader who would like to search for a particular episode to “dig deeper” into the subject.

The book is interspersed with sections from Brad & Jonathan regarding the topic at hand, which I seemed to always “hear” in their voice from the podcast.  Funny how that works.  It was a nice way to connect the podcast with the book and bring the hosts’ personal experience into the discussion.

Each section is summarized with clear and concise Action Steps, which outline in a few sentences the key takeaways from the chapter and provide a clear path for those looking to apply the learnings in their own lives.

The purpose of the book is outlined in a Note To Readers, which reads:

“This book takes the cumulative knowledge of the financial independence (FI) community and distills it into principles that you can use to build a FI lifestyle quickly.”

Based on that purpose, this book hits the mark.  It’s an excellent choice for someone who seeks to learn the major tenets from the first 100 Choose FI podcasts without listening to 100 episodes, or for someone who prefers the written vs. spoken word. 

It’s also an excellent choice for someone who is late in getting started saving for retirement and wants to make up for the lost time.  (There’s still hope for you late bloomers, as illustrated here and here).  I’ve long said that the principles used by the FIRE community are ideal tools to be used by folks who realize in their 40’s or later that they’re seriously behind on retirement savings, and I would strongly recommend anyone facing that reality buy this book and apply the principles to get back on track. 

While several other reviews have outlined some critiques, I personally think it does an excellent job of delivering on the stated purpose for the book.  Some of the critiques noted could be considered more a criticism of the book’s purpose, which was to provide a summary of over 100 hours of podcast interviews.  I applaud Chris for taking an overwhelming amount of information and compiling it down into a very readable book.

For those interested in other reviews and detailed critiques, I’ll keep a running list below of links to any Choose FI book review I happen to see.  I do encourage Chris to continue this series with an updated book on the next round of podcasts, in which he may choose to address some of the critiques raised by other reviewers (e.g., lack of diversity in guests, which has changed greatly as the show has expanded).

Having completed this book, I’m planning on gifting it to my 25-year old daughter when I see her at Christmas.  In my humble opinion, she is the perfect target audience for this book as a woman who has been married two years, has just had her first baby (yes, I love being a Grandad, thanks for asking) and has expressed a desire to learn about financial principles.  While Dad can always teach her (and oh, how he tries), it sometimes takes an objective third party to bring home important principles.

Let’s hope she catches FIRE, and joins the amazing community that is ChooseFI.


Other Choose FI Book Reviews

This book is generating a LOT of attention in the Personal Finance space, and I expect you’ll see a lot of reviews.  I’m going to do my best to keep a log of the reviews below, feel free to ping me if I missed your Choose FI book review and I’ll add it to the list:


PS, if you’d like to listen to the two times I’ve been honored to appear on the ChooseFI podcast, click the links below.  I’m a huge fan of Brad, Jonathon, and Chris, and hope my bias hasn’t influenced my favorable impression of this book.  In my humble opinion, it’s well worth your time to read.

  • Episode 43:  Where I discussed our Drawdown Strategy for retirement income.
  • Episode 54R:  I was honored to guest host, but I didn’t come close to filling Brad’s shoes.

9 comments

  1. 2x speed for financial advice?, that would be like listening to Alvin and the chipmunks talk about your 401K, hard to take it serious. And I think listening to 3 hours of Alvin and the Chipmunks would make me swerve into oncoming traffic, you are a stronger man than I Fritz Gilbert.

    1. Brian: many podcast apps have digital pitch adjustment so that when you speed up a podcast, the app lowers the pitch of the original speaker’s voice to balance things back out to a normal (albeit fast) sounding human voice, thus avoiding the chipmunk effect.

  2. ” Iā€™m planning on gifting it to my 25-year old daughter when I see her at Christmas.”

    Do you have other book recommendations for 20-somethings just starting out in the world? My daughter is 23 and a year out of college with her first big girl job. She didn’t really want to listen to any financial advice when she was living with us because she already knew everything. Now she knows different and I’d like to get her something to help form a sound financial basis for her. I did buy one recommended book by a popular financial personality which was billed as a complete guide to money, but just three chapters in and I find it too much opinion and questionable advice.

    This book and podcast looks interesting and I’ll definitely be checking them out, thanks!

    1. Lenny, another good one I recently read was The Wealthy Gardner, which I also gave to my daughter. It’s told through parables, and was rated one of the best personal finance books this year. Good luck influencing your daughter, we’re on a similar mission!

      1. Fritz,

        I think this might be EXACTLY the type of book she would read. I downloaded the Kindle sample of The Wealthy Gardener and it seems like it’s written in a way that will speak to her. I’ve ordered the full Kindle version and after reading it, if I still feel it’s right for her, I’ll buy her the physical copy.

        Thank you!

  3. The book I will urge my children to read and an excellent blueprint for FI in my opinion is, The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins.

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