In his early twenties, Jeremy Schneider founded RentLinx, a website that helps landlords list their properties for rent on multiple platforms simultaneously. At age 34, he sold that business for millions of dollars, invested the proceeds into stock and bond market index funds, and retired by 36.

Today in his early forties, the majority of Jeremy’s total wealth has actually come from the returns on those passive index fund investments — not the original sale of his company!

On a mission to help others understand the power of investing, Jeremy founded Personal Finance Club (one of our favorite Instagram accounts) a couple years ago. He claims that anyone can get rich by following two simple rules: Live below your means, and invest early and often.

Recently, we had the chance to interview Jeremy about entrepreneurship, investing, financial independence, social media, and more.

For more video content about money, lifestyle design, and cheap travel, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Interview Topics:

  1. Social Media Influencing & Jeremy’s First Viral Video (00:00:01)
  2. How Jeremy Became a Multimillionaire (00:05:00)
  3. Using Your Twenties to Become a Millionaire (00:11:55)
  4. Debt, Leveraged Investing, and Credit Cards (00:14:15)
  5. Controversial Questions: Renting vs. Buying a Home & Insurance (00:25:09)
  6. Finding Happiness After Early Retirement (00:35:39)
  7. Target Date Index Funds & Bond Investing vs. Mortgage Payoff (00:44:46)
  8. Day Trading vs. Index Fund Investing: An Experiment (00:52:50)
  9. Favorite Travel Experiences (00:56:58)

This interview was recorded on October 13, 2021. A complete transcript of the interview can be found below, including a ton of relevant links and images you should definitely check out. Alternatively, you can download an audio-only podcast version (17.2 MB, MP3) of the interview for offline listening.

Social Media Influencing & Jeremy’s First Viral Video

Lauren: Today, we’re talking with Jeremy Schneider, the multimillionaire founder of Personal Finance Club. Jeremy lives in San Diego and retired in 2017 at the age of 36.

And he recently unretired at the age of 40 as a co-founder of Nyckel, a machine learning company. Personal Finance Club advocates to follow two simple rules, which we like a lot, and those rules are: live below your means and invest early and often.

Jeremy, thanks for joining us.

Jeremy: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Steven: We actually found you earlier this year just randomly scrolling through TikTok. Some of your videos popped up, and pretty much every time we saw one of your videos, we were both like, “Oh yeah, double tap this one. This guy knows what’s going on.”

So we went and followed Personal Finance Club on Instagram, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your posts are the ones that we tend to share into our story the most often because you just get that stuff right. We find ourselves agreeing with like 99% of what you say, so nice work!

Jeremy: I’ll take it, and I’m glad there’s still 1% there so I’ve got a little bit of edge. Yeah, it’s awesome. I feel like TikTok was a new venture of ours this year and you know, we’ve had mixed success, so it’s nice to hear someone found us there.

Steven: Yeah, for sure, that’s where we saw you first.

Lauren: In preparing for this interview, we did some Googling trying to learn a little bit more about you personally, trying to dig a little bit deeper into your background, and I came across a YouTube video of you dressed as a giant CVS receipt going into a CVS. So did you have, like, a short-lived career as a prank influencer? What’s the story there?

Photo of Jeremy Schneider as a CVS receipt

Jeremy: I think if we all have like 15 minutes of fame, that was like 10 minutes for me. But, yeah, I was nationally famous for half of November 1st a few years ago because on October 31st — Halloween — I dressed as a 13-foot tall CVS receipt. And it was just for fun for my Halloween costume, but my coworkers were egging me on like, “Dude, you got to go to a CVS dressed like that.” So then I was like, “I should do it just to prove to them that I did.” And I decided to video it.

I woke up that morning not deciding to make a video and just decided to in the spur of the moment. So I videoed it, and when I watched the video when I got home, I was like, “That’s kind of funny. I guess I’ll post it to Reddit.” So I posted it to Reddit and went to bed.

I woke up the next morning on November 1st — the day after Halloween — and my phone was just like smoking. It was the number one trending video on YouTube, the number one trending post on Reddit. Dozens of people were emailing me wanting to buy the rights, like Good Morning America and news stations. It was crazy, but it was only for a day because nobody cares about Halloween costumes on November 2nd. So, yeah, for one day it was a pretty wild ride.

Steven: So was there any way to parlay the success of that video into Personal Finance Club or any of your other stuff?

Jeremy: I mean, this was years before, probably two years before Personal Finance Club existed. I was just a dude at a job that was having fun or whatever. I mean, I wasn’t trying to go for social media clout or anything. It was just kind of a random thing I did. I think I made a thousand bucks from the video or something. Someone paid me some money, and then I was on a British TV show for like the top viral videos or something, which was a fun little moment. 

But still to this day, all my high school friends and college friends and people I don’t talk to often, whenever they see a CVS receipt meme they send it to me like, “Look, Jeremy, a CVS receipt!” I’m like, “Yeah, I know I’ve seen them all a million times because everybody sends them to me.” It’s like my whole personality revolves around this one Halloween costume from three years ago.

Lauren: Well, that’s what happens when you go viral!

Steven: Yeah, for real.

Jeremy: Yeah, I’m typecast.

How Jeremy Became a Multimillionaire

Steven: So, from our understanding — and correct me if I’m wrong here — you became a multimillionaire by basically starting this internet company and then selling your share in that company for somewhere in the vicinity of $2 million. We were both kind of curious, like obviously, if you go to Personal Finance Club, all the advice doesn’t say, “Hey guys, the smartest thing to do is start an internet company and then sell it to make $2 million all in one day.” That’s not your advice at all.

So what do you think your life would have looked like if that huge success didn’t happen? And what parts of your success story do you think are replicable for everyone and can be inspiring to other people? 

Jeremy: Yeah, I started an internet company when I was in college, and I sold it at the age of 34. I was the sole founder — I owned 70% of the company, and my mom owned 30%. We sold the entire company for $5 million. My share was about $3 million, and then I paid about $1 million in taxes. So I walked away with $2 million in cash from that sale.

And yeah, for sure, if you look through what I talk about, I talk about spending less than you make and investing early and often. I think a very fair critique is like, “But that’s not what you did, Jeremy. You just became rich overnight!”

And that’s partially true because I did make a lot of money all at once, but a few things:

1) At this moment, I’ve made more money from investing than from selling the company. My net worth today is about $4.5 million, and that’s just from putting that money into the market and leaving it there.

2) The other thing is, before the sale, during the sale, and after sale, I’ve lived by those two rules. When I was 34, my net worth was about $150k, and I was living on $36k a year. That was my maximum take-home salary. I was always the lowest-paid employee in my company. I took home $36k a year, so I lived on $30k while investing $5k or $6k a year. So I would have been a millionaire if I never sold the company, probably by my mid-50s or something, just based on that trajectory. And that was living on like, you know, basically borderline poverty levels in Southern California.

So the system is still true, but it just so happens that I also did another thing that took about 12 years, which was starting and growing a company, like delaying gratification that way. Yeah, it’s definitely a fair critique.

And, I’d say what’s replicable is that it all is. I don’t really give little bite size “how to start a company” infographics. I think it’s a little bit harder to give valuable stuff over Instagram. I do it a little bit, and there’s a lot of kinda corny start-up success Instagram accounts, but I don’t think it’s really helpful stuff.

So, the things that I think are replicable are my two rules: If you spend less than you make and you invest the difference — it doesn’t matter if you’re selling companies or if you’re just working at an In-N-Out burger or whatever — those are the two things that make rich people rich. So that’s what I say to do. 

Steven:  I love the like, “Well, I would have been a millionaire anyway in my 50s, even on my super low salary based on my spending then and based on what the market could be anticipated to do if I just consistently invested throughout that time.” And that’s so true. Like, you can sort of project that and see.

I think part of your message is like, “Well, anyone can become a millionaire, but you know, there’s just different paths to get there.” And in some sense, really, you were investing along the way with your company. You were just reinvesting in your own company the entire way in the form of your labor and time. 

Jeremy: Totally. You know, it’s a little bit untrue to be like, “Oh, I had a net worth of about $100k and it became $2M.” Because that’s ignoring the value of the company. And, you know, I could have been paying myself $100k a year or more because my company was doing a million dollars a year in revenue the day that we sold.

I was choosing to pay myself $36k, and that was essentially living below my means because I was taking my money and reinvesting it back into the company. We were hiring people, I was paying my engineers six figures, and so I was kind of realizing that compound growth in the value of the company when I sold.

I turned down a job offer from Microsoft as a software engineer right out of college. If I had taken that job and lived on that same $36K a year and invested the rest of my Microsoft salary, I would have ended up around the same place. You know, if I do the back-of-the-envelope math, I would’ve been a little bit behind, which makes me feel good, like this very big risk I took by starting a company paid off more than the Microsoft job. But the principles are still true.

I think, for someone to be dismissive and be like, “Oh, well, you just got lucky and sold your internet company.” I’d say, “No, I was still doing the same things.” It wasn’t like I was trying to get lucky. It wasn’t like I was just rolling the dice and it came up. I was working hard and spending less than I made, and spending less than the company made, and investing inside of the company.

Steven: Yeah, that’s the way I’ve always thought of entrepreneur stories that work like that. You’re just doing the same thing. We invested in equity in other people’s businesses while working a job. People who are entrepreneurs are investing their time and energy into equity in their own business, which grows and compounds the same way. So, yeah, it totally makes sense. 

Jeremy: Totally. And, you know, they say overnight success takes a decade. I think that you hear about these success stories — like how this guy started this company and became a millionaire overnight. I mean, I’m relatively small in scale; some people became billionaires or whatever. But what you don’t hear about when that news story drops is like the 10 years of grinding, and that often people had years where it wasn’t working, and they had to keep trying hard. I think people see this end result like, “Oh, they got rich overnight,” and they think they should be able to get rich overnight. But what you don’t know is the grinding.

Even with sports, like watching the NFL or something, you’re like, “Oh, these guys are lucky.” But you just don’t have cameras on them when they’re like, by themselves in the middle of the summer, off season, waking up, doing their workouts, eating nutritiously. There’s so much work that goes into this little view of the payoff that I think it can be misleading to the people who just think that they should automatically jump to the payoff. But the important part is the 99% of the work that goes on before that last day.

Using Your Twenties to Become a Millionaire

Lauren: For sure, and part of our messaging, too, is kind of trying to reach younger folks because I think that there’s more time for them for it to pay off and compound. So we’re always trying to reach younger people and, you know, let them have that large time horizon to reap the benefits of saving and investing.

And I like what you have to say about living below your means because even on a really meager salary in a high cost-of-living area, you were able to still be investing a portion of your salary. So I’m curious from you, for someone who’s fresh out of college or gets that first full-time job, even if it’s in the $30k range — that’s what ours were, or closer to $40k —  but I’m just curious the advice that you’d give from Personal Finance Club. What does a person who’s going to follow your plan, like the Personal Finance Club plan, what is the expectation there? What should they be doing, and what’s the expectation for someone who follows your plan? 

Steven: What would you tell a 20-year-old today? Like, what’s the Personal Finance Club plan? 

Jeremy: You know, we have the two rules, first of all, which is what I always come back to. And personal finance, especially investing, can be so confusing because we hear about things like day trading and pork bellies and guys on Wall Street frantically waving pieces of paper and crypto and blah blah blah. And it’s like, so confusing.

So I like to keep it simple: Spend less than you make and invest the difference. If you do that in your twenties, even if you’re not doing a very good job of it — like if you’re always spending a little bit less than you make and you’re investing poorly or whatever — it’s going to get better over time, and it’s going to make a big difference.

Where people get in trouble is they get their first job and they’re like, “Oh, I’m making $40k a year. Now I can walk into a car dealership, and they’re going to sell me a $30k car because they know they can suck a $500 payment out of me for the next seven years.” Then, you’re trying to buy the house and try to get all the credit cards and go on the trips. And then you’ve lived so far beyond your means that just to get back to zero [net worth], you’re probably going to be like 40. When you’re 40, which is how old I am, you’re like, “Oh, wait a minute, I don’t want to work until I die.” And then you start trying to actually build wealth.

Photo collage of Jeremy Schneider and us

Debt, Leveraged Investing, and Credit Cards

Jeremy: So start with those two rules, that’s why I say that. In terms of the plan, I’d say prioritizing getting out of debt. You know, I’m a big anti-debt guy, and like smart, altruistic people disagree on this, but I think that there’s a mentality around debt. You know, some people will say, “Hey, if your car loan’s 4% and you can make 7% in the market, don’t pay off your car.” But that basically condones the car loan in the first place, and it kind of normalizes it because then, in a moment of weakness, you go get the next car loan. And then you’re just living this life of debt. When you’re living beyond your means like that, you’re much worse off.

I say, pay off all your debt, build an emergency fund of three months of cash — maybe $10k or $15k — and then just invest aggressively. Take all those debt payments you’re not making anymore, take all that cash that you were saving, take all of that monthly excess, and put it into investments. You know, you wait 10, 15, 20 years, you’ll probably be a millionaire. 

Steven: Totally makes sense. 

Lauren: I like what you were saying. And in addition to the idea of normalizing the debt, I think we also don’t really talk about the risk that people are taking when they’re leveraging. They’re taking that money from the loan and investing it because the percentages and the math makes sense, right? And I think that, you know, sometimes that can be a little misguided. People don’t realize the choices that they’re making and what could happen if there is a crash or the bill comes due. And now they’re worse off. 

Steven: It’s like it’s like what you said with the car, right? With the car loan. You can say, “Oh, my car loan is 2 or 3 or 4% or whatever, and I could earn so much more than that in the market, so I should invest the difference.” You can make that argument, you know, genuinely and I think there’s something to it. But in the case of a car, for example, the question becomes: should you have just bought a car where the difference there was inconsequential because the amount of the car was low enough that it didn’t really matter in the first place? And it’s kind of like you said, if you let yourself take the car loan and feel good about investing the difference or whatever, then you might be psychologically letting yourself buy a more expensive car that you don’t need. 

Jeremy: Totally. And I feel like I always rub people the wrong way because people are so ingrained in their way of thinking. But I suggest that if you had to pay cash for that car, almost certainly you would be making a different decision. And I think people are like, “No, I was going to buy a car anyway.” But no one’s ever become rich by leveraging a depreciating asset, like “Oh, I’m going to go buy a Ferrari for $200k and borrow the money, and then I’ll invest the $200k.” That doesn’t make any sense. You’d be better off not spending $200k on a Ferrari because that Ferrari’s gonna plummet in value even if your investments are slowly outpacing it. If you would’ve just not bought the Ferrari, and invested the whole $200k, you’d be far ahead. 

But people are so unwilling to take a really hard look at themselves and be like, “Would my behavior be like 2% different if I had to pay cash?” You know, I see it all the time with credit card points. That’s another one that always gets under people’s skin. I’m like, “Hey, for sure, if you pay with a credit card, you get 2% cashback or whatever, that’s fine, but is your behavior at all different because you’re aware of that?” The credit card companies are these multibillion-dollar or trillion-dollar industries; they’re not charitable organizations giving you money back. They’re doing it because they know it encourages you to spend more. So if you spend 3% more to get 2% back, that’s a net negative for you.

There’s actually studies that show you spend twice as much when you’re using a credit card versus cash. And I’m not condoning cash necessarily because it’s kind of like an old fashioned way of thinking. But I think that you should at least be honest with yourself and say, “Hey, would I be buying this? Is it just so easy for me to swipe this card? Would I be buying this extra round of drinks or like this extra fancy Airbnb or whatever?” I just booked an Airbnb for $1,300, and if I actually had to pay for cash that, I probably wouldn’t have done it. Like, I’m probably changing my behavior because the credit card makes it easier. And, for sure, the car loans are the same thing. And I think that that in general just makes everything become like Monopoly money. When you’re just used to the debt, it prevents you from building wealth because you’re just spending all your money on stuff you don’t really need otherwise. 

Steven: So we are like huge proponents of credit card rewards and getting the cash back. We actually have cycled through more than 40 credit cards, just giving these sign up bonuses and then canceling. 

Jeremy: Didn’t you just post a video though about like 2% with one card only?

Steven: Yeah, so we have two paths for people to follow. One is the easy way, like on easy mode, and we call it the Autopilot Guide to Credit Cards. That’s just to charge everything on a 2% cash back card, set auto-pay for the full statement balance, and act like that’s the money in your checking account.

Jeremy: That’s exactly what I do, by the way.

Steven: Yeah, so that’s a great method. And then the crazy method — the bizarre credit card manifesto that we actually did — is that we strategically went after cards with high cash sign-up bonuses. Then we would just meet the requirement for that, cancel, and move on to the next card. We literally did it more than 40 times, and those bonuses were like $500 cash each, on average. So you can actually get like 10-20% cash back by doing it that way.

But it’s just like you said — you’re really smart for bringing this up — it’s all about the psychology. If you’re the type of person who is, like, very stoic about your finances, and you always do things logically and exactly the optimal way, and you feel like that’s who you are, that plan can work for you. But if you’re the type of person who struggles with your finances — and a lot of people who are seeking out personal finance advice are those people — then you probably shouldn’t be messing around with that. Like you said, the credit card company has done the math, and they’ve figured out that a certain percentage of people are going to seriously mess it up and end up being deep in debt. So it’s good to bring that up, even though it kind of is like the opposite of what we say, it’s for a good reason. 

Jeremy: Yeah, and it’s not just, like I feel like some people think, if I pay off my credit card in full, I’m fine. But there’s still more spending happening, right? I saw someone sign up for a credit card bonus recently, and they were commenting on one of my posts. They were like, “I need to spend $4k in the first three months.” Or something like that. I’m like, “Dude, if you’re thinking of ways to spend money, you’ve so lost.”

You know, I think about it like this: There’s some credit card company execs in an office right now with an Excel sheet up, and they’re saying, “Hey, when we offer a $500 bonus, for 96% of people who sign up, we make money on them. For 4%, they get the $500 bonus, spend the minimum, and cancel. Whatever.” But like, when you sign up for a bonus, do you think you have a 96% chance of losing money on the deal? Because, you know, I’m making up 96%, but I promise you, they’re not losing money. They wouldn’t do it! So you know, the truth is it’s the credit cards making money, but an individual doesn’t think they’re the one who’s going to lose money. So there’s a disconnect there. Someone’s wrong, and it’s not the credit card companies. I do this for a living — I love this stuff, like, I’m a personal finance guru or whatever — and I know that I’m getting taken advantage of. I think I’m one of the few people who’s at least like honest about it. I’m like, “Okay, I for sure will, like, alter my behavior a little bit, and that’s going to benefit the credit card companies.”

And so if you want to play that credit card churning game, getting the credit card bonuses and all that stuff, you just have to be hyper aware of are you going to be spending more money? Are you potentially going to get burned? Are you really one of the few percent that are going to like, get away with it? Or might you make a mistake, and let the credit card companies win? 

Lauren: Well, it’s interesting, like you were saying, what’s funny is in addition to this “is the credit card making you spend more?” there’s a disconnect within the travel hacking community on like, “you earn however many points for having whatever card.” And there’s also a disconnect on the redemption side where people are like, “Oh, I got this first class flight all on points. It was free!” But it wasn’t free, because it has a cash value. And that’s the biggest disconnect we see in the communities that are pro-credit card.

People think that they get things for free, and we’re like, “but you could have just taken cash!” I would never pay for a $1,600 first class flight. That’s just not me, and I don’t get value out of that. So for me, I would rather have the cash. And I think people have a disconnect because they’ve got hundreds of thousands of points, and they don’t know how to spend them. They’re trying to optimize for something that they haven’t even weighed the value of. And so I think that’s an interesting other side of the coin.

Steven: Yeah, like, if you offer someone a $1,000 first class airline flight or $600 cash, which one would they take? Well, a lot of times they’re kind of by default answering that question by going for the airline card or the luxury hotel room card or whatever. They’re answering that question with the luxury item, but they’re not acknowledging that there was the choice to actually get cash instead. So like, it really just all goes back to the point that there’s so much psychology behind that, and you just if you’re going to participate in it, you have to think about it front to back logically, or else you’re going to mess up.

Jeremy: My credit card’s 2%, cash only. It goes directly back to my account automatically. There’s no games about signing up for a bonus. Because, like I said, I think that I’m not going to beat the credit card companies. And frankly, I don’t think it’s worth my time, right? Like the time and hassle of doing all the churning, I just think that my mental effort is better spent on other things.

There are some people who I’m sure successfully beat it, but I look internally and say, “Hey, I want it to be simple: cash automatically.” I don’t need to worry about, you know, gas station versus restaurant versus yada, yada yada. And also people just get so focused on this 1% versus 2%. When the big number is the 98% of money you’re still spending. If you reduce your spending by 10%, that’s 10% cash back, which is like five times more than the best credit card. And so that’s why I focus on just spending less money, because that’s what’s going to leave more money in my bank. 

Lauren: Definitely. Well, then, on that we’re definitely agreed.

Controversial Questions: Renting vs. Buying a Home & Insurance

Steven: We actually get a lot of hate and pushback on our credit card stuff because people think we’re absolutely crazy for signing up for 40-plus credit cards. None of them make the argument that you’re making. They make all kinds of other crazy, wild arguments.

So we were curious to hear from you, since you’re pretty big on TikTok and Instagram — and those platforms send your stuff out to total strangers a lot of the time, so they’re notorious for having an unusually high number of like haters and trolls and stuff like that — what are some of like the most common criticisms you get on social media? And if you have funny ones, that’s cool. I’m also kind of curious if any of them feel like legitimate pushback that makes you go like, “They kind of have a point.” What do you see the most often? 

Jeremy: Yeah, it’s definitely funny. The platform matters. The feedback you get changes dramatically on a platform where like TikTok is almost all strangers. They’re not, you know, it depends on your kind of followers. I feel like you guys have such a consistent presence that you probably see a lot of the same people. But I feel like I’ve had a few videos go viral and got a bunch of people that have no idea who you are, who have no bones about randomly attacking this internet person that they don’t see as a human, just sees an account.

But, you know, first of all, if you guys ever get hate like that, I will remind you that everything popular is controversial. Think of anything that’s popular: Oprah, Ellen, Mother Teresa, any president ever, like, there’s no exception. Everything popular is controversial. So if you’re going to become popular, it’s going to happen. So when that hate comes, I welcome it. You know, it’s like, I can’t say that it never impacts me at all. Like, one guy sent me a demon and called me a baby killer, and I said, “What?!” Because rarely I kinda sometimes fringly talk about politics just because it’s involved with money, and he’s like, “You liked a Joe Biden comment” or something like that. I’m like, “Okay, and that makes me a baby killer?” It’s like liking a comment or someone mentioning Joe Biden versus literally murdering human babies.

Lauren: Like the jump-to-conclusions mat.

Steven: That’s the internet for you though.

Jeremy: Right. There’s like a little bit of something that happens, and there’s a whole yada yada script in the middle there. But, yeah, the things that I talk about that definitely get people riled up the most are, I’d say, rent versus buy. And the funny thing is, if you actually read what I say, I don’t even take a hard line stance on it, but I literally just acknowledge the existence of costs of homeownership — and people are like flipping the table.

They’re like, “How dare you? Rent is throwing money away! Are you crazy?” I’m like, “No, owning a home is expensive. You have to pay property tax and maintenance and realtor fees and insurance and…” You know, it’s another psychology thing where people think, “If I was renting this exact same house, it would be blah blah blah.” And I’m like, “Where were you renting that exact same house?” “Well, no, I was renting this little tiny apartment that was much cheaper.” I’m like, “Yeah, because that’s what people do. They rent a little tiny apartment.”

And apartments have an economy of scale, so even if your landlord is making money, if you’re in a six-unit building, you’re sharing a wall and sharing property tax and sharing all these expenses, it’s actually cheaper in sunk costs for you then when you go and buy a three-bedroom home. So, with all that stuff, I think it’s kind of split between realtors who feel like I’m attacking their livelihood and homeowners who are trying to, like, validate their bad decision making. And definitely when I talk about investing in insurance, the insurance salesmen come after me with the noose and the pitchforks.

Steven: Yep, we get in trouble for that one as well. We diss insurance all the time, and people do not like that. Especially the old guys in their profile picture, they just come after you for the insurance.

Lauren: If they have white hair, they’re angry.

Jeremy: Because they’re insurance salesmen, and you point out the fact that their life’s work has been basically taking advantage of people. I see it every single day that someone gets roped in.

No one ever chooses to buy insurance as an investment; they’re always sold it. And then when they do realize like five or ten years later, “Oh shit, my $20k I put in this insurance policy is now worth $25k. What if I was investing it?” Or sometimes it’s like, “I put $20k in, and now it’s $15k, and if I was investing it, it would have been worth $50k.” And it’s devastating, you know, and that’s just in the first ten years. If you would extrapolate forward, it gets even worse and worse. 

But, yeah, the insurance salesman, like every single time they come after me, it’s this nonsense argument. And they always have bad information. This one guy recently was like, “You should look at this detailed report by Ernst and Young. It’s a study that proves that investing in insurance is better than a real investment.” And I was like,”You know what? I will.” So I read the study. I downloaded the PDF; I read the 20 pages.

Lauren: So polite!

Steven: He really got you is what happened!

Jeremy: I mean, but it’s just like you said, are they ever right? I was like, you know, I hope I’m always self-reflective, like, am I misunderstanding? But there’s this truth about investing insurance, which is that there is the investor here and then there’s market returns here, and you can get a direct line between the market returns and investor in an index fund. If you put an insurance company in between — that’s taking commissions and profits — they repackage these investment returns in some other way and put all these bells and whistles on it and claim you get better returns, it’s just impossible. You can’t you can’t shave something off and end up with more.

So I was looking at this, and I was like, “I know there’s a catch here.” And, first of all, their results were like, “Under these exact situations, we get a 4% better return over 40 years.” And I know that’s not true. But even so, it’s pretty darn close. That’s what they’re raving about? It’s 4%. But not 4% per year, like 4% total. So you end up instead of with like a million, you end up with like a million, forty thousand. But then I looked at it and what they’re comparing it to was an account with a 1.25% annual fee, which erodes about a third of your returns. And so, yeah, if you give away a third of your returns, then yeah according to this. Even then they’re, comparing it to like using insurance. So it’s like they’re saying, “Hey, we’re going to put like an 80% real investment, 20% insurance, and then we can beat 100% real.” Look, they worked all of this out like a crazy carnival game. That’s what insurance coverage is — it’s always carnival games to make it look like you’re going to win. But when you dig into it, this is so blatantly false.

Steven: I mean, it’s really just as simple as you said: The insurance company is just taking your premiums, and they’re investing them into things that are publicly available on the open market that you can already buy. And then they’re taking a fee out of that, and passing along the rest of that investment return to you in the form of insurance or some kind of accumulated value in your account. So it’s just impossible. It’s like you said; it is impossible for the fees to not be detrimental to your return. It’s just that simple. So, what we always tell people is buy as little insurance as you can feel comfortable with, because everybody needs some kind of insurance in their life. I mean, some of them are legally required, right? Like car liability insurance. But buy as little as you can feel comfortable with with your financial situation. And, actually, as you get wealthier, you need less insurance because you can self-insure more things, like if you have a $10,000 car, you know, and you have a million dollars in the bank, you don’t need full coverage.

Lauren: Yeah, we don’t have we don’t have free windshield replacements, and my mom is very confused by this. I told her, “Oh, when we were on a road trip, a pebble hit our windshield, and there’s a crack. I had to get it replaced.” And she’s like, “Oh, how much? You had to pay for it? I thought auto insurance covered that.” I was like, “No, we don’t have that.”

Jeremy: You’re like, “It was $150,” but she’s like, “You could have gotten that for just $50 a month” Right? Like, it’s better to just pay for it when you need it.

Lauren: Yeah, the math doesn’t add up there.

Steven: It’s true. Every time we’ve ever told anyone we paid to replace our windshield, they’re like, “You got gypped. There’s no way that’s possible that you had to pay for a windshield.”

Lauren: They’re like, “You should double-check your policy. It should be included.” Like that’s what everyone always says.

Steven: “No, like, we purposely didn’t pay for that.” But anyway.

Jeremy: Yeah, this concept of self insuring. By the way, I should say I’m not against insurance, I’m against insurance as a form of investment, because, as you described, it’s going to cost you money. Like, I have car insurance, I have home insurance. I even have an umbrella policy because I have wealth, and if someone sues me I want the insurance, but it’s all relatively cheap compared to my net worth.

But, yeah, the concept of self insurance is so foriegn to people. But I think about, like, buying a TV. If you buy a $200 TV, they try to sell you a $20 insurance policy, but you just don’t ever use it. And, if you do, the TV’s already old and crappy at this point. And I’m like, you could just buy a new $200 TV. That’s a realistic option. And they’re like, “It’s only $20.” Yeah, but if you buy one of those policies with every little electronic you buy…the insurance company by definition is making a profit because they exist. And if a $200 loss in the form of a throwaway TV is something that you can bear, then you would prefer to bear it, rather than have the insurance company bear it and profit them as well. So, you know, insurance is designed to prevent the very bad things that are going to financially ruin you from happening, but then is it worth paying a little bit for the little stuff, like why would you be lining the pockets of another company?

Steven: Exactly. Yeah, it’s for catastrophic stuff, that’s really the bottom line. And that’s different for everybody, but catastrophic.

Finding Happiness After Early Retirement

Lauren: So, you have millions of dollars, and you’re obviously happy living below your means…

Steven: He smiles every time we say he has millions of dollars.

Jeremy: It’s still really weird to me.

Lauren: I mean, it’s true, and it’s a good thing! So you could have stayed retired, right? Like, you recently started this company, but you could have stayed retired. You have enough money, and it’s going to last you, so I’m curious — you unretired this year — what did you unretire to? Like, why did you? What was the motivation? Were you bored? Were you excited about the project? I’m just curious. I know you’ve got Personal Finance Club, but what about this year kind of made that difference where you said, I want to do this other thing?

Steven: Or did you invest it all in an altcoin? And it went to zero and you had to go back to work?

Jeremy: Haha, yeah, I hope no one ever audits my bank account because they’ll see that I’m actually broke. I heard this really good quote recently that said, “The reward for financial independence is an existential crisis.” And, you know, I think most of us spend our lives with finances being this primary tension in your life. “You know, if I had a little bit more money, I could buy this house” or “If I had more money then I could go on a date night with the girls.” The concept of this financial tension is always there and in almost every decision you make in your life. And then, if you get to a place where you have come to peace with being financially independent, where financial tension is not this primary tension in your life, then what? It’s like, what am I doing? It’s kind of like getting to the end of Donkey Kong and seeing the credits scroll, and then you’re like, “That’s it?” Like, now what? But it’s not Donkey Kong, and you’ve still got the rest of your life.

When I quit my job and retired at 36, I played video games for a year and I had never been a video game person. I played video games like one year in college, and I was like, “Okay, that was a total waste of my life.” I never played video games again, and I didn’t until I was 36 and I was just bored. I saw this ad — this is so embarrassing, like, how susceptible I am to advertising — but I saw an ad for Starcraft 2. It’s free to play because you just have to do stuff to pay for it but you can download it for free. I was like, “That’s cool; I can get a pay game for free.” And so I downloaded it, and I completely got addicted and played it for like a year. And it was a total waste, you know? Like, it was fun, and it kind of is designed to give you that endorphin rush you feel from feeling accomplishment, but it’s so short lived. It’s not like true, lasting accomplishments. It’s not like I’m changing anything in the world or helping anybody or improving myself. It’s just that I beat someone one time, and I like that. I lost some, so I gotta come back to it.

So, yeah, I went on vacation at the end of that year, over the holidays, and then I came back and the addiction was temporarily broken. So I was like, “I’m uninstalling this game.” So I uninstalled it, and that’s when I started Personal Finance Club, which was more of like a passion project, side hobby. I’ve been doing that for two and a half years.

And then, almost a year ago, my buddy started this machine learning company called Nyckel, and he knew that I had success as an entrepreneur in my past so he reached out to me. Then I basically just started dreaming about Nyckel. I was like, “Oh dude, this is super exciting! This could be huge!” And so for like a couple of weeks, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I was like, “I think I might need to ask him for a job.”

It goes back to that existential crisis thing, which is like, “What am I doing?” Like, I could just watch Netflix, play video games, travel, for sure. And I do travel; I enjoy traveling. But like, what if, in the extreme case, all I do is travel? Like, every single week, I was in a new place. I didn’t work. I didn’t contribute to society. I didn’t make anything. I was just this 40-something dude staying in Airbnbs around the world. It just starts to get so empty. I feel like then there’s no texture to your life and there’s no tension. No tension with the money. I think that we need tension in our life to try to achieve something, and Personal Finance Club is a part of that. We’re trying to grow that. But, yes, that’s why I joined Nyckel because I was just super pumped about it. There’s four of us working on it. It’s a very cool idea. It’s a very big idea that’s very hard to get this kind of company started.

Steven: That’s cool.

Lauren: It’s interesting because I feel like every time we get some breathing room where we’re not bogged down in random day-to-day tasks, we start talking about some new idea. Like we were like, “Oh, this would be a great YouTube channel idea, but we’re not going to do that right now.”

Steven: We came up with a game show recently.

Lauren: We came up with a game show that we were like, “This would be hilarious; this would be so great.” We thought through all these different things like how it would work, who would be on it. All that stuff. Almost like a Hot Ones, but not with wings and not with hot sauce, but in that kind of style. I’m trying to make it sound not-ridiculous. I mean, I guess it still is, but we come up with these random, like, business ideas that we’re like, “Oh, if I felt like putting a lot of time into something like that, it could be cool.” So I totally understand.

Steven: I mean, our blog is kind of like that.

Lauren: Our blog is definitely that. But he has Personal Finance Club, so I was saying, like, apart from the things that we are working on to educate other people and spread the word of living below your means and investing. Like, I totally get you hearing about your friend’s business idea and it just kind of digging in your brain. Being like, “Oh, well, you could do this. And, oh, you know what would be a good idea? This.”

I definitely get that because we do that all the time. People will talk about something that they’re doing, and then we’ll talk about it for the next two weeks. So I totally understand. When you have the free time to actually put the energy into something, I totally feel that.

Steven: I can see how you could get sucked into something. It’s funny you mention about video games because I play this card game called Magic The Gathering. And, yeah, I see you know about it.

Jeremy: Yeah, back in the 90s. I still have cards.

Lauren: It’s still going strong. If you’ve got cards, though, you should look at them.

Steven: You should look at what they’re worth.

Jeremy: I sold most of mine in college because I was broke, but I still have a few.

Steven: So, as a kid, I always played with other kids, and then as time went on — especially during the pandemic — I tried out playing online some. And, at that point, it kind of becomes like a video game. And it’s just like you said: it provides a fake kind of challenge for you to overcome, which is for sure an important component to happiness. But versus playing that same game in-person with other people at game stores and stuff like that, it just feels totally empty to play online. And I think part of the reason is that some kind of human connection and relationships and stuff are also required for happiness and fulfillment, and video games don’t really give you that. But playing a game in person definitely feels a little bit different to me because you get to meet people. And it turns out that that’s the important part or at least half of it, you know?

Lauren: You still get that mental challenge of the game, but you’re somewhere new. When we travel, we often will try to go to a local game shop and meet people and hear about their life and share about ours and places to eat. And then, like, now we know someone in Bozeman, Montana, next time we’re there. That’s the part that I like. I’ve learned to play, and I’m enjoying the getting better process. But I definitely have a hard limit on how much I can enjoy playing at any given time. But I will. I do. To me, the fun part is like how we met our best friend. We went to a game store years ago in our town, and I wouldn’t stop talking to this person that I made us all become friends with. So because I know the value of that, I think that I seek that out.  

Steven: So sometimes things that are not productive can still be fulfilling if they end up giving you human relationships and letting you meet new people and stuff like that. So that’s another thing we’ve kind of learned since retiring or whatever.

Jeremy: Yeah, I agree. I feel like when you look at studies of happiness, it’s always relationships. That’s what actually leads to happiness and fulfillment, not like a dollar amount or whatever or even success. You always hear about these successful celebrities or whatever committing suicide. And you’re like, “What? They had it all!” It’s like, well, if you have it all and you’re still not happy, it can even be lonelier because then there’s nowhere to go even, you know?

Lauren: Mm-hmm.

Target Date Index Funds & Bond Investing vs. Mortgage Payoff

Steven: So, I have an investing question for you.

Jeremy: OK, my favorite.

Lauren: We’ll just shift gears…

Steven: Shifting gears.

Lauren: …from, like, “what is happiness” to a “technical investing question.” Got it.

Steven: So, I was kind of going through stuff, and I always like to pick something to like, disagree about, which was really hard with you because, like I said earlier, it’s just one percent.

Jeremy: Dig into that one percent.

Steven: We really want to dig into that, so question for you: You’re really into target date index funds.

Jeremy: Love ‘em.

Steven: All right. I mean, I’m not going to say I hate ’em either or anything like that, but I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this before. For people who don’t know, a Target Date Index Fund is basically like an index fund that shifts you more into bonds and less in the stocks as you approach a target retirement date that you set. So it kind of reduces your risk over time and therefore your expected return as well as you get closer to retirement. That fair?  

Jeremy: Yeah.


If you find yourself asking “which index fund do I buy?” #longterminvesting #personalfinanceclub #moneytok #stocktok

♬ Summer – Instrumental – Devinney

Steven: So, since it kind of is shifting into bonds automatically over time, one thing that is kind of weird to me is: A lot of people who are approaching their target retirement date will still have debt — usually in the form of a mortgage, but they might have other types of debt as well — but I’ve always had the opinion that if you have debt, even a mortgage, then you really can’t justify owning bonds at all. Because, generally speaking, investment grade bonds yield less than whatever a standard mortgage rate is.

Right now, I don’t know, a 10-year Treasury probably yields between 1-2% is my guess, off the top of my head. And then, a mortgage rate might be in like the 2.5% — if you’re lucky — to 3.5% range, or higher. So, aren’t you always better off paying off your mortgage than investing in bonds? And, therefore, shouldn’t someone who has a mortgage or any kind of debt never own a target date index fund?  

Jeremy: I mean, my plan, I say pay off all your non-mortgage debt before you invest. So, I would agree, you pay off the debt first. In terms of the home, a home is a lot different because it’s a secured debt that is something that goes up in value. And so you can get out of that debt whenever you want just by selling the home, generally, short of, like, a catastrophic market crash or something like that. I’d say the one potentially honest critique of a target date index fund is it gets too conservative too soon. The mortgage debt — I’ve never been asked this question before, by the way, this is the first time I’ve been asked this question — the mortgage debt is always going to be less than the home, and then your investments, you want to not collapse. And so I kind of view them as separate, and I don’t think that because you have a home, you should be much more aggressively investing. Because, let’s say you have a home and you want to sell the home or something like that, and then the market crashes. Those things are kind of separate. You still need your investments to maintain a value.

The reason I like target date index funds is because people make emotional, bad decisions, and when you look at all the data, like every time a human makes any sort of decision, it’s usually their worst fear in investments. And I think people also are bad predictors of how they’ll feel in the future about certain things. When I see the world and I see people who are 60- and 70-something, they don’t have the super aggressive ambition of like super high growth rates for the next 30 years because they’re not really thinking about a 30-year time frame. They’re thinking about protecting their assets right there, their principle. And when do you make that shift to those income-producing bonds? There’s no good day, you know? You can’t know. If you try to pick a day, then you’re essentially timing the market, making human decisions. And so I like the slow transition. If you do take that slow transition, you end up being 60 and then you feel like you want to be more aggressive, I’d much rather go the other way where you go into all stock-heavy stuff. But, yeah, your home, if you end up with a 50-50 portfolio at the age of 70 or something and you still have debt in your home, you can sell your home and get rid of it. But I still want your nest egg to be protected.

Steven: I guess what I was saying is if you own a bond that yields 2% and you also have mortgage debt that’s at 3%, you have an arbitrage opportunity, right? You can sell the bond and pay off the 3% debt, and you’re actually plus one percent on your return ongoing, right?  

Jeremy: Yeah, that’s true. I would want people to, like, I hope when you’re 65, you have a paid-for home. So, yeah, in that case, I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think it’s an argument against target date index funds, I think that argument for paying off your home.

Steven: Yeah, fair enough. 

Jeremy: Because the alternative is you get a big home with a lot of debt and you’re in a 100% stock portfolio. Then you could be in a catastrophic situation where the market drops by 50% and you’re underwater in your home, and now you’re bankrupt at 70. 

Steven: I’m really glad that you said that because that’s kind of like our position on the whole leveraged investing thing. The popular wisdom is: If you have a mortgage, then keep a 100% stock portfolio that will outperform paying off the mortgage. And now you’re using this leverage to your advantage. And people don’t acknowledge that, like you said, there is significant increased risk there. You don’t get extra return without any extra risk. That’s pretty much impossible. So, it’s a really good point. But I do see a lot of people whose portfolio is set up where they still have the mortgage debt, and they also own bonds in some proportion at the same time. And I’m just, like, I don’t know, that doesn’t really make sense.

Jeremy: No, that’s a good point. I would, if I was that person, I would sell the bonds and pay off the house. But I think being 70 and being 30 are very different because when you’re 30 and you’re in an all-stock portfolio, you can weather the storms for a decade or two, if you need to. Whereas when you’re at 70, you don’t want to be ruined.

Steven: Yeah, the last thing you said, I exactly agree with that. If you have bonds and a mortgage at the same time, sell the bonds to pay off the mortgage, not to buy more stocks, necessarily. I think that’s a good plan that keeps your risk tolerance similar to before. We’re big proponents of paying off your house, honestly. Although we see the argument for the leverage thing.

Jeremy: I have paid for home.

Steven: Yeah, same.

Lauren: We do too.

Jeremy: My home is worth like $800k or something like that because I’m in Southern California, and my net worth is $4.5 million, and people say, “Why don’t you take a big loan on your house and put that in the market?” I’m like, “Why? I already have $3.7 million in the market, so I can put $4.2 million in the market? And then I have to worry about some asshole bank trying to foreclose on me if I miss a payment.” There’s no marginal benefit, and there’s this additional risk and this additional headache. But I’m in a very comfortable situation. If I was 25, and I had a very little stock portfolio, I probably would take a 30-year, fixed-interest-rate loan and slow pay it and aggressively try to grow that stock. And then maybe reevaluate 10 or 20 years down the road and say, “Hey, has my portfolio grown so big now that I can pay off my home in one fell swoop and still be in good shape?”

Steven: Yeah, makes sense. And it’s not even necessarily age as it is “how close are you to retirement?”

Day Trading vs. Index Fund Investing: An Experiment 

Steven: But, yeah, on a lighter note, we saw on your Instagram recently that you have a 30-day challenge happening. So, tell us about that and what you hope to accomplish with this thing?

Jeremy: Frankly, it’s a little bit of a stunt to gain attention. I’m hoping maybe there might be some news that covers it. But, basically, I’m pitting my Instagram audience against an index fund. When I announced it, I asked for comments for stocks, and so we got a list of 100 stocks that people wanted to buy. Every day, I’m pitting two of those stocks against each other in an Instagram poll and letting my followers pick which stock to buy. And then, with $10k, I’m buying one stock at a time, and every single day we’re selling the entire stock, buying a new stock. Then with another $10k, I’m just buying an index fund — actually VT, the total world stock ETF from Vanguard. Then for 30 days, we’re just going to go nuts and try to buy a new stock every single day and see which one outperforms. And, you know, there’s no lesson — I put this in my story — I said we’re not going to solve anything from this. I’m not going to be like, “Oh, guess what, guys? I just figured out that polling your Instagram audience is going to beat the market!” 

Steven: Wait, you’re saying that if the day trading wins, that doesn’t prove that day trading is unequivocally better than index funds forever? That’s not true? Haha.

Jeremy: It does not. All we’re doing is, like you said, we’re accepting — in this case, it’s a bad trade — we’re accepting more risk and more volatility for not-expected greater return. Because I believe the market is efficient, and we can’t know which stock to buy, I expect these two to perform about the same. But I also expect the data to be much more volatile. I feel like the index has to be kind of a slow curve up or down — I don’t know, it’s too short of a period of time. But the day trading is going to be more jagged. We’re basically accepting this volatility for not a great return.

All the money, by the way, is going to charity, so all $20k, plus whatever it grows to, hopefully. I’m guaranteeing at least $20k, in case we do lose money. But it’s all going to go directly to charity. I hope it goes up for the sake of it being real money and charity. But I think for a lot of people it’s so abstract, so forgein, the concept of an index or the concept of a stock and how do you pick stocks. So, hopefully I can just like shine a light, like,”Here’s one way to do it.” I think it’s a little bit absurd. I think it’s a stunt to just draw attention or whatever. But, you know, it’s fun, and I think people are excited to see how it turns out. If we somehow like 10x our money in day trading, then I’ll be able to go get a story in the news or something. Or if I lose it all, it’ll be a good story too. If it ends up exactly the same, it’ll be kind of a boring story.  

Steven: Yeah, I think what you said about how you’re accepting more volatility or risk without really ultimately increasing your expected return totally makes sense. I mean, they say that diversifying is like the one free lunch you get in investing, right? You can eliminate a certain type of risk by diversifying — not all the risk, but you can eliminate a certain type for free by diversifying. And, so, the reverse must be true, then, right? Like if you un-diversify, you’re re-accepting that risk without changing the expected returns. If you put that in one of your cool little Instagram boxes, we’ll share it. 

Jeremy: Alright, I’ll go make a note after this. Yeah, that’s true. Over just a short, 30-day period, it’s actually like 23 trading days in a month because there are weekends when the markets close. But it’s just basically a coin flip. You flip a coin 23 times, you might get 14 heads, even though you expect to get 12, or whatever it is. That doesn’t prove that this is a good coin; it just proves that there’s randomness in small numbers. As of yesterday — we’ve only had two trading days — the day trading is slightly ahead. So, who knows?

Favorite Travel Experiences 

Lauren: Okay, I do have one last question that I wanted to ask that’s kind of, well, it’s not unrelated — maybe to your brand, it’s unrelated, because I don’t really see you talk about travel that much — but you had mentioned that you do enjoy traveling. And I know you took some longer trips, like when you did retire, like going to Australia and doing some backpacking and going to Italy. I’m curious — you say you still like to travel — what has been your favorite trip so far? What is the best travel experience? Just a quick little little story.

Jeremy: That’s so hard because every one is so fun. But, yeah, I’ve traveled a lot to Central and South America, some in Europe, Australia, Indonesia. I think my favorite country may be Croatia. It’s just this jagged, beautiful coastline with these tropical islands. The food was cheap. The people were nice. Everyone spoke English, and I am like, horribly, unilingual, except for maybe like a tiny bit of Spanish. Yeah, so I’d say that might have been my favorite country. Australia was really fun. Italy and Sicily. I definitely have loved Central South America. I’m just listing every place.

What’s a good story? Once I drove from Los Angeles to Belize in a car. It took two weeks, one way. We picked up a hitchhiker along the way. He and my friend’s sister that we were with got busted by people with guns. We had no idea their level of like authority, whether they were just criminals or whether they were official police. I don’t think it really matters much at that point. They literally didn’t have any money, so the people with guns walked them. The people with guns were purporting to be police or military, but the best advice that we’ve heard was that you offer to pay the fine on the spot, you know, whatever that means. So they marched them to an ATM and both had them like max draw their ATM and left them alone. So yeah, that wasn’t the best story, I guess. But there’s an adventure.

Steven: That’s your funnest travel experience.

Lauren: Australia definitely is interesting. We haven’t gone.

Jeremy: What’s your best travel experience? Have you been to Australia? 

Lauren: We have not. It’s on our next bucket list, “to-do” kind of place because we’ve done all the National Parks in the US.

Jeremy: All of them?

Lauren: Yeah, we did. We’ve spent like a month in Alaska. We haven’t done much international travel, though. That’s the thing that’s next. I feel like we’ve pretty well completed the US. But, yeah, every National Park. We did that two years ago in our camper van.

Jeremy: That’s crazy.

Steven: We found that while you’re trying to accumulate wealth, which has been most of our journey up until recently, it’s really beneficial to realize there’s so much to see right here in the United States. And it’s so much cheaper because you can just drive there, and you can sleep in the back of a van or whatever it may be. So, I think international travel is definitely on the horizon.

Jeremy: I would argue international travel is cheaper depending on what country you go to. If you just get a plane ticket for, like, Southeast Asia, it’ll blow your mind.

Lauren: I’ve heard that!

Jeremy: When I was in Indonesia, you sit down at this restaurant and they had locally fresh-caught fish. Literally, like, “Our fisherman is Ted. He’s sitting over there. He goes out every morning, brings fish.” They make you this, like, drinks and three-course meal, and then it’s $2 or something. It’s just absurd. You can rent motorcycles for like $1 a day. I mean, the prices are just bananas. Once you get over there, stuff is definitely cheaper. I was renting an apartment for $1,300 a month before I bought my place, and when I was traveling, I was like, “Dude, these Airbnbs are cheaper per day than my apartment is. Why do I even have an apartment?”

Steven: Maybe we’ll regret not doing international sooner, because that was kind of our logic. But also having the time freedom, I think, helps with exactly what you’re saying. Like, if you can take the plane ride, which is like the expensive part, to go to a cheaper cost of living country and then stay there a while, it becomes really worth it because your per-day cost is much lower. So, yeah, that makes sense.

Lauren: Yeah, I think our perspective was a little skewed when we lived in Hawaii for six months, but I was comparing our rent there to our rent in Florida, and it was very similar. I was like, “Oh, this is fine because this is what I would be paying in Florida if I was still there.” And so that sabbatical, I felt like, seemed really cheap to us for, like, not working and being on an island. But, I guess, if we would have gone a little bit further, it would have been cheaper.  

Jeremy: Hawaii’s pricey, but like everything, you can make it what you want it to be. If you book a tour and you go there for a week and you stay in hotels, it can be really expensive.

Lauren: It can be really expensive. Yeah, that was part of our decision for moving there; that was like our honeymoon. We didn’t really want to spend two weeks racking up hotels every night, rental car  every day, tours. If we just move there and pay basically the same rent, then we can do whatever we want. So that was what we ended up doing. We were on the Big Island, so it was a little bit cheaper than being on Maui or O’ahu. But that was a really fun experience, too, in terms of travel experiences. Going to all the National Parks in our van and doing the Hawaii trip were both our longest trips and also probably the more enjoyable ones. Maybe they have something to do with the time.

Steven: Honestly, anything you do where you get out of your normal environment for months at a time instead of days or weeks at a time, it’s almost guaranteed to just be an incredible experience because it gives you something completely different and new, and that’s what you’re really looking for when you travel. You actually shift gears, and your life kind of changes.

Lauren: You break old routines, you create new ones. It’s weird because our van is really basic. It doesn’t have a kitchen in it. So when we come back home, I’m always like, “Oh yeah, this is cooking in a real kitchen and having a dishwasher. This is so weird. And like a full refrigerator.”

Steven: It makes you appreciate what you have at home more when you come back. That is true. I mean, there’s something to that, for sure.

Jeremy: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, I love it, too. I hate the kind of trip where you go for a week and you stay in a different place every night and just hit the most touristy places. It’s just like I could watch a video and see what that would be like. But, yeah, I went to Italy for eight weeks, and I was kind of like living life there, like now I live this Italian life. Yeah, it’s great.

Lauren: Yeah, that’s a good amount of time — eight weeks. We just got back from seven weeks on the road. So we were feeling like that’s, you know, month and a half, two months, that’s a good starting point. Well, yeah, we wish you the best of luck with your Instagram challenge, and your new role there at Nyckel. I appreciate you taking the time to hang out with us and chat with us. That was the last question, and this is kind of what everyone says at the end, right? “How do people find you? What’s the best way to connect?” I guess that’s the last question.

Jeremy: Yeah. Personal Finance Club…We’re on Instagram and TikTok. Love your TikToks, by the way. I feel like you guys are one of the most common on my “For You” page. I’m always curious about who am I on their algorithm for? But yeah, you guys are definitely on my “For You” page all the time.

Lauren: Good, I’m glad to hear that it’s worth filming the videos because it’s one of the hardest things I feel like for me personally.

Steven: We both prefer writing to videos, but we’ve got into it because it just works. People love video. 

Lauren: People want the video content. It’s not super actionable in like 30 seconds, but that’s what they want.

Steven: But anyway, to anyone watching [or reading]: Go follow this guy because he posts really smart personal finance stuff at Personal Finance Club.

Lauren: Thanks again, Jeremy!

Jeremy: Thanks, guys!

Update, December 2023: We recently joined Jeremy in the double-comma club!

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