The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins, A Review

Ever since I discovered financial independence and started reading everything I could about the subject, there was one person who kept coming up over and over again, a Mr. JL Collins.  The stock series found on his own personal blog might be the best resource I’ve ever found on the proper mentality to have when investing in the stock market to grow and preserve wealth over time.  He not only lays out an extremely simple method that anyone can follow, but also explains why the method is proven over time and not simply the latest “trick” to make money in the market.

JL recently complied all of the knowledge spread across his blog and his stock series, cleaned it up a bit, added some new insights, and released it all in book form.  This new book is The Simple Path to Wealth and he was kind enough to send me a copy in exchange for my honest opinion on the book which you can find below.  If you’ve ever been hesitant to invest money in the stock market, this is definitely a book you don’t want to miss.

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Hiking and The Journey To Financial Independence

Over the long Memorial Day weekend, Becky and I found ourselves climbing Mount Si with a few dozen others who shared our goal of financial independence.  The hike itself is a fairly steep ~4,000 ft elevation gain over 4 miles each way and the rain certainly didn’t make it easier, but what made this particular hike amazing were the people who joined us.  The third annual Camp Mustache brought together over 50 individuals that share a common interest in financial independence, early retirement, and more generally just stepping outside the norm of what society might expect in all aspects of life.  The group included people like ourselves that were relatively early on the journey, many that have considered themselves retired for years, everything in between, and of course a few big bloggers that have carved out their space in the financial independence world.

Below I plan to share my experience at the event and the many parallels I discovered between hiking and financial independence on that long hike up the mountain.

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Is Anyone Actually Saving Money By Travel Hacking?

Who can resist the allure of “free travel”?  Just sign up for a credit card or two and you can set off across the world for pennies on the dollar!  To someone who has never applied for a credit card with a big bonus before, that last line probably sounds exaggerated at best and outright fraud at worst.  What some of you reading know is that it’s not only possible, but you might not even have to pay those pennies if you do it just right!

The problem is that so many people seem to take this wonderful opportunity and do it all wrong!  It’s an extremely rare day that I can make it through all the blogs I follow on feedly or the comments in reddit’s churning community without an absurd value proposition being thrown around.  For every one person that truly seems to be maximizing the utility of points and miles, there seem to be a dozen chasing the juicy carrot at the end of the stick.  This isn’t some unique problem to travel hacking, but rather a reflection of “deals” that every other corporation with a product to sell has used for decades and a ton of people seem to be falling for it!

Let’s explore how most people are terrible at saving in general, how to avoid the same old corporate tricks that take your money, and find the light at the end of the tunnel where you might be able to actually use travel hacking to improve your financial standing.

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(DEAD) New Bank Opportunity – A 7 month ~7% CD at NRLFCU

5/2/16 UPDATE: NRLFCU appears to have stopped the 777 promotion and it is not possible at this time to sign up for the promotional account.

While the master of bank bonuses, Doctor of Credit, is enjoying his vacation, I thought I’d cover the latest opportunity I came across today.  NRL Federal Credit Union is allowing members to open a 7-month CD that pays out close to 7% APY on up to $7,000 in funds as a part of their “777” promotion.  While this isn’t a traditional “Meet X requirements and get $XXX” bank signup bonus, the payout can be pretty high if you have the funds to float.  As far as guaranteed returns go, this is the highest I’ve ever seen.  Even the best of the rewards checking/savings accounts only go up to ~5% and often have hoops to jump through with minimum transactions and such.  The good news is you can potentially fund up to $9,000 with a credit card, but it might cost you a hard credit pull to open.  I’ll break down all of the details below.

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Our Current Credit Card Collection

A reader recently asked me if I would share the current credit cards we had open to help inspire his next application and I thought it might be useful to share with everyone.  The best place to start when deciding which credit card to get is with your own future travel plans as I outlined when discussing our latest application choices.  If you don’t have any future travel plans, then looking for the highest cash back signup bonuses might be your best option.  If you don’t want to juggle multiple cards, then you should probably stick to a card or two that give you the best return on your regular spending.

The options are fairly broad, but I thought I’d share our own personal set of credit cards, why we applied for each card, and why we still have them.  Maybe one of our choices will inspire your next adventure!

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