Earn a Masters Degree in Financial Independence While Driving to Work

A theme on this blog is eliminating waste from our lives.  Nowhere in our life is there a bigger waste of time than that spent in our cars.  The average American wastes almost one hour just on their round-trip work commute every day.  I recently heard of Zig Ziglar’s concept of  “automobile university”.  The concept is that by using the time the average American spends in their car, in 3 years you can learn the equivalent of 2 years of college material.  Essentially you can waste all of this time or you can learn the equivalent of a master’s degree every 3 years.  The more time you are wasting in your car, the more time you have to learn.

I have found listening to podcasts is a great solution.  They are available on demand, are generally free to download or stream and you can keep them to listen to as many times as you like.  The only downside is that literally anyone can make a podcast and put it out there.  (Maybe a complaint people have about blogs after reading ours!)  Therefore, it takes some time to swim through the crud to find the good stuff.  Luckily, I have done the swimming for you and am going to give you some good starting points.


The first two podcasts that I highly recommend for anyone working toward financial independence and early retirement are the Financial Mentor Podcast and the Mad Fientist Podcast.  Each have very well-developed blogs/websites that I have reviewed in a previous post.  When we first started trying to figure out early retirement plans, we were stuck thinking in the traditional model of earn as much as possible, save and invest as much as possible in traditional stock/bond mutual funds and then stop working and live off of these investments.  The most important thing we’ve learned listening to these podcasts is how little we actually knew and how many different paths are available.  Listening to the different perspectives of these hosts and their guests has been eye-opening to the number of possibilities and the need to figure out our own way.  Both podcasts are very informative yet easily accessible and interesting to those with limited financial understanding and are a great place to start.  The only criticism I have of either of these podcasts is the lack of content.  As of my writing this post, there is about 30 total hours between these podcasts.  I guess that is the benefit of being an “early retiree” as each of these guys are.  They can do what they want and think is of value when they want to.  Kudos to both!

That, however, left me looking for other good listening material.  The next 2 podcasts that I would recommend are the Dough Roller Podcast and the Radical Personal Finance Podcast.  If you have the time to invest in your financial education, I would recommend both of these podcasts.

The Dough Roller Podcast is produced by Rob Berger, a lawyer turned financial blogger.  This podcast is well-rounded with some episodes very focused on X’s and O’s and some more focused on psychology and behaviors.  Some of the recurrent themes that I think make this podcast a worthwhile listen for anyone reading this blog are emphasis on understanding your investments and controlling investment costs, the importance of educating yourself rather than following one size fits all advice and Rob’s obvious desire to continue learning and his passion for teaching and helping others with a wide variety of financial topics.  This podcast definitely is not specific to early retirement and tends to  stay towards more conventional advice.  He does have an interview featuring Mr. Money Mustache which is a fun listen.  In later episodes, I have noticed him drifting a bit more in this direction and he even dedicated an entire episode to hedonic adaptation.  The understanding of this concept is at the core of achieving early financial independence.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, give this episode a listen.

The Radical Personal Finance Podcast produced by financial advisor Joshua Sheats certainly lives up to its name.  I just stumbled upon this podcast in the past few weeks.  In just the few episodes I’ve had a chance to listen to, Joshua has looked at the positives attributes of living like a multi-billionaire and a homeless person, has interviewed a person who actively promotes tax evasion and has posted a 3 hour interview with Jacob Lund Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme.  His unique approach is to use examples from the most radical and extreme positions and learn from them while discarding things not useful to yourself.  He advocates developing a financial plan specific to your own personal values, needs and abilities.  He certainly does not condone tax evasion or encourage the extremes of homelessness or gluttony, but does encourage listeners to study, understand and learn things from each of these ways of life that can be applied to your situation.  This is very much in line with the message of this blog as written in this post.  Where some of the other podcasts are lacking in content, my biggest complaint with The Radical Personal Finance Podcast is that it is information overload.  Joshua produces a new episode every day and all are at least one hour in length.  It is my hope that he finds a way to streamline his message a bit, without watering it down as he finds his voice on this podcast.  For those with time and interest in diving deep into personal finance or who pick and choose topics of interest to them, this podcast is a valuable resource.

If you have any other recommendations or feedback or know of a different resource for me to review, leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

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15 comments on Earn a Masters Degree in Financial Independence While Driving to Work

  1. Thanks so much for including my show in your list! I like your recommendations and I give them a hearty amen! I like Todd Tresidor’s work immensely. He’s a wealth of knowledge and experience and I really enjoy Brandon’s interviews. He’s also doing some really awesome stuff for the FI world. I haven’t listened to Dough Roller, but someone just heartily recommended it to me this weekend and I put it on my list!

    I like the premise of your post as well. I’m (slowly) working on a book list of what I would use as the basis of a personal Masters degree program (similar to the Personal MBA project). I don’t expect it to be finished anytime soon, but I’m working on it. 🙂

    Keep up the learning!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. There are so many places that you read and hear the same thing over and over, and your show definitely has broken that mold. You have a very unique perspective and I’m curious to see where you take things. I’m especially interested in learning more about tax planning b/c it is so important and you are one of the few people talking about it.


  2. A couple new podcasts to listen to thanks. I stick with Dave Ramsey to constantly remind me to pay off debt and save. Doughroller has some podcasts that I like from time to time can get a little affiliate happy from time to time/debt talk and MadFIentist is great for the interviews as well, very smart guy. I’m going to check out Financial Mentor and Radical, thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I hope you like the podcasts I selected. I think they all have their strengths and weaknesses and a bit of that depends on what you like and what information you’re looking for.

      I think they are all a bit different from the Dave Ramsey approach in that they all encourage thinking outside the box and developing a deeper understanding of your own finances which is why I recommend all of them. The Dave Ramsey core message of avoiding/getting out of debt is one that I think is great for almost everyone. I also admire his ability to motivate people and get them excited to do something out of the ordinary. I’m not crazy about his use of one set of rules that works for everyone. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I wrote a separate post about that actually. Check it out and let me know what you think if you get a chance. http://eatthefinancialelephant.com/why-does-something-so-bad-feel-so-good/


  3. I love podcasts and listen to them often when I’m on the road (though most of the time I’m walking or biking as opposed to driving ;). Thanks for some good recommendations. I’ll be sure to check them out.

    1. Hope you enjoy the recommendations. Thanks for the comment.

      Good (if subtle) suggestion to avoid the driving altogether when possible. I actually enjoy most aspects of my job and the parts I am most looking forward to being free from are the hour I spend in my car every day and the additional hour lunch we’re required to take. Until that day I will continue my education at Auto-U and use my lunch to research and write the blog, turning 10 hours/week of waste into an investment in the future.

  4. Not disputing the value of these podcasts or making good use of the time, but shouldn’t we(ER aspirants) be working on to reduce or elimiate car usage ? An area where inflation can hit us if we depend on it too much ?

    1. I don’t at all disagree that driving too much is a major wealth killer and decreasing our driving is a great way to save money and build wealth. I actually have a post coming in the next couple of weeks addressing this.

      That being said, one of the consistent themes of this blog is that there is no one size fits all strategy that will work for every person every time. Another is that we’re just an average couple figuring things out as we go and sharing with our audience. The fact is that I am very average spending about 1 hour in my car commuting to work each day. If I was going to be doing this forever, it would be very smart to move closer to work or find a job closer to home and walk or bike. Since, I am looking at ER in a few years, love my house and have a great work situation, I feel that I am better off staying put in my current job and current home and figuring out the best way to optimize the situation which is what I’m doing here.

      Thanks again for the comment and I hope you’ll continue to follow the blog.


  5. the investors podcast (we study billionaires) and money for the rest of us are two solid options as well. I also enjoy motley fool’s answers (haven’t dived into any of their others)

    I have a 50 minute one way trip to campus (luckily I only need to be on campus 2-3 times a week and have university breaks) and my wife’s family is 3 hours away with my family 4-5 hours away. Needless to say, I put in a lot of time in the car.

    The automobile university definitely works - I went from knowing literally nothing about finance a year ago to requesting the university’s investment consultant/committee analyzes changing the main 403b option to include a low fee S&P 500 so the TIAA line up matches Fidelity options!

    1. Thanks for the recommendations Jeff. I am always mixing things up and looking for new things to challenge my thinking.
      That is awesome that you were able to make those changes in your university’s 403b plan. My wife and I both had similar experiences with our work retirement plans, but we both work for small companies where it would seem much easier to make an impact. I wrote about it here: http://eatthefinancialelephant.com/lets-stop-choosing/
      Hats off to you for pulling it off in a big organization.

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