Retiring at 35? Podcast reaches millions, focuses on 'financial independence'

Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa are reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the...
Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa are reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world. (Source: NBC12)
Published: Jun. 4, 2018 at 7:46 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2018 at 1:51 PM EDT
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BON AIR, VA (WWBT) - Imagine retiring at age 35!

A Henrico man doesn't have to picture it - he's living that dream, and he's teamed up with a man from Chesterfield to teach others how to do it.

From all appearances with the cameras, computer equipment and microphones, we are inside a recording studio.

"Hello and welcome to the Choose FI radio podcast. Today on the show we're going to be discussing this past week's episode ..." says a podcast host.

But Brad Barrett and Jonathan Mendonsa are reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world from a modest home in Bon Air.

"You're listening to Choose FI Radio," says an announcer's voice.

They are the hosts of the popular podcast Choose FI, which means Choose Financial Independence.

"When people say I've reached financial independence, what they are alluding to is that they have enough money to essentially build themselves a perpetual money making machine," said Mendonsa.


"For most people, saving is this nebulous, 'Oh I'll save for something down the road,' but for us it's saving to reach financial independence, which means you're at a point where you don't need to work anymore," said Barrett.

Mendonsa went to Virginia Tech, did his undergrad at VCU Medical Center and in four years as a pharmacist he paid off $168,000 in student loan debt.

"If I knew then, going back to maybe the age of 18, what I know now, it's not how much you make it's how much you save. How does that change all of the decisions that I make," said Mendonsa.

Barrett went to the University of Richmond, majored in accounting and worked as a CPA for 13 years in Innsbrook.

He was able to leave his job doing corporate state tax returns and retire at age 35.

"I get to live this life that I choose. When my kids get off the bus at 3, I'm there. And when we go to the pool everyday I'm there for 3 hours. I'm the only dad there," said Barrett.

They started the podcast a year and a half ago - it's now reached 3 million downloads.

"We had no idea it would resonate with the close to hundred thousand people all over the country that are listening to this now," said Mendonsa.

They teach living a frugal lifestyle, saving as much as 50 percent of your income each year, optimizing tax benefits and travel and credit card hacks.

For Barrett and Mendonsa,  this podocast is now the job.

"I went rogue. Full time podcaster," Mendonsa said with a laugh.

A job they love. In a city they love. Teaching the life behind Choosing FI.

"I'm living proof. I'm just a regular guy from Short Pump who retired essentially at 35 years old," said Barrett.

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