Brandon – Mad FIentist

Brandon is the host of the Mad FIentist podcast and author at where he talks and writes about financial independence, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne.   I’m going to have to repeat a book that was already recommended by one of your other guests, Jim Collins (he is the person who actually recommended the book to me).
I can honestly say this book has changed my mindset more than any other book ever has. Its main message is that you are inherently free to do whatever you like with your life. However, there are many “traps” that attempt to limit your freedom, like pressures from society, family expectations, etc. Ultimately though, you have the power to break free from those traps and live a life that truly makes you happy.
As someone who is following an unorthodox financial path, I’ve always written my own rules with regards to money but this book made me realize I could expand that thinking into all areas of my life.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I’m currently pursuing a graduate degree while working full time so I haven’t had much time for pleasure reading in the past few years but last month I went on vacation and got to read a fabulous book called Shantaram. The book is based on a true story about an ex-addict who escaped from prison in Australia and then fled to India. It was written by the escaped convict himself and follows his story as he lives in the slums of Bombay, joins the Indian mafia, spends time in prison, and eventually goes to war in Afghanistan. It is an incredible story that highlights the importance of relationships and the life-changing effects of immersing yourself in another culture.

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  When looking at Amazon to find out how to spell the authors’ names, I noticed a quote by Mark Cuban that sells the book much better than I could: “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time. This is a must read for every entrepreneur.”

So save yourself $40K+, read Rework, start a business, and then go ask Mark Cuban for funding.

Good things to watch.

In Bruges. This dark comedy has become one of my favorite movies and since not many of my friends have seen it, I tend to show it to everyone that comes to visit me. It is quite violent at times and is definitely not for children but it has great acting, a beautiful setting (Bruges, Belgium), funny Irish humor, and excellent music to tie it all together.

Long Way Round. This documentary series follows Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as they travel from London to New York on their motorcycles. If this series doesn’t make you want to break away from your cubicle and go travel the world, I don’t know what would.

Watch your money.  You should try to keep track of everything you spend money on for a single month. You can sign up to to make this easier but even if it’s a bit of a pain, it’s only for 30 days.

At the end of the month, take a look at where your money went and ask yourself for every item on the list, “if giving this up meant I could quit my job tomorrow, would I give it up?” If you answer yes, seriously consider giving it up because it’s obviously not as important to you as your freedom is. Then, take the money that you were spending on all the things you decided to give up and invest it or use it to pay off debts every month instead.

It’s amazing how much money people spend on things that really aren’t important to them, while being stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy, so doing this exercise will allow you to eliminate those unnecessary expenses and will help you eventually buy your freedom.

Good things to use.

Wunderlist.  A great to-do list app that allows you to easily sync your to-do lists between all of your devices.

Spotify.  Spotify gives me the music collection I always dreamed of having as a kid, for free!

A Mac.  I hesitated to list this for fear of being thought of as a Mac fanboy.

I actually used to be anti-Mac. Why spend a lot of money to get a Mac when you could get a perfectly good PC for half the price?

When I started at my current job three years ago, however, they gave me a brand new Macbook Pro and I have to say, I’ll never go back. It actually makes me sad inside when I see other people using a Windows machine because I know how much better their lives could be if they made the switch.

Connect with the Mad FIentist, @madfientist.

Vanessa – Turnipseed Travel

Vanessa is a blogger at TurnipseedTravel where she shares tips for travelling by getting the most and spending the least.  She adores making lists and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Ah, there’s no love like your first love! I’ve been reading and re-reading this series since I was 8 years old and I still love it. Being from Maritime Canada myself, I love the stories of olden Prince Edward Island and try to adapt Anne’s joyous spirit as a guide for my own. And for the history buffs out there: the last book in the series, Rilla of Ingleside, is the only novel that details Canadian domestic life during WWI that was written during the period. Amazingly rich in historical detail.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Is it cheating to say you should get it as an audiobook? Well, you should! The accents are so rich and well done – it is mesmerizing to listen to. Based on true events, this book chronicles Lin’s escape from maximum security prison in Australia, to hiding among the underground of Bombay – serving as a medic in the slums – to passport and gun running into Afghanistan in the earliest days of the Taliban. Perfect for a long plane ride.

419 by Will Ferguson. This multiple award winning book invites the reader to explore the dark and murky regions of a Nigeria consumed by oil madness and computer schemes. When the life of a Canadian woman starts to unravel as a result of a 419 Nigerian letter scheme, she doesn’t hesitate to pull at the tread and follow the trail. It was the first book I review in 2013 as part of a project to read a different novel each week that inspired travel and, while it doesn’t exactly have me packing my bags for West Africa, it does make me feel like I’ve been there

Good things to watch.

Shakespeare in the Park. I love pay-what-you-can theatre and always try to make it to community Shakespeare in the Park. It’s a great way to combine community support and great entertainment, along with a dash of history and literature. When I travel I try to always attend a Shakespeare performance. My two favourites have been seeing Romeo and Juliette at the Southern Utah Shakespeare festival in Cedar City and Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

You’ve Got Mail. Sure it’s a classic rom-com. But it’s the only movie I can think of that documents the cheerful, unpredictable way the internet entered our lives – and our love lives. You have to be of a “certain age” to feel nostalgic about hearing the early AOL dial-up tones and seeing those old, huge screen icons. It’s charming and feel-good, and manages to feel like it has captured the modern age while still making me feel nostalgic.

The “7 Up” documentary series. How does that old quote go? Give me a child at 7 and I will show you the man. Originally a documentary of 7 year old British schoolchildren from different economic background, it has become a series. Every 7 years, the lives of the now-grown up children are re-examined. It is a fascinating window into the soul of both people and sociology. 56-Up just came out in 2012 and it’s starting to air in theatres here. I can’t wait.

Good things to use.

A carry-on bag. I write about value travel and I wholeheartedly believe in travelling with carry-on only bags. Once you do it, you will never go back. Breezing past everyone struggling with their gear. Being at the front of the customs line. Never having to wait to check in. Never waiting at the conveyor belt. Never waiting at the lost luggage office! Saving money and using public transit or walking instead of pricey taxis. And never paying a penny for checked baggage again – put all that money you save towards a nice bottle of wine on your last night.

A cake pan. Nothing says welcome, thank you, happy birthday, I love you, or I’m sorry quite like a homemade cake. Doesn’t have to be fancy – hell, you can even use a cake mix! There isn’t a person on earth who doesn’t melt when they see a freshly baked cake. Homemade hospitality will never go out of style. Try it, make a few friends, mend a few bridges. Or just make yourself feel warm and cozy.

A leash. Adopt a dog who needs a safe, happy, secure forever home. Your daily walks will soon become the highlight of your day (and using a leash is what responsible pet owners do!).

Ask Vanessa your travel questions on Twitter on Monday’s at 1PM.

Jason Kemp – online marketing pro

This is Jason Kemp and these are his good things

What are some good things you’ve read?

Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb is a book that combines history, culture, politics and food writing set in Italy.

Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham is a set of essays by Paul Graham who went on to set up Y Combinator. The essays are all thoughtful insights on language and culture from a tech thinker.

Shantaram is a novel by Gregory David Roberts which is about life on the edge in Mumbai, India for an Australian prison escapee. Shantaram is a fast un-put down-able read and covers many ideas adventures which reads like an autobiography.

What are some good things you’ve watched?

Daytime Tiger is a documentary film by Costa Botes about writer Michael Morrissey who was diagnosed with manic depression. It gives us more understanding about bi polar / manic behaviours.

Flight of the Conchords TV series is about fictious 4th best folk band living in NY.

Bladerunner the movie still looks great after 30 years. I like the script and the way it was adapted from a book plus set design and amazing performance by Rutger Hauer.

What are some good things you use?

I love my Bialetti stovetop coffee maker and take it with me when travelling or even camping.

The new iPad with the retina screen is amazing and combination of hi res screen, mobile portability and touch / tablet is a platform that I can build products for.

Minecraft game on iPad is incredible for visual spatial thinkers and I can see it being used in education as well.

Editor note: this post originally misspelled ‘book’ as ‘boom’ and noted Shantaram was set in Italy instead of India.