Staying the Course in War-Time

Last May, when I announced I had inked a deal with Harriman House to publish my new book, Pathfinders, I invited those of you who had embraced The Simple Path to Wealth to share your stories.

The response was amazing and, unfortunately, there were simply to many to include them all.

Those that we have included comprise a wonderful collection of stories from all over the world, from people of all ages, background and walks of life. Each at a different point and with a different take on the path.

As you’ll see should you decide to read the book, they are organized into nine different sections. To give you a flavor of these stories, this week and next I want to share two of them with you.

Both come from the section titled…

Staying the Course

Pulling two from the same section is probably not the best marketing strategy, but I chose these as they are quite literally ripped from today’s headlines: The war in Ukraine.

This first one is from a reader in Ukraine, Roman Koshovskyi. The second — When Your Country Becomes a Global Outcast which I’ll share next week, is from a reader in central Russia, Artem Voronov.

Hopefully, as we enter this New Year we are looking at the year that will bring peace to that part of the world.

*Pre-ordering for Pathfinders is now available all around the world. Click on the link and/or see the note after the post for details.

Now, here’s Roman…


Staying the Course in War-Time

Roman Koshovskyi

Lviv region, Ukraine,

I am a 30-year-old pursuing FI in Ukraine. It’s an interesting time to do so, with my country at war. But it’s always been a little different here. 

Until a 2017 change in regulations it was hard to find equivalent investment vehicles to the ones most popular with the international FI community. There are still far fewer than the US, but it’s possible to open accounts in US or European-based brokerages.

A lot of people have done so. But many still hadn’t before the war. They blamed circumstances, the economy, corruption—what was the point? They didn’t understand that some things are only improved from the bottom up, with small mindset and habit shifts. At least that’s been my experience.

The war, of course, has thrown everything into the air. But I am keeping to JL’s Simple Path as best as I can.

I am always researching and analyzing data on my FI journey. But I also try to keep things simple and fun. I stick to all the classic FI principles—diversifying investments, taking a long time horizon, thinking like an owner of the world’s businesses, avoiding debt, spending less than I earn and investing the rest. 

I also like to remain a little flexible and keep learning. I know I won’t necessarily get it 100% right, but I will be much better off in 15–20 years than many. I enjoy sharing everything I can with my Ukrainian peers to help them find financial freedom too.

Here are some key things I have learned from my pursuit of FI in Ukraine, which I hope will help others stay the course no matter where they are:

  • Diversification isn’t just a fancy word. At the time of writing, Ukrainian bond and stock markets are not functioning properly (only war bonds are allowed for trading), so parts of my capital are frozen and could be gone forever, or the future payments could get restructured. That’s the risk I took with some home-country bias. Fortunately, I don’t have all my eggs in one basket. Thanks to my assets abroad and brokerage accounts in the US that I opened before the war, I can continue to contribute to my retirement portfolio and buy good assets with lower prices in the current drawdown.
  • Disasters can happen, and insurance and back-up plans can only protect you so much when they do. You have to have cash on hand and some liquid assets for the ultimate curve balls of life. Only invest money you won’t need even in the direst of circumstances—cash you definitely won’t need to touch for maybe even 20 years.
  • Move fast, but think slowly. In hard times the urge is to follow the crowd. That’s how you fall into common traps—piling up perishable food, converting currency when exchange rates have been driven ridiculous by fear, ignoring air-raid sirens because everyone else is. It’s better to evaluate your options before acting.
  • Some risks are much more significant than the economy. Your life, and time with your loved ones, are much more precious than all the money you will ever earn.  Wartime refreshes your perspectives and shifts your priorities.

If I had known war would really break out, would I have moved more of my assets abroad? I don’t know. I love my Motherland, and I am working—as are my friends—to prosper it now and in the future. We don’t know how life will unfold, but I will do everything in my control to keep to JL’s Simple Path to financial freedom.



Pathfinders is now available for preorder in hardcover and eBook all around the world. Pre-ordering a book is one of the biggest ways you can help support it, and I hope you’ll consider preordering Pathfinders. These are important stories from around the world that deserve to be heard and that can help those who hear them.

Bookshops monitor pre-orders closely, and good levels get them excited – and more likely to order and promote a title. It also guarantees you will get your copy at launch. The book will be available at your favourite online retailers and you can order it at any bookstore (including your favorite local independent). Here are some links to help:

Pre-order Pathfinders

Release date is Tuesday 31 October 2023.

Thanks for your support!


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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Corwin says

    Very impressive pursuing FI in a country at war! I also love the mindset of focusing on your circle of control.

    Roman, if you see these comments, I’m curious what kind of US investment funds you have access to. VTSAX or any other Vanguard funds?

    Also, do your foresee serving in the Ukrainian military at some point? If so, how do you think that’ll impact your journey to FI?

    • Roman Koshovskyi says

      Thanks, Corwin. A stoic mindset helps to remain calm and balanced (to the best of our abilities of course), but it’s much tougher than just managing the market/portfolio risk, that’s for sure. So it’s learning by doing and “adjusting as we go” in both – bear markets and the challenging reality of wartime.

      We have access to Vanguard, iShares, Fidelity, and other providers’ ETFs, so instead of VTSAX Ukrainians invest in VTI or equivalents like SCHB/ITOT. There are options if the investor knows what to look for.

      As for now, I continue working in my field (IT and Financial Literacy), and donating to the army support & important causes for our victory and economic stability. I do not envision myself as a good soldier/fighter, since I contribute in other ways/areas with my skillsets in a much more efficient way. But at some point changes are possible, and if that would happen – the focus would be more on survival and serving well toward our victory; the FI path could be delayed/altered based on the impact on my and my family’s life.

  2. Carlos Manuel says

    Hi JL, greetings from Colombia. Big fan here! Thanks to you I’m now a huge Jack Bogle’s fan as well (loved his book called Enough).
    I was sorry to read you had a bad experience in this beautiful country.
    Is there any chance on having a Pathfinders spanish ebook edition so my wife can read it too? I have a printed spanish version of TSPTW and have been trying to convince her of reading it… I’ll keep trying.

  3. Taras says

    Taras, 38y.o. FI from Ukraine.

    The word of 2022 according to Collins Dictionary was “Permacrisis”. On February 20, 2022, I told my boss that I’m going to quit my job. I was burnt out and my plan was simply to have 3-6 months sabbatical to rest and put my thoughts together. I had financial reserve so I was sure I could afford this. Then in 4 days, the war started. Of course, my plans to quit were put on pause. Some of my investments inside Ukraine got suspended. During this year I worked from 3 different cities and spent 4 months out of home in total. Of course, such an extreme situation makes you forget about some minor discomforts and focus on covering your basic needs (mainly security) and global goals (volunteering, helping others, making your contribution to victory).

    Now when we are coming to a 1 year of war, I really feel that you can’t live in permanent stress for too long without a notable impact on your health.
    “One in four Ukrainians at risk of mental disorder due to conflict”
    “Effects of Russia’s war ‘aged’ Ukrainians by 10-15 years”
    And we can’t account that the war is going to end tomorrow, and we have to deal with this permacrisis, just like the rest of the world deals with Covid-19 and financial recession, just at a higher difficulty level.

    P.S. Yesterday I again told my boss that I’m going to quit.

    • Roman Koshovskyi says

      Hi, Taras, thank you for sharing your thoughts and viewpoints. Building resilience and some grit are crucial for all people going through the current (and any future) permacrisis.

      Congrats on your resignation, do you plan to quit for good or just take a sabbatical to recharge/re-consider your options?

  4. Roman Koshovskyi says

    Hi there, dear pathfinders and FI pursuers 😉

    Huge thanks goes to JL for making this post, while many fellow Ukrainians are continuously fighting for our freedom and victory during these hard times.

    I’m happy that a part of my story will be included in the book to broaden the landscape and expand the diverse personas of many people working and investing toward their financial freedom around the globe.

    Times are tough, but we shall persevere. A good investor remains persistent and calm under various conditions and this is the stoic lesson that I try to practice in my life and investments, sharing this with a wider audience on the youtube channel and via multiple events in which we aim to raise the importance of early investing and the preference for a passive investing strategy for the majority of professionals who work in different areas (not related to finance or investing).

    Starting from my early career I understood that balancing the needs and wants of today with my dreams and desires for the future was crucial. Earn, save, invest, enjoy and repeat – this is the motto I live by, but I never wanted to be tied to my investments or their analysis for longer than needed, they shouldn’t solely define my self-worth or value for the community, but they should be a strong driver that helps me to reach my goals and dreams. I pursue an active and healthy lifestyle, read a lot, and enjoy the gradual growth in my profession. Being in Wealth Accumulation Stage I know that I have enough time to ride the bumpy rides of the market and use the power of broad-market ETFs in my advantage over the upcoming decades.

    Some simple (like path to wealth) rules I try to follow include:
    – I don’t pretend that I can beat the market or select outperforming stocks on a long time-horizons
    – I like the ownership aspect – having a stake in parts of many good businesses when investing in broader index funds
    – Diversification across asset classes and country-wise has helped to avoid some devastating consequences (Russia’s war on Ukraine)
    – Staying out of debt (bought my first apartment in cash when I was 27)
    – Sticking to the simple rule from JL Collins “Spend less than you earn—invest the surplus”
    – Understanding that I’m here for the long game and crashes are happening and will continue to happen, my assets must sit in proper places according to time horizon, goals and changes in life and family
    – Remain flexible and continue learning – you won’t get it 100% right, but you could be much better off in 15-20 years than many skeptics, lazy people or nervous day traders

    Thanks for the support and good comments to keep the discussion going. I’m also looking forward to reading the Pathfinders book once available to learn more from other interesting people around the world!

  5. Serhii Baskakov says

    Serhii Baskakov, 33y.o

    JL, thank you for this post and support!

    It inspires and gives hope not only to Ukrainians but also to those who support Ukraine. Yes, current war state in Ukraine left its imprint on our values, goals and state how we feel. All nation showed its will for freedom and better life. I am confident that Ukraine will build a proftable future and FI will help in it.

    • Roman Koshovskyi says

      Thank you, CaptainFI. It’s a good time to revisit our assumptions on risk and protection/backups, but at the same time, we should stay consistent, resilient, and strong despite the recent shaky waters of the markets.

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