32 Things to Know about Following The Simple Path to Wealth

32 things to know about following…

The Simple Path to Wealth

(besides that it is not outdated) 😉

1. Investing, done well, is the soul of simplicity.

2. Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.

3. Investing is playing the long game: Think decades.

4. Once you understand a few key things, the less you think about it the better your results.

5. Once you implement those few key things, the less you do the better your results. 

6. As Jack Bogle famously said, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”

7. Automate your investments so the money invests without you having to think about it.

8. Ignore the market’s fluctuations. 

9. There is never an ideal time to invest. Pundits will always say it is either too high and about to crash or it is already dropping and will continue to fall.

10. The market doesn’t need perfect conditions to go up. It goes up even with bad stuff happening all around.

11. Nobody knows what the market will do in the short term. As investors, we don’t care. 

12. You can’t invest without risk. 

13. Enduring the market’s volatility is the risk price you must pay for the market’s returns.

14. You cannot time the market and trying to do so is a fool’s game.

15. You cannot out perform the market over time. Trying will only cost you time, effort and money.

16. Low-cost, broad based index funds are the answer.

17. VTSAX is my personal choice. This is Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund.

18. VTI, the ETF version, is fine. It is the same portfolio.

19. A S&P 500 index fund or ETF is fine too. Vanguard’s are VFIAX and VOO.

20. Total Stock Market or S&P 500 index funds from other brokerage firms are fine too.

21. As an investor in The United States, I don’t feel the need to own international stocks. If you do, buy a world fund/ETF like VTWAX or VT.

22. The United States is the only country with a stock market large enough that you can own just that country’s market. If you live anywhere else, buy a world fund.

23. Most everything you hear about ‘investing’ in the media is really about speculation. Those of us on The Path are investors, not speculators.

24. You must stay the course when the market drops. If you are not absolutely sure you can do this, find another path.  

25. If you panic and sell during drops, my advice will leave you bleeding by the side of the road.

26. When the storms come, tie your self to the mast. The siren songs of panic will be loud, strong and tempting. 

27. Market corrections, bears and crashes are all a perfectly normal part of the process; and the market always recovers. 

28. Resolve what you will do now, not when panic is all around you.

29. Building wealth takes time.

30. People who get rich quickly are ‘rarer than baptized rattlesnakes.’* Those few who do almost never manage to hang on to that wealth.

31. You are not alone. Many others have walked The Path before you. You’ll find ~100 of their stories here:


32. It is easier to invest as an optimist. If you believe the world, or the country, is on the verge of collapse, it will be very hard to stay the course. This is not the path for you.

If you are on The Simple Path to Wealth, what do you think people should know? Drop your thoughts in a comment below!


*This is one of my favorite lines from Charles Frazier’s great novel Thirteen Moons.   ***************************************

There has never been a better time to invest.

We live in the best, most prosperous, advanced and healthiest time in history. Something it is easy to miss with all the gloom and doom the media loves to broadcast. 

Certainly there are problems and challenges yet to be resolved. There always are. But never in history have humans been better positioned to solve them.

These two books will help:


Factfulness by Hans Rosling


The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley


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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.
  • Vanguard.com


  1. Tony Wick says

    The best thing you can do is to not log into your account or look at your balance for 2-3 decades. Just leave it be and keep contributing to S&P 500 (or similar). Most people can’t do that. I couldn’t either, but I learned to not change anything, which is almost as good.

    • Charlotte says

      I look twice a year.

      Otherwise, I just look up VTI to get an idea of the market performance. At least it doesn’t show me what I “lost”.

  2. Wild Foodie Tours says

    Such words of wisdom. I’ve always been a great saver but didn’t know where to invest my money other than individual stocks which always seemed to go down. Broad based index funds are the solution. I’m relatively new to the FIRE movement, and special thanks to you for simplifying the process of investing for the long-term. Starting early and investing consistently while ignoring the noise are keys to success. Here’s to FIRE in hopefully 10 years, more or less!

  3. Lee says

    “We live in the best, most prosperous, advanced and healthiest time in history. Something it is easy to miss with all the gloom and doom the media loves to broadcast.”

    How do you think about climate change when you think about living in the best time in history? I agree with your optimism, but it’s hard to see how this won’t have some impact on the economy.

    • JL Collins says

      Hi Lee,

      That’s a big question that might deserve its own post. But in a short comment here I’d say the impact on the economy will be profound and positive.

      If we successfully deal with climate change, and I believe we will, the solution(s) will come from humanity’s ever increasing interconnectedness and the creativity this spawns.

      Solutions will come from new products, new technologies and new companies we can only barely imagine. It will be an amazing opportunity and, as owners of a fund like VTSAX, we don’t have to worry about where they come from or which other companies they displace. We will own the winners as the losers fade away.

      As I’ve said many times, a broad based, low cost stock index fund like VTSAX is self-cleansing.

      • Lee says

        I like the optimism and agree that if climate change is solved vtsax is the way to go. And how I invest.

        It’s still hard to believe that we somehow solve it at the same time we’re driving the bus off the cliff.

        I appreciate the optimism though.

        • Eric says

          While I’m not as optimistic as JL, many many smart people are working on all aspects of climate solutions. Those smart people are going to invent new technologies. It’s impossible to know who the winners and losers will be in the future so the full market strategy is really the only way to catch them.

          If you owned VTSAX in 2009 you would have suffered when GM went bankrupt, but more than made up for it with Tesla when they went public in 2010. Nobody knows what will be next; workable fusion, distributed modular nuclear, double efficiency photovoltaic, solid state batteries, electro-calcined cement?

          So just buy VTSAX and be done (also, never bet against Mr.Collins when it comes to investing 🙂 .

  4. Zach says

    One of my favorite says is, “unexpressed gratitude, expresses ingratitude.”

    I’ll forever be indebted to you; the only kind of debit I’m willing to carry. Your blog and book have been life changing for my family. We hunkered down, hit our number in 5 years and are now 6 weeks into retirement at the ages of 37 & 35. Who says simple can’t be fast.

    We recently moved to South Africa to raise our two young daughters and the future is bright. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished but it wouldn’t have been possible without the wisdom distilled in your writing. Thank you!

  5. FIRE-Man Sam says

    Hi JL

    Thanks for the additional nuggets of wisdom.

    While following The Simple Path I’ve noticed others who tend to agonise over the smallest of decisions, such as choosing between an index fund with an ER of 0.10% compared to another with 0.12%. The same could be said for those who have everything ticking along nicely (no debt, investing wisely etc.) but find it excruciating to part with $5 for coffee out with friends. For those who are on the path and more inclined to sweat the small stuff, perhaps the following addition (or something similar) would help:

    ‘Get the big decisions right and you can worry less about the smaller ones.’

    Welcome your thoughts, particularly if you think the counterpoint might be along the lines of the aggregation of marginal gains – discussed in a ChooseFi podcast episode with The Escape Artist.

  6. John says

    Please accept my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for your guidance on the Path. I sit here today debt free, no mortgage, enough money sitting in T bills to purchase my next vehicle out right and a 60% investment rate of my median income salary. I can actually see the light at the end of the wage slave tunnel with a plan to be out at 56 years young.
    I’m also grateful for the wisdom in the book that inspired me to reflect deeply on my own values and change my behavior on multiple fronts. There are greater treasures than money and my soul thanks you for helping on this journey.
    Now back to a position of strength riding my bicycle in Acadia national park in beautiful Maine. I won’t be paid for this. I’m OK with that.
    All the best to you and your bride,

  7. Fred says

    Thanks for the advice. I read your book, Simple Path to Wealth, twice. I learned a lot from it, along with books on the suggested Bogleheads reading list (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Suggested_reading), and other finance books such as Choose FI by Chris Mamula, Retire Before Mom and Dad by Rob Berger, Millionaire next door by Danko and Stanley, and several others. I also learned much by watching the Moneyguy.com episodes and reading the Bogleheads forum. I am so thankful for people like you who share their wisdom to help the individual investor. So, a BIG THANK YOU for all you do!

  8. Kristen C. says

    In my twenties and early thirties, I ventured into investing with an erratic mix of individual stocks and funds I didn’t understand. The financial labyrinth had me confused until I stumbled upon your book, which helped show the simplicity behind wealth accumulation – and the data to prove it. Guided by newfound understanding, I overhauled my investment strategy. Fast forward eight years, and my net worth has doubled, a testament to the power of compound interest and straightforward investing.

    I’ve become an advocate, gifting your book to friends. Now in my 40s, I anticipate the next decade, eyeing a retirement in my mid-50’s with the confidence derived from informed financial decisions.

  9. Esteban says

    As I begin my journey to investing and wealth I just had a question. I also wanted to add in since I have been a new newsletter subscriber I am loving the insight. Do you advise investing in VTSAX for retirement thru a brokerage account or retirement account such as a Roth IRA. I am still new to investing and wasn’t sure if there are tax benefits or reasons for someone choosing one account over the other.

  10. John says

    I became a long-time reader after the post that resonated with me, “How I Failed My Daughter and a Simple Path to Wealth.” At 24 and 25 years old, we maxed two Roth IRAs and started investing in my 403b at work on a combined salary of $60k. We cash flowed a second undergraduate degree and career pivot for my husband, paying for school as we went and moving in with parents to save extra money. Fast forward to our mid 30s and we have invested in VTSAX with 2 kids, a paid off mortgage and almost $1M in investments. It was a lot of work to save but time in an upward market and investing and reading your stock series were the biggest factors in our success.

  11. Massi says

    Hello, I am new to the investing scene, so I want to thank you for all these good advices you keep giving us. I have a question regarding point 22.: why do I need to buy a world fund instead of the VTSAX if I live outside of the US? How does that matter to me? I live in Europe, so I am not sure what I should do.

    • Giovanni says

      If you leave outside USA you would like exposure to the currency and the ecomomy/market where you live (i.e. in your case I assume the Euro currency and the the European economy/market) because your spending will be there (unless you plan to move to USA or elsewhere). A World fund (or World ETF) would help on that as it invests in USA stocks but also in other countries stocks. Investing in your country fund/ETF could also be an option, but in most cases single countries have a much smaller economy than the USA (or the world) and therefore tend to be very volatile and often depending on companies operating in a few sectors only of the economy (i.e. mining in certain developing countries), so better to stick with a world fund/ETF.

      • Massi says

        Thanks for your reply, this is clear now. I still have a lot to learn about investing, so every advice is always welcome 🙂

  12. Alex says

    Hey JL,

    The Simple Path gave me the confidence to retire and that is no small task, a huge thank you to you!

    Very much looking forward to reading Pathfinders! Do you think you will be doing any signings or appearances around the release? Do you think your (most awesome) readers could buy signed copies at some point? 🙂

    -most awesome reader.

    • JL Collins says

      Alway nice to hear from one of my most awesome readers!

      I’m doing a lot of interviews, most of which will be released, along with the book, Oct 31st and in the weeks after. No in person gigs however, so getting a book signed will be tough.

      Even for MARs. 😉

  13. investor research says

    Thank you jlcollinsnh for another great article. I have enjoyed reading your works, and have read your first book as well, and plan to read the next.

    Additionally, I have been reading many works from the FI community. This has me in construction mode and doing much reflection on my life and incorporating ways to become wealthy and financially independent.

    I would say I fell into the traditional camp of work hard, save, and buy a home and then work hard for years to pay it off as fast as you can. But since engaging in these reading, and crunching numbers, I have come to a large realization and am ready to make the biggest move yet financially to strive towards FI.

    One concept sticks with me largely, that being opportunity cost- I began to think about the equity sitting in my home and how it isn’t doing much for me there verse the power that could come from long term investing.

    Thus some context, I am in Canada, home purchase 650,000, remaining balance 300,000 with 24 years left in payoff schedule unless I keep throwing extra money at it. I am in a race to save on interest lost/costs, only then to watch my home appreciate at a rate of inflation like you have noted if my area is so inclined to do so.

    So let’s be generous and say it does still increase its value over those 24 years, to maybe 850,000 for that side of argument.

    When I run numbers, by taking the 350,000 equity, and invest it in an S&P 500 or VUN.TO canada version of vanguards VTSAX, and let it sit for the next 24 years, it sure is a whole lot higher that 200,000 gain. Also as we know, the home will depreciate over time unless I keep up with repairs, etc… leading to more money sunk in therefore, eating away at any sense of gain in the home.

    All this to say, I have run the numbers, and feel I will be much more future wealthy and leading towards FI, if I sell, take the equity and invest the 350,000 as you suggest, and simply try and find a rental with even less cost per month overall compared to my home costs on a monthly basis.

    I have begun this process now of listing my home, with the idea that I want to make this move now thinking that the market for housing is likely to go down in future even more with continued interest rate hikes, and in the year 2025/26 almost 2/3 of mortgage holders in Canada will be facing renewal, therefore the real pain of interest rate hikes won’t be felt by the majority until then related to their homes, possibly leading to an increase in supply of homes with people selling when they no longer can afford their mortgage costs.

    Some markets are already affected and have gone down, and my thoughts are this will continue, thus I need to implement my learnings and take action now, which is what I have done.

    Any insightful feedback is welcome, and again I appreciate and have enjoyed the learning picked up from the wealth of knowledge that you provide, so thank you.

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