Cats on FIRE, Milo and Toby, take a break from their busy napping schedules to appear as guests on the ChooseFI Podcast.

Announcer

You’re listening to ChooseFI Radio. The blueprint for financial independence lives here. If you’re looking to unlock the secrets to financial independence and early retirement, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned and join a community of like minded creatures who are getting off the hamster wheel and taking control of their lives in the pursuit of financial independence. ChooseFI, your home for financial independence online.

Dogathan

Hello and welcome to the ChooseFI radio podcast. Today on the show we are bringing on cats Toby & Milo from Emusements, and we’re going to be exploring their journey to feline independence. And to help me with this, I have my co-host, Bird, here with me today. How you doin’ buddy?

Bird

Hey, Dogathan, I am doing quite well. Yeah, I’m really excited for this episode. This should be a real treat. Milo is just a very cool cat. I’ve read some of his posts about FIRE, and he has an incredible story.

Dogathan

I’m with you on that. We’ve never met Toby before, but I am really looking forward to getting to smell him as well.

Bird

Yeah, I’m just excited to introduce Toby & Milo to the FI community. And with that, kitties, welcome to the show.

Milo

Thanks so much. Happy to be here. Toby’s hiding under the bed. Hopefully, he’ll emerge soon.

Bird

Is he OK?

Milo

Oh, no worries. He just got spooked by the Skype ringtone. Happens with doorbells also. Big fraidy cat.

Dogathan

(Chuckles) So, Milo, last week when we were coordinating schedules, you mentioned to me that you are the prototypical millionaire next door. And I’m a huge fan of the late Dr. Thomas Stanley who wrote the book, The Millionaire Next Door, and I’m curious: for you, what does that mean? What is your origin story? And when did you become interested in feline finance? Did you come from an affluent family?

Milo

Oh, I am anything but an aristocat, as far as I know. I—

Bird

Wait, let’s unpack that. What do you mean, “as far as I know”?

Milo

Well, Bird, my first memory is from when I was about four or five weeks old. I was cold, wet and lost on the streets of San Francisco, along with my sister. I have no idea about my life before that, or what kind of family I came from.

Dogathan

Wow, that’s incredible. What happened next?

Milo

Some Homo sapien scooped us up and stuck us in a box.

Bird

That sounds awful.

Milo

Actually, I LOVE boxes, so it wasn’t that bad. They took us to some place called SPCA and put us in our own condo.

Dogathan

So, you got into real estate at a young age. How much did that cost you?

Milo

Nothing, it was free.

Dogathan

Talk about house hacking! How did you get that deal?

Milo

I dunno. Just lucky market timing, I guess. They also covered our medical costs. Which was great because they poked and prodded us all over, stuck us with needles, and performed some unmentionable surgery on us without even asking for our consent. I can’t imagine what it would have cost at a regular clinic.

Bird

How long did you live at SPCA?

Milo

Only a few weeks. I’m not sure. I don’t have the best sense of time, since I nap so much.

Bird

Did you meet Toby, there?

Milo

No, that came later. It turns out that SPCA is also an employment agency, so the staff there started bringing us Homo sapiens looking for work. On the second day of this, a team of four primates came in and tried to interview with my sister. She was annoyingly cute and fluffy, so everyone wanted to work for her. She rejected them right away, but I thought they had potential, so I peppered them with questions. Even back then, I was a chatty cat. Pretty quickly I realized that these Homo sapiens seemed quite capable of cleaning litter, opening cans, pouring kibble and bringing me toys. I hired them on the spot and ordered them to find me a bigger house.

Bird

Milo, did you have any concerns at that point about lifestyle inflation?

Milo

No, I was just a tiny kitten, so I wasn’t very savvy yet.

Dogathan

What happened to your sister?

Milo

I don’t know; she didn’t want to come along, so we decided to part ways. My new servants found me a nice house with plenty of rooms. But I was shocked to find a squatter already living in it. An orange tabby about my age but much larger than me.

Bird

You mean, Toby?

Milo

Yeah, he was from somewhere called Humane Society and thought he was the master of the house and staff. He seemed like a big dumb dumb to me, but I kind of liked his smell, and it turned out we both love wrestling. So, I decided he could stay and help share the cost of the house and servants. For about the next year, I was in the rat chase, just following the usual script like any other cat.

Dogathan

What changed?

Milo

One day while I was at my doctor’s office, I overhead another patient talking about the FIRE movement.

Dogathan

Financial independence, retire early.

Milo

More or less, but in the cat world, we call it Feline Indifference Rest Everyday. The main idea is to achieve indifference as soon as possible and enjoy its benefits much earlier in life. I thought to myself why should I have to wait until the ripe old age of 12 or 13 to start lazing around? I decided to pursue FIRE immediately. Within a year, I was fully indifferent.

Bird

Milo, walk me through that. How does a modest cat like you reach FIRE from those humble beginnings and in such a short amount of time?

Dogathan

And at such a young age. How old are you?

Milo

I’m almost three years old!

Bird

Incredible. What changes did you make to your lifestyle?

Milo

Well, for one, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to achieve true indifference and sleep all day unless I had no money worries at all. After reading a ton of blogs, I realized I could make a few core changes and achieve indifference much sooner than the average cat.

Dogathan

What was your first change?

Milo

Well, the first thing I realized was that I was spending too much time and effort trying to keep up with the Catdashians.

Dogathan

The who?

Milo

They’re reality stars, famous for living a lifestyle full of caviar and lobster.

Bird

Oh, I see. We don’t watch much TV.

Dogathan

Or eat much fish.

Bird

Hey, speak for yourself, buddy!

Dogathan

Laughs

Milo

Toby and I used to be obsessed with the Catdashians, but after I heard about FIRE, I decided to live more frugally and lower my cost of living. I started by lowering my grocery bill. Toby and I went from eating a can of wet food between us per day to two thirds of a can per day.

Bird

Wait, let me get this straight. You were able to decrease your can consumption from seven cans per week to about 4.5 cans per week?

Dogathan

There’s Bird showing off his accounting skills again.

Bird

Laughs

Milo

Yeah, we weren’t always finishing our food anyway, and also Toby could stand to lose some weight.

Dogathan

What about dry food?

Milo

We switched from Taste of the Wild at about $31 for a 15 pound bag to Rachel Ray’s Nutrish which goes for about $19 dollars for a 14 pound bag.

Bird

Amazing, that’s a drop of thirteen cents per ounce to around 8.5 cents per ounce for a savings of about 35 percent!

Dogathan

Bird, we should start calling you the avian calculator.

Bird

Ha! Milo, can you help us break this down into actionable steps for our audience?

Milo

Sure, basically, I just went to Nile.com and compared prices. It was that easy. I didn’t even have to skip a nap.

Dogathan

That’s great advice. We’ll be sure to include that tip in our show notes.

Bird

On episode 90, the Vegan Path to FI, Jackrabbit Lowery and Sheep Schrembeck talked about the benefits of a plant based diet and synergies between the vegan and FI communities. Milo, have you considered going vegan as a FI optimization?

Milo

Ummm. That’s kinda impossible. Like all cats, I’m evolved to eat meat. However, I do restrict my Homo sapien staff to a vegetarian diet. It keeps them healthy and lowers their medical costs. Plus, I prefer lean protein and can’t stand fatty meats! So, I need to keep my servants trim and fit in case an emergency situation arises where I have to eat them.

Bird

Fascinating. Personally, I’m still an omnivore, but my wife and I have instituted Seed Sundays where we don’t eat any worms, bugs or rodents. It’s quickly become our favorite meal of the week.

Dogathan

If you’re interested, I can give you my Pad Thai recipe; my family loves it.

Milo

Our feline diet is also mostly grain free.

Dogathan

I see. Bird, have you tried making it yet?

Bird

Shoot, I keep forgetting. I really need to set a reminder in Todoist.

Dogathan

Alright, I think we’ve gone down a rabbit hole. Let’s move on. Milo, what other things did you do to cut down on your cost of living?

Milo

Rather than buying expensive scratching posts, Toby and I scratch on the furniture instead. Couches, mattresses, speaker cloth, even the carpet. We now try to be minimalists, unlike most felines in America who are caught up in rampant catsumerism. As Puma Pant is famous for saying, “you can scratch anything but not everything.”

Dogathan

Were there any other strategies you employed to reach FI?

Milo

One key for us was that we gave up our lives as city cats and became country cats.

Bird

Geoarbitrage?

Milo

Sorry, I don’t speak French. We moved from the SF Bay Area to the Sierra Foothills to save on housing costs.

Bird

I see. Did that give you more room to roam around outside?

Milo

Heavens no. We never go outside. There are coyotes and fleas out there, don’t cha know that? Blech. But we do have more territory inside and two whole floors in case Toby and I need a break from each other.

Bird

Milo, did you start any side hustles?

Milo

I did start a blog after I FIREd, but so far I am doing it just for fun, squeezing it in between eating, grooming and naps. Maybe If I put more effort into it, I can make cats popular on the Internet and even earn some passive income while I snooze.

Dogathan

Milo, when did you reach your FI number?

Milo

I reached it when I was about 10 pounds. Toby reached it when he was over 13 pounds. He’s a big bruiser and definitely fat FI compared to me.

Bird

What kind of emergency cushion do you keep?

Milo

We have two big, fluffy bean bags. But I don’t reserve them just for emergencies. They are in my regular rotation of snoozing spots. Toby, on the other hand, prefers to sleep under the bed, which is probably what he’s doing now.

Bird

No sign of him?

Milo

Not yet.

Dogathan

How do you track your net worth?

Milo

I use Personal Capitail. I especially like their Rest Planner tool. I was able to create different scenarios and compare how they impacted my potential indifference. I used it for about two weeks, which is pretty long for my attention span.

Dogathan

What do you think about the controversy around the RE part of FIRE?

Milo

It’s a bunch of hogwash. The retirement police think that just because you reached FI you have to rest everyday. It’s simply not true. Most of us who have achieved feline indifference rest everyday AND every night.

Bird

Hah, well said. Milo, before we wrap up, is there any other advice you’d like to give to our listeners?

Milo

If you decide to consult with a financial advisor, try to avoid ones which are flea-based. Fleas are the last thing you need to pick up on your FI journey.

Dogathan

Alright, well on most shows, that would be the end of the episode. But, Milo, on this show, we would love to give you the chance to tackle the hot seat. Are you ready for this?

Milo

I’m about ready for a nap, but I’ll give it a shot.

Announcer

In a world drowning in debt and rampant consumption, trapped by the chains of lifestyle inflation, these questions highlight the secrets of those who have broken free. Welcome to the ChooseFI hotseat.

Bird

Alright, Milo, question 1: Your favorite blog which is not your own.

Milo

I’ll name two. The first one I started reading, and one of my favorites, is Joe Komodo’s Retire by 4. That turned me onto a lot of the concepts of early resting. Another one I really like is Our Next Lives. Turtle Hester covers a lot of good tips about how to prepare for your lives after indifference. I have six more lives to go so I appreciate her advice.

Dogathan

Question 2: You favorite article of all time. Now this can be one you wrote or somebody else’s.

Milo

Well, I guess I’ll be true to my selfish nature and name one of my own: The 7 Pillars of Feline Frugality. I wanted to write 10, but it was dinner time.

Bird

Question 3: Your Biggest Life Hack.

Milo

When I need supplies for my house or primate staff, I order them online. The prices are usually lower, but more importantly, the stuff comes in BOXES! It’s a great way to get free boxes.

Dogathan

Question 4: Your biggest financial mistake.

Milo

Buying a cat bed. There are so many places to sleep in a house — on chairs, on couches, on shelves, on backpacks, in boxes — who needs a dedicated bed? Toby even sleeps on the floor and on the stairs. That dummy. It’s a miracle our servants haven’t stepped on him yet.

Bird

Alright, we do have a bonus question for you: what purchase have you made over the last 12 months or so that has brought the most value to your life?

Milo

My servants bought some plant and garden ties to use in the kitchen as twisties. It turns out that I am absolutely crazy for them, and they have become my all-time favorite toy. Toby doesn’t care much about them, but we do both like Q-tips. You can get a nearly lifetime supply of them at Clawsco.

Dogathan

Oh man, Milo, this has been so much fun. I’m so grateful to you for coming on the show and sharing your story. I think there’s a lot of value here for all creatures great and small. I’m sure that some listeners are hearing about your blog for the first time, and they’re going to want to connect with you. What is the best way for someone to connect with you and your content?

Milo

The best way to connect with me is to scratch my head behind my ears or give me a kitty treat. But online, you can find me at emusements.com/author/milo.

Bird

Hey, Milo, thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been a real pleasure.

Milo

Thank you for having me.

Toby

Guys, am I too late? Did I miss it? Guys?

Notes from the (Homo sapien) editor:

  • Special thanks to Katrina, Spencer and Kip in my local ChooseFI Sacramento Facebook Group for proofreading this post before publication!
  • If you have any questions or comments about Milo and Toby’s path to feline indifference, please leave a comment. (Note: I moderate all comments so you may experience a delay before your comment appears on the post. For any SPAMMERS out there, don’t waste your time submitting as I will reject your comment.)