7 Features From Minafi v2 I’m Excited to Announce!

The new version of Minafi includes free courses on investing, a community directory, a growing glossary of terms, the clearest disclosure of finances I’ve ever seen and a bunch more.
Adam

Written by Adam on April 29, 2019.
14 min read. Meta. 2 comments.

Minafi's finances are an open book. Find out how I make money.

I’m excited to announce that if you’re reading this, then I’ve finally released a new version of Minafi that I’m calling v2 (developers are great at naming things aren’t we?).

This version of Minafi switches to a backend system that allows me to create more interactive content, allow for clearer representations of content and help people learn more by creating well-defined courses.

That all sounds like a technical way of saying – this helps make content easier to find, easier to create and easier to build on.

minafi-v2-home

In other words, the main goal of this version is to set up a system that allows for readers to use Minafi more as a reference and less as a blog. It’s only the first step of many. I’ll still need to actually create a lot more content, but now that content will have a wonderful home to live.

Here are 7 of my favorite parts of Minafi v2 that I’m excited to build on.

1. Organized Courses

I learn best by going through well-curated, organized, structured pieces of content that guides me to proficiency. The way to typically do that on a blog is to create a series and link to the next article, but that’s never felt cohesive enough. People find an article in the middle and don’t realize the context they need.

The other options are to use an external LMS (learning management solution) or to use a WordPress plugin that allows for creating courses in WordPress. While both of these work, they’re both hoops that readers need to jump over to get to the content.

Minafi course sidebar
The course sidebar is expandable!

For Minafi, I wanted to make these courses free and incorporate them into the site. For that, I created a basic course system that allows people to create an account and track their progress throughout courses.

For starters, I put together 3 free courses to kick things off.

  • The Minimal Investor – Learn the minimum needed to invest confidently. This has been an email course I’ve offered for the last year and a half and is now completely free online.
  • The Retirement Investing Series – Less a course and more of an organized series of posts about retirement investing with a focus on long-term returns and tax-optimizations.
  • Get to Know Adam Series – Courses don’t need to be focused on learning – they can be personal as well! This series highlights some more personal posts that I’d direct someone to if they wanted to get to know me.

Yes, this also means that I’m making the entire Minimal Investor Course (which was previously only available for email subscribers) public for anyone to read!

I have a feeling this could mean fewer email subscribers. That’s OK to me though. The goal of Minafi is to help people make their first informed investment. If that’s by reading this rather than joining my email list, that’s fine – as long as people are learning.

Progress on these courses will be tracked as you’re reading the site anonymously. If you want to save your progress, you can create an account at any time and resume and courses you’ve started!

I have some big plans for this course system. I’m excited to create more content in a series format going forward.

2. Save Your Calculator Progress

Whenever I talk to people about Minafi, one of the things they always bring up is the Interactive Guide to Early Retirement and Financial Independence. It was so much fun to create and I’ve always wanted to make more content like it.

One of the reasons I haven’t is because it would be growing Minafi’s technical debt (a term used by programmers to indicate that things aren’t sustainable, and might be held together by gum and sticky-tacky).

Here’s a screenshot of part of the Interactive Guide to Early Retirement and Financial Independence which also has been updated to be a little more user friendly and a bit more pretty.

Minafi savings rate example
An example of the new interactive post style.

In order to set Minafi up to be able to create more of these types of content, I’ve completely redone the Interactive Guide to use a new JavaScript front-end (Vue.js) created a custom system for interactivity that I’m calling “v-spark” (a play on the idea that changing one field sparks others to change). I want to open source down the road once it’s a little more battle tested.

I’ve also changed where data is stored for the guide, switching from Google’s Firebase to the Minafi DB. This shouldn’t mean much to readers, but for security purposes, it’ll allow a user to delete all of their user data in one easy swoop – one of those many GDPR requirements.

This will allow anyone to save their progress at any time by creating an account and persist across devices. In the future, that’ll allow for easily extending that data in your account to provide more insights!

I have a bunch of interactive components on my list to create. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

3. User Submitted FIRE in the News

The FIRE in the News section is a listing of mentions of financial independence or early retirement (or related concepts) in the mainstream media. The goal is to track mentions of the subject in the bigger publications – BBC, NBC, The New York Times, etc.

Sadly during my digital declutter, I didn’t add any stories to this section. I realized that the best way to grow this section would be to allow the community to submit FIRE in the News, and I could moderate them – and that’s where the current iteration was born!

Fire in the News
An example of a few recent FIRE in the News posts.

This allows anyone to submit a news article they found and share it with the world.

In addition to that, whoever finds an article will get their name associated with it going forward. If that member has a website associated with their account, then all FIRE in the News email subscribers will see a link to that member’s site in their email announcing the new article.

4. Community Directory of People Pursuing FIRE

Anyone who wants to can add themselves to the Minafi Community Directory.

The hope is that this grows to be the largest directory of people of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds pursuing FIRE. The directory is basic right now, but I have high hopes for it!

Minafi directory

You can also add Projects you’re working on to your profile. These could be side projects like a website/blog, creative projects (artwork), fitness goals, education goals or just about anything.

I have no idea where this idea will go, but I’m curious to see what people share and use that to determine where it goes next.

One of the common questions around FIRE is always “what will you do with your time?”. If you have your own answer to this question, you can share it with the world and see what others are doing, or anticipate doing.

For an example of a profile, you can always check out mine.

One other thing I’m excited to switch up is which interviews are featured in the Interactive Guide to FIRE. Previously these were all hardcoded. Now though, anyone who answers a few questions in your their profile can check a box to be included in the guide! Which profiles are shown will be completely random, but if you complete your profile, then you’ll be in the rotation.

5. Clear Affiliate Links and Disclosure

My true hope with Minafi is to help people make informed investment decisions that lead to a better life. In a way, this is selling the idea of an “ideal life” and offering options for how to get there – some based on my experience, things I’ve read or what’s working for other people.

Fritz over at The Retirement Manifesto recently hit on this idea with his post Is the FIRE Community Full Of Hypocrites? which poses 4 concerns with blogs:

  1. Be Skeptical Of FIRE Bloggers
  2. FIRE As A Marketing Scheme
  3. FIRE Is An Escape From Reality
  4. FIRE Folks Don’t Really Retire

In other words, if someone has a blog, Instagram or any platform, there’s a chance they are not walking the walk – and may be giving advice or behaving in ways counter to their intended mission or persona.

Topics like investing and retirement can have major impacts on peoples lives, and giving scammy advice can seriously hurt peoples lives.

With that in mind, I’m doing a few things that are somewhat unique here on Minafi:

  • I share income each month for Minafi on my Income page. I don’t do a new post each month because this blog isn’t about that, and I’d rather than bog it down with business-y posts.
  • I keep a clear Minafi Vision & Mission, which guides what I write about and how decisions are made.
  • Whenever you see a green link, like this one to Personal Capital, you’ll know it’s an affiliate link. If you hover over it it’ll even show you a little message to be clear. I want readers to know without a doubt when I’m compensated for something vs when I’m not.

From a business standpoint, Minafi is still an expensive hobby. It loses money each month. I’d love for it to be profitable someday, but not at the cost of my mission or integrity.

6. A Glossary of Terms

When I first read The Bogleheads Guide to Investing, I remember pausing dozens of times to look up various terms. I’d constantly be looking back thinking “What’s the limit on a 401k?”, “How are Roth IRAs and IRAs different?” or “What’s my tax rate?”.

Enter Google. I’d constantly be looking up terms to see what they meant and help fill in the gaps to better understand what I was reading.

For content on the web, there’s no need to do that! Reading on the web doesn’t go in a straight line like a book, it goes can easily go in any direction where the reader of the content wants it.

When I’m reading a Wikipedia article on The Stand (which I finally read recently) and somehow end up learning about artistic languages I can never quite trace back to why. The same happens when I’m reading a great blog and end up reading someone’s life story from the beginning.

To better connect content together, I’ve added a Glossary which includes a growing number of terms and definitions used throughout this site. These terms are auto-linked in articles when mentioned with a neat little definition on hover. The hope is that if you’re wondering what the 401k limit is, you can see it right there inline by hovering over the term and continue reading on – or click over and learn more.

7: Still the Same Blog, but Now With More Polish

One of the things I really wanted to do when I left my job in December was to spend more time writing and growing Minafi. It’s extremely fun and cathartic to share my own story. On top of that, the best way for me to learn is to dig into a new topic and write about them! Choosing new topics to write about helps keep me sharp.

But the old way Minafi was structured had a problem. Once an article was written it was extremely difficult to find. This is a curse of blogs everywhere. Only the most recent posts are easily discoverable (without searching or heavy looking). This new organization focuses on findability and clarity.

This version isn’t a silver bullet that solves this problem for good, but it helps to get closer to an organized content-driven site. I’m sure there’ll still be spots to improve once people start using it.

This falls in line with the idea of an irresistible staircase. An irresistible staircase is something that causes a healthy or beneficial outcome; bypassing your usual resistances. The term “irresistible staircase” comes from the idea of a building with a beautiful staircase in the middle. It beckons people to climb it rather than take the elevator. It benefits the person using it, the building has better crowd flow and uses less energy – it’s wins all around.

vatican staircase
The Vatican Staircase is an irresistible staircase.

The same can be said for a website. If you have a website that is irresistible to create content for, you’ll create a whole lot more content!

What You Can Do Right Now

This is more than a new coat a paint – there are now a few things that you can do here on Minafi that I’d love to get your thoughts on:

Sign up to stay in touch. This could be by joining the Minafi email list, following me on Twitter, or subscribing to my feed on a feed reader (how many people still use these? I can’t be the only one right?).

Add yourself to the Community Directory and FIRE Profile. By creating an account, you can add yourself to the directory and the interactive guide! You don’t have to be a blogger with a site to promote to do this. Anyone with a story they want to share is welcome to join and add their unique take.

Check out FIRE in the News and submit new articles you find. If you’re browsing around and find a new article, share it with the world here on Minafi! And hey, if you’re a blogger I’ll credit you with a link back to your site when the news is shared with the rest of Minafi.

GitHub
I started working on the new Minafi on February 5 – 2.5 months of part-time work.

This is just the beginning of the new Minafi. There’s a bunch more yet to come! If you’re curious about how it all works, check out the How is This Site Build page which is chocked full of juicy technical details.

This is also very much a work in progress. There are sure to be bugs, broken bits or other areas of confusion. If you run into any problems or spot some areas where you think there’s room for improvement, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or drop a comment below!

Adam

About Adam

Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!

2 Comments

Why not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!

Hey Adam – I love the new site, looks awesome and love the direction you are going with it. Definitely appreciate how open you are with the financial aspect of the site as well as the tech and privacy side.

Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE

Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE

May 1, 2019 at 7:41 AM | Reply

Very exciting to see all of these updates! There are a lot of great resources here to make this valuable information even more accessible.