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160 | End of Year Wins 2019

As we ring in the new year, it is time to celebrate our community’s wins. This episode is dedicated entirely to the wins that have happened throughout the community this year. The goal is to congratulate everyone on a fantastic year and inspire the community to continue to achieve amazing things next year.

Wins From The Community

Let’s take a closer look at these amazing wins from 2019. If you want to be featured next year, then drop us a line with your wins from 2020!


After finding ChooseFI in June, he went to see Playing with Fire about a month later. He is maxing out his 401(k) for the first time ever, and is planning on earning the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020!


Although he had always been a saver, he always thought that he couldn’t retire until 59 and a half. Now that he has found this community, he has increased his savings rate from 25% to 75%. He started house hacking, has picked up a side hustle, eats leftovers for dinner, trades his skills for free food, and hauls fallen wood away from people’s yards for a fee to heat his own home!

Way to go Lan!


Victoria found ChooseFI this year, which is a win itself. She is looking forward to taking more action next year.


Timothy is working on his second year of living the FI lifestyle. This year, he has purchased two duplexes, a triplex, and a quadplex. He plans to house hack the triplex in St. Pete while continuing to max out his 401k.

Amazing progress towards FI!


Becky found ChooseFI this year as a single mom living below the poverty line. She took action on what works for her family and has been able to invest 73% of her income.

Very inspiring!


Femi purchased a rental property and started a blog this year.

We are enjoying the journey because we have a blueprint.

We are so happy that our Blueprint is helping people move their lives in a positive direction.

Check out the Blueprint To Financial Independence here.


At the beginning of this year, Valerie’s savings rate was under 15%. Plus, she had a car loan with no emergency fund. Throughout the year, she has taken steps to completely transform her financial life. Now she has a 40% savings rate, a clear plan for retirement, an emergency fund, and has started classes for a new side hustle.

Way to go Valerie!


Although Justin was saving for traditional retirement before finding ChooseFI this year, he is now saving close to 50% of his income. Plus, he closed on his first rental.


After finding the FI community in September, Randy maxed out his 401(k) for the year. Congrats on the dedication to saving!


John cashed out some equity in his home to invest in VTSAX. Plus, his wife found a job with a 55% increase in pay!


Nicole paid off three credit cards in 2019 and plans to pay off one more soon. She also paid off a payment plan on her dog and three medical bills. Congrats to Nicole for eliminating her debt on her journey to FI!

Related: You’re Debt Free; Now What?


After making some major financial moves such as paying off student loans, a Tesla, and switching phone plans, he is transitioning to be a stay at home dad. A big lifestyle change made possible through intentional spending.

Related: How To Lower Your Cell Phone Bill


Kristy helped three of her children make it through school without any debt. And she moved to Europe with two teenagers! It sounds like a busy year.


Got a great deal on healthcare by maxing out her HSA which brought her income down enough to qualify for a subsidy.


After discovering ChooseFI this year, Bill made the switch to Vanguard, watched Playing with Fire, got two new certifications, started a blog, started training others in his profession. He also left a toxic job to improve his life.

Related: How To Move Your Money From A Financial Advisor To Vanguard


As the owner of her own marketing firm, she started to take more control of her bottom line. Since FI is within reach, she is focused on increasing her income. In this year alone, she increased her income by $54,000. Way to go Lizzy!


Kevin took advantage of tax-loss harvesting this year to simplify his investment portfolio.


Kat made some major changes to her life including reducing her investing expenses, started a 529, starting travel rewards, shopping at ALDI, and moving the emergency fund to a high yield savings account. She also started budgeting with YNAB and is on track to max out her pre-tax accounts. However, the biggest win was getting her husband to buy into the concept of FI!

If you want to move your emergency fund to a high yield savings account, check out CIT Bank: Here’s our full review.

E Dub

E Dub successfully paid off his credit cards and car loan in 2019. They plan to tackle their student loans in 2020.

Related: Snowball Vs Debt Avalanche–Does It Really Matter?


Not only did Dawn double her salary, but she also paid off her mortgage and maxed out her 401k.


Steven doubled his salary with careful skill stacking, he made his dream job a reality.


After finding FI in 2018, Kristy started saving like crazy. In June, she felt confident enough to quit her job. Enjoy the transition!


Azar admits to a mild obsession with travel rewards, but it has paid off. They will be able to take their family on a trip to Italy this summer with points. What an exciting win!

If you want to get involved with travel rewards, you can take the free ChooseFI travel course here.


Jody had a whirlwind year of becoming debt-free, meeting her husband, and quitting her job. Sounds like a success to us!


Matt took the free ChooseFI travel course this year. With that knowledge, he signed up for a rewards card and was able to build up enough points for a four-night stay in Italy.


One year ago, Eric’s family was behind on their bills and no emergency fund. With the help of side hustle, they’ve been able to get their financial lives back on track. With a large emergency fund,  maxed out their retirement accounts, increased credit score, and 70% savings rate, their life has changed for the better.

Related: Why A Side Hustle Is FI’s Secret Weapon


Although Joann had been living the FI lifestyle for years, she found the community this year. Even so, her biggest takeaway was the concept of adding an “F U fund” to their profit and loss statement. Joann’s goal for next year is to pay off their mortgage early and increase their savings in order to potentially step away from her job.


After finding the FIRE community this year, Julie is only 25 months from FIRE. Although she already had been practicing many of the habits, she is happy to find a community of like-minded people.


Katia is on track to pay off $25,000 in debt while cash flowing and using travel rewards to fund a trip to Japan and Mexico with the help of travel rewards. In fact, she has been able to save around $10,000 in travel in the last year. She also moved her investments to low-cost index funds.

In order to track her progress, she is taking advantage of Personal Capital. It can be a great tool to track your journey to FI. Check out our full review of Personal Capital here.


Corey paid off their Honda Civic in just 11 months. Plus, they earned the Southwest Companion Pass, fully funded his Roth IRA, and started a blog.


Deborah found ChooseFI through Her Money podcast. With this new information, she started her emergency fund, has helped out her family financially, has created a plan to get out of debt in five years. In this past year, she has been able to go to a mechanic without worrying about how to cover the expense.


Terese was able to pay off $40,000 in college debt as well as $9,000 in credit card debt. Additionally, she has saved $80,000 for retirement and savings in the past three years while still enjoying her life.

By focusing on experiences instead of things we’ve really started saving up for the business we one day want to have.


Miriam took the knowledge from our many college hacking episodes to open a 529 for her kids. Plus, she applied for the FASFA. With a big trip to round out the year, Miriam enjoyed the amazing progress.


After finding ChooseFI this year, Emily changed all of their investments to low fee mutual funds. Not only that, but she also used travel rewards to save thousands on an annual trip. Congrats Emily!


Rachel had a busy year after finding ChooseFI. She refinanced her mortgage so she could eliminate the PMI, refinanced her student loans, read A Simple Path to Wealth, moved to Vanguard, cut cable, started teaching yoga as a side hustle, opened three travel rewards, and started tracking her expenses.


Linda was thrilled to find the FI community this year. After that, she enrolled in a CFP program and has started helping her kids learn about FI and graduate debt-free.


Courtney had a successful year. She set up a Vanguard account, paid $40,000 towards her mortgage, increased her business income, cash flowed her first Airbnb, optimized her health insurance, and made great use of travel rewards. She is also considering going to part-time at her job since her side hustle is doing so well.


This year, she hit $100,000 in net worth, paid off her car loan, and increased her 401(k) contributions. Great job, Jackie!


Steven took advantage of solar panel installation to reduce his energy consumption. The solar panels should pay for themselves within two years. He also reduced his investing fees and refinanced his mortgage.

A house roof with two rows of solar panels on it

Related: Are Solar Panels Worth The Investment


Rebecca got her hubby on board for their FI journey. They decided they didn’t need a larger house and sold a bunch of unused items in their home–send that found money to her investments. They also started maxing out their HSA and 401(k)s . They started budgeting and tracking their spending to find even more money.

She also used Policygenius to get a great rate on life insurance and is in the process of looking at her car insurance and other bills.

Now that they know what their FI number is, they are pursuing it with at least one actionable tip from every episode.

Related: Get The Best Price On Life Insurance With Policygenius


Madeline’s husband started driving for Uber on his commute. Now he earns $50 per day on his commute. Very creative!


Hacked her breakfast by batching and freezing breakfast burritos!  Yum!


Anna was able to max out her 401k and watch it grow to over $102,000 in three years.


As a single mom, Dawn has been able to increase her retirement contributions and plans to be able to max out her 401(k), HSA, and Roth in three years. Along the way, she downsized her house, moved her investments to Vanguard, started using travel rewards, and has started the track to FI.


Trish has paid off $115,000 in debt over the past two years! She is expecting to pay off the last of her debts, including her mortgage in 2020. Go Trish! We know you will do it.


Jessica found a creative way to save money on her food costs. She won free Arby’s for the year and gets a free Chik-fil-A sandwich every Monday by using their app, but waits til Thursday to redeem it because then she can stack this coupon and also score a free side.


Used travel rewards to book three trips this year!


Giovanna paid off $7,000 in credit card debt. Way to go!


Topaz was able to earn an extra $5,000 in side hustles this year.


Jenna took many steps to improve her finances this year. She paid off the vehicles, cut out PMI by refinancing, cut cable, cooks more at home, started a few side hustles, and increased her Airbnb revenue. She also cut her investment fees by switching advisors.


Steven took advantage of many methods to trim his budget. He cut cable, switched to Total Wireless, opened an HSA, did a mega backdoor Roth, earned the Southwest Companion Pass, paid off his car, purchased life insurance, drafted his will, opened a high yield savings account, sold many things, and maxed out his 401k. But best of all, he and his wife are on the same page financially.

Related: Republic Wireless Vs Other Cheap Cell Phone Plans


Allison paid off two rental properties and has officially reached a fatFIRE net worth. Also joined the ChooseFI book club.


Patrick accepted an ex-pat position which allowed him to trim his budget dramatically.


Hillary tackled a quarter of her six-figure student loan debt.


Ella paid off $148,000 in student loans this year.

Ed and Steven

Ed and Steven from our ChooseFI team got the FI 101 course up and running. They are looking forward to spreading the message of FI in the New Year.


Tommy optimized his retirement accounts and is hoping to spread second generation FI.


Paid off $17,000 in student loans in just a few months.


Paid off his car last month!


Glenn has taken the call to action seriously. He has increased his contributions to Vanguard and is now living on 25% of his earnings. He has continued to prove that he is able to live on less and gaining a better understanding of what it takes to cover his expenses.


Opened Roth IRA’s for her and husband and started contributing to her 401(k). She also paid off her mortgage, started cooking more at home and meal prepping, started using travel rewards, canceled their gym membership, optimized their insurance options, started working from home one day a week.

She also cut her clothing budget by doing sip and swaps with her friends. She finally put her yoga certification to good use and started teaching yoga which is brought in about $600 over the past few months. Overall, she tripled her savings rate and is now saving 48% of her income.


Heidi created a plan to bring more joy and connection into her family’s life. She also earned the Southwest Companion Pass, started on her husband’s side hustle, maxed out a 403(b) and a 457, moved her investments to Vanguard. They started some DIY projects around the house, started an around the world dinner party with friends.


Jonathan is loving being able to work from home. He gets to spend time with his kids and also record live in-studio with Brad.


MK is now the showrunner for the ChooseFI podcast and is having a blast. MK and her husband also moved close to her husband’s work so he has a very short commute which reduces stress and allows for more time at home.


Brad’s big win is the launch of the ChooseFI Foundation.

Thank You!

Congrats to everyone that made their lives better this year. It is so inspiring to see everyone take this information and design lives that they love. We look forward to continuing on this journey with you in the New Year!

And speaking of 2020: Take a look at Jillian’s new podcast Everyday Courage.

Take Action With FI 101

If you want to make your own wins next year, then check out our FI 101 course. It is a digital academy with a sequential course on learning financial literacy. It is a great place to start your own FI journey.

After learning more, make sure to take action to improve your own life for the better.

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