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End Of Year Wins | Part 3 | EP 283

What You’ll Get Out Of Today’s Show

  • It’s Part 3 of ChooseFI’s end-of-year wins where we hear directly from our community members. During this live event, listeners shared the actions they’ve taken during the past year that have helped them to spend less, earn more, and enjoy the journey.
  • This year, the year-end-win episode took place in a three hour live Facebook and YouTube event featuring around 20 members of the community.
  • Are you building an amazing life or are you a cog stuck in a very depressing wheel? It could be either or it could be both. The community members featured in this end-of-year wins episode have had the wake-up call.
  • We can’t control everything, but there probably are some things we can control that we haven’t yet considered. Hopefully, these wins from the community will provide inspiration and imagination to find improvement with at least one thing.
  • Our first win comes from Sara, who teaches high school science. She began listening to the podcast in December of 2018 and after binge listening to half of the available episodes, she opened a Vanguard account with all of the money she had saved. This year, she put money into 457s, maxed out Roth accounts, and put some money in a 403b.
  • And finally, Sara also just made her last mortgage payment, paying it off in just 11 years. With the mortgage paid off, Sara is now debt-free.
  • A special shout out to MK who recently gave birth to a brand new tax-deduction, otherwise known as a baby girl. MK and her husband, Jason, hit FI in their late twenties, and in addition to working for ChooseFI, MK has written a handful of science fiction books and teaches others how to self-publish with her YouTube channel, Author Your Ambition.
  • The next end-of-year win comes from Whitney who fired her financial planner this year. While her financial planner had set Whitney and her husband up fairly well, they were finally ready to fly on their own. Now that she understood what she was doing, she was able to get out of some of the actively-managed funds and do some tax-loss harvesting.
  • After an unfortunate incident with a supervisor, Whitney was motivated to figure out how she could not work if she didn’t want to. Previously, she had no extra time to figure things out, but being at home due to COVID allowed her to explore hobbies, take care of health issues, and do more activities with her son.
  • Although making even the 1% better changes aren’t always easy, it is a positive feedback loop where it becomes easier and easier.
  • Whitney plans is to retire in the next couple of years.
  • Next is Carlos, who welcomed a new baby this year. His wife took some photography classes and after seeing that her photos were pretty good, set up a new business as a photographer.
  • Jonathan says he’s noticed a pattern when trying to learn a new skill. The first is that it’s something that interests you. Next is finding a community, getting some training, and finally doing it.
  • Although Carlos‘ wife had to hit pause with the business a few times during the pandemic, she’s still managed to have success even in this challenging year.
  • Carlos started a blog this year. As an immigrant from Brazil, he had issues with the IRS and decided to share his experiences so that he could help prevent others from making some of the same mistakes. He’s is writing the first article and will soon be launching Alien Moolah.
  • Citlali and Jose have spent the last year adapting and keeping good habits. They moved to California three years ago and needed to get a budget together and manage cash flow after encountering high rent prices.
  • They found ChooseFI early when just six episodes had been released. Living on a single income, they were open to the messages presented.
  • Since then, they have tried house hacking, Citlali earned a degree through Udacity, got a job working on autonomous vehicles, and they moved to Texas, which decreased their cost of living.
  • Jose says the aggregation of marginal gains has helped them to save. Meal prepping has cut their meal costs and allowed them more free time during the week for other things.
  • Because the pandemic has them driving less and they’ve built up a good emergency fund, they’ve reduced their auto insurance coverage and cut the cost in half.
  • They also frequently use the library for ebooks and more unusual things like museum passes.
  • Citlali‘s big win this year for a 50% salary increase following her performance review which is helping to increase their gap.
  • But Jose and Citlali are reaping the benefits of FI before reaching it. With family in Mexico that has been hit hard by the pandemic, they have been able to provide financial assistance to buy food and pay off medical debt.
  • Shannon’s year has been one of adaptation. She works at a college where her responsibilities have increased and transitioned. As a result, her boss was able to negotiate approval for her position to be full-time. The increase in Shannon’s gap allowed her to pay off her car loan.
  • Shannon also started a unique side hustle creating videos combining World of Warcraft and making cocktails, under the title TipsiGaming, which can be found on YouTube and Twitch.
  • With no debt and this year’s salary increase, Shannon hopes to buy a home and house hack the payment.
  • Finding ChooseFI a little over a year ago, Shannon has one month in emergency savings and now she has seven months saved up.
  • Wrapping up the series are Rob and Joni who are preparing to hit the road for RV life. They discovered the FI community about two and a half years ago. Starting from essentially zero, their net worth is up to $250,000 and their investments are at $150,000.
  • They quickly got used to living in 200 square feet, enjoyed get rid of stuff, decluttering their life, and being able to quickly clean up their home.
  • They both work from home, making them location independent.
  • When they married in 2016, they followed a more traditional contribution of 10% into a 401K. Though they were debt-free when they found the FI community, they didn’t start to crush the income side until about two years ago when Joni combined her skillsets, switched careers, and doubled her income.
  • Rob and Joni’s expenses are fairly low. The RV is paid off but they bought some land to put it on. when on the road, their base expenses should be roughly $2,000 a month.
  • For more information on the free Five Day Challenge or to sign up for the newsletter, go to
  • Next week JL Collins joins the podcast again to revisit the Stock Series concepts and share his perspective on some of the nuances discussed with other guests of the show.

Resources Mentioned In Today’s Conversation

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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