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April 16, 2024: Reading, Watching, Playing, AI Assistant, Saying No plus Community Wins

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.

What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing

Reading: I continue to juggle multiple books:

– ‘Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier’ by Arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey. I’m only just starting this book, but the practical tips I’ve already picked up gives me hope this will be a transformative read. I waited a long time for this one from the library ‘holds’ and so far it’s worth it!

– ‘Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most’ by Greg McKeown. I found his prior book ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’ to be impactful, and Effortless seems like the perfect companion to figure out how to work on what truly matters and make it simpler in the process.

– ‘Rhythm of War’ by Brandon Sanderson. Finishing up the 4th audiobook in the Stormlight Archive series. I’m hooked on audiobook fantasy series, and this is one of the best!

Watching: For the first time in many, many years, I binged an entire Netflix series in under 48 hours and just COULD NOT STOP watching. The show is called ‘One Day’ and I cannot possibly recommend it any more highly. It’s wonderful.

It first seemed like a lighthearted romantic comedy, but over the 14-episode series you truly become invested in the characters and to say this runs the gamut of emotions is the understatement of the century.

No spoilers, but simply put, If you can make it through the last episode without crying the entire episode I’d be shocked.

Playing: Chris Hutchins released a travel rewards episode of ‘All The Hacks’ last week that highlighted a number of essential tools to find award availability and I learned so much from the episode that I’d recommend you listen.

One particular tool, Points Yeah’s Explorer is the tool that so many of us (especially in the FI community since we have more flexibility with travel) wish existed for years!

Click through to that link and put your home airport in and Points Yeah will show you all the incredible deals they’ve found from your airport!

This is the perfect tool for someone with miles who just wants to travel and get great value from your miles.

I’m hooked on this and invariably check every day just to see what else has popped up!

AI Writing Assistant in Chrome

I saw a post from Neville Medhora on Twitter discussing a new feature in the Google Chrome browser that I’ve already found quite useful:

“The new AI writing assistant Google launched today is embedded in Chrome. Makes it super easy to use.

To use it first turn it on:

Settings → Experimental AI → Help Me Write.

Use it anytime:

Right click on a text field → Help Me Write”

You can use this to help draft an email response, submit a question on a ‘contact’ form, or for essentially anything on the internet that you’d write something out.

I hate staring at a blank page, so as a starting point for writing something, I’ve found it extremely useful.

Saying NO and Setting Boundaries

What: Free ‘Saying No’ Boundaries Boot Camp workshop for the FI Community

Who: Elisabeth Andrews is someone I’ve known for years and every time I interact with her, I walk away with more energy and enthusiasm – she’s really a positive energy person!

(Interesting sidebar: She proposed the idea for and helped to produce JL Collins’ ‘Guided Meditation for When the Stock Market is Dropping’)

She wrote a book in 2022 called ‘50 Ways to Say NO: Go-to phrases to honor your boundaries — and why they work’ and recently told me about a free workshop she runs that is perfect for the ChooseFI Community:

Boundaries Boot Camp:

A free 60+ minute Zoom workshop for the ChooseFI community on Friday May 10th at 10:30am Eastern time (replay will be available if you can’t make it live, so sign up either way!).

Elisabeth took me through some of her slides and I’m so excited about it that I’ll 100% be in attendance live on this call.

Why it Matters: In Elisabeth’s words, here’s what the Boundaries Boot Camp is all about:

“It’s an interactive session with journaling components. I have prompts to help people figure out what precisely they want to decline and refuse over the next few months (doesn’t have to be forever!).

It could be anything from additional assignments at work to being offered food or drink they don’t want to consume. Then we talk through why so many of us are struggling to maintain boundaries in this age of hyperconnectivity. Lastly, we craft our “no” scripts and practice them out loud.

It’s been such a fun session to lead. Really rewarding. People report dropping unwanted commitments afterwards and saying no to unappealing requests they thought they had to fulfill. Super empowering!”

Sign up: Free ‘Saying No’ Boundaries Boot Camp workshop for the FI Community

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

My 1% this week was fixing my washing machine. I kept getting an intermittent code of “F 21”. The manual says to reset the washer which does nothing and call a technician if not successful. A quick google search of my model number and “F 21” and I have a FREE fix.

It turns out it was 3 screws and a little bit of clean up from draining the pump. Unbeknownst to me, there is an internal filter that has never been cleaned out by me or likely the previous owners. There was some lint, pen ink cartridges, and 52 cents. All in all, it only took about 15 minutes to watch the video, grab my screw driver, and complete the repair. It looks like it’s a few hundred bucks if you call someone to do this and I got paid 53 cents to do it!

I have done this twice this year with household problems. The other repair was much easier as it was the flame sensor on our furnace. All it needed was a good cleaning with steel wool which I already had on hand. This probably saved me even more money and maybe a new furnace.

I urge all FI people to google their household problem to see if they have the skills and tools to fix it; this not only saves money but also something more important… time!

– Joe

My 1% better is – in true ChooseFI fashion – a combination of financial and health changes. This week, I have been applying concepts from Atomic Habits (thanks for the recommendation) to improve my health at the beginning and end of my day, including a very satisfying new journal to document my daily commitments and reflect.

This has been so important because I spend a lot of work time at a computer and find myself in my mid-50s worrying that my health is suddenly vulnerable. While I am tempted to add more improvements, I’m trying to stick with what I have for now, and focus on quality and a solid foundation. I’m feeling better already.

Also, I finally got organized to do backdoor Roth contributions this year, and they are, as promised, very easy to do. I no longer feel deprived of Roth IRA contributions, which I have been for a few years as we had inched above the income limit. Problem solved. I continue to appreciate the joy and confidence that has comes with learning more about personal finance through ChooseFI since the pandemic. Always excited to tune in on a walk – thanks for the encouragement and fun!

– Stacey

My husband and I’s 1% better culminated in a couple of wins this week. We will sell one of our cars in the next day or two and with the proceeds we will finally be able to pay off my mortgage!! In 6 years we will have paid off our $347k mortgage balance and cash flowed approx 80k in house renovations. It’s been a long journey and it’s been especially tough since we live in CA in a very HCOL area.

Originally my plan was to quit my corporate job and then work part time once our mortgage was paid off (my version of retiring early) but over time our priorities have changed. My husband and I are joint caretakers to his mother. Because we now have no mortgage we can now pay for her to move to Assisted Living. (I really enjoyed your caretaker episode recently!).

Assisted Living monthly costs are so expensive in CA. I was able to negotiate a $1200/month reduction in the standard rate in an Assisted living facility nearby. Just sending an email and doing some research online I was able to find the leaders of the facility and sent them an email asking if they would be open to negotiate monthly cost. Luckily they were open to it!

Even though we will be adding this extra cost to our budget monthly it wouldn’t be at ALL possible if my husband and I hadn’t been intentional with our money, made a plan (even though things can change), and ask for discounts wherever possible. Financial independence is on the horizon but the retiring early may have to wait a bit longer.

– Kim

That episode 483 on giving really lit a fire under me. I have been haphazard about giving before, this is a much more structured and intentional way of doing it. In the last 3 years or so I switched all my Christmas giving to donating instead. It ended up feeling a little scrambled, rushed, and lacked structure, and research. Plus I always squirmed at the amount.

But I heard the episode at the exact same time as I received a “measly” 4% raise, and I decided that if I thought that 4% wasn’t going to contribute meaningfully to my own path, I could just instantly divert it to causes I valued. I went into some of the resources shared in last week’s episode and expanded my search a little more, and locked on the following allocation:

1% – One For the world – tackling poverty

1% – One Tree Planted – environmental focus

1% – my local park & community fund

1% – ECHO – solving homelessness in my city

1% (not coming from my raise)- Discretionary amount that will go into a sinking fund for other causes that spring up and I want to support.

Best part of this, is that 4 out of 5 of those, by doing it through my employer, get an automatic match, doubling the impact! Cherry on top that they auto-deducted from my paycheck so I don’t even feel them,So I was able to shift from a “measly raise” snarky sensation to a great endorphin rush from giving effectively, consistently, and automatically, The total amount is substantial, especially when you consider the match. Doing this is made my raise a LOT more satisfying.

– Ursula

My 1% better this week is hitting $100,000 in my retirement accounts! This has been a goal of mine for a few years now and it’s great to finally achieve it! I’ve often heard you and podcast guests discuss how once you reach 100k, all that compounding feels like it’s working faster.

My husband and I have been able to more aggressively save and last year maxed out both 401k accounts for the first time. The 100k is just in my own retirement accounts and doesn’t include my husband’s accounts or any other assets. It feels really good to hit this number! To anyone else reading and hoping – keep going, it’s worth it!

– Chelsea

My 1% better is I set up recurring monthly donations to 3 charities with causes that are important to me after being inspired by Episode 483 – Effective Giving. My goal is for my donations this calendar year to equal or surpass 1% of my income as per the podcast guest’s suggestion. Also, just a few days later, my net worth hit another milestone as I surpassed $400K net worth two months after my 38th birthday.


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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