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FI Weekly – August 18, 2020

Words to Live By: Jerzy Gregorek Edition

I’ve often mentioned Jerzy Gregorek’s masterful “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life” quote, as I think it is a framework for long-term success in FI and in life.

Possibly even more profound is this from Jerzy: “Try to be around people who don’t do three things. They are not sarcastic. They don’t complain and they don’t blame.”

If you sit back and listen, you’ll find these ‘three killers of happiness’ make up 80%+ of everyday conversation. I challenge you to personally stop this madness and also cut out the people in your life perpetuating this negativity.

Instead, look for people who are interesting themselves and interested in others, those who ask questions, those looking for solutions, those who understand there’s nuance and subtlety in the world, and that there’s so much to be positive about, even in tough times.

What’s in Brad’s Wallet?

In last week’s discussion on paying no fees in life, I nebulously said “I pay virtually no fees in a given calendar year except on two very specific credit cards” that I get value from and a number of readers followed up for more info so I wanted to pass along:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is unquestionably my favorite travel rewards (and even cash back) credit card. I love Ultimate Rewards points for their flexibility and transfer options including Southwest, United, Hyatt, and BA. If you haven’t started with rewards cards, this is the one I recommend.
  • World of Hyatt Credit card: This isn’t as big a slam dunk as the CSP, but I enjoy the annual free night and the bonus categories (gyms specifically), plus the ability to get upgrades and perks. We love Hyatt redemptions that start at 5k and 8k per night and actually transfer many of our Chase UR points to Hyatt.

Free Weekly Credit Reports

I spoke about my love of ToDoIst recently on a podcast and our CEO Ed told me that one of my tasks was hopelessly outdated. It used to be that you could get a free credit report from the 3 bureaus annually, so I spread them out over the year, but he sent me an FTC article that said “everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.” This is through April 2021.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action this Week

Last week I asked you to hit reply to this email and let me know what your wins were for the week. Here are a few that jumped out to me:

  • Eric had a series of wins he sent along including, “my wife and I are both maximizing our 401k and Roth IRA contributions this year for the first time. Plus we’re carving out an extra $100/month for another investment AND I’m continuing to maximize my HSA. We’ve boosted our savings rate from ~30% to closer to 60% for this year!”
  • Joanna said, “I reviewed my cell phone bill and found that I was paying $15 per month for insurance on my android smartphone. I would then have to pay $175 – $275 to use the insurance to repair or replace the phone. A quick Google search revealed that I can buy a new replacement phone (same phone) for $125! So I’ve cancelled my cell phone insurance saving me $180 per year!!”
  • Jenn said “this past month I reached out to my daughter’s college and asked if they would waive the on-campus requirement for freshman and sophomore year, due to COVID. They said YES, evaluated semester by semester, if all classes were taken online. This is a HUGE $5k savings every semester ($20k total) – simply because I asked.”
  • Allison, “started calling the billing office for every medical bill that comes in the mail and asking, “Is there any way we can make this lower?” So far, I’m 4/4 for getting the bill reduced by at least 10% (sometimes 20%) for paying in full right then.”
  • Grant said “my wife Jill and I paid off our house! It took us just shy of 8 years to pay off $315,000 and now we are entirely debt free!”
  • Ike said, “I’m a 2020 college graduate and my emergency fund is already at about 4-5 months of expenses and I started my Roth IRA!”
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At least once in most of our FI journeys, we have pondered what our life would look like if we started earlier. Maybe you have even wondered what value could’ve been gained if you had started in your teenage years. Well, for some context into the possibilities decision that could provide, we decided to have 17 year old listener Devin on the podcast to discuss what life can look like when you go against the cultural norm of going to college, and instead opting for an entrepreneurial and FI friendly lifestyle. Oftentimes we mention that there are rewards that come with stepping out of your comfort zone, and the same can be said for going against the societal norm and carving out your own path! For our younger audience who may be interested in getting started with their FI journey, let this episode be a useful resource and reassurance that this journey can begin no matter your age!

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