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December 6, 2022: Travel Rewards Success, Optimize Sleep, Who We Spend Time With

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.

Travel Rewards Success!

My family has cancelled numerous trips since March 2020 and haven’t really had a travel rewards “success story” in years.

That ended this week with a big win.

We were able to use points to book The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas for this coming spring break using Marriott points!

We were originally contemplating using cash to book the hotel, but it was over $800 a night, which seemed excessive.

Then Laura remembered reading something years ago that you could use rewards points, so I looked into it and mocked up a 4-night stay.  It came to 300k points and I had a balance of 305k Marriott points.

I nearly forgot something huge, which Marriott was kind enough to remind me of:  You get the 5th night free on an award booking, so we were able to get a 5th night for that 300k points.

We’d had these points sitting around for years, so to get $4,000+ of hotel nights felt like a big win for us!

This reminds me of an email that Ahmed wrote in:

“One my latest wins was using points to book a hotel for my trip to the Boston Marathon in April! Hotels are crazy expensive in/around Boston that weekend and I didn’t want to spend $450/night to stay in the same hotel as my friends. So, I used some rewards points and instead am staying for free!”

This is a huge tip that if you’re looking to book a hotel during a particularly busy weekend for a city (think Mardi Gras or Super Bowl, etc.), using points is often an amazing deal.

This is because, in nearly all cases, the award chart is constant no matter what’s going on in town at that time or what the hotel costs (in cash) to book.  As long as you can find a “standard” room available, you can use your points for amazing deals!

To get started with travel rewards, check out the main travel rewards page on the ChooseFI site for our ‘ultimate guide,’ top recommended cards and links to all the podcast episodes on earning and redeeming points.

Tips to Optimize Your Sleep

Dr. Peter Attia is a world-class expert on longevity and recently put out an Ask Me Anything (AMA) episode on sleep on his popular podcast ‘The Drive.’ 

Here’s a quote from Dr. Attia that stuck out to me for the first things to approach to help improve your sleep:

“I think for a lot of people who sleep poorly, it’s really easy to fix if they’re really being brutally honest with their sleep hygiene stuff:

  • Are you really stopping your food and your alcohol (consumption), or cutting your alcohol altogether at the right time? (Brad note: Dr. Attia recommends stopping eating ~3 hours before sleep)
  • Are you really winding yourself down, and not winding yourself up before bed?
  • Are you in a dark room? Is it cool?
  • Are you giving yourself eight and a half hours to be in bed?

You can get so much of the benefit by just getting those things right. And it’s amazing to me how many people come to me who are complaining of horrible sleep and they tell you they’ve done everything, and they haven’t done those things.”

Who We Spend Time With

Sahil Bloom is one of the best people to follow on Twitter, as his threads are insightful and help you see the world differently.

He recently put out one with 6 graphs on “who we spend our time with over the course of our lives,” that I think is worth 5 minutes of your time reading.

His takeaways were profound:

1) Family time is limited—cherish it.
2) Friend time is limited—prioritize real ones.
3) Partner time is significant—never settle.
4) Children time is precious—be present.
5) Coworker time is significant—find energy.
6) Alone time is highest—love yourself.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Terri said, “My 1% better… While at work today had a rough morning. The old me would shop online for a retail therapy fix. Today I bought 5 shares of VTI instead! Feeling better already.”
  • Brian said, “After struggling to increase my net worth from basically zero for a long time, I finally found a way this quarter. I left my apartment, where I was paying 50% of my net income to rent, and I am now living as a digital nomad in the continental United States in Airbnbs hopping from place to place. I have decreased my monthly housing expense by more than 50%. And I am enjoying the freedom from oppressive rent, from being anchored to one location, and have increased my net cash flow by about 25% while increasing my savings rate from virtually nothing to the same amount. I am just starting my FI journey and have a loooooong way to go but this feels like a huge first step and big win for me.”
  • Katie said, “My 1% better this week is investing the $750 dollars that were just sitting in a money market settlement fund in my taxable brokerage account. You and Jonathan (and some other great money podcasts!) have really given me the confidence, knowledge, and vocabulary to buy ETFs and index funds myself, which seemed way too intimidating before.”
  • Ross said, “My 1% better for this week is watching some videos of The Minimalists on YouTube. Part of FI is choosing to buy less stuff, focus on the stuff that matters, and just free up space and mental space for what is important. I’ve realized, mostly through focusing on spending reductions, that I just have spent WAY TOO MUCH on stuff in the past, like an overflowing closet with more clothes than I could wear in months. I honestly think I can reduce my annual clothing spending to $50 for a few years, just by cycling through all that I already have. I’m putting some away in boxes and will “shop” what I’ve already bought. Shirts for the office really don’t go out of style, do they? I’m looking to reduce my level of “stuff”, spend less, and be happier as I go. It kind of all works together.”
  • Bekah said, “My (more than) 1% better was accepting a job after being home with my daughter for the first year and a half of her life! We are so happy I was able to swing being home with her for so long. For the past couple months, I have been teaching myself data science during her naps – working at a shift in my career toward something I enjoy more. Now she is in fulltime daycare and loving being with all the other kids, and I am excited to start feeling productive again and jump into my new career! Not only that – for the first time, I tried negotiating a higher salary. It was nerve-wracking and they didn’t give me what I asked for, but they met me in the middle! It pays to ask!!”
  • Karimot said, “My 1% better is meal prep. I take a day out of the week and meal prep all our meals for the week. We are a family of 6 and eating out and groceries started to add up, but I can truly say meal prepping not only saves us money (more money to invest), but it makes my weekdays much easier.”
  • Anthony said, “Introduced my kids to FI and I now want to create a financial literacy course to teach young people the value of saving intentionally.”

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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