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FI Weekly – December 21, 2021


Year-End Move We’re Making

I confess that I hadn’t heard of the US government issued ‘I Bonds’ until Mike wrote me this response to one of our discussions on the podcast:

“I got a good chuckle over the part where we speculate that Fritz is selling bonds because they are doing soooo poorly. Check out bond fund ‘TLT’ this year. Better yet, check the I Bonds rate as of 11/1 and let me know how badly that fits into a plan. “

Then I saw this CNBC article last week about I Bonds entitled “Couples can fight inflation with 7.12% risk-free interest on $40,000 with this year-end move” and my interest was officially piqued.

I never give financial advice, but just try to pass along things we’re doing personally and I can say that I’m moving forward opening an individual account for both Laura and me and funding each with the max $10,000 per person in 2021 and most likely again in 2022 with a similar amount.

The interest rate changes every 6 months on these I Bonds, but with inflation at a higher-than-normal level and that being a component of how the return is calculated on these bonds, I am not anticipating the interest rate to drop dramatically in 2022.

Important note from the article, “Investors can’t redeem their I bonds for one year, and they pay (back) the last three months of interest if cashed in before five years.”

How to Get Better at Email

For many of us, our email inboxes are a significant source of stress.  There are always so many emails to respond to, it invariably takes longer to respond than you expect and it’s almost impossible to get to a point of satisfaction with your inbox (whether your goal is “inbox zero” or not…)

If this sounds like you, I think this Twitter thread from Jesse Pujji is well worth your time to read.  His section on keyboard shortcuts was especially eye-opening for me, as I didn’t realize many of those shortcuts existed. 

It reminds me of Microsoft Excel wizards who navigate entirely with the keyboard and zero use of the mouse – saving countless hours every year in total.

This type of mastery is a goal for me as I try to cut down on the time I spend in front of my computer while still accomplishing what I need to get done.

ChooseFI Resource of the Week: Travel Rewards

We’re huge fans of earning and redeeming credit card rewards points for (nearly) free travel.  If you’re responsible with your credit cards by paying them off on time and in full every month, I think travel rewards points can be one of your biggest yearly financial wins from being on the path to FI.

It’s very realistic to expect you can take 1-2 nearly free vacations every year with this strategy.

Today’s resource is the Travel Rewards page on the ChooseFI website which contains links to our free travel rewards course, our top recommended credit card plus our podcast episodes and articles all about maximizing travel rewards.

Now is the time to start stockpiling rewards points so you can be ready to book when travel opens up more significantly in the future.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Kelly said, “My 1% better is doubling my income in one year. Last year in October 2020 I left my healthcare tech job for a new position that paid me 42% more. In September of 2021 I referred a friend for a position as my equal. She was offered the job and offered a starting salary that was 44% higher than mine (she ended up declining the offer). I had a conversation with my manager about getting a pay raise. He offered me a 22% raise and a $5k spot bonus. Frustrated by the idea they would pay a stranger 44% more to do the same job I do, I asked about it. My manager said, the reason she was offered so much more was because she had a master’s degree. He increased my spot bonus to $10k and said if I could find a company that would pay my desired salary without a master’s degree I should take it. 2 months later I found a company that would pay me that salary. My employer counter offered and I accepted. No master’s degree required. In one year, I’ve increased my salary 110%.
  • Josh said, “Our “1%” this year was maxing out my wife’s and my retirement accounts at work and downsizing vehicles to something half the cost. It also fits our needs better and has lower operating costs.”
  • Beth said, “Our 1% is that we harvested about 60 pounds of pecans off our 1/4 acre property (3 trees). It was a good family project with some exercise and purpose. We hosted a popup pecan stand and used the money to go to the school fundraiser instead of asking people to buy stuff. Then we also gave pecans away.”
  • Dave said, “Thanks for Episode 353 on travel rewards. We listened in the car, and decided to make this happen in the new year. When we got home, we looked up my wife’s Southwest account and found out that she was at 124,189 points for the year(!!). Needless to say, we will get those 811 points to earn the Companion Pass! We accumulated most of the points on new card activation bonus, and some from purchased travel. Without your podcast we would have missed it.”
  • Sean said, “This week I got a new job! It is 3.5 miles from my house instead of 40 and I would have been happy with an equivalent salary, as it saves me 2 hours/day, each day, as time is the only non-renewable resource but I asked for more and received a 11% raise! I have already maxed my 457 and Roth IRA, but this is more that will now go into my taxable savings account! Thanks for reminding me that the commute is likely not worth it!”
  • Bill said, “My 1% better this week is reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” again. This time though I am truly taking my time to read, think and act on the principles of the book. Growing up it was always a race to say I read certain books. Now that I am older it is, how has this book changed me. I think I accidentally stumbled into the best combination of books I could have ever hoped for in, Outwitting the Devil, Atomic Habits, The Miracle Morning and 7 Habits. I feel my mind firing at a level I have never seen in myself.”

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