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FI Weekly – February 13, 2024: Essential Episodes, Save on Streaming, What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing

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.

Essential Podcast Episodes

We’ve started 2024 out with a string of essential ChooseFI podcast episodes that I’m immensely proud of. If you haven’t caught up recently, it would be hard to beat Episodes 470 through 476 for impactful listening.

Sean Mullaney blew me away on Ep 475 with completely new information I’d never heard before on how to access your money before 59.5. This knowledge will help the entire FI Community and it should be spread far and wide.

Yesterday in Ep 476, Amy shared her incredibly personal story where the title says it all: “Love, Loss, and Money: The Shocking Financial Aftermath of a FI Spouse’s Death.”

Everyone can benefit from that episode as it highlights how a few simple steps can prevent a significant amount of additional pain in the event of the death of a loved one.

There isn’t enough space to go through all these episodes, but “The Cure for the Boring Middle” in Ep 472 is the best way I’ve found to prepare yourself for what FI will look like, and don’t forget that if you have Social Security questions from Ep 474, we’re going to do a part 2, so please hit reply and send them in!

How to Save Money on Streaming (Part 2)

Two weeks ago in the newsletter I included an article about cutting cable and streaming bills and Randy Parker responded to me with an article he wrote on his site that does an amazing job of providing specific info such as:

  • Free Trials
  • Discounts
  • Bundles
  • Promotions

Plus, info on retention offers, timing of subscriptions and much more. I think you’ll get a lot out of this particular article, especially if these services are a big line-item in your budget, so I thought it important enough to follow up with this top-tier resource.

Quote I’m Reflecting On

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Brooke Thayer on Episode 15 of Jillian Johnsrud’s podcast ‘Retire Often’ resource.

What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing

Reading: I’m concurrently reading 3 different series and am absolutely flying through them:

– ‘Skyward’ series by Brandon Sanderson. I loved his Mistborn books and when Jessica from the Fioneers highly recommended Skyward, I knew it was going to be a winner. I read the first book in about 2 days and thought it was a great intro to a new fantasy world.

– ‘The Naturals’ series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I read her four book ‘Inheritance Games’ series last year and found that she wrote an earlier series about a group of teenagers with special perceptive abilities who help the FBI solve crimes. I’m finishing up the 3rd book as we speak.

– ‘Alias Emma’ by Ava Glass. I found this as a curated recommendation in my local Barnes & Noble and liked the idea of a fast-paced spy thriller with a female lead. I read the first book in essentially one sitting and have book two waiting to start!

Watching: After hearing the amazing news that Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’ concert film is going to be streaming on Disney+ on March 15th (!!), my daughter and I started watching her ‘Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions’ on Disney+. The Folklore album starts out with two of my favorite songs in “The 1” and “Cardigan” and the stripped-down production of this recording is really something special.

Playing: My all-time favorite video game is ‘StarCraft,’ which I seriously played hundreds of hours freshman year of college. Incredibly, Blizzard lets you play many of their older games (Warcraft, Diablo, etc.) for free through their download. It is a fun blast from the past to play these games and the strategy and decision-making is intense!

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

“My 1% better is finally making the effort to move an old IRA (circa 2009) from a complex investment strategy (that I did not fully understand) and a high fee advisor over to a simple ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. Using concepts from The Simple Path to Wealth, I was able to invest it into low cost index funds with Fidelity and self manage. I had been putting it off and putting it off for a while but when I sat down to focus and do the work, it took me all of 10 minutes! This newsletter was my ultimate motivation to get it done so thank you for your inspiration.”

– Katie

“I have a few 1%’s this month and actually switching my cell provider from AT&T to Mint Mobile is one of them. For a family of 3 we were paying $220 a month but now with Mint we are paying around $60/month. We signed up to pay yearly as well which allows us to save even more money. Also, because of the changes to the Federal Income Tax brackets this year my wife and I are bringing home about $300 a month more than we did in 2023. We decided to increase our 401k contributions by this amount so that we are saving that difference instead of spending it.”

– Rob

“Here’s my 1% better: I recently received a 2% raise. This doesn’t add up to much more after taxes, but it is something. As soon as I found out the exact amount, I contacted my 403b account manager and increased my monthly deposits to equal that amount. In the past, I would have procrastinated on making that change, telling myself that the small amount wouldn’t really make a difference anyway. This time, I didn’t even let myself think. I just made the call and made the change. Feels good!”

– Tanya

“My 1% better is committing to giving $200 per month to nonprofits this year, through automatic monthly payments. I’ve chosen a local nonprofit, which I also volunteer for, as well as an international organization. Thank you for talking about giving money away on the podcast! I think that many other financial education resources overlook the importance of charitable giving. I’m extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to help others.”

– Katie

“Our 1% better this month was closing on our forever house with a 3.5% assumable loan instead of the going rate of 8% when we made our offer in the end of October. This plus our veteran benefit of waiving all but $30 of property taxes a year, allows us to save over $2000 a month on our home cost. After following your podcast since the second episode, we made dramatic changes to allow for me to retire early at 32 and my husband to join me last year at age 37. Doubt we would be where we are today if it hadn’t been for all the knowledge we’ve learned in this community.”

– Katrina

“My 1% was presenting at the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association Conference downtown Chicago this past weekend! My presentation was titled “Personal Finance for the Parks and Recreation Professional”. I talked about FI and the FIRE movement, savings/investing/spending/earning, and hit on how the big 3 expenses can really alter your life in a positive way if you think about them from a different perspective. Overall, it went well and I had a couple people come up to me after and tell me how my presentation finally pushed them over the edge to start saving and investing.

We work hard in Parks and Rec but don’t have the highest salaries. I want people to realize that FI is possible for people like us! I hope I can continue to help my fellow parks and rec people with their personal finance goals going forward! Thank you!”

– Carter

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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