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FI Weekly – February 23, 2021

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. Disclosures.

Live Podcast Recording Tonight

Starting tonight (2/23) at 7:30 pm EST, Jonathan and I are trying a 10-week experiment of recording our podcasts LIVE on a new app called Stereo! 

We’re always wanted to do a radio-show format, so we’re looking to make this really fun and interactive (you can send in short voicemails through Stereo that we can play while we’re live). 

We hope you join us tonight and be sure to open the link on your cell phone as it’ll help you download the app the first time, but then each week going forward use this same link as I’ll have it updated for that Tuesday’s 7:30 pm EST live recording: 

Join the Live Event!

Favorite Days of the Year

Two of my favorite days of the year are coming up: 

Daylight Savings Time starts here in Virginia in less than 3 weeks! I love getting that extra sunlight at night, and it reminds me that warmer weather is just around the corner. 

On the money side, Warren Buffett is set to release his annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder’s Letter this coming Saturday morning (link below will have the new letter when published). I’ve long said that reading Mr. Buffett’s letters is like getting a free MBA, and now I’ll add the Jeff Bezos Amazon letters to that required reading list as well. Here are two great resources to catch up: 

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter
Amazon Shareholder Letter

Empathy-Based Listening

It’s always fascinating when I learn the same concept from experts in completely different fields all in quick succession. This week I heard a similar theme in 3 different spots and wanted to pass it along: 

  • On Dominick Quartuccio’s ‘The Great Man Within Podcast’ Episode 206 with Eric Maddox, entitled “Listening Skills from the Interrogator who Caught Saddam Hussein,” Eric talked about his “Empathy-Based Listening” program to win trust through empathy and understanding what motivates the person across the table from him. 
  • On the most recent episode of the ‘People I (Mostly) Admire’ podcast, magician Joshua Jay said, “And most importantly it (magic) teaches empathy. You cannot do magic unless you’re thinking like your audience. And I contend that you can’t be a great salesman unless you’re thinking like your audience, you can’t be a great teacher unless you’re thinking like your students. These are really important skills.” 
  • On Episode 499 of ‘The Tim Ferriss Show‘ podcast, Katie Haun on success secrets behind her undefeated record as a Federal prosecutor: “being able to develop a rapport not just with the defendants or defense counsel, but with the witnesses…Why are they going to trust you, a government prosecutor, what can you do to build that trust and to really talk to them in a way that is relatable? And I think that was something that I spent a lot of time trying to develop, is putting myself in their shoes…to think what’s motivating them, what might they be scared of, what’s holding them back on wanting to cooperate with us?” 

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Jen said, “My husband and I started the process to refinance our mortgage. Our interest rate is going to drop almost 1.5% plus our home value has increased with the market since we purchased it. This is saving us $350 a month! We kept putting it off because refinancing is such a pain, but I’m so happy we are finally doing it.” 
  • Sarah said, “I have doubled my income twice this past year at my organization. I started out as an HR Coordinator at $15 an hour in January of 2020. In June 2020, I negotiated an increase to a salary of $45,760 and last month, I negotiated a promotion and raise to HR Manager, making $65,000 a year plus bonuses. That entire raise went to my 401k, which is now being maxed out.” 
  • Michael said, “My wife and I are both teachers. In 2016 we bought our house and decided to house hack, renting out our lower unit for a modest $750 a month, bringing our monthly house payment to just under $400/month. We paid off our (modest) car loans in 2017, received teacher loan forgiveness of $17,500 each in 2018, and immediately paid $3,500 to eliminate the rest of my wife’s remaining student loan debt. We also purchased an additional rental duplex in 2017, and it has cash flowed nicely for the past 4 years. Doing all of this allowed us to begin deferring the maximum into both pretax 403b and 457 plans, which we started doing in October of 2019. Due to the teacher paychecks not taking money out of the 1st and last check we ended up deferring right around $73,410 in 2020. After all of this, our taxable income for 2020 was just over $20,000, and we as a family only owe $1,000 in federal income tax! I am 33 and my wife is 32, and at this rate we will be able to retire before we are 40.” 
  • Luke said, “This week I finalized changing my homeowners and car insurance, using Policygenius and am saving $200/year. I even get a discount for paying in a lump sum, rather than as monthly payments. Over the past several weeks I’ve also been able to re-establish my 5-7 times per week morning meditation practice. My wife and I also finalized donating 100% of our stimulus payments to organization in our community that are assisting those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.” 
  • Stacey said, “Our 1% for this week is eating all the mismatched leftovers so food doesn’t go to waste. Today’s lunch: leftover romaine & seasoned rice. We’ve dubbed it “Chews FI.”” 
  • Amy said, “1% better: As of this week, my family of 5 is car-free! This is one component of a 3-year process of downsizing our living expenses. We’ve moved from a big house with two cars, into a comfortable city apartment where we can walk, bike, and use public transportation to get to work, school, and most other places (for everything else, there’s car share!) This long-term lifestyle shift has been a process of experimenting with what we really need and value, what we’re comfortable with, and what we can sustain for the long term. Along the way, we’ve cut our living expenses and environmental footprint dramatically – and surprisingly found that this down-sized living situation is right-sized for us!” 

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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. Disclosures.
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