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FI Weekly – July 19, 2022: 1% Changes, Gmail Productivity Tips, Community Wins

1% Changes Make a Huge Difference

One concept we’ve talked about over the last 5 years on ChooseFI has resonated above all:

The aggregation of marginal gains.

Small 1% changes you make at the margins aggregate into massive positive change in your life.

It’s time to start looking for these small improvements in every aspect of your
life, not just financial.

Many of my recent wins come in the area of health. Here are 3 quick examples:

  • Not consuming any food after dinner (or at least 3 hours before sleep). This is the simplest, yet most impactful change I’ve recently made and the ‘proof’ shows up every night in my Oura Ring sleep data. Simply put, on nights where I do not eat after dinner, my resting heart rate is lower and my REM and Deep Sleep times are dramatically increased. Eating close to bedtime destroys my sleep quality and therefore how I show up in life the next day.
  • The continuous glucose monitoring company Levels mentioned on their podcast that the best tip they’ve aggregated for controlling blood sugar and weight is simply this: Take a short, ~5 minute walk after every meal.  This ties with a Chinese folk saying, “if you take 100 steps after each meal, you’ll live to 99” and the advice Tim Ferriss gave a decade ago in The Four Hour Body about doing a short bit of exercise (he recommended a quick set of air squats) before and after every meal.  I love seeing things like this come together!
  • Following the advice of Dr. Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep,” I now wait 1.5 to 2 hours after waking before consuming coffee.  Contrary to popular belief, coffee doesn’t provide a magical jolt of energy by itself. It blocks the adenosine receptors (as explained in this Ted-ED video, adenosine is “one of the body’s key sleep-inducing molecules”), but this blocking function is only useful if adenosine has built up somewhat already and is inducing some ‘sleep pressure.’ Research suggests 1.5 to 2 hours after waking is the optimal time for coffee consumption.

These are my changes, but most importantly, you need to be on the lookout for small changes you can make in all aspects of your life.

When you reduce friction, save time, sleep better, save money, spend more time with family & friends, etc., you end up with a much better life.

One small change at a time.

Gmail Productivity Tips

I spend a lot of time each day using Gmail, so any tip I can find to make my life more efficient in the inbox will be an exponential savings over weeks, months and years. 

Here are 2 threads I recommend you reading in full if you’re a Gmail user:

Three that I already use or implemented after reading that I think are essential:

  • Snooze emails. From your inbox, just click on an email and find the menu button that looks like an old school clock. This “snooze” button allows you to pick the date and time you want the email to arrive back in your inbox, clearing up some of the physical and mental clutter from your inbox.
  • Preview pane. The one benefit of Hotmail/Outlook over Gmail is that you can see the email in a preview pane instead of annoyingly having to open the email. Not anymore! Simple to change: Settings -> See All Settings -> “Inbox” tab at the top -> Enable Reading Pane (I chose ‘right of inbox’)
  • Templates or “Canned Responses.”  If you find yourself writing the same email over and over again (or even a small section of an email), you can create a “Template” for it in Gmail that allows you to one-click insert that section into any email you’re writing. Settings -> Advanced -> “enable” Templates. Then draft up a section you want to save as a template in a new email, click the “three dots” and go to Templates and click “Save draft as template.”  10 seconds of work to save that effort every time in the future as you can quickly insert that template text with ease.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Michael said, “My 1% better last week was creating a $2,000 emergency fund and my 1% better this week is reading JL Collins’ book The Simple Path to Wealth! I ordered it last week from Amazon along with Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence, a book I will read upon finishing JL Collins book. I have been listening to the Choose FI podcast for 6 months now and have listened to 110 episodes so far.”
  • Niki said, “This week I paid off my house in full. I’m actively teaching my kids about avoiding debt to build wealth and will now defer all the savings to my ten year FI investment plan. This shows my kids that we decide where our money goes and that we only spend on what we value, which for us is freedom.”
  • Russ said, “You have mentioned using credit cards for travel rewards many times on the podcast. As a loyal Southwest Airlines customer, I kept my eye out for a Chase Southwest card with a great entry incentive. A few months ago, there was a card with an offer of a free Companion Pass. Since earning the Companion Pass, I have taken my family to Phoenix to attend my grandfather’s 100th birthday party and to Texas to visit my family. We will use the CP to travel for Christmas as well. Flights are expensive these days, but with the pass we essentially bought 4 seats for the price of 3. I estimate that to be about $1,500 in savings! Thanks for informing and motivating me on my path to FI.”
  • Teresa said, “My 1% better is quite a lot this week! I automated $1,500 per month to savings and investment accounts, I converted my $130 per month cell phone plan (2 phones) to Mint Mobile for only $30 per month for 3 months as an introductory rate and then $60 a month total thereafter for both of us! No change in our cell service experience at all so far! I upped my 401k contribution another 1% and split it to half Roth 401k. I’ve spent so little money this month on groceries eating down my pantry and freezer. And my Ally Bank account just increased the interest rate again, now up to 1.15%. It was a good week!”
  • Ryan said, “Long time fan of the show, thanks for the awesome weekly newsletter. My wife and I just hit a milestone, we closed on our 3rd rental property and house hack at the age of 24! We’ve been saving and investing aggressively since we turned 18. We purchased our first house-hack (a triplex) at the age of 21 with a 3.5% down FHA loan. We purchased our second rental (a four-plex) at the age of 23 with a partner who helped us with the down payment. This newest acquisition is another triplex we were able to purchase with a 5% down 5-year ARM with a 40-year term that we got from our local credit union. I remember just hearing you and Johnathan talk about 40-year mortgages on the show a few weeks ago. In addition to purchasing this new property we also executed a cash-out refinance on our two other properties because they had appreciated considerably. We were able to pull out $93,000 that we’re planning on deploying into some additional deals in the near future. Throughout this process my wife and I have never made more than $55,000/year salary. We now make $1,800/month cash flow from our two non-owner-occupied rentals, and we’ve eliminated our housing expense by continuing to house hack. This has allowed my wife to give notice at work so she can stay home with our son that we are expecting in late September. Your show has provided us with significant inspiration to challenge the status quo and design our life, rather than live in “default mode”. Thanks again!”

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