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June 11, 2024: Investing Two-Step, Are You in a Money Market?, Netflix Secret Codes plus Community Wins

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.

Investing is a Two-Step Process

As discussed with Tori Dunlap on Episode 494, one of the biggest errors we see people make is when they contribute to their retirement account or move money to their taxable brokerage account and stop there thinking that money is “invested” because it’s in their account at Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, etc.

So many people just have the money sit there idle (for years or decades) because they didn’t take the next step and actually purchase investments like an ETF or mutual fund.

[Before some sticklers respond saying “but you can do it in one step!” and make the purchase so the cash goes directly into your investment of an ETF or mutual fund: Yes, some of us do that in one step, but most people don’t unfortunately.]

Action step: Review all your accounts and see if you have any cash sitting around that you actually intended to be invested in the market and initiate that transaction to get it working for you!

I actually found I had a few thousand dollars sitting in one of my Vanguard accounts and I promptly made a purchase of VTI to get it invested ASAP.


Are You Actually Invested in a Money Market Fund?

To go along with the two-step process, here’s another investing tip from Cody Garrett that he posted on Twitter:

“A mutual fund ticker is 5 letters long and ends with an X.

A money market fund ends in two Xs.

Examples: SPAXX at Fidelity, VMFXX at Vanguard

Many investors don’t realize they aren’t fully invested in the market because they appear like their other mutual funds.

Verify yours!”

[Note: Wikipedia defines a money market fund as, “an open-end mutual fund that invests in short-term debt securities such as US Treasury bills and commercial paper. Money market funds are managed with the goal of maintaining a highly stable asset value through liquid investments, while paying income to investors in the form of dividends.”

TLDR is that you are not invested in equities when your money is in a money market fund. This is an entirely different type of fund!]


Secret Codes to Find Movies on Netflix

While I love the Netflix algorithm and its suggestions, my biggest frustration with Netflix is the inability to actually find many of the thousands of movies they have buried on their streaming service.

I found this incredible post from the Learn Something account that lists ‘Netflix Secret codes’ to help you navigate to dozens of categories of movies you otherwise would never see:

“To search Netfix’s hidden categories, simply replace the XXX with the subgenres’ corresponding numerical code at the end of this url:

​www.netflix.com/browse/genre/xxx​

Here are some examples you can use to test this (log into your Netflix account on your browser first):

  • Biographical Documentaries: 3652
  • Action thrillers: 43048
  • Sports Comedies: 5286

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

Over the past year my previously great job became toxic and I got burned out. When my boss made it clear he would not support me in any meaningful way, I did what only someone on the path to FI can do; I used the power of F-U money and quit. Just like that.

Before discovering the FI movement I would never have had the mindset that this was an option, even if I had had the money. Now, after following the FI path for four years, I’m Coast FI, I have low structural expenses (mortgage free!) after doing geoarbitrage, and have enough F-U money to last me for years, if that’s what is needed to completely recover from the burn-out.

It is true – you don’t have to be fully FI to be free.

– Hanna

Maybe more than 1% but here are some improvements I’ve made recently: Zero debt, net worth tracking, expense tracking, credit card rewards (booked a 2 week trip to Italy for less than $1000), and fired my broker. Also, my employer recently agreed to max out my PTO (30 days) as well as allowing me to work remotely for up to a week at a time to travel and visit my kids in college. We plan to be FI in 3 years by the time the kids are out of college!

– Alan

I finally sat down to look more detail into our 529 college savings accounts. For the last couple of years, I have been disappointed with how much we have invested and the small gains over the lifetime of our contributions. Armed with the knowledge about investing from the Choose FI community, I was shocked to see I was paying 0.3% in fees for the Grad Year Target Date Fund (set it and forget it) and how sub-optimal it has performed.

With college 6 & 9 years away, it was time to get my investments growing more optimally and with fewer fees! Now I am invested in the Total Stock Market Fund Index and a Moderate Risk Growth (with a fee of 0.03) – much better! Many thanks to the Choose FI podcast and FB Community.

– Anna

My 1% better (well, actually I have to thank my wife) is that she got a couple of additional quotes for tree services. I got a quote from a guy that I’ve used for $1850 and I thought that this was a good deal as I negotiated with him a little bit (he wanted to charge 2k). Also, we’ve had lots of trees removed from our property over the years and I felt I had a fair idea of what it should cost.

Okay, my wife asked if she could call a couple of additional places and after checking out their reviews she got a company to do everything AND take down a large tree for $100 dollars less. Comparing apples to apples though (not including the removal of the tree), the cost of the company my wife found was $850 less and they did a great job!! Now, I know that tree services are something that one can and should shop around for…I was just being a little lazy.

– Kevin

My 1% better this week was being able to cover two unexpected health bills that came out to about $3500 after insurance without blinking an eye due to my emergency fund and high savings rate. Even better was being able to put these expenses on my new credit card – just a few hundred dollars to go until I hit the minimum spend to earn the bonus points!

– Marissa

My 1% better was buying the London Pass when visiting London. The 10-day pass cost just over $200 per person. The pass allows you to visit any number of attractions on their list for no extra cost. We already planned on visiting many of the sites on the pass and those alone cost $225 on their own.

Knowing this, we knew that pretty much anything else we used on the London Pass was essentially a free extra attraction. In total, we got $475 of value per person for the cost of just over $200. We got some amazing additional experiences that we never would have known about or wouldn’t have been willing to pay for. A huge win! Go City also offers similar passes for other cities all over the world.

– Brandon

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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. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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