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June 18, 2024: Most Buffett Question, ChooseFI Searchable, Small Life Hacks, Stuff to Like 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.

The ‘Most Warren Buffett Question Ever’

In his newsletter, George Mack highlighted a thought experiment Warren Buffett posed that I wanted to highlight here (all directly quoted from Mack’s newsletter):

In 2001, Warren Buffett gave a talk at the University of Georgia.

He asked them the most Warren Buffett question ever:

If you could invest in a friend and get 10% of their income for life — who would you pick?

Once the students answered the question, he then asked this:

• Why would you invest in that person?

• What character traits do they have?

Now they have a list of character traits to adopt.

Shortly after this, Buffett asked:

If you could short a friend’s earnings, who would you pick and why?

Now you have a list of character traits to avoid.


1. Do not think this thought experiment is only about money.

You can use it for whatever currency you value.

E.g. Happiness coin

If you could get 10% of a friend’s happiness, who would you invest in and why?

If you could short someone’s happiness, who would you pick and why?

You can run the same thought experiment with Fitness coin, Friendship coin, Romance coin, etc`

2. This thought experiment is genius because it hacks a bug in life’s video game:

Humans are terrible at self-awareness.

But we are great at spotting things in other people.

E.g. If your friend is in the wrong relationship, you can realize in 10 minutes what may take them 10 years.

3. Nuance – It has to be purely from merit.

Buffett says it can’t be because someone will inherit a large sum from their parents.

It has to be based on their behavior.

ChooseFI Podcast is Now Searchable

I wanted to remind you that all 650+ episodes of ChooseFI are now searchable thanks to the power of artificial intelligence at:

I’ve found this to be a really useful tool for getting quick summarized answers to complex topics or to locate episodes where we had a certain guest on or talked about a specific topic.

Examples of real searches I’ve run are:

Your Smallest Life Hacks

In our never-ending effort to crowdsource an amazing life, I always am looking for your input:

What are some small life hacks you’ve implemented that make a real difference but that others might miss?

Here’s a silly example of something I do that can be a real game-changer in a sticky situation:

I always keep a new piece of dental floss in my wallet, folded up in a small piece of a tissue.

It takes up a tiny amount of space, but in that instance where you really need some floss, it’s huge!

Finding More Stuff to Like

Lauren Wilford posted this quote on Twitter and I thought it so simple, yet incredibly profound:

“big secret to happiness is just liking stuff. finding more stuff to like. finding ways to like stuff you didn’t before. recognizing what it feels like to like something and doubling down on that. what feels frivolous is actually the whole ballgame

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

My 1% better is my grandchildren’s 529 accounts. I live in Texas, but use Ohio’s 529s. What I do is that I have the UPromise and Rakuten browser extensions installed. Both of these are rebate plans for purchases (UPromise is specifically for college savings accounts – Rakuten is for anything). I have UPromise connected to my credit cards, too.

All money earned from these goes into the 529s for my grandchildren. Just this week, I deposited my Rakuten check of $56.28 into one of the 529s. You can invite people to contribute through UPromise, so my best friend with no grandchildren can have the UPromise money go into my grandchildrens’ accounts. It adds up over time!

– Lisa

I accidentally reversed my car into a wall in a small car park last week (doh!) damaging my rear bumper and one of the taillights. Instead of going through my car insurance provider and having inflated insurance premiums for the next four years, or a local garage where I’d have to pay an extortionate cost just for the labour, I purchased the parts on EBay and installed them myself saving myself hundreds (potentially more).

The concept of fixing my own car wouldn’t even have occurred to me before I got started on this journey.

– Matt

My 1% better is a crossfit gym membership fee in exchange for cleaning the floor! It started out as a favour to helps friends and gym owners with an 1.5h of cleaning when they were stressed, overworked and exhausted. I asked if they’d like me to continue in lieu of the rather expensive membership fee. They agreed and I automatically invest that same amount weekly. I enjoy the freedom of the job plus I’m making money!

– Rae

My 1% better would probably be digging a bit into rebuilding a failing retaining wall between my house and my neighbors. Got a few quotes and dug into them (highly debated just doing it myself) but upon receiving the quotes and looking at the estimated hours (about 80-100 total) figured I wouldn’t be able to do this as you’d want the new wall built relatively quick after and two weeks off is… Excessive.

Asked further about this, and they said I could knock off a decent chunk (about 30%) by dismantling it myself (the easy part) and I can do this over several weeks before they come to build. The main thing that costs money on a rebuild is the dismantle, with very little added value, as the main thing I want is a well built wall at the end. Will save about $3,000 on the main Job for a little exercise!

– Patrick

Our 1% better this year so far has been about three things. First, our son is graduating high school this year and will be beginning this fall at a college that we can afford comfortably. We will have enough left after he graduates to pay for a master’s that he hopes to get right after undergrad as well, as long as he chooses a reasonably priced program. Given that the employment opportunities in his field are the same regardless, he’s very happy with where he’s chosen to attend.

Our tenants moved out of our rental property and we are beginning to pay cash for the many repairs that it needs. We’ve been saving in a money market fund for this, although our interest rate was just cut in time for us to use the money. We are taking it one project at a time rather than hiring a general contractor and I expect that will save us a lot of money for the exact same work. That makes sense given the scope of our projects. It’s great to be able to own a paid-off property in our 40s even if this is not our forever home.

My husband also got a new, better, and higher-paying job with much better work-life balance. He started in March and I can’t believe how much happier we all are. He works remotely on most Fridays and two Mondays a month, but even more importantly, he likes this job better. He adjusted his withholding so that he would max out his 401k as fast as possible, so his take-home pay hasn’t risen. He also rolled his old 401k over to Schwab and invested it right away, so now he has more control over that fund. My little IRA is still humming along and I am still doing backdoor Roths every year for as long as I can.

– Kimberly

My 1% better is when my property management company assured me they had someone to do the required backflow testing for $188. (We currently live in Belgium). I called the company that installed my sprinkler system and they did it for $92. The very next day. WIN!

– Sara

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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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