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June 4, 2024: Prepare for an International Trip, Design Your Extraordinary Life 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.

Preparing for an International Trip

I’m getting set to take a trip to Europe — first to Barcelona and then to London to see Taylor Swift. There will of course be an amusement park trip plus we’re doing some fun, wacky things like taking a trapeze class in Kensington Gardens in the middle of London.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years:

  • Cash: I’m bringing my Charles Schwab Bank Investor Checking account debit card which is an ATM card I can use anywhere in the world with zero ATM fees (Schwab reimburses the fees).
  • Credit cards: I’m bringing multiple cards from different banks. All will charge $0 foreign transaction fees and I’ll be sure to pay in the local currency to get the best exchange rate.
  • Cell phone: Mint Mobile offers an international pass that I’ll activate just before I head on my trip that will provide me with all the data I need while we’re away.
  • Documents: I scan copies of all our passports, credit cards and anything else in my wallet then upload them to the cloud. If lost or stolen, having this info will be a huge help!
  • Flights and hotels: It’s old school, but I print out confirmation numbers and addresses just in case I can’t access my phone for whatever reason.
  • Maps: In Google maps you can download offline maps, so I did that for each city.**
  • General: a) check the weather forecast so you have a sense of clothes to pack b) bring a universal adapter so you can charge devices c) check with Priority Pass lounges are available in each of the airports we’re visiting so I know where we can camp out and relax.

Undoubtedly there are things I’m missing on this list, but it’s a good start for some important items you may forget before your next international trip!

[** Here’s how I download offline Google maps on Android: Search for the city name then click on the actual city name (it doesn’t look clickable). Then click the 3 dots menu in the upper right and click ‘Download Offline Map.’ You can then zoom on the area you want for the offline map and click ‘Download.’ I also suggest doing this for your local state/city/area!]


Design Your Extraordinary Life Exercise

If you haven’t listened to Episode 493: Design Your Extraordinary Life with Katie & Alan Donegan yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

It was an incredible live episode from Las Vegas featuring many members of our community, my co-host Ginger and the Donegans.

The ‘9 life areas’ exercise they detail was the centerpiece of our weekend event in Vegas and I want you to complete it as well.

If you need a little guidance, here’s a blog post that Alan & Katie created listing the 9 areas and a specific walkthrough of Alan’s Health and Wellness category.

Ginger also had a brilliant and profound quote in Episode 493 that I wanted to recognize here:

“The antidote here is to recognize that the only time you get to live is in the present. There’s always going to be a now and that’s the only time that you actually get to live your life.”


ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

This could also be a 1% better, but I predict it’s worth more like 10% or more. This is for the people that do not currently travel very often, but still want to take full advantage of credit card rewards points.

For the past few years at the beginning of each month I add up all of my credit card rewards and put them into a taxable account and invest them. Because I use different cards for different categories I earn much more than the typical 1%, roughly 2.5% per month.

The other great thing about this is if you just act like you the rewards don’t exist, it’s like a forced savings (investing). So even if I am not able to put as much cash in my savings account as I would like for the month I still know I will be putting something away.

I think this could also be good for people that are just starting and do not have as much to invest. I have saved and earned thousands of dollars just in the past few years simply by paying bills and making purchases with credit cards. Thought I would share this for the F.I.ers that do not travel that often, but want those sweet sweet rewards.

– Cameron

My 1% better is becoming a 401K Millionaire this week!

When I first started working, my mother told me that when you get a raise, if you immediately put that percentage into your 401K you’ll never miss the money. I did that until I reached the point where I was maxing out my 401K every year.

Now both my husband and I max out our 401Ks, HSA, and when eligible Roth IRAs and are on track to take advantage of the rule of 55 next year and quit our full time jobs! (Even though he wasn’t quite as diligent with his earlier savings and doesn’t have quite as much in his 401K. 😁 )

– Tracey


My 1% better is selling my 13 year old (paid off) car! My husband and I both work from home and when my car needed $1200 in repairs, we decided to sell my car! We now have $2,600 and put it straight into our investments!

– Maggie

I splurged on some experiences. I’ve always been a saver. For an upcoming trip to Europe I was frustrated with myself for waiting too long to book museum tickets (Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam), and they ended up selling out. The kicker was that museum was one of the few things on the trip my wife really wanted to do.

I discovered that I could still book a tour in the museum – at quite a premium (about 5x cost). I decided to go for the tour. We’ll likely never go back to that city, and if we do we probably won’t go back to get museum. I think we’ll get our money’s worth when considering we are getting the full experience of being guided by an expert.

In the same spirit, I ended up booking a tour in another city too (Vatican / Sistine Chapel) without even looking for a cheaper way to do it!

P.S. this is on a trip we are already saving over $27k on by using points for flights + hotels + cruise for 6 people. I can splurge on a couple tours I suppose! LoL

– Jeffrey

Our 1% better this week is actually with our 16-year-old. He is starting his very first job next week and we’ve been having conversations about how to best manage his first paycheck and beyond.

Luckily, he’s been receptive, but I have to share a book that helped us connect with him. We promised he could drive himself to work if he read it.

It’s called “Whatever You Do, Don’t… A Survival Guide for Teens” by Will Crown. It covers a bunch of topics, but one of them is how to manage “first job money”.

Anyway, it really helped him understand how important it is to start off on the right foot with finances and he can’t wait to open his bank accounts.
I can’t say enough about this book, we’ve never seen him so excited to NOT spend money.

– Jarrett

My 1% better this week has been coming off a month in Greece and Türkiye that I’ve combined with a university trip and paid for flights with points. I’ve made some incredible memories, learned about geology in my field, and had a moment of absolute appreciation at the Pantheon in Athens yesterday of how wonderful life can be.

The practical tips and discussions of living a meaningful life on ChooseFI have been a real inspiration. I’ve also been sharing tips for travelling on points and financial advice with my fellow students on the trip.

– Ben

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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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