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March 12, 2024: Buffett’s Letter, Advice-Only Advisors, 61 Life Lessons

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.

Warren Buffett’s Latest Shareholder Letter

One of my favorite annual activities is running to my computer at 8am ET on the last Saturday in February to download Warren Buffett’s latest Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter.

If you’re looking for an incredible amount of financial and life wisdom in a short time, check out this page with links to all the letters going back to 1977.

His 2013 advice is worth pointing out each year to those of us pursuing FI:

“My advice to the trustee [Brad note: trustee of his estate] could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.”

2023’s letter was just posted and, as always, it’s a quality read from Mr. Buffett. I’ll be attending the Berkshire annual meeting this May in Omaha, and it’ll be bittersweet to not see Charlie Munger up there on the stage.

Advice-Only Financial Advisors

Problem: You’re a DIY investor with specific questions about your financial life, but don’t know how to hire a financial expert to just ask your questions for fear of it turning into a much larger and more expensive relationship.

A new platform called Nectarine just launched that was co-founded by Jeremy Schneider from the Personal Finance Club Instagram account (600k+ followers and some of the best personal finance graphics on the internet) and it solves that problem.

For only $150 per hour through Nectarine, you can hire a CFP and ask anything you’ve ever wanted to ask about your financial life. If you need more time, it’s the same $150 per hour for future calls.

Jeremy and the team have no clue I’m mentioning this here nor do I have any financial relationship with them whatsoever – it’s simply the answer I’ve been looking for when people ask me where to turn for advice from a true expert.

They just launched but I’ve already sent family members and FI community members there and the early feedback seems positive.

61 Life Lessons I Wish I Knew

I saw an incredible post on Twitter from Vala Afshar on “61 life lessons I wish I knew years ago” and these stuck out to me in particular (all direct quotes):

  • lost money can be found; lost time is lost forever
  • you are not your job
  • in the long run, the optimists create the future
  • if the answer is no, do not say maybe or yes
  • do not buy your children what you never had, teach them what you never knew
  • be kind and polite to everyone

I also really liked what Vala had to say in #53 on:

“How luck finds you:”

  • work harder than expected
  • stay teachable
  • give without expecting a get
  • read and write more
  • show up on time
  • focus on your customers
  • develop good manners
  • be humble
  • be kind and generous
  • surround yourself with smarter people

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

“My 1% percent this week is having the option of choice due to all my 1% actions in previous weeks. I found Choose FI in mid-2020 during COVID and shortly after finishing my Ph.D. When I got a job and my first decent salary, the podcast helped me build a plan for saving and investing for the first time. I am nowhere near FI, but in less than 4 years, I have managed to take my net worth from $0 to $130,000 while making between $15,000 and $74,000 annually.

I planned to keep my job and keep saving and investing until I took a mini-retirement in 2026, but the day before the Christmas break I was informed that my hours were being cut although my responsibilities were not. In essence, I was being told to work some hours for free moving forward. It was stressful and unexpected.

Luckily, I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, so the cut hours didn’t affect my quality of life. Knowing I wasn’t desperate for an income also helped me to advocate for myself, and a month later I was able to adjust my responsibilities to align with my work hours. My boss has let me know that she is advocating to switch me back to a full-time position at the start of the next school year (I am an instructor), but I am also applying for other positions and am a finalist for a fellowship that would be my dream next step.

This uncertain time has been stressful, but there is a huge weight taken off my shoulders knowing that I have enough money to leave my position at any point and be ok. I also have a range of credit card points that I have earned over the past two years that could be put to use if I end up taking my mini-retirement early. The freedom of choice is financial independence’s greatest gift.”

– Cassie

“My 1% better was more like a 30% better. The story starts with me getting back from vacation to the surprise from my employer that while I was gone they offered my coworker a promotion effective immediately to move out of a three person department. I was to take over her job with little plan for how to cover my position. In the meeting, I told them what they were expecting was going to require a higher level of compensation. They were non-committal.

I followed up the next day clearly stating the position title I deserved (Quality Manager) and that I needed to be paid in alignment with that title. I continued to follow-up with them stating that I must be offered this new position formally. I was ready to walk out with my “FU” money in hand. To my utter shock, they followed up 10 days after the initial meeting with a management title and a 30% pay increase. I am convinced if I had just did the job without asking for more money and a proper title that they never would have given me a raise. Instead, I am making more money at this company than I’d ever imagined possible.”

– Brandon

“Our 1% win starts back in August 2023, when my wife was expressing to me that she wasn’t fairly compensated for the work she does for her employer. In early 2022 she took a promotion where she had no experience in the role and as such didn’t feel comfortable negotiating her salary.

After a little convincing, she agreed for us to listen to episodes 147 with Tori Dunlap and 211 with the Financial Mechanic and she made reems of notes throughout both.

Using the skills from Tori’s “pep talk” my wife immediately started having the year end review and her pay expectations conversation with her boss.

This week she has had a 13.7% pay rise agreed starting April 1st, along with a one off bonus of 17% of basic salary to be paid in March 2024.

My wife is forever grateful for the information in those two episodes, and I’m forever grateful for all of the work you, Jonathan and the team put in to truly make this the greatest crowd sourced community.”

– Kyle and Melissa

“My 1% better this week was finally meeting with a lawyer to get estate planning documents drawn up. My wife and I knew we needed to update our 23 year old plans but kept on putting it off. Your podcast episode with Amy discussing the importance of estate planning was what it took me get it done.”

– Jim

“My 1% better is after listening to the podcast on social security with Denis Shapiro I did a little digging into what I would be receiving. I had always assumed I would be getting next to nothing ( maybe $500) because I will be receive a pension from a local school district and so not pay into social security. The catch is a I have a side hustle the generates a significant profit and did not realize at the end of the year when I paid taxes on that profit a portion was going into social security.

I contacted Denis and he reviewed all of my documents and confirmed at my current rate I will receive close to 100% of my social security and looks to be north of $4000 a month. I have made some changes to my saving rate to allow for more spending now. Looks like more travel for us!!!”

– Steve

“1% better: I LOVE this section of the newsletter. I have two W’s this past week. First, after reading the newsletter I went ahead and set up a monthly recurring deposit to my Roth IRA for a measly $100. I had been telling myself I needed the buffer and would just contribute once I was sure I had enough later in the year, but in reviewing my finances it is clear that I can afford that $100 per month.

Second, I track all of my expenses in YNAB budgeting software. I had been manually entering transactions for multiple accounts because I couldn’t ever get them to import. Finally, I decided I surely couldn’t be the only one with this problem. I tried another browser and now have five accounts linked. This automation will save me a few minutes every day so I can focus my brain on more rewarding activities.”

– Rob

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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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