ChooseFI Logo

March 26, 2024: Power of Compounding, Travel Rewards Search Tools, Grayscale Mode 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.

Grasping the Power of Compounding

I came across this amazing quote that highlights the power of compounding, but also the somewhat odd nature of compounding where it seems glacially slow at the beginning and picks up such steam towards the end of your life (or the compounding period) that is seems impossible to believe:

“In the initial years…compounding tests your patience and in later years, your bewilderment.”

– Anshul Khare

Travel Rewards Search Tools

One of the biggest changes in the travel rewards world the past few years has been the number of award search tool websites created to help you find airline frequent flyer availability.

I found the article ‘Which award search tool is best?’ on The Frequent Miler site which does a great job listing and comparing these award search tools.

I’ve personally used both and recently to search for availability for potential trips to Japan and Bali, and while neither tool is perfect, they are a massive help over the standard laborious hunting process at individual airline websites.

I think this info will be valuable for anyone with points and miles!

Note: American Express just partnered with to offer a FREE “ for Membership Rewards® points” where you get free access to search for Membership Rewards® transfer partners through Here’s the page to login to get free access.

Grayscale Mode: Spend Less Time on Your Phone

Reid wrote in with a great update on how to enable grayscale mode to spend less time on your phone:

“In this week’s Hot Seat episode (477), you and Ginger discussed enabling grayscale mode as a deterrent to spending too much time on your smartphone. You mentioned not knowing how to do this on your Android phone, so I thought I’d mention that there are a couple of ways:

· Enable Bedtime Mode (under Digital Wellbeing) , which automatically turns your phone to grayscale at a certain time in the evening when you want to be reminded to got to sleep. I actually use this and think it works pretty well.

· To turn grayscale mode all the time, go to Settings → Accessibility → Color & Motion → Color Correction → Grayscale. This turns grayscale mode on all the time and gives you the option to add a shortcut to quickly toggle it off (which, to my mind, defeats the purpose).

I’ve tried the grayscale-all-the-time option and I didn’t have as much success as Ginger did; it didn’t really reduce the time I spent on my phone (the digital wellbeing numbers bear this out), and I was constantly disabling it whenever I wanted to use the camera or show something to a friend. I’ll be curious to hear if it goes better for you.

[Brad note: Here’s an article I found on how to do this on iPhone]

For me, the most successful strategy I’ve used has been doing an annual Digital Declutter, as described by Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism. I’m not sure if this is really a viable option for a podcast host with a social media presence, but if you think you can pull it off, it’s what I’d recommend trying.”

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

“My 1% is setting up a get together for our local Choose FI group. There hadn’t been many recent meetups and I had an itch to connect with the FI community. We had 16 people at the meetup which I thought was great. Before the meetup, one of the Admins who is moving out of state asked if I wanted to become an Admin.

I accepted and now am trying to get even more involved in the group. I am planning meetups once a month and we’ve even got some interest in trying to do case studies. I’m excited for the new project and looking forward to connecting with more like minded people. The power of community!”

– Stephen

My 1% better was finally automating as much of my finances as possible. Now, I have brokerage contributions coming directly out of my account every paycheck, and automatic transfers to my bank accounts for budgeting purposes. This is my third year maxing out my Roth IRA contribution.

This year, I received an 8% market raise. I was contributing 10% to my 401(k), but after finally sitting down and line-item budgeting. I realized I could actually max out my 401k contribution this year and increased to 20%! I realized I had a 60%+ savings rate (excluding my work retirement contributions).

The ChooseFI community and podcast has been amazing. I’m in my second year as a professional, and at 29 years old I’m so glad I found ChooseFI when I did. The ChooseFI newsletter is my favorite email of the week, I am so inspired every time – thank you!

– Natasha

I have been listening to your podcast religiously since 2019 when I decided to quit my job as a registered nurse and become a stay at home homeschool mom. I truly cannot express to you how much the podcast has changed my life.

Since listening to ChooseFI I have taken action on so many things, the biggest of which was “firing” my very expensive financial advisor in 2020 who was managing a sum of money that I inherited from my father who passed away in 2014. We moved our assets to Vanguard at the podcast’s advice but not having the full confidence yet to manage our money on my own, we choose to continue with Vanguard’s personal advisor services. The fees were way lower, but I still wasn’t happy paying someone else to manage things.

However, this past year after listening for so long I took one more leap and began managing our finances completely on my own and I can’t believe the growth our portfolio is seeing now. I truly believe that the podcast has given me the knowledge and confidence I need to do this on my own so I want to say thank you.

– Kelly

I just wanted to share a few wins this week. First, after a few months of waiting, I have my official retirement orders from the Army for 1 Oct. My time has been great and we’ve been able to travel the world. I did the math to fight the one more year problem and every month extra I work increases my pension by $25.

My oldest daughter graduates from High School in June and I’ll be able to take my final vacation days from July through September so I can focus on moving from Germany to Connecticut, moving her to college and enrolling my other two kids in middle school and high school. I can take my time to find the right opportunity and I don’t need to rush into just finding something to pay the bills.

My final win is that I just booked a 7 day Mediterranean cruise for this summer as a graduation present for my daughter and retirement gift to myself. Using my rewards points, I was able to pay for one cabin completely and saved about 60% overall.

– George

I’m planning to quit my full-time job at the end of May!! I’ve been in tech my entire career and have been working towards FI for around 10 years (I am 40). With the amazing information I’ve gotten from this podcast, I’ve relocated from a high cost of living area (DC) to a low cost of living area, have been able to come back from losing half my savings in a divorce, and am now just shy of my FI number.

I’ve had a side-gig teaching at the local university for a few years and will be able to coast on that salary, working a fraction of the time, and doing something incredibly fulfilling and far less stressful. I’m not sure whether I’ll end up taking a mini-retirement or a real retirement from full-time work, but I’m excited to find out.

My new husband and I plan to spend a month in Europe this June (booked with credit card points!) and another one abroad over Christmas with our kids. I’m excited to dabble in a few new things and travel without worrying about taking time off.

– Amber

I was just offered a new position with an almost 50% increase in salary (and really good career growth potential)! I’m very excited to put this money to work paying off some debt and setting my family on the path to FI. Bonus: I will be doing a decent amount of travel, and am able to use my own credit cards to purchase flights and hotels so I am excited to also maximize the use of those cards for some airline and hotel points!

– Jonathan

[Dated content has been omitted from the archive.]
Subscribe to Brad's FI Weekly Newsletter

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.
More To Explore