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FI Weekly – March 29, 2022: What is a Stock?, Cash Back Credit Cards, AA Miles Expiration

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. Disclosures.

What is a Share of Stock?

Brian Feroldi’s book, “Why Does the Stock Market Go Up?” releases next week and while recording our episode with him, I brought up a sentiment I’ve heard distressingly often in the FI Community:

“I just don’t believe in investing in the stock market. It all seems like gambling.”

My response is usually something like this:

Owning a share of stock means you are a part owner of that company.

A company like Ford broke ownership of their company into 4 billion little pieces, each piece represented as one share of their stock.

If you don’t ‘believe’ in stock market investing at all, that means there is literally no publicly traded company in the United States that you want to be an owner of.

That’s impossible.

So, let’s be clear, investing in the stock market isn’t gambling and it isn’t some nebulous unknown.  You are buying small ownership stakes in companies.

In the case of a total stock market index fund, you are buying an ownership stake in over 4,000 companies.

This is not gambling, it’s investing.

Maximizing Cash Back Credit Cards

If maximizing cash back on your credit cards is more your thing than travel rewards, I finally have a top-class resource to help you:

My friend Zac Hood, who is a member of the FI Community and the founder of ‘Travel Freely,’ recently created a site & app called ‘CashFreely’ to help you maximize cash back credit card rewards.

CashFreely was already mentioned prominently by Forbes and I personally beta tested the software. 

My takeaway:

It’s the best way I’ve found to learn how to maximize your cash back potential without getting bogged down in needless complexity or excruciating detail.

They give you step-by-step directions on how to implement the strategy for both signup bonuses and ongoing category spending bonuses (think gas, groceries, restaurants, etc.).

Here are the links to sign up, and be sure to hit reply to any of the emails you get from Zac with things you’d like to see added as they continue building out the platform:

Extending American Airlines Miles Expiration

We do have a lot of travel rewards enthusiasts in our community and this is important:

As of April 1st, American Airlines miles start expiring again. So, take a moment and log into your account summary at and you’ll see your mileage balance with some small writing underneath that says, “Miles expire on…”

For Laura this was April 11th, which we would have missed entirely (and lost all her miles!) had I not seen this article at The Points Guy’s site detailing the expiration and ways to extend your mileage.

The most appealing option was to make a $25+ donation to Stand up to Cancer and this will get Laura 250 miles which will extend the mileage expiration date. 

Since those miles might not hit the account before 4/11, I also booked the cheapest award flight I could find, which cost 6,000 AA miles and $5.60 for the one-way flight. 

I booked this many months out, so I know we could cancel it and get the miles credited back once I saw the mileage from the donation hit her AA account.  But this extended the expiration 18 months for the time being.

I already put “check Laura’s AA donation miles and cancel award flight” into ToDoIst for the end of April so I don’t forget.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Carolyn said, “My 1% better was finally getting motivated to take advantage of travel rewards after listening to episode 353 “Families Fly Free.” I almost exclusively fly Southwest, so I had my husband open a Chase Southwest personal card & business card in late December, and he’s already hit the minimum spend on both! So not only did we earn 126,000 Southwest points to book flights with (which, *after* factoring in the annual fees, equates to about $1,500 in flight credits!), but we also earned a Companion Pass for the first time ever! I often travel without my husband, and I can even book flights for myself using points on his account. Incredible! Thank you so much for that episode!!!”
  • Raz said, “My 1% was applying for SCRA coverage on one of my credit cards and receiving a refund for the AMEX annual fee reimbursement.” (Brad note: Amex waives annual fees for active duty military members. More info on this article on our site.)
  • Rakesh said, “My 1% better: In my 15+ years IT job career, I switched jobs only once. I was always the one with good faith with the employer, waiting for one day to be rewarded. I was also very selective about choosing an employer because I never wanted a job which demanded more than 40 hours per week or need to have travel. Starting Jan 2022, I decided this needs to change and make a goal to switch jobs this year. I forwarded my resume to few ex-colleagues. They were happy to refer me. I had to put a number on the application for desired salary. I gave a number 35% above my current compensation after doing some research on Glassdoor and other websites. I even asked on Twitter where Brad saw my post and referred 2 great episodes on salary negotiation: episode 147 and 211. I would recommend everyone listen to those two. Finally, I had the negotiation with HR. Without negotiating they offered me $5K above. After few minutes of running through it, I got $12k above what I asked for. My total compensation was 50% more than what I am getting now. Never thought it was possible. It just accelerated my journey to FI.”
  • Christine said, “This past week I sold my extra car. It was a convertible fun car I had held on to for 16 years but with working remotely it was rarely used. With the car market the way it is, I was able to get 22% of the original purchase price and with the reduction in car insurance, registration and maintenance, I’ll be saving $850 per year. Plus when I updated my car insurance, I took advantage of a discount for auto payment.”
  • Lily said, “My 1% better is learning to balance between enjoying the now and keeping a high savings rate. I’m booking my first international trip and hoping to have many more in the future!”
  • Gretchen said, “We’ve got so many 1% betters, but the one I’m most proud of is truly simple. My husband has a c-pap, like many people, and it requires distilled water. We’d been buying it in 1 gallon jugs for YEARS at about $2.50 a jug, but the supply chain crises finally fell in our favor when we couldn’t find any at the various stores. The shelves were empty. We ordered from Amazon (6 jugs for $35 dollars!!) and that order was canceled due to lack of stock. At that time, my husband saw a contraption on Amazon for $100 dollars that would allow him to make his own distilled water!! He ordered it and within just a few months, it’s paid for itself. Now we’re saving money, we don’t have to worry about the supply chain, we’re not contributing to the miles driven to ship water, and we’re reducing our plastic consumption!! Win win win win all around!!”

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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. Disclosures.
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