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November 1, 2022: Check Engine Light, PMI Removal Hack, AMA Episodes

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.

Check Engine Light DIY Fix

The FI Designer from wrote in with some important info:

“In Episode 402, Vivian said that her car had an engine replacement and an ongoing engine warning light was adding stress to her life. I wanted to share some advice that may help Vivian and the greater FI community.

You may feel powerless when your vehicle’s engine warning light comes on, but there are steps you can take to lessen the dread by purchasing/borrowing an On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) reader.

An OBD reader will tell you what the error code is and how severe it is. Some readers even give you links for purchasing the replacement part on Amazon which is valuable in estimating the repair cost. The OBD reader will also give you the ability to reset the error code to turn off the warning light, but the light will come on again if the issue persists.

This is a case where knowledge is power. My post, the ‘Financial Benefits Of Being Handy’ discusses the OBD reader in greater detail.

They are remarkably inexpensive, starting at around $30 on Amazon. I chose the BlueDriver Scan Tool at around $120 because it had slightly more advanced functions, and would provide approximate repair costs based on the error code as well as Amazon links to replacement parts within the BlueDriver app.

If you do not wish to purchase your own OBDII reader most auto parts stores will scan your codes for you at no cost if your vehicle’s check engine light is still on.”

Another PMI Removal Hack

Two weeks ago, I wrote a section about getting rid of PMI on your mortgage payment and included this helpful article from the CFPB with a range of options and items to know.

Carly wrote back:

“I saw this week’s email about PMI and wanted to share my thoughts as I JUST went through this the last couple weeks.

I heard on the podcast previously about removing PMI and looked into it. My mortgage company allowed people to bring up PMI after consistent payments for 2 years after the mortgage was made official. At the two-year mark, I found the necessary steps and followed them.

I sent in a letter requesting removal of PMI using a template I found online. I followed up with phone calls to the bank. Something that I thought would help other people is to know that I was given the option to do an appraisal OR do a BPO (Brokerage/Broker’s Price Opinion).

This dropped the price from ~$850 for an appraisal down to $150 for the BPO. It saved us a ton of money and still yielded the same report the mortgage company needed to make a finding.

Hoping this helps someone as it was successful for us. It will take us less than 3 months to recoup the cost of the BPO (with our PMI payments being gone) and I got rid of PMI 5.5 years early. BIG win.”

Ask Me Anything Episodes

I always want to crowdsource the ChooseFI podcast as much as possible, and the next iteration of this is through a series of ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) episodes.

These AMA questions can run the gamut of anything you have a question about in the FI World (and we’re even going to have an episode where a friend interviews me, so these questions can be about something personal you always wanted to ask about me or my FI journey!).

As always there are a few easy ways to get in touch with me and give your input for future episodes:

  • Hit ‘reply’ to any of these FI Weekly emails
  • Send a voicemail in (these can be up to 5 minutes long and we do edit them, so it doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • Send an email to [email protected]. Using the subject line “AMA” will make it easy for me to organize.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Travis said, “My 1% better this week was to realize I had enough “freedom unlimited” money to quit my high stress job in public safety and take on a new job, still doing what I love, but with much less stress for just a modest decrease in salary. My wife and I are 35, with no debt, a paid off mortgage, living on a multi-generational homestead, and enough money saved that we’ll be FI by 55 if we just let our current savings grow and focus on covering our expenses with low stress jobs we enjoy. The ChooseFI podcast has helped us fully optimize our travel rewards, eliminate expenses, and embrace the FI lifestyle!”
  • Lee Ann said, “I am taking action on a new career path. After a tough year with my current company that hasn’t paid any quarterly bonuses since October of last year, they told me they could not offer a merit or cost of living raise this year. I was shocked. I spent a day being angry and then a lightbulb went off in my head and I remembered your pandemic layoff episode about Salesforce. I pulled up Episode 297 and listened to it again and then immediately signed up for the talent stacker 5 day challenge and trailhead. I’m now Adventurer rank and ready to try my first super badge this weekend. I cannot wait to start my new career as a Salesforce professional, I can finally see a realistic path to financial independence. Thank you!”
  • Tracie said, “My 1% better is I maxed out my I Bonds for the year! I set four core financial goals for 2022 – max out my Roth IRA, Roth 401k, I Bonds, and hit $100k net worth! I have now completed 2/4, which means I am halfway there with 2 months left!! I never would have dreamed this was possible 2 years ago.”
  • Mike said, “I found out today that my library has a free walk in or appointment notary service. I don’t think you can close a house there, but if you need to get one or two things done, they are happy to help. I wonder how many other libraries have this service?”
  • Harrison said, “I would like to share my 1% better this week with you and others if you choose. I recently got the Southwest Companion Pass which saves my fiancé and I a lot of money. We like to travel a lot and have family that live across the country so find ourselves flying together a lot. On a recent trip home after visiting family, our Southwest flight was delayed an hour and a half which resulted in us getting home a lot later than planned. Just before this had happened, I read about reaching out to customer service about delayed flights. I ended up emailing Southwest costumer service sharing our experience and they ended up giving us two $100 flight vouchers. With the original flight being booked via points, we essentially made money!”
  • Patrick said, “My 1% win is probably more just realizing how far I’ve come, I went back over all the changes I’ve made in the last year and between Home, Car and Life insurance, Cell phones, and bank fees alone, we have reduced spending on these from about $6,500/year to about $3,000/year, which just really shows how much opportunity there is with minor changes.  When reviewing the renewal documents on home & life insurance there was essentially an extra monthly payment to pay monthly vs annual, or 8-10% extra charge for this “service” and the flexibility that a net worth and Emergency Fund provide saved us a lot.”

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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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