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FI Weekly – November 23, 2021


10 Things I’m Thankful for in 2021

I thought it would be fun during Thanksgiving week to highlight some things I am thankful for.  Practicing gratitude is one of the keys to happiness, so I wanted to take this chance to share ’10 Things I’m Thankful For’ with you:

1.     My daughters’ amazing teachers and coaches: We are so appreciative of what these teachers and coaches do for our girls on a daily basis. Teachers and coaches work hard every day to ensure our kids have a happy place to learn, grow and thrive and this year with all the additional challenges, it’s especially important to thank them.


2.     Low-cost Index Funds: With the click of a button, and for almost zero fees, I get to become a partial owner of 3,000+ companies.  This would be almost impossible to do without the index fund revolution.


3.     Automated bill-pay: Not sitting down every month to write a bunch of checks, making sure I have stamps, and not missing any deadlines.  This frees up so much mental space.


4.     My incredible wife and kids: Words can’t do justice to how thankful for and lucky I am to have these three ladies in my life. They bring me true joy.


5.     Our new propane patio heater: Laura and I really enjoy having happy hour outside every day but that’s increasingly hard to do in the winter. Yesterday was our first happy hour with our newly purchased outdoor heater, and we were almost giddy with joy over being outside, yet warm and cozy.


6.     College basketball season has started: While we have lost interest in most sports, college basketball is the one we keep coming back to.  We follow several of our local teams, including my alma mater, the University of Richmond, and our family truly enjoys the March Madness tournament every year.


7.     Our gym community: We feel lucky to be a part of the West End Crossfit community here in Richmond, surrounded by friends at different points in their fitness journey just striving to be healthy and get better each day.  And, you won’t find better coaches anywhere.


8.     Bacon: no explanation necessary.  Also, equally thankful for roasted brussels sprouts (and Laura’s cooking of course!)


9.     Books & newspapers: I love to read. From nonfiction to self-improvement to science fiction and fantasy novels, and throw in the New York Times, Washington Post and our local Richmond paper and I’m a happy camper. Anytime I’m reading, I’m learning something new about the world.


10.  All of you: I am SO incredibly thankful for the ChooseFI community. Hearing your wins each week, year after year brings me so much joy.  It is beyond inspirational to see you taking action to make your life better, and it’s still hard to believe that somehow, I have a small part to play in that improvement.

Must-Listen Podcast Episode

Our friends Mindy and Scott over at the BiggerPockets Money podcast published a must-listen episode yesterday and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Check out their Episode 251: Is College Worth the Cost? This 30,000 Variable Study Says “Sometimes…”

I was blown away by the methodology behind the guest Preston Cooper’s research into ROI on specific colleges and college majors at thousands of schools.

As they wrote in the show notes, the episode ultimately tries to answer, “Is college worth it? For the first time in history, we may have a definitive answer to whether or not your specific degree and school choice provides a positive ROI. We know that ROI isn’t the only thing that matters when choosing a degree, but when looking at higher education through a financial independence lens, it’s definitely the highest value.”

Then head to Cooper’s website where his team provides (for free) their incredibly detailed research: “We Calculated Return On Investment For 30,000 Bachelor’s Degrees. Find Yours.”

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Aaron said, “My 1% for the week is almost 20% better! Through a combination of interviewing externally as well as being open with my current employer about my wants/needs, I was able to secure a ~20% pay increase as part of a retention offer to stay at my current job! Since this will also be the first year I’ve maxed out my 401k, I’ll be able to put the “extra” directly into other investments. Thank you and this community for the continued inspiration and encouragement!”
  • Jennifer said, “My contribution to the FIRE cause this week was about paying it forward. I shared your concepts with someone from a younger generation. He couldn’t help but notice how happy & relaxed I was as I enjoyed my morning coffee. I explained that the FIRE movement is, without question, a contributing factor. I told him to visit your site. Then offered to meet up next month so he can pick my brain a little bit more about it/share his 1% better accomplishment.”
  • Tanner said, “I reached out to an insurance broker about getting myself some life insurance to protect my wife and kiddos. I plan on laddering my policies so that the coverage drops off as our nest egg increases, perfect for those pursuing FI! There’s a particular company, Banner Life, that lets you ladder within a single policy, which should save us around $100 a year by avoiding excess policy fees on multiple individual policies. I then did a deep dive on the best value diapers for our newest family member. Pro tip, it’s the store brand Walmart or Target diapers.”
  • Brandi said, “This was the most life changing year. I discovered this podcast which helped me figure out what I truly valued in life. We sold our house, paid off debts, and started investing! We are planning a gap year/mini retirement since we aren’t ready to retire yet but need a break. Thanks for the inspiration and knowledge!”
  • Paul said, “My 1% better occurred when I took my car in to have my free tire rotation done. While sitting in the lobby I watched a woman buy new tires for her car. She told the fellow at the counter that she could only afford 3 tires. I then watched her pull money out of her purse, which wasn’t enough so she dug down in her purse to scrape up enough coins to make the final purchase. After she sat down, I anonymously gave the salesman at the counter a note, along with my credit card, saying I would like to buy the fourth tire for her. We were able to do this without her knowing about it. I left with my tires rotated and a few more points on my card. It would have been fun to see her reaction, but I’m sure she was happy for the help. There is a lot of joy in being able to help others when you have been wise with your assets.”
  • Amber said, “I read your email almost every week and enjoy all the tidbits that it’s filled with. I just wanted to share, what feels like my huge steps in the right direction towards financial independence! Last week I increased my TSP contribution to 18%. This week, I officially opened a vanguard account. I moved $5k over from my savings to invest and then set up automatic contributions. Now every time I receive a paycheck 10% of it will automatically get invested! Thank you for such an informative and inspiring podcast! Keep up the great work!”

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