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FI Weekly – November 28, 2023: Travel Rewards Sweet Spots, Websites for Readers, 2nd Gen FI and 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.

Travel Rewards Sweet Spot Examples

Travel Rewards is one of our “Pillars of FI” as we think it is an easy way to take 1-2 nearly free vacations each year by using your smart credit card habits and opening targeted credit cards (here’s my Top 10 List that I keep constantly updated).

Earning the points is the easy part for most people, but most do not feel confident they are redeeming them for the best value.

I wanted to highlight some “sweet spot redemption” articles I found recently on two of my favorite rewards programs:

  • Avios miles (currency of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Qatar) are redeemed on a distance-based award chart, which leads to a massive potential for points savings, especially for those of us in the US flying on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.  But it doesn’t stop there, as this “The Best Avios Sweet Spots” article from The Points Guy highlights with flights to Hawaii, island hopping in the Caribbean, business class to Spain, etc.  This is my favorite program for getting massive value from your points, so this is info you need to know!
  • United Miles: Our friends over at the Award Wallet blog wrote an article on “Sweet Spots with United Airlines MileagePlus Awards.”  The ‘Excursionist Perk’ (free flight!) is one of my favorites, plus I learned about some amazing intra-Japan flights from 5,500 miles and intra-Africa flights from 8k miles.

Get Started: If you still haven’t gotten started with travel rewards, go back and listen to Episode 9 of ChooseFI, our original podcast episode on travel rewards.  I just listened to it and the episode is still amazingly relevant 6+ years later!

(Important Note: Always check the current annual fee and bonus when you sign up for a credit card, especially when listening to/reading content from the past)

Websites Every Reader Should Know About

If you’ve been a member of the ChooseFI community for any length of time you know I’m a massive reader and we consider the library one of the best life hacks in existence.

I follow ‘Alex & Books’ on Twitter and this thread in particular on ’10 Awesome Websites Every Reader Should Know About’ was particularly valuable.

Since Twitter makes it impossible for people who aren’t signed up to read a thread, here are the sites Alex highlighted (descriptions are his):

  • 1 Min 1 Book: “They share 1-minute video book summaries to help readers quickly sample books before buying them.”
  •  Most Recommended Books: “This site has book recommendations from 600+ successful people.”
  • Libby: “Libby lets you read ebooks and audiobooks from your local public library for free.”
  • Librarian AI: “Use AI to easily discover your next amazing book.”
  • The Rabbit Hole: “One of the original book summary bloggers, he’s written 700+ book summaries.”
  • LibriVox: “A database with 15,000+ free audiobooks.”
  • Open Library: “The library of the internet. Anyone with an internet connection can browse, borrow, and read a book”
  • Project Gutenberg: “Has 60,000+ ebooks for free which are 100% legal to download.”
  • PDF Books World: “Access PDF versions of all the classics you’ve always wanted to read.”
  • Goodreads: “Social media for bookworms…Find new recs, set yearly reading goals, see what your friends are reading, and more.”

Second Generation FI: Understanding the Stock Market

“My 1% better will hopefully be more like 100% better for my children. Money was never really discussed growing up in my parents’ house. There always seemed to be a mentality of just save as much as possible in a savings account or maybe a CD if you got fancy. Investing in the stock market was only for the foolish or the rich. I want my children to have a better understanding and after reading “Why Does the Stock Market Go Up?” by Brian Feroldi I knew that they would be ahead of over 90% of adults if they could learn some of the key concepts. They are 14 & 16 and money motivated so I offered them $50 plus a $20 bonus question if they would read most of the book and fill out this worksheet I created. Mission accomplished!!

Ben”


ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • ·         Anna said, “My 1%: I invested my first $3000 into VTSAX. I’m 21 years old, and very grateful that I’ve learned about FIRE/FI this early on in my life.
  • ·         Michael said, “What made my life 1% better this week was getting a notification that my Social Security Number was found on the dark web from a cyberattack at my old university as they still had my data lying around. I had heard about freezing my credit as a norm from podcasts like yours, so I finally took the time to freeze my credit with all three credit bureaus. It was incredibly easy and liberating – I feel like I am 1% safer against things like identity theft. Additionally, I created a “mySocial Security” account to claim my SSN, hopefully deterring other accounts being made with my number.
  • ·         Roberto said, “I’m a long time listener and fan of your show and use it as motivation to stay on track with my personal finance goals. One of those goals (that I wrote down back when I graduated from college) was to become a millionaire by 30. With yesterday’s big market rally, my wife and I just surpassed that goal and hit $1.01M net worth before turning 30! I realize that we have a long time horizon and that the market will fluctuate and that $1M doesn’t really change anything for us or our plans, BUT it is nice to cross it off the list and see two commas and get a benchmark that we’re heading in the right direction. Thanks for all that you do for the community.
  • ·         Ben said, “My 1% is simplifying my budget so it won’t take as much time. I use YNAB, which has envelope categories for the budget and reports. It had grown to about 40 categories, so pretty much every transaction had to be split between categories, taking up extra time. So I used the “fresh start” option to archive my existing data and make a new copy of the budget, then started merging similar categories until I only had 15. Now a trip to the grocery store will usually be just one category, so the auto-assign feature will work better. I have less detailed data now, but given how rarely I look at spending reports, the time saved is worth it. Plus, the data will be more accurate since I’ll make fewer mistakes!
  • ·         Annie said, “I’m pregnant and have been noticing I’m starting to need bigger clothes. Maternity clothes are ridiculously expensive, even when they are on sale right now. It pains me to buy these for such a short period. I did some Google searching and a lot of women suggested you don’t need maternity clothes, just larger sizes. I went to Goodwill and bought 6 larger shirts for $40. The tops I was looking at were around $15-20 each. Major cash savings!·         Jacob said, “My 1% better was a series of actions over the last few months that led to a pay raise. I listened to the episode about asking for a pay increase a few months ago. Since then, I’ve engaged in conversations with my boss about opportunities to contribute more to our team and receive added responsibilities. This lead up to an opportunity to ask for a raise. Today, my increase in pay was finalized and approved! My salary is increasing on January 1, 2024 by 28% and when considering a bonus my total compensation is increasing nearly 35% from simply asking. The worst that could’ve happened was receiving a no, but I’m so grateful I took action. It will be a blessing to my family as we continue our journey to FI.

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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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