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October 24, 2023: In Person Meetups, FI Gives us Choices, Preparing for the Cost of College

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The Power of In Person Meetups

I just returned from the FinCon conference full of energy and ideas for how to add value to the ChooseFI Community.  It never ceases to amaze me how much value I get from meeting up with fellow FI enthusiasts and this was no exception.

This is a perfect time to remind you of the 3 most immediate ways to get involved in the community:

  • Join a ChooseFI Local group: we have 300+ groups in cities across the world.  If you’re already part of a group, head to the Facebook page and see if there’s an upcoming meetup event.  If not, take the initiative and suggest one!
  • Attend a Camp FI weekend in 2024.  As of now there are 8 events scheduled all across the US and they are a great opportunity to dive deep and really make connections.

The EconoMe Conference is the biggest FI gathering in the world and I’d love for you to join me in Cincinnati next March.  Diania was nice enough to offer our community 10% off tickets when you use the code ‘choosefi.’

FI Gives Us Choices

I received an amazing email from David that I wanted to paste in its entirety:

“My 1% better could be 100% better. I was recently laid off from my job the week of my 27-year work anniversary while also experiencing a cancer scare. Wait, what? How is that better?

I stumbled across ChooseFI in 2017 after becoming 100% debt-free and looking for options beyond the Ramsey step 7. Choose FI introduced me to the concepts of FIRE including low-cost index fund investing, travel rewards, HSA’s, career pivots, the Rule of 55, and most importantly a mindset of financial freedom. We dug deep into our goals and saved at a high rate during the bull market that was taking place at that time.

This year is also special as it is the 25-year anniversary of when I went through a difficult cancer experience.

So, thanks to our Choose FI journey these last six years we have the most wonderful of all things, choices.

My career pivot of 2020 puts me in a spot to find a job more easily. My long-time investing and understanding of FI gives me confidence that we are financially okay. My knowledge of the rule of 55 gives me a strategy to end full-time work or take a few years to travel. Choices.

Cancer also came back this year and I recently got an all-clear that things are okay.

I cannot express enough how thankful I am for all I have learned thanks to the FI community these last several years. The compounding effect is that we are ready for whatever life will throw at us.”

Episode 460 Recap: Preparing for the Cost of College

Brian Eufinger joined me this week on the podcast for an essential episode for all parents worried about how to prepare for the cost of college.  He stressed the value of preparation and knowledge when it comes to all the college financial aid options.

The ideal time to start thinking about this is when you have an 8th-10th grader (or before), so please take my advice and listen to this episode.

The show notes for this episode are jam packed with free resources Brian provided and speaking as a parent of a 10th grader who attended his most recent free info session, I left feeling empowered and confident that having this planning time and the knowledge of merit aid options will give my daughter a high probability of attending college for a fraction of the traditional sticker price.

I can’t adequately recap everything Brian discussed, but some highlights:

  • Hundreds of colleges publish merit aid grids where your student will receive defined scholarships if they have certain GPA and SAT/ACT scores.  This is a “golden age of merit aid” per Brian.
  • Return on investment: Brian’s story of a dad whose son needed a 26-question improvement out of 215 to receive $70,000+ merit aid.  The dad paid his son to study (instead of working at Firehouse Subs) and each question improvement was worth $2,700 in merit aid to the family.
  • Every sophomore should take a full-length (free) SAT and ACT as preparation.  They should pick one of these tests to focus on and “don’t spend time on your weaker test.”
  • Tip: Many colleges will not allow you to apply for merit aid unless you fill out the FAFSA form (so fill it out even if you have no hope of need-based financial aid).

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Kimberly said, “My 1% better was saving half of our tax refund for retirement and saving the other half in a money market that we are building up to cash flow a minor home renovation. fund (Brad note: I’m now putting my excess cash in a CIT Platinum Savings account)
  • Deb said, “My ‘1% better’ moment was finding my dream wedding dress at an online sample sale! After trying on multiple bridal gowns in-store, I fell in love with one that retails for $3,600. Since this was out of my budget, I reluctantly put the dress back and carried on with my day. Later that night, I decided to search for pre-owned wedding dresses, and to my amazement, I found the exact dress I had fallen in love with for only $550 through an online sample sale! What’s more, it was a brand new dress that has never been altered! The dress arrived in the mail today, and I couldn’t be happier to say #YesToTheDress!
  • Cherie said, “My 1% better (well I have 2 so maybe 2%: 1- My son had his first summer W2 job at the custard stand and we opened up his Roth IRA. He can’t put in much. Only made a few thousand in W2 money but it is a start. 2- I made my first FU money decision and am leaving a rather high paying job, that I no longer love, to take a mini retirement and work on my business which I have zero time for while I’m working. Then if it doesn’t take off after a few months, I can find a new job. Yes…. Totally panicky but know this is what I have been saving for the freedom to do.
  • Oscar said, “My 10 month apartment lease is about to expire and my landlord posted a price sheet for renewals. To renew the same 10 month lease, they wanted to increase my rent price by 6%, whereas the average rent price in my general area was an increase of 2.5% over the past year. I remembered your podcast with Tori Dunlap and the power of negotiation and that gave me the confidence to even attempt asking for a lower rent price. At the meeting I had with the leasing office, I brought up that I had made all of the rent payments on time, that I hadn’t caused any large maintenance issues, and that I would consider a longer lease term. I ended by asking them to meet in the middle (doing a 3% increase as opposed to 6%). While the leasing office told me that they do not negotiate with individual tenants, 5 days later they got back to me and agreed to only do the 3% increase! It goes to show what you can get just by even asking.
  • Kristin said, “On Monday, I did it! I met with my boss to request a mini-sabbatical that would take place in spring-summer 2024. Thanks in big part to the episodes with Jillian Johnsrud and other wonderful episodes, I was able to put together a proposal, get feedback on it, and sit down with my boss to make my request. We had a great discussion and they were incredibly supportive and appreciated the thought I had put into my proposal. I’ve never asked a job for anything like this before and never been unemployed for more than 2 weeks in 20 years, so my 1% is *making* the request – because I could daydream and put proposals together every day for a month, but making the ask is the real step for me. Thank you!
  • David said, “I’ve very much enjoyed your podcast and advice. I had an interesting salary negotiation experience. I was offered the lowest end of the salary scale via email. I called the contact, and calmly asked them, “Why did you offer me the lowest end of the scale?” She was clearly not ready for the question and said, “I always offer the lowest end of the scale, the salary IS negotiable.” I gave my salary request which I had already prepared. She responded with a HIGHER number. I’ve since read that asking someone a question that begins with “how” or “why” encourages them to shift into solving what they perceive to be your problems (Christopher Voss former FBI negotiator). Truthfully, I do not know why this happened, but it was very satisfying and put over $20K in my family’s pockets.

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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