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September 19, 2023: Rewards Case Study, Negotiation in Action, What Can You Do With Your Money?

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.

Case Study: Redeeming Rewards Points for NYC

I recently took my daughter Molly to NYC for the first time and we booked two great travel rewards redemptions I wanted to pass along.


British Airways is a transfer partner of all the major transferable currencies, so their ‘Avios’ miles are easy to come by.

Little known secret: You can use Avios to book flights on American Airlines and it often costs fewer miles than if you had AA miles! 

This is known as a travel rewards “sweet spot” where you use an alliance partner’s miles to book travel on another partner’s flights for fewer miles than normal.

Avios work best in the US for short, direct flights on AA and fortunately there is a direct Richmond to LaGuardia (NYC) flight we were able to each book for only 15,000 Avios points round-trip.


There are over a dozen Hyatt hotels in Manhattan and we found the Thompson Central Park hotel in the perfect location and booked it for 25,000 Hyatt points per night.

This was a $700+ per night room, so that was a nearly 3 cent per point redemption, which is a big win.

All-in this trip cost us 30,000 Avios and 50,000 Hyatt points, which turned a would-be $2,000 trip into $0.

For anyone who pays their credit cards off on time and in full every month, I think earning travel rewards points is a potentially massive win.  Here are all our resources on travel rewards at the ChooseFI website.

Salary Negotiation in Action

I love when ChooseFI community members take action after listening to our episodes.

Ben listened to Episode 454 with Financial Mechanic on salary negotiation and wrote this in:

“This week’s episode really was quite timely. I had just been re-listening to all of the episodes that touch on salary negotiation, in preparation for a meeting I had set with my manager at work.

I went into the meeting with the intention of making it clear that I’m looking to do everything I can to earn the largest possible raise by my next performance review (about 6-7 months from now in February). I came prepared with some market research, examples of how I’ve been an over achiever at the company, and was humble but firm. I caught my manager a little off guard, but I think the fact that I wasn’t demanding a raise “right away”, and merely asking for us to work together to set a path for how I can very clearly earn a solid raise in the next 6 months put her at ease. She thanked me for bringing it up now, rather than closer to review time, and said she’d get back to me.

About a week later she called me into her office to tell me that after speaking with her superiors she negotiated an over $4,000/yr raise to start right away with my next paycheck, rather than waiting 6 months. She thanked me for bringing up the conversation because it sparked the same conversation between her and her superior as well.

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to negotiate, or ask for a raise in my industry because it’s been so competitive, however the proof is in the pudding. It’s amazing how powerful a 5-minute uncomfortable conversation can be.

Thank you, ChooseFI, and Financial Mechanic!”

-Ben from Wisconsin

Along those lines, Anthony Gary, longtime friend of the show, wrote a wonderful blog post called “The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Negotiating a Job Offer” that lists dozens of areas you could potentially negotiate outside of just the salary figure.

If you’re looking to negotiate benefits, but don’t know where to start, that post is the place.

Episode 455 Recap: What Can You Do With Your Money?

This episode with Nathan Barry was one of my favorites, as I think his advice for entrepreneurs is the perfect starting point and mirrors my own journey.

The episode also contained one of the most powerful moments in the history of ChooseFI and without question the best answer to “What can you do with your money?” I can possibly imagine.

Even if entrepreneurship doesn’t appeal to you, please download the episode and listen to the 5 minute story at the 60-minute mark.  It is extraordinary how he was able to change lives of those closest to him.

Nathan’s 4 Keys to “Simple” Success in Creating:

– A skill you are at least in the 80th percentile

– A unique perspective or Sharing Your Journey

– Build the skill of teaching everything you know

– Showing up consistently for a long period of time

We talked about “Creator Flywheels” and Nathan’s 3 laws:

  • No start or stop to the momentum. The conclusion of one series of tasks rolls straight into the next
  • each rotation gets easier with time
  • each rotation produces more

Me taking action on my own flywheel is asking you to leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify then send me back a screenshot and I will pick one each week to read on the podcast.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Steve said, “My 1% better this week is finally eliminating all household debt. It has been many years in the making, but the first debt eliminated was seven months ago. My wife’s student loans totaling about $35K were forgiven under the PSLF program last December. My student loans totaling about $350K were forgiven under the PSLF program last month. (Brad Note: If you have student loans, you must listen to Travis from Student Loan Planner on Episode 437) And today with the help of geo-arbitrage, we are paying off a first and second mortgage on our Denver home (totaling about $510K) and paying off our mortgage on our new Green Bay home (totaling about $264K). We are able to pay off these mortgages using the proceeds from the sale of our Denver home (with some cash left over). With the confidence provided by your podcast and the FU money we have saved over the years, we were able to take advantage of a new remote policy at work (even though my supervisor tried to talk us out of the move) to move closer to family and to a much cheaper cost-of-living area. I’ll need to track our spending in our new locale for a while to know for sure, but I think the move has brought us much closer to FI (if we’re not there already!). On the travel side of the FI ledger, last week we took a trip to Honolulu and the Hyatt hotel we stayed at was covered by points and about half of the airfare was covered by points and/or Alaska Airlines’ companion fare. And finally, I just signed up for my first business credit card and look forward to using the 100K points from the signup bonus! Thanks again and keep up the great work!
  • Crystal said, “My 1% better for the week: my therapist office called me yesterday to say a spot opened for their twice yearly online group course that I want to do had a spot open. Told my boss I need 2 hours off in the middle of the day for the next 10 Fridays. He told me to take it and take care of myself. Sometimes when you ask for help, it really works out. Taking time for mental health is super important.
  • Bill said, “The 1% better this week is I am officially signed up for tap class at my daughter’s dance school. This one is really out of my comfort zone. It is only $30 per month (1 class a week) and I know the memory dividends are going to be well worth it as we get to perform in the recital with my daughters.
  • Vicki said, “Just made my final payment on my used vehicle loan. No more car payments!! Will hang onto this car as long as I can while building up a vehicle sinking fund for maintenance and/or new vehicle so I’ll be ready when the time comes.
  • David said, “My 1% better is finding a part time Nursing content creator job! I work Full time at the hospital and at times it can be crazy overwhelming. I accidentally found an ad for a Nursing content creator job on Facebook and it’s changed my life. I’m on the path to FI faster, I work remote, and I LOVE making Nursing videos. This is the happiest I’ve ever been with a job. Life is good
  • Jeramy said, “I had a 1% better to share this week. Through a professional association I have access to grant money for student debt relief. For less than 5 minutes of work filling out an online application I was able to receive $5000 to pay down my debt. I can repeat this process annually for up to 5 years, which will eventually be nearly the complete balance. With the fungibility of money all of that is now able to be funneled into my IRA to grow for years to come.

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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