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FI Weekly – September 21, 2021

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. Disclosures.

4 Years of Consistent Action

Jen wrote in last week with an email detailing consistent action taken over the last 4+ years of listening to ChooseFI and I wanted to copy it here verbatim:

“Long time listener from episode 1, but a first-time contributor.

Our family has made countless 1% better moves over the past 4 years since I first began listening, including:

  • A full review of recurring expenses with changes leading to $7k/year of completely passive savings with no impact on service levels received.
  • Resignation from an 11-year job at an accounting firm 2 years ago to go start my own firm where I am making twice as much while working 2/3rds of the hours.
  • Maxing out every pre-tax bucket we have access to.
  • My husband hiring our 14-year-old son for part-time work under his Residential Real Estate business where all his earned income is now flowing into his new Roth IRA at Vanguard.
  • Several vacations using the benefits of credit card points.

We are in our mid-40s and are now on track to be work-optional by 2030, right when our kids are finishing up college (if they decide to go that route!).

Thanks to the entire ChooseFI team for such consistently actionable content!


The Cheat Code to Life

I listened to the most recent Mad Fientist podcast and he quoted a brilliant message from Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies:

“There is no downside to having a high net worth – it acts like a giant shock absorber that smooths over life’s bumps, and after a while, it feels like life is a game and you’ve discovered the mother of all cheat codes.”

Laura and I have always thought of our path to FI as living essentially the same middle-class life as everyone around us, but still saving, depending on the year, 30%-70% of our income. 

It always felt like ‘winning at the game of life’ to live the same lifestyle as everyone around us, but yet accrue wealth every single month as we continued to stockpile our savings and investing in low-cost index funds and ETFs.

For us it was just a few simple changes that drove the vast majority of the savings:  Driving old cars, living in a home in the area we wanted that was far below our ‘means’, eating mainly home-cooked meals for roughly $2 per person per meal and switching our cell phones to low-cost carriers like Mint Mobile and Republic Wireless.

ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week

  • Andy said, “My 1% better this week was improving my efficiency at work. I had a test coming up in my lab using 3 computer programs that don’t talk to each other. Click, wait 6 seconds, click, click, repeat… For 2 weeks! I got an auto mouse clicker program (for $7) that allowed me to record a macro of my clicks, then walk away and let it run for an hour. Efficiency improved, and sanity restored!”
  • Lauren said, “In Oct 2020 I found out I was pregnant and began sourcing used and sometimes free items from Facebook Marketplace.  We opened up a taxable brokerage account in our son’s name once he was born and will be putting in $100 each a month, plus whatever money he gets from family over the years. I applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the all-time high bonus and am using those points to pay my hospital bill. Earlier I got a Citi card for my husband and me to fly to Uruguay so we can bring the baby to meet my husband’s family in his home country, and I met the minimum spend paying my deductible with my ob. Now when I feed the baby or he sleeps on me I am reading the Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Travel Rewards series. I also have been making egg breakfast wraps and freezing them for convenience and we have been working on improving our grocery store budget by sitting down together and deciding what we need. Thank you, you have changed the trajectory of our lives.”
  • Sara said, “My 1% better this week is a mindset shift. I recently had the hours at one of my side gigs decrease. I’m an online ESL teacher and the regulations abroad have changed, which affects when I can teach classes. Instead of focusing on what I’m losing (income), I’m focusing on what I’m gaining. I used to work out in the mornings and absolutely loved it. However, for the past year, my early mornings have been spent working and I never really found another good time for my workouts, so they became very sporadic. Now, I’m using those mornings for exercise again. It’s been a great shift in my routine and is a complete reframe to the current uncertainty about this job that’s made the transition so much easier.”
  • Tiffany said, “I started listening to Choose FI two years ago. At the time, I was freshly divorced, had 7k in credit card debt, a relatively expensive apartment, and didn’t make a comfortable salary to pay all of it. I decided to sling pizza until I got debt free, which I did in Nov ’20! I’ve since, leveled up my salary by 56% and split ALL of the extra money into my TSP, high-yield savings (saving for a house), and VTSAX, I also ordered an AA credit card that came with 60k points from the first purchase…paying it off every month of course. I use my extra time volunteering at a community food bank, and I’m grateful that I have more TIME to give back now. I have since shared your podcast with a ton of my friends and we often find ourselves dreaming and scheming new ideas on how to save and make more money. Your podcast is a gem. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!”
  • Jared said, “Our 1% better is my wife and I are replacing our couch and office desk and were able to sell the couch for double what we paid for it and the desk for $25 more than we paid for, and we got a full year’s use out of them both! Negotiation skills really can be learned!”
  • Chris said, “Our win for the week is getting my wife on board and heading in the same direction. We placed our goals onto a graph that tracks our net worth with our FI number ten years out in the top right corner. We live in New Zealand and KiwiSaver replaces your 401(k) so it was rewarding to watch that roll over $50,000 too.”

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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. Disclosures.
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