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Updates & Inspiration for Your Financial Independence Journey

Curated and written by ChooseFI Podcast host & co-founder Brad Barrett, the FI Weekly Newsletter is the weekly check-in you need if you’re pursuing FI.

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    • Recent examples include: Redeeming rewards points for NYC, finding Unclaimed Property, Gift Tax Exclusion rules, daily routines of high performers…and more.
  • Six ‘1% Wins’ from FI Weekly readers – what they did this week to make their lives better. The secret sauce of the newsletter is the motivation and inspiration you get reading these wins.

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Explore the Archives

May 7, 2024: 2 Minute Walks, Impact of Fees plus Community Wins

2 Minute Walk After a Meal The Path to FI allows us to focus on what’s really important in life and health is at or near the top of that list! I’m always looking out for highly beneficial tips that are easy to implement and here’s one I wanted to pass along: The New York Times published an article entitled, “Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal is Surprisingly Good for You.” The article said: “Walking after a meal, conventional wisdom says, helps clear your mind and aids in digestion. Scientists have also found that going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar levels, which can help ward off complications such as Type 2 diabetes. But, as it turns out, even just a few minutes of walking can activate these benefits.” “In a meta-analysis, recently published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers looked at the results of seven studies that compared the effects of sitting versus standing or walking on measures of heart health, including insulin and blood sugar levels. They found that light walking after a meal, in increments of as little as two to five minutes, had a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels.” It’s

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April 30, 2024: Stoic Beliefs, ChooseFI T-shirts, What Money Buys, plus Community Wins

Core Stoic Beliefs I picked up Ryan Holiday’s book ‘The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living’ and I’m going through it one page per day as per the construct of the book. It reminded me of a prior segment I wrote in the newsletter 3 years ago, which is worth highlighting again: “One of our finalists for a new project management software for ChooseFI is Basecamp, which prompted me to go back and listen to Episode 195 of The Tim Ferriss Show with Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson. Among the many gems was their discussion of stoic philosophy and David’s article “It’s Always Your Fault.” This isn’t about beating yourself up needlessly, but instead turning the power around from the elusive “they” impacting you, to YOU being the source of power. Tim remembered a powerful question a former coach asked him that I think is important for each of us to ask ourselves: “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?” To round this out, here’s a 2-minute video from Jocko Willink entitled “Good.” I hit this up for a little extra dose of motivation every now and again; it’s pretty

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April 23, 2024: Valuing Social Security, What Makes You Proud?, Inexpensive T-Shirts plus Community Wins

Valuing Social Security as an Asset Should we value social security as an asset in our FI number? My friend Jesse Cramer (guest on the podcast next month) put together a compelling case that we not only should value social security in our FI calculations, but also roughly how much the value is based on the income stream. (Hint: nearly $400,000 per person) I think the vast majority of us pursuing FI are way too conservative when it comes to our safe withdrawal rates, not counting social security at all plus padding our annual expenses so our FI number is just a little “safer.” This all adds up to working extra years needlessly. Jesse’s article, ‘Valuing Social Security as an Asset in Your Retirement Plan’ is a quick read and hopefully helps you feel more comfortable including social security in your FI calculations. What Recent Accomplishments Make You Feel Proud? One of my favorite recent posts in the Facebook group came from community member Thichimy Sophie Nguyen, who asked: “What recent accomplishments make you feel so proud?” This was a subtle shift on my 1% wins question, and with over 170 comments, it definitely struck a chord with the community. Too many amazing accomplishments to

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April 16, 2024: Reading, Watching, Playing, AI Assistant, Saying No plus Community Wins

What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing Reading: I continue to juggle multiple books: – ‘Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier’ by Arthur Brooks and Oprah Winfrey. I’m only just starting this book, but the practical tips I’ve already picked up gives me hope this will be a transformative read. I waited a long time for this one from the library ‘holds’ and so far it’s worth it! – ‘Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most’ by Greg McKeown. I found his prior book ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’ to be impactful, and Effortless seems like the perfect companion to figure out how to work on what truly matters and make it simpler in the process. – ‘Rhythm of War’ by Brandon Sanderson. Finishing up the 4th audiobook in the Stormlight Archive series. I’m hooked on audiobook fantasy series, and this is one of the best! Watching: For the first time in many, many years, I binged an entire Netflix series in under 48 hours and just COULD NOT STOP watching. The show is called ‘One Day’ and I cannot possibly recommend it any more highly. It’s wonderful. It first seemed like a lighthearted romantic comedy, but over the

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April 9, 2024: Compounding In Real Life, What is Fat FI?, Frugal Date Night Ideas plus Community Wins

The Incredible Power of Compounding (In Real Life) Two weeks ago, I featured this quote in the newsletter: And last week I said now is the time to track your Q1 2024 net worth (it’s still a great time!) With those 2 items in mind: I rarely talk about my own personal finances, but this was too astonishing not to highlight the ‘in real life’ power of compounding and tracking: Our net worth increased in Q1 2024, just from market growth, more than our entire net worth figure on January 1st, 2013. Think about that! That was two CPAs working and saving for over a decade to get to that January 1st 2013 net worth. And now, from the immense power of compounding, just by sitting around and watching our investments grow for a measly 3 months, our net worth increased by more than that! Truly astonishing. What is Fat FI? I was recently up in NYC recording two live podcasts with Paula Pant for her Afford Anything podcast (Episodes 500 and 501), which was so energizing and fun. I didn’t have “performing to a packed comedy club in Brooklyn” on my life bingo card! I was fortunate to have a few of my lifelong friends make it

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April 2, 2024: It ALL Worked, Q1 Net Worth, Subtracting to Add plus Community Wins

It ALL worked. All of it. Connie is a member of our community who responds to these emails frequently and she just sent in the most massive ‘wins’ email. This needed to be featured front and center in the newsletter: It ALL worked. All of it. When my husband passed in 2021, I needed to make some moves – some fast and some slow. I needed to wait until it all proved itself out over these last 3 years before I could write. All moves were aided by different episodes of ChooseFI, and I NEVER would have been aware had it not been for your amazing podcast. SELF-EMPLOYMENT: My business is a single-owner LLC, but I still file as an S corp from when I had employees so that I can pay myself wages as a W-2 employee and take the rest as an owner distribution. What that enabled me to do: 1. We hacked the FAFSA for college. Both daughters (twins) start college in fall of 2024 and both are receiving max benefit from both federal and state aid! College will be debt-free! This will save our family $170,000 over the four years. 2. We hacked the ACA for

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March 26, 2024: Power of Compounding, Travel Rewards Search Tools, Grayscale Mode plus Community Wins

Grasping the Power of Compounding I came across this amazing quote that highlights the power of compounding, but also the somewhat odd nature of compounding where it seems glacially slow at the beginning and picks up such steam towards the end of your life (or the compounding period) that is seems impossible to believe: “In the initial years…compounding tests your patience and in later years, your bewilderment.” – Anshul Khare Travel Rewards Search Tools One of the biggest changes in the travel rewards world the past few years has been the number of award search tool websites created to help you find airline frequent flyer availability. I found the article ‘Which award search tool is best?’ on The Frequent Miler site which does a great job listing and comparing these award search tools. I’ve personally used both Point.me and Seats.aero recently to search for availability for potential trips to Japan and Bali, and while neither tool is perfect, they are a massive help over the standard laborious hunting process at individual airline websites. I think this info will be valuable for anyone with points and miles! Note: American Express just partnered with Point.me to offer a FREE “point.me for Membership Rewards® points” where you

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March 19, 2024: FI Projection Software, My Ride in an Autonomous Vehicle, Reading, Watching, Playing plus Community Wins

New FI Projection Software On Episode 470, Chris Hutchins spoke highly of a new FI Projection software called ProjectionLab, and then my friend Adam talked about it at a ChooseFI Richmond local group meetup, so I had to investigate. Kyle Nolan, the founder of ProjectionLab and longtime member of the ChooseFI community, just put together a video walkthrough of the software and sent it to me. It’s incredibly impressive and you should definitely check it out! The Mad Fientist called ProjectionLab “the most beautiful financial planning tool I’ve ever seen” and in an article on the Mad Fientist’s site, Kyle described what ProjectionLab can do (quoted directly): [Brad note: I’m going to have Kyle on the podcast and would love your feedback and questions on the ProjectionLab software to help inform that conversation, so after you give it a try, hit reply (to this or any FI Weekly newsletter) and let me know what you think.] What I’m Reading, Watching, Playing Reading: As usual, I’m juggling a few books at the moment: Watching: I just started watching the new Hulu series ‘Shōgun’ and it’s no surprise, considering my love of all things Japan, that this one interests me. The series is getting rave reviews from critics

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March 12, 2024: Buffett’s Letter, Advice-Only Advisors, 61 Life Lessons

Warren Buffett’s Latest Shareholder Letter One of my favorite annual activities is running to my computer at 8am ET on the last Saturday in February to download Warren Buffett’s latest Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter. If you’re looking for an incredible amount of financial and life wisdom in a short time, check out this page with links to all the letters going back to 1977. His 2013 advice is worth pointing out each year to those of us pursuing FI: “My advice to the trustee [Brad note: trustee of his estate] could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.” ​2023’s letter was just posted and, as always, it’s a quality read from Mr. Buffett. I’ll be attending the Berkshire annual meeting this May in Omaha, and it’ll be bittersweet to not see Charlie Munger up there on the stage. Advice-Only Financial Advisors Problem: You’re a DIY investor with specific questions about your financial life, but

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March 5, 2024: Long Term Cap Gains 0% Tax Calc, Live Podcast, Good Days are Now

0% Long Term Capital Gains Explained Frank wrote in: “I have a question from Episode 471 with Cody Garrett. Cody talked about the three tax rates on long-term capital gains (0%, 15%, 20%). As I understood the conversation, if you have long-term capital gains of LESS than $94,050, you pay NO TAX on that amount. However, let’s say you have taken long-term capital gains of $100,000 over the course of one tax-year. Is the tax 15% on the entire $100,000 since you’re over $94,050, or, do you pay a 15% tax on just the amount that is greater than $94,050? For example……the first $94,050 of my capital gains are taxed 0%, and the difference ($5,950) is taxed at 15%.” Cody responded: Ordinary income and long-term capital gains are taxed using a progressive bracket system. A portion is taxed at 0%, then the next at 15%, etc. With long-term capital gains (LTCG) of $100,000 as your only form of income (married filing jointly under age 65 in 2024): The LTCG tax rates are based on Taxable Income, after Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) has been reduced by the standard/itemized and QBI deductions (if applicable). Taxable Income would be $100,000 – $29,200 standard

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February 27, 2024: Psychology of Money Lessons, Memento Mori, No Complexity Required

Psychology of Money Lessons The ‘Compounding Quality’ account on Twitter is one of my favorites, and they produced a top quality graphic that is worthy of your time and attention: ​18 Timeless Lessons from the book The Psychology of Money​ Morgan Housel’s book has a comfortable place in my “essential 3” personal finance books alongside ‘The Simple Path to Wealth’ by JL Collins and ‘Die with Zero’ by Bill Perkins. If you haven’t read Psychology of Money, grab it from the library and in the meantime, here are my 3 favorite lessons from Compounding Quality’s synopsis: · Never Enough: “The hardest financial skill is getting the goalpost to stop moving. Happiness = Results minus Expectations.” · Save Money: “Building wealth has little to do with your income or investment returns, and lots to do with your savings rate. Savings are the gap between your ego and your income.” · Freedom: “True wealth is having time to do what you want to do, whenever you want to do it.” Memento Mori: Practical Application The Stoic concept of ‘Memento Mori,’ which loosely translates as “remember death,” has been on my mind lately, and even though it sounds morbid at first glance, I think it’s a powerful push to

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