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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.

Every Tuesday morning you’ll receive an email with:

  • Three key sections summarized to maximize your ability to take action
    • 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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Interested in past newsletters? View the full set of previous emails here!

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Explore the Archives

FI Weekly – November 9, 2021

Year-End Tax Planning It’s hard to believe how quickly 2021 is coming to a close – December 31st will be here before you know it and that means it’s a good time to make sure all your year-end tax items are in order.  Our good friend Sean Mullaney, the FI Tax Guy, put out an updated ‘2021 Year-End Tax Planning’ article with all the deadlines and considerations you need to be aware of for both 12/31 and future deadlines for tax year 2021. Everything in the article won’t be applicable to you, but I got great value out of scanning the article to make sure I had everything covered ahead of time. My suggestion is that your 5 minutes of FI action this week should be to click on Sean’s article now while you still have time to make changes and plan ahead.  This could potentially save you thousands! Mental Models: Cost -Benefit Analysis Our ChooseFI website team continues to put out high-quality content that not only highlights the fundamentals of Financial Independence, but dives into the mental models you need to succeed at life. Ray wrote a masterful article on “Cost-Benefit Analysis and Financial Independence” that we published yesterday.  As a former poker player, he

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FI Weekly – November 2, 2021

A Tale of Action Over 9 Years On occasion I get an email response to the FI Weekly that is so astounding I have to include it verbatim in the newsletter.  Jo wrote in: “I have a couple of amazing things I wanted to share on the 1% better front! Officially, I have just one college class left to complete my bachelor’s degree, years ahead of schedule, thanks to taking and transferring 13 classes from Sophia.org! (Brad note: We talked about this site and concept in-depth with the Millionaire Educator on Episode 238 of ChooseFI) This alone saved me $12,480!! And the last class will be reimbursed in full by my employer, which will bring my total reimbursed tuition to $6,960! The sticker price for my online degree from SNHU would have been about $40,000 but in total out of pocket for me was only $18,065. **Now, the ROI on the $18k investment** I work in healthcare in Boston, MA and the job market here puts a huge premium on education; specifically, to make the jump to leadership you truly need a minimum of an undergrad degree. Knowing this, I enrolled in an online program through SNHU and have been slowly chipping

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FI Weekly – October 26, 2021

Taking Action is the Goal The (not so subtle) secret behind the FI Weekly newsletter is this: My entire goal is to inspire you to take life-changing action.  And it starts small, one little change after another, until your life has radically transformed for the better. Last week I linked up a Forbes article that gave exact directions on how you could take 5 minutes and check if you had “unclaimed money” with your current (and prior) state of residence. Here are some wins from the community from people who clicked and took action: Miranda said, “I found almost $18,000 of unclaimed money for an immediate relative and made her day today by sending her the attached screenshot! AMAZING! She had no idea but she will definitely be getting in touch with the comptroller’s office :)” Debi said, “I found $58 in Florida and my family has some money in Missouri they didn’t know about!” Steven said, “I was able to claim over $200, including $50 from my grandfather who died before I was born…Oh snap! It was actually $800! I had an unclaimed auto insurance payout for… ???. Who cares!? Haha. Thanks Brad!” Cory said, “I recently went on the unclaimed money scavenger

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FI Weekly – October 19, 2021

Do You Have Unclaimed Money? Here’s an incredibly easy action step for the week: I came across an article in Forbes that details how there’s $49 billion in unclaimed property sitting with the treasury departments of the 50 states that actually belongs to the citizens but hasn’t yet been claimed.  “Unclaimed money can come from a range of sources, including abandoned checking and savings accounts, company refunds, annuities, customer overpayments, payroll checks, investment accounts, trust distributions, life insurance payments and utility security deposits. It can also include physical items that were abandoned in safe deposit boxes such as precious metals.” Click through to the Forbes article and they have a state-by-state listing map of “Unclaimed Property Websites By State.”  Couldn’t hurt to take 3 minutes and see if you have any money that’s rightfully yours! Die With Zero JL Collins recommended the book “Die With Zero” by Bill Perkins as a way to expand my mental framework on spending money, and I’m really enjoying it.  While the title might lead you believe Perkins’ thesis is counter to the FI Mindset of saving for the future (dying with $0??), I think it adds nuance and context to what a ‘life well lived’ actually looks

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FI Weekly – October 12, 2021

Around the FI Community I wanted to do a quick roundup of some of the ways you can get involved with the FI Community either through online communities or, depending on your comfort level, ‘in real life’ meetups & events: ChooseFI Local Groups: The lifeblood of the ChooseFI community is the 300+ Local Groups we have in 300 cities across the world. Obviously the last 18 months have made meetups nearly impossible, but that is changing as we’ve seen groups get creative with outdoor events, and you can still join your closest local group to get involved in the community online. The Simple StartUp Winter Challenge Rob Phelan’s The Simple StartUp course for young entrepreneurs is back open for enrollment! This is an 8-week interactive online course running January 12 – March 9, 2022.  If you have a budding entrepreneur at home (generally ages 10-18), looking to gain real-world skills in starting a business with little to no startup costs, then you need to look into TSSU. Rob will be on ChooseFI this coming Monday to talk about TSSU and you can go back and listen to Episode 308 where we chat with Arianna about the business she started during the course. Camp FI For

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FI Weekly – October 5, 2021

Salary Negotiation Wins I’m continually blown away by how much the concept of salary negotiation has resonated with the ChooseFI Community.  I’d recommend you go back and listen to these two actionable episodes on salary negotiation that contain specific scripts of what you should say to create a win-win for you and your employer: Here are the two wins from the community I wanted to highlight this week:    Sandy: “This week my 1% better is an 18% raise!! I listened (and re-listened!) to episode 211 with the Financial Mechanic and took notes about how to negotiate my salary. I did my own market research, applied for another job to gauge what I could potentially get paid, (landed an offer and negotiated that starting salary – first timer here!) and then used that competing offer as leverage to ask for a raise in my current position. My current employer was appreciative that I came to them before leaving the company and agreed to match the competing offer! Now, I know I am getting paid my worth and I am that much closer to FI! You never know unless you ask! My brother shared this podcast with me ~2 years ago and

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FI Weekly – September 28, 2021

Favorite Board Games Last month in the newsletter, I wrote out my case for the significant benefits of board games to make you a better decision-maker & negotiator, plus how they help you focus on both long-term and probabilistic thinking.  In short, I think board games are one of the best tools to upgrade your mental skillset for life. I promised I’d list some of our favorite games other than just Catan and Ticket to Ride – the old favorites that I always mention. This is also your chance to use one of my other favorite life hacks: CamelCamelCamel.com (CCC).  Create an account at their site and you can copy the website URL of any product from Amazon.com into the search box at the top of CCC and see how the price changes over time.  For instance, as I’m writing this, Catan is $42.95 but one glance at the chart at CCC shows it often goes down into the $24-$28 range.  You can set a “Price Watch” and they’ll email you when your item drops down to the price you ideally want to pay.  And you can do this on ANY product on Amazon.  It’s crazy how much prices change throughout the year. Our Top 10 Board Games: Dominion:

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FI Weekly – September 21, 2021

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: 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! Jen” 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,

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FI Weekly – September 14, 2021

Speculation or Investment? My good friend Chris Hutchins had Andy Rachleff, the co-founder of Wealthfront, on his podcast All the Hacks recently and it was a truly phenomenal episode.  You’ll likely see some more quotes from this episode in coming editions of the FI Weekly, but I wanted to start with Andy’s succinct distinction between a speculation and an investment: “The difference between a speculation and an investment is that an investment has a cash flow. You can evaluate its merits based on your expectation for those cash flows. Something that doesn’t have a cash flow is purely a gamble. Why should gold go up? It’s a shiny metal, it’s purely emotional. The same is true, I think, for cryptocurrencies. So, to me, they are speculations.  Commodities are speculations. I don’t think that speculations have a place in a responsible portfolio. That being said, people have a fear of missing out. So, they are going to do it and all I can say is keep it to a small percentage of your portfolio. The fact that they went up doesn’t mean the person who bought them was smart, it means they were lucky.  And that’s the part that people have a hard time understanding. 

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FI Weekly – September 7, 2021

Is Your Home Your ‘Biggest Investment?’ I purposely stirred up a hornet’s nest yesterday on Twitter (I’m posting there daily and if you like this newsletter, I think you’ll like my quick-hit takes on Twitter) with the following tweet: “My home is my biggest investment,” said no wealthy person ever. If the home you live in is your biggest investment, you’re doing investing wrong.” Many responses got caught up in anecdotes of “but wait, my house went up this much!” and while true, that completely misses the point.  As JL Collins wrote in this essential piece, your house is a terrible investment. But that doesn’t make owning a home a bad decision! On the contrary, it’s the right psychological decision for tens of millions of people. And it certainly doesn’t mean owning rental real estate is a bad investment.  It means simply, the home you live in should not be “your biggest investment” as much of society believes. Most people don’t save money, so this forced savings through monthly principal payments amounts to the only real source of wealth for many.  In the FI Community, we operate from a position of strength where we save money every month and continually add to

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FI Weekly – August 31, 2021

Worthwhile Splurges We’re finishing up our vacation and I’ve been thinking a lot about worthwhile splurges.  We so often focus on cutting costs in the FI Community, but I want you to consider what might be worth a premium to make an experience (or your life) better. Our example: Precise location on vacation is worth its weight in gold.  While this isn’t necessary in 100% of cases, we had two examples this month where we paid a roughly 10% premium for a perfect location and our vacation was quite possibly 3x as good for that small premium. 1) Airbnb in a lake community in the Poconos.  We were going to book a house a 5 minute drive from the lake, but for ~10% more, we got the single house closest to the main community center.  We were 50 yards from the rental shack for kayaks, standup paddleboards, etc. and 100 yards from the lake, pool and tennis courts.  It just made everything better. 2) Hotel in Ogunquit, Maine.  This is a really popular beach town with a lack of parking and a lot of traffic on the main road through town.  Knowing that, we paid a bit extra for a room that was a 30 second walk to the heart

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FI Weekly – August 24, 2021

Benefits of Board Games It’s no secret that my family loves to play board games.  We talk about board games frequently on the podcast, but thought I’d bring it to the FI Weekly in a little more depth. Simply put, board games have made us a better family. They’ve led to hundreds of hours of family time that is invaluable in bringing us closer together. They help promote rules in our family such as “Barretts never cheat.”  We all know this is the one sacrosanct rule that would be cause for near expulsion from the family.  Growing up, for some reason my dad always playfully (or not in many cases!) accused people of cheating and I made it clear from day 1 with my daughters that we never, ever cheat in games. If you want your kids to be better decision-makers and negotiators, introduce them to board games as early as you can!  Many parents underestimate their kids’ ability to play advanced games, but we threw them in the deep end and started playing games like Catan and Ticket to Ride when they were about 5 years old.  Sure, the first few times we had to co-play with them, but it’s amazing how

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