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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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Explore the Archives

February 15, 2022: Financial Tracking Spreadsheets, A Life Well Lived

Financial Tracking Spreadsheets In early January I wrote that we all should do an annual financial audit to have a sense of where we are with our personal finances, both in terms of net worth (assets & liabilities) and your income statement (income & expenses). However, at that time I wasn’t able to provide spreadsheets that could be used to make the exercise dramatically easier for you. Luckily our good friend Brian Feroldi reached out with his financial spreadsheet templates that are available for you to download completely for free. This is a good time to remind you that Brian’s book, “Why Does The Stock Market Go Up?: Everything You Should Have Been Taught About Investing In School, But Weren’t“, is available now for pre-order. I’ve seen an early copy of the book and it’s genuinely fantastic.  If you have even a passing interest in learning more about investing, you need to read this book. A Life Well Lived I saw this Twitter thread from Nicolas Cole titled “30 rules for a life well lived” and a number of them jumped out to me as particularly important: “Make decisions from a place of abundance, not scarcity.” “Live within your financial means.” “Who

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February 8, 2022: What is Coast FI?, Assuming Good Intentions

What is Coast FI? In trying to make the concept of Financial Independence relatable, I often look for those ‘eye opener’ moments for people, and the concept that I was initially surprised resonates so deeply is what’s known as ‘Coast FI.’ But upon further reflection, it shouldn’t be surprising at all. Because Coast FI is both intuitive and a really powerful concept. You’ve reached Coast FI when your investable assets are large enough where they will grow to your ultimate FI Number by your intended retirement age (either early or a more traditional date – your choice of timeline of course) with you putting ZERO additional dollars away as savings. Simple back of the envelope calculation using an example of a 35-year-old looking to reach FI in the next 20 years: Their FI Number is $1 million, which is 25x their annual expenses of $40,000. They currently have $250,000 saved and invested. Using the ‘Rule of 72’ and assuming an 8% annual market return, we would expect their assets to roughly double every 9 years. At 44 they would expect an investable net worth of about $500k and 9 years later at 53 they would expect their net worth to

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February 1, 2022: Negotiating Salary, Excel & Google Sheets Hacks, Inflation and FI

Negotiating Your Salary One of the most pleasant surprises from our run of 500+ ChooseFI podcast episodes is how many people have listened to Episode 147 with Tori Dunlap and Episode 211 with Financial Mechanic and taken action to negotiate their salaries to great success. I try to include as many of these as I can in the weekly ‘taking action’ section below because they are inspiring to me personally since this was always something I didn’t have the guts to do in my corporate career. I simply accepted the pitiful 3% raises I received, and it led to a lot of frustration. I wanted to include a link to the Financial Mechanic’s incredible resource entitled, “7 Tips for Negotiating – How I Doubled My Salary in Two Years” and implore you to click on the link and thoroughly read through it and take action on implementing this in your own career. To whet your appetite, here is Financial Mechanic’s list which she fully fleshes out in the article with in-depth and specific scripts on how to succeed at salary negotiation: The 7 Tips:1.       Put off talking salary in the early stages2.       Do your research to know your worth3.       Remember that you

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January 25, 2022: Markets Dropping, Lower Cost Medical Care, FI Number Calc

Markets Dropping As I’m writing this newsletter Monday morning, the S&P 500 is down 2.3% from the prior close, which brings the year to date drop to over 12% in just a few short weeks. It’s remarkably easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of seeing 10%+ of your net worth evaporate (on paper at least) in one month. It obviously never feels good, but we know from listening to JL Collins, that stock market corrections (10% drops from recent peaks), bear markets and even crashes are perfectly normal and expected over an investing lifetime.It is a normal part of investing. And while it’s impossible to know where the markets go from here, my belief in the FI Fundamentals of having a significant savings rate and continuing to purchase new shares of the Total Stock Market Index Fund at a “discount” in bad times will play out as my best bet over the long-term. Now is a good time though to take 10 minutes to listen to JL’s Guided Meditation for When the Stock Market is Dropping, which never fails to make me feel calmer and more at ease. Lower Cost Medical Care Options I saw an interesting article

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January 18, 2022: Doing the Right Thing, Community Q&A, Foundation

Doing the Right Thing “Doing the right thing is ultimately more likely to ensure you the greatness or the success that you’re after than doing the expedient, sort of self-preserving thing.”      — Ryan Holiday, author of Lives of the Stoics, on Episode 128 of The Knowledge Project This quote resonates deeply with me, because I truly think over the long-term that being a good person and doing the right thing for the right reasons is the best possible “strategy” for a successful life.  Sure, we see many examples of people in positions of power with insider information enriching themselves to the detriment of their stakeholders or constituents, but I contend that over a long enough time horizon this “success” will lead to a bankrupt life where it truly matters: relationships with family, friends and the people who trusted you. Taking a self-serving shortcut is a losing strategy, plain and simple.  Do the right thing. Community Q&A We’ve long called ChooseFI the “ultimate crowdsourced personal finance show” because you the community are able to bring us your wins, life & money hacks, and crucially the questions you have that need answering. We don’t have enough time on the podcast to come

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January 11, 2022: Four Day Work Week, Feroldi Book, Who You’ll Be

Four Day Work Week I was fascinated by this Twitter thread from Bolt CEO Ryan Breslow announcing that: “Bolt is now the first tech unicorn to permanently switch to a 4 day work week Our 3 month experiment proved every core thesis: Heightened 1/ Productivity2/ Engagement3/ Wellness” Breslow’s thread is worth a 3-minute read, as I strongly suspect more companies will move this way in the future, and I know we have a lot of business owners in the community who likely should be contemplating this change. I never understood the concept of being stuck at an office for a certain prescribed length of time if I could do the work both well and in a shorter amount of time.  You shouldn’t penalize your best employees by forcing them to “work” extra hours than is necessary to complete their tasks. Breslow summarized their learnings from this experiment (quoted): Learning 1: More days doesn’t mean more done Learning 2: Focus predicts success Learning 3: Creativity is the holy grail Learning 4: Everyone’s more present Learning 5: We are happier Brian Feroldi Book Launch We are excited to announce that our latest book from Choose FI Publishing is now available for pre-order everywhere books are sold! Written

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January 4, 2022

Annual Financial Checkup Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe the holiday season has come and gone and now we’re gearing up for 2022. Jonathan and I released Episode 358 of the ChooseFI podcast yesterday and even though we titled it the “Getting Started Audit” it just as accurately could have been the “Annual Financial Checkup” which I think we all need. Give the episode a listen, as it’s a real back to basics look at your financial life and why it’s so important to do at least an annual review of your: Jonathan mentioned at the end of the episode that I would link up our discussion of the Checkpoints of FI, which is pertinent to your FI Number and where you are on the path to FI. Give our Episode 324 ‘The Stages and Checkpoints of FI’ a listen as part of this annual checkup. As always, pursuing FI is all about taking action! Do the work now and move forward confidently with your financial plan. Is Your Home Properly Insured? I read an article in the Washington Post this past week about the rising cost of homeowner’s insurance and I thought it was important enough to mention in the newsletter this week. My

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December 28, 2021

Help to Cut Down on Distractions Last week I included a Twitter thread (I’m on Twitter and would love for you to interact with me there) on how to get better at email. It focused mostly on keyboard shortcuts and processing emails quicker which is really helpful info, but I’d suggest two quick life hacks for you that have cut down on my phone & email stress significantly: Go into the settings of your phone and app-by-app shut off notifications until you are left with only the truly essential notifications.  For me this is only two things: phone calls and text messages.  That’s it.  All other notifications are gone, so no distractions every time I get an email or social media notification. Ruthlessly unsubscribe from the likely hundreds of junk email lists you’ve signed up for over the years.  It takes just a small bit of intention to, instead of taking the easy, in the moment option of just hitting delete, actually open the email and scroll down to the bottom and hit “unsubscribe.”  Take the next month and every time a company sends you an email that you aren’t interested in any longer, just scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe.  You’ll be amazed at how many fewer times a

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December 21, 2021

Year-End Move We’re Making I confess that I hadn’t heard of the US government issued ‘I Bonds’ until Mike wrote me this response to one of our discussions on the podcast: “I got a good chuckle over the part where we speculate that Fritz is selling bonds because they are doing soooo poorly. Check out bond fund ‘TLT’ this year. Better yet, check the I Bonds rate as of 11/1 and let me know how badly that fits into a plan. “ Then I saw this CNBC article last week about I Bonds entitled “Couples can fight inflation with 7.12% risk-free interest on $40,000 with this year-end move” and my interest was officially piqued. I never give financial advice, but just try to pass along things we’re doing personally and I can say that I’m moving forward opening an individual account for both Laura and me and funding each with the max $10,000 per person in 2021 and most likely again in 2022 with a similar amount. The interest rate changes every 6 months on these I Bonds, but with inflation at a higher-than-normal level and that being a component of how the return is calculated on these bonds, I

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December 14, 2021

No Shortcuts (In Life or FI) “There are no shortcuts in this game (of life). Everyone wants to buy the shortcut, that’s how Men’s Health magazine survives.  No one wants to hear just go to the gym 3 times a week and lift some heavy things and then sleep 8 hours. There are no shortcuts.  The shortcut is to be consistent.”       – Pro poker player Chris Sparks on the Jorgenson’s Soundbox Podcast This quote reminded me so much of the FI Mindset of long-term thinking, consistently putting in effort and doing hard things. There’s no get rich quick scheme that’s going to work miracles, no 5-day fitness program that will get you strong and healthy. You have to do the work, consistently, over years and decades. And there are going to be hard times, and periods where it feels like you’re not making progress, but with that long-term mindset and knowing there are no shortcuts, you’ll always have a North Star to guide you. Sleep Optimization & Sunlight Exposure I focus a lot on sleep optimization in my own life, as it is becoming clear that sleep is one of the biggest determining factors for performing your best. Dr.

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December 7, 2021

What are you Trying to Master? With the help of author Daniel Pink’s framework, we’ve identified five main motivating factors that drive much of human behavior:  Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, Identity and Connection. I want to focus today on ‘Mastery’, as I think this aspect of motivation often gets overlooked entirely. Sure, many students and those early in their careers are consciously pursuing knowledge and mastery, but honestly, how many older people are actually trying to “master” any new skill or learn anything new at all? I think the answer is just about nobody. Routines turn into ruts and we just don’t have the energy, time or motivation to even attempt to learn anything new. I know I was guilty of this for a solid decade of my adult life.  But something shifted and I now relish the “white belt beginner’s mindset” which amounts to being terrible at something but soaking up all the knowledge I can with a long-term goal of attaining some level of mastery. I still have a long way to go, but just in the past five years I’ve taken up weightlifting, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Japanese language. It’s motivating knowing each is a long-term effort that may take

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November 30, 2021

Simple Tips for Online Security I recently chatted with a friend in the cyber security field about some of the common-sense online security practices I follow, and he thought it was a good 80/20 analysis of low-hanging fruit to get the vast majority of the benefits of being safe online without it being overwhelming.  There’s always another rabbit hole to dive down in online security (VPNs, throwaway email addresses, etc., etc.), so this is not an authoritative list certainly, but just some smart practices you can implement today to be a little bit safer: Turn on Two-Factor Authentication (extra login security notifications, etc.) everywhere possible.  This includes all financial sites, plus high value accounts like all your email and social media. Use a highly regarded password manager such as Lastpass or 1Password and take the time to update every password so it is unique and generated with 20+ characters, with symbols, numbers and letters. Then make sure your “master password” is something you’ll never forget but is as unbreakable as possible! Do everything you can to NOT click on links in emails you receive purporting to be “official” emails. These ‘phishing’ emails are quite sophisticated so even if they look official, I just

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