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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:

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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

FI Weekly – February 16, 2021

PSA: Tax Season is Here The IRS started accepting the filing of 2020 tax returns on February 12th, so tax season is officially here. Most major brokerages such as Vanguard and Fidelity provided consolidated 1099 tax forms this week. That means 95% of us can gather all our forms and start filing this week.  Two things to watch out for:  1) If you have a form K-1 coming from a partnership or S-corp, those can come in up until 3/15  2) If you’ve received amended 1099s in prior years, it might be worth holding off a few weeks before filing.  Based on some backlogs at the IRS, e-filing your return is strongly recommended.  Mental Math: Estimating I’m constantly looking for useful strategies and mental models that will help us all lead better lives. One came up this week that was interesting enough to share: The critical importance of estimating.  My daughter was trying to figure out exactly how long she was in virtual school each day after subtracting for recess and lunch.  I estimated she was in school from 8 am through 1 pm (5 hours) and had about an hour total for recess and lunch subtracted. So, I knew

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FI Weekly – February 9, 2021

1% Better: Life Insurance Comparison Pursuing FI is all about taking small actions that, when compounded, add up to big results. This past month I’ve received (and shared here in the FI Weekly) a bunch of success stories of people who got insurance quotes that saved them hundreds of dollars a year on either their auto, home, or life insurance policies. We had Jennifer Fitzgerald, the Co-Founder and CEO of Policygenius, on the show on Episode 132R to walk us through a framework for what types of insurance we need in different stages of our lives. Since then, we’ve come to really like and trust the team at Policygenius and I think you’ll be impressed with them as well. Your action this week should be to review your term life insurance policy and then take 5 minutes and head over to Policygenius to get quotes from 10+ top insurance providers. I think you’ll be surprised by the potential savings! Voicemail Request: Money & Relationships Our friend Jillian Johnsrud from the Everyday Courage podcast is joining us on an upcoming ChooseFI episode to discuss money and relationships and we want to feature YOUR voicemail questions. If you have a question about

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FI Weekly – February 2, 2021

Quote I’m Pondering My brother sent me this quote from the book “Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: Using the Power of Questions to Communicate, Connect, and Persuade” by Trey Gowdy, which I submit to you for reflection in these tumultuous times:  “The world will be a quieter, less hostile place if we replace the desire to shout with the desire to be heard, if we replace the desire to win the argument with the desire to move the person who wants to argue, and if we reserve for ourselves some of the toughest questions we can conjure up.” Ask questions and try to understand where people are coming from! You’ll have a better understanding of the world and a whole lot more empathy for your fellow humans.  Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast: Season 2 Launch Alan Donegan is back with Season 2 of the Rebel Entrepreneur Podcast! It is one of my favorite podcasts, so I’m incredibly excited. This week, along with his PopUp Business School co-founder Simon Paine and Katie Coombes, they dropped part 1 of the PopUp Foundational Principles they’ve developed over the past 12 years helping 10,000+ people start their own businesses.  Alan is the leading voice in the FI

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FI Weekly – January 26, 2021

Mental Models: FI Math A few weeks ago, I talked about the importance of mental models to leveling up our problem-solving abilities. I came across an article in the Washington Post yesterday that happened to be about the UK coronavirus variant and its increased reproduction rate and I thought it was a perfect example for the FI Weekly. My bringing this up here isn’t necessarily about coronavirus, but the increased level of understanding we all have when we understand exponential math, the math behind the compound growth of our money, and mental models generally. The article noted that in a Facebook post, the Danish “Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told people to imagine sitting in the top row of Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium, a soccer arena with a capacity of 38,000 people. A dripping tap is filling it up, one drop the first minute, two drops the second, four drops the third. At that rate, Frederiksen said, the park will be filled in 44 minutes. But it will seem almost empty for the first 42 minutes, she said. “The point is, you only realize that the water has risen when it’s almost too late.”” When you work backwards with it doubling every minute, the

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FI Weekly – January 19, 2021

FI Wisdom – Berkshire Hathaway Edition I came across quotes from two of my heroes, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger from Berkshire Hathaway, that I think do an incredible job of encapsulating the two aspects of the journey to FI:  Warren Buffett: “Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.”  Charlie Munger: “There were a lot of questions today — people trying to figure out what the secret to life is, to a long and happy life…The secret is easy, because it’s so simple:  You don’t have a lot of envy.  You don’t have a lot of resentment.  You don’t overspend your income.  You stay cheerful in spite of your troubles.  You deal with reliable people.  And you do what you’re supposed to do.  And all these simple rules work so well to make your life better. And they’re so trite.”  New Podcast I’m Enjoying ChooseFI community member Heidi Dusek recently started a podcast called ‘Ordinary Sherpa’ and it’s genuinely fantastic! The theme of the podcast is to “help families connect through simple and authentic adventure experiences” and our very own Edmund Tee was featured in Episode 8.  Give it a listen:  Ordinary Sherpa And

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FI Weekly – January 12, 2021

Favorite Books List I was blown away by the response to last week’s newsletter asking you to send me the best book you’ve read in the past year. I can’t thank you all enough for the overwhelming response!  I’m still digging out from the deluge of emails and hope to publish a much longer list of recommended books in the future, but in the meantime, here are the books mentioned most frequently:  Atomic Habits by James Clear (guest on Episode 157 of ChooseFI)  The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel  The Wealthy Gardener by John Soforic  Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins  Die with Zero by Bill Perkins  Deep Work by Cal Newport  The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran  Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari  Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss  Quote I’m Pondering James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (the #1 most recommended book above), on Episode 145 of the ‘Feel Better, Live More’ podcast with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee:  “If there is ever a gap between your goal and your system; if there’s ever a gap between your desired outcome and your daily habits, your daily habits will always win. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions were. It doesn’t matter what you hoped to achieve. It’s what your habits

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FI Weekly – January 5, 2021

2021 is Here: Start Contributing Happy New Year!  Now’s the time to take action on filling up your 2021 contributions to your accounts including HSA, IRA, 401k, 403b, 457, etc.  Thanks to my trusty ToDoIst reminder to max out my HSA, we already contributed the family maximum of $7,200 for 2021.  (as an aside, I was recently asked for HSA company recommendations and the two we see recommended most frequently are Fidelity and Lively for low or no-fee options.)  Here’s an article from The Motley Fool discussing the 2021 limits, but in general terms, for workers under 50, they are as follows:  401k: $19,500 employee contribution  IRA (traditional and Roth): $6,000  HSA: $7,200 family ($3,600 individual)  Back to Basics: JL Collins Returns The ChooseFI podcast continues our ‘back to basics’ theme into 2021 with some exciting news: JL Collins returned as a guest in Episode 284! Check it out and be comforted by Jim’s incredible message of low-cost index funds being your highest likelihood of long-term wealth building success.  And a sneak peek for readers of the FI Weekly: Brandon, The Mad Fientist, will appear on the podcast in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! He’s been working on a passion project that I know he’s

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FI Weekly – December 29, 2020

​ 1% Better: It’s Always a Choice Brian Eufinger, 2-time podcast guest (episodes 114 and 154 on college scholarships and student aid) and co-founder of SAT & ACT prep company Edison Prep, emailed me an amazing YouTube video called “The Choice” and I’d highly recommend you take 4 minutes and watch it.  This animated video is the perfect representation of the compounding benefits of making better choices in your life, from listening to an audiobook instead of the cortisol-inducing news, to going to the gym instead of just sitting on the couch and watching Netflix.  “Small choices become actions, actions become habits, and habits become our way of life.”  Watch “The Choice” Community Businesses Started in 2020 I wanted to highlight some ChooseFI community members who started businesses in 2020 and are thriving even amidst all the craziness this year has brought.  I’m planning to make this a regular part of the FI Weekly, so if you have a success story of a newly started business, let me know!  Bryan started ‘3×5 Life’, a company that sells super elegant and convenient gratitude journals that fit on a 3×5 index card. I’ve heard the benefits of a gratitude practice on happiness levels

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FI Weekly – December 22, 2020

​ End of Year Review and Planning for 2021 We are finally nearing the end of 2020 (insert your favorite exclamation/expletive here)! This has been such an unusual year in so many ways and it’s critical to get everything in order financially and mentally before the end of the year and have a plan to move forward into 2021 with some momentum to get after your goals. Here are some resources I think will help: For the first time in my life, I’m truly conducting an annual review and setting goals for the upcoming year. Stephen from our Foundation’s free FI 101 course, introduced me to Chris Guillebeau’s article on laying out annual goals that are specific and measurable with concrete action steps and it really appealed to me. I think you’ll find this method valuable: Set your goals Our team put together an excellent Year-End Financial Checklist that I think is well worth your time. We always talk about taking action, and now’s the time to review some of the pillars of your financial life: Complete the checklist Sean Mullaney, the FI Tax Guy, joined us on ChooseFI Episode 274 to discuss year-end tax moves for 2020 and what you need

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FI Weekly – December 15, 2020

​ Mental Models for Clearer Thinking Financial Independence is about so much more than the nuts and bolts of money. It’s about building an empowering mindset that helps you thrive no matter what the world throws at you.  And 2020 has sure thrown a lot at us.  One of the best ways to be prepared mentally is to upgrade your mental toolbox, so you can work through problems clearly and rationally, even when faced with something new and unexpected.  I was first introduced to the concept of ‘mental models’ in Charlie Munger’s “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” and it has formed the foundation for how I approach problem-solving.  Similar to the ‘talent stack’ concept, building mental models starts with having a basic understanding of a diverse set of disciplines, from cognitive biases to economics, to physics, chemistry, and biology to probabilistic thinking and beyond.  As Shane Parrish, host of ‘The Knowledge Project’ podcast, wrote in his book The Great Mental Models Vol. 1:  “Not having the ability to shift perspective by applying knowledge from multiple disciplines makes us vulnerable. Mistakes can become catastrophes whose effects keep compounding, creating stress and limiting our choices. Multidisciplinary thinking, learning these mental models and applying them across

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FI Weekly – December 08, 2020

Live ‘Year End Wins’ Event Tonight Jonathan and I are hosting a Facebook Live event tonight (12/8) at 7:30 pm EST and we’d love for you to join us! We’ll be chatting with 20+ community members sharing their 2020 wins with the ChooseFI community. This will be inspirational and a great way to encourage us all as we move into 2021. Join the Live Event ChooseFI: Friends of the Library In response to my “free events in your town” section last week, Jami wrote in: “Hi Brad – regarding the low-cost and free family entertainment options, also inquire at your local library. A number of them have passes to museums and exhibitions that you can “check out,” allowing you to visit a place charging admission for free.” Next time you visit the library, approach the librarian, and ask if they have any interesting or unusual items available to check out. You might be surprised at what you find! Here’s a list of 200 unusual items available at libraries across the country: Check It Out! Tiny Habits to Change Your Life Gavin sent me a really interesting email about small habits that can dramatically improve your life: “I just read this article and

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FI Weekly – December 01, 2020

Free Events in Your Town/City On one of our earliest episodes, Liz from Frugalwoods.com taught us something that might be counterintuitive: Entertainment in a city can be incredibly inexpensive. Free in many cases. There are many cultural events, museum exhibits, and university offerings (among many others) that are completely free – if you just take the time to look for them. My family loves outdoor activities and we learned that The Valentine museum offers free “self-guided Richmond history tours” complete with pdf walking guides and maps. 2 of the past 3 weekends we’ve set out, maps in hand, and explored areas of the city we’d only ever heard about! What activities can you find for free in your local area? Words to Live By: Alan Donegan Edition Our good friend Alan Donegan from the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast posted a video on Facebook about a 40 burpees per day physical fitness challenge he’s taking part in with his wife Katie. The video of Alan & Katie doing their burpees rocked my world: At the end of each burpee, they each jumped as high as they possibly could. I wrote to Alan, “Those are legit jumps at the end!” To which he responded, “Push

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