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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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Interested in past newsletters? View the full set of previous emails here!

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Explore the Archives

April 27, 2021

A Deep Dive Into a New World I always try to be intellectually open and honest, plus let you know when I’m experimenting with new things, so here’s an update: I recently jumped into the world of blockchain technology, DeFI (decentralized finance), smart contracts, NFTs and even a bit of cryptocurrencies to a degree that surprises even me. Simply put, I am 100% certain this technology is going to change the world in a manner similar to how the internet changed everything. So, I’m just trying to learn, learn, learn at this point. If you aren’t paying attention to this space, you need to start at least becoming aware of it. I’m still unclear how cryptocurrencies are invented out of thin air, most do nothing productive and just seem to be speculative. That will never add up and I suspect most will vanish. And I could spout Warren Buffett quotes at you like, Bitcoin is “probably rat poison squared.” But then I listened to smart people I respect like Mark Cuban and the potential of the underlying technology became clear. This CNBC article on Cuban said, “If Cuban were to start a company today, he would also utilize new technology —

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April 20, 2021

All the Hacks My friend Chris Hutchins, who appeared on Episode 71 of ChooseFI and again on Episode 121R with one of the most important segments we’ve ever published, entitled “How to Get Any Job”, just started up his own podcast called “All The Hacks” that I highly recommend subscribing to.  I’m going to be a guest on an early episode and I’m brainstorming some of my favorite life hacks; off the top of my head, here are a few:  I’d love for you to hit reply to this email and send me one or two of your favorite hacks!  Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover I’m reading Matthew McConaughey’s memoir “Greenlights” and I’m blown away by how good it is. The most deeply introspective memoir on living a good life I’ve ever come across kind of good. Makes you look differently at how you’re living kind of good.  And I’m embarrassed to admit I would have written it off entirely until I heard him on the Armchair Expert podcastand I realized he has knowledge about living life that I could deeply benefit from (I must have some previously undiscovered bias against actors, because I would have assumed Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast would be a

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April 13, 2021

Live Event Tonight We’re testing recording the ChooseFI podcast in a live format, and the Stereo app I mentioned previously wasn’t quite ready for what we needed. So, the experiment moves on:  We’re doing a Facebook Live tonight (Tuesday 4/13) at 7:30 pm ET with Frank Vasquez, host of the ‘Risk Parity Radio’ podcast and a prior guest on one of our most popular episodes (Episode 194 about the role of bonds in your portfolio).  Tonight’s live is about the nuances of investment portfolios, asset allocation, drawdown, and how to build a portfolio with non-correlated investments.  With this event you can actually join us live (video and audio) on the show, so click the link below and have some technical questions ready for Frank!  Join the Live Event 1% Better: Impact of Investment Fees Mary sent in a response to last week’s FI Weekly that I wanted to highlight:  “Just wanted to update you about our LITERAL 1% better this week was detaching our financial advisor from our accounts. One email later our investments don’t need to change and we dropped her 1% in fees! Thanks as always for your content!”  Every few months I want to remind you just

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April 6, 2021

​ On Motivation Sal Khan, founder of the incomparable Khan Academy (if you have children and are looking to improve their math skills for FREE, there’s no better way than Khan Academy), was a guest on People I (Mostly) Admire.’ This quote from Sal on motivation jumped out to me:  “One of the big questions when we started, especially a not for profit, was how are we going to attract top talent, especially in a place like Silicon Valley where people could go work at Google and Facebook and get all the stock options and whatever else.  And I remember reading a study back when I was a hedge fund analyst and it said that beyond a certain level, pay and things like bonuses, actually they’re not that great of an incentive. Or they can even be a disincentive at some point.  And what really people care about: they definitely need enough pay to feel valued, and feel like they can support their family at a reasonable standard of living, but beyond that it’s all about having mission that you feel a real purpose, feeling that you are working around other people who are alongside and are invested in you and having

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March 30, 2021

​ What Was Your Best Decision Ever? Dr. Peter Attia asked Steve Levitt, Ph.D. the co-author of Freakonomics on Episode 154 of ‘The Drive’ podcast, “What’s the best decision you think you’ve ever made?” and Steve’s response was insightful:  “I don’t know if you’d actually call it a decision, but the decision to not care what people think about me…I somehow just made a choice to just not care what other people thought about me. Which was a big choice for me because like most high school kids all I cared about was what other people thought about me, and at some point, I just broke with that and was happy to live with the consequences and it’s just a great way to live. It just frees you up from so much burden. I think all of my best decisions are ones that relieved burden.”  Do You Know a Young Entrepreneur? We released ChooseFI Episode 308 yesterday with Rob Phelan from The Simple StartUp and I love Rob’s starting point of: “Do You Have A Budding Entrepreneur at Home?”  If you do, you’ll want to help them explore the concepts of business building so it becomes part of their everyday

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March 23, 2021

​ PSA: Tax Filing Deadline Extended The IRS just extended the filing date of your federal income tax return from April 15 to May 17, 2021. I was pleasantly surprised to see this from the IRS: “Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.”  This is an extension of time to file AND pay for 2020.  If you’re self-employed or otherwise pay quarterly estimated tax payments, keep in mind your 2021 Q1 payment is still due April 15th.  ​This Nerd Wallet article provides further detail and also indicates your deadline for IRA and HSA contributions is extended to 5/17 as well!  Keep an eye on your state’s filing deadline as many states might move the deadline back in response to the fed’s change.  Tonight’s Live Episode: College Alternatives I received such overwhelming feedback on last week’s section about Google moving forward with their Certificate Program as a college alternative that we realized this was a pain point that needed further exploration.  Because of this, our team completely updated the “Should You Go to College” article on Choosefi.com and Jonathan

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March 16, 2021

​ Disrupting Higher Education I’ve become a fan of The Hustle’s email newsletter for the variety of business stories and their post this week, “Google Goes After Higher Ed,” caught my eye.  Last year, Google announced plans to offer certificate programs that would take the place of a college degree, for some roles, in their own notoriously difficult hiring process. The thought was that this would give cover to other companies to move away from requiring the general undergraduate degree as a prerequisite.  In the modern economy, skills matter. If a degree helps you get those skills then wonderful. If you can get them from an online program for a fraction of the cost, then all the better.  We’ve highlighted this with Jonathan and Bradley Rice’s Salesforce Challenge on Episode 297, where Anita went from a layoff to a six-figure career in a few short months, and we’ve long spoken about the ‘talent stack’ of skills you need to build to be uniquely employable in today’s economy.  ​Inc.com updated us on Google’s plans this week and they are moving forward with:  “The release of three new Google Career Certificates on Coursera in project management, data analytics, and user experience (UX) design  A new

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March 9, 2021

Expected Value in Decision Making I’m reading the book ‘DUCY? Exploits, Advice, and Ideas of the Renowned Strategist’ by poker player David Sklansky and he does a great job explaining a critical concept in decision making that you need to add to your list of mental models: Expected Value (EV)  “Expected value arises most frequently when you must make financial decisions about uncertain outcomes. However, it’s also useful for other types of decisions if you can convert the alternatives to numerical values.  If you don’t convert, you may be unable to compare two or more uncertain possibilities. But when you see EV, you convert your decision into a comparison between specific numbers, and then usually, but not always, select the alternative with the highest EV.  …Suppose I tell you, “I will give you $120 if you take this die and roll a three.” That’s nice of me, but exactly how nice is it? Hopefully you will see that I am as nice as a person who hands you a $20 bill.  That’s the EV of my offer. If I let you roll six times, you would have gotten (on average) my gift of $120 the one time that you rolled

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March 2, 2021

Quote I’m Pondering “Comparison is the thief of joy” – President Theodore Roosevelt  It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others around you in almost every aspect of life, regardless of how successful or well off you are. In this regard, humans compare on a relative basis, not an absolute one. Those around us matter the most in this comparison.  One of the best aspects of joining the FI Community is that we’ve stepped off that “keeping up with the Joneses” hamster wheel and aren’t as concerned about what others think. Subtracting this ‘thief of joy’ is an often-overlooked benefit of FI that I wanted to point out.  Aggregation of Marginal Gains We talk quite often at ChooseFI about the power of making small 1% changes that compound to something great. This is the concept of the “aggregation of marginal gains” we were introduced to from the British Cycling team where each individual change can seem almost meaningless, but when aggregated together can be life changing (or Tour de France winning in their case).  I cam across an article on CNBC that explained the concept brilliantly and this one section stuck out to me:  “Brailsford believed

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FI Weekly – February 23, 2021

Live Podcast Recording Tonight Starting tonight (2/23) at 7:30 pm EST, Jonathan and I are trying a 10-week experiment of recording our podcasts LIVE on a new app called Stereo!  We’re always wanted to do a radio-show format, so we’re looking to make this really fun and interactive (you can send in short voicemails through Stereo that we can play while we’re live).  We hope you join us tonight and be sure to open the link on your cell phone as it’ll help you download the app the first time, but then each week going forward use this same link as I’ll have it updated for that Tuesday’s 7:30 pm EST live recording:  Join the Live Event! Favorite Days of the Year Two of my favorite days of the year are coming up:  Daylight Savings Time starts here in Virginia in less than 3 weeks! I love getting that extra sunlight at night, and it reminds me that warmer weather is just around the corner.  On the money side, Warren Buffett is set to release his annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder’s Letter this coming Saturday morning (link below will have the new letter when published). I’ve long said that reading Mr.

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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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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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