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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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Explore the Archives

September 26, 2023: Internal Energy Audit, Wisdom from Munger, Daily Routines

Positive and Negative Energy Audit It’s rare that I find something so good that I paste it here in its entirety, but I found this exercise on Twitter from Tim Ferriss and I think every one of us needs to implement this for a better life starting today: 1. Grab a notepad and create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE. 2. Go through your calendar from the last 12 months, looking at every week. 3. For each week, jot down on the pad any people or activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Put them in their respective columns. 4. Once you’ve gone through the past 12 months, look at your notepad list and ask, “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?” 5. Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in the next 12 months. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for activities/events/commitments that you know work. It’s not real until it’s in the calendar. That’s step one. Step two is to take your “negative” leaders, put “NOT-TO-DO LIST” at the top, and put them somewhere you can

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September 19, 2023: Rewards Case Study, Negotiation in Action, What Can You Do With Your Money?

Case Study: Redeeming Rewards Points for NYC I recently took my daughter Molly to NYC for the first time and we booked two great travel rewards redemptions I wanted to pass along. Flights: British Airways is a transfer partner of all the major transferable currencies, so their ‘Avios’ miles are easy to come by. Little known secret: You can use Avios to book flights on American Airlines and it often costs fewer miles than if you had AA miles!  This is known as a travel rewards “sweet spot” where you use an alliance partner’s miles to book travel on another partner’s flights for fewer miles than normal. Avios work best in the US for short, direct flights on AA and fortunately there is a direct Richmond to LaGuardia (NYC) flight we were able to each book for only 15,000 Avios points round-trip. Hotel: There are over a dozen Hyatt hotels in Manhattan and we found the Thompson Central Park hotel in the perfect location and booked it for 25,000 Hyatt points per night. This was a $700+ per night room, so that was a nearly 3 cent per point redemption, which is a big win. All-in this trip cost us

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September 12, 2023: Salary Negotiation, Full Value of Money, Time Savers

Salary Negotiation and FI The Financial Mechanic joined us in Episode 454 to update her 7 Step framework to negotiate your salary and other benefits. Listening to this episode is one of the most important things you can do this week – it’s that valuable.  Here are some highlights: Appreciating the Full Value of Your Money Here’s an email from Ben with a great perspective on Financial Independence: “You’ve talked about reframing the FI message as spending on what you value (including investing) rather than only saving every penny for later. I had a thought: Maybe FI isn’t the right term for this, but really the imperative thing – the message that everyone needs to hear isn’t just to budget, invest, and become financially independent. What’s most important is to realize that you could do that, so that you appreciate the full value of your money. Then, to look mortality in the face so you truly see the limits and value of your time, relationships, etc. Once you have that perspective, you’re equipped to make intentional decisions about what you want to prioritize. You will understand the tradeoffs of taking on debt, purchasing something nice right now, or sacrificing spending

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September 5, 2023: Gift Tax, Time Savers, Credit as Debit, Food Stamps to FI

2023 Gift Tax Exclusion The 2023 gift tax exclusion is $17,000. This means you can gift anyone $17,000 and: This $17k exclusion is per recipient and for each person gifting, so let’s say you’re married and you have two children.  You and your spouse each can give $17k to each of your children this year, so they each could get $34k in gifts ($68k total) without any tax consequences (or filing requirement) for anyone. If you want to go deeper here’s an article from Smart Asset.   Time Savers From The Community Continuing our recap of time saving strategies from community members: Credit Card as a Debit Card Strategy When I met Bob Sharpe, he told me about a YouTube video he published to show how he uses his credit card to earn rewards points, but tracks the spending in his digital bank register as if it were a debit card. Every swipe of the credit card gets deducted from his bank account tracking as if it were a debit payment.  That way there is no chance he can overspend his account. If you came from Dave Ramsey, or had issues with credit card debt in the past, I think

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August 29, 2023: Time Saving Tools, Best Uses of Capital One Miles, Ep 452 Takeaways

Time Saving Tools From the Community Last week I asked you to write in with time saving tips and tools and wow, did we get an amazing response! Over the course of the next few months, I’m going to share many of these gems: One of the most interesting ones came from Lina: As a mom of 5 kids aged 10 and under, this one hack saves me hours EVERY SINGLE WEEK: I don’t sort laundry, and each person’s laundry gets washed in its own color-coded mesh laundry bag. Why mix things that then need to be separated? Just always keep them separate! All you have to do is zip the bag, and toss it in the laundry with another bag or two (depending on how full they are). I did a huge amount of research to find the perfect bags, and we use these AMAZING mesh zippered laundry bags from Texon Towels, which college sports teams use to do their athletes’ laundry at the same time. To get the largest size, which holds about a week’s worth of laundry, the 24″ x 36″, you need to contact the company directly to get a quantity less than 12, but their

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August 22, 2023: Time Saving Tools, Mini-Retirements, Decluttering Benefits

Crowdsourcing Time Saving Tools A few weeks ago, we talked about “money rules” that Ramit Sethi made up for his own life and that prompted Sean to write in with the following ask of you, the community, to come through with a crowdsourced list: “The money rules that talk about time saving made want me to ask if we can crowdsource a list of purchases that are time savers? For example, I have Bluetooth tracker tiles on all my car keys and our wallets so we never have to search for them. About $40 for never having to search for your wallet and keys again is worth it to me. With thanks, Sean” I’d love it if you hit reply to this email and give an example of a timesaving product or service that you’re using in your life that you’d recommend to the wider ChooseFI community. Recap of Episode 451 with Jillian Johnsrud on Mini-Retirements David wrote in after last week’s email and said: “The real value for the newsletter for me, as someone who doesn’t have time to listen to every ChooseFI podcast episode is to be able to glean information through your summarized bullet points. The last

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August 15, 2023: Negotiate Your Salary, A Family Taking Action Plus Community Wins

Negotiate Your Salary One of the enduring lessons from our podcast is this: “Everything is negotiable.” I was reminded of this essential lesson by the Financial Mechanic, who I just recorded an episode with that will come out in early September. She gives us an update on her ‘7 Negotiation Tips and Scripts’ for salary negotiation and really dives into the lessons that she used to double her salary and negotiate an international work arrangement. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about getting a new job and don’t want to leave money on the table or want to negotiate your salary in your current job, these are the 3 essential ChooseFI episodes you must listen to: A Family Taking Action I received an amazing email from Rick that I wanted to paste here in the newsletter for your reading enjoyment. This is a remarkable tale of action in a short time period they’ve listened to ChooseFI and I hope it’s inspiring to you: First, thank you! I found this podcast probably about 6 months ago and its now a must-listen for me every week in addition to running through all the great historical content. I didn’t think it was possible to feel a

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August 8, 2023: When to Sell I Bonds, Cap Gains Tax 101, Nature in 20 Minutes

I Bonds: Best Time to Sell? Sean Mullaney and I discussed ‘I Bonds’ on Episode 447 and just after we published that episode I came across this short, but amazingly thorough article from the Doctor of Credit website called ‘When to Sell off Our I Bonds’ thanks to a post in our ChooseFI Facebook group. This is the article you are looking for if you purchased Series I Bonds at the height of their interest rates in 2021 and 2022 and want to know the best time to sell so you minimize the interest lost with the 3-month penalty (you lose the last 3 months of interest if you sell your I Bonds within the first 5 years). Capital Gains Taxes 101 Two weeks ago in the newsletter I included a section on income limits for the 0% Federal Tax rate on long-term capital gains, and my friend Jesse from The Best Interest blog and podcast sent me an email with his excellent article on Capital Gains Taxes 101 that I think will be really valuable for many of you to read. This is truly a FI 101 topic that is foundational to understand what capitals gains are and how they are taxed.  We’ll all

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August 1, 2023: Roundup is Back, Local Group Case Studies, Half FI = 75% FI?

Roundup is Back! Fun news: we brought back the “roundup” podcast episodes with yesterday’s release of “Episode 448: July Roundup!” Ginger, my cohost on the episode, and longtime community member, loved the roundups that Jonathan and I did in the early years of the show and thought they provided a way to further cement the learnings gleaned from the episodes. In Ep 448, I referred to an article on ‘Return on Hassle’ that Nick Maggiulli (former guest on Ep 404) wrote about The FI Couple and the hassle vs. return of their real estate portfolio. I think ‘return on hassle’ is an important concept to keep in mind as we all contemplate our investment strategies, and Nick’s article does a great job illustrating this. Since this is truly the “Ultimate Crowdsourced Personal Finance Show,” I am doing everything I can to bring you, the community, into the show with more mailbag episodes (see episode 447 with Sean Mullaney) where we can answer questions, highlight wins, and much more. So keep the questions, suggestions, and wins coming by hitting reply to any of these FI Weekly newsletters! Local Group Case Studies Diania Merriam, founder of the EconoMe Conference, recently published this incredible post about

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July 25, 2023: Real Estate ‘Buy Box’, 0% Cap Gains Income Limits, Top Recommended Rewards Cards

Chad Carson’s Real Estate ‘Buy Box’ Chad Carson joined us last week on Episode 446 of ChooseFI to talk about his ‘Small and Mighty’ framework for real estate investing and it was so invigorating to see a successful real estate investor understand what enough means, instead of constantly striving for more. The episode is fantastic, so if you haven’t listened yet, hit download on your podcast player of choice. Chad also offered a special free pdf download only for readers of the FI Weekly that describes his personal ‘buy box’ – the criteria he looks for when purchasing a property. This pdf looks simple, but it is truly hard won wisdom learned over a 15+ year real estate investing career, so it’s incredibly valuable and well worth the download in my opinion. As a note, Chad’s book came out last week and he and offered our community a 10% discount if you use the coupon code ‘choosefi.’ 2023 Income Limits for 0% Capital Gains I found the CNBC article “Here’s how much you can make and still pay 0% capital gains taxes for 2023″ and I wanted to feature it here in the newsletter this week because it highlights a major benefit for those of us in

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July 18, 2023: FI Community’s Money Rules, What I’m Reading & Watching

FI Community’s Money Rules In last week’s newsletter I linked to a Ramit Sethi post about his ten ‘Money Rules’ and then asked you to respond with some of your money rules. Here are some of the amazing responses you sent in (this is a longer newsletter today because I wanted to include so many of these emails): ·  Alison’s money rules: “1) Save & invest 50% the second my paycheck hits my account 2) Always have 3 months emergency cash fund 3) Any purchase is always bought in full 4) It’s always worth paying more for a direct flight 5) Vacations are not the time to worry about money 6) Don’t buy a salad at a burger restaurant 7) Don’t loan anything out that you want to have back 8) Talk about investing and savings to anyone who will listen! 9) When you’ve decided to spend, spend without guilt 10) Only buy second hand clothing (this one is more for the planet) ·  Rachel’s money rule: “Like so many FI’ers, I had a hard time overcoming the guilt of spending after so many years dedicated to saving. A few years ago, I came up with a solution that flipped the mental

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July 11, 2023: Personal Money Rules, Emergency Binder, Art of Stillness

Your Personal Money Rules If you haven’t listened to Episode 444 of ChooseFI with Doug Cunnington and Carl Jensen on ‘Spending for Happiness’ that came out last week, I think it was one of our best and most important episodes. We’re already talking about doing round 2 soon! We talked about Ramit Sethi’s “Money Rules” and I referenced an outdated version, but just found that Ramit posted his updated list of 10 Money Rules last week on Twitter. Along the lines of ‘spending for happiness,’ the ones that jump out to me are: I think this is a fascinating exercise for you to take on for your own life and I’d love to hear about it so hit reply and let me know a Money Rule you set up for yourself that has added value to your life. FI Essential: Emergency Binder Michael Girdley went viral on Twitter a few days ago with his thread on ‘The Green Box Exercise’ for how to prepare to make life easier for your loved ones in the days after you die. This was a comprehensive look at all the documents and contacts you need to have listed out for your family members so they are not flailing around looking for essential

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