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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 – June 20, 2023: Tax Penalty Removal, 2nd Gen FI Learning to Spend, Favorite T-Shirts

Tax Notices: Penalty Removal Request It’s the time of year where the IRS and state tax agencies send out tax notices for additional tax due, underpayment of estimated payments, etc. There are usually 3 components of the amount due on a tax notice:  Tax liability, interest, penalty. A tip that I’ve passed along on the podcast that has been really effective for many members of the ChooseFI community is that you can request an “abatement” (removal) of the penalty. I’m always careful to say this is NOT tax advice to you personally – just what I’ve experienced anecdotally in my career. The key to an abatement request is to write a short letter (or fill out IRS Form 843) in response to the taxing agency explaining that you made an honest mistake, you did not intend to underpay your tax liability and you have taken steps to make sure it won’t happen in the future. If owed, you would also include a check for the tax liability and interest along with this abatement request letter. For specific language to include in your abatement letter, I found many examples by Googling the topic. 2nd Generation FI: Learning to Spend One of our

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FI Weekly – June 13, 2023: A Year of Wins, Get Involved with ChooseFI, 7 Simple Money Rules

A Year’s Worth of Wins We call ChooseFI the ‘ultimate crowdsourced personal finance show’ for a reason: You, the community, continue to send in remarkable details of the actions you’re taking to transform your lives. Seeing these wins further emboldens other members of the community to take action and it’s a positive feedback loop. Here’s an email from Eric that just came in: “I can’t answer the ‘what I did last week’ question very well, but I can answer what I’ve done over the past year. FYI, I was never “bad” with money, but I never cared about it and didn’t truly understand the power it has to change your life. When I was younger, I never needed much, but I spent freely and saved the typical 5-10% like a chump. Here are my hot takes from the last year: – I turned 35 last May and decided that was a line in the sand for my family’s FI starting point. – We started to track all spending and calculated we were at about $330,000 net worth, which includes the equity in our house. – We sold my car and a side by side. Both were paid off and nice,

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FI Weekly – June 6, 2023: 4% Rule Too Conservative?, Expectations, National Parks and Bucket List Travel

Is the 4% Rule too Conservative for FI? Two former guests on our podcast, Brandon the ‘Mad Fientist’ and Nick Maggiulli, teamed up to produce a wonderful article on Brandon’s site called, “The Problem with the 4% Rule (and Why You Could Retire Even Sooner).” These are two smart, data driven individuals, and they didn’t disappoint in their analysis in this article, especially with the critical section ‘Incorporating Flexibility Into Your Withdrawal Strategy.’ Normally I’d curate my highlights here, but since I really want you to click through and read it in its entirety, please take my advice and click the above link. Ambitions, Expectations and Standards Shane Parrish, the host of The Knowledge Project podcast, posted something profound on Twitter that I wanted to quote in its entirety, as I think there’s essential wisdom here from Shane: “Big ambitions, low expectations, and high standards are a powerful combination for living your best life.Ambitions pull you forward when it’s hard because they connect you to something larger.  One of my most important ambitions is to be a great father. Another is to grow Syrus and FS (Brad’s note: his 2 companies). You can’t have a meaningful life without a connection to something larger than

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FI Weekly – May 30, 2023: Simple Path Basics, Positive Investing Philosophy, Great Hotel Redemptions

9 Basics of The Simple Path to Wealth I wanted to pass along two wonderful pieces of foundational content from two close friends of ChooseFI. We’ll start with JL Collins, and for this we’ll go back to one of his most important posts, “How I Failed My Daughter and a Simple Path to Wealth.” Here are JL’s 9 basics he described to his daughter to get on The Simple Path to Wealth, directly quoted from the article linked above (all links are to other JL blog posts): 1.       Avoid fiscally irresponsible people. Never marry one or otherwise give him access to your money. 2.       Avoid money managers. It’s your money and no one will care for it better than you. 3.       Avoid debt. 4.       Save a portion of every dollar you get. 5.       The greater the percent of your income you save and invest, the sooner you’ll have F-You money. Try 50%. With no debt, this perfectly doable. 6.       Put this money in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX). This is the fund you already own, so just keep adding to it. 7.       Realize the market and the value of your shares will sometimes drop dramatically. People all around you will

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FI Weekly – May 23, 2023: Real Estate Analysis Tool, Actions Taken on Insurance

Free Real Estate Investment Analysis Tool Our friends Ali & Josh from The FI Couple (Episode 430) created a free real estate deal analysis tool that I wanted to pass along here in the newsletter as I’ve been really impressed with them generally and I’m certain this will be quite valuable if you’re looking to get into real estate investing. They designed this free tool to help FI Community members interested in buying real estate understand the potential return on investment a real estate opportunity might offer. It is set up to help you determine specific metrics including: Cash on Cash Return, Net Operating Income, Cap Rate, One Percent Rule and then ultimately help you decide on the viability of making an offer on potential rental properties. Check out Ali & Josh’s free real estate analysis tool here. Actions Taken: Insurance Savings Last week, I challenged you to take action on your insurance policies to see if you could lower your premiums.  I want to highlight a few recent wins from the community for some extra inspiration: Ben wrote in, “For my 1% better I cancelled a whole life insurance policy, saving $550/month (I have adequate term coverage). This also will

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FI Weekly – May 16, 2023: Student Loan Forgiveness, Lower Insurance Premiums, Roth IRA Timing

Student Loan Forgiveness Update When we had Travis Hornsby from The Student Loan Planner on the podcast in August 2022, literally hundreds of members of the ChooseFI community took action to have their student loans forgiven. Travis was back on the show yesterday in Episode 437 of the ChooseFI podcast and the update is there is a new path to student loan forgiveness that is time sensitive (end of 2023) and now it’s much more broadly applicable. It seems like 25%-50% all student loan borrowers can benefit from this, so please, if you have student loans or know anyone who does, drop everything and listen to Episode 437.  It’s that critical. Travis was also kind enough to give members of the ChooseFI community a discount on their consultation and ‘custom student loan plan’ if you use this link. Take Action to Lower Your Insurance Premiums Mike wrote in with an email that serves as a challenge for all of us to take action: “Good news! My 1% better this week involves huge savings on insurance premiums for my two vehicles, renters insurance and the policy for my vacation home. By shopping for new policies, I was able to save over $3,100 in

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FI Weekly – May 9, 2023: Financial Advice for Your 28 Year Old Self, Berkshire Quotes, EconoMe 2023 Speeches

Financial Advice for Your 28-Year-Old Self Alicia posed an interesting question in our Facebook group this week (and wow, the group recently grew to over 100,000 members!!) that I wanted to include here in the FI Weekly, along with some of my favorite responses: Alicia asked, “If you could go back and tell your 28 year old self one piece of advice regarding finances, what would you tell yourself?” Some responses that jumped out to me among the nearly 250 comments: Berkshire Buffett and Munger Quotes The Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting was held this past weekend and as usual, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger shared essential wisdom and I wanted to pass along my favorites: Ebikes, Lazy Landlords and Much More I talked about the EconoMe conference on a recent podcast episode and mentioned a few of the main stage speeches in detail.  Enough people followed up with me specifically asking about Kevin Ha’s ebike presentation and James Lowery’s ‘Lazy Landlord’ speech that I wanted to link up the entire list of 8 main stage speeches that Diania just posted on the EconoMe YouTube feed. There were some real gems in here long on inspiration and if you have the time, I’d highly

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FI Weekly – May 2, 2023: Rethinking the Value, Cash Back Rewards, A Challenge Completed

Rethinking the Value I love it when a money concept is presented in a way that really hits home. An example is how we show that cutting $100 out of your monthly expenses equals $30,000 less you need in your net worth to reach financial independence. Cody Garrett from Measure Twice Money published a post on Twitter with a similar rethink on not passing up your 401k employer match: “Your 401(k) employer match is more than a small percentage of your income. A 4% match = more than 2 WEEKS of additional pay in the current year and nearly 3 YEARS of pay in retirement when contributing over 25 years with an 8% annualized return.” Cash Back Rewards Cards We spend a lot of time talking about maximizing credit card rewards points, but I don’t want to neglect you if you don’t travel much and just want some cold hard cash back from your credit cards. My friend Zac Hood, who is a member of the FI Community and the founder of ‘Travel Freely (a great app to keep track of your travel credit cards!),’ created a site & app called ‘CashFreely’ to help you maximize cash back credit card rewards. It’s the

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FI Weekly – April 25, 2023: Access Retirement Funds Before 59.5, Exercise for Longevity

How to Access Retirement Funds Before 59.5 Allen Mueller, a longtime member of the ChooseFI community and a fee-only financial planner, posted something interesting on Twitter yesterday that is fundamental FI knowledge, but I fear most of us aren’t familiar with each of these options: “It’s MISCONCEPTION MONDAY! “Your 401(k) money is locked up until age 59.5” Wrong. There are several ways to access this money early. And you can avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Just takes a little planning!” The Four ways: I recommend clicking through to Allen’s post for more detail to familiarize yourself and then if any of these are really pertinent, we’ve published multiple podcast episodes about the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder (Episode 17R and Episode 163R, plus an article on our site specifically detailing the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder) and the Mad Fientist posted an in-depth article about all four of these options. Exercise Protocols for Longevity Three of the people I follow most closely in the health and longevity field are: Peter Attia, Andrew Huberman and David Sinclair.  I just came across this excellent summary of each of their advice on exercise in the article “The Workouts Longevity Experts Swear By for a Longer, Healthier Life.” This article can save

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FI Weekly – April 18, 2023: Expressing Gratitude, The Wealth Letters, 5 Flexible Withdrawal Strategies, The Wealth Letters, 5 Flexible Withdrawal Strategies

Expressing Gratitude Susanna responded to last week’s newsletter with a story that I wanted to share with you, as it highlights the power of FI and is a reminder to thank those people in your life who have made an impact on you.  Here it is in Susanna’s words: “I learned about the FIRE movement in the summer of 2021 when I was very busy taking care of my mother who was dying of Stage 4 cancer. I was burnt out from caregiving and had to force myself to do the calculations to figure out my yearly expenses and how long it would take for me to reach my FIRE number. I was surprised to find out I only had two and a half more years until reaching my FIRE number. I asked my mom how long she thought it would take me to be able to retire early and she said 5 years. I said, “No Mom thanks to all of the lessons you shared with me about for frugality, investments, traveling on the cheap, bringing food with me on trips, buying standing room tickets instead of normal tickets for the ballet, opera etc, I can retire in half

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FI Weekly – April 11, 2023: Travel Rewards Wins, Exercise for Longevity, Book Anniversary

Travel Rewards for a Spring Break Win Our family just got back from an amazing spring break trip to the Bahamas, and it was a case study in how beneficial using travel rewards can be, both in the big obvious ways, but also in more subtle ways that add dramatically to the experience. The obvious wins were using American Airlines miles for 4 round-trip flights from Richmond to Nassau, Bahamas and using Marriott points for five free nights at the Atlantis Bahamas resort. The resort alone would have cost us over $800 a night which was reduced down to $0 (there are some pesky resort fees, but we would have paid this either way). The cost per night, with the “5th night free” promotion on Marriott redemptions was under 60,000 Marriott points.  This is about as good as it gets for Marriott points in my experience. The small additional benefits that make a huge difference that I’d highly recommend you looking into: As always, if you’re looking for all our resources on travel rewards, you can always find them at ChooseFI.com/travel Exercise as the Best Longevity Tool Dr. Peter Attia is someone I obsessively follow, so it’s no surprise I’m devouring

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FI Weekly – April 4, 2023: Inexpensive College Credits, Social Security and One More Year Syndrome, IRL Meetups

Inexpensive College Credit Options My older daughter is in high school and we recently met with her counselor to discuss course options for her next few years and in that discussion, the concept of ‘dual enrollment’ came up as an option for her. Dual enrollment allows current high school students to take college level courses, in her case it would be at the local community college, to earn high school credits (and potentially college credit at a four-year university in the future). That conversation and this CNBC article on 4 moves to save on college costs reminded me of two incredible episodes of ChooseFI where The Millionaire Educator gave step-by-step ways both him and his son have saved tens of thousands of dollars (and many years) on college credits and degrees: Social Security and One More Year Syndrome In a recent YouTube video, Sean Mullaney discusses a back-of-the-envelope way to think about the impact of an early retirement on Social Security benefits that I thought would be really useful for you to consider. I also asked Sean to summarize his findings and here’s what he said: “Oftentimes, a reduction in annual Social Security benefits should not be a driver for putting off retirement

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