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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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    • 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

February 21, 2023: FI Community Events, Book on Leadership, Calendar Audit

FI Community Events There are four FI Community events I wanted to make sure you were aware of: Important Book on Leadership I’m a lifelong soccer player and fan, and Abby Wambach is one of my all-time favorite players.  She was an inspirational leader on the field, a truly world-class player and someone who could dominate a match at will. Abby wrote a book on leadership called ‘WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game’ that Brené Brown said “is on my top five must-read leadership books.” It’s a powerful book that I couldn’t put down (finished in about 45 minutes!). This “call to the Wolfpack” particularly stuck out to me: “Be gratefulBut do not JUST be grateful.Be grateful AND brave.Be grateful AND ambitious.Be grateful AND righteous.Be grateful AND persistent.Be grateful AND loud.Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.” Calendar Audit I saw this great post on Twitter from Josh Spector with 10 quick questions to ask yourself about your calendar that will help boost productivity and free up time. Three of my favorites: ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week ​

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February 14, 2023: Secrets to a Great Retirement, Goals on an Index Card, Feroldi Newsletter

Secrets to a Great Retirement I just recorded a great episode of the podcast that’s set to come out in 3 weeks on practical drawdown strategies, and had the pleasure of recording it with Karsten (Big ERN) from Early Retirement Now and Fritz from The Retirement Manifesto. You’ve asked me for an episode on drawing down your assets in retirement and after seeing their fun “battle” on Twitter and in their joint article “Is the Bucket Strategy a Cheap Gimmick,” I knew this was the duo to help me tackle drawdown strategies. In researching for that article, I came across “7 Secrets to a Great Retirement” that Fritz recently published and I think it’s well worth your time to read it in full. In summary, they are: Goals on an Index Card and New Careers Shawn Jenkins is a good friend who I met in Greece at the FI Chautauqua event hosted by JL Collins, and now sits on the board of our non-profit ChooseFI Foundation. His career path is incredibly interesting: He was making $25k/year at a non-profit, then wrote his goal on a 3×5 index card: “$100,000 annual income in five years.” He went to Barnes & Noble,

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February 7, 2023: True Cost of Car Payments, Little Moments of Joy

True Cost of Car Payments I saw a recent stat that the average car payment hit $777 per month, and I was absolutely shocked that people would willingly take on that large of a required monthly payment for something that sits idle 98% of the time! I wanted to look at the financial ramifications of that decision from the FI perspective in two ways: For people who constantly ‘manage the payments’ on their cars and intend to just keep rolling into new cars every few years, then this $777 (or more!) will always be there. First and most simply, let’s remember that for every $100 in monthly expenses you add to your life, you need $30,000 more in your net worth to reach Financial Independence. That person then needs about $233,000 more in investable assets to reach FI thanks to that $777 per month expense as compared with someone who drives a paid off car. But let’s dive a little deeper on the true cost of that $777 per month ‘managed’ car payment vs. someone with the FI mindset and how they would come out nearly $2 million ahead (!) of the less optimized continual car payment person: As I described

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January 31, 2023: Skill of Spending, Tax Brackets, The Real Flex

The Skill of Spending Mr. Money Mustache was recently on Episode 377 of the BiggerPockets Money podcast, and he eloquently described something in a way I had not heard before. He talked about a lot of the fun of pursuing Financial Independence as developing your “skill of spending.” I’ve always referred to this in a related manner where I say pursuing FI is “living the same middle-class lifestyle as everyone else, but getting wealthy in the process.” MMM cut this to its essence when he described the ‘skill of spending’ as something worthy and laudable in and of itself. If everyone else is spending $100 per month for cell phone service and you can get a nearly identical plan for $15 through Mint Mobile, that is part of your skill of spending. If everyone else spends $5k+ to take their family on a vacation, while you used travel rewards points and saved on your car rental through Autoslash, that is part of your skill of spending. If everyone else buys the most expensive house they can pay for each month, but you’re in the same area and school district for a fraction of the price, that is part of your skill of spending. This skill of spending

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January 24, 2023: Keep Moving, Power of Consistency

Keep Moving As part of making 2023 my ‘healthiest year ever’ I am making a concerted effort to get outside and walk at least a mile every single day. While there isn’t anything magical about 10,000 steps per day necessarily, I think it’s directionally accurate in the sense that most of us simply don’t move enough. And that’s even for people like me who exercise and consider themselves healthy.  When I started tracking my steps, there was no other conclusion other than this:  I simply wasn’t moving enough during non-exercise hours. I heard Dr. Peter Attia say the following on the Limitless series on Disney Plus and it stopped me in my tracks: “We don’t stop moving because we get old, we get old because we stop moving.” This ties in so beautifully with Dr. Attia’s concept of the ‘Centenarian Decathlon’ which is where you look at the things you want to do as an 80 to 100-year old and work backwards to what you need to be doing today and in the intervening decades to make that a reality. Want to be able to pick up your great-grandchild when they come running at you to say hello, instead of getting knocked

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January 17, 2023: Mindful FIRE Resources, Free Annual Credit Report, Fear Wasting Your Life

Mindful FIRE Resources This week’s guest (ChooseFI Episode 420), Adam Coelho was kind enough to create a free guide specifically for the Choose FI community. This guide builds on Adam’s experience teaching mindfulness, meditation and envisioning to over 2500 of his fellow Google colleagues around the world. The free guide includes: Free Annual Credit Report Cody Garrett from Measure Twice Money published a helpful post on Twitter that I wanted to pass along: “Time to check the annual credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax! Review your contact information, payment history, account numbers, responsible debtors, opening and closing dates, credit limits, and highest balances. Free at AnnualCreditReport .com“ I want to reiterate that this is entirely free and this is different from just checking your credit score.  Each of the 3 main credit bureaus have a file on you and you really need to periodically check this for accuracy. Since they are required to offer us this free service annually, you may as well take advantage and give it a quick glance at the beginning of each year. Fear Wasting Your Life I listened to Bill Perkins, author of Die With Zero, on recent episodes of All The Hacks with Chris Hutchins and The Drive with

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January 10, 2023: Secure 2.0 Act, Bold Move, Best Investment Writing of 2022

Secure 2.0 and the FI Community Sean Mullaney, the FI Tax Guy, just put out an article on the ‘Secure 2.0 and the FI Community’ that I think is ultra-valuable. I’m going to publish an episode with Sean on the podcast later this month to dive into the nuance of Secure Act 2.0, but I always want to get this info out as quickly as possible via the FI Weekly newsletter. The two most intriguing items to me are: Bold Move and Doing Hard Things I had planned to recommend the National Geographic series on Disney Plus called ‘Limitless with Chris Hemsworth’ here all on its own. If you have any interest in longevity and increasing your healthspan (and who doesn’t?), you’ll get a ton of value out of it. But I’m able to double up that recommendation with a few other interesting related items: Episode 419 of ChooseFI came out yesterday with Dominick Quartuccio on ‘Your Bold Move for 2023’ and I’ve come to a conclusion for my ‘bold move’ for 2023: I want to get in my best shape ever and really focus on my health and fitness. I don’t know yet precisely what that will look like, but

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January 3, 2023: New Contribution Limits for 2023, Net Worth Calc, Better Habits

New Year, New Contribution Limits Happy New Year! It’s a new year, so that means there are new contribution limits for retirement and tax advantaged accounts and even if we maxed these accounts out in 2022, we’re back down to $0 contributed in 2023 and are ready to fill the accounts up again. My family can contribute to an HSA since we have a (very) high deductible health insurance plan.  I saw the recurring reminder in my ToDoIst app on January 1st to max out the HSA, then quickly googled what the new contribution limits are for 2023 ($7,750 for a family), and initiated the contribution via Fidelity. This all took about 5 minutes and it’s an example of the continued action we’re taking to optimize and make our financials lives better. What action are you going to take this month to improve your financial life? Net Worth Calculation for 2022 Speaking of taking action, here’s a timely one: I think it’s really important to track your net worth on a yearly basis (I personally do it on a quarterly basis but since the year and quarter just ended, this is a nice easy two-for-one to get started!). Really simple to

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December 27, 2022: Year End Wins Episode, Two Items of Note

Year End Wins Episode is Live I’m going to keep the newsletter short and sweet this holiday week.  I hope you are enjoying some rest and relaxation and time with loved ones! The 6th annual Year End Wins podcast episode came out yesterday, so if you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, download ChooseFI Episode 417 and enjoy the community’s favorite episode of the year. Two Items of Note I promised to keep this email short, but wanted to pass along two things I’m keeping my eye on: ChooseFI Community Taking Action This Week ​

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December 20, 2022: What if Things Go Right?, EconoMe, Community Posts

But What if Things Go Right? Diania Merriam was on the podcast this week (Episode 416) and it was an extraordinarily powerful episode describing how she quit a toxic work environment on principle and really flexed her FI-muscles. Her email newsletter with 8 Lessons Learned from 1 Year of (F)un-employment is, simply put, a must-read. My favorite was #2 ‘We’re so scared of what could go wrong, but what if things go right?’ EconoMe Conference 2023 I also floated this at the end of the episode with Diania, but wasn’t certain at the time of recording: I can officially confirm that I’ll be attending the EconoMe Conference which is being held March 17-19, 2023 at the University of Cincinnati. This is the first live FI event I’ve attended since 2019 and I could not be more excited!  We’re still figuring out the details, but I’ll definitely be helping to co-host some of the events and workshops. If you’re looking for an in-depth FI event, EconoMe is a great choice in every way.  I’d absolutely love to meet and hang out with as many ChooseFI community members as possible, and this 3-day event is a perfect opportunity. Diania was kind enough to offer our community 10% off

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December 13, 2022: Optimal Order for Investing, Take Action

Optimal Order for Investing Your Money Our good friend Tae Kim from the Financial Tortoise (he’s been on the podcast in Episodes 186 and 302) put out a YouTube video last month that went viral with over 200k+ views called, “Optimal Order for Investing Your Money.” I highly recommend watching the 10-minute video and while I could probably quibble around the margins with a few of the picks (maybe not Roth IRA?), I thought this was an excellent primer for how to conceptualize the prioritization of your savings. Here’s Tae’s list: 1) Emergency Fund2) 401(k) match (essentially a 100% instant return)3) Pay high interest (over 5%) debt4) Max Roth IRA (for tax certainty)5) HSA (Health Savings Account)6) 529 plan (if you have kids)7) Max 401(k)8) Taxable account (regular savings)9) Pay low interest debt (under 5%)10) Pay off mortgage (purely optional) End of the Year: Take Action It’s easy to just write off these last few weeks of the year and think that positive changes should wait until the new year or be accompanied by some silly ‘resolution.’ My challenge to you today is simple: Take one action to make your life better between now and the end of theyear. You

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December 6, 2022: Travel Rewards Success, Optimize Sleep, Who We Spend Time With

Travel Rewards Success! My family has cancelled numerous trips since March 2020 and haven’t really had a travel rewards “success story” in years. That ended this week with a big win. We were able to use points to book The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas for this coming spring break using Marriott points! We were originally contemplating using cash to book the hotel, but it was over $800 a night, which seemed excessive. Then Laura remembered reading something years ago that you could use rewards points, so I looked into it and mocked up a 4-night stay.  It came to 300k points and I had a balance of 305k Marriott points. I nearly forgot something huge, which Marriott was kind enough to remind me of:  You get the 5th night free on an award booking, so we were able to get a 5th night for that 300k points. We’d had these points sitting around for years, so to get $4,000+ of hotel nights felt like a big win for us! This reminds me of an email that Ahmed wrote in: “One my latest wins was using points to book a hotel for my trip to the Boston Marathon in April! Hotels are

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