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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

FI Weekly – July 5, 2022: Taking Action, Making Better & Wiser Choices

Financial Independence Day I’m sitting down to write this email on July 4th, and in honor of Independence Day here in the US, I wanted to pass along some inspiring stories of Financial Independence your fellow FI Community members wrote in: Taking Action LJ & Tiffany wrote: “We’ve wanted to write for a while now but wasn’t sure how to. So, this 1% better is actually the accumulation of the last 3 years. My wife and I got married 3 years ago and decided to pursue FI together. There have been sooo many decisions that we’ve made since that day through learnings from ChooseFI (& BiggerPockets). It seems like a lifetime ago. We trimmed our budgets immediately, finished her student loan debt by that December, we have maxed out both of our 401ks, HSAs & Roth IRAs starting that next year and decided to invest my bonus into a 6-Unit multi family property in 2019. For context, I’m a 32 year old engineer and my wife is a 34 year old middle-school teacher. Well (ironically) 40 months after aggressively pursuing this lifestyle freedom, we now own 40 Rental Units in East TN! My wife has officially retired from teaching to

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FI Weekly – June 28, 2022: Returns Over Time, Returns Visualized and Around the FI Community

Returns Over Time Morgan Housel recently published an article called “Keep it Going” on his blog at the Collaborative Fund, and it highlighted the power of sustainability in training for athletics and how it ties to investing. Here is a quote from Morgan’s article: “For the highest levels to be attainable over time, the process has to be sustainable. Which is exactly how good investing works too, isn’t it? The most important investing question is not, “What are the highest returns I can earn?” It’s, “What are the best returns I can sustain for the longest period of time?” Compounding is just returns to the power of time. Time is the exponent that does the heavy lifting, and the common denominator of almost all big fortunes isn’t returns; it’s endurance and longevity. “Excellent returns for a few years” is not nearly as powerful as “pretty good returns for a long time.” And few things can beat, “average returns sustained for a very long time.” That’s the biggest but most obvious secret in investing: Average returns for an above-average period of time leads to magic.” Returns Over Time (Visualized) My friend Cody Garrett from Measure Twice Money published this to Twitter recently and I thought

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FI Weekly – June 21, 2022: Success and Sharing the FI Love, House Hacking, Letters to Your Future Self

Success and Sharing the FI Love A FI Weekly reader, who goes by the initials SMN, wrote in an amazing story of how they reached early retirement, prioritized their life and have spread the concept of FI to family and friends: “Long overdue update from faithful listener from the beginning… the tldr; I DID IT!! I hit the “retirement button” in late 2020 and haven’t looked back since, big thanks to Choose FI for all of the inspiration, motivation, and hack-ifications along the way! While it may not have been exactly to plan, the COVID shutdown provided me with the space to reprioritize my life, reclaim my time, and to realize the ‘one more year’ syndrome need not continue. Since then we’ve “Red X’d” each February and August, done multiple month+ long road trips, and, oh yeah, got married!! (You may appreciate we not only paid for wedding in cash but even negotiated a 4-figure cash discount with the venue!). Also meaningful to me and another huge point of pride is that I’ve been able to spread the Choose FI concepts and messaging to friends and family, a few have even started to follow my/our lead! Pretty impressive transition with

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FI Weekly – June 14, 2022: Starting to FI in Your 40s, The Tail End, 12 Lessons from 12 Great books

Starting the Journey to FI in Your 40s Brian wrote in with a story that I wanted to share in its entirety since it’s so relatable and shows how anyone can get started on the path to FI at any point by making small 1% decisions that add up to something extraordinary. Brian in his own words: “My 1% feels like one million percent! In September 2020, I decided to address $45k in debt. I committed to a more frugal lifestyle, applied almost every dollar possible towards the debt, and paid it off by May 2022. This freed up about $1,000 in monthly cash flow to reallocate to savings and investments. After wrapping up the debts, I revisited my financial plan, and I could hear echoes of words heard on the Choose FI podcast episodes, “After you reduce your monthly spending, you may need to increase your income to accelerate FI progress.” Well, I am happy to say, just one month after I paid off the debt, my employer notified me of a job promotion — including a $10k raise AND a $3k bonus. I am so excited as I have even more dollars to put towards the next step

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FI Weekly – June 7, 2022: Buy Nothing Project, Stock Splits Explained, Community Wins

Buy Nothing Project My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby and one of the most interesting parts of watching them prepare for the arrival is how much success they’ve had using their local Buy Nothing Project group. They’ve essentially sourced everything they’ll need for the baby through the Buy Nothing group for their local community. And I mention that community because that’s what I’ve been most impressed by; there are true community ethos as each group represents a precise location, and it’s amazing how community members look out for each other (they’ve made friends in the group who message them when new baby items appear, etc.) and how members want to pay it forward. We hosted a baby shower for them this weekend and when we were cleaning up, I asked if they wanted the decorations or if we should throw them out. Scott responded that he knew someone in the Buy Nothing group who would want them, so he’d definitely take them home.  I was so impressed how this community spirit was a part of them after such a short time. This community spirit is what we envisioned for the ChooseFI Local groups when we founded them almost 5 years

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FI Weekly – May 31, 2022: Optionality, 10 Google Maps Tips, Hamster Wheel Defined

Optionality My family went to Busch Gardens, an amusement park here in Virginia, this past weekend and buying tickets was interesting because there were so many options for memberships and season-long passes. We found that the season-long pass was only $10 more expensive per person than a one-day pass, so this seemed to be a clear winner since it provided options for a tiny price premium. If we loved the park (which we did!), then we could go back as many times as we want this summer essentially for free. I’m a big fan of paying small, nearly insignificant premiums for optionality down the road and another perfect example of this type of thinking is with our mortgage term. I gladly paid the extra interest premium (1/8 of a point in our case) to get a 30-year mortgage term instead of a 15-year mortgage.  Because it gave me options for a small price. If I decide to pay it off in 15 years, which one can always do with extra monthly principal payments, then great.  If not, I will have that interest rate locked in for 30 years and the much smaller required monthly payment that goes along with it. I love

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FI Weekly – May 24, 2022: Twenty Investing Lessons, More Language Learning

Twenty Investing Lessons Learned Michael Batnick, co-host of ‘Animal Spirits,’ one of my favorite investing podcasts, released an article I enjoyed called ‘Twenty Lessons Learned’ in response to the recent downturn in the stock market.  Here are some of my favorites, but I suggest you click to the article and read all 20: Survival is the most important thing. Your portfolio must be able to weather euphoria, panic, and malaise. Nothing is risk-free. The S&P 500 is down 16% year-to-date. Intermediate-term “risk-free” government bonds are down 20%. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Past behavior is. You didn’t know this was going to happen. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. Investing is hard. More Language Learning Tips In last week’s email I included a Twitter thread on ‘how to actually learn a foreign language’ and a few of you wrote in with great follow-ups: Mary said, “I found a free app called Tandem and it is a gold mine. You talk to real people who speak the language you want to learn. Everyone is so nice! You can just text with them or opt for audio or video calls. They are just regular people living all over the world

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FI Weekly – May 17, 2022: Tax Loss Harvesting, Simple StartUp, How to Learn a Language

Tax Loss Harvesting Andrew wrote in, “Hey Brad – I love the newsletter! My 1% this week was doing some tax-loss harvesting with the market being down. I hadn’t ever done it before, so I read up on it a bunch and traded my VTI losses of $2.6K and then bought VOO. At my 20% effective tax rate, that saves me about $500 at tax time. After a painful tax year, I am happy to find $500 in tax savings!” I can’t give financial or tax advice here in the newsletter, but tax loss harvesting is something I’m considering with the market down substantially.  I found this ‘Complete Guide to Tax-Loss Harvesting with ETFs’ on Investopedia that gives a great overview of the concept. I know Vanguard makes it quite easy to do ‘specific identification’ when I go to sell mutual funds, and I strongly suspect all the major platforms make it easy to do this with funds and ETFs. You can sell and lock in the tax loss but the key is that you can’t immediately turn around and buy the same security right away.  As the article states: “The wash-sale rule dictates when a tax loss can be harvested.

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FI Weekly – May 10, 2022: Cap Gains Tax on Homes, Advice I Wish I Had Known and Taking Action

Capital Gains Tax on Primary Residence Many of us have seen our homes increase in value significantly over the past few years, which for homeowners is obviously a great thing. I have a friend who is selling their home and they asked me how this appreciation would be taxed, and I realized this would be perfect for the FI Weekly: As always, this is not tax advice as I can’t give you specific info for your life, but in general the US government gives us significant tax advantages for appreciated primary residences. First, the gain is taxed as a “capital gain.” If you’ve owned your home for less than a year, this is taxed as ordinary income, since it is a short term gain.  If a capital asset has been owned for more than a year it’s taxed at special long-term capital gains tax rates. For most taxpayers that’s a 15% Federal tax rate. That’s beneficial, but where the magic comes in is with the ‘exclusion’ on cap gains tax for your primary residence. For single filers, $250,000 of your appreciated gain is completely excluded (non-taxable) and for married filing joint that doubles to $500,000. Critical note:  This must have been your

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FI Weekly – May 3, 2022: Quotes from Berkshire Meeting, I Bonds and Taking Action

Berkshire Annual Meeting: Best Quotes The Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting  was held this past weekend in Omaha, and Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger were both in top form dishing out wisdom on life, the economy and everything in between. Here are a few of my favorites (quotes from Business Insider): “Take away the management fees and I’d bet on the monkeys.” (Buffett suggested that most financial advisors are no better at investing than a bunch of monkeys picking stocks by throwing darts at a dartboard.) “We’ve got people who know nothing about stocks being advised by stockbrokers who know even less.” – Munger “The best protection against inflation is still your own personal earnings power. The best investment by far is anything that develops yourself.” – Buffett “Sometimes the stock market is quite investment-oriented, and other times it’s almost totally a casino, a gambling parlor — and that existed to an extraordinary degree in the last couple of years, encouraged by Wall Street.” – Buffett Interest Rate Increase on ‘I Bonds’ I mentioned in December that Laura and I were each putting $10,000 into the US Government issued ‘I Bonds’ for 2021 and that we’d most likely put in another

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FI Weekly – April 26, 2022: On the Right Path?, Children & Money, Community Wins

Are You on the Right Path? Codie Sanchez from Contrarian Thinking is someone I enjoy following via her newsletter and numerous podcast guest appearances.  She generally talks about building and especially buying “boring” cash flowing businesses that I think would greatly appeal to the FI Community. I’m highlighting her here for a Twitter thread she recently posted on checking in weekly to determine if she’s on the right path in life, as I think it can be useful for you. From Codie: “Every Sunday I have a little ritual where I check in to make sure I’m on the right path. I use a framework called the 1 in 60 rule. It means that for every 1 degree a plane veers off its course, it misses its target destination by 1 mile for every 60 miles you fly. Further you go, further away from your goal you get. I think this is true in life too. So how do you make sure you’re even on the right path? You grab yourself a nice big glass of red. You sit down to some music (I like instrumental). You open your computer. And you ask yourself some questions. Then throw all those answers and questions in Evernote

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FI Weekly – April 19, 2022: Travel Rewards, FI Resources, Teach Me Something

Travel Rewards Updates Our team worked hard to update and streamline the free travel rewards course on the ChooseFI website and now it’s available as a series of 6 blog posts (instead of a 20-part email series) you can digest quickly and easily to get started maximizing travel rewards.  Get started with Part 1 now and there’s a link at the bottom where you can navigate to Part 2 and beyond… Two FI Resources Our good friend Cody Garrett, an advice-only financial advisor at Measure Twice Financial, continues to add tons of value to the ChooseFI Facebook group.  Here are two posts that I think will add value to your life: Capital Gains Tax Rate income thresholds for 2022. It’s incredible to see the taxable income levels where you qualify for 0% for long-term capital gains. Cody’s charts make it simple to digest. The ‘Rule of 72’ is an “easy way to conceptualize how quickly money doubles when invested.” Cody’s chart shows your annualized return from 1% to 12% and how long it’ll take your money to 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x.  Never seen it presented like that! Teach Me Something Interesting Tim Urban, from ‘Wait But Why’ (I’ve mentioned his article ‘The Tail End’ numerous times, but

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