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

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Explore the Archives

August 9, 2022: Local FI Communities, Essential Listening Guide, Early Benefits of FI

Local FI Communities I got this email last week from Christian: “The one change I’d like to make is fixing the lack of like-minded FI people I have in my life. Love my non-FI people but would love to not always be the outlier in the conversation when I suggest a coffee in the park instead of dinner at an expensive restaurant as a way of catching up. Do you or Jonathan know of any good ways to find FI meetup groups?” Yes, we definitely do! There are 300+ ChooseFI Local Groups in cities all across the world to help you connect with people in your local area. Plus, there are online ‘cohort groups’ such as ChooseFI travel, meal planning, FI Families, and many more. Find all the info here at the ChooseFI Community page on our site. I’m also a huge fan of what our good friend Stephen Baughier has put together with Camp FI, the immersive FI weekend experience that brings together dozens of like-minded FI folks for a weekend of learning, fun and camaraderie at different sites across the US. You can find all the info on upcoming events at the Camp FI website plus Stephen just told me he’s

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August 2, 2022: FI Family Taking Action, The Munger Mentality, Community Wins

FI Family Taking Action I genuinely love reading each and every response I get to this FI Weekly newsletter, so please keep hitting reply and passing along your wins and ‘1% better’ changes! In that spirit, I wanted to pass along an incredible email that David wrote in: “Hey Brad – I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that you guys have altered the trajectory of my life. That’s not to say that it was negative before finding ChooseFI. Just that it was uninspired. ChooseFI helped me put perspective on my life’s purpose and, somewhat paradoxically, has created a mindset that has me striving for more work. The kicker is that the work I’m striving for is different than the work I’m currently doing. I found a true passion for personal finance through your podcast and have been learning everything I can about buy and hold investing strategies, tax optimization, and the nuances involved in each individual’s path. I wanted to reach out to show you exactly what your message of “take action” motivated me to do. Here’s a list of the changes I’ve made since December of 2021 when I found the podcast and online community: Signed up for Personal

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July 26, 2022: Saving on College, Internet is Free University, HotelSlash

Saving on College I don’t usually say things like this, but Jonathan and I have been in a real groove on the ChooseFI podcast recently, pumping out high-quality episodes with some of our all-time favorite guests. After doing this for nearly 6 years it would be easy to get complacent, but we’re honestly just having a blast right now and I think the quality shows in these episodes. If you haven’t listened to the show in a while, now would be a good time to get back into it!  A particularly interesting show was Episode 386 with the Millionaire Educator on how he and his son have both found an ultra-cost-effective way to get a Bachelor’s Degree using internet learning, CLEP Tests, ACE courses and community college. That episode is a must-listen if you or anyone you know are thinking about going to college in the next few years (and the show notes have links to all the resources we talked about). After listening to episode 386, Molly wrote in:  “I listened to podcast Episode 386 this morning and it inspired me to share on Twitter a thread on how I graduated from UC Berkeley when I was 18. I started going

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July 19, 2022: 1% Changes, Gmail Productivity Tips, Community Wins

1% Changes Make a Huge Difference One concept we’ve talked about over the last 5 years on ChooseFI has resonated above all: The aggregation of marginal gains. Small 1% changes you make at the margins aggregate into massive positive change in your life. It’s time to start looking for these small improvements in every aspect of yourlife, not just financial. Many of my recent wins come in the area of health. Here are 3 quick examples: These are my changes, but most importantly, you need to be on the lookout for small changes you can make in all aspects of your life. When you reduce friction, save time, sleep better, save money, spend more time with family & friends, etc., you end up with a much better life. One small change at a time. Gmail Productivity Tips I spend a lot of time each day using Gmail, so any tip I can find to make my life more efficient in the inbox will be an exponential savings over weeks, months and years.  Here are 2 threads I recommend you reading in full if you’re a Gmail user: Three that I already use or implemented after reading that I think are essential: ChooseFI

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July 12, 2022: Simple Path to Wealth, Pre-Tax Investing, Kid Entrepreneurs

The Simple Path to Wealth JL Collins is our most downloaded podcast guest of all-time, and his book The Simple Path to Wealth is nearly required reading for every member of the Financial Independence community. I saw a great post on Twitter by JRod Money with a curated set of 10 quotes from the book that will help you build an empowering wealth building mindset.  Some of my favorites: “Money can buy many things but nothing more valuable than your freedom” “Stop thinking about what your money can buy. Start thinking about what your money can earn.” “The market always recovers. Always. And if someday it really doesn’t, no investment will be safe and none of this financial stuff will matter anyway.” “The harsh truth is, I can’t pick winning individual stocks and you can’t either. Nor can the vast majority who claim they can.  It is extraordinarily difficult, expensive and a fools errand. Having the humility to accept this will do wonders for your ability to build wealth.” Pre-Tax Investing: Where Does it Come From? Elijah wrote in with a critically important question that often gets overlooked: “Hey Brad, I’m 20 years old and have listened to your show for over a year

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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