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

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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 best way I’ve found to learn how to maximize your cash back potential in general and they give you step-by-step directions on how to implement the strategy for both signup bonuses and ongoing category spending bonuses (think gas, groceries, restaurants, etc.).

I mentioned this CashFreely in the newsletter last year right when Zac founded it and I know a lot of you have benefited greatly from step-by-step guidance.

Here’s the link to sign up for CashFreely, and if you have any suggestions for Zac and the team, be sure to reply to any of the emails you receive – they are really responsive!

A Challenge Completed

Mike, a ChooseFI community member, wrote me a few months ago with a challenge to follow through on my own words.  Here’s what Mike said:

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“I am writing to challenge you to join an adult soccer league. I started a men’s league basketball team at the end of 2022 and can say it’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. Not just the physical activity, but the camaraderie of being on a team, enjoying being competitive again, playing and having fun. It’s also surprisingly increased my personal confidence as well.

With your bold move this year being to get into the best shape of your life, why not add in an activity that would support that goal but that would bring so many other benefits to you as well?

This is a direct quote from you from Episode 413 when you were speaking to Rich Jones:

“Rich, I’m looking at your body language now, and how positive it is, when you’re talking about track, and it’s infectious. It makes me want to get back into soccer, and like why can’t I do that? You can concoct all these reasons not to do something. It’s so easy not to do it. And I could give you the litany of “oh, it’s 3 hours on a Sunday to go play a game” and “oh, it’s going to take me 4 weeks to get back into game shape and the season is only 8 weeks”. I could give you ten of these things. But why shouldn’t I start? I’d love it.””

I’m happy to say that as I’m writing this on Monday, I’m getting ready for my first soccer game tonight in over 11 years!  I’m definitely feeling a mix of nervousness and excitement and I’m proud of myself for taking action.

My reason for putting this in the newsletter is to persuade you to take action on something you know you’d enjoy but have held back on for some set of reasons that might no longer be true, may never have been true, or are easy to overcome.

My worry about a 3-hour Sunday-killer and not being in shape?  I’m playing a short 50-minute indoor game Monday night at a recreational level where we’ll have substitutes when we get tired.  Those minor details got over all my mental hurdles and made it so much easier to say an emphatic yes!

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  • Yoni said, “for my wife’s birthday (Brad note:  Today is Brandi’s birthday – happy birthday!), I got us tickets to see All Time Low in concert in Kansas City. Because we work remotely and have flexibility in both our budget and schedules, I just went on All Time Low’s website, picked a city they were visiting and then booked our tickets using Southwest points (we live in South Florida) and the Companion Pass. So now we’re going to Kansas City in June to see her favorite band and all we’ll be spending out of pocket are concert tickets, food and Uber (hotel will be on points).
  • Kenny said, “My 1% for this week was renewing my two car registrations for 2 years instead of one. In my state, as in many, they offer a fairly substantial discount for purchasing multi-year registration. Fortunately, it was within my budget to pay for two years on both vehicles which saved over $180. I also recently changed the payment schedule on my homeowners and auto insurance to annual and biannual respectively which saved over $100. These were two small wins but avoided processing fees.”
  • Taj said, “My 1% better is that my student loans were forgiven through the temporary PSLF waiver program. I am a 46 year school teacher and I have had my student loans for 23 years. I was able to pay off one of my student loans during the pause. However, I still had almost $33,000 in undergrad loans. I submitted the PSLF paperwork in August of last year and I received notification that they were forgiven earlier this month (Brad note: Travis Hornsby from The Student Loan Planner was on Episode 391 and this was a game changer for a lot of people with student loans.  If you have loans, I implore you to listen to that episode and get in touch via the link I included to his site). I can now take those student loan payments and put it towards increasing my savings rate to 30%. I only have a mortgage left and that should be paid off in about 4 years. When I began this journey almost 3 years ago I did not know where it would take me but with consistent self discipline and faith in God, I can see my vision coming into reality. I truly appreciate the work that you are doing!”
  • Tiffany said, “My 1% better: I have been saving aggressively (50% of gross income) for 2 years and just quit my full time job to do a sabbatical and turn my side hustle into my main hustle. It doesn’t feel like a risky move because of my savings, and now I have the privilege of spending my time doing exactly what I want to do each day.”
  • Krista said, “My 1% percent was pulling the trigger on an all-inclusive family vacation for next year! I have been saving my Chase points for a while and used them to book a week-long stay that would have cost my family over $5k. Now all we have to worry about is flights but hoping to use points for those as well. Have a great week!”
  • Savannah said, “Our 1% this week was going through our credit card purchases and catching an auto insurance premium that was charged for a car that was totaled over a year ago. We thought we canceled the insurance plan but ended up calling them and asking for it to be refunded and they not only refunded the one charge we saw but the previous annual premium. The total refund was over $1,200 just from one phone call. Lesson learned…always check credit card charges in case there are any that shouldn’t be there.”
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