The guys on the ChooseFI podcast talk about it all the time, how life doesn’t just suddenly become wonderful overnight. Each and every small change or improvement we make adds up and compounds over a lifetime. And because of the power of the Aggregation of Marginal Gains, Brad posts a prompt every Friday morning asking “What was the ONE THING you did this week to make your life easier, happier, wealthier, more efficient, etc? Take action each and every week and let us know”

I’ve gone back to almost every week in 2019 to gather what I posted on each of the Friday Facebook prompts from Brad. Here’s a look back:

February

Bathroom renovations. Total out-of-pocket cost for me around $1,250, would have been $3-5k if we paid a contractor to do it. (Here’s the whole post about the bathroom remodel. Cost was higher than I’d said mid-renovation, but a lot of it was on gift cards I’d received for Christmas 2018)

March

My tax refund hit my checking account, and I realized March is a 3-paycheck month, so I went ahead and maxed out my 2019 Traditional IRA. (This post got me a mention on the Marriage, Kids and Money podcast).

April

Finally stepped away from my parents family share plan with Verizon to go to Google Fi. My personal bill will be ~$40-50 instead of $100-ish every month, and I’m being more careful about using mobile data.

May

Today was payday, so after everything got paid, I transferred the rest to my Vanguard brokerage account. Going to start transitioning my Emergency Fund to a mix of high-yield savings account and taxable brokerage. The bigger the brokerage gets, the less I’ll need a cash Emergency Fund.

I ordered 3 ChooseFI tshirts, which doesn’t necessarily move the needle for me, but I love being able to help spread the 🔥. My trick was to use some Amazon credit I had saved up from using JobSpotter app to submit “now hiring” signs over the past couple years.

June

Flew to San Diego for free with SW Rapid Rewards so I can attend tonight’s Playing with FIRE premiere! I paid a prepaid cash rate for 1 night hotel and negotiated the $25 Local Fee down to zero, plus a Hyatt free night certificate for tonight 😁 Something I was thinking during my flight last night: most people save all year to take a vacation like this; I’m doing it for under $200 total using my accumulated points/miles/certs

Happier: I had so much fun in San Diego for the Playing with FIRE premiere, I just bought my ticket this morning for the Atlanta showing later this month! I love being a part of this community and interacting with so many amazing people of similar mindset

I activated a Chase offer on my Freedom Unlimited and got 25% back on a necessary purchase. $17.50 came back to me already.
But on a personal development level, I attended (and participated!) in our workplace Toastmasters club meeting. Ready to develop my public speaking skills!

And the biggest smile on my face this week came this morning when Jonathan Mendonsa gave me a shout out on the Friday Roundup! 😁

July

Went to Tampa to watch Playing with Fire. I got to hang out with some FI friends and meet some awesome new people.

Biggest thing was to fly to Richmond for tonight’s event, but I also got final approval on my mortgage refinance. Locking in a low rate for 15 years

Took a free webinar at work from our EAP on improving sleep quality & quantity. I realized that I have a huge Sleep Debt that I’m carrying with me everywhere, and it affects health/wellness, job performance, etc. I also purchased a ticket to Cents Positive retreat for a friend. Doesn’t make me richer monetarily, but it does for a friend and makes me supremely happy to be in a position to help. Plus, I can’t go anyway because it’s for women, so I’m supporting the event in the only way I know how

August

A small cash-out refinance of my mortgage, but the main reason was to lock in a 3.125% 15-year fixed rate. Had been on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage for the past 13+ years… Also got my first Chase Ink Preferred card approval! Hello 80k Ultimate Rewards points 😁 Donated a pint of whole blood yesterday and got a free appetizer at Chili’s and a Fandango free movie certificate. Transferred “extra” cash out of checking and into VTSAX at Vanguard

After my refinance last week, I received two checks this week: 1 for the cash-out portion of the refi, and 1 smaller one for the escrow portion of the old mortgage. Transferred it all this morning it Vanguard 🥳

September

I came to DC for FinCon and spent time with so many of my favorite FI-minded friends. NOTHING makes me happier than that!

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I’m a week behind because *FinCon* but I hacked my FinCon trip this year. By being the Volunteer Coordinator, I got my ticket refunded, lodging covered, and made $$, plus some free food. I then split my hotel room and shared in the bounty. Roomie even paid me a bit, even though I told him it wasn’t necessary! I took said funds and donated to ChooseFI International Foundation as a VIP ticket to the kickoff party, as well as sponsored the Best International Personal Finance Blog at the Plutus Awards. Sharing in my abundance makes me so happy!!

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I always see this Friday post and think I didn’t do anything of note, but wind up with a whole list 🤣 so here’s this week’s list:
1. Met minimum spend on Chase Ink Preferred card so I have 80k Ultimate Rewards coming my way soon
2. Got paid $500 for a side hustle
3. Picked up an old Uber client for $65 cash from the airport
4. Worked OT every day this week (including 1/2 day last Saturday)
5. Transferred $500 to brokerage
6. Transferred $500 to high-yield savings
7. Submitted for M&I & gas reimbursement on a work trip that’ll be another $280+ tax-free 😁

Purchased the Google Pixel 3 XL for 50% off during their sale. Transferred all of my recent “reimbursement” money from shared FinCon-related rooms into my brokerage, in lieu of my previous plan to throw “extra” money at the mortgage, but not now after my refinance to a low fixed rate.

October

I had a layover in Seattle for 7 hours, so I took the Link into the city to visit with two FI friends: Angela Rozmyn and “A Purple Life”. This made my travel schedule so much happier!

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Re-characterized my 2019 Traditional IRA contributions to Roth IRA. It means more tax-free growth and it’s another $6k I could theoretically access in early retirement. Took a couple minute phone call to Vanguard, and the funds were transferred in-kind.

November

Referred a coworker to the SoFi money account. He and I will both get $25 bonus. I also went around using JobSpotter last weekend – easily got my steps in the process and made over $70 in Amazon credit.

Used a couple travel hacks to offset at least half of the cost of a weekend trip to Key West with my parents. Took the savings and donated to ChooseFI.com/RIP 😁

Realized two hacks to save money on Allegiant flights:
Book ticket at the airport to save “Carrier Usage Charge” of $18/segment
And pay $27 for front-row seat but save $20-40 on carry-on bag fee, because all bags have to go in overhead bin anyway, and they reserve bin space for Row 1. I’m 6’5″ tall, so the extra leg room is necessary, anyway.

Also opened a new Chase Ink Unlimited card and used Luxe’s referral link so she got 15,000 Ultimate Rewards, too! Then I referred a friend for Freedom Unlimited, so I’ll get a referral bonus, also! W00T 🎉

Changed my 457 plan provider (we have 4 options) to save 0.4% on fees. That’ll be hundreds per year and thousands back in my pocket over a lifetime of investing!

December

Booked a series of flights and hotels using a Southwest Airlines voucher (from my cancelled flight to DC for FinCon – it was going to expire Feb 7th), a Southwest gift card I’d bought during a flash sale, my Southwest Priority card $75 annual travel credit, plus my new Ink Unlimited card that I’m trying to meet minimum spend on right now, plus hotel points with IHG, Marriott and Hilton, for 6 flights and 3 nights to visit Little Rock and Nashville over MLK Weekend.

Submitted my request for 457 payroll deductions for 2020. Glad to have that taken care of ahead of time! Nice round number of $750/check vs $730.76 this year

Cancelled my Citi AAdvantage business card before the $99 fee was charged. They offered to waive it with another $1,000 spend in 90 days, or a 7,000 point bonus for same spend. Since I’m working on a much more lucrative Chase Ink Unlimited bonus (50,000 Ultimate Rewards) I declined.

Committed to buying a share of BRK.B with every paycheck in 2020 in my taxable brokerage. This will be a tax-efficient investment because Berkshire Hathaway doesn’t pay dividends. Seeded the account with 4 shares of BRK.B so I’ll have an even 30 by the end of 2020.

 

    1. Thanks 😊 I know some of these are really small in the short-term, but add up to a lot over my lifetime (0.4% in unnecessary fees!) And some were just plain spending (bathroom remodel) but they add to my quality of life. Spending (money and time) on friends always adds to QoL!

    1. Thanks Katie! I’m sure there are hundreds of posts that could be written from mining those weekly threads, there’s always so many wins shared!

    1. Thank you, sir. It was great to meet you and hang for a bit at FinCon! I really appreciate you volunteering!!

  1. Fantastic year! I loved reading your outline of what you did and how you did it! Hopefully we can run into each other again this year! Hope you have a beautiful 2020!

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