Saturday, May 1, 2021

Side hustles April 2021

 The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation. 

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles.  


Welcome to May!  Did you have a good April?  

It has been a busy few months but our home renovation is finally complete!  No more sharing one single sink or toilet for the whole house.  No more doing dishes in the bathroom sink, or having the whole family sleep in a single bed.  We’ve used this opportunity to purge a bunch of unused items such as clothing, furniture, toys, dishes, etc.  We’ve been slowly selling, donating and trashing items over the last few months.  It feels great to reduce clutter.

We’ve been able to take our kids out to more fun places as they continue to open up (with covid safety protocols).  We were super excited to visit the Natural History Museum again.  At low levels of capacity, we felt like we had the whole museum to ourselves.  We’ve also been able to visit the Los Angeles Zoo, Aquarium of the Pacific, and the La Habra Children’s Museum.  

The weather has been great lately.  It’s been perfect for going on walks around the neighborhood.  

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of April. 

Cash Back 

On 4.4, I redeemed 670 Citibank ThankYou points towards an Amazon purchase of $5.36.  While this wasn’t the best value use of ThankYou points, we still got to save money.  We are currently not collecting ThankYou points so we did not have much use to hold onto these points long term.

On 4.1, I received $10.53 from the Mr. Rebates cash back portal. 

On 4.6, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold credit card.  This card offers a $10 dining credit every month on select restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory or Shake Shack.

On 4.6, my wife received a $30 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum card. This was for $30 off $30 on purchases made with PayPal checkout. 

On 4.22, I received a $29.77 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business credit card. 

On 4.28, I received a $6 statement credit on my Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card from Chase Offers. This was for 10% cash back on purchases made at Petco. 


Rental Income

On 4.5, we received a net profit of $740 from our rental property.  

Survey Income

On 4.5, I received a $25 PayPal deposit from GLocal Rewards for completing a survey.

On 4.5, I received a $25 DoorDash gift card from Evolve Medical for completing a survey.

On 4.6, my wife received a $25 Gap gift card from Gap Inc. Insiders for completing a survey.

On 4.6, I received a $25 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a survey. 

On 4.7, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from The Vision Council for completing a survey.

On 4.13, I received a $15 check from M3 Global Research for completing a survey. 

On 4.14, I received a $30 check from My Impact Network for completing a survey. 

On 4.17, I received a $25 Amazon gift card from My Impact Network for completing a survey. 

On 4.20, I received a $110 Amazon gift card from M-Panels for completing a survey.

On 4.27, I received a $25 Amazon gift card from M3 Global Research for completing a survey. 


Miscellaneous Income

On 4.16, I received a cash payment of $4.62 for recycling a few bags of plastic water bottles and glass beer bottles.  We’ve never been paid for recycling before - just never thought it would be worth trying.  With our home renovations underway, we’ve been drinking water from plastic bottles and thought we would give paid recycling a try instead of our usual city recycling bin pick up.


Sales income

On 4.30, my wife received $20 cash for selling a sleeping pack through Facebook Marketplace. 


Monthly Totals:

We earned $91.66 from cash back income
We earned $740 from rental income

We earned $310 for completing online surveys

We earned $4.62 of miscellaneous income

We earned $20 of sales income


All of this totals $1,166.28 from our side hustles for the month of April!  


Our home remodel has been our biggest splurge in the last 8 years.  We love our neighborhood and don’t see ourselves moving anytime soon.  Hustling for more income on the side helps us fund our splurges - as well as our financial freedom.  Keep hustling my friends. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Over 700K invested

Today, our investment accounts have now hit the biggest financial milestone to date: surpassing $700,000 in value!  

Our investment accounts include money in our 401Ks, Roth IRAs, taxable accounts, HSA and 529.  Index fund investing allows us to diversify our portfolio and keep our costs very low.  This does not include money in our checking accounts, savings accounts, home equity or rental property equity.

It’s both incredible and slightly scary how well the stock market is doing.  There are great reasons for why the market will continue to soar.  There are equally good reasons for why the market is frothy and will crash soon.  The current market sentiment is that the economy will continue to improve.  Covid deaths are declining, millions are getting their covid vaccines, businesses are re-opening, and consumer confidence is up.  There is pent up demand to travel, visit amusement parks, attend sporting events and spend money.  This is great for the economy and investors believe the economy will continue to boom.  

We are conservatively riding this wild stock market.  At this time, we are more comfortable with less risk of financial loss than missing out on bigger financial gains.  Being too conservative has risks though - I don’t even want to think about how much potential upside we have missed out on!  Our portfolio is currently sitting at about 67% stocks and 33% bonds and slowly moving towards a 70/30 asset allocation.  

The stock market can continue to go up or it can sharply pull back.  No one can really predict the future.  Our asset allocation keeps us invested and helps us sleep well at night.  

Here is a look back at the timeline of our previous investment milestones:

July 2010: I opened up my first Roth IRA investment account.

June 2, 2014: 100K

March 12, 2016: 200K

June 5, 2017: 300K

July 15, 2018: 400K 

April 16, 2019: 450K

November 5, 2019: 500K

January 18, 2020: 550K

November 7, 2020: 600K

January 12, 2021: 650K

April 7, 2021: 700K

We continue to hit new financial milestones, with each milestone coming sooner than the one before it.  The power of compounding is truly incredible.  We are looking forward to reaching financial freedom.  Keep investing my friends.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Side hustles March 2021

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation. 


Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles.  


Welcome to April!  Did you have a good March?  With our home remodel project still underway, things have been very hectic around the house.  The crew has been continuing to work 6 days a week, 6 to 8 hours a day.  We have needed to move most of our furniture and household items into the garage, which looks like a hoarder’s living space now.  For a week, our family needed to all sleep in the same bed.  The project is estimated to be complete in about 2 to 3 weeks.

Our kids have been pretty flexible with all the new changes going on at home, especially the need to be away from the home for hours at a time.  We’ve taken plenty of trips to local playgrounds.  We’ve taken plenty of walks around the neighborhood.

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has recently reopened the indoor exhibits with safety protocols such as mask mandates and limited capacity.  Visiting the aquarium has become a weekly or bi-weekly activity for our family.

We recently visited Mother’s Beach and found it a great place to take the kids.  The water is shallow here and the waves are very gentle.  The sand is clean.  There is a fun playground here as well as many accessible public bathrooms and beach showers.

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of March. 

Cash Back 

On 3.1, I received a $62.29 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. This was for getting gas, which qualifies as a Chase Travel credit eligible purchase.  This card is essentially providing us with $300 worth of free gas each year. 

On 3.1, my wife received a $30 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum card. This was for $30 off $30 on purchases made with PayPal checkout in February. 

On 3.4, I received $50 in statement credits ($25 x 2) on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card. This was for two separate purchases of greater than $500 for our kids’ school tuition. 

On 3.4, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold credit card.  This card offers a $10 dining credit every month on select restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory or Shake Shack.

On 3.5, my wife received a $30 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum card. This was for $30 off $30 on purchases made with PayPal checkout.

On 3.7, I received an $18.06 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card from the Chase Travel Credit benefit.  This was for a purchase made at a gas station. We have already used up the $300 Chase Travel Credit this year. It was nice to have $300 worth of gas covered by Chase. 

On 3.15, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold credit card.  This was for the AMEX Gold dining credit - $10 off $10 spent at Cheesecake Factory.

On 3.21, I redeemed 4,786 Citibank ThankYou points towards an Amazon purchase of $38.29.  While this wasn’t the best value use of ThankYou points, we still got to save money.  We are currently not collecting ThankYou points so we did not have much use to hold onto these points long term.

On 3.22, I received a $29.11 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card as automatic monthly cash back deposit. 


Rental Income

On 3.5, we received a net profit of $740 from our rental property.  

Survey Income

On 3.2, I received a $5 Amazon Gift card from the Vision Council for completing a survey.

On 3.9, I received a $30 Amazon Gift card from M-Panels for completing a survey.

On 3.9, I received a $40 direct deposit from GLG survey for completing a survey

On 3.14, I received a $3 Amazon gift card from MyPoints.

On 3.15, I received a $1 Amazon gift card from MyPoints. 

On 3.15, I received a $30 check from My Impact Network for completing a survey. 

On 3.30, I received a $10 Amazon gift card from Sermo for completing a survey. 

On 3.31, I received a $35 Amazon gift card from Sermo for completing a survey. 

Surveys continue to be a fun and easy way to earn extra income on the side.


Miscellaneous Income

On 3.16, we received a direct deposit of $5,261.20 from the IRS as our third stimulus check.  I list this as a side hustle, just like our last 2 stimulus checks, because our income qualifies only after taking into account the tax deductions on our gross income.  These deductions include two maxed out 401Ks ($19,500 each), a maxed out Dependent Care FSA ($5,000), a maxed out HSA ($7,000) and a partial Medical FSA deduction ($1,000).  We have been rewarded for saving more. 


Additional work income

On 3.31, I received a direct deposit of $144.28 for picking up extra hours with my employer.


Monthly Totals:

We earned $277.75 from cash back income
We earned $740 from rental income

We earned $154 for completing online surveys

We earned $5,261.20 of miscellaneous income

I earned $144.28 of extra income from my work


All of this totals $6,577.23 from our side hustles for the month of March!  We continue to slowly make progress towards our financial freedom every month.  Side hustles help us reach our goals a little bit faster.  Keep hustling my friends.  

Monday, March 1, 2021

Side hustles February 2021

 The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation. 

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles.  


Welcome to March!  Did you have a good February?  

This has been a big month for us as our home renovation project has officially begun.  We’ve been wanting to do some home remodeling for the last 10 years.  There have always been reasons to delay such as not having enough money saved up and waiting for our kids to get just a little bit older.  For the last 3 weeks, we’ve had remodeling crew in our home (wearing masks) working 6-8 hour days, 6 days a week.  Our 40 year old kitchen has been demolished.  All the carpeting (with multiple stains) has been torn out, soon to be replaced with luxury vinyl flooring that is 100% waterproof, scratch, stain, and dent resistant.  We wanted to upgrade the flooring to make it low maintenance and easy to care for - great for 2 young kids and a dog.  Electricians have installed over 70 LED recessed lights throughout the home.  


During this time, we purchased a Ninja Foodi to help us with cooking food.  This little kitchen appliance does so much, it can: pressure cook, slow cook, steam, make yogurt, sear/sauté, air fry crisp, bake/roast, broil, dehydrate, and keep foods warm inside the pot!  We’ve used our Ninja Foodi to make rice, cook chicken, make French fries and even make fall-off-the-bone ribs.  The Ninja Foodi has been a game changer for us, since we won’t have use of our kitchen for up to 8 weeks.  The Foodi pretty much helps us prepare all of our meals during this renovation.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

As coronavirus case numbers continue to decline, and covid vaccinations continue to rise, I am increasingly hopeful that we are getting closer to beating the virus.  Many venues are cautiously re-opening with new safety protocols.  Our kids have enjoyed going back out to fun places such as the zoo, playgrounds and the aquarium.  These places all have outdoor spaces with social distancing and mask requirements. 


We did a new fun activity this month, which was a drive thru dinosaur exhibition called Jurassic Quest.  Our family drove through a huge parking lot to get up close and personal to mechanized robot dinosaurs.  Our drive was synced with an audio tour that had music and facts about all the prehistoric creatures we drove by.  Masks were required to be worn as long as windows were down, which helped keep the adventure safe for all.  

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of February.

Cash Back 

On 2.1, my wife received a $10 statement credit on her AMEX Gold credit card.  This card offers a $10 dining credit every month on select restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory or Shake Shack.

On 2.4, I received $50 in statement credits ($25 x 2) on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card.  The card currently has a promotion for $25 cash back on purchases over $500, up to 10 times.  These credits were for two separate charges at Wayfair for home supplies. 

On 2.8, I received a $31.58 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. This was credit towards a purchase made at a gas station, which qualifies towards the $300 annual Chase travel credit. 

On 2.9, I received a $15 Target gift card as cash back from spending on my Target Red credit card. 

On 2.10, I received a $59.27 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card for credit towards gas station purchase, from the Chase travel credit program. 

On 2.10, I received a $1.80 statement credit on my Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card from Chase Offers. This was for 10% cash back on purchases made at Starbucks. 

On 2.14, I received $50 in statement credits ($25 x 2) on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card.  The card currently has a promotion for $25 cash back on purchases over $500, up to 10 times.  These credits were for purchases made for our kids’ tuition. 

On 2.24, I received a $25 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card.  

On 2.27, I received a $49.39 statement credit on my AMEX SimplyCash Business card. This was for 10% cash back on the purchase of 3 toilets from Lowe’s. 

On 2.27, I received a $40.81 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. This was for getting gas, which qualifies as a Chase Travel credit eligible purchase.  This card is essentially providing us with $300 worth of free gas each year. 


Rental Income

On 2.5, we received a net profit of $740 from our rental property.  

Survey Income

On 2.1, I received a $20 check from E-Rewards Medical for completing a survey.

On 2.6, I received a $40 check from M3 Global Research for completing a survey. 

On 2.22, I received a $45 check from M3 Global Research for completing a survey. 

On 2.23, I received a $35 Amazon gift card from M-panels for completing a survey.


Sales Income
On 2.5, I received $45 cash for selling an old Blu-ray player and a set of speakers on Facebook Marketplace.  These have been sitting around unused for at least 8 years.  With streaming services available, there really is no need to watch DVDs.  Also, the speaker set was too loud for our kids.

On 2.7, my wife received $20 cash for selling an old lamp. 

On 2.7, my wife received $45 cash for selling an old children’s playpen. 

On 2.10, my wife received $10 cash for selling an old slow cooker. 

On 2.16, my wife received $100 cash for selling some gently used women’s flats.


Monthly Totals:

We earned $332.85 from cash back income
We earned $740 from rental income

We earned $140 for completing online surveys

We earned $220 from selling used items online 


All of this totals $1,432.85 from our side hustles for the month of February!  Every little bit we earn helps us reach our financial goals (such as our home remodel) and our financial freedom.  Keep hustling for that income.  

Monday, February 1, 2021

Side hustles January 2021

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  Instead of focusing on what ideas don’t apply to you, try focusing on different side hustle ideas that you can implement to work for your situation. 

Once a month (usually on the 1st), I like to post a short summary of our personal and financial situation for the previous month.  While I don’t often post articles, I am committed to documenting all of my side hustle income.  Here I’ll share some of what’s been going on with our lives and our side hustles.  

Welcome to February!  How was your first month of the New Year?  Here in the RFI household, we have been focused on keeping our kids entertained and healthy.  We continue to visit all the different playgrounds in and around our neighborhood (with masks on of course!).  

At home, our kids enjoy reading library books, painting and drawing.  

I’m happy to report that I received my second COVID19 vaccine shot earlier this month.  My mom received her first vaccine shot last week.  COVID19 cases and deaths seem to be finally coming down in California (and the rest of the US).  I truly hope that the worst is behind us and that we can slowly move past this pandemic.  We are itching to take a family vacation!  

Recently, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach opened up their outdoor exhibits.  Our kids were excited to visit the aquarium again.  They got up close with jellyfish, sharks, stingrays, penguins, seals and more.  It was such a treat for them to be able to get out of the house again.  Our kids got a chance to touch jellyfish, stingrays and even small sharks. We made an appointment (guest capacity limits) to visit the aquarium as soon as they opened first thing in the morning.  It wasn’t crowded at all and guests wore masks the entire time. 

Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we have generated in the previous month of January.

Cash Back 
On 1.1, my wife received a $16.98 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum credit card.  This was an AMEX offer for up to $20 back on streaming services per month.  We enjoyed a free month of HBO Max and Hulu.
On 1.4, I received a $60 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  This was for the annual $60 Door Dash credit.  
On 1.9, my wife received a $22.98 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum card.  American Express has a $50 statement credit offered for purchases up to $50 at Saks Fifth Avenue.  This credit is offered twice a year, $50 every 6 months.  My wife bought some clothing online and got it reimbursed.
On 1.13 my wife received a $30 statement credit on her AMEX Platinum card.  American Express has a $30 statement credit on purchases made with PayPal checkout for the next 6 months.
On 1.21, my wife received a $7 statement credit on her AMEX Gold Card.  This was an AMEX offer for $7 back per month on $14.99 or greater purchases made with HBO Max. 
On 1.22, I received a $36.16 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  From now through June 30, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases will count towards earning free travel credit up to the first $300 in travel purchases.
On 1.28, I received a $51.83 statement credit on my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  This was for the Chase Travel credit used towards gas station purchases.   

Rental Income
On 1.5, we received a net profit of $740 from our rental property.  

Miscellaneous Income
On 1.1, we received a direct deposit of $2,233.90 from the IRS as our second stimulus check.  I list this as a side hustle, just like our last stimulus check, because our income qualifies only after taking into account the tax deductions on our gross income.  These deductions include two maxed out 401Ks ($19,500 each), a maxed out Dependent Care FSA ($5,000), a maxed out HSA ($7,000) and a partial Medical FSA deduction ($1,000).  We have been rewarded for saving more. 

Survey Income
On 1.20, I received a $55 check from My Impact Network for completing a medical survey.
On 1.25, I received a $20 check from E Rewards Medical for completing a survey. 
On 1.25, I received a $5 Amazon gift card from The Vision Council for completing a survey.

Monthly Totals:
We earned $224.95 from cash back income
We earned $740 from rental income
We earned $2,233.90 from miscellaneous income
I earned $80 for completing online surveys

All of this totals $3,278.85 from our side hustles for the month of January!  I hope you are all doing well with the start of 2021.  I hope the start of the new year ignites your motivation and passion for pursuing financial freedom!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Over 650K invested

Today, our investment accounts have now hit the biggest financial milestone to date: surpassing $650,000 in value!  

Our investment accounts include money in our 401Ks, Roth IRAs, taxable accounts, HSA and 529.  Index fund investing allows us to diversify our portfolio and keep our costs very low.  This does not include money in our checking accounts, savings accounts, home equity or rental property equity.

It’s hard to believe how fast the stock market has recovered since the crash in March and then exploded towards new highs.  There is a lot of bad news out there.  The U.S. COVID-19 death toll continues to rise to record highs.  Swamped hospitals are having to ration care for the surge of sick patients they are managing.  Racial tensions and inequalities have become more and more glaringly obvious.  Small businesses are suffering.  Unemployed people are suffering.  Just last week, domestic terrorists rioted and breached the U.S. Capital.  Yet none of this bad news seems to be putting a dent into stock market returns.  

The roaring stock market is due to a combination of historically low interest rates, government intervention to protect big corporations and record stimulus spending.  Despite all of the doom and gloom this year, stock market investors are forward looking.  

With the certainty of a new president and a Democratic control of the Senate, it’s likely that more will be spent on economic stimulus.  The COVID-19 vaccine roll out, while slow, promises to finally bring the coronavirus death toll down.  More industries can start to reopen, especially travel.  This will lead to increased consumer confidence - and spending.  The Federal Reserve has indicated that interest rates will stay low for the time being.  This helps businesses and individuals keep borrowing costs down.  Homeowners can refinance to record low interest rates to save more money.  The stock market looks attractive in this kind of environment. 

The harsh reality of this recovery is that the growing divide between the rich and poor continues to widen.  Those that are invested in the stock market have become more wealthy than ever before.  People in the hardest hit industries of this recession aren’t doing well at all.  Small business owners, travel, hospitality, performance and art industries are all suffering as lockdowns continue to punish them.  Those suffering are dependent on unemployment income and government assistance, which has been severely lacking.  Millennial-Revolution wrote a great post explaining what a K shaped recovery is here.  It really is unfair to be on the wrong side of this economic recovery.  I hope this new administration can better support those with the most needs.

We continue to ride this wild stock market.  As our investment accounts have grown, we have become more conservative with our stock to bond ratio.  Our portfolio is currently sitting at about 65% stocks and 35% bonds and slowly moving towards a 70/30 asset allocation.  While we are missing out on potentially greater returns, we are comfortable with the safety our bond funds provide. 

Here is a look back at the timeline of our previous investment milestones:

June 2, 2014: 100K

March 12, 2016: 200K

June 5, 2017: 300K 

July 15, 2018: 400K 

April 16, 2019: 450K

November 5, 2019: 500K 

January 18, 2020: 550K

November 7, 2020: 600K

January 12, 2021: 650K

Volatility in the stock market goes both down and up.  While we are enjoying our net worth gains right now, we will not be overly greedy.  We will continue to steadily invest towards our financial freedom.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Adventures in Mental Time Travel

I took the title of today’s post from a chapter in Annie Duke’s book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decision When you Don’t Have All the Facts.  This is the latest book I have finished reading.  I found the information I gained from this book so useful that I wanted to share some excerpts and insights with you.  Today I will discuss how we can use mental time traveling on our journey towards financial freedom.

To quote a passage from Annie Duke’s book, “For all the scientific research on the battle between our immediate desires and long-term goals, a particularly succinct explanation comes from Jerry Seinfeld, on why he doesn’t get enough sleep: “I stay up late at night because I’m Night Guy.  Night Guy wants to stay up late. ‘What about getting up after five hours of sleep?’ ‘That’s Morning Guy’s problem.  That’s not my problem.  I’m Night Guy.  I stay up as late as I want.’  So you get up in the morning: you’re exhausted, you’re groggy. ‘Oooh, I hate that Night Guy.’  See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy.”

Why do we have such a difficult time preparing for our future and planning for our future-selves?  Why do we spend (sometimes frivolously) now instead of saving in our retirement accounts?  Investing towards financial freedom means that we need to find ways of saving money or earning more money now, instead of placing the responsibility on our future self.  Don’t let your current self screw your future-self.

Temporal discounting is the tendency to favor our present-self at the expense of our future-self.  In a way, we are built to behave this way.  We use up the resources available to us right now instead of saving those resources for a future self that we don’t have any strong connection to right.  

So how can we get to know our future-self right now?  The future we can imagine for ourselves is usually based off our past.  One way we can get to know our future-self is to remember past experiences.  Putting our past memories together can help us remember and construct an idea of our future. 

Annie Duke goes on to say that “Night Jerry can access memories like oversleeping and missing appointments or dozing off during morning meetings that he can use to imagine how tired Morning Jerry will be or what’s going to happen to Morning Jerry’s schedule when he doesn’t want to get up or how his day will go when he can’t pay attention.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if Morning Jerry could travel back in time and tap Night Jerry on the shoulder to tell him to go to bed?”  

Studies find that when participants are shown software created images of their aged, older looking selves (complete with wrinkles, hair loss, and white hair), subjects allocated extra money towards their retirement accounts.  Getting a glimpse of how we will look in the future can be a powerful reminder of the importance of saving up in the present.  Thinking about our future situation can get us to think about the consequences of not properly saving for that future.  

Annie Duke says these types of apps can be a: “tap on the shoulder from our future-self. “Hey, don’t forget about me.  I’m going to exist and I’d like you to please take that into account.”

We’re not perfectly rational when we ponder the past or the future and engage our deliberative mind, but we are more likely to make choices consistent with our long-term goals when we can get out of the moment and engage our past- and future-selves.  We want Night Jerry and Morning Jerry colliding on the decision of when to get some sleep.

And we want our aged, wrinkly self colliding with us when we decide between spending more money now on something like a nicer car versus saving more money for retirement.”

Do you have older family members, colleagues, or friends that have failed to save for their own future?  What are their struggles?  Are they working much longer than they’d like because they don’t have a nest egg that can support them?  Are they dependent on their children or family members to take care of them and help them pay their bills?  Imagine if you were put into a similar situation.  Would you have any regrets?  How can you avoid the mistakes that led to these outcomes?

Harness the power of regret
While many consider regret to be an unproductive waste of time, Annie Duke argues that regret can be a powerful motivational tool.  Instead of sulking over something that has already occurred, she suggests moving regret to the front of our decisions.  This way regret can help us alter choices that could lead to poor outcomes.  

Look into your future.  Will you be struggling to get by due to poor retirement savings decisions when you were younger?  Will you be dependent on government checks to cover your daily expenses?  Will you be a burden on your family and friends?  Will you regret what you see in this possible future?  Are there any decisions that you’ve made in your past that you regret?  These moments of decision interruption can get us to imagine how we will feel in the future based on the decisions we make today.

Moving regret forward can also help us come to terms with accepting a bad outcome.  If we know what to expect, we will be less likely to be blindsided.  No one likes to hear the phrase “I told you so” - especially from themselves.  

The 10-10-10 question
Author Suzy Welch came up with the 10-10-10 guideline to help us think about our future situation, during our current situation.  When considering decisions, ask yourself the questions:

“What are the consequences of each of my options in ten minutes?  In ten months?  In ten years?”

This line of questioning gets us to mentally time travel in the future.  On the same concept, you can also use these questions to ask yourself how you feel about certain decisions you’ve made 10 minutes ago, 10 months ago, and ten years ago.  The 10-10-10 question can lower your risk of making poor choices that lead to unwanted consequences.  

I highly recommend reading Annie Duke’s book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decision When you Don’t Have All the Facts.  It’s changed my outlook and perspective on many things in my life.  You can buy the book here on Amazon or check it out at the library for free like I did.

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