[#41] Small Gratitude Leads to Big Gratitude

Plus: Return on Entertainment, BF Shopping Hacks, Investing Deals and Downgrading Cards.

written by oz chen

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Edition 41 personal finance newsletter behavioral investing

Compliment of the day: You have a grateful heart.

This is Thanksgiving week so I’ll riff on the idea of gratitude. Then I’ll cover Return on Entertainment, BF Shopping Hacks, Investing Deals and Downgrading Cards.

🙏🏼 Small gratitude leads to big gratitude

Years ago, gratitude became vogue. I don’t know which TED talk went viral or if we can blame it on the proliferation of meditation apps, but I’m grateful that it’s cool to be grateful. #meta.

Gratitude makes life richer. I’m not living a rich life if I’m counting my problems instead of my blessings. Gratitude reminds me that I have power over how I experience life, and that’s regardless of status or income. Anyone can do it.

But I hit a wall early on in my gratitude practice. I found myself repeating the same things over and over again. I’m grateful for my health, my family, having a roof over my head…

The repetition made gratitude feel like obligation, like I had to say grand, big gratitudes. So I flipped the script: specifically, celebrating the small things.

I’m grateful for paper filters that make my coffee taste clean. I’m grateful for the dewy smell of air in the morning. I’m grateful that toothpaste for sensitive teeth exist.

There’s a power to being specific – the more that I practiced “small” gratitudes, the bigger sense of gratitude that I got. Starting with small gratitudes usually leads me back to the bigger gratitudes with a deeper feeling. To experience the big, experience the small.

You can read more about this practice in my article small vs big gratitude.

What small, tiny aspects of life are you grateful for? Reply to me with your gratitudes. Guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

🎲 Return on Entertainment

You may have heard of the sentiment “Buy experiences, not things.”

The idea: experiences are more memorable and give us a mental “return” that far outweighs material purchases.

But there’s a fertile middle ground: material things that give you repeatedly good experiences.

I picked up poi after seeing performers at a music festival. It’s basically a ball at the end of a string that you spin. There are fancy versions that light up, like this LED poi I bought. Here’s a good visual from Youtube:

To my surprise, poi turned out to be an extremely high return on entertainment purchase. I can pick it up anytime, and play it with as a break from work. It gives me a sense of flow. What’s been even more fun is to share it with friends and watch them play with poi. Hours of entertainment for $40. I find that to be a ridiculous value.

Any purchase that helps you feel a sense of flow is an amazing investment. It could be a musical instrument, an electric bike, or a variety of other flow toys.

What purchases give high return on entertainment?

♣️ Black Friday Shopping Hacks

Ever wonder where the term “Black Friday” come from? Some theories 1) retail stores being “in the black” after losing money “in the red” for most of the year, and 2) the police’s remark on the hordes of shoppers after Thanksgiving.

I shudder to think of those crowds. Thank goodness for online shopping. Speaking of which, here are some money-saving tools if you’re shopping for Black Friday online:

Use Rakuten’s cash back extension: shop with Rakuten online to get free money, like 10% cash back on Macy’s and Samsung.

Just by joining Rakuten, you can earn a $40 sign up bonus on top of generous cash back.


Triple dip tip: you can use Honey at checkout because they have a larger database of coupon codes. This will deactivate Rakuten. Simply copy that coupon code, then reactivate Rakuten and reapply the code. Then put your purchase on a cash back card. Triple dip!

Prefer crypto? Use Lolli: Lolli is the “Bitcoin back” equivalent of Rakuten. The current deals include 8% Bitcoin back at Nike and Groupon. Use my referral link and we’ll both get at $5 Bitcoin bonus.

Quick note if you have a health FSA (flexible savings account). The deadline to spend your pre-taxed FSA funds is usually by the end of the year, 12/31. Rakuten often currently has a 2% cash back on FSAStore.com and 6% back on Walgreens (most big pharmacies have FSA approved items).

If this newsletter nugget reeks of consumerism…then remember it can also be a relief to not buy anything.

You save 100% on not buying stuff you don’t need.

💰 Investing Black Friday

When you think “Black Friday,” most people don’t think about investment accounts. But usually finance platforms are happy to give you free money if you bring your money over to their platform. Here are a few products I use with more-generous-than-usual bonuses:

  • M1 Finance, my favorite money management platform (review), is offering a $50 sign up bonus
  • BlockFi, my favorite place to earn crypto interest (review), is offering $40 sign up bonus. It’s usually $10, but you get $40 because the referrer (me) has a BlockFi credit card.
  • Schwab is my favorite mixed account: fee-free trading on stocks and a checking account with an awesome international debit card. They offer bonuses up to $1000 depending on how much you transfer into your investment account.

Check out my Top Crypto Bonuses page if earning hundreds + in sign up bonuses interests you.

💸 Money tip: Downgrade instead of cancelling credit cards

Cancelling credit cards could hurt your score because 1) you lose your line of credit and 2) this counts as a “closed account” in your history. If you really want to cancel a credit card, especially for those with a high annual fee (looking at you $550 Sapphire Reserve…), then your credit will take a smaller hit by downgrading to a no-fee card.

You can do this by calling your credit card company. When you ask for the no annual fee card, make sure to ask for them to transfer the same credit line from the account you’re closing over to the new one.

Another tip: if you got hit with an annual fee, you usually have 30 day grace period from when the fee was charged to downgrade (or cancel) the card and get the fee refunded. Again, you do this by calling in—credit card companies don’t make this easy.

Downgrading isn’t a perfect solution. You won’t get the signup bonus for the lower-tier card simply by downgrading. But this can save you from the annual fee and impact your credit score less.

Just for fun: Complaining about inflation but forgetting about lifestyle inflation.

liked this article? tell your mom, tell your kids


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