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Apex Money Posts

Why don’t rich people just stop working?

Yawn! Welcome to Monday, money nerds, and welcome to the latest edition of Apex Money. Today, let’s talk about retirement.

A visual guide of global attitudes toward retirement. [Visual Capitalist] — “Today’s infographic from Raconteur visualizes attitudes towards retirement around the world, comparing expectations and actualities for retirement income. Does reality meet their expectations?”

Don’t tell the Internet Retirement Police but consistently across the world, about half of all people plan to work for money during retirement. Gasp! The horror!

Working in retirement

The top five reasons to exceed 25 years of expenses before retiring. [Physician on Fire] — “A couple of studies in the 1990s showed us that a historically safe withdrawal rate for people wanting their money to last at least 30 years was not the 6% or 8% that many financial planners were quoting, but actually only 4% to have an excellent chance of your portfolio surviving some of the worst periods of investment returns in modern history. Is [this] enough for you? There are more than a few reasons you might want to exceed that number, as I did, before you leave your career behind.”

Why don’t rich people just stop working? [New York Times] — “The only thing we know in this casino-like economy — a casino that may, in fact, soon be shuttered — is that for those at the top, too much is never enough. Many normal, non-billionaire people wonder: why is that? Studies over the years have indicated that the rich, unlike the leisured gentry of old, tend to work longer hours and spend less time socializing.” [This has been linked everywhere but it’s intertesting. So, we’re linking it too.]

Half of retirees are afraid to use savings. [Center for Retirement Research] — “A 2018 study in the Journal of Personal Finance surveyed retirees to get a sense of the psychology behind their caution. However, the main takeaway is that this reluctance to spend is pervasive. Half of the survey respondents agreed with this statement: ‘The thought of my retirement portfolio balance going down over time brings me discomfort, even if the decline in value is a result of me spending money on my retirement goals.'”

Our last link of the day has nothing to do with money and everything to do with Taylor Swift. My favorite artist recently performed a “Tiny Desk concert” for National Public Radio. Of course, I have to share it!

Did you know that comedian Steve Carell is also a Taylor Swift fan? True story.

Personal finance and politics.

It’s Friday, money nerds, and that means…politics! Wait. Are those two really connected? Probably not. But they are today.

At my main site, I steer clear of mixing money and politics. I want to write for everyone regardless their political persuasion. That said, I recognize that sometimes politics and personal finance are hopelessly intertwined. Today’s featured articles here at Apex Money prove that point.

First up, here’s a long, thoughtful article that doesn’t mince words. The author believes people like me are naive and creating false dichotomies:

Personal finance and politics. [Optimize Your Life] — “A conversation about money without discussing politics is only developing part of the picture. If we, as personal finance writers, really want to help our readers, we should be giving them the full picture and the full suite of tools to take control of their money and their lives.”

America’s growing political divide: 1994-2017. [Visual Capitalist] — “Politics can be a hot button topic in America. With rising tensions on both sides of the political spectrum, some claim that bipartisanship is dead. Recent research shows that may well be true. Today’s charts come from a report by the independent think tank Pew Research on the partisan divide between the two major U.S. political parties, Democrats and Republicans.”

The U.S. political divide

What I learned growing up in rural America. [The Guardian] — “In college, I began to understand the depth of the rift that is economic inequality. Roughly speaking, on one side of the rift was the place I was from – laborers, workers, people filled with distrust for the systems that had been ignoring and even spurning them for a couple decades. On the other side were the people who run those systems – basically, people with college funds who end up living in cities or moving to one of the expensive coasts.”

Shopping has become a political act. Here’s how it happened. [Vox] — “Where and how we spend our money does matter. But how much it matters depends on what else we do with our money and what governments and corporations do with their (considerably larger) pots.”

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man.

Are you ready to RUUUUUUMMMMMBLLLLLLE, money nerds?!?!? If so, you’ve come to the wrong place. We don’t rumble around here. All we do is share the best money stories from across the web. Today, let’s talk about clothing!

How to buy clothes that are built to last. [New York Times, so possible paywall] — “The concept of ‘slow fashion’ has emerged over the past decade as a kind of counterbalance to fast fashion. The idea: slow down the rapid pace of clothing consumption and instead buy fewer more durable items…In a culture accustomed to the ephemeral, how can shoppers select clothes that are built to last? Here’s what to consider.

The benefits of buying used: A guide to shopping at thrift stores. [Frugalwoods] — “I’m a known thrifter…Since becoming Mrs. Frugalwoods, I’ve tried to buy everything second-hand. This doesn’t always work out and sometimes I choose to buy things new (such as my mattress), but on the whole, my household is awash in used goods.”

The minimalist’s guide to dressing for work. [The Luxe Strategist] — “Over the years, I realized I never needed to buy a separate set of outfits to feel good in business casual environments. Instead, I could buy a few key pieces and mix them with my regular clothes. And mixing the two meant that I could not only infuse my personal style at work, but also still feel comfortable and confident.” [See also: How to find hidden gems at thrift stores.]

Men who used to not care about fashion: Is dressing well worth the time and effort? [/r/malefashionadvice/ on Reddit] — “The way I see it, fashion is a want, not a need. and because I live by this ‘buy needs, not wants’, I have this pessimistic view towards fashion. So I would like to hear from those who were in my position and their experiences with changing fashion into a priority.” [Related: An interview with a guy who wears the same everything every day.]

Me? I used to buy all of my clothes at Costco. Cheap is good, right? After my divorce, though, I started to care more about dressing well. Turns out, I liked looking good. (It’s no joke that every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man.) The current problem is that my nice clothes don’t fit! That’s okay, though. I’m on the weight-loss train and I should be able to fit into my fashionable duds by spring…

A perfect circle of acquaintances and friends.

Hello again, money nerds. It is I, J.D., and I’m back from my nineteen-day road trip. I’m excited to resume curation duties here at Apex Money, to share some of the best money stories from around the web.

Let’s get things started!

You can’t really manage money (or anything else) until you learn to manage yourself. [Brave Saver] — “Sometimes the problem isn’t our money — it’s us. And we need to work on managing our ourselves, our behaviors, and our mental health before our finances can improve. I had mismanaged myself into a deep, dark mental hole and it was time to dig my way out.”

How getting sober changed my life — and my money. [Recovering Women Wealth on Budgets Are Sexy] — “I’m looking at the graph of the pivotal money moments in my life, and it’s clear to me the life-changing events that occurred at each stage. The story told by my money also tells of my recovery from drug addiction/alcoholism. Since getting sober, it’s not surprising my net worth has gone up. For this girl, sobriety is sexy.

Spouses report earnings differently when wives earn more. [U.S. Census Bureau] — “When wives earn more than their husbands do, a puzzling thing can happen: Husbands say they earn more than they are and wives underreport their income. New Census Bureau research shows that the incomes couples report on Census Bureau surveys do not always match their IRS filings.”

My family has lived in the same house for 72 years. [Curbed] — “The idyllic location isn’t the only reason why generation after generation has chosen to live in the upstairs or downstairs of that house. Or why we almost always gather there, for every visit, holiday, and random Tuesday. The real reason is simpler. Comfort.”

Last (but not least), here’s a maddening little…toy? game? piece of hell?…that challenges you to do one thing: Draw a perfect circle.

Perfect Circle

Can you do it? I can’t. After dozens of attempts, the best I’ve been able to do is create a circle that’s 94.9% perfect. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go try again…

Online, no one knows you’re poor

Last call!

Actually, just last call for me. Today’s my (Jim’s) last day of curation before J.D. jumps back on the wheel. I had a blast, as always, and hope you did too.

Can you do me a favor and let me know how I did? What did you enjoy? What was just “meh?” Reply and let me know, please please please!

Today’s is a grab bag of a bunch of stuff I found interesting and/or useful… no rhyme or reason. Just top-notch.

Online, no one knows you’re poor [The Guardian] – “Shauna Ahern used to make her living by writing a food blog. But when times got tough, she realised keeping up appearances can make you lose sight of life’s meaning.” Social media + Keeping up with the influencer Joneses = disaster.

The simple words that save lives – “In 1984, Dallas, Texas, a call to the emergency services went catastrophically wrong. An elderly woman had stopped breathing, or was struggling to breathe, in her home. Her son, clearly distressed, called 911. The conversation between the caller and the dispatcher quickly spiraled out of control. Both parties appeared to argue for several minutes over the condition of the woman. The caller, increasingly exasperated, refuses to give straight answers to many of the dispatcher’s questions. The dispatcher, equally frustrated, eventually hung up with a curt “’kay, b’bye”. Thirteen minutes later paramedics were sent to the home where the woman in question was pronounced dead.” Some very good tips on how to communicate during a crisis.

How Much Should You Have in a 529 Plan by Age [The College Investor] – As a 529 plan devotee, this post by Robert sets good age-related “checkpoints” for your plan. It’s based on reasonable assumptions (paying 50% of the projected costs of in-state tuition of $10,200 per year for four years).

This one is a question I bet you’ve always asked whenever you feed the meter…

How Much Money Do Parking Lots Actually Make? [Mel Magazine] – “Paid parking lots: Those slabs of asphalt in the middle of cities with narrow spaces and often extortionate rates are pretty much a necessary evil if you own a car and spend any time in the city. But what’s their side of it like? Why even run a parking lot on a piece of urban land instead of building, like, an actual building? Are they goldmines, or what? What are their costs like?” It’s light on numbers but it does a good job explaining the strategy behind them.

Just when you thought you heard of everything… read this:

The Dangerously Cheesy Collectible Cheetos Market [The Outline] – “Dozens of “rare Cheetos,” shaped like everything from Donald Trump to a squirrel, are up for sale on eBay. But who’s buying?” I never buy Cheetos because I love Cheetos. If I had a bag in the house, it’d be gone in milliseconds. But I had no idea there was a secondary market for Cheetos shaped like things. Now I wonder how much of that sweet sweet eBay money I’ve inadvertently eaten!

Catch you on the flip side!

Financial success is hard to define

How do you define financial success?

A seven-figure bank balance?

Sipping a colorful drink with a tiny umbrella while your feet are touching warm white sand?

Working for yourself?

The Definition of Financial Success is Not So Obvious [Retire Before Dad] – “Financial success is the same. You and I have different goals and ways of defining financial success. But if I don’t achieve the same level of wealth or income as you, that doesn’t make me a failure. […] We tend to compare ourselves to others when it comes to career achievement and money, even though we have limited information about the financials of our peers. Comparing ourselves to others a useless exercise rooted in envy.” I’d also add that not only are our definitions different, they’re also hard to see. Personally, I’m not impressed by a large bank balance as much as I would be by what it represents – complete control of your time.

3 Lies to Keep to Yourself During a Job Interview [Paychecks & Balances] – “Millennials are twice as likely as other generations to lie on their resumes. This post is not about lying on your resume. Apparently you’ve already mastered that skill. Honesty is always the best policy; except for when it isn’t. This post is about all the other things you might as well lie about during the interview process. Protect yourself at all times!” If you’re interviewing for jobs, remember this list! (and if you’re not, still remember this list!)

The IRS Admits It Doesn’t Audit the Rich Because It’s Too Hard [GQ] – “The Internal Revenue Service is in a bind. The agency’s job is to collect the taxes that fund everything else in the government, from Social Security to the Post Office to Medicaid to the military’s endless conflicts across the globe. But the IRS is struggling: According to Vox, Americans owe a cumulative $131 billion in unpaid taxes, enough to completely fund the Department of Education for two years. The bulk of that money is owed by the wealthiest people in the country, yet the IRS isn’t attempting to collect it from them. Instead, as IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig confirmed in a letter to Congress recently, the agency literally can’t afford to audit the rich, so it’s pursuing the poor instead.” Oh nice.

Remember when the US Mint sold dollar coins for a dollar?

It was a boon for credit card churners looking to manufacture spend:

I still have a few!

Rules of thumb are trash

Go look up the purported origins of the phrase “rule of thumb” – and you will know why I look upon that rule and others with such contempt.

Julien & Kiersten agree:

Why financial rules of thumb are trash [Rich and Regular] – “After the last few years of blogging regularly, entrenching ourselves in books, videos, documentaries, podcasts and all things money, if I hear another financial jargon laced rule of thumb based on averages or medians, while disregarding the personal side of personal finance, I might morph into Uncle Sam. Our Uncle Sam… not the meth-addicted Santa looking dude ya’ll made up.”

The rise of the financial machines [The Economist] – “Funds run by computers that follow rules set by humans account for 35% of America’s stockmarket, 60% of institutional equity assets and 60% of trading activity. New artificial-intelligence programs are also writing their own investing rules, in ways their human masters only partly understand.” If you thought Skynet would show up with guns, you will be mistaken.

She Won Athletes’ Hearts. And Robbed Them Blind [Sports Illustrated] – “The same people who years ago entrusted her with millions—from Ricky Williams to Dennis Rodman to Travis Best—wince today at the mention of her name. They’ll tell you how she left them broke. How she’s a “chameleon ghost witch.” How she’s a forgery of the American Dream. And every athlete’s worst nightmare.” Just WOW. This isn’t a “bad business deal” type of scam, this was straight-up robbery.

And check out this piece to leave you with a smile on your face!

I want to be as pleased with myself as that guy!

Don’t break the chain

Do you ever have days when you wake up and are immediately ready to conquer the world?

And then other days when it just feels so good to pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep?

Motivation and discipline are such fickle beasts.

That’s why it’s important to know some of the little tactics you can use to trick your stupid brain into doing what’s right for it!

Why You Need Visual Goals For Your Finances [Hi Charlie] – “If you have a big, audacious financial goal, it can seem really overwhelming — maybe you’re wondering how you can keep yourself motivated, or how to tackle the goal in the first place.” Very good piece by Sarah Li Cain, who blogs at Beyond The Dollar, that shares why you should visually track your goal and gamify it!

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret [Lifehacker] – An oldie but goodie that fits with the first post – “He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it. He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write.”

10 Cognitive Biases in Your Brain That Are Costing You Money [Money Crashers] – “… sometimes we buy for reasons that have nothing to do with the product. Our brains can trick us into making choices that seem logical, but don’t stand up to close inspection. These mental traps are called ‘cognitive biases.’ Cognitive biases can seriously hurt your bottom line if you let them. Fortunately, by learning how these biases work, you can put your brain on guard against them. Here’s a look at ten of the most common biases, and how to protect yourself from them.”

Now for a change of pace…

Do you remember the story of D.B. Cooper? In 1971, he hijacked a Boeing 727 between Portland and Seattle. He got $200,000 in ransom money and then parachuted away, never to be found. It’s the only unsolved case of air piracy in modern history… and people have been looking for him ever since.

Has the Mystery of Skyjacker D.B. Cooper Finally Been Solved? A TV Newsman’s Obsessive Quest [Hollywood Reporter] – “For several days in May 2013, the Hollywood sting operation surveilled the grandfather at the condominium he sometimes shared with his ex-wife in the tony San Diego district of Bankers Hill. A $30,000-a-week private security group, armed because they deemed their subject a hostile threat, watched his movements aboard the 45-foot cruiser Poverty Sucks, docked nearby. They tracked him at his boat shop, Coronado Precision Marine. And they followed him to his local P.O. box. When they felt confident that they’d clocked his routine, they sent in Tom Colbert, the veteran newsman who’d hired them. He wore a wire and a hidden camera in his glasses.”

Farming crypto, if you dare!

As a full-time blogger, I sometimes wonder what our kids will think when they grow up and learn about “real” jobs.

By “real” I only mean “get dressed up and leave the house” type of job. They’re growing up in a world where people are making millions (or many thousands) of dollars as influencers on Youtube, Twitch, Tik Tok, or other media platforms. If those influencers are the equivalent of high-profile professional athletes, I’m the prototypical journeyman who grinds out a pretty great living with the freedom to explore whatever I want.

So today’s headline article about a family who literally runs a cryptocurrency farm was fascinating to me… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Crypto Family Farm [Logic] – “Inside the Collins household fireplace, underneath nine Christmas stockings that hang year round, sit the cryptocurrency mining rigs. In the winter, these screenless computers are moved below the furnace, where the excess heat they produce helps warm the house. That way, Owen, Cassie, and their seven children can save some money on the energy bill for their rural Washington home. It also helps them avoid unwanted attention from the power company — which, if it found out about their power-hungry endeavor, might ask for bills to be paid up front.” This feels like the setting of a near-future sci-fi short story… but it’s not. This is present-day!

Why We Don’t Buy Bitcoin or Any Cryptocurrency — And You Shouldn’t Either [Our Next Life] – “We don’t buy Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. And, frankly, if you give a damn about your own financial security, we don’t think you should either.” Tanja shares why they’re not fans of cryptocurrencies at all.

Lessons Learned From 100 Alcohol Free Days [A Purple Life] – “I decided to be alcohol free for at least 100 days. 31 alcohol free days in January did not lead to any big revelations about my relationship with alcohol or changes in my behavior. My life quickly returned to the wine filled status quo. 6 weeks is another often thrown around amount of time to give up the sauce, but it’s only a little longer than 1 month, so I chose a different approach. My hope going into those 100 days was to give myself time to remember who I am without poison running through my veins and take the time needed for not drinking to become an actual habit while I reflect on my relationship with booze. I am happy to say that I completed the challenge without a drop of alcohol and discovered a lot about myself and this ubiquitous substance along the way.”

The NFL is a massive logistics nightmare, see how they do it in this informative video:

The rules can change while you play the game

Whenever you play a game, there are different phases. The way you play in the beginning is different than how you play in the middle and the end.

In chess, these phases are even given names – opening, the middle game, and the end game. In the opening, you want to develop your piece (move them from their initial spots). In the middle game, your pieces should be out and you should now be positioning them into ideal squares and finding tactical opportunities. The end game is really about preparation and how much you’ve studied various positions.

Not everyone plays chess but you’ve probably played Monopoly, right? In the beginning, you try to acquire all the properties you land on. Eventually, you need to trade up for monopolies so you can build houses. Houses are a limited commodity so it turns out the ideal strategy is to buy up four houses per property and not move up to hotels because then your opponents can’t build houses!

So the strategy changes as the game progresses… but the rules don’t.

In life, the rules can change as you play the game. It’s frustrating and it feels unfair but that’s life.

Today’s articles are all about how the rules can change on you.

How to Get Out of The Box [The Financial Graduate] – “Grad school sucks. At least it did for me. On the day of my defence I stood in front of a committee of professors whose job it was to challenge every aspect of my thesis. […] I really don’t remember much from this experience, except for one critique. It came from a professor of computer science who, many may argue, is kind of a ‘big deal.’ After several rounds of reasonable questions and comments this professor suggested that I learn to think ‘out of the box.'” Schooling is very much like a train on a single track until it isn’t. For the Financial Graduate, everything was on the tracks until it wasn’t. A good discussion on how to get out of the box.

Most Americans go to college in the hopes of a secure financial future. Many don’t get it [CNBC] – “… half of the country’s schools in 2018 left the majority of their former students earning less than $28,000 a year, which is what the typical high school graduate makes. The finding comes from a new report by Third Way, a think tank in Washington, D.C.” A college degree used to be a huge differentiator among job candidates but today a degree doesn’t provide as big of an advantage, and in many cases, certainly not at the cost of massive student loans.

Requiem for a Sports Bettor [The Ringer] – “Gambling on sports has never been more high-stakes or more accessible. But with the invasion of Europe-based companies in the game, the pros are feeling squeezed and routinely getting banned from plying their trade. Is this the end of the professional sports bettor?” If you’re too good at gambling/winning, casinos will kick you out!