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Apex Money Posts

I Will Never Recommend Crypto

I never got into crypto. I love some of the ideas behind it, like the blockchain and decentralized finance, but as with any shiny new (and not well understood) object – there are a lot of grifters. Crypto has a ton of grifters and sadly they’ve stolen/lost a lot of people’s money.

While I’ve made a case against crypto, I think our first post of the day makes a strong case too – that you simply don’t need it to win.

I Will Never Recommend Crypto [Financial Panther] – “Crypto gets its allure from how much you can seemingly make from it – it’s like winning the lottery if you get in at the right time. And while we all want to hit home runs, the truth is, we don’t need home runs to win at most things in life.”

With all the talk about the debt limit, the folks at Money Crashers do a good job recapping what exactly that means for your wallet.

What the U.S. Debt Ceiling Limit Means for Your Finances [Money Crashers] – “In reality, Congress must raise the debt limit so that the government can pay bills it has already agreed to pay: Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements, veterans’ healthcare, military service members’ salaries, and on and on. Congress choosing not to raise the debt ceiling is akin to a business owner deciding not to pay her employees or a homeowner telling his mortgage servicer to stuff it.”

Ok this robot is nuts. And it’s got some flair!

Dividends Provide a Tax-Efficient Form of Income

I love dividends.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve always had a concern that the irregularity of our income could be a financial risk. Normally, a younger investor (I’m in my 40s, so I’m not “young” but I’m closer to my college graduation than my “retirement”) would prefer capital gains over dividends. You want the company to keep the cash and re-invest it into the company.

But as an entrepreneur, dividends offer a bit of income insurance that I can’t get elsewhere. Plus, picking dividend stocks scratches my “stock picking itch” in a responsible way.

It will be fun, as I do enter retirement, to count on some of that cash tax free. 🙂

Dividends Provide a Tax-Efficient Form of Income [Dividend Growth Investor] – “This means that if you are single, living on your own, and only claiming yourself as a dependent, you can essentially make $52,950 in annual qualified dividend income, and pay zero taxes on that. This includes the Standard Deduction of $12,550. This calculation also assumes you have no other sources of income and no other deductions for the sake of simplicity and to illustrate the point. In order for you to generate so much in income, your portfolio would likely be worth around $1.765 million at a dividend yields of 3%. If you made your selections wisely, your dividend income should at least keep up with inflation over time. With most dividend growth stocks, I expect a 5% – 6% annual dividend increase in the long run, ahead of the long-term annual inflation rate of 3%.”

How Charlie Javice Got JPMorgan to Pay $175 Million for … What Exactly? [The New York Times] – “When JPMorgan Chase paid $175 million to acquire a college financial planning company called Frank in September 2021, it heralded the “unique opportunity for deeper engagement” with the five million students Frank worked with at more than 6,000 American institutions of higher education. Then last month, the biggest bank in the country did something extraordinary: It said it had been conned.”

Fort Walgreens [Curbed] – “The recent spike in shoplifting is both overblown and real. And almost everyone is profiting from it (including you).” Courtesy of J.D.!

It’s Time to Uncomplicate Your Health and Wealth.

Happy Wednesday! Tarsha here from the Plutus Team. I could not wait to post these awesome articles for you to enjoy. So, make a cup of coffee and dive right into them. See you next week!

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

It’s Time to Uncomplicate Your Health and Wealth. [A Teachable Moment] — “It’s rare to find a situation where simplifying lifestyle or financial choices doesn’t result in a better outcome for end-users… The same goes for investing. Trying harder by creating costly complexities is a poor substitute for bare-boned and easy-to-understand investments.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

Top Tips for How to Teach Your Child Responsibility.  [How Much Is That in Tacos] — “Our kids are our world, we want their lives to be so much better than ours ever was. We send them to private schools so they can be smarter than we were. They’re involved in nonstop extracurricular activities to ensure they have physical abilities and the right amount of socialization for college applications.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

Could You Live in $25k A Year, and Be Happy? [ Money and Meaning] — “My last 30 years were based on three philosophical, environmental, and financial beliefs: spending more money wouldn’t make me happier, spending more money would degrade the environment, and spending more money meant I would have to work more years.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

A perfect dozen

In a fun little quirk, two of the posts I wanted to share today involve “lists” that are twelve in length.

They also share another characteristic – I like them both!

Please enjoy:

12 Steps To Financial Independence [Financial Tortoise] – “Alcohol Anonymous is famous for their 12-step program. It’s helped millions, if not tens of millions of people reach sobriety and transform their lives for the better. So in salute to the original 12-step program, in this post we are going to review the 12-steps to achieving financial independence.”

12 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2023 [Retire Before Dad] – “This list aims to inspire you to level up your financial security, build a sturdier wealth foundation, and enable more career flexibility and freedom in the next decade.”

Lastly, this is a fun video that I enjoy watching every so often:

Why Perfectionism Ruins Portfolios

Happy Monday! Jim here with your gems of the day:

Why Perfectionism Ruins Portfolios [eversight wealth] – “Investing success is not about finding the perfect portfolio. Meb Faber revealed that even if someone could have predicted the top performing strategies in advance, paying high fees would have transformed the best into the worst. Investors cannot predict which portfolio is optimal for an unknowable future. But you can reduce fees to ensure you capture a larger share of future returns.”

A Million Choices [Steve Adcock] – “The best-made plans are over dinner and margaritas, right??? But here’s the magic in what happened that night. As we chatted, I never had to think about if my boss will let me go. Or if I have enough vacation hours left. Or whether I should bring my laptop in case of a work emergency.”

Two surprising reasons behind the obesity epidemic: Too much salt, not enough water [The Conversation] – “Throughout my many years of studying obesity and related health conditions, I’ve observed that relatively little is said about two significant pieces of this very complex puzzle: lack of hydration and excessive salt intake. Both are known to contribute to obesity.”

Your credit card rewards might not be worth it

I’ve long viewed credit cards, and their reward programs, as useful tools if you know how to use them.

If you pay off your balance in full each month, rewards programs are great. You get a little tiny rebate on every purchase.

If you don’t and are paying interest each month, reward programs are red herrings. They get you to stick around and use a card that’s paying you a few cents but “robbing” you of dollars.

Your credit card rewards might not be worth it [Vox] – “Rewards cards are only really useful for consumers who are generally credit-savvy. Less financially sophisticated consumers — meaning people with higher unpaid balances or who don’t pay off their cards month to month — ultimately end up losing out. They wind up subsidizing the rewards of people who are a little better at credit, wherever they fall on the income spectrum. More than half of credit card customers are “revolvers,” meaning they don’t pay off their full balances each month.” eeek.

I’ve long viewed travel insurance as a bit of a “scam” in the sense that it was largely unnecessary. Then Covid happened and we are not big fans. What Thomas describes is not even the stuff you pay extra for!

How To Travel In A Safe And Wise Way (What I Learned From The Southwest Failure) [The Long Game] – “I was apart of the horrible Southwest cancellations in late December. And when I say horrible, I mean horrible.” Use your card benefits!

This next one… Hmmmm… 😡

U.S. military-run slot machines earn $100 million a year from service members overseas [NPR] – “The slot machines, operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, earn the DOD more than $100 million each year in the name of “morale, welfare, and recreation” for service members, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office that was written in response to demands from Congress.”

Have a great weekend!

Ideas That Changed My Life

Jim here – one of the fun parts of reading a lot of personal finance articles around the start of the year are the annual recaps where people share what they’ve learned in the past year.

Today’s first article is similar, except it’s a bit grander. It’s ideas that have changed Morgan Housel’s life… which I’d argue are ideas that will have a massive impact on anyone.

Check it out:

Ideas That Changed My Life [Collab Fund by Morgan Housel] – “Everyone belongs to a tribe and underestimates how influential that tribe is on their thinking. There is little correlation between climate change denial and scientific literacy. But there is a strong correlation between climate change denial and political affiliation. That’s an extreme example, but everyone has views persuaded by identity over pure analysis.”

I very rarely use checks, usually to pay estimated taxes (speaking of which, I should look into that), and it turns out my friend Mike at Oblivious Investor just had an arduous 3 month ordeal dealing with check fraud! I didn’t know this type of thing still happened and it turns out it happens quite a bit!

My Experience with Check Fraud – And What You Can Learn From It [Oblivious Investor] – “Apparently somebody intercepted the check, chemically “washed” it to remove the ink on specific portions of the check, and wrote in a new payee, amount, and (partial) memo.” (JD sent this one along!)

How To Use Money Journaling: Improve Your Mindset And Your Finances [Clever Girl Finance] – “Money journaling is about more than just keeping a ledger. It’s about keeping a journal that’s purely dedicated to your finances and spending habits. When you start journaling, you commit to writing down everything you spend every day. To make it a money journal, you also need to write down how you feel about all your spending in addition to the numbers. This is the secret ingredient.”

#14. Knowing Your (Net) Worth.

Happy Hump Day Plutus Family! Thank goodness its Wednesday. So, take a quick break and read these great articles we gathered for you.

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

The Art and Science of Spending Money. [Collab Fund] — “There is a science to spending money – how to find a bargain, how to make a budget, things like that. But there’s also an art to spending. A part that can’t be quantified and varies person to person.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

How To Find a Job That Fulfills You. [Worklife] — “While it’s helpful to get feedback from current and former employees, reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or Yelp might skew overly negative or positive, cautions Trey Barnette, a regional vice president at staffing and talent solutions firm Robert Half. Seek out objective sources, he said, not “an ex-employee that just got let go and is ranting and raving.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

#14. Knowing Your (Net) Worth. [The Sytch] — “Think of tracking your net worth like the annual doctor checkup. It may not be a necessary step to achieve financial success for some, but if you want to get nerdy with your finances and optimize every dollar, tracking your net worth is a must. Knowing your net worth every year requires you to do a deep dive into your finances. This forces you to diagnose any issues you are having.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

More Powerful than Financial Advice

Happy Tuesday!

More Powerful than Financial Advice [Retire Before Dad] – “Success in building wealth is less about how much you know (or can google) and more about consistently applying what you’ve learned toward a defined objective over many years. It’s not so much the plan. It’s the execution.”

As Derek Sivers once famously said, “If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

At any age, a healthy diet can extend your life [The Washington Post] – “No matter how old you are, or how much junk food you consume, it’s never too late to start undoing the damage caused by a poor diet.”

What Your Net Worth Statement Is Telling You [Morningstar] – “A summary of all your assets and liabilities is a crucial first step toward getting a better handle on your finances.”

Mechanical time vs body time

Welcome to another beautiful week!

First one today comes from a thread written by David Perell and is a fascinating look at time.

Mechanical time vs body time [David Perell on Twitter] – I’d never given “time” that much thought but as I age, it’s becoming clearer that body time is the time I prefer to follow.

11 Steps To Perfectly Manage Your Finances As A Millennial [The Long Game] – ““What would you do if you were me?” This is the top question I get asked from friends and family.

Here’s exactly what I would do if I was starting out as a millennial.” This advice applies to anyone.

From beginner money steps for the millenial to the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning!

Your coffin isn’t hitched to a U-Haul. [The Minimalists] is the post where I discovered this concept but it’s really captured in an 8-minute video.