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Apex Money Posts

Adulthood is a mirage.

Good morning, friends, and welcome to meteorological winter! December is here, and with it comes winter festivities. (And, if you’re me, two weeks in Hawaii haha.) First, though, let’s look at some recent money stories.

Die with zero. [The Boston Advisor] — “We work hard as wealth managers to make sure our clients don’t run out of money, and clients work hard to avoid financial insecurity. A book pushing us to spend early and often seems counter-intuitive. However, Perkins is on to something.”

“The longer I do this, the less I care about results.” [Ryan Holiday] — “It’s an incredible thing to be a professional baseball player or to get to write books or to do whatever is that we’re called to do in life. But being outcome oriented, results driven is to spit in the face of that. Instead of being present, you are basically thinking, ‘I can’t wait for this to be over so I can find out whether it was worth it or not.’ And let me tell you, the world is not kind to that kind of neediness. It is not kind to that kind of ingratitude either.” That’s some wisdom, my friends.

Adulthood is a mirage. [The Cut] — “While some of us feel like teens in private, most people who responded to my survey experience that feeling only when we’re exposed to other people’s expectations. And yet, if most of us are experiencing versions of the same insecurities, who is left to do the judging”

The paradox of happiness. [The Alchemy of Money] — “The good life is not a destination but a process, not a having but a being and doing. Working towards it doesn’t require lots of research, fancy tools, or a business. It requires commitment, action, and a bit of courage to be different. In a world caught up in emotion and status games, it may even feel like a quiet act of rebellion.”

And we’ll close things out this week with a video from our buddy, Rob Berger. Here he is with an 18-minute ultimate year-end financial checklist.

That’s all I have for you this week. Jim will be back on Monday to take you into mid December haha.

What do retirees do all day?

Hey hey, everyone. Today is Thursday, I’m J.D. Roth, and this is Apex Money. I’ve gathered some great stories about money (and more) to share with you. Let’s dive in.

What do retirees do all day? [A Purple Life] — “I find recording what I do in a day takes very little time and the benefits far exceed the time spent, so I think I’ll keep doing it until that balance shifts. This type of recording also allows me to do something fun: compare my second year of retirement to my third! I have actual data to show what I did more of, less of and generally what changed in how I spent my time.”

Why really rich people worry about money. [RadReads] — “Let’s look at some core human fears. There’s the fear of irrelevance. Of insignificance. Of being forgotten. The fear of unworthiness. Of being unloveable. Of being alone. The fear of being a bad person. Many driven professionals use ambition and money to paper over these fears. It’s why you strive up the curve of prestige and prominence. Only to discover that this core fear persists.” Be sure to watch the first embedded video. It’s interesting. (Also, holy shit the formatting on this article sucks. It’s mind-numbingly bad. One sentence per line? Come on. So difficult to read.)

Margin of safety. [ESI Money] — “I am NOT saying that how I did it is how anyone else should set up their specific margins of safety. As you’ll see, mine are a bit overboard and frankly are too much. If I had backed off a bit I could have had lower but still solid levels of safety and have retired earlier.”

The good news on safe-withdrawal rates. [Morningstar] — “Retirees who are willing to employ more-flexible strategies or make other modifications to a basic approach of using 4% as a starting point for withdrawals and then adjusting that dollar amount each year for inflation can enjoy even higher starting withdrawals, assuming they’re willing to accept other trade-offs, such as fluctuating year-to-year real cash flows and the possibility of fewer leftover assets at the end of a 30-year period.”

Some good stuff there. And I’ll be back tomorrow with more good stuff to see you into the weekend. Join me, won’t you?

The secret to being rich.

Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds! Today’s installment of Apex Money is one of those editions with a theme: minimalism. Take a look…

A mentality of hyper-consumption. [Money and Meaning] — “We could have stopped working so hard, for so many extra years. We could have arrested climate change. But consuming more and more is our version of ‘success’ and ‘the good life’. We consume unconsciously, even going into debt to do so. As a society, we have a spending problem that masks a much deeper spiritual malaise.”

The top decluttering tips of all time. [No Sidebar] — “Decluttering is less about the quantity of items you remove and more about the quality of life you’re creating. Each discarded item is not just making room in your home, but also making space in your mind for clarity, peace, and joy.”

The magic link between minimalism and money. [Simple Money] — “By owning only what you truly need and cherishing experiences over possessions, you can pave the way for a secure, fulfilling financial future. So, if you’re looking to take charge of your finances, it might be time to consider decluttering more than just your closet.”

The secret to being rich is not to buy anything. [The White Coat Investor] — “It’s OK to spend your money. It’s OK to splurge. But after you do, spend a moment to reflect on whether it was worth it. I suspect you’ll conclude that, a lot of the time, it was not. Whether you’re rich yet or not, remember that the secret to wealth — at least once you’ve developed an income that causes you to read this website — is to stop buying stuff.”

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. See you again tomorrow, friends!

Personal goals have to happen now.

Welcome to Tuesday, Apexians. Let’s jump right into the links.

Personal goals have to happen now. [Raptitude] — “The reason it’s hard to get going on personal goals is that you’re already using all of your time. No matter who you are, you’re already using all 24 hours, every day, for something. Because this will always be true, goals that happen at all must happen now, while you still don’t yet have time.”

Seven mental habits that work well — until they get in your way. [The Growth Equation] — “Something I discuss often with my coaching clients is how certain mindsets and habits work really well until they become the very things that get in your way. A huge part of next-level performance and well-being is becoming aware of this paradox. This way, you can rely on these qualities when they are helpful, and leave them behind when they are not. Wisdom is knowing when to do what.”

“How a monthly allowance saved our marriage.” [Slate] — “In September of 2010, my husband, Chris, and I adopted an allowance system. Ever since, we’ve granted each other $500 a month to spend however we want, no questions asked. And this is how we’re still married.”

I think I mentioned that — two or three years after everyone else — I recently discovered Olivia Rodrigo. Her music is awesome! What I find particularly interesting about her, though, is that there’s ample documentation of her development as a singer on YouTube, from age four until today. That’s kind of crazy.

Here, for instance, is a 2010 video of a six-year-old Rodrigo belting out “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. Do you think she knew that one day she’d be a top pop star?

Speaking of music, I’m off to a concert tonight myself. My buddy Mackenzie and I are headed to Portland to catch a Depeche Mode show. The last time I saw them was…1985? The last time I listened to them was…1995? But Mac has an extra ticket, and I told him I’d join. I’m curious what the experience will be like.

Anyhow, I’ll see you tomorrow with more stories about money!

The end of retirement.

Happy Monday, money people! Welcome to another week of Apex Money. This week it’s me, J.D., who will be sharing the cool stuff with you.

I know it’s popular to hate on financial guru Dave Ramsey in recent years. In some circles, he’s become a popular target because of his personal political views. I don’t care. I don’t agree with him on many things, but his advice for getting out of debt has helped millions of people — including me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

That said, Ramsey’s financial advice isn’t perfect. His investing advice is particularly bad, and he seems unwilling to change it despite its obvious problems. My Apex partner Jim recently explained why Ramsey’s advice is so troublesome:

Why Dave Ramsey’s investing advice is extremely dangerous. [Wallet Hacks] — “In early November, on his radio show, Dave Ramsey offered up some advice that was flat out wrong…The crux of his argument is that 4% safe withdrawal rates are too low. He continued to say that if you can get 12% from the stock market you can safely take out 8%. Then he started calling people nerds and living their mom’s basement with calculators and saying 4% is stealing people’s hope. Then he, essentially, finishes by saying that a million dollar nest egg should create an $80,000 annual income perpetually.” Yikes!

How to monitor and adjust retirement withdrawal plans. [Advisor Perspectives] — “Bill Bengen has continued his groundbreaking research into retirement strategies. He has developed a framework for retirees to monitor and adjust withdrawals based on inflation and market performance…His seminal research was published in 1994, featuring what became known as the ‘4% rule’. He was the first person to explore that question systematically and rigorously, and it has been studied by many others over the last 30 years.”

The end of retirement. [The Walrus] — “The year since my retirement party has not been a dreamy passage to a welcoming future but a nerve-shattering trip into the unknown. My debt is swelling like a broken ankle; my hard-won savings may or may not be sucked into the vortex of an international market collapse. Can I keep my house? Who knows? The macroeconomy is messing with my microeconomy. The future keeps shape-shifting. And none of the careful planning I put into my retirement is going to change that.” [Long and, at times, rambling but interesting.]

I’m going to leave you today with what I think is a hilarious video. It’s a fifteen-minute compilation of intros to 1980s sci-fi and fantasy shows. I watched a couple of these, but not many. They’re all short-lived failures…and for good reason, as you’ll see.

Just think. This was state-of-the-art entertainment when I was a kid forty years ago. 🙂

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. See you again tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Apexian friends!

This will be our last post of the week. I’ve been battling the flu for the last week (amazing it’s been this long, to be honest… I got a flu shot too!) and we have family coming into town for Thanksgiving. If you are a Thanksgiving enjoyer, I hope you have a good time with you and yours, we will be back next Monday with more great stuff courtesy of my better looking half, J.D.

I will not, however, leave you without some interesting topics that may make it to your dining room table discussions. These are meant to make you think, not start fights. 😆

What If Money Expired? [NOEMA] – “A long-forgotten German economist argued that society and the economy would be better off if money was a perishable good. Was he an anarchist crank or the prophet of a better world?” This is a fascinating thought experiment… but in some ways, inflation serves a similar function. But read the whole thing because there are a few stories of different places that used perishable money.

She lived in a New York hotel for more than 40 years. But her life was a mystery [NPR] – “Yet for a few dozen, the Belvedere is home. They came to New York from all parts of the world decades earlier, and stayed on in rent-stabilized rooms as the hotel changed owners and the city changed around them. Among them was Hisako Hasegawa in room 208. She would live in the Belvedere for more than 40 years, yet remain a mystery even to those who saw her daily. That anonymity would follow her in death.” Something to think about as you spend time with family and friends… keep them close and cherish them.

Finally… how deadly is quicksand?

Don’t take it personal

While we are all unique, most of our financial needs are the same. It’s easy to think that we all need specialized advice but I’d venture to say 80-90% of our needs are the same.

You should spend less than you earn. Save at least 20% and invest it in the stock market. The rest fits on an index card.

But financial experts, the ones who would sell you personalized service, would have you believe you are a unique situation with unique needs… needs they can help you with.

Don’t Take It Personal [Fortunes and Frictions] – “The financial advice industry markets to our desire for exclusivity and personalization. But for stocks, paying extra fees for personalization is typically a waste of money.”

11 Things I Learned About Investing [The Alchemy of Money] – “You are not the next Warren Buffett. Or the next George Soros, Peter Lynch, David Tepper, etc. … There is nothing wrong with picturing yourself in someone else’s shoes early on. And it is important to understand how and why some investors excelled. But you have to integrate those lessons into a path that is uniquely yours, in markets and life.”

The 20 Greatest Decluttering Tips of All Time [No Sidebar] – “As you’ve journeyed through these 20 decluttering tips, you may feel the urge to overhaul your space all at once. However, lasting change is a gradual process. The secret isn’t in embracing every single strategy today, but in finding the few that resonate deeply with you and your lifestyle.”

Tipping culture in America.

Good morning, friends, and welcome to Friday. Can you believe we’re nearing the end of the year? For me, this has been a long year — but also short. I’ve done so much, and I feel like I’ve grown in many positive ways, but at the same time each passing year seems to get shorter and shorter.

I’ll stop before I start getting deep and existential. Instead, here are the final four stories I gathered for you this week:

Change your environment, change your life. [Rich in What Matters] — “Decluttering isn’t a magic wand—you can still have problems and feel negative things in an uncluttered space. That’s real life. But life’s challenges are easier to navigate in a home environment that supports you instead of one that piles on additional stress.”

The changing landscape of tipping culture in America. [Pew Research Center] — “A majority of Americans say they would tip 15% or less for an average meal at a sit-down restaurant. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) say this, including 2% who say they wouldn’t leave any tip. Only a quarter of people say they’d tip 20% or more.” Please note: This is a multi-page article. It’s easy to miss the navigation at the bottom of each page. [I am not kidding: Last weekend in Austin, I was prompted to tip in a grocery store. Fucking insane.]

What if money expired? [Noema] — “Is his idea of an expiring currency any more absurd than the status quo we inherited? Perhaps his greatest contribution is to remind us that the rules of money can be reinvented, as indeed they always have. Money is a construct of our collective imagination, subject to our complacency, yes, but also to our inquiry, values and highest ambitions.” This article is l-o-n-g but it’s fascinating. I bookmarked it as a keeper.

Essential skills for being human. [The New York Times] — “In any collection of humans, there are diminishers and there are illuminators. Diminishers are so into themselves, they make others feel insignificant. They stereotype and label. If they learn one thing about you, they proceed to make a series of assumptions about who you must be. Illuminators, on the other hand, have a persistent curiosity about other people. They have been trained or have trained themselves in the craft of understanding others.”

That’s it. Jim will be with you next week, then we Americans will take some time off to celebrate Thanksgiving. I’ll see you again after the holiday.

Why walking is good for your your mental health.

Hey, friends. Good to see you. Welcome to Thursday and another installment of Apex Money.

Today’s a big day in my life. At last, after eighteen months of fol-de-rol, I’m taking my cousin’s ancient coins in to sell. He left these to me when he died, but they’ve been sitting in my garage for more than a year. At last, I think I’ll be able to get them out of my life (in exchange for a nice chunk of change). So, that’s fun.

What else is fun? Why, these stories about money, of course!

I’m an insurance adjuster and I’m going to total your car. [The Autopian] — “I’ve reviewed over a thousand cars in a short time and only two of those were deemed ‘repairable’, which meant that the damage was way too light to meet the value. The rest were deemed a total loss. You might think that being repaired was still preferable. But consider that a vehicle can be in the shop for months waiting on parts that are backordered or in short supply, especially after the pandemic supply chain issues.”

If you want to live a life rich in meaning, first you must learn how to do nothing. [The Guardian] — “The question of how to use our time, and indeed our lives, manifests itself in different ways. How do we live a life that is rich in meaning, connection and joy? For some of us this question causes great angst, negatively impacting the way we show up in the world. For others it materialises in quiet doubts that can appear during periods of transition or self-questioning, such as when we’re between jobs, upon retirement or when considering whether to start a family.”

Why commuting by foot is good for mental health. [InsideHook] — “A person with a one-hour commute to work has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied as someone who walks. At the same time, shifting from a long commute to a short walk would make a single person as happy as if he or she had found a new love.” I will never stop beating this drum: Creating a walkable world for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. And for your pocketbook.

Anger is driving the U.S. economy. [Bloomberg] — “At a moment when America should be celebrating an economy that has outperformed both expectations and its international competition, people are gloomy and anxious. Like a dysfunctional family, we are heading into the holiday season overflowing not with joy but with resentment.”

Lastly, here’s an eight-minute video from our buddy, Rob Berger, in which he touts his three favorite books about money.

Rob is a smart guy. I enjoy picking his brain and hearing his thoughts on money — and life. And his YouTube channel is one of the only financial channels I still watch.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow to take you into the weekend…

The third time’s the charm.

When I first visited Austin, Texas in 2015, I thought the town was okay if somewhat unremarkable. I enjoyed eating and drinking my way down Rainey Street, but that’s all I remember about it.

When I visited Austin, Texas a second time in 2021, I thought it was a shit-hole. The place was dirty, crowded with homeless and hooligans, and all-around unpleasant. I was glad to get out of there.

Last weekend, I visited Austin, Texas for a third time. I thought it was awesome. What a great town! My friends and I walked (and scootered) across town, enjoying the parks and the bars and the fun, quirky vibe. The new public library is gorgeous. The bats are fun. The place feels vibrant and alive.

All this is to say: I’ve long ago learned that it’s a mistake to judge anything by my first (or even second) impression. It’s fine to say “I didn’t like this”, but always be open to changing your mind.

Spend it all every time. [Austin Kleon] — This item is a sort of a cheat. I subscribe to Austin Kleon’s newsletter because it’s filled with thought-provoking stories that I like, and I frequently “harvest” the best items to share here at Apex Money. Well, this week’s installment is excellent all the way ’round, so I’m just linking the entire thing here. It’s like you get ten extra interesting things to read today! (P.S. I too recently subscribed to The Idler. It’s a great magazine!)

How to grow your salary. [Bitches Get Riches] — “Negotiating is a learned skill. It’s difficult to practice and easy to mess up. I’ve learned some tricks over the years…The best general advice I can give is that this process is like poker. Even if it feels like the hiring manager can see your cards, they can’t. They can only see what you show them. Now is your time to quiet your inner imposter and focus on winning the game. You can go back to being a hot mess once it’s done.”

The golden age of gadget catalogs. [Cable Sasser] — “It’s a fact. These catalogs deserve to live forever. I understand that I might be one of eight people on this planet who care. But they represent a lost art, with emphasis on the art. And that’s why I’ve scanned every catalog I have.” I love this. These catalogs are like a time machine for me. My father used to get these (and others like them). They were the source of my childhood dreams.

Let’s close today with a silly little video that my friends and I made the theme of our trip to Austin last week: “Taste the Biscuit”.

“You got that special sauce to spur my curiosity!” So goofy and dumb. But fun to make your theme song for three days of goofing off…

That’s it for now, folks. See you again tomorrow.