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The Biggest Mistake People Make When They Find Out About Fire

Hey Family, it’s your girl, Tarsha from the Plutus Foundation. If you are in the Portland area, please check out our event for Plutus Voices.

Plutus Voices will be in Portland on Today, August 17, 2022, at 6:30 pm. Our Plutus Voices events offer a chance to learn and network surrounding important topics in the personal finance space. Tickets are free but extremely limitedRSVP now and see more details at

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

The Biggest Mistake People Make When They Find Out About Fire. [Alan Donegan] — “Why do humans have this self-destructive tendency to make everything binary? I either spend everything I have, go into debt but I am happy, or I spend nothing and miserably work towards FI? Sacrificing happiness for financial independence is stupid. You are sacrificing years of your life to get to a magic number that won’t make you happy either.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

How to Take a Life-Changing Mini-Retirement. [Money Flamingo] — “Have you considered taking a mini-retirement? Whether you feel burnt out and need some time away from your full-time career, want to travel, start a business, or refocus and plan out your future – a mini-retirement or sabbatical might be an ideal break for you.” (Submitted by Harlan.)

Learn How to Beat Inflation and Make Sure Your Retirement is Safe. [Eat Sleep Breathe FI] — “How do you even begin to prepare for a recession in a way that actually makes a difference, rather than just shooting in the dark? We gathered insight from some of our favorite, most trusted financial creators.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

Changed by the trip.

Today is Tuesday, and this is Apex Money. As always, Jim and I (and our friends at the Plutus Foundation) collect our favorite stories about personal finance (and more!) to share with you every weekday morning. Here’s what we have for you today.

Changed by the trip. [Humble Dollar] — “The longer we live, the more perspective we have — and the more foolish many of our earlier beliefs seem. We start our adult journey confident that we’ll make our mark on the world and that the financial rewards we collect will greatly enhance our life. By the time we reach retirement, things look quite different.” [Related: Getting old from Gotham Gal]

Scarcity is an ally of appreciation. [A Wealth of Common Sense] — “Scarcity can add meaning and clarity. When I was young I went out all the time. I drank too much. I never watched what I ate. And when you’re young you can get away with that. But too much of a good thing can dampen your enjoyment of it…Scarcity is an ally of appreciation.”

Lies our consumerist society tells (and why you should reject them). [No Sidebar] — “People go into huge amounts of debt, get stuck in careers they hate, and buy tons of stuff they don’t even have the time to enjoy. And it’s not even because they want to impress others. It’s because of the tiny voice in their head telling them that their worth is tied to what they own.”

“Buy now, pay later” sounds too good to be true because it is. [Vox] — “The thing about buy now, pay later is that the later part always comes. Sometimes, the pay ends up being more than you think you’re signing up for, and often for stuff you shouldn’t have bought in the first place.”

Those first two stories are especially interesting to me. You should check them out.

The best career decision you can possibly make.

Hello, friends, and welcome to another week. Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the late summer days have been beautiful lately. It doesn’t feel like autumn yet…but it feels close to autumn and it’s awesome.

Speaking of awesome, take a look at these articles I’ve gathered for you today.

The untold story of Napoleon Hill, the greatest self-help scammer of all time. [Gizmodo] — I’m going to lead off the wekk by linking to a story that Jim just featured to last Thursday. Why? Because if you haven’t read it yet, you should. It’s a l-o-n-g and interesting account of the life of Napoleon Hill, one of the folks who helped launch the modern self-help industry — and a scam artist to the core. People like Hill and the shit they sell have made it difficult for legit folks to actually provide helpful info to others…

How to choose your college degree. [Gian Segato] — “Until recently, college management and students’ career planning was my core professional focus: I had the privilege to notice first-hand how students approach decision-making, what works, what doesn’t, and how wrong sometimes it can get. I have a few ideas to share that might make the decision easier.” Sidenote: I love the design of this site. Love it.

The best career decision you can possibly make. [Ryan Holiday] — “BE YOU. Be the only one of you in the whole world. Be the red. That’s where the fun is (without having to fake it). That’s where the money is (you can name your price). That’s where the value is (you can’t be replaced).”

20 ways to simplify your life to create more ease and space. [Balance Through Simplicity] — “Simplifying your life is about focusing on what’s important to you. It’s about finding easier ways to do the things that you have to do and giving yourself more wriggle room for the things you want to do. Simplicity isn’t a magic wand for an easy life, but in my experience, it definitely makes things easier.”

Okay, that’s all I have for this Monday. I’ll be back tomorrow with more great stories about personal finance. See you then.

Retirement is Nothing Like I Thought It Would Be

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and I’m talking to more folks nearing or in retirement…

or that more people are retiring because of the FIRE movement…

But it’s starting to feel like society’s view of retirement as your career’s “finish line” is, and probably has always been, inaccurate.

Retirement is Nothing Like I Thought It Would Be [Physician on FIRE] – “But it’s also true that once you pull the trigger on retirement, there are some things you only come to know from experience. And while you can imagine what things will be like on the other side of your last day at your 9-5, reality may not match your expectations.”

Why You Should Never Retire [Can I Retire Yet?] – “I like the idea of Financial Independence (FI) but I can’t get my head around Retiring Early (RE). I’m 70+ and have been working full time or going to school or both since I was 16. I guess I missed out on the retire early movement. My identity is tied to my profession and I’m not sure what I would do if I did retire–Probably die in a few months. I don’t just put in a nominal 40 hours a week into work, but am involved in all sorts of professional activities and easily put in 60 hours per week. And I plan to do it until I no longer can. Why not?”

What Is the Cost of a Cashless Society? [The Walrus] – “… the digitization of the economy could likely make it difficult to pay for food, basic goods, and transit. In our rush to abandon cash under the guise of technological progress, are we leaving behind the people who rely on it most?” Food for thought.

And for our final story, one about actual food.

A Brief History of Peanut Butter [Smithsonian Magazine] – “But while peanut butter’s popularity abroad is growing—in 2020, peanut butter sales in the United Kingdom overtook sales of the Brits’ beloved jam—enjoying the spread is still largely an American quirk. “People say to me all the time, ‘When did you know that you had fully become an American?’” Ana Navarro, a Nicaraguan-born political commentator, told NPR in 2017. “And I say, ‘The day I realized I loved peanut butter.’””

Enjoy the weekend!

The Secret to Conventional Success We Don’t Talk About

Sometimes, the most obvious thing doesn’t get mentioned. Or the people who talk about it just assume that everyone knows it.

The Secret to Conventional Success We Don’t Talk About [Money with Katie] – “The people with everything from the bodies you want, to the lifestyles you desire, and even the jobs you envy are not more disciplined than you are—they’ve just found approaches they enjoy. They like what they do.” If you like it, you’re more likely to do it.

This, coupled with the ideas:
1. Success must come with struggle and
2. You must to optimize everything leads to suboptimal outcomes.

Those two have led to bad outcomes. The 2nd best workout plan you do is better than the best workout plan you don’t do.

Getting to Happy [Adam Grossman on Humble Dollar] – “There’s a fair amount of evidence supporting the notion that comparisons detract from our happiness. Many people find it surprising, for example, that Nordic countries tend to be rated among the happiest in the world. They aren’t the wealthiest, and their weather is among the worst. What they have in their favor, though, is relatively less income inequality than in the U.S. The implication: As a driver of happiness, the amount someone earns is less important than what he earns relative to his peers.”

The Untold Story of Napoleon Hill, the Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time [Gizmodo] – “Napoleon Hill is the most famous conman you’ve probably never heard of. Born into poverty in rural Virginia at the end of the 19th century, Hill went on to write one of the most successful self-help books of the 20th century: Think and Grow Rich. In fact, he helped invent the genre. But it’s the untold story of Hill’s fraudulent business practices, tawdry sex life, and membership in a New York cult that makes him so fascinating.” Tawdry!

The Price of Security

Happy Wednesday family, it’s Tarsha from the Plutus Foundation. We were going back and forth in deciding which stories we wanted to share with you this week. It was tough, but worth the fight. Enjoy!

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

The Price of Security. [J L Collins] — “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller (Submitted by J. Money.)

Making Plans to Make Your Pensions Profitable After Retirment. [Enemy of Debt] — “Are you looking forward to the day of your retirement? Some people cannot wait for retirement, while others are still apprehensive for various reasons. Retirement means differently to people, but there is one thing you should do. You should review your pension regularly to ensure it is on track to give you the income you want.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

How to Prepare for a Recession Like a Financial Expert. [Her First $100K] — “How do you even begin to prepare for a recession in a way that actually makes a difference, rather than just shooting in the dark? We gathered insight from some of our favorite, most trusted financial creators.”(Submitted by Harlan.)

$660M in a Day

The price of a barrel of oil is always a popular talking point for financial news. Since we all need gasoline, gas prices are a hot topic too – and you get gas from oil. 🙂

Do you remember when the price of a barrel of oil went negative? It was in April 2020, when a mix of factors pushed the price of oil down. Jack Raines of Young Money (great newsletter btw, you should subscribe) breaks it all down and how a group of guys in England made $660 million off it. Wild stuff with a great explanation every step of the way.

$660M in a Day: The Big Oil Short [Young Money] – “But the most insane market moment in the pandemic era wasn’t a meme stock, cryptocurrency, or SPAC. It was sweet, sweet crude oil. Before GameStop started, DogeCoin barked, and Trump tried to make SPACs great again, the oil market experienced the unthinkable: On April 20th, 2020, oil hit -$40 per barrel.” Black swans are more common than you think!

How to Choose Your College Degree [giansegato] – “As you start thinking about what to major in, start pondering this very scary question: what professional area do you want to get in? I know it’s hard to even process. But you must start dipping your toes in the water if you wish to make an informed decision. Leave your subject-based thinking behind. There’s no Computer Science: there’s web development. There’s no Economics and Finance: there’s trading behind a monitor until later hours. There’s no Psychology: there’s fundraising during fancy dinners with people you may or may not personally like. There’s no Pharmacology: there’s selling vitamins behind a counter to the elderly.”

We finished watching The Bear on Hulu and really enjoyed it – you should check it out if you like to get stressed out watching a show. 🙂

When I Watch The Bear, I See My Life [Esquire] – “And then he stares at the camera with sad blue eyes and says something unexpected. “I felt like I could speak through the food, communicate through creativity… The deeper into this I went and the better I got, and the more people I cut out, the quieter my life got. And the routine of the kitchen was so consistent and exacting and busy and hard and alive and I lost track of time and he died.” I stopped and rewound and watched it again. And again. This was my life. My everything.”

Nobody optimizes happiness

My birthday is around the corner and it was only in the last few (pandemic) years that I’ve come to fully accept a key idea I’ve long believed – I am responsible for my happiness.

The goals I choose to pursue, the ways in which I spend my time, and the people I surround myself with are my responsibility.

We spend much of our youth being told what to do. This is especially true in a Chinese household, where you listen to your parents and do what they tell you. My parents were pragmatic in that we could discuss what we were told, to a limited degree, but ultimately we did it. To this day, when my parents tell me to do something, I do it. It’s just how it goes and I’m OK with that.

But when you’re used to be told what to do, there’s comfort in that. You don’t have to wonder if you’re working on the right things. When you aren’t told, whether by parents or by society, it can be very difficult. That’s what happens when you retire because you “don’t have to work” – and that’s a huge challenge. I love articles that discuss that transition and today’s first post hits it on the head.

Nobody optimizes happiness [Dynomight] – “My favorite evidence comes from the FIRE (financial independence / retire early) community. There are tons of people who work hard, minimize expenses, and retire young. Some people who do this are totally happy. But there are also a lot of reports like… ‘I retired at 39. It sucked after about 6 months. I went back to college for a bit and eventually went back to work in a new career. Boredom was the worst.'”

I last shared this image back in January of 2021 and after a year and a half, I think it needs to be revisited:

Who do we spend time with across our lifetime? [Our World in Data] – “Who we spend time with evolves across our lifetimes. In adolescence we spend the most time with our parents, siblings, and friends; as we enter adulthood we spend more time with our co-workers, partners, and children; and in our later years we spend an increasing amount of time alone. But this doesn’t necessarily mean we are lonely; rather, it helps reveal the complex nature of social connections and their impact on our well-being.”

Simon Sinek’s Life Advice Will Change Your Future — Most Underrated Speech [Motivation Core] – “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called ‘stress’. Working hard for something we love is called ‘passion’.” It starts at Mach 1 and only goes faster.

How to keep money from tearing your friendships apart.

Howdy, neighbors, and welcome to this week’s final installment of Apex Money. Here’s what we have for you today…

How to support your loved ones financially without derailing your plan. [Gen Y Planning] — “You’ve probably heard that mixing family and money is like oil and water with different opinions, expectations, values, and communication exploding like fireworks on the 4th of July. It doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s the thing: Financially supporting your loved ones can be a beautiful and rewarding way to make the most of your resources…if you do it with purpose and intention.”

How to keep money from tearing your friendships apart. [Vox] — “Money discrepancies among friends can dredge up some uncomfortable emotions, including guilt and shame around suggesting lower-cost alternatives, or frustration if you feel like you’re constantly needing to make cheaper but less exciting plans. These emotions tend to arise when you aren’t transparent with your financial expectations.”

A meaningful life is impossible without suffering. [Big Think] — “One explanation for why people willfully incur pain is to enhance pleasure through contrast. Just as darkness is only possible because light exists, we experience pleasure against the backdrop of pain. In order to maximize the pleasure of an experience, you often need a big dose of its opposite. That’s one reason why a dip in the hot tub feels especially good after a frigid winter day, or why a beer tastes extra refreshing after eating a spicy dish.”

Lastly, here’s a fun little non-financial video I enjoyed last week. It’s a Serbian couple dancing the tango…to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. It’s fun.

With that, we’ve reached the end of another week. I hope yours was a good one. And I hope that your weekend will be even better. Take care!

You are always the Other Person.

Good morning, money nerds.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the gap between how we perceives ourselves and how others perceive us.

A life-long friend “broke up” with me last week. He told me I’m dysfunctional and said he never wants to see me again. This came as a shock. For one, I had no inkling I’d done anything to offend him. For another, I’ve never had anyone tell me anything remotely close to this.

I value my friends and do my best to prioritize and support them. Yet, I obviously failed in this case. I cannot discount this fellow’s perception because that’s his lived experience of who I am. To me, I’m true and loyal friend. To him, I’m a selfish asshole.

Anyhow, that’s all a lead-in to today’s set of articles. Each is sort of related to my experience. It was a little eerie to find them all, actually, and to realize they applied to me…

You are always the Other Person. [Raptitude] — “Recognizing our status as a full-time Other Person could certainly help us be more humble and more aware of our effect on others, on the energy we bring into a room (or suck from it). We all know how deflating it is when an Other Person is being difficult, self-absorbed, overly negative, or uninterested. We also know how welcome it is when the person you’re dealing with is easygoing, interested, and pleasant. Simply by remembering that your role to everyone else is that of Mostly-Not-There Other Person (and that everyone else is also a Protagonist) it’s easy to be a better Other Person.”

Our stories are all we really know. [Seth’s Blog] — “When someone rejects you for a job, they’re not rejecting you. How could they be? They don’t know you. Instead, they’re rejecting their story of you, the best approximation they had combined with the complicated story they (all of us) tell ourselves about our needs, dreams and fears.” Short but sweet.

How to stay cool when you’re put on the spot. [Harvard Business Review] — “A strong or surprising statement from a client or colleague can trigger a rush of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol as the brain’s amygdala activates a fight-or-flight response. I’ve seen people go red in the face, appear stunned, and look tearful. While it’s hard to stop this immediate, biological response, you can recognize it for what it is and take time to center yourself, rather than letting yourself become more emotional.”

Today’s video is related to personal finance for once. My pal Stevie B organizes the regional Camp FI events around the U.S. These are weekend retreats where like-minded folks can come together in a casual setting to talk about financial independence and early retirement. I’ve been to several, and they’ve all been great.

Anyhow, Steve asked me to help publicize the upcoming Camp FI: Texas. This year’s event will take the weekend of September 9th to 12 just north of Dallas in Denton, Texas. Apex Money readers who register for Camp FI: Texas by Monday, August 15th, will receive a $50 discount on adult tickets when they use the promo code Apex at checkout.

Here’s an eight-minute video highlight what Camp FI: Texas is all about.

It’s been two years now since I last visited a Camp FI. I can’t make it to any for the rest of 2022, but I fully intend to attend one (or more) in 2023. I miss them.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow to take us into the weekend. Wheeeee!