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Apex Money Posts

What does buying a new car really cost?

Well, we’ve made it to another Friday, money nerds. Are you ready for the weekend? To kick things off right, we have some top money stories for you. But before we talk about money, let’s look at something fun — like a whale playing fetch…

How crazy is that? Okay, now let’s get down to business…

“The psychology of poverty (and how adversity taught me to manage my money).” [Financial Mechanic] — “I wasn’t a stranger to heatless winters and a hungry belly coming up. My mom would do her best to make sure I ate dinner but I got tired of seeing her scrambling for my crumbs and drinking warm water to try to fill her belly. So by the time I hit seven, I was choosing to skip meals at home so that she could have them.”

Parents, it’s okay to say no to your kids. [The Frugal Engineers] – “We have to let our kids live through discomfort. Every day in my adult life includes discomfort! When we don’t equip our kids with the skills to cope with discomfort, it’s no wonder so many children turn to drugs. Dealing with tough feelings is hard if you’ve never learned how to do it.”

What does buying a new car really cost over the years? [The Simple Path to Wealth] — “In my last post, Why we bought a brand new car, I made this assertion: ‘To be clear, if you are on the road to FI, you should not be buying new cars.’ And I pointed you to the Frugalwoods saying: ‘In fact, as Mrs. Frugalwoods explains so well in her recent post, you shouldn’t even be buying a newer, low mileage used car.’ But is it true? Well, as my friends at Millennial Revolution say: ‘Let’s math this shit up!’

How can you use values to make the best money decisions? [Women Who Money] — “Your money decisions are a reflection of your values. Even when you’re not dealing with your money, you’re making a money decision (the decision to do nothing is still a decision). So whether you’re spending or not spending, saving or not saving, investing or not investing – these are all money decisions.

“How farming saved my body image.” [Outside magazine] — “No level of training compares to the day-after-day-after-day grind of wrestling food from the earth. In September, I nearly threw up while stacking 60-pound hay bales in a 110-degree barn. I’m fairly sure I have a hernia from shoveling several thousand pounds of gravel. Last summer, when I posted a picture of a tiny blackberry in my palm, most of the comments were variants of Holy cow, those calluses.

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.

“The subtle (but profound) shift that changed my life.”

Good morning, money nerds, and welcome to your Thursday. It’s going to be a great day! And we’re going to get things started with a look at some of the best money stories from around the web.

“The subtle (but profound) shift that changed my life.” [Platform for Good] — “I have bought books with an open hand and open wallet since I was 17. I have bought them in years when I was going into debt. I have bought them in years when I was paying off my mortgage. No matter what life stage, I’ve never scaled back my book-buying habit. I’ve always seen it as a superpower, and regardless of my other financial obligations, I never want to lose that drive, even for something as lovely as paying off my credit card…This is simply the best investment I have ever made.

At what age do Americans reach $100,000 in savings? [FlowingData] — “There was a statistic going around that said 1 in 6 millennials have at least $100,000 saved. The reactions were mostly confusion and indignation. They were along the lines of, ‘I don’t know a single millennial with $1,000, much less $100,000.’ Or, ‘Maybe $100,000 of debt, amirite.’ Is 1 in 6 such an impossible statistic? Short answer: No.”

“Wait a minute. How can they afford that when I can’t?” [New York Times] — “No doubt, most people could improve how they handle their finances. But better money management isn’t usually the culprit: When people seem to be able to afford much more than their income would suggest, it’s often because there is hidden wealth or hidden debt.

“Some crazy things I did to make extra money in college.” [Wallet Hacks] — “I found a lot of different ways to make money in college and today I wanted to share them in a fun post. I won’t list the boring ones, like summer internships, being a teaching assistant (really, a glorified grader), work-study, or taking psychology surveys or focus groups…Just some of the fun ones that I fondly look back on.”

To finish things for today, let’s address one of the world’s great mysteries: Why do we get sleepy in cars? That’s a mighty fine question, isn’t it? I’ve always wondered.

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.

The spectrum of wealth.

Hump hump hump day! It’s hump hump hump day! It’s Wednesday, money nerds, which means we’re midway through another wonderful week. And, as always, Jim and I have a handful of top money stories from other corners of the web. Enjoy!

The spectrum of wealth. [Collaborative Fund] — “There is no objective level of wealth, because people compare themselves to other people’s money while adjusting to their own. It’s always been that way and will always be that way. What would a spectrum of wealth look like if you described it with words, not numbers?”

The economist who wants to ditch math in favor of stories. [Marker] — “After four decades of a religious-like fixation with mathematics, mainstream economists may learn that the gossip, whispers, half-baked philosophy and ‘news tips’ passed human to human since cave days drive economics. True, fake, it hasn’t mattered — such talk has spread and commanded surprising influence over economies. Shiller…argues for a profession-wide, decades-long study of viral stories as a path to much-needed improvement in utterly flawed economic forecasting.”

There’s one simple thing people can do to increase retirement income — but 96% won’t do it. [Mutual Fund Observer] — “Most people would say ‘yes’ to making one simple retirement planning decision that could mean more income during retirement. But the same study shows that 96% of retirees take their first Social Security check at something other than the best time to do it. The potential lost income is estimated to average $111,000 per household.”

Today’s final piece has nothing to do with money! It’s an 11-minute video in which David Kwong explains how to create a crossword puzzle.

I’ve been trying to wean myself of technology before bed. One way to do that? Crossword puzzle magazines! It’s actually kind of fun to use this low-tech, old-fashioned pastime to ease myself to sleep.

“My year of yes.”

Today is Tuesday, money nerds, and once again we have a top-notch collection of money stories from around the web. Take a look!

“My year of yes.” [Leftover Dollars] — “What I started calling my Year of Yes has taught me that all of these ‘side trips’ are actually the main course. I want a life where I am able to indulge my interests and spend time with people I love and see more of the world and witness the beauty of new places, whenever I want.” [submitted by Modest Millionaires]

How to build a life based on intentional, mindful consumption. [REI] — “Trends like these have led many people, like Hanson, to look toward a new way of living: Instead of buying things on impulse, they’re embracing mindful consumption. This movement goes by many names — minimalism, zero waste and Marie Kondo-ing are three you may have heard of — but no matter the title, it’s all about thinking deeply, with focus, about the items you bring into your life. ”

If you’re poor, when do you finally decide to go to the doctor? [/r/povertyfinance on Reddit] — “This isn’t the first time I felt like going to the doctor was fruitless. I’m to the point where I don’t think I will ever go back to the doctor unless I am throwing up blood. It’s all so useless. So, my fellow poor friends, what’s your red line? When do you decide it’s time to see a doctor? I’m feeling like a fool right now for going.

Last of all today, here’s a question to ponder as we’re 25+ years into the internet age…

What would happen if the internet went down…forever? [Popular Mechanics] — “So how long could society carry on without the internet? However implausible, it’s nonetheless a scenario that futurists, economists, and IT workers spend considerable time contemplating.”

“Our money pit of a house is hurting our marriage.”

Good morning, money nerds! I hope your November is going well. Here at Apex Money, we’ve been collecting more top money stories from around the web. That’s what we do! Here are a few of our recent favorites.

The power of contiguous time. [Signal vs. Noise] — “The value of time compounds when hours touch hours. And when you string a bunch together, without interruption, the compounding really pays off. Interest compounds. Wisdom compounds. Time does too.”

“Our money pit of a house is hurting our marriage.” [Kristin Wong on Forge] — “Two years ago, my husband and I bought our first home and almost immediately regretted it. Our home required so much fixing up (and still does) that it’s become a major added stress in both our lives. We’re so miserable that even though moving wouldn’t be financially advantageous, I think it’s worth it. My husband disagrees…”

The passion economy and the future of work. [Andreesen Horowitz] — “These stories are indicative of a larger trend: call it the ‘creator stack’ or the ‘enterprization of consumer’. Whereas previously, the biggest online labor marketplaces flattened the individuality of workers, new platforms allow anyone to monetize unique skills. Gig work isn’t going anywhere — but there are now more ways to capitalize on creativity. Users can now build audiences at scale and turn their passions into livelihoods, whether that’s playing video games or producing video content. This has huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a ‘job’ in the future.”

Finally, here’s the most amazing video I saw all week. Speech therapist Christina Hunger decided to test some of her professional knowledge on her dog. She’s been training Stella to “speak” using recordable buttons. Look!

Christina also has a blog to document this experiment.

If you know anything about me, you know I believe animals are far more intelligent than most people credit. As soon as I saw Christina and Stella communicating with these buttons, I had to order a few for my dog.

We’ve had the buttons for 48 hours now. She finds them…curious. But she’s already figured out that if she presses the “treat” button, she gets a treat. I’m going to try this for a month and see if we can’t get Tally to tell us what she wants.

How much time does the average American spend managing their money?

It’s Friday, my money nerds, and that means five more fantastic money stories here at Apex. Know of something we should share with a wider audience? Send it in!

How much time does the average American spend managing their money? [The Ascent] — “On average, Americans spend less than two minutes a day managing their household finances. In 2018, those that spent time on their finances spent an average of six hours and 35 minutes more per month than they did in 2016. The average American spends over 85 hours a month watching TV — almost 100 times as much time as they spend on their household finances. When it comes to finances, people’s good intentions aren’t matched by their actions.” Related reading: The state of U.S. financial capability from FINRA.

The ‘churners’ who risk debt to burn through credit cards and rack up points. [Mel Magazine] — “On the surface, opening cards to get as many signing bonuses as possible sounds easy enough. But it doesn’t take long to become very complex, depending on how intensely you want to get into it. ‘It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme,’ Keyes clarifies. ‘That said, if you put in the time and effort, it can be very lucrative, and there are some people who go the extra mile to really maximize and get as much as possible.'” This is an excellent introduction to an interesting subject.

We have the tools and technology to work less and live better. [Aeon] — “So if today’s advanced economies have reached (or even exceeded) the point of productivity that Keynes predicted, why are 30- to 40-hour weeks still standard in the workplace? And why doesn’t it feel like much has changed? This is a question about both human nature – our ever-increasing expectations of a good life – as well as how work is structured across societies.”

The worst financial mistake a car-buyer can make. [Edmunds] — “While getting a good deal is important, it does not guarantee immunity from making the costliest financial mistake: purchasing the wrong vehicle and selling it soon afterward to buy another new vehicle. Edmunds transaction data suggests that people make a hasty change with surprising regularity.

Inside the lives of planner addicts, the cult of women with beautiful to-do lists. [CNN Money] — “The Planner community is an analog version of the ‘hustle porn’ and social media posturing driving this debate. Planner Addicts are women, mostly, who spend entire afternoons charting out their weeks, often down to the hour. They color code activities by level of importance, and put little stickers, or draw little cartoons, next to what they’re most psyched about (mundane things like coffee cups, shopping bags, and birthday cakes). They write bubble letter words of affirmation in the margins, like TAKE CONTROL and YOU GOT THIS.”

To wrap up this week, here’s a pop quiz: Which planet is closest to Earth? Sorry. You’re wrong. (And surprisingly enough, this same planet is closest to all other planets. My brain hurts…)

Rich is relative.

Ah, Thursday. A perfect day to talk about wealth and luxury, wouldn’t you agree? Let’s get to it.

The lure of luxury goods: Why people prefer premium brands. [Boston Review] — “The debate over the psychology and politics of non-utilitarian goods isn’t just about the whims of millionaires, then. Everyone has an appetite for non-utilitarian things; most people own things that they don’t really need. It is worth thinking about why.” Related reading: Therealreal’s online luxury consignment shop. [The New Yorker]

How the world’s first floating hotel ended up as a doomed wreck in North Korea. [Messy Nessy] — “A tropical cyclone delayed the public opening, damaging multiple amenities including the swimming pool, sinking the underwater observatory, and destroying the guest transfer shuttle boat. Stranger yet, within weeks of guests arriving for their vacations, a shock discovery revealed that more than 100,000 pieces of WWII ammunition filled with anti-tank mines and artillery rounds were resting on the seabed below. Within a year, the hotel had closed.” (More on Wikipedia.)

People who grew up rich, when did you realize you were living in a bubble? [Ask Reddit] — Terrific discussion thread with 4200 comments, including this one: “Rich is relative. I grew up in a trailer park, so definitely not well off. Made a new friend one day and invited him over for dinner. Kid was blown away by the size of the hamburgers we were eating. And you could have another one if you wanted. Just typical 1/3lb or so patties. We were poor, but they were ‘rationing serving sizes’ poor. We had HVAC, they didn’t even have window units. We didn’t have holes in our floors/ceilings, it rained inside and out at their place.”

Infographic: The growing Tiny Home movement. [Visual Capitalist] — “Today’s infographic from Calculator.me illustrates how the tiny home market got so big, and how it fares against traditional housing when it comes to providing environmentally friendly and affordable options.”

Lastly, here’s a fun video from 1977 in which a 108-year-old woman recalls growing up in Victorian England.

Half of young Americans receive financial help from their parents.

Wow! We almost had a disaster on our hands, money nerds! Somehow I managed to duplicate Tuesday’s edition of Apex Money to today — and lose all of the links I had intended to share with you. Fortunately, I was able to reconstruct things. Ah, the hazards of blogging.

First up is this long, amazing piece. I often encourage people to write down their money histories, to identify their actual money blueprints (or money scripts, if you prefer). Here, Ali has done just that.

My money background. [All Options Considered] — “[My sister and I] didn’t learn anything about money directly from our parents. But in a sense we actually learned the most important lesson — how to set goals at an early age and work towards accomplishing them. I knew when I was tiny that I didn’t want to be anything like my parents when I grew up. My sister and I both wanted to be like our Grandma. As a little kid I decided I wanted to have a job so I could earn my own money and be self sufficient as quickly as possible.”

About half of young Americans receive financial help from their parents. [Pew Research] — “The share of young adults who could be considered ‘financially independent’ from their parents by their early 20s – an assessment based on their annual income – has gone down somewhat in recent decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that, in 2018, 24% of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared with 32% in 1980.”

“How I align my time and money with my highest priorities.” [Frugalwoods] — “I’m ruthless about how I use my time and money. They’re both limited resources and how I deploy them dictates the type of life I lead. That doesn’t mean I never waste money and time. In fact, it was two recent failures – an $87 shopping spree at the co-op grocery store and a dirty upstairs bathroom – that prompted today’s reflection.”

How to properly dispute a medical bill. [The Frugal Gene] — “Hell has got to be where you expected an $85 bill but now you’re trying to find someone/anyone on the other end of the phone line (on a shoddy vulnerable connection) to answer why you were billed $2,000 for a set of routine labs. Hopefully, this article will help put an advocate in your corner for that ridiculous medical bill charge.

Today’s video is from Mrs. Midwest on YouTube, in which she explains ten ways her family thrives on one income.

Last of all, here’s something completely unrelated to personal finance. It is related to pizza, however. (For whatever that’s worth.)

How I got bigger, stronger, and leaner by eating 222 large pizzas in a row. [Deep Dish] — “Everyone knows pizza is ‘bad’ for you. This healthy vs unhealthy binary is drilled into us from childhood. The compulsion to pigeonhole everything into distinct categories is probably human nature, but it sure causes a lot of problems. The truth is, there are almost no objectively ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods; only good or bad diets. The appropriateness of that diet in turn depends entirely on each person’s circumstances.”

How to spot a quick-change artist.

Hey hey, money nerds. Have you noticed that we tend to share stories from certain sites more than others? Yeah, we’ve noticed that too. But no apologies. Quality is quality.

Our aim is to share the top money stories from around the web, no matter where they come from. And if certain sites — like A Purple Life, for instance — tend to publish more interesting articles than others sites, then we’re going to share stories from them more often.

Speaking of A Purple Life, look who’s here to start our Tuesday!

How to slay job interviews. [A Purple Life] — “Friends have told me that it’s not that easy to find a new job and that the one month of concentrated effort it’s always taken me is unusually short. During my last stint of funemployment, one friend pointed out why I might be an outlier…So I’m here to give the details on how I approach interviews in case it can help someone else shorten their job hunting time.

Do neighborhood watch apps make us safer? [Quartz] — “While Nextdoor, Citizen, and Neighbors might make some people feel more connected with their neighborhoods by recreating closer-knit communities of the past, the apps also can perpetuate and facilitate xenophobic, racist, or classist behaviors that often came alongside that closeness.”

How to get a better deal from a real-estate agent. [The New York Times] — “Informal industry estimates suggest that agents generally spend only a few dozen hours working on each deal and doing the things that home buyers value, like showing houses, evaluating prices, negotiating with sellers and coordinating inspections. Even if the agents in the New York example worked as many as 100 hours on each of their two deals, they would have spent only a small fraction of their time directly helping their clients.

How to get started hunting coins and currency. [Mighty Bargain Hunter] — “Some hobbies require startup costs. I’ve had friends that were into metal detecting. The better metal detectors aren’t cheap. With currency hunting, though, there don’t have to be any extra startup costs. All you need is money in the bank to withdraw. Also, even if you withdraw some bills or some coins, and end up finding nothing special, you still have all of your money…There’s no downside, only upside!

Speaking of spare change, here’s an interesting YouTube video that shows how to spot a quick-change artist trying to scam a clerk.

Lastly, here’s something that has nothing to do with money:

Happiness is fleeting. [Longreads] — “Amongst the thousands of life lessons found throughout Peanuts, I believe there is one that stands out amongst the rest: At the end of the day, you can either be disappointed, or you can be dancing, but you cannot be disappointed while you’re dancing. So take your pick.”

It’s okay to change your mind.

Merry Monday, my money nerds! Happy to have you here once more. Jim and I have been bookmarking our favorite money stories from around the web, as always. Let’s look at what we have to kick off the week!

“I accidentally uncovered a nationwide scam on Airbnb.” [Vice] — “Even if my scammers had been slightly foiled, there was no guarantee that they couldn’t just start fresh with new profiles. The system was still in place. Airbnb has created a web of more than 7 million listings built largely on trust, easily exploitable by those willing to do so.

It’s okay to change your mind. [Fiery Millenials] — “When making a big decision, just remember you don’t have to stick with it if you don’t want to. You might not be able to go back to your exact pre-decision situation, but at least you’ll know what works best for you and can go about building that life…Our lives are too short to be stuck in something that isn’t working for us. We are not trees — we can change our situation any time we want.

Buying less is better than buying green (for the planet and your happiness). [Science Daily] — “Study participants who reported having fewer materialistic values were much more likely to engage in reduced consumption. Consuming less was, in turn, linked to higher personal well-being and lower psychological distress. Green buying — which may have some positive environmental implications, although to a lesser degree than reduced consumption — was not found to improve consumer well-being, Helm said.”

And here’s a piece of news you’ve probably seen already. I don’t care. I like this so much, I have to share. I believe strongly in equality off opportunity for all, and I’m pleased with the progress the U.S. has made in my lifetime. But I sometimes worry that we’re taking steps backward — and this regression comes from those who think they’re most accepting.

Well, former president Barack Obama feels the same way. And he’s found rare bipartisan support by challenging “woke” culture.

The Washington Post writes:

Former president Barack Obama offered some advice earlier this week to young people hoping to change society: participating in cancel culture isn’t the way to do it. ‘This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,’ the 58-year-old said Tuesday while speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. ‘The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.’

In our current divided “black and white” culture, in which people on both sides of the political fence are quick to point fingers and condemn their opponents, this is a welcome observation.