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Apex Money Posts

Adventures in mobile homes.

Good morning, money nerds, and welcome to another Tuesday. As always, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite stories about money — and more! Let’s dive in.

How to invest in mobile homes. [Side Hustle Nation] — “When most people think of real estate investing, mobile homes probably don’t come to mind. In fact, technically speaking, mobile homes are personal property–not real estate. Still, this is a sub-niche in real estate that comes with the familiar cash-flowing opportunity of buying a building and renting it out for a profit.” This is something I’ve been thinking about, so it’s great to read about somebody who’s done it. [See also: Adventures in Mobile Homes.]

The sign of a great thinker. [Inc.] — “High-ability individuals tend to underrate their relative competence, and at the same time assume that tasks that are easy for them are just as easy for other people. The smarter you are, the less you think you know — because you realize just how much there is to actually know.”

The power of feedback. [Farnam Street] — “We all want to improve at something. Skills we’d like to develop, habits we like to change, relationships we’d like to improve—there are lots of areas where we’d love to see positive, meaningful change. Sometimes though, we don’t know how to keep moving forward…When you’re stuck, you need feedback.”

How salespeople use your mental shortcuts against you. [My Money Blog] — “We are more likely to fall back on these mental shortcuts without thinking when we are stressed, rushed, tired, or hungry. Hopefully, the ability to identify these tactics in action will help us avoid making poor decisions, including financial ones.”

Today’s video feature is a bit of nostalgia for me. You see, when I was young we didn’t have a television. My parents didn’t like them. Plus, they couldn’t afford one. But about the time I entered high school, they bought one. In the afternoons, I’d come home and watch re-runs of The Monkees. It was goofy fun.

Well, here’s a 20-minute video featuring screen tests for the kids who would become The Monkees. All of this seems so long ago…and yet just like yesterday.

Ah, youth. How I miss it. And I’ll miss you for the next 24 hours! But have no fear. I’ll be back tomorrow with more money stories from around the web. See you soon.

The first boycott.

Good morning and welcome to Monday, Apexians. I hope your weekend was more of a weekend than my weekend!

You see, Kim and I just put our home on the market. Over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, our real-estate agent hosted eight hours of open houses and there were eight showings from other agents. We (and the dog) had to be out of the house for all of that. We’re exhausted.

But, if all went well, sometime this morning we’ll find out that there are multiple offers on the place. Fingers crossed!

Let’s start Apex Money this week with a story that’s not about real estate but about my favorite musician (and businessperson), Taylor Swift.

Non-fungible Taylor Swift. [Stratchery] — “While we used to pay for plastic discs and thought we were paying for songs (or newspapers/writing or cable/TV stars), empowering distribution over creators, today we pay with both money and attention according to the direction of creators, giving them power over everyone.” This is a fascinating piece that pulls together a lot of threads.

The first boycott. [Now I Know] — “Because of the landlord’s complaint and the resultant overreaction, news of the events spread throughout Ireland, and other tenants replicated the tactic. But until then, the tactic didn’t have a name. Today, we have a word: boycott.” Again, fascinating stuff. (And this reminds me: Why do we talk about “cancel culture” when canceling is, essentially, boycotting? This is a serious question that I don’t know the answer to.)

“How I lost 65 pounds in 18 months without any fad diets or gimmicks.” [Both Sides of the Table] — “I promise you that throughout I continued occasionally to eat ice cream, licorice, pizza, pita, hummus, sushi, bagels, granola — whatever I like. But I measure everything and hold myself accountable.” Smart, sensible advice that mirrors my own experience with weight loss.

Let’s finish the day with a video that I find hilarious. From Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update”, here’s a five-minute interview with the iceberg that sank the Titanic.

No kidding: I was in tears laughing from this. So funny.

And that’s it for Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow with more great stuff. See you then.

Confessions of an overnight millionaire

This first post is refreshingly honest and while I’ve never had a $6 million dollar windfall, I imagine any major seven-figure windfall probably feels a lot like this. Too bad it’s anonymous but I get why it is.

Confessions of an Overnight Millionaire [New York Magazine] – “Since July 2020, nearly 750 companies have gone public, raising more than $200 billion and minting thousands of new paper millionaires. Amid the frenzy, one millennial tech worker on the verge of unexpected wealth shared what was going through her mind.” I love the little dig towards banking too and the family stuff is a bit sad.

You Are Your Life’s Creative Director [All About Your Benjamins] – “We’re taught from an early age that we’re supposed to go to school, get good grades, graduate college, find a good job with great benefits, maybe make a few job/career changes, get married, buy that house, have 2.5 kids, put the kids through college, and one day retire…the American Dream. Your life’s path has been predetermined, who the original director was, I’m not sure—I leave off creative because it’s not— and it’s already been paved by the generations who have come before you. Stay on the paved path and you’ll be good.”

Feel Better [Humble Dollar] – “Money can be maddening—if we let it. There will almost always be some parts of our portfolio whose performance disappoints. There will always be some folks who are wealthier. But whether it’s our investment performance or our overall net worth, we shouldn’t let ourselves be bothered by our relative standing. Why not? Here are five reasons.” #4 is an important one.

This last one is presented without explanation, just play with it for a few minutes – Groove Pizza.

Have a great weekend!

Rule #1 might not be what you think it is

The Most Important Rule in Investing [Compound Advisors] – “With all due respect to Warren Buffett, the most important rule in investing is not anything close to “never lose money.” In fact, the entire notion is absurd.”

How People Get Rich Now [Paul Graham] – “Every year since 1982, Forbes magazine has published a list of the richest Americans. If we compare the 100 richest people in 1982 to the 100 richest in 2020, we notice some big differences. In 1982 the most common source of wealth was inheritance. Of the 100 richest people, 60 inherited from an ancestor. There were 10 du Pont heirs alone. By 2020 the number of heirs had been cut in half, accounting for only 27 of the biggest 100 fortunes.” Read the whole thing.

Perfect is not the same as perfectionism [Seth Godin] – “Perfectionism is a way to berate others for not meeting imaginary standards. Or berating ourself as a way to avoid shipping the work.”

Lastly, which muppet is your favorite? 🙂

A Ruthless Ranking Of The 25 Best Muppets, According To Listeners [NPR] – “When we asked our trusty Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners to vote for the Best Muppet, we knew they’d come through. Over 18,000 votes were cast; over 150 different Muppets received votes.”

I don’t know who my #1 is but I think Dr. Teeth is underrated. 24th? Absurd!

My favorite kind of casino

A Game Where the Odds Are Always in Your Favor [Wealthy Retirement] – “The investment firm Dimensional Fund Advisors studied stock market performance from 1926 to 2020. The study looked at the odds of an investor having either positive or negative returns based on how long they were invested in the S&P 500. The results are conclusive…”

How People Learn to Become Resilient – “Perception is key to resilience: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as a chance to learn and grow?​”

The three types of burnout [Ness Labs] – “Burnout has been traditionally defined as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency. When we are burned out, we don’t have the emotional energy to invest ourselves into work, we distance ourselves from colleagues and customers, and we may feel incompetent as a result. […] A team at the Department of Psychiatry from the University of Zaragoza in Spain decided to design a more helpful framework to understand the many subtypes of burnout, based on how we cope when burning out.” These are discussed as it pertains to work but I think you can see its parallels elsewhere in life.

How To Be A Digital Nomad In 2021 [Mr Porter] – “Even before the past year, the world of work was undergoing a quiet, mobile revolution. A new breed of employees and freelancers were rebranding themselves as digital nomads, and setting up shop on the road – or the beach. Now, as entire industries race to adapt to a world without offices, the revolution is everywhere. Where restrictions permit travel, the pioneers are pushing boundaries and taking their jobs with them. Meanwhile, employers and destinations are working fast to meet soaring demand. But what does the digital nomad need to know before taking off?”

A beautiful way to think about decluttering

Do you struggle with decluttering?

This mindset towards it might be the very thing that “clicks” for you (because it did for me):

The Joy of Decluttering [No Sidebar] – “When I was in high school, I owned a puffy vest from The Gap. The color was a shade of powder blue, with vertical elastic ribbing on the sides. (They literally ‘don’t make them like that anymore.’) It was a staple of my wardrobe at the turn of the millennium. It carried me through school days, to hike in the woods, and to spectate evening high school football games. It even had pockets! In the year 2000, who needed a coat when you had a puffy vest!? I wore mine constantly….until one day, I didn’t wear it anymore. At all.”

The Best Items to Resell for Profit [Flea Market Flipper] – “I started doing a little bit of research on eBay. I noticed a consistent pattern; the larger items listed on eBay with freight shipping as an option were selling quickly and for much more money than the local sales. This is where I had my “aha” moment.” I love how a side benefit of this is that they are keeping things out of the landfill.

Choosing, tracking, and data visualizing all of the happiness [Accidentally Retired] – “A few years ago, I started tracking my happiness using Jim Collins’ system that he devised and spoke about on The Tim Ferriss Show. And, last month I launched the Happiness Spreadsheet, so that you too can track your happiness. If you track your happiness long enough using this method, as I have, then you will eventually start to see the patterns in your good days and bad. From there you can start to make some tweaks.” Brilliant.

An invincible summer

The title of this post will only make sense if you read the entirety of the first post we’re sharing today:

How to Live With Dying [The American Scholar] – “In hindsight, I ought to have listened to Aristotle: all virtues, intellectual or physical, are realized by aiming for a particular goal or mark, like taking aim at the center of a distant target. The bull’s-eye is obviously in the perfect midpoint, equidistant from all of the target’s edges. To hit this specific mark, to become virtuous, one must find a compromise between radical opposites. Aristotle argues that this is the essence of all virtuous behavior—determining the golden mean or midpoint between two degenerate extremes.”

64-year-old retiree who left the U.S. for Mexico: 7 downsides of living in a beach town for $1,200 per month [CNBC Make It] – “It all started during a vacation there in 2005; I’d felt a deep happiness I couldn’t ignore. This radical decision changed my somewhat ordinary life a million degrees for the better and I have absolutely no regrets. I wanted an adventure, and boy, am I having one!”

As restaurants reopen and life returns to normal…

Six Rules for Dining Out [Tyler Cowen in The Atlantic] – “A BAD OR MEDIOCRE meal is more than just an unpleasant taste, it is an unnecessary negation of one of life’s pleasures—a wasted chance to refine our palates, learn about the world, and share a rewarding experience. Virtually every locale offers some good meals at a good price. But too often, amidst the clutter of our days, we don’t find them—at least not consistently.” I have a food rule that I don’t order a dish at a new restaurant if it’s already a favorite at my local spot. Chances are it won’t live up to my favorite place and if it is better, then I’ve ruined my favorite place for it. It’s a lose-lose.

Building wealth in your fifties.

Howdy, friends, and welcome to Friday.

Yesterday, I got to see my mother for the first time in over a year. Mom is only 72 but suffers from dementia and is unable to care for herself. She’s been in an assisted living facility for the past decade. We haven’t been able to visit her for more than a year because of COVID. Yesterday, we got to spend some time with her.

Mom’s dementia has turned her into…well, I don’t know how to explain it without sounding rude. (Which isn’t what I mean to be.) She’s not fully human anymore. This saddened me at one time, but I’ve had 10+ years to adjust to it. But visiting her makes me think about aging and how that relates to personal finance.

My pal Cameron Huddleston is doing the best work today on how to help aging parents with their money. But here are some recent articles that cover similar topics…

The four pillars of retirement. [My Money Blog] — “Imagine each pillar as one of the legs of a square table. We have to maintain and shore up any cracks before it gets serious. If you are lacking in any one of these pillars, your retirement gets wobbly. If any two are crumbling, that’s enough to make the entire thing tip over.”

How to build wealth in your fifties. [Banker on Fire] — “For some reason, wealth-building strategies for middle-aged folks don’t seem to get a lot of airtime in the personal finance space. What gives? If anything, building wealth becomes more important as we move into our 40s and 50s, not less.”

Do we become better investors as we age? [The Evidence-Based Investor] — “There’s an old adage that with age comes wisdom. But do we tend to become better investors as we age? Unfortunately, research has found that, in general, the answer is no, older investors are no better than younger investors, although it’s not all one-sided.”

To close things out for the week, I’ve saved the best for last. Here are a collection of 98 videos documenting the rules of sports in clear, easy-to-understand visuals.

The rules of formula one racing — explained! The rules of roller derby — explained! The rules of bull riding — explained! The rules of cricket — explained! The rules of quidditch — explained!

More common U.S. sports are explained too, obviously. But these are the five videos that most interested me.

Anyhow, that’s it for this Friday. It’s been a pleasure serving you here at Apex Money this week. I hope you’ll join us again on Monday for another round of great money stories from across the web. See you then!

Beware of the bubble.

Ahoy, mateys! Welcome to Pirate Money!

Wait. That’s a different site. This site is Apex Money, where we bring you the best from the world of personal finance — and beyond. Here are some recent money articles I’ve enjoyed…

Top tips for those seeking an early retirement. [Making Sense of Cents] — “The people I’ve asked to share their early retirement tips are bloggers, authors, and business owners who have been working towards financial independence and/or early retirement. These people are experts on finding ways to make more money and save money…One of the biggest things you’ll learn from these experts is that reaching FIRE is about changing your mindset.”

The omnipresence of work. [More to That] — ” The home is no longer an environmental cue to put work aside. It is a place that constantly reminds you that there is always more work to be done. We are now living amidst the omnipresence of work. Even if we aren’t sitting down working, we are prone to continue thinking about it since the physical environment no longer reminds us to shift our mind state.”

Beware of the bubble. [Mr. Money Mustache] — “There are currently a series of giant, stupid bubbles forming in the financial world that nobody except the elders seems to be brave enough to question. And it leads to the following cycle of natural human behaviors, which everybody falls into – except, if we are lucky, those of us who have seen it all before.”

Today’s video feature cracks me up. It’s a Soviet-era adaptation of the first third of The Lord of the Rings. It’s split into two hour-long episodes: episode one and episode two.

I couldn’t sit through the whole thing — not even close! — but I had a lot of fun after I tured on the closed captions and switched them to English translation. I jumped around from scene to scene, laughing at…well, everything about this.

(If you don’t want to sit through any of the video, The Verge has text/photo recap of this madness.)

Why housing prices continue to skyrocket.

Buckle up, my friends. Today’s Apex features some deep and excellent reading. These articles are long and/or thoughtful, so they’re going to take more time than normal to browse. (They did for me, anyhow.) In the end, though, I think you’ll find them worth it.

Why housing prices continue to skyrocket. [/r/toronto on Reddit] — This is a long comment in a thread about the rising cost of housing. The commenter has been following and documenting the issue for years, and they’ve collected all sorts of links that explain why home prices are soaring even as supply has increased and demand diminished. Short version: Institutional investment in housing is completely changing the housing market. I had never considered any of this before. I find it fascinating…and a little scary.

Rent prices versus income in major U.S. and Canadian cities. [The Measure of a Plan] — This is an interactive widget (no real text to speak of) that plots average rent in major cities against average household income. It’s all averages and it’s all stats, but it’s still fascinating. Kim and I are about to rent for the first time in decades, and we don’t know where we want to live, so this is a useful tool for us.

Are index funds hurting the economy? [The Atlantic, so possible paywall] — “Economists, policy makers, and investors are worried that American markets have become inert—the product of a decades-long trend, not a months-long one. For millions of Americans, getting into the market no longer means picking stocks or hiring a portfolio manager to pick them for you. It means pushing money into an index fund.” This is an interesting (if alarmist) article.

How insurance works. [/r/povertyfinance on Reddit] — “This week, I will help you understand how insurance policies really work without you falling asleep. This will enable you to make better informed decisions as to what insurance coverages you should get, and what are simply a waste of money…The key concept underlying all insurance is the principle of pooling risks. In a nutshell, it is the practice of spreading out risk amongst a group of participants.” This is an excellent intro to insurance.

Okay, after all that heady, serious stuff today, let’s have a little fun. Here’s a fun video from the Twitter feed of Missy Elliott in which the insanely-talented W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew dances to one of her songs on the NYC subway.

True story: I desperately wish I could dance…but I can’t. I’m like the world’s worst dancer. But I love watching others who know how!

That’s a wrap on Wednesday. I’ll see you tomorrow with more of the best from the world of personal finance (and beyond).