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Apex Money Posts

Happy third birthday to us!

Howdy, money nerds, and welcome to a special anniversary edition of Apex Money. That’s right: Today, this barrel of monkeys turns three years old. On this date in 2019, Jim and J.D. decided to join forces to share the web’s best money stories with you, our loyal readers.

And today we have an exciting announcement! We’re joining forces with the Plutus Foundation to add more voices to the mix around here. Beginning next week, the Plutus folks will be writing every Wednesday edition of Apex Money. Jim and J.D. will still (mostly) alternate weeks, but each Wednesday will feature links from the world of Plutus.

Not familiar with the Plutus Foundation? It’s a relatively new non-profit that supports programs that enhance financial literacy, education, and empowerment. Jim and J.D. are both members of the Plutus board of directors and good friends with all those involved. We’re pumped about this partnership and hope that it’ll give Apexians even more financial education and entertainment.

So, look for the first Apex installment from the Plutus Foundation next Wednesday — then every Wednesday after that.

We’re excited for this partnership and hope you will be too!

Is this a terrible time to retire?

Retiring is difficult for a variety of reasons.

It can be especially difficult when the economy and the markets don’t cooperate. And that’s on top of the typical retirement challenges, which don’t often get covered.

But if you’re worried about retirement because it’s coming into view, our first post is meant for you.

What If This Turns Out to Be a Terrible Time to Retire? [Morningstar] – “But the same forces that have fueled retirement confidence have the potential to work against new retirees in the years ahead. A 2012 study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri found that workers often retire when the market is cresting. Somewhat counterintuitively, that has the effect of reducing a portfolio’s durability, unless the new retiree steers most of his assets out of the market and into an annuity.” Some really good practical advice in this post.

Love Song to Costco [Long Reads] – “In the great halls of Costco, two of our greatest fears are assuaged — that of not having enough, and that of not being enough.”

Make abundance

I think that we often mistake someone we see often as something that is the “best way to do something.” In other words, it’s easy to follow the crowd and in many cases, you’re right. In the wild, animals that don’t follow the pack tend to get eaten. 🙂

But if you want to build wealth, it’s often more effective to not stay in the pack. It’s not following what you see because it’s hard to differentiate yourself from everyone else if you’re WITH everyone else in how you do things.

Make Abundance for the World [Naval Ravikant] – “Even in nature, there are more parasites than there are non-parasitical organisms. You have a ton of parasites in you, who are living off of you. The better ones are symbiotic, they’re giving something back. But there are a lot that are just taking. That’s the nature of how any complex system is built.

What I am focused on is true wealth creation. It’s not about taking money. It’s not about taking something from somebody else. It’s from creating abundance.”

The Reality of Caring For Aging Parents [The Retirement Manifesto] – “Many I’ve talked to have expressed how difficult it is. Until you go through it yourself, it’s impossible to grasp how consuming the process really is. The tidal wave of issues that hit you all at once, and never seem to fade:”

The Maraschino Mogul [The New Yorker] – “One might not expect that Mondella’s death also would have saddened many of New York City’s beekeepers, but it did. People in the beekeeping community, or their bees, had crossed paths with Mondella in 2010, less than five years before he died. In fact, the complications in Mondella’s life that led to his demise had a minor but significant bee component. The first small signs that all was not right with him arrived buzzing in the air. Though circumstances put Mondella and the bees on opposite sides of an issue, the beekeepers still speak admiringly of him, and express regret at his unhappy end.”

See you tomorrow!

Wealth of the Ignorant

This first post is packed with so much wisdom in such a short post.

First off, it’s about golf but you don’t need to know how to play it to know what it feels like. Golf is a maddeningly frustrating game in which you can be doing well for hours and one shot has the potential to ruin your day if you can’t reel in your emotions.

That that’s the real game within the game – managing your emotions. If you can’t do that, because bad shots always happen, then you’re guaranteed to have a bad time every time.

Wealth of the Ignorant [Joseph Wells] – “My parents left me well instructed—a gift that money can’t buy. When the time comes, I’ll do the same with my children. Because a society of temper tantrum throwing, golf club breaking hooligans isn’t one where we want to live. And if we all do our part, we won’t have to.”

Once you read the post, I want to identify something that isn’t explicitly said – we need struggle in our lives so that we know how to manage the struggle in our lives. If you don’t have the tools to fight through something, you react similarly. You’re learning what some learn when they are 5, except you’re 50. And that’s the real lesson. You want to learn life’s lessons as early as possible so you don’t have to learn them later.

No one bats an eye when a 2 year old throws a temper tantrum. They mumble when the kid is 10. They cringe when the kid is 30. And they feel sympathy when the kid is 50.

10 Things The Wealthy Do Differently [The Long Game] – “Business owners are far more likely to become millionaires, it’s actually not even close. You can get equity by owning a business, working at a company that gives you ownership overtime, etc. This is where the real wealth gets built.”

This last one is CRAZY!

SR-71 Pilot explains how he Survived to his Blackbird Disintegration at a Speed of Mach 3.2 [The Aviation Geek Club] – “The first Blackbird accident that occurred that required the Pilot and the RSO to eject happened before the SR-71 was turned over to the Air Force. On Jan. 25, 1966 Lockheed test pilots Bill Weaver and Jim Zwayer were flying SR-71 Blackbird #952 at Mach 3.2, at 78,800 feet when a serious engine unstart and the subsequent “instantaneous loss of engine thrust” occurred.”

Can you imagine if you were a passenger on a regular plane (rather than a spy plane going at Mach 3.whatever) and you experienced “instantaneous loss of engine thrust, explosive banging noises and violent yawing of the aircraft–like being in a train wreck.” If you skipped the link, go back and read it. Amazing.


Carrying costs are very important!

Happy Monday! Jim here – how often do we think about the up front costs of things but not the total cost? We may remember them for things like a car, where the total costs are easier to understand. We may even remember them (or at least consider them) on big purchases like a house.

But carrying costs are everywhere.

Carrying costs [Seth Godin’s Blog] – “Announcing the carrying costs up front is a great way to avoid hiding from them.” Total cost is not the same as acquisition cost.

Hidden Games: The Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrational Human Behavior [Next Big Idea Club] – “At its core, a game just has three parts. There are players who choose from some actions and they get payoffs. It really is that simple. To make this game theory, though, we have to add two more things. First, those payoffs are going to depend not just on the player’s choice, but also on what others are doing. Second, there needs to be some sense that the players make their choice optimally. That’s it. That’s game theory in a nutshell.”

This last one is a fictional short story with a powerful message and an interesting thought exercise:
We regret to inform you that your choice of Deathday is no longer available [Nature]

Why a bidet seat is right for your bathroom.

Ah, hello. Welcome back to Apex Money. Today I have a handful of personal-finance stories to share with you. And our final story of the day is perhaps the most important story you will ever read. (Okay, perhaps not.)

The survival instinct of money. [More to That] — “Life familiarizes us with its contents, and anything that threatens this familiarity kicks in the survival instinct. And herein lies the conundrum: The more money you have, the more you have to preserve. And the more you have to preserve, the more fear that surrounds its potential loss.”

Your inflation rate depends on where you live. [Accidental FIRE] — “Regular Accidental FIRE readers know that I’m a geography geek and whenever possible try to highlight aspects of personal finance from a geographic perspective. And I’m here at your service to do that again. Geography affects virtually everything, so it’s no surprise that it affects inflation too. Where is inflation worse and where is it better? Let’s take a look.”

How OXO conquered the American kitchen. [Slate] — “OXO is so dominant in the kitchen-gadget space that the consumer-recommendation site Wirecutter features a blog post simply listing the 42 OXO products that top its various category rankings. OXO rules America’s Test Kitchen picks, too, to the point it makes readers suspicious ATK is in cahoots with the brand…But come on: Can any kitchen gadget, or gadget company, really be that much better than the others?”

To close things out for Friday, here’s the most important story I’ve shared all week:

Is a bidet seat right for you and your bathroom? [Consumer Reports] — “For most, using a bidet has been overwhelmingly positive. But people also told us what they wish they’d known before they settled on the model they bought—such as whether the bidet was easy to install, if it was easy to clean, and whether it can warm up your bum.”

Let me answer this question for you: Yes — emphatically yes — a bidet seat is right for you and your bathroom. I’m a huge fan.

I installed a bidet seat attachment at our old house and loved it. After we sold the house a year ago, I was bidet-less for a long, long time. It was like living in the dark ages. A month ago, I finally installed one at our new place. Cue the choir of angels singing. Life is good once more. (My current bidet attachment is the Tushy Classic.)

Okay, now that I’m finished singing the praises of clean butts, let’s turn our attention to the first weekend of summer, shall we? You all go have some fun. We’ll see you on Monday.

The difference between busy and non-busy people.

Hello again, my friends. As always, I’m here with another batch of juicy personal-finance links. Sink your teeth into these, why don’t you?

Money is emotional, but personal finance advice rarely accounts for that. [Vox] — “As a financial therapist, I’ve seen spending behaviors driven by emotions and not logic time and time again…These people weren’t doing anything ‘bad’. They were doing what most of us do: making money-related decisions based on feelings. In my work, I help people understand how their emotions are driving money decisions, assess if their money is going where they want it to go, practice financial self-compassion, and know when to ask for help. Here is what I tell them.”

Want to succeed? Stop comparing yourself to others. [Darius Foroux] — “Life is about accepting that everyone’s situation is unique. We’re all on our own trajectory. Our careers, families, relationships, mental and emotional health, and so forth are different from others. Other factors like talent, stress-tolerance, financial and social resources, educational background, and so forth also come into play. Too many people forget about those things. So when things don’t work out, they get discouraged and depressed.”

The difference between busy and non-busy people. [Becoming Minimalist] — “Some people are not busy. They appear calm, collected, and in control…but still productive. They are enviable in the life they live. What do they understand about life that others do not?” [I know I already shared another article from Becoming Minimalist this week. Both are excellent, though.]

Lastly, here’s a fun video feature from Wired. It’s a 22-minute look at the English accents of North America. Fascinating stuff.

And that’s all I’ve got. Come back tomorrow for more, muchachos!

Your future is going to be AWESOME!

Greetings, Apexians! Welcome to another day of smart money management. Here are the stories I’ve collected for your edification and enjoyment…

Why your future is going to be AWESOME. [1500 Days to Freedom] — “Since being a natural-born pessimist isn’t a great way to live, I have to work at optimism. This involved intercepting the negative thoughts my brain tosses my way and then dismissing them or turning them into something positive. Despite what the news wants to scare us into thinking, the world is pretty great now. And, it’s getting better.”

Why work when you can afford to retire? [Physician on FIRE] — “There are some very good reasons and not-so-good reasons to continue working despite having attained financial independence. Let’s look at why people work when they don’t need the money, and I’ll try to do some self-reflection, as painful as that can sometimes be.”

Longevity and the new journey of retirement. [PDF report from Edward Jones] — “Edward Jones and Age Wave initially joined forces in 2019 to explore people’s hopes, dreams, and concerns in retirement. Together with The Harris Poll, we conducted a groundbreaking study of more than 9,000 people across North America to understand more deeply what it means to live well in retirement. Through a series of follow-up tracking studies conducted in 2020 and 2021, we took the pulse of how five generations, and retirees in particular, were faring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” [via The Retirement Manifesto]

Today’s video feature has nothing to do with anything. Okay, it has a (very) little to do with Apex Money.

In an email exchange the other day, I said to Jim: “Good stuff, Maynard!” That was a common phrase around our house when I was a kid. Why? Because of this old commercial for Malt-O-Meal:

And here’s a “sequel” to that commercial.

To this day, I still say “Good stuff, Maynard!” now and then. More and more, though, I think the reference is lost. I’m just making a joke to myself haha. Growing old is fun.

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

How to take a digital detox.

Today is Tuesday, and this is Apex Money. I have three stories and a video for you today. Enjoy!

How you can take a digital detox this summer. [Becoming Minimalist] — “The key is not to throw out all tech, but it would be wise for all of us to reboot, take a step back, and realign tech into its rightful place in our lives. The leaders of technology are not going to stop warring for our focus, our time, and our money. We must learn to fight back in a responsible way if we’re going to live lives that matter.”

Minimal on purpose. [No Sidebar] — “If minimalism is anything, it’s intentional. When you enter a minimally furnished and decorated room, you’re forced to realize that whatever is there is there deliberately. It’s been chosen.” [Whoa. I had never considered this aspect of minimalism before. It’s curation. Maybe that’s why it appeals so much to me…]

How to make a decision. [Out of the Blue] — “All of us are like guitars who frequently get out of tune. Withdrawing away, disrupting our rhythm, and giving ourselves plenty of free time, can tune our strings to their true notes. Then once we return home, we can play and create the way we were meant to.”

To close things out, here’s a good interview: Angela from Women’s Personal Finance chats with Kiersten of rich&REGULAR.

I know I’m terse today. Sorry. Be back tomorrow with more! 😉

Why more isn’t better.

Welcome to Monday, my friends. I hope you had a productive and/or entertaining weekend. I opted for the former. I managed to finish half my fence project, and I spent several hours on my Get Rich Slowly “de-design”. It’s 95% complete!

Today, though, I’ve been reading about money, and I’ve found a few pieces to share with you. To kick things, here’s a piece I really enjoyed from my partner here at Apex, Jim Wang:

Don’t chase more. To win at money, accomplish goals. [Wallet Hacks] — “Today, I want to share an idea that took me a very long time to learn – to win at money, you don’t need more. You simply need to identify and reach your goals. And it’s usually not about getting more money. In fact, many of the most important things in life cannot be bought. They have to be earned.”

The simplest reason renting will save you money. [The Military Finance Coach] — “When you rent, you never pay more than your rent each month. When you buy a house, you never pay less than your mortgage each month.”

Why are there weeks in which decades happen? [Taylor Pearson] — “As with a crumbling sand pile, it would be unintelligent to attribute the collapse of a fragile bridge to the last truck that crossed it and even more foolish to try to predict in advance which truck might bring it down. Yet this is basically the entire business model of ad-based media businesses. Turn on any cable news channel of your choice and you will always find people yelling about their preferred grain of sand.”

“Does anyone ever really feel ‘grown up’? I asked older people to find out.” [The Guardian] — “I confess, I thought all older people must be fully cooked adults by default. I fell into the trap of assuming that, if you’ve grown old, you’ve grown up. It’s comforting to believe questions of being an adult, of what even is an adult, have been answered by someone who draws a pension.” [I love this line of inquiry…See also: What they don’t tell you about being an adult.]

That’s all I have to start the week. Now, it’s time for me to get back to my two projects: the website and the fence. I want to work on the website, but I know that it’s much more important ofr me to finish the fence. sigh I guess I’ll go grab my hammer…