Skip to content

Apex Money Posts

The biggest problem with early retirement.

Whew. It’s Friday, and thank goodness. I’ve been in Austin all week for Fincon, the annual gathering of money nerds. It’s fun — no doubt — but it’s also exhausting. I’m running on fumes!

As I have all week, yesterday I picked my friend’s brains to ask them about money articles they’ve liked recently. Today I’ll share their responses. To start, Jana Lynch says that our first piece is one of the best she’s ever read on the subject of financial abuse.

When money is the weapon: Understanding intimate partner financial abuse. [Bitches Get Riches] — “Abusive relationships aren’t an exclusive plague upon heterosexual relationships. Victims aren’t always women. Abusers aren’t always violent, and the damage often doesn’t leave a mark. And we’re going to talk about one of the most prevalent kinds of abuse today: financial abuse.”

“What I learned from living five years in a van.” [The Guardian] – “But our time in the van had taught us that we could do this deal differently. We could choose to leave behind the broken hamster wheel of debt and consumption; our too-high rent; the house we may never afford; the time we wouldn’t spend together; our estrangement from nature; the persistent loneliness – to forge a different dream, one with adventure, durable intimacy and a revised definition of what it means to be better-off.”

The biggest problem with early retirement. [Retire by 40] — “The biggest problem after early retirement is the lack of long-term goals…The transition to an unstructured lifestyle was abrupt. It can be difficult if you don’t prepare. Many retirees are unsatisfied with the leisurely lifestyle and actually become depressed. The lack of direction coupled with long empty hours wears many people down after a few years. This problem is magnified when you retire early.”

You can’t change your life until you change your life. [Becoming Minimalist] — “I don’t know exactly why you are desiring a change, or how big of a change you are looking for, but if you can be living a more intentional life, it would be a shame for you to miss it. If you are desiring a change, there is one truth that cannot be escaped: You can’t change your life until you change your life.”

And that’s it for this week. I apologize for not having a fun video to take you into the weekend, but I’m late for my next session here at the conference. I’ll make it up to you next time. I promise. 😉

Everyday millionaire.

Hello, Apexians, and welcome to another beautiful day in the world of personal finance. As always, we’ve collected some of our favorite recent money news for you.

As I have all week, I’m picking the brains of my colleagues here at Fincon to find interesting articles to share with you. This morning at breakfast, my pal Marla told me about this research paper from Vanguard:

Fuel for the FIRE: Updating the 4% rule for early retirees. [Vanguard] — “The 4% rule can be a good start for retirees, but it most likely needs to be fine-tuned for the F.I.R.E. movement. The rule was conceived for a traditional retiree facing a retirement horizon of 30 years (Bengen, 1994), not for an early retiree who may spend over 50 years in retirement. This paper aims to help people who are interested in the F.I.R.E. movement understand why the traditional 4% rule could put early retirement at risk and how F.I.R.E. investors can mitigate that risk.”

Do the weird things now (because one day you won’t be able). [Financial Panther] — “The weird things I did throughout my 20s and early 30s gave me a financial advantage. It made it so I could save more money and put me in a position where I had a good nest egg at a young age. The weird things gave me a mental advantage too, proving that I could live comfortably even if my living situation wasn’t normal. Doing weird things can be helpful. But you have to do them when you can because one day, you might not be able to do those weird things anymore.”

Why “buying the dip” is a terrible investment strategy. [Of Dollars and Data] — “This is why Buy the Dip is such a terrible investment strategy. Because when it wins, it tends to win by a little, but when it loses, it can lose by a lot. This asymmetric performance profile is what makes it such a subpar investment strategy. And if we look across a variety of dip buying thresholds, we can see why.”

Lastly, here are two — two! — money-related music videos from my buddies here at Fincon. The first one is from Deacon Hayes at Well-Kept Wallet who raps about being an “Everyday Millionaire”:

And the second is from Grant Sabatier (who apparently has the voice of an angel) of Millennial Money singing “The FIRE Movement Folk Song”.

Ah, money nerds. They’re fun, you know? Come back tomorrow for one final day of money fun for the week. Who knows what kind of goodies I’ll have for you?

Do taxes fund spending?

Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds. Today’s top money articles are all stories inspired by conversations with folks here at Fincon 2021 in Austin, Texas. When money nerds get together, we tend to talk about…well, money. Especially at this event.

Here are a few of the things we’ve been discussing.

Do taxes fund spending? [Crooked Timber] — “Semantic debates like this one are often driven by the fact that the words used describe a phenomenon which is itself different depending on how you look at it. In the case of the relationship between taxes and spending, and as foreshadowed above, the time period under consideration is very important.”

“Why I like buying new cars with financing.” [Miranda Marquit] — “It seems like a small thing to pay an extra three or four thousand dollars for, but it’s worth it to me. I have a car that fits my lifestyle and hits the major notes. So I was willing to spring for the extras because I can afford it and it will enhance my experience for the next 10 years.”

Why most gas stations don’t make money from selling gas. [The Hustle] — “The business model of gas stations is a bit counterintuitive. Most gas stations barely turn a profit on their core product, and when the price of oil goes up they may even take a loss on it. Battling small margins, cutthroat competition, and the looming threat of electric vehicles, many gas stations are more reliant than ever on secondary revenue streams.”

Come back tomorrow for more like this! As new articles and topics come up, I’ll make a note to share them with you all. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Why everybody’s hiring but nobody’s getting hired.

Hello from Austin, Texas! I’m down here for Fincon, the annual gathering of financial geeks. This is Fincon’s twelfth edition (although last year’s installment was virtual only) — it’s one of the highlights of my year.

Before I head out to hang out with colleagues, vendors, and friends, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite money stories from around the web. Here’s what I’ve been reading recently.

Income inequality and money imbalance in relationships. [One Frugal Girl] — “Ten years ago, I walked away from my high-paying career to become a stay-at-home mom. Although I was thrilled to spend time with my newborn son, I mourned the loss of my paycheck. Without money, I felt a deep-seated loss of self-worth and significant income inequality for the first time in my marriage.” [See also this article from Bitches Get Riches that Jim shared last week: “I now make more money than my husband, and it’s been great for our marriage.”]

10 ways to increase your income. [Alan Donegan] — “Wherever you are right now with your income trust me there is another level you can get to if you want to. I have been constantly amazed at the ways people make money and how much they end up making. One of the things that keeps life interesting for me is the idea that there is always another level if you are willing to put yourself out there and find it!”

Why everybody’s hiring but nobody’s getting hired. [Vox Recode] — “There’s no single party to blame here. Corporate hiring practices can be convoluted and too reliant on machines, and many applicants aren’t being realistic or strategic enough in their work search efforts. For employers, job seekers, and the American economy in general, it’s worth figuring out what’s going on and addressing it. Because although these trends have been exacerbated by the pandemic, many of them pre-date it, and they’re not going away.”

Today’s video feature is a 26-minute YouTube look at Aaron Fletcher, who has grazed his sheep and lived off the land as a traveling shepherd for twelve years now. He’s homeless by choice and offers his sheep-grazing services to small farms in exchange for food or a place to stay.

I found this much more interesting than I thought I would…

Okay, that’s plenty for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more great stuff. See you then!

The financial literacy industrial complex.

Good morning, Apexians, and welcome to the first week of autumn! (Or, if you live in the southern hemisphere, welcome to the first week of spring.) Today, as we sometimes do, we’re starting things off with our non-financial video.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my mental health in recent years. Depression and anxiety have crippled me for large stretches of time. (I’m doing fine at the moment, thanks.) Last winter, during an especially rough patch, I managed to turn things around by diving deep into YouTube videos of certain comedians: the amazing Dave Chapelle, the savage Bill Burr, and the droll (yet hilarious) Norm Macdonald.

Macdonald died last week at the age of 61. In commemoration (and thanks) here’s a 100-minute compilation of the comedian doing his thing in various venues.

Okay, let’s move on to the money stuff, shall we? Here are some of the best stories we’ve read recently.

The case for renting. [PWL Capital] — “Choosing where we live and how we pay for housing is an extremely important decision; it is often influenced by the perception that renting is a waste of money. Renting has benefits over owning which must be considered. The people promoting home ownership as the only smart decision may not be doing so based on logic.”

Top luxury brands are beginning to offer expert repairs. [Robb Report] — “Darning socks and patching seams have typically carried an association with hard times. Why fuss? You can afford a new one. But the increased interest in repairs among luxury consumers is proving that attitude is changing. In reality, repairs have been a secret weapon of savvy shoppers for decades.”

Our final piece is important. I’m a vocal proponent of financial literacy. However, I’m also a vocal detractor of traditional financial education. It focuses too much on mechanics and not enough on behavior. When it comes to money, mindset matters more than math.

Now, financial literacy programs are being spear-headed by large corporations. These companies may or may not have good intentions. Regardless, their role in the world of financial literacy is somewhat problematic.

The financial literacy industrial complex. [Axios] — “Financial literacy education is increasingly being created by the very companies that the students should be taught skepticism toward. As the FoolProof Foundation puts it: ‘Today’s financial literacy education doesn’t work because virtually all major financial literacy resources are developed or shaped by businesses that benefit when consumers make money mistakes.'”

That’s all for Monday, mis amigos. I’ll be back tomorrow — from Austin, Texas! — with more of the best from the world of personal finance.

Insider trading NFTs???

NFTs are fascinating because you’re seeing the early days of a financial market except with far more transparency than before. If you think about how the stock market must have been when it first started, NFTs are experiencing that today except everyone can see every transaction ever made. If you think about how much time and effort people put into researching and uncovering completely frivolous things, it’s no wonder crypto sleuths can tease out these:

OpenSea confirms executive used insider knowledge when buying NFTs [The Block Crypto] – “Twitter users last night accused Nate Chastain, head of product at OpenSea, of using secret Ethereum wallets to snap up the platform’s front-page NFT drops before general release. Citing transactional data on Etherscan, Twitter user Zuwu said that Chastain seems to be selling these pieces “shortly after the front-page-hype spike for profits.” His actions have been likened to frontrunning or insider trading, which in regulated financial markets refers to dealing on information that is not yet public.”

Income for Sale [Humble Dollar] – “How do you buy an annuity from the Social Security Administration (SSA)? For each year that you delay claiming Social Security, your benefit increases by about 8%. The CRR paper makes the case that delaying Social Security, while using your savings to pay current expenses, is the equivalent of buying an annuity from the SSA. The annuity’s cost is the Social Security payments that you forgo in the meantime. What’s the benefit? That’s equal to the increase in your Social Security check you receive in return for the delay.” Read the whole thing because it’s not good enough that you can buy an annuity, it’s important to know how it compares with alternatives (right now, it compares quite favorably).


How Mushroom Time-Lapses Are Filmed by WIRED:

Regret minimization is harder than it looks

I remember when I first hear heard Jeff Bezos talk about regret minimization – it resonated with me.

But much like our first post of today, from software engineer Samvit Jain, I’ve come to realize it’s a good idea in principle but nearly impossible to execute if that’s your only guiding principle. So while I’d like to minimize regret, it’s now almost become a tie breaker for me when all other factors are equal.

Regret Minimization [Samvit Jain’s blog] – “You don’t know what you will regret – Our values change. I might value adventure in my 20s, but value stability more in my 30s. So a choice that was good for 25-year-old me may not be as good for 35-year-old me. In this specific case, regret minimization based on my current values may bias me toward a more risk-seeking path.”

Litecoin’s fake Walmart deal could have crypto regulators circling [Protocol] – “A Walmart press release announcing a “major partnership” with litecoin sent the cryptocurrency soaring early Monday, before it quickly plunged again after the report was exposed as fake news.” Hmm…

I Now Make More Money Than My Husband, and It’s Great for Our Marriage [Bitches Get Riches] – “Some men feel threatened or ashamed when their wives make more money than they do. In fact, among different gender couples, wives outearning their husbands increases the rate of divorce by 33%. In such partnerships, both the low-earning men and high-earning women are substantially more likely to cheat on each other, indicating a degree of pretty extreme unhappiness. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculously counterintuitive. One partner in a partnership making more money should be great news to the other, no matter their gender! It’s more money for the whole household! More money for the couple’s joint financial goals! We live in a country that worships at the Holy Church of Hustling. So what the hell kind of red-blooded Amurican husband wouldn’t celebrate his partner making more money?”

Take the money

I think the pandemic has taught us that the internet is FULL of bad advice and the worst part is that too many people believe it!

And Twitter is the apex of bad advice.

If you ever have the choice between $500,000 and [something else] and that [something else] isn’t “walk away because it’s drug money and you’ll be hunted down,” take the cash.

A Guy Who Said A Dinner With Jay-Z Is Worth More Than $500K, And More Of This Week’s ‘One Main Character’ [Digg] – “This week’s characters include a guy with ill-advised financial advice, an Atlantic staff writer who claims rural Americans take animal medicine all the time, a Congressman who claimed “real Americans” are already over the pandemic and the producers who came up with the worst game show idea ever.”

I made a mistake. NFTs are going to be much bigger than I anticipated. [The Pomp Letter] – “So what exactly is driving all this interest in non-fungible digital files? The short answer is that NFTs live at the intersection of a few different tailwinds. The positive perspective is that digital natives would rather own digital goods than physical goods, which means that we are watching the digitization of the collectibles industry. These digital natives want to use the NFTs as a way to play games, transact with each other, and generally recreate the collectibles industry.”

Are We in a Melt-Up? [Of Dollars And Data] – “Of all the things that you should do during a melt-up, the most important is to get invested. Do not sit in cash. Why? Because even if the market does eventually return to its prior levels, sitting in cash will destroy you psychologically. Just imagine how hard it would have been to sit in cash during the DotCom bubble from 1995-2000. For five years you would have to watch everyone around you (even people dumber than you) get rich while you sat on the sidelines. It would be infuriating.”

If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week? :)

I really liked the title of this story from the HARVARD Business Review. 🙂

If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week? [Harvard Business Review] = “In the old days, if you were a white-collar worker, the deal was that you worked as hard as you could at the start of your career to earn the right to be rewarded later on, with security of tenure and a series of increasingly senior positions. This is no longer true. Today, many senior leaders work longer and harder than ever. At the heart of it is insecurity, and indeed, elite professional organizations deliberately set out to identify and recruit “insecure overachievers.” Insecure overachievers are exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, yet are driven by a profound sense of their own inadequacy. If this sounds familiar, you should try to work exceptionally long hours when you need to or want to — but do it consciously, for specified time periods, and to achieve specific goals. Don’t let it become a habit because you have forgotten how to work or live any other way.”

Hiding in the Doing [My Quiet FI] – “I was the god of my days. It was up to me to dictate. And back then, I distinctly remember how I always needed to be doing things to justify what an amazing life I was living. But how much this was for me, rather than external validation, is much trickier to understand. The older I get, the more years I have lived and the broader my experiences and self-reflections have become, the less I can lie to myself.”

Speaking of hiding, I always like these funny “where do you hide money in your house” stories.

15 Secret Places to Hide Money Around Your Home [Well Kept Wallet] – “Here is a list of some of the best places to hide money around the house. Some of the hiding spots are free while others are products that you can purchase that blend into any houses decor.” Some fun ones on this list!

I’ll give you a hint about where we hide cash in our house… we don’t!

What to do when your house burns down

A few years ago, we had a pipe burst in our home that resulted in water damage and a near $70,000 renovation bill. But our house was fine, we could still live in the house, and it was mostly just an inconvenient situation.

I can’t imagine dealing with a house fire.

My House Burned Down! [Life Outside The Maze] – “What do you do when your house burns down? When you have rental properties it’s never good news when you get a text message from your property manager late on a Saturday night asking you to call ASAP. My first thought when I heard the word fire was whether anyone was injured. They were not. My second thought was, what do I do when my house is now half burned and exposed in the frigid midwest winter less than a week before Christmas during a pandemic? How much pain and how much money is this going to cost me? Now looking back many months later, I can share some lessons learned.”

Fortunately no one was hurt and it was “only” a rental property, not the house he was living in… but still. Yikes.

Worry About Yourself [All Star Charts] – “Somewhere along the way I think people forgot that we’re only in the market to make money. This is a very selfish endeavor. Who cares what other people are doing with their investments? Why should it matter to me that someone else may or may not be trading recklessly in the NFT space? That’s their problem.” Good advice when you see people doing things you think are reckless or silly – just worry about yourself. 🙂

And a fun story after the fire (not FIRE, but flames fire!) one:

That Time Obama Pardoned a Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen’s Honus Wagner Card [Sports Illustrated] – “A Coen Brothers-esque tale about knuckleheaded kitchen staffers at the All-Star Café, a Hollywood A-lister, the Mona Lisa of baseball cards and a plan that went horribly wrong.”