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Author: J.D. Roth

A whole new world…

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve made it to the end of 2022. I know that 2020 and 2021 were rough years for many people, but I’ll be honest. For me, this was perhaps the toughest year I’ve had in my own life. But now I’m done with it. Best of all, December was fantastic. And I’m very hopeful that 2023 can build on that fantastic-ness.

Anyhow, as I promised yesterday I’m here with a bonus weekend edition of Apex Money to take you into the new year. Let’s see what I found for you today.

How to create safety and security without accumulating wealth. [Iris Brilliant] — “Building safety outside of wealth accumulation starts with the practical skills needed to earn at least a minimum wage job, and extends to skills that will always be relevant, even in the face of a rapidly changing world struggling with climate chaos and economic collapse. It would be even more wonderful to include your vocation — the gifts you most long to offer the world to create the impact you want to have.” Two notes: First, this piece is long. Second, its politics will make some people tense. (Hell, I agree with the author in many ways, and its politics still make me tense.) Despite both of these caveats, I recommend this piece. It’s a good one.

How KFC became a Christmas tradition in Japan. [CNN Travel] — “Every year since the mid-1980s, life-size Colonel Sanders statues — dressed as Santa during the holiday — have welcomed droves of locals and tourists alike across the country. According to figures released by the American fast-food chain, KFC Japan pulled in 6.9 billion yen (roughly US$63 million) from December 20 to 25 in 2018, with lines out the door starting on December 23. KFC Japan’s busiest day is usually December 24, on which they usually sell about five to 10 times more than typical days.”

Is now a great time to retire? [1500 Days to Freedom] — “I think most (me included, hence this post) spend waaaaay too much time thinking about our numbers. What if we thought about life instead? This is what really matters. Be flexible and it will be alright.”

In the waiting. [Jillian Johnsrud] — “Right now, I’m waiting. Waiting to see if my life will change. And while I wait, I’m reflecting on everything I’m grateful for and mistakes I’ll keep trying to avoid. Thankfully you don’t have to be in the waiting to reflect on these things. You can simply ask the questions and make next year even richer than this year was.”

And that’s it for this year!

Jim will be back next week to bring in 2023 with you.

As for me? Well, I’m taking a break. As I’ve mentioned over at Get Rich Slowly and on my social media accounts, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, trying to decide what the future holds for me. Increasingly, it looks as if I’m ready to move on from writing about money.

I’ve been doing this for nearly seventeen years now. I’ve enjoyed it, but more and more it feels like I’m clinging to something that’s no longer me. Does that make sense? And by clinging to this, I’m not allowing myself to move forward, to explore other areas.

Right now, my plan is to take a hiatus from Apex Money. I haven’t decided my future at Get Rich Slowly, but it’s quite possible that I’ll be taking a break from that too. But because I know I love to write, I plan to channel my energy into my personal blog. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

In any event, have a fantastic 2023, my friends! See you around…

A love song to Costco.

Good morning, Apexians! J.D. here with a very late installment of your favorite aggregator of money news. As a reward for your patience, I’ll publish a bonus New Year’s Eve edition tomorrow. How’s that? Anyhow, let’s dive into today’s links.

A computer fit for the Amish. [Planet Money] — “The key selling point, perhaps not surprisingly, is all the things the computer doesn’t do. Like the sign says: No Internet, no video, no music. It’s ’80s-era technology that lets you do basic word-processing, spreadsheets and accounting. It’s the kind of thing some (but not all) Amish people would find acceptable to use for work.” A very short piece, but an important one (to me). I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with technology, so stuff like this hits home.

Love song to Costco. [Longreads] — “Pushing a cart along the massive aisles in the Orlando Costco, my father loads up boxes of oranges and blueberries that he tries to force-feed me over the next few days…In the great halls of Costco, two of our greatest fears are assuaged — that of not having enough, and that of not being enough.” This is a great piece. And it’s long.

S&P 500 data tool. [] — I can’t remember where I found this tool, but I like it. You plug in a start date, an end date, and an amount, then the calculator spits out an estimate of investment returns. As a money writer, this is handy for all sorts of things. But even if you’re not a money writer, it’s worth bookmarking for future research.

Boy Scout buys $11,300 in gifts for foster children to let them know they’re loved. [The Guardian] — “A 12-year-old who sold more than $56,000 in popcorn through his Boy Scouts troop recently spent more than 20% of those earnings buying presents for children in foster care in his region of Minnesota, delivering one of the Christmas season’s most heartwarming stories.”

To wrap things up, here’s a video I think is charming. It’s a minute-long compilation of dogs boarding a “doggy day care” bus in Skagway, Alaska. I adore it.

My favorite part comes just after 45 seconds in when all of the seated dogs lean in to sniff the pup that just got on board. I don’t know why, but I think it’s charming. It seems to encapsulate everything I love about dogs. I’ve watched that short bit a dozen times now. Kim thinks I’m crazy. I just think I like dogs haha.

Okay, that’s it. As I said, I’ll be back tomorrow with a bonus edition of Apex Money. See you then.

Your 2023 financial to-do list.

Hello, my financial friends! It’s J.D. Roth and I’m here this week to share some of the top money stories from around the internet.

Your 2023 financial to-do list. [Morningstar] — “Helping you look forward and plan for a productive year ahead is the goal of my annual financial to-do calendar and to-do list, which plots out a number of jobs you can undertake to improve your financial life on a month-by-month basis. The myriad tasks associated with maintaining an organized financial life seem daunting in list form, but they’re more manageable when spread throughout the year.”

What keeping a bullet journal taught me about using to-do apps. [The Verge] — “What I’ve since realized, however, is that it’s perfectly possible to keep lots of the things I liked about keeping a bullet journal without sacrificing the convenience of apps. Ultimately, what I liked about the notebook was less about its physicality and more about the fact that it forced me to spend real time actively thinking about and organizing my life on a daily basis. And that’s something that’s just as possible to do with an app as it is with a notebook.”

How to fall back in love with reading (even when your brain feels like mush). [The Cut] — “These all sound like great reasons to develop a practice of reading. But how? The key, as with most everything in life, is to build a habit of reading. What you’re trying to do is practice sustained attention. Like any habit, the trick is in figuring out what works for you.”

Ancient Rivers of Money [Ribbonfarm] — “If you think of markets [as rivers of money], things look very different. Some rivers of money are very old and very stable. You can at most fight to displace others from prime positions along the banks. Others are new and unstable and may change course frequently, creating and destroying fortunes through their vagaries. Others may be maturing, with dams being built to stabilize them. People have always bought food and clothes. They are only now beginning to buy iPads. They are starting to not buy CDs.” This is one of my favorite articles I’ve ever linked to.

To wrap things up today, here’s an hilarious video from TikTok in which a 10-year-old boy calculates how much it’ll cost for him to go on his first “date”. I loathe TikTok, so you know if I’m linking to a TikTok video it’s gotta be good. And it is…

@moonshinecali02 They always want Ice cream after #fyp #dating #thestruggle ♬ original sound – Cali_Moonshine909

And that’s all I have for you today. The Plutus folks will be here with tomorrow’s installment, then I’ll be back on Thursday and Friday to take you into the new year. See you then!

The gifts we give our children.

Hey, my friends. Happy Friday! A bit late with this morning’s entry. I thought I’d prepped it for publishing but nope. Just found it sitting in my text editor, awaiting final touches. Well, better late than never, right? Here are some tasty money links for you.

The gifts we give our kids. [Finding Joy] — “When I work with affluent families, a common concern is how not to let their wealth hurt their kids. It’s not a champagne problem – it’s a real threat. Entitled children who are used to having everything handed to them can be monsters as adults. Individuals who lack financial discipline and exhibit a poor work ethic because their early environment didn’t require it often become poor pilots of their own lives.”

Don’t try to get rich twice. [A Wealth of Common Sense] — “Anyone who has become rich twice is dumb. Why would you risk what you need and have for what you don’t need? If you are already rich, there is no upside to taking on a lot more risk, but there is disgrace on the downside.”

Luddite teens don’t want your ‘likes’. [The New York Times gift article] — “On a brisk recent Sunday, a band of teenagers met on the steps of Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to start the weekly meeting of the Luddite Club, a high school group that promotes a lifestyle of self-liberation from social media and technology. As the dozen teens headed into Prospect Park, they hid away their iPhones — or, in the case of the most devout members, their flip phones, which some had decorated with stickers and nail polish.” I enthusiastically support this!

Now, to send you into the weekend, here’s something I didn’t expect to like: the trailer to next summer’s Barbie film. I have zero interest in this movie (even after seeing the trailer), but I have to say that the preview is pretty damn fun.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend, everybody!

What happens when you get what you want?

Howdy, money nerds, and welcome to another edition of Apex Money. I’m your host, J.D. Roth. Here are the articles I’ve gathered for you today…

What happens when you get what you want? [The White Coat Investor] — “The Grand Narrative of Success provides structure, meaning, and identity to our lives, and it is scary to leave that. At cocktail parties, we ask ‘What do you do?’ and we ask young people ‘What are you going to do?’ Heaven forbid if the answer isn’t something tangible and preferably profitable.”

More older Americans are living alone then ever before. [New York Times gift article] — “Nearly 26 million Americans 50 or older now live alone, up from 15 million in 2000. Older people have always been more likely than others to live by themselves, and now that age group — baby boomers and Gen Xers — makes up a bigger share of the population than at any time in the nation’s history.”

Five reasons to retire often. [Jillian Johnsrud] — “When I talk about ‘retiring often’ people are generally confused by the idea. Why would you retire more than once? Why not just push through for 40 straight years and then take the next 30 off? There are a hundred benefits to retiring often. And honestly the non-stop career path has some fatal flaws.”

The need to read. [Paul Graham] — “You can’t think well without writing well, and you can’t write well without reading well. And I mean that last ‘well’ in both senses. You have to be good at reading, and read good things.”

I’ll be back again tomorrow with more fun stuff. Come back then!

Disaster planning for regular folks.

Good morning, Apexians, and welcome to another edition of Apex Money. Today is a special day. “Tell us why, J.D.” I will! It’s a special day because today is Taylor Swift’s birthday. My favorite musician/director/writer/performer turns 33 today.

To celebrate, here are 33 of my favorite Taylor Swift videos.

Haha. Just kidding.

To celebrate, here’s my favorite cover of a Taylor Swift song. Here are Shoshana Bean and Cynthia Erivo performing “I Did Something Bad”. It’s AWESOME.

I’ve probably shared that video before. I’ll probably share it again in the future. I know you won’t mind. 😉 (If you really do want to listen to 33 Taylor Swift songs — or thereabouts — check out my YouTube playlist of Taylor Swift covers.)

Okay, moving on to the real reason you’re here…I’ve gathered the following personal-finance articles to share with you today…

Does this count as market timing? [Oblivious Investor] — “The point of the ‘don’t try to time the market’ message is simply that new investors need to learn that it’s impossible to predict a) where the stock market is going next or b) where interest rates (and therefore bond prices) are going next. But it can be OK to make financial decisions based on current interest rates or market values, as long as you don’t have to successfully predict where the stock market or interest rates are going next in order for the decision to make sense.”

Disaster planning for regular folks. [lcamtuf] — “Effective preparedness can be simple, but it has to be rooted in an honest and systematic review of the risks one is likely to face. Plenty of newcomers begin by shopping for ballistic vests and night vision goggles; they would be better served by grabbing a fire extinguisher, some bottled water, and then putting the rest of their money in a rainy-day fund.”

How to keep your work from taking over your life. [Greater Good Magazine] — “Personally, I learned that not thoughtfully working on work-life integration is a form of passive acquiescence to work that can take much more than you’re able to give. I can miss some important events—like that weekend of my daughter’s graduation. Addressing this requires some mindful self-reflection and some bigger conversations about what I need from work and what work needs from me.”

Okay, that’s all for this Tuesday. The folks from the Plutus Foundation will have links for you tomorrow, then I’ll be back on Thursday to share more fun stuff with you. See you then!

p.s. Trivia! Not only is today Taylor Swift’s birthday, it’s also the birthday of my buddy Grant Sabatier from Millennial Money.

The art of imperfection.

Heigh-ho, everybody, J.D. here with another week of Apex Money goodness in store.

Here in Oregon, I’m suffering from a monster cold that just will not go away! Kim and I both picked this up from our nephews when we were in California for Thanksgiving. It’s not COVID (multiple negative tests), likely not the flu (both have vaccines), but it’s something similar that waxes and wanes. Right now, it’s waxing for me and I hate it. My head feels like a big balloon! Anyhow, enough about my stuffy nose. Let’s dive into personal finance.

How to create your estate plan: A checklist. [Morningstar] — “It’s helpful to think of estate planning as a process, rather than something that’s one and done and begins and ends in an attorney’s office. Crafting an estate plan involves a series of steps, some of which you’ve probably already undertaken and are probably going to need to revisit as your life unfolds.”

“My favorite investment writing of 2022.” [Of Dollars and Data] — “Unlike previous years, 2022 was painful for investors of all types. Stocks fell, bonds fell, and crypto really fell in the worst market environment since 2008. And, though this year was difficult for all of us, the silver lining is all the great investment writing that came out of it. With that being said, I present my favorite investment writing of 2022.”

The art of imperfection. [Austin Kleon] — “A lot of what I love in art is ‘deliberate imperfection,’ which you see in everything from Japanese wabi-sabi to Navajo rugs to punk rock. Mistakes or ‘happy accidents’ that don’t get thrown out, like mishearings that lead to new ideas. Chance operations, introductions of asymmetry, invitations to weirdness and error, and what Sally Mann calls ‘praying to the angel of uncertainty’.”

The magnificent bribe. [Real Life] — “The bribe is a discomforting concept. It asks us to consider the ways the things we purchase wind up buying us off, it asks us to see how taking that first bribe makes it easier to take the next one, and, even as it pushes us to reflect on our own complicity, it reminds us of the ways technological systems eliminate their alternatives.” This is a heady piece, but a good one.

That’s all I have for you this Monday. I’m going to crawl back in bed again to continue sleeping this off. I’ll be back tomorrow with more. See you then!

A few good stories.

Welcome to Friday, money nerds. My name is J.D., and I’m here to take you into the weekend with some quick thoughts about mastering your money — and your life. I really like today’s features. I hope you do too.

A few good stories. [Collaborative Fund] — Let’s lead today with an awesome bit of writing from Morgan Housel at Collaborative fund. Housel is famous for awesome bits of writing, but this one contains (as it says on the tin) a few good stories. They’re each short, and they’re each powerful — especially the last one.

To control your life, control what you pay attention to. [Harvard Business Review] — “Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Or said another way: you must control your attention to control your life.”

Learning to live. [Of Dollars and Data] — “Many times in life you’ll have the opportunity to assume negative intent in others. Don’t do it. You’ll often be wrong and even when you are right, assuming negativity all the time is no way to go through life. Most people don’t want to wrong you. Keep this in mind before rushing to judgment.”

What are some of the best things to make at home? [Ask MetaFilter] — “So I made homemade bread. It was awesome. I’m making homemade Castile soap this weekend. Very excited. What other stuff should I be making at home?” A treasure trove of fun DIY projects.

Let’s close out the week with a non-financial video. It’s a video that I really, really like.

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I saw the first film in theaters in 1977. I was eight years old. But honestly, I’ve always had this sense that the franchise failed to live up to its potential. It focused on the dumbest parts of the universe instead of the most interesting.

Well, imagine my joy when Disney recently released the show Andor, a spy-thriller set in the Star Wars universe but possessing NONE of the problematic elements. No Jedi. No Force. No lightsabers. No bizarre “the entire galaxy revolves around a handful of people” plotlines.

Instead, Andor is a twelve-part series that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless how much they know about the established Star Wars mythos. It’s actual quality storytelling.

Anyhow, YouTuber Thomas Flight just published a video exploring why Andor feels so real. It’s an insightful look at one of the elements that helps set this show apart from its peers. And I think it’s something that other CGI-heavy media franchises could learn from.

That’s all I have for you this week! Jim will be back on Monday with more of the same. I’ll see you in ten days. Until then, have fun!

The most important financial decisions you’ll ever make.

Hey hey, Apexians. Can you believe it’s December?!? Well, it is. Ho ho ho and all that. As the holiday season ramps up, we continue business as usual around here, sharing some of our favorite personal-finance stories from around the web. Stories like these…

The six most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. [ESI Money] — “Decisions, decisions. There are loads of financial decisions we make throughout our lifetimes. Some are big (as we’ll discuss here) and some (most probably) are small (like choosing between the high-priced or store brand peanut butter).” Nice discussion of the Big Things that affect your life (especially your financial life).

“How I’ve saved thousands of dollars on clothes for my kids.” [Frugalwoods] — “This system also enables me to hand-up clothes to friends whose kids need a specific item in a particular size. And yes, they do joke about going shopping in my basement and yes, I deserve it. BUT, I love being able to pull out a complete wardrobe for each kid for every season for an absolute fraction of the cost of buying new.”

Quantifying your dreams to make them happen. [Modest Millionaires] — “Once you have an idea of the potential range of costs for something you desire, spotting a good deal is so much easier. You have data to compare the value you’ll get for the price you pay. So decision making is facilitated thanks to the process of quantifying your goals.”

I’m a big fan of end-of-year “best” lists and similar rituals. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year is always fun because there are so many retrospectives on offer. And here’s one of my faves: Vanity Fair’s annual interview with Billie Eilish.

I don’t listen to much of Eilish’s music (although I like what I’ve heard), but I’ve enjoyed watching each of these interviews over the past six years. It’s neat to watch her growth from age 15 to 20.

Apparently, she’ll continue to do these interviews every year, but starting in 2023 they’ll only be released sporadically. That makes sense. Anyhow, you might enjoy this too.

That’s it for Thursday. Come back tomorrow and I’ll share more some more interesting links to take you into the weekend.

The investor’s manifesto.

Howdy, moneylings. It is I, your humble host, J.D. Roth. I’m here today to highlight some of the best personal-finance stories from around the web. Stories like these…

The Investor’s Manifesto [Safal Niveshak] — “This is for you. This is from someone like you. It is an Investor’s Manifesto. It is something you can reflect back on if you ever felt stuck in your investing life. If you believe in it, follow it, and stand for it, your investing life will be good.”

Why stories of fraud shouldn’t lead to excessive pessimism. [The Rational Walk] — “Just because the news cycle does not highlight exemplars does not mean they do not exist, and we should bear this in mind before getting too pessimistic about the state of the world when we read about morally bankrupt characters like Sam Bankman-Fried.”

Frontline work when everyone is angry. [Harvard Business Review] — “I’ve studied incivility — defined as rudeness, disrespect, or insensitive behavior — in workplaces for more than 20 years…My research has found that reports of incivility are indeed on the rise.”

Your budget, one envelope at a time. [MetaFilter] — “Need some new budgeting ideas? Enjoy something tactile? Try cash stuffing! Cash stuffing, based on the relatively older cash envelope system, has seen a recent resurgence on TikTok and YouTube especially amongst younger people documenting their progress online.”

Lastly, here’s my favorite video of the past week. It’s a 13-minute clip from 60 Minutes that highlights the smartest dog in the world. (It’s actually a fascinating look at dog intelligence generally, but it highlights one exceptionally smart pup.)

That’s all I have for you today. The Plutus folks will drop in tomorrow, then I’ll return on Thursday with more great stuff. See you then!