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Author: J.D. Roth

Seven things rich people never do.

It’s Friday, my friends. You’ve reached the end of another week. But before you head off for friends and family and fun, here are few last money stories for your edification…

When the founder of Amazon encourages you to stop buying, maybe you should listen. [Becoming Minimalist] — “When the wise thing to do is delay purchases, companies and marketers are going to be working harder to compel you to spend. This crescendo will reach a fever pitch over the next two months. So how do we keep from falling into their trap?”

The other answer. [Humble Dollar] — “There are usually two answers to every personal-finance question: There’s what the calculator says—and then there’s how you feel about it. What does that mean in practice? Let’s look at an example.”

Rich friends, poor friends. [Monevator] — “Surrounding yourself with rich friends is a well-known strategy for making more money…There’s plenty of scientific research to back up this folksy-sounding advice.”

Seven things rich people never do. [Darius Foroux] — “It’s attractive to talk about all the things rich people do and how you can build wealth. A large part of my work focuses on the right actions we should undertake to get wealthy. But what I don’t always share is how I figured out the right actions. Most of the time it’s a matter of looking at the wrong options and doing the opposite.”

To close things out, here’s a six-minute video from the TED-Ed channel on YouTube. It’s all about why you procrastinate even when it makes you feel bad.

“Procrastination is a result of our bodies trying to protect us.” !?!??!?! I imagine the voice of Mr. Spock: “Fascinating.”

My body tries to protect me a lot.

Okay, that’s all for this week. Jim will be back with more on Monday. And I’ll be back after Thanksgiving. See you then!

The five levels of wealth.

Good morning, Apexians. J.D. here, and I’m three days late. That’s right: I forgot to share links with you on Monday and Tuesday. Totally my fault. But I’m here today and I’ll be here tomorrow. So, let’s look at what I’ve found for you!

The five levels of wealth. [Physician on Fire] — “Instead of a distinct monetary amount, it’s nice to think of [wealth] in terms of real-life situations we can relate to. This takes into account the cost of living and really what your lifestyle is like. Using these ideas as a framework, I’ll explain my version of the different levels of wealth.”

Why you should (almost) always make the first offer. [Lifehacker — remember that site?] — “The irrational power of the Anchoring Effect is why making the first offer (sometimes called “dropping the anchor”) is a powerful tool in a negotiation. But that doesn’t mean it always works—you need to know how to use it in order to get the full benefit of the effect. Here are some things to consider when planning to drop an anchor into a negotiation.” [Actually, I’ve always heard that you should not make the first offer, so this is news to me.]

Questions to ask yourself before you buy anything. [No Sidebar] — “It’s one thing to declutter your stuff and make new space, but resisting the consumer itch is another beast entirely. Everywhere we go we’re bombarded with marketing, and it’s cleverer and more subtle than ever…So how do you rewire your desire, exactly? You can start by asking yourself seven simple questions every time you’re considering buying something new.”

To close things out today, here’s a lovely (non-financial) video of a father teaching his daughter the song “Moon River” from baby to seven years old. It’s a sweet montage.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s the same girl playing “Moon River” on her own (serenading the family dog). And here she is playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to a cat.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back with you tomorrow. See you then.

The secrets of stealth wealth.

Hey hey, money nerds. As promised, I’m back with a bonus Saturday installment this week because I forgot to publish links on Thursday. I can’t deprive you of your weekly quota! Here’s what I have for you today.

The secrets of stealth wealth. [Financial Imagineer] — “Stealth wealth is the opposite of conspicuous consumption, it’s about finding true wealth and quality of life which financial freedom helps to unlock. It’s all about having the ability to do what you want, when and where you want with whomever you like to. It’s all about having to focus less on money and having more time, freedom, and peace. Once you understand this, your world will change for the better.”

Secrets of a professional negotiator. [The Retirement Manifesto] — “For the final nine years of my career, I was paid to negotiate. It feels strange saying this, but the fact is that I was a professional negotiator. I negotiated for a living. It’s time to share my secrets: The secrets of a professional negotiator.”

How to detach yourself from your financial wins and losses. [The Root of All] — “The way to train yourself to detach from the emotional pull of wins and losses is to put all your energy into your response. While we can’t know whether an event is good or bad, we do know the quality of our response. It is always possible to respond virtuously in any situation. It’s always possible to do good.”

And that’s all I have for you this week. Jim will return on Monday to share more personal-finance goodness with you. See you then!

The best idea humans ever had.

Heigh-ho, everybody. J.D. here with another day of Apex Money. I didn’t get yesterday’s edition out — sorry about that — so I’ll have a bonus Saturday installment for you tomorrow. But today? Well, I like the batch of articles I’ve collected for today. They’re all centered around a theme: happiness.

The fallacy of ‘preparing for life’.” [Accidental Fire] — “Every year is still 365 days, but damn if they don’t seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Nobody seems to be able to find the time for anything, their dreams, their passions, or their kids soccer game…Don’t suffer in a job you hate just to financially prepare for a future thing called retirement. Life is now. There is no preparing for life, there’s only life.Preach!

The eight splendid truths of happiness. [Gretchen Rubin] — “In my study of happiness, I’ve labored to identify its fundamental principles. Because I get a tremendous kick out of the numbered lists that pop up throughout Buddhism (the Triple Refuge, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the eight auspicious symbols), I decided to dub these fundamental principles as my Eight Splendid Truths.”

Will more money make you happier? Probably not. [Becoming Minimalist] — “Regardless of how much money contributes to happiness (and the jury is apparently still out on that), the one thing we do know is this: Prioritizing the pursuit of money NEVER contributes to overall happiness and life satisfaction. In fact, those who prioritize money over the pursuit of more value-based goals end life with less satisfaction and fulfillment.”

The best idea humans ever had. [Raptitude] — “If you look at what ancient humans say about how to live, it’s always some version of this full-time devotion to good…They don’t say, ‘Have a good time, but do enough difficult stuff to be able to consider yourself a good person,’ as modernity seems to prescribe, but rather, ‘Train yourself in each moment to always do the morally best thing, with love and without hesitation. Make this your purpose in life and sacrifice everything else for it.'”

What does success look like? (And how does it feel?) [One Frugal Girl] — “What if success focused on our emotional well-being, social connections, and job-related enjoyment? What if we weighed time, money, relationships, and health? Do you have time freedom? Do you have the flexibility to focus on your passions or share your time with people you love? Do you have time for the people and things that matter most to you?”

Good stuff, right? Well, I’ll be back tomorrow with more good stuff. See you then.

The best stuff won’t make you happier.

Today is Tuesday, money nerds. I’m J.D. Roth and this is Apex Money.

Generally speaking, Jim and I don’t like to promote our own stuff here at Apex. This is a place to promote the work of other people. Today, I’m going to link to two pieces in which I play a big role. They’re not from any of my sites, but they both feature interviews with me. But I think they both contain good info, so I’m going to do it.

First up is an interview I did with Jess from The Fioneers:

Money doesn’t magically fix our problems. [The Fioneers] — “Today, that’s exactly how I see money: a tool. No, that’s not quite right. I see money as fuel. That’s a better analogy. A tool is durable and reusable. Money is not. Money is consumable. It’s a fuel source to help you fund the life you want. If you burn this fuel making detours to stops that don’t matter (buying things you don’t want or need, for instance), then you’re compromising your ability to reach the destination you have in mind.”

Second is an interview about writing that I did with Jacob from The Root of All. It’s at the end of his longer piece about spending in the time of COVID.

Spending in the time of COVID. [The Root of All] — “The most important to become a good writer is simple: Write. Write all of the fucking time. I talk to a lot of people who say they want to become writers, but they don’t ever write. They just talk about it. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. More than that, you have to share your writing with other people, and you can’t be precious about it.”

Okay, enough about me. Let’s close things out today with a couple of other interesting money articles from other sources:

How our perceptions of time and money change as we age. [Retire Before Dad] — “Our perceptions of the value of time and money shift as we age. In early adulthood, time is abundant, while money is scarcer. We want more money and are willing to sacrifice our time to get it. By middle age, a thriving career helps us earn more, but job and family obligations consume our time. Life is expensive, and working middle-aged people never seem to have enough time or money. Approaching retirement, we’re more willing to spend money to save time.”

“The best stuff won’t make you happier. I know because I tried it.” [Vox] — “It isn’t just a display of wealth; it’s your morality: that you are indeed the Informed Consumer, able to not only afford the best but to know what ‘the best’ even is. It’s a marketing strategy that is not new, of course, but that seems to work particularly well at the present moment.”

That’s it for today! Tomorrow, the folks from the Plutus Foundation will drop by with their weekly round-up. I’ll be back on Thursday with more great stuff. See you then.


Hey, everyone. It’s J.D. again. Thanks to Jim for carrying all of the Apex Money duties during the past month while I was preoccupied.

You see, my mother died on October 3. This wasn’t unexpected — her health had been declining for a long, long time — but October has been difficult nevertheless.

I spent all of last week doing nothing: walking the dog, staring into space, browsing Reddit for hours at a time. I feel listless and apathetic. I have so much to do but no will to do it. The best way to get back in the swing of things, though, is simply to take action. So that’s what I’m doing. Let’s see what sorts of goodies I’ve found for you today…

The people making millions off Listerine royalties [The Hustle] — “Most types of intellectual protections (trademarks, copyrights, patents) have a built-in expiration date: Patents automatically expire after 20 years, at which point a company can no longer charge a royalty. Listerine’s formula, however, was a trade secret — and a trade secret, the court ruled, can have a perpetual royalty contract.” This is a fascinating story, and one of my favorite pieces of the year.

Does shopping at a warehouse club really save anything? [Chief Mom Officer] — “This week I’m going to do a bit of an old school series on warehouse clubs. Today I’m going to share with you the research I did to look critically and closely at a typical BJ’s shopping trip and see what, if anything, we saved over other options in town. On Wednesday I’ll go through a bunch of warehouse club shopping tips. And on Friday I’ll talk about how to figure out what kind of shopping options work best for your family.”

The power of a “what if we didn’t own this?” bag. [Rich in What Matters] — “Many things enter our home that don’t actually serve a purpose in our lives. We don’t use them, love them, or need them. The purpose of material possessions is to be used for some good. If we’re holding onto things that have no value, we are keeping them from fulfilling their true purpose in someone else’s life.”

Lastly, here’s a YouTube rant from the GiantGrantGames channel that I really, really liked: “YouTube ads are getting insane, and I hate it.” This video explores the growing problem with YouTube ads and suggests some solutions.

As somebody who’s prepping to dive (back) into video, I found this fascinating. I was a Google early adopter. I told everyone I could about how awesome the company was. No more. Google long ago discarded their “don’t be evil” motto and embraced the Dark Side. I hate it.

I’ve slowly been shedding everything Google from my life…even gmail! Doing so is difficult, though, and makes it tougher for content creators to earn a living. My aim is to have zero percent of Get Rich Slowly’s content on Google platforms, but I still need to puzzle out how to make this happen. Will people really go to Vimeo to watch videos instead of using YouTube? I don’t know.

Spending without regrets.

What the what? I just checked behind the scenes at Apex, and I see that this post — which was scheduled for Tuesday — never “went live”. Not sure what the problem was. No matter. I’m scheduling it for Saturday instead. Here you go, friends…
Hey, money nerds. It’s J.D. again. As always, I’ve collected some intersting articles to share with you. If you have interesting articles to share with me, drop me a line!

Spending without regrets. [Of Dollars and Data] — “It’s not the person with a $500k net worth that regrets spending $25 on two cocktails, it’s the person with no retirement savings that does. With that being said, if your financial house is in order and you still find it hard to spend money without regret, below are some techniques to consider.”

Some interesting stats about vehicle prices. [TKer by Sam Ro] — “Like most industries, automakers have been plagued by supply chain issues. Unique issues in the rental car market have exacerbated shortages in the market for used vehicles. As a result, vehicle price inflation has been hot.”

How to establish financial priorities. [Wallet Hacks] — “There’s only so much time in the day and if you aren’t careful, it’s easy to spend too much time on things that seem urgent and important but are neither. This is especially problematic when it comes to your money because there are a lot of things that demand your attention, and often your guilt, but they usually don’t move the needle.”

Today’s cool video isn’t a video at all. It’s a website. But wow, what a website! Weather Spark offers detailed weather and climate info for nearly 150,000 locations worldwide. If you’re a weather nerd like me, you’ll love this site (despite all of the many ads).

Okay, tomorrow the team from the Plutus Foundation will be here with their Wednesday update. I’ll be back on Thursday with more finds of my own. See you then!

How to make tough life decisions.

We’ve reached the last day of September, my friends. Another week gone. Another month gone. Another quarter gone. The relentless march of time continues, dragging us each every closer to our demise.

Haha! How’s that for some existential angst to start your weekend? Here, let me make things better. Here are four recent stories to help you master your money — and your life (and your pancakes).

An economist’s rule for making tough life decisions. [Quartz] — “But even accounting for these limitations, the results of the study still suggest a way to break out of those painful cycles of hesitation and indecision that people often get caught in when contemplating major life decisions. If the choice is between action and inaction, and you’re genuinely unsure about what to do, choose action.”

How to figure out what you want out of life. [Vox] — “When culture provides limited road maps for the future, these life events can seem nonnegotiable. External pressure from family, friends, and media further muddies the waters, potentially creating an emotional conundrum when it comes to determining what you really want for the future. Through time and reflection, you can use your values and motivations as guides for a fully authentic life.”

The last man standing in the floppy disk business. [Eye on Design] — “In the beginning, I figured we would do floppy disks, but never CDs. Eventually, we got into CDs and I said we’d never do DVDs. A couple of years went by and I started duplicating DVDs. Now I’m also duplicating USB drives. You can see from this conversation that I’m not exactly a person with great vision. I just follow what our customers want us to do.”

The world’s best pancake recipe. [Kottke] — “After discovering the recipe for Robie’s Buttermilk Flapjacks in a magazine a year or two ago, my wife has been making them for breakfast most Saturdays and they are, no foolin’, the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. They are fluffy and moist and delicious. Here’s what you do.”

Lastly, we have a super-interesting video feature…but it’s long. It’s 50-minutes long. Don’t let the length deter you! Instead, bookmark this for future viewing (add it to your Watch Later playlist in YouTube?).

This documentary from the Defunctland channel on YouTube explores Walt Disney’s final ambitious plan, the project he hoped would leave a lasting legacy on the world: E.P.C.O.T, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

Disney’s dream city was made up of futuristic, visionary ideas. Even today, sixty years later, many of these ideas are progressive. He wanted to build the city of the future. It’s fun to see what he had planned. But, as the video makes clear, the only way for him to actually do these things was to not create a utopia, but a totalitarian dystopia.

This is one of my favorite videos I’ve watched this year.

And that’s it for September. Jim will be with you next week. I’ll be back in ten days to share more new discoveries from the world of personal finance.

Work is a pie-eating contest.

Does it feel like autumn to you? It feels like autumn to me! Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, anyhow, the seasons are changing. Nights are cool, days are warm (but not hot), and everything sort of buzzes along, you know? I love it. October is my favorite month in Oregon. Such a beautiful time and place.

Let’s see what cool stories I’ve collected for you today…

The incredible true story of renting friends in Tokyo. [Afar] — “At one point the waiter offers us drinks. Yusuke says no alcohol on duty, and I realize I’d forgotten this was duty at all. I’ve paid for every word Yusuke has uttered, but I’m also certain we’ve forged something genuine…Maybe it’s easier to believe their professed affections than I’d imagined, even as the money is right there in front of you. Maybe life is complicated. Maybe affection can be paid for and real at the same time.”

Three tiresome personal-finance debates. [Humble Dollar] — “When I worked at The Wall Street Journal, editors used to quip that, ‘There are no new stories, just new reporters.’ I don’t know whether that’s the case with politics, sports and technology articles, but it sure rings true for personal finance and investing stories…That brings me to three financial arguments that never seem to end. Others still get worked up over these debates. But I find they grow ever more tiresome.” Like Clements, I too find discussions of these three topics tiresome. And several others. The reality is that there are plenty of financial decisions without a right answer.

Work is a pie-eating contest. [Money and Meaning] — “I like pie, but not that much. A couple bites is lagom for me, thank you very much. Eating a whole slice is mostly OK, but I don’t desire another slice the next day. Or the days after and after. So when I watch hard-working person go after it, I always think: ‘Too much pie!’ and wonder what’s driving them. What’s the emotional need behind this need to work so much. Fear? Ambition? Status?” [Before reading this, I think it’s helpful to have read a previous column from Douglas: Deep satisfaction in enoughness.]

My last link today has nothing to do with personal finance, but it’s cool nonetheless. It’s a site called The Electric Typewriter. It has a single purpose: Index great articles and essays by the world’s best journalists and writers. For me, anyhow, this site is a source for months (years?) of reading. I think you’ll like it too.

Okay. I’m outta here. I’ll be back tomorrow to take you into the weekend…

No act of kindness is too small.

Good morning, my friends, and welcome to another week. This is J.D. Roth and you’re reading Apex Money, your source for curated stories about how to master your money — and your life. Let’s see what we have for you today…

Whatever happened to the starter home? [New York Times gift article] — “The disappearance of such affordable homes is central to the American housing crisis. The nation has a deepening shortage of housing. But, more specifically, there isn’t enough of this housing: small, no-frills homes that would give a family new to the country or a young couple with student debt a foothold to build equity. The affordable end of the market has been squeezed from every side.”

Generosity: No act of kindness is too small. [One Frugal Girl] — “Years ago, I couldn’t imagine ditching my stingy tendencies. Now I readily share my wealth. What changed? I began challenging my assumptions and finding new ways to give. Here are a few ways to give more generously if you are afraid to do so.”

How understanding the Marginal Utility of Money will make you happier. [The Happy Philosopher] — “Each additional dollar acquired becomes less valuable because it brings us a smaller bit of utility than the one before it. Each unit of time we trade for that depreciating money is more precious. How much is your time worth when you’re on your death bed? How much money would you trade for a few more days? Would you work or spend it doing something else?”

Incentives are the most powerful force in the world. [Collaborative Fund] — “You, me, everyone – is susceptible to and more influenced by than we want to admit: Incentives are the most powerful force in the world and can get people to justify or defend almost anything. When you understand how powerful incentives can be, you stop being surprised when the world lurches from one absurdity to the next.”

To finish things today, here’s a twelve-minute Brazilian animated film entitled “Way of Giants”. It’s beautiful, mysterious, and evocative — a wordless exploration of the circle of life.

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