Skip to content

Author: J.D. Roth

How to keep money from tearing your friendships apart.

Howdy, neighbors, and welcome to this week’s final installment of Apex Money. Here’s what we have for you today…

How to support your loved ones financially without derailing your plan. [Gen Y Planning] — “You’ve probably heard that mixing family and money is like oil and water with different opinions, expectations, values, and communication exploding like fireworks on the 4th of July. It doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s the thing: Financially supporting your loved ones can be a beautiful and rewarding way to make the most of your resources…if you do it with purpose and intention.”

How to keep money from tearing your friendships apart. [Vox] — “Money discrepancies among friends can dredge up some uncomfortable emotions, including guilt and shame around suggesting lower-cost alternatives, or frustration if you feel like you’re constantly needing to make cheaper but less exciting plans. These emotions tend to arise when you aren’t transparent with your financial expectations.”

A meaningful life is impossible without suffering. [Big Think] — “One explanation for why people willfully incur pain is to enhance pleasure through contrast. Just as darkness is only possible because light exists, we experience pleasure against the backdrop of pain. In order to maximize the pleasure of an experience, you often need a big dose of its opposite. That’s one reason why a dip in the hot tub feels especially good after a frigid winter day, or why a beer tastes extra refreshing after eating a spicy dish.”

Lastly, here’s a fun little non-financial video I enjoyed last week. It’s a Serbian couple dancing the tango…to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. It’s fun.

With that, we’ve reached the end of another week. I hope yours was a good one. And I hope that your weekend will be even better. Take care!

You are always the Other Person.

Good morning, money nerds.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the gap between how we perceives ourselves and how others perceive us.

A life-long friend “broke up” with me last week. He told me I’m dysfunctional and said he never wants to see me again. This came as a shock. For one, I had no inkling I’d done anything to offend him. For another, I’ve never had anyone tell me anything remotely close to this.

I value my friends and do my best to prioritize and support them. Yet, I obviously failed in this case. I cannot discount this fellow’s perception because that’s his lived experience of who I am. To me, I’m true and loyal friend. To him, I’m a selfish asshole.

Anyhow, that’s all a lead-in to today’s set of articles. Each is sort of related to my experience. It was a little eerie to find them all, actually, and to realize they applied to me…

You are always the Other Person. [Raptitude] — “Recognizing our status as a full-time Other Person could certainly help us be more humble and more aware of our effect on others, on the energy we bring into a room (or suck from it). We all know how deflating it is when an Other Person is being difficult, self-absorbed, overly negative, or uninterested. We also know how welcome it is when the person you’re dealing with is easygoing, interested, and pleasant. Simply by remembering that your role to everyone else is that of Mostly-Not-There Other Person (and that everyone else is also a Protagonist) it’s easy to be a better Other Person.”

Our stories are all we really know. [Seth’s Blog] — “When someone rejects you for a job, they’re not rejecting you. How could they be? They don’t know you. Instead, they’re rejecting their story of you, the best approximation they had combined with the complicated story they (all of us) tell ourselves about our needs, dreams and fears.” Short but sweet.

How to stay cool when you’re put on the spot. [Harvard Business Review] — “A strong or surprising statement from a client or colleague can trigger a rush of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol as the brain’s amygdala activates a fight-or-flight response. I’ve seen people go red in the face, appear stunned, and look tearful. While it’s hard to stop this immediate, biological response, you can recognize it for what it is and take time to center yourself, rather than letting yourself become more emotional.”

Today’s video is related to personal finance for once. My pal Stevie B organizes the regional Camp FI events around the U.S. These are weekend retreats where like-minded folks can come together in a casual setting to talk about financial independence and early retirement. I’ve been to several, and they’ve all been great.

Anyhow, Steve asked me to help publicize the upcoming Camp FI: Texas. This year’s event will take the weekend of September 9th to 12 just north of Dallas in Denton, Texas. Apex Money readers who register for Camp FI: Texas by Monday, August 15th, will receive a $50 discount on adult tickets when they use the promo code Apex at checkout.

Here’s an eight-minute video highlight what Camp FI: Texas is all about.

It’s been two years now since I last visited a Camp FI. I can’t make it to any for the rest of 2022, but I fully intend to attend one (or more) in 2023. I miss them.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow to take us into the weekend. Wheeeee!

Paying attention.

Today is Tuesday, friends, and this is Apex Money. Today’s stories are all about paying attention. And I feel like I should preface the first piece by saying that while it’s about a Japanese word and how to use it, if you read the entire article you’ll see that it’s also about a philosophy of gratitude.

The meaning of “itadakimasu”. [Tofugu] — “The gratitude of itadakimasu reaches beyond the dinner table and into our everyday lives. Whatever you receive, be it a hat, a job, or a ride to the airport, receive it with appreciation. Because the heart of itadaku is a thankfulness for the things you’ve been given and a determination to make the most of what you have.”

The ancient technique that can improve your attention span. [Big Think] — “Attention is a scarce economic resource; you only have so much to give in your lifetime. When you focus on a person, tweet, daydream, or TV show, you are spending a moment of attention. You can never get it back, and you can’t provide it elsewhere. The same is true for any $10 bill that’s left your wallet. But like that ten-spot, attention is also a means of exchange. In exchange for yours, you may receive love, knowledge, entertainment, self-understanding, and much more.”

Give yourself the first hour. [Money and Meaning] — “Here’s my prescription to the attentional dis-ease we all suffer from in capitalism: Spend time outside the demands of everyone and everything else. Have one hour in the morning that is solely yours. Before you read the news, look at your phone, or read your email, just be no one/yourself. Before anyone else gets your attention, luxuriate in an hour of time before anyone else knows you exist. Delight in your own enoughness.”

Today’s video is a four-minute exploration of the perfect amount of clothes.

Warning: The host’s answer here is his answer for himself. (He says that, for him, the perfect amount of clothes is whatever will fit in one box.) It’s the larger discussion here that matters more than his specific answer. And, as with the three articles I shared before the video, the key point is that you find the perfect amount of clothes for you by — you guessed it — paying attention.

Okay, that’s it for Tuesday. Our friends from Plutus will be sharing links tomorrow. I’ll be back on Thursday to highlight more great stuff.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Happy Monday, my friends. Welcome to August, and welcome to another week of Apex Money. We’ve got some great stories for you this week.

To kick things off, here’s an interesting conversation from the /r/financialindependence forum on Reddit that touches on a topic that I think deserves more attention:

Financial independence and early retirement when coming from a collectivist culture. [/r/financialindependence] — “Often where people come from shapes their views on money. My family were immigrants to my country. From my reading and personal experiences, often in more collectivist culture, there is often a greater emphasis on sharing your wealth with family regardless of their contribution to the getting of that wealth. FIRE is a very individualistic pursuit, how do you navigate it?” This is actually one of the deep, ongoing philosophical discussions in the FIRE community: How do you balance what is, essentially, a selfish pursuit with a broader view of your community (and the world).

Buying into the market right before a bear. [The Simple Path to Wealth] — “What has happened these last six months is a perfectly normal part of the process. It has been mild as these things go, barely tipping into the -20% bear territory a couple of times. Much more gentle than the crash of 2008-9. It has happened before and it will happen again. And again. This is the nature of the beast.”

What causes a recession? [The Washington Post] — “A recession is caused when a chain of events, like a line of dominoes, picks up momentum and does not stop until the economy shrinks. Each event is connected to something that happened before and something that will happen in the future. If the price of a hamburger goes up, you might stop buying hamburgers. This would impact a restaurant, and that would impact a server. There are many interconnected chains like this throughout the economy.
The dominoes leading toward a new recession have started falling, but when will they stop?”

Our final piece for today is the traditional non-financial video. And this one is special. It’s a two-minute time-lapse of an acorn’s first six months of becoming an oak tree. I think it’s beautiful.

True story: I’ve been reading a great book called The Revolutionary Genius of Plants. It’s no secret that one of my personal interestes is animal intelligence. I believe that animals are far smarter (and leader deeper, richer emotional lives) than most people credit. Reading and learning about animal intelligence has naturally led me to the related field of plant intelligence, which is fascinating stuff. Plants don’t seem intelligent in a traditional, human sense, obviously, but that’s because they are completely different creatures. They’re like aliens from another world. Aliens that live and communicate in an entirely different way.

That’s it for Monday. I’ll see you tomorrow with more great stuff.

In defense of mindfulness.

Welcome to another day of Apex Money! Today, I’ve got three stories for you about mastering a productive mindset.

How to tackle a mountain of tasks. [Zen Habits] — “You can’t tackle everything at once. You just have to get started. What I’ve learned is that once you get started, and start having fun with it, you’ll see some progress, and then there’s a snowball effect where you keep getting encouraged by your progress. So you just have to get the ball rolling.”

A simple, pragmatic guide to getting things done. [Erlend Hamberg] — “What GTD gives you—when understood and implemented properly—is a foolproof system for keeping track of what you need to do, should do, or should consider to do. When your system and your trust in your system is in place, your subconsciousness will stop keeping track of all the things you need to do and stop constantly reminding you. This reduces stress and frees up precious brain time to more productive thinking.”

In defense of mindfulness. [Slate] — “Even a very basic engagement with mindfulness can be good for your wellbeing. Researchers have found that a ‘microdose’ of practice (say, 10 minutes a day, or even five) can have beneficial effects, such as decreased stress and anxiety and increased happiness and connection. Other research has revealed that mindfulness correlates highly with the ability to savor the positive, feel gratitude, and experience satisfaction.”

Our final article today isn’t about fiscal fitness. It’s about physical fitness. And it’s a good one. From The New York Times (so, possible paywall), here’s a story that summarizes new research on longevity:

You won’t live longer by diet or exercise alone. [The New York Times] — “Most people know that working out and eating well are critical components of overall health. But a sweeping study published this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that hitting the gym won’t counteract the consequences of consuming fat-laden foods, and mainlining kale can’t cancel out sedentary habits.”

One of my big pet peeves is folks who argue “diets don’t work”. Diets do work — but they have to be done right. And once you achieve the results you’re after, you can’t just let go. Lasting physical fitness is a result of ongoing choices.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow for one final installment this week.

Harnessing the power of regret.

Today is Tuesday, friends, and this is Apex Money — your source for interesting stories about money (and more) from all corners of the web. Let’s see what we have for you today.

The reality of caring for aging parents. [The Retirement Manifesto] — “It’s a biological fact: each of us has two parents. If you’re married, you have four. As many in our generation are learning, the odds are pretty good that at least one of them will need some help in their later years. And yet, it’s a reality that most of us overlook…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.”

Did you just lose all of your money in the stock market? [Bitches Get Riches] — “As long as you keep your money invested, it is not lost. It is only lost (or increased!) when you remove your money from the stock market. Sell your investments when their value is lower than when you purchased them and you will lose money in the stock market. Do nothing when the value is lower than when you bought them and… nothing happens. You’re pretty much fine.”

Harnessing the power of regret. [No Sidebar] — “A regret audit can help you work through past regrets and choose differently to minimize future regrets, but a regret-free life isn’t the goal. Rather than avoiding regret, we can recognize that regret makes us human and can instruct us on how to live a more intentional life aligned with our values.”

Even socialists misunderstand indexing. [The Big Picture] — “Of all the endless Wall Street things to be legitimately angry about – excess fees, leverage, conflicts of interest, risk-taking, bailouts (and everything else to dislike about finance) – this has to be the single worst hot take by any politician on either side of the aisle…It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s been going on in the world of investments, and how the indexing revolution has altered the basic premise of who wins and loses on Wall Street.” Thank you. I’ve seen this bizarre take a lot lately and it bugs me.

Lastly, here’s a fun video in which a young girl named Emmy interviews comedian Ryan Stiles (from Whose Line Is It Anyway?) about his work. I love this for so many reasons.

That’s it, my friends! Tomorrow you’ll get a an installment from the folks at the Plutus Foundation, then I’ll be back on Thursday to share more great stuff. See you then.

Bartering is alive and well.

Good morning, Apexians, and welcome to another week of money news. I’m currently away from home and vacationing in beautiful Ouray, Colorado. Unfamiliar with the place? It’s a magical mountain “bowl” in southwest Colorado and one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever been to.

While I quietly wait for others to rise in the morning, I’ve been reading articles about personal finance. Here are a few recent faves.

Anatomy of a frugal freezer. [Surviving and Thriving] — “Extreme frugality may become a necessity, if it isn’t already. So why not work to get as much out of every food item you buy? (As) the per-plate price of food continues to climb, remember that preventing food waste helps make your groceries more cost-effective. Our freezer is crammed with cost-effective (and sometimes free) items that keep costs down and mealtimes delightful. Have a peek inside.”

Financial simplicity: What is your time worth? [Can I Retire Yet?] — “Money is a stepping stone to more important things. If you’re on track to your financial goals, you may not need to manage your wealth so tightly. But you don’t hear that message from mainstream financial advisors or media. They parade endless schemes, products, and services intended to save you money, make you money, grow your money. Lost in the shuffle is the simple truth that everything has a price. Optimizing your money is a double-edge sword: often, the price is your time, and peace of mind.”

Bartering is alive and well. [Budgets Are Sexy] — “You don’t have to be a professional hairstylist or tattoo artist or anything really to [barter], but do figure out what you’re best at and then start sharing it around and see if you get some hits…You’ll be amazed at what people would pay or trade for, and we usually don’t give ourselves nearly as much credit as we should as we always assume ‘everyone knows this stuff’ which is rarely the case!”

Speaking of Budgets Are Sexy, recently J. money posted a Twitter thread listing his favorite pieces of hate-mail he’s received over the years. This is hilarious. It never occurred to me to do this. If it weren’t so much work, I’d sort through the 100,000+ comments at Get Rich Slowly to do the same.

(I can remember my favorite piece of hate-mail, though. Back in 2008, some reader was angry that I devoted a blog post to urban homesteading, including a bit on raising goats. The reader wrote something to the effect that: “I come here for financial advice. I can’t believe you’re writing about fucking goats.” So funny.)

I’ll see you tomorrow, friends. And I promise I won’t write about fucking goats.

Who is to blame for inflation?

Hello, Apexians, and welcome to Friday. I am swamped over here in J.D.-land, but I’ve managed to collect three interesting stories for you today. Here they are:

What’s the deal with all those weird wrong-number texts? [Read Max] — “The fact that these scammers never include the pitch in their opening texts makes them seem confusing and mysterious. But the scam itself is an old and obvious one. If you respond (with ‘wrong number’, say) the scammer will attempt to draw you into conversation.” Never respond to a wrong-number text. In fact, I generally block the sending number immediately.

Finding balance between internal and external benchmarks. [Morgan Housel at Collaborative Fund] — “I have no idea how to find the perfect balance between internal and external benchmarks. But I know there’s a strong social pull toward external measures – chasing a path someone else set, whether you enjoy it or not. Social media makes it ten times more powerful. But I also know there’s a strong natural desire for internal measures – being independent, following your quirky habits, and doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want. That’s what people actually want.” This is a great article.

Who is to blame for inflation? [The Big Picture] — “People seem to like simple, binary answers to complex questions. Econ-Twitter will tell you ‘It’s the Fed’s fault; Blame Biden, no, it’s Trump’s fault.’ But the world is a much more complicated place, not easily broken into clear black and white answers — at least, if you value accuracy. Over-simplified faultfinding is more suitable for ideological slogans that fit on bumper stickers than actual economic analysis.”

o wrap things up for the week, here’s an eleven-minute video that explains how primitive building videos are staged. If you’re unfamiliar, there’s a popular genre of YouTube videos in which people build stuff using primitive technology. Apparently many of the most popular channels are blatantly lying about their accomplishments. Take a look:

That said, I’m pleased to see that my fave (and the O.G.) primitive technology channel — Primitive Technology — is completely legit. It’s the folks trying to ride his coattails that are making shit up. (As a bonus, here’s Primitive Technology making bricks. So soothing and fascinating at the same time.)

Jim will be back on Monday to share more great money stories. See you then…

Is your imposter syndrome costing you money?

Good morning, my friends, and welcome to another day of Apex Money. Let’s get right to the money stories!

Who pays for your rewards? Cross-subsidization in the credit-card market. [academic paper at SSRN] — “Sophisticated consumers profit from reward credit cards at the expense of naive consumers who lose money both in absolute terms and relative to classic cards…Banks lure consumers into the use of reward cards by offering lower interest rates than on comparable classic cards and bank profits are highest for borrowers in the middle of the credit score distribution. We show that credit card rewards transfer wealth from less to more educated, from poorer to richer, from rural to urban, and from high to low minority areas, thereby widening existing spatial disparities.”

In defense of dollar-cost averaging. [Of Dollars and Data] — “I am here to defend dollar cost averaging as the greatest investment approach ever invented for the individual investor. How so? Because I’m going to show you how it held up during one of the worsts period in U.S. stock market history—the mid 1960s to the early 1980s. And if it worked there, it can work anywhere. Let’s dig in.”

Is your imposter syndrome costing you money? [Refinery 29] — “With imposter syndrome comes the belief that we’re not mentally equipped to handle big things, and, in some cases, we tend to bury our heads in the sand, preferring instead to avoid the stress of overwhelming life admin. But in news that will shock no one, your money isn’t just taking care of itself.”

Lastly, from The Dave Ramsey Show here’s a caller asking for advice: “My husband thinks college is a waste of money!”

I know that Dave gets a lot of hate in the PF blogging space, but not from me. Sure, his advice has problems sometimes. And sure, he believes some things I don’t. So what? He’s helped millions of people, and his advice is great here too: “Your husband’s full of crap.” And Ramsey’s right. This woman’s husband is full of crap on this subject. Study after study shows that education is the single most important factor driving income.

Okay, that’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with one last installment of Apex Money before the weekend. See you then!

Procrastination

Yo yo yo yo. It’s J.D. here back for another week of Apex Money, your spot for news from the world of personal finance (and beyond).

I’m late with this morning’s installment because, quite frankly, I procrastinated. I had a whole host of other things to do this weekend, and I chose to do them instead of sitting down to share links with y’all. But I’m here now. Because I put off compiling links for you today, I only have two stories to share.

Let’s lead off with a story about procrastination. 😉

“I didn’t procrastinate on anything in my life for an entire week. Here’s what happened.” [/r/getdisciplined/ on Reddit] — “I dug out the most uncomfortable things that I’ve procrastinated on forever – from cleaning my drains or the sieve of my washing machine over doing my taxes, writing my patient’s will, replying to unread messages, terminating a bank account after 5 years of putting it off, or giving my parents back the keys to their old apartment they’ve already sold (oops, still had it in my drawer). And I challenged myself to face all of them…” [OP also filmed a video version!]

To close things out, here’s a bleak story about global economics. I know, I know. Sounds boring, right? I thought so too until I watched it. This 17-minute video from the PolyMatter channel on YouTube explains why Sri Lanka’s economy is collapsing (and what it means for the rest of the globe).

Not the sort of thing I usually watch or link to, but I’ll make an exception in this case. This is an interesting video.

That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow with our first-ever installment from the folks at Plutus. Yay!