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Author: Jim Wang

Watch a credit card dissolve in acetone…

This first one today is a video of what happens when you dissolve a credit card (it’s from the UK, so it’s a bank card) in acetone to reveal only the metal inside.

What’s inside a bank card? [BBC] – “Hannah Fry dissolves a bank card to reveal the hidden technology inside.”

Yes, she dissolves a card in acetone and then uses it to buy coffee!

How I Successfully Appealed My Home Appraisal When It Was Wrong [The College Investor] – “Well, last week, after a period of waiting, we got the appraisal back on the house we were looking to buy, and it ended up coming in a full $70,000 below our offer price, and well below fair market value to similar properties inside the same development. SO IRRITATING!”

When — and How — to Say No to Extra Work [Harvard Business Review] – “With more and more teams being understaffed, chances are you’ve been asked to take on more work. Top performers are a prime target for additional requests. But you need to be careful about what you agree to take on. In this piece, the author outlines when it’s best to say no to taking on more work: 1) When your primary job responsibilities will suffer. 2) When it’s someone else’s work. 3) When there’s no clear exit strategy. 4) When the ask is unreasonable.”

All the Personal-Finance Books Are Wrong [The Atlantic] – “They tend to treat their readers like fools without willpower. So you could argue that they’re wrong for the right reasons.”

Money fights

Fights happen all the time, whether over money or just life, and so I’m always eager to read about how others work through their challenges.

This first post is really good in that it puts the money battles through the lens of a lot of “conventional” money advice:

Actual Money Fights We’ve Had (and How We Solved Them) [The White Coat Investor] – “My husband and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (although, now that I think about it, we didn’t observe the occasion with anything more than a “nice job, babe.” We need to learn to live a little). Twenty years, two medical careers, three kids, six dogs, and many, many conversations about money later, we don’t just have shared financial goals: we have learned how to think about money in the same way.”

Savers Get Paid Again [The Belle Curve] – “ZIRP is not the normal state of the monetary system. Where we are today is normal. Savers should be paid to wait, and the risk-free interest rate should not be zero. That was insane. Everyone got so high on the supply of free money that we forgot the basics of how money works. Unwilling to park cash in zero-interest savings accounts, investors went on a mad dash of risk-taking.”

The Traditional Budgeting Rule That I Just Can’t Get Behind [Making of a Millionaire] – “Living in one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the country, I’m confident that pulling the trigger on a 2nd house is a smart financial move.

And if I’d listened to the “25% housing rule” as Gospel, I’d probably never have the chance to do this.” General rules are good guidelines but never 100% accurate for everyone all the time.

Are You Moving Toward or Away from Financial Independence?

It’s Jim here with your day’s money (and money adjacent) gems.

Are You Moving Toward or Away from Financial Independence? [Passive Income MD] – “The usual direction of our financial lives is to move gradually toward financial independence. However, there are three situations where we may find ourselves moving away from financial independence.”

How to Make Money Online for Beginners: 25 Easy Ways [Millennial Money Man] – “So, you want to learn how to make money online? There are so many options for beginners, and that’s awesome news if you’re looking for a side hustle, a new career path, or you just want to make extra money to offset inflation.”

This is fascinating — China’s Van Goghs: The Village That Paints Thousands Of Fakes A Year – “Until 1989, the village of Dafen in the city of Shenzhen, China was little more than a hamlet. It now has a population of 10,000, including hundreds of peasants-turned oil painters. In the many studios, and even in the alleyways, Dafen’s painters turn out thousands of replicas of world-famous Western paintings. Nobody thinks anything of an order for 200 Van Goghs. To meet their deadlines, painters sleep on the floor between clotheslines strung with masterpieces. In 2015, the turnover in painting sales was over $65 million.

Local painter Zhao has a dream to travel to Amsterdam to see the works of his legendary associate. After struggling and saving, he fulfils dream. In Europe, his encounter with van Gogh’s paintings brings an epiphany. Although dejected at the revelation, Zhao is inspired by van Gogh’s paintings and the hardships he suffered, and resolves to dedicate himself to his own original art.”

I think “fakes” is a bit disingenuous for the title, I think replicas is a more apt term.

This Is How To Have A Long Awesome Life

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating today with family and friends!

If you’re in your email inbox today, I’ll keep it brief – today has one post and one post only:

This Is How To Have A Long Awesome Life [Barking Up The Wrong Tree] – “What happens when people eat right, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and don’t smoke? They prevent 80% of heart attacks, 90% of type 2 diabetes, and significantly reduce the chance of cancer, dementia and pretty much every other bad thing you can think of.”

I know it may be a bit cruel to share a post about nutrition on a day where many will be celebrating gluttony… but your mind is already on it and so you might as well lean into it. 🙂

The article is good and you won’t leave feeling (that) bad about your food choices.

We’re taking Friday off because of the holiday and will be back on Monday with more goodies!

The knowledge that I have got enough

The title of today’s post comes from a famous Kurt Vonnegut poem about Joseph Heller, who wrote Catch 22. It’s also the main idea behind the first post we’re sharing – that the opposite of scarcity is “enough.”

I love sharing this post that introduced me to the poem. And I always seem to revisit it each year around Thanksgiving. 😊

The opposite of scarcity is enough [FiPhysician] – “You need to hear this: The opposite of scarcity is enough. Not abundance. In retirement, it is ok to be enough, and it is ok to have enough.”

9 Great Gift Ideas for People Who Have Everything [Len Penzo] – “Eventually, I came to realize that there are plenty of great gift ideas for people who have everything — you just have to be willing to think outside the box.” A great list if you have to buy something for someone who always buys things they want. 🙂

How Friendships Change in Adulthood [The Atlantic] – “Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, such as marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking with or seeing your significant other (hopefully), but you might go that long without contacting a friend.”

WifeFI Status Activated ⚡

Leave it to J. from Budgets Are Sexy to bring a smile to my face after a rough week! He recently announced that he was WifeFI!

“Financially Independent, enabled by my wife who still works 😂”

A little tongue in cheek but good insights as always from my buddy J.

WifeFI Status Activated ⚡ [Budgets Are Sexy] – “It’s an interesting place to be. I’m not very motivated to chase money for some reason, but I’m also not satisfied just laying around and doing nothing either… Hence – why I’m back here at the blog! But even more surprisingly – I haven’t really missed my paychecks since the Motley Fool gave me the boot earlier this year, which was no small amount at $10,000+ mo.”

Love these simple ideas (but sometimes hard to execute) around decluttering!

Simple Clutter-Free Habits to Do in Just a Minute [Maximum Gratitude Minimal Stuff] – “That’s why it’s important to develop some new habits so that clutter doesn’t creep back into your home and undo all your good work. Creating the habits takes some discipline, but the good news is that most of them only take about one minute.”

Life Lessons Learned as a Caddie [Lev Naginsky] – “Lesson 1: Life isn’t fair Kids whose parents were members at the club always seemed to get priority on the list no matter which way the draw unfolded. Either their parents or their parents’ friends would request to have them as caddies, pushing those who weren’t connected further down the list. I spent a fair amount of that summer sitting around waiting, but I took what I could get and worked my butt off when given the chance.”


SHTF = “shit hit the fan” and it’s what doomsday preppers are prepping for.

SHTF isn’t something we’ve experienced in the United States, regardless of what you feel about politics and Covid and everything, but it has been hit in other places. I found this thread from Prephole to be fascinating because it collates some threads written by someone who experienced SHTF in Bosnia. It’s an incredible insight.

How I survived a year of SHTF in 90s Bosnia [Prephole] – “I am from Bosnia, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year i lived and survived in a city of 50 000- 60 000 residents WITHOUT: electricity, fuel,running water,real food distribution, or distribution of any goods, or any kind of organized law or government.The city was surrounded for 1 year and in that city actually it was SHTF situation.” Scary and incredible. And long.

How Do the Wealthy Invest? [Of Dollars And Data] – “… there seems to be an obsession with the wealthy and how they invest their money as if their allocation decisions are what created their wealth. Of course, for some wealthy individuals this is true. Warren Buffett got rich based on how he invested his money. But many other wealthy people didn’t. They got rich as business owners or doctors or lawyers (or something else) and have since allocated their wealth to private equity and hedge funds. Keep this in mind before making any changes to your portfolio.”

Don’t Pay for Cord-Blood Banking [The Atlantic] – “Umbilical blood can be a valuable treatment for rare diseases. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay thousands of dollars to bank your baby’s.”

The first post was grim but I want to leave you with a happy note – The Eight Splendid Truths of Happiness by Gretchin Rubin.

Observations of a New Costco Member

I love Costco.

That’s it. Enjoy the first post. 😂

Observations of a New Costco Member [Rational Walk] – “Costco’s recent gross margin was 10.5%. The comparable gross margin figure for Wal-Mart is 24.4%. Target operates at an even higher gross margin of 28.3%. To take a conservative viewpoint, if Costco’s products have an average price advantage of 15% over Target and Wal-Mart, a customer only has to spend an average of $400 before recouping the $60 annual membership fee. As we can see from my example, it is often possible to recoup the membership fee with an even lower volume of spending.”

Slowing Down: How to Live More Deliberately in a Fast-Paced World [Coach Carson] – “Have you noticed that modern life is a drummer playing at breakneck speed? From work to meals, to exercise, to conversations, our pace is fast and furious. But even at the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 1800s, nonconformists like Henry David Thoreau were already encouraging us to move at a slower, more deliberate pace in life.”

Charles Shultz Philosophy [5AM Joel] – “…the people that make a difference in your life aren’t world class achievers that are the best in their field. It’s the regular people that spend time with you and care about you. It’s the ones that make you feel loved and boost your self worth.”

The Amazing Race

Today’s post has a theme! It’s about the transition from work to FIRE (financial independence retire early) and some of the posts have inspired the others, which is always the fun thing about blogging.

Bloggers read each other’s blogs and sometimes you get a spring of ideas that combine together to form a geyser.

Today is one of those geysers – please enjoy!

The genesis post was one we shared a short time ago – My First 6 Months of Early Retirement Sucked Shit: What They Don’t Tell You about FIRE by Bitches Get Riches.

That inspired our first post of the day – The Amazing Race [FI for the People] – “Having experienced burnout about 25 years ago, I had the benefit of knowing what it felt like. Spoiler alert: it’s not fun. In the last few years before I FIREd, those old feelings crept back. And grew. Even though my life outside work was great and my clients were satisfied with my work product, I could tell that my working life and work satisfaction level were headed in the wrong direction.”

Which in turn led to this post by Mr. 1500 Days – Live Boldly [1500 Days to Freedom] – “I worked really hard to get to FI and even when I met my goal, I worked for another year. The reason can be summed up in one word. It’s 4 letters long and starts with an F. Not that F-word; get your mind out of the gutter people. The word I’m thinking of is: Fear.

As more FIRE bloggers share their thoughts about the transition into retirement, whether it’s making the leap itself or adjusting to life after the leap, the more people will respect that the transition is as difficult as the accumulation of assets.

For A Dollar and A Dream

You may have heard that the Powerball is up to an estimated 1.9 billion dollars – that’s a lot of dollars!

I have to admit that I (Jim) chipped in a few bucks with some friends last Saturday just for the fun of it. Didn’t win. 🙂

For A Dollar and A Dream: State Lotteries in Modern America [Next Big Idea Club] – “Lotteries are popular in large part because the traditional economy does not provide enough opportunity to get ahead. In the late twentieth century, as lotteries spread across the country and became a weekly purchase for millions of households, rates of upward mobility stagnated. High-paying manufacturing jobs disappeared and high-growth industries became increasingly concentrated in certain parts of the country. Many Americans found themselves shut out of the American Dream and the opportunity for financial stability.”

Go to the Local Farmers Market on Vacation [Eater] – “Because my favorite type of vacation is a lengthy road trip through the mountains, I tend to eat a lot of terrible gas station food when I travel. Sometimes I plan a trip to a grocery store beforehand, stocking up on trail mix and sandwich supplies to eat while traipsing through a national park, but more often than not, I’m living on beef jerky and chips. That was, of course, until I made it a priority to hit the farmers market in every city that I visit.”

The Opposite of Schadenfreude [Prime Cuts Newsletter] – “Savor the joy of others. It is abundant and free and it will lift your spirits and boost your wellbeing even as you add positive energy to the world.” Mudita. I love it.