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Category: General

Does Not Compute

Does Not Compute [Morgan Housel] – “The first step to accepting that some things don’t compute is realizing that the reason we have innovation and advancement is because we are fortunate to have people in this world whose minds work differently from yours. Beyond Nash are people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, whose personalities are equal parts brilliant and absurd, and the absurd can’t be separated from the brilliant – you have to accept the full package. We’d never get anywhere if everyone viewed the world as a clean set of rational rules to follow.” Great post about rationality that starts with two war stories and is a great look at human nature and how logic doesn’t always (and often doesn’t) rule the day.

Relax, it’s OK to slow down [Tawcan] – “Navigating through this global pandemic has been extremely hard for everyone. We all are mentally drained. Some of us have been in survival mode for many months, trying to get by and just making it to the next day. […] So, take the time to pat yourself on the back for maneuvering through this tough difficult period and making sure you and your family are doing OK. And know that it is OK to slow down.”

A fun little clip about how Andre Agassi read Boris Becker’s serve and how he had to hide it:

What does your dream cost?

It’s yet another freaky Friday, friends! But before you head off to enjoy your weekends, I’ve gathered a few final stories about money (and more) to share with you…

What does your dream cost? [Bitches Get Riches] — “The road to the things you want most may be unfairly long and winding. But that is all the more reason to drive it in daylight, with GPS. Today, I’m going to walk you through some strategies to price out the kind of ambitious, lifelong dreams that feel so hard to quantify. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to do the same with your own bucket list!”

How to create your own personal financial calendar. [Less Debt, More Wine] — “A Financial Calendar can help you start working towards getting a month ahead on your finances when you’re struggling in the vicious paycheck to paycheck cycle. A Financial Calendar has every single bill due date throughout the entire year. Not just monthly bills, but also quarterly, semi-annual, and annual bills. Every. Single. Bill. Due. Date.”

The shady business of selling futures. [Wired] — “Selling futures is a business that feeds off uncertainty — and uncertainty is its true product…That’s why it’s important for everyone to be aware when the future is being used as snake oil to persuade us of the inevitability of what is really just another marketing plan. Asking who will benefit from a particular future vision is a good start; so is following the money.”

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen. [The Guardian] — “We are not now facing simply a normal anxiety about attention, of the kind every generation goes through as it ages. We are living in a serious attention crisis – one with huge implications for how we live.” I feel like this is an important subject. My friends and I talk about it often in casual conversation. We know that our attention spans have collapsed. We just don’t know how to fix them.

There are two “year end” videos that I await eagerly every year. The first (and best) is David Ehrlich’s “best films” countdown, which is always so so amazing. (But which doesn’t get released until late January.) The second is D.J. Earworm’s United States of Pop, a mash-up of some of the year’s most popular songs.

Well, here’s the United States of Pop 2021

Great stuff, as always.

And that’s it for this week. Jim will be back on Monday with more of the best of personal finance. Join him!

How to be successful.

Today is Thursday, my friends, and this is Apex Money, your source for the juiciest money stories from around the web. Oh — and other interesting stuff we want to share haha. Let’s get started.

The quest to find the world’s best rice. [Taste] — “Japan has around 300 brands of short-grain japonica rice that go by names like Yume Shizuku (Dream Droplet), Seiten no Hekireki (Bolt from the Blue), Tsuyahime (Shiny Princess), and Mirukii Kuiin (Milky Queen). Each one is a unique cultivar that’s been grown by plant breeders for some combination of traits: stickiness, starch density, big kernels, high yields, early maturation, heat resilience, pest resistance.”

How to be successful. [Sam Altman] — “I’ve observed thousands of founders and thought a lot about what it takes to make a huge amount of money or to create something important. Usually, people start off wanting the former and end up wanting the latter. Here are 13 thoughts about how to achieve such outlier success. Everything here is easier to do once you’ve already reached a baseline degree of success (through privilege or effort) and want to put in the work to turn that into outlier success. But much of it applies to anyone.”

Cage-free is basically meaningless (and other lies your egg carton is telling you). [Lifehacker] — “If all of this seems like too much to remember, you can always build a coop and raise your own hens, or source your eggs from a local farm. The yolks in local farm eggs have a darker color and richer flavor than factory farmed eggs, and come with a nice smug feeling of moral superiority. (My favorite eggs come from my dad’s chickens, but Vital Farms, which is rated very highly on ol’ Organic Egg Scorecard, are a very close second).” [Our household is also devoted to Vital Farms eggs.]

Lastly, here’s a YouTube video I found recently, and about which I find myself thinking several times a week. (Seriously!) It’s a two-minute clip explaining the “veil of ignorance” thought experiment from philosopher John Rawls. It’s a way of trying to think about what’s fair and just when it comes to communities and societies.

Okay, that’s it for Thursday. I’ll be back here tomorrow to see you into the weekend. Take care!

The morality of manipulation.

Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds, and welcome to another installment of Apex Money. Let’s dive right in.

The car shortage could change buying behavior forever. [Axios] — “Supply chain disruptions could have a silver lining for automakers if Americans can be trained to order the exact car they want — color, features, bells and whistles — and then wait a month or so for it to be delivered.”

The morality of manipulation. [Nir and Far] — “As the march of technology makes the world a more addictive place, innovators need to consider their role. It will be years, perhaps generations, before society develops the antibodies to new addictions. In the meantime, users will have to judge the yet unknown consequences for themselves, while creators will have to live with the moral repercussions of how they spend their professional lives.”

It’s not about the cards you’re dealt; it’s about the hand you play. [Female in Finance] — “There are things in life you won’t get to choose. No one chooses their starting point, but it’s up to you to choose where you end up. And although you may not get to choose your starting hand, you do get to choose how to play. It’s up to you to play a poor hand well. And that takes hard work.”

Everyday sayings explained. [Stylist] — “Every phrase, saying or proverb starts somewhere, and thanks to the Phrase Finder, we’ve uncovered the (often disputed) authors, meanings and stories behind some of the most commonplace sayings. The results are surprising, and prove it wasn’t just Shakespeare changing our language.”

Today’s video features is something completely different for me. It’s a five-minute segment from CrowsEye Productions on YouTube that features a woman getting dressed in the style of 7th century Britain.

To me, this is fascinating although it’s not anything I would have ever sought out on my own. Now that I’ve watched it, though, it gives context to all of the Arthurian stuff I like to read. And you know what? The CrowsEye YT channel has tons more like this exploring clothing and customs of years and centuries past.

Appreciate what you have while you have it.

Hey hey, Apexians, welcome to another day of money stories. And other stuff. Let’s start today with “other stuff”.

Last Monday, The New York Times wrote about Wordle, a web-based word game that’s only been around for a few months, but which has already gone from a project designed for one person to a habit formed by hundreds of thousands of people. Pretty impressive.

You can read the NYT piece, Wordle Is a Love Story, or you can play game here. It’s free, easy, and fun. (Sunday’s Wordle was my first “failure”. I didn’t solve it!)

Now let’s get to the money stuff. Today’s three articles all explore a related theme: scarcity and abundance.

“The results of my anti-frugality experiment in 2021.” [Financial Mechanic] — “I had a unique New Year’s resolution [in 2021] for a frugal financial blogger. While many people vow to get their spending under control, create budgets, or start investing (all very noble goals), I thought I could try something new. After living extremely frugally for years, I wanted to try something totally different: spending more.”

“Is this the condition that I so feared?” [Accidental Fire] — “I’ve always had a scarcity mindset in life…I tend to catastrophize things. It brings anxiety. You would think that being financially independent would cure that, but deep seated beliefs and behaviors are nagging things and hard to kick.”

Appreciate what you have while you have it. [One Frugal Girl] — “Sometimes we find ourselves dreaming of better circumstances without appreciating what we have. Maybe you want a better relationship with your parents, a more exciting job, or to add more adventure and spontaneity to your life. While it’s essential to have goals, it’s just as important to spend time reflecting on the things we take for granted.”

Okay, that’s all I have for this Tuesday. I’ll see you again tomorrow with more fun stuff…

How good design makes people happy.

Hello, my friends! Welcome to another week of Apex Money. Every weekday, Jim and I collect interesting articles from around the web that explore the world of money and self-improvement — and whatever else piques our interest.

Here’s what I have for you today.

Crypto: The good, the bad, and the ugly. [Seldo.com] — “Every time I dig into crypto I find things that seem stupid, or useless, or actively bad. But so many people are into it! I’m a big fan of the wisdom of crowds, especially when it comes to technical choices, so a big crowd of people doing something that seems stupid really eats at me. I must be missing something! So here, mostly to help me think about it for myself, I’m going to examine all the things that are good about crypto, and then all the things that are bad.”

What happened when people in a New York town started getting $500 monthly checks. [Fast Company] — “HudsonUP started in the fall of 2020 with 25 low-income recipients receiving $500 a month for 5 years. One year in, as the program inducts a new cohort of 50 more beneficiaries, organizers have released a report that illustrates how the supplemental cash assisted the first group. They found that employment more than doubled among surveyed recipients, who also reported better health, mended relationships, and the agency to spend their money as they see fit…” [Very small sample size, obviously, but interesting.]

100 ways to slightly improve your life with minimal effort. [The Guardian] — “Whether it’s taking fruit to work (and to the bedroom!), being polite to rude strangers or taking up skinny-dipping, here’s a century of ways to make life better, with little effort involved…”

Today’s video features is an old one. In this talk from 2003, design critic Don Norman discusses beauty, fun, pleasure and emotion, as he looks at how good design makes people happy.

It’s an interesting concept and goes a long way to explaining why I choose some of the products that I choose. I drive a Mini Cooper. I use Apple computers and phones and tablets. When we bought out new house in August, I ordered a womb chair (which, at long last, arrives tomorrow!).

I know that not everyone cares about design, and that’s fine. But as Norman explains in this video, I get great joy every day from using things that are beautiful and well designed.

Okay, that’s it for Monday. I’ll be back tomorrow with more. See you then!

How to Live a Rich Life

I’ve known Ramit for many years, since the days of my first blog in 2005ish, and I’m a huge fan of his concept of a “Rich Life.”

It’s only partly money and more about your relationship with money. A Rich Life means something different to each person but it all requires you to take a close look at yourself, which we should all do a little bit more of.

How to Live a Rich Life [I Will Teach You To Be Rich] – “So what is a Rich Life anyway? Is it wearing a Rolex and having a china closet? No!

A Rich Life is your ideal life — one where you look at your personal relationships, your finances, and your ordinary days and say, “Wow!””

Making the Transition to Early Retirement: Our 5 Year Plan [Rich Frugal Life] – “Having a good plan can both motivate you and keep you moving in the right direction. Things get more complicated when there’s a partner and/or kids involved. Don’t underestimate the amount of time or effort it will take to create one (like I did).”

Finally, before you go, did you know the ubiquitous “Chinese take out box” was originally an oyster pail???

The Chinese Takeout Box is As American As Baseball and Apple Pie [The Dieline] – “The need for an inexpensive, watertight package that can safely carry oysters home inspired the eventual invention of the “oyster pail,” an early version of which was patented in 1890, then significantly improved upon in 1894 by Frederick Weeks Wilcox. The new version could be formed from a single piece of paper or card stock so that no moisture gets trapped, leading to unwanted leakage. Its folded design also allows steam to escape. Ever handy, the top can be folded and locked, and a bail can be attached to carry the pail upright. Since it gets made from a single piece, users can also carefully unfold it to form a serving surface. Because who doesn’t want an instant, on-demand plate?”

Have a great weekend!

20 Steps To Take In The Year Before Retirement

20 Steps To Take In The Year Before Retirement [The Retirement Manifesto] – “18 months before retirement, I started a checklist with everything I had to address before retirement. You can start with the 20 items from this post, then add to it as specific tasks come to mind. It was a lifesaver for me and became the roadmap that led my tasks as I made my final preparations for retirement. I listed each month between “now” and “retirement”, then populated various tasks into each month and referred to the list each month to ensure I was on track. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Here’s an actual screenshot from March, with X’s to confirm the tasks were compete:”

Why most gas stations don’t make money from selling gas [The Hustle] – “The goods inside these stores — Doritos, sunglasses, lotto tickets, energy drinks — only account for ~30% of the average gas station’s revenue, yet bring in 70% of the profit.” Wow.

Here’s a great look of paying it forward – the “Patel Motel Cartel” (such rhymes!):

Not a Financial Unicorn

I was never a fan of those “I paid off $300,000 of student loan debt in 4 months” posts. In fact, I rarely believed them.

And while there may be “financial unicorns” out there, I think we need to pay more attention to those who aren’t… and Michelle does a great job:

Not a Financial Unicorn [#moneyhungry] – “I want to talk about the fact that the majority of people making life changing financial changes aren’t financial unicorns and that their efforts are just as valuable to know and hear about-if not even more so. If you’re making significant financial changes in your life and are wondering if it’s worth it? It is and I want to share what the other side of constantly putting your financial foot one step in front of the other looks like. I’m not a Financial Unicorn but my unsexy financial journey has changed my life for the better. For those of you who are on the other side of some epic financial goals, listen to the show and share with a friend or family member who could use some encouragement going into the New Year.”

How I Made $11,520 While Retired In 2021 [A Purple Life] – “So let’s talk about something fun, the surprising amount of money I made in retirement. It’s surprising because outside of dividends, I expected this amount to be $0 after I quit my job in October 2020 to retire at 30. But like a lot of things in life, I was wrong. Let’s get into it!”

Why personal finance blogs are awesome [Financial Chain Breakers] – “We’re real people, and we write about our own financial lives. We talk about the struggles we face and the insights we have as we try to save, invest, and retire. We may have some good ideas, some creative ways of looking at things, or helpful tips about what worked for us. But it’s usually about the human dimension of personal finance—and maybe a little entertainment—rather than the nuts and bolts of the exact financial plan that’s right for you.”

Yes, You Can Beat the Market

Yes, You Can Beat the Market [The Best Interest] – “Clearly, it’s not true to say “you can’t beat the market.” It’s an incomplete statement. It needs more details, more backup. And it leaves people misinformed. We’re going to fix that today. Yes, you can beat the market. But you need to understand how, when, and why.” I’d also add two key ideas – not all investors are trying to beat the market in what they do. Some have different goals.

Second, some may not beat the market every year but have a few exceptional years that draw their average way way up. Think: some of the folks portrayed in the Big Short.

2021 Was One of the Best Years in the Stock Market History [A Wealth of Common Sense] – “So we just had a year in which the S&P 500 hit a new record high in nearly one-third of all trading days, losses were capped at 5% and the index was up nearly 30%. In the grand scheme of things, 2021 was in the neighborhood of the best years in U.S. stock market history, which occurred in the 1950s and 1990s, two of the greatest bull markets of all-time.”

A Simple Framework For Getting Rich [Banker on Fire] – “But if you wake up tomorrow and everyone’s net worth is suddenly $10m, your old benchmark of what constitutes “rich” will no longer apply. The same goes for other “traditional” markers of wealth. The moment everyone drives a Ferrari, owns a Birkin bag, and wears a Patek Philippe is the moment those items lose their ability to denote wealth.”

Get Out of Debt Fast Using Simple Debt Payoff Methods [Personal Finance Blogs] – “Getting out of debt is a great goal. When starting on your debt pay off journey, things can look tough. By making a debt pay off plan, and using the debt avalanche, or debt snowball, method, you can get out of debt faster and get on to living your best life.”