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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.

Does More Money Lead to Financial Independence?

We hope everyone is keeping cool and enjoying this summer heat. We had to take a little break from our summer fun and share these great articles with you. Enjoy!

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

Why More Money Won’t Lead to Financial Independence. [Darius Foroux] — “I used to have goals like, “I’d like to earn a million bucks in a year!” But as I started to study Stoicism and Mindfulness, I learned to practice non-attachment to outcomes. I gave up on those types of goals. Let me tell you why.” More money, More Problems. (Submitted by J. Money.)

5 Main Causes of Overspending. [Smart Money Chicks] — “If you’re an over spender, you’re not alone. According to NerdWallet, over 64% of Americans have credit card debt or have had credit card debt in the past. Why do some people constantly find themselves overspending while some are naturally born savers? The actual causes of overspending highlight that these problems run deeper than we think. Let’s pinpoint the 5 main reasons for overspending and actionable ways to stop these habits from taking over your bank account.”  Which one are you? (Submitted by Tarsha.)

When I Asked for More Than My $43,000 Salary, They Accused Me of Loving Too Lavish a Lifestyle. [Too Ambitious] — “Meet Emma, a project coordinator from Atlanta, Georgia who, after a year working at her company, taking on more and more responsibilities, asked for more than the $43,000 she was offered.” This seems fair, but what happened next is all too common. (Submitted by Harlan.)

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.

Embrace boredom

Happy Friday everyone!

As we enter into the weekend, this first pair of articles work great together. The first has some timeless money advice, some of which you’ve heard of and others maybe not. My big takeaway from it is that you should be patient. There are plenty of opportunities and you only need to be right once or twice in your life to do well.

The second article covers the time in between those opportunities – when you do the “boring” but very important work. Enjoy and J.D. will be back next week!

I Just Learned That The Best Advice About Investing Is The Advice That Has Nothing to Do With Money [Making of a Millionaire] – “Life is a long-term game. Accept it as it is and do the best you can, and if you live to old age, you will have your sea of opportunities, you may only have two, but take one of the two, and you will be fine.”

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Boredom [Emily Guy Birken] – “It’s human nature to assume that meaning comes from reaching our goals. We think that getting married or getting the corner office or losing 10 pounds or buying a house or going viral or getting published will make us happy. Because we’ll have achieved our end. We will have written. But getting to those goals doesn’t actually provide any kind of meaning. Meaning has to come from within.”

The Broker Who Saved America [The Reformed Broker] – “You know Hancock and Washington and Franklin and Jefferson. You might even know Greene and Knox, Henry and Hale. And we know you know Hamilton, pretty tough to escape that one these days! But it is very unlikely that you know the name Haym Solomon. This is unfortunate, because he’s the guy who arranged financing to keep the Continental Army alive during its darkest days, finding the money to keep the revolution going when many were ready to throw in the towel.”

Enjoy this fun little game of Yes and No decisions as King of the land!

Enjoy the weekend!

I’ve Made $40,000 going after illegal robocallers.

Jim’s back! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s picks from Tarsha of the Plutus Foundation!

Today, we have some gems that jump all over the place. 🙂

First, a little bit of a PSA courtesy of security expert Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security. Apparently, thieves can sign up for a new account at Experian using your personal information even if you already have an account. Check out the details on his post – Experian, You Have Some Explaining to Do. Scary and hopefully they can close this quickly.

Robocalls have been illegal for years, with a few irritating exceptions like political calls, and I’d heard about people making money suing robocalling companies… but I always thought that was a myth.

It’s not.

“I’ve Made $40,000 going after illegal robocallers.” (Side Hustle #84) [Budgets Are Sexy] – “With the settlements I should be receiving in the next couple of weeks, I will have put in my pocket, net of costs, about $40,000 chasing these callers down. I have settled about 15 total cases, only 1 of which I used an attorney which was settled before trial. One other case I filed a lawsuit on my own, which just settled this week before it went to trial. But this is only the tip of the iceberg… I know many people who have made way more money than I have in a much shorter time frame. I only go after a small fraction of what I could, and if I were more organized the net profits in my pocket could easily be well over $100K.” 👀👀👀👀

Why Sri Lanka is having an economic crisis [NOahpinion] – “A weaker currency makes it much more expensive to borrow and swap to get foreign exchange. That leaves only one good way of getting foreign currency: Exports. If a country runs a trade surplus — that is, if it exports more than it imports — it’s probably OK if its currency gets weaker (we’ll talk about this case another day). But if your country runs a trade deficit, you’re in trouble — you don’t export enough to pay for your imports, and borrowing to make up the difference just got a lot harder.” Good explainer on what’s happening in Sri Lanka and, more broadly, how a currency crisis comes about. If you invest the time to read it (probably 20 minutes or so), you’ll come away with some good knowledge about foreign exchange, trade, and the shenanigans around it.

Art Williams – Just Do It (and do it, and do it, and do it)

Can Money Bring You Time?

It’s good to be back, Apexians! It’s Tarsha on behalf of the Plutus Foundation team. We hope you enjoyed last week’s selections. We took our time this week to share some of our favorite articles and hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

Why Is Student Debt a Problem? [Arrest Your Debt] — “A significant portion of this money is owed to the federal government, with other institutions supplementing the balance. Students now owe close to $30,000 by graduation, creating a strain on their incomes.” Don’t let student debt consume you. (Submitted by Tarsha.)

Lessons Learned from Talking Money Part 1, Remembering Asha. [All Options Considered] — “There were so many things we still want to discuss with Asha, but her remission didn’t last as long as we all had hoped. But one thing is clear – There’s great value in feeling heard and understood and being able to talk openly about things that matter including health and money.” Have these conversations when you can. (Submitted by Harlan.)

Time and Money: Money Bought Me Time. [One Frugal Girl] — “While my dad was sick, I never had to weigh the importance of a job against my desire to be with him. When my kids were small, I didn’t have to choose between them and a career I needed to pay my bills. The greatest gift of financial freedom is the time it gives us. I am so grateful for the time it gave me this last year to be with my dad!”. Time is money, or is it? (Submitted by J. Money.)

How to Create Wealth during a Recession

Jim here!

In times of economic volatility, two quotes are often repeated over and over again:
Warren Buffett – “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

And Baron Rothschild – “buy when there’s blood in the streets.”

With the markets down from the start of the year, recession fears on top of Covid and everything else, these are certainly fearful times…

How to Create Wealth during a Recession [Financial Imagineer] – “When it comes to creating wealth, there’s no such thing as a bad time – only good opportunities disguised as bad times. So instead of being afraid of a recession, use it as an opportunity to create wealth. Change your goggles, instead of using your fear glasses, look for opportunities!” A good mix of the mental/psychological and the tactical.

Work Less, Earn More: Why High Performers Live a Good Life [Darius Foroux] – “You don’t have to spend the rest of your life feeling exhausted from work, waiting for the weekend, and barely making ends meet every month. Instead, there are smart choices we can make now to set ourselves up well for later. But that means we have to do hard things today, and that’s exactly why not everyone is earning more.”

After two weeks at the beach, in which I ate fried chicken more times than I had in several years (it was delicious), I had to share this fun gem:

Americans Can’t Kick the Fried Chicken Bucket [Eater] – “Save the flat cardboard plane of a pizza box or the Chinese American oyster pail, perhaps no meal in America is as recognizable by its physical vessel as the fried chicken bucket. Consider the bucket’s design: the cylindrical shape, the waxy exterior, the white paper top with four small half-moon openings — there, ostensibly, to let air and moisture escape and keep the chicken as close to its post-fryer crispness as possible. The bucket’s chameleon skin can be altered with the branding of any bird-slinging business but always portrays one unequivocal message: Hot fried chicken in here.” There was no bucket though and it wasn’t KFC, but a local joint that was amazing.

Tomorrow, as we do every Wednesday, we’ll have our good friends at the Plutus Foundation share their gems of the week!

99 Trolley Problems and the Rich Ain’t One (Yet)

Who doesn’t love a good “lessons from X”?

Before I share the post, I want to highlight the fact that this post focuses on the initial post retirement phase which can be a difficult transition for anyone, whether you’ve retired “early” or retired at a more traditional time. Just because you’re 65 when you make your exit has very little bearing on this process. (it’s also interesting to hear their experiences during a time when the stock market has fallen significantly)

Seven Lessons From Two Years of Financial Freedom [Clipping Chains] – “Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to realize how much of a social deficit I was facing after leaving work and the beginning of lockdowns in the spring of 2020. After the smug, self-satisfied wave of early retirement washed over me, which took maybe one to three months, I started to realize I was living an increasingly lonely life.” Great stuff.

Wealth vs. Getting Wealthier [Morgan Housel] – “What feels great is being on an upward path. That’s when dopamine takes over. That’s when you can extrapolate it and assume it goes on forever, and compare yourself to where you were before, and feel like nothing can stop you.”

Have you heard of the Trolley Problem? It’s a classic ethics problem here’s a train is coming down the track and you’re at the switch. Don’t flip the switch and the train will kill five people. Flip the switch and it kills one person. What would you do?

Now here’s the trolley problem with increasingly absurd scenarios. (the rich problem isn’t until Level 6)

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…