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Apex Money Posts

Finding comfort in discomfort

Happy Monday! Welcome back to another exciting week of personal finance awesomeness from Jim.

Today’s post will be slightly different in that it’s not entirely about money. We have three articles all talking about a simple but powerful idea – finding comfort in discomfort.

No one enjoys being uncomfortable but just as you can’t enjoy sweetness without bitterness, you truly can’t enjoy being comfortable when you haven’t been uncomfortable. Today’s posts all discuss this idea… and no ice-cold showers required!

Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe [Zen Habits] – “Of all the skills I’ve learned in the past 7 years of changing my life, one skill stands out: Learning to be comfortable with discomfort. If you learn this skill, you can master pretty much anything.”

Don’t Let Life Get Too Easy in Early Retirement [Our Next Life] – “Removing too many pain points from our lives risks actually doing ourselves harm in a different way: a life with no pain points makes us soft. And is that what you want for your early retirement, to go through it as a person who’s growing less and less resilient, who is so used to everything being easy that you become intolerant of dealing with challenges? Because that’s what we’re talking about.”

Are We Happier When We’re Uncomfortable? [The Frug] – “Imagine for a second that all of your needs have been met. You don’t need to lift a finger to do anything. You’re in the perfect location, with the perfect partner, all of your physical, emotional, and financial needs have been completely taken care of. Servants bring you fresh food and drinks. No need to even get out of your beach chair.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been on vacations like this and it truly gets old after the first week or two. Even when I have plenty of good books to read, a beautiful beach, and an ocean to swim in, this thought of sitting still bores the hell out of me.”

And for the candy after the medicine… we have a treasure hunt!

The Fisherman’s Secret: A modern day treasure hunt [SF Chronicle] – “One late night five years ago, fisherman Giuseppe Pennisi was lying in bed with his laptop propped up on his barrel chest, reviewing video footage captured from his 76-foot boat, the Pioneer. The boat is a bottom trawler. It scoops up fish with a net that bounces across the seafloor at depths of more than 4,000 feet. A tinkerer, Pennisi likes to keep GoPro cameras attached to the net, allowing him to study the footage and improve his technique. That night, around 2 a.m., he noticed his camera slide past something unusual.

Along the murky seafloor, fish and rocks come in rounded shapes and soft colors, muted grays and greens. His eyes were attuned to this drab underwater landscape, which is why he had been puzzled by brief flashes of light on the video screen, shiny surfaces glimmering by. Then he saw it: a rectangular object, sharp-edged and pale, almost white, with a tinge of yellow.”

TREASURE! The article is very long but if you just want the action… read until the legal part (there are several chapters in the middle dedicated to the seemingly-futile legal aspect of treasure hunting) and then jump to Chapter 11.

Thanks for reading and please share this with someone you love!

Don’t throw it out until you’ve smelled it!

Happy Friday, money nerds! You’ve made it through the first week of December. Let’s celebrate by sharing some outstanding money stories from around the web, shall we?

How to lower housing costs. [The Fioneers] — “Buying a home has helped us on our journey, but it is not the right decision for everyone. The important lesson we took away from this is to keep our housing costs low while our income has increased. If you are looking to improve your financial situation, you should consider lowering your housing costs. Figuring out how to lower your housing costs will depend on your unique situation.”

“My emergency fund isn’t just money.” [Tread Lightly, Retire Early] — “So beyond saving up every free dollar and slowly building up that cash emergency fund, what can you do to make your financial situation more resilient? Beyond just more dollars, there are definitely other things you can do to weather those expensive storms. Here are a few things we have in place.”

The ultimate productivity hack is saying “no”. [James Clear] — “If you have trouble saying no, you may find the following strategy proposed by Tim Harford, the British economist I mentioned earlier, to be helpful. He writes, ‘One trick is to ask, “If I had to do this today, would I agree to it?” It’s not a bad rule of thumb, since any future commitment, no matter how far away it might be, will eventually become an imminent problem.'”

Don’t throw it out until you’ve smelled it! [Surviving and Thriving] — “Would anyone I knew have thought that milk too close to its sell-by date should be thrown out? Nope. In fact, we might have hoped it was close to its sell-by date, because it might be discounted. The freshness of bread was a moot point because ours came a dozen loaves at a time from the bakery outlet.”

To send you into your weekend, we’ve got one last feature that has nothing to do with money. In this video, a former Secret Service agent explains how officers keep the President (and other VIPs) safe in a variety of situations. Interesting stuff.

That’s it for this week. Jim will be back with more great stuff on Monday, money nerds. See you then…

You should have a true hobby (not a side hustle).

Good morning, money nerds. We’re glad to see you stop by. As always, we have some of the best financial news from around the web to share with you. Are you ready?

Generally speaking, we end Apex Money installments with a video (when we include one). Let’s mix things up! Today, let’s — gasp — start with our video. It’s a brief look at why “99 cent pricing” works.

Personally, I hate this ploy, and I like to think it doesn’t work on me. But I’m probably just fooling myself. Now, let’s move on to our normal, text-based stories.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! The borogroves aren’t really mimsy this time of year, but lookee here: Craigslist has, at long last, released an official app for mobile devices. It’s currently only available for Apple iOS devices, but there is a beta version for Android, if that’s how you roll.

Remember when you wanted what you currently have? [Budgets Are Sexy] — “In a world constantly pushing us for ‘more’, it sure is a nice reminder of everything we’ve already achieved/received if we actually take a second to reflect upon it. Here’s a short list of all the things I remember really wanting bad over the years — how about you?”

There’s treasure everywhere! [Financial Panther] — “There’s a natural tendency for many of us to think in worst-case scenarios. We’re often taught to play things safe, and if we do anything out of the ordinary, there’s no shortage of people who will step in to tell us all of the bad stuff that can happen. I think this often makes us forget about all of the opportunities that are out there. We make our decisions, not from a place of abundance and optimism, but rather from a place of fear and scarcity.”

How to have a true hobby, not a side hustle. [Vox] — “The next time you reach for your smartphone or tablet out of habit — or boredom — consider a more fulfilling alternative: find a hobby, or an activity that you do purely for pleasure and relaxation, not for work or necessity…Making time for non-essential activities is, in fact, essential. Challenging leisure activities — such as hobbies — improve mental and physical wellbeing, foster learning, and build communities. Oh — and it’s fun!” I love this article!

Lastly, here’s a Very Important Link for all y’all. The staff over at The Kitchn tried eight different methods of cooking bacon to find out which one was best. Can you guess which technique produced the best results? (As for me, well, I’ve never met bacon I didn’t like.)

Well, that’s certainly plenty for a Thursday. We’ll be back tomorrow with more fun stuff. Got something we should share? Send it in!

How women are changing the FIRE community — and the world.

Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds! We’re back with more top money stories from around the web. Today’s letter is W, and today’s theme is women.

First up, here’s a little data visualization from /r/dataisbeautiful on Reddit. It graphs the occupational distribution of men and women in the labor force (according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics info). Nothing deep here. Just fun with numbers.

Men and women in the workplace

And our first actual story is semi-related.

Gendered division of labor served a purpose. To make progress, don’t erase it. Replace it. [Behavioral Scientist] — “Although women have made significant strides toward gender equity in the workplace, this does not always translate to gender equity in the household. Studies have found that women often shoulder an extra burden at home, even women who work as much outside the home as their husbands do.”

How women are changing the FIRE community — and the world. [The Wealthy Accountant] — “I don’t want to get bogged down on the inequities women have faced and instead want to focus on their contribution. Celebrating the incredible work women have done (and are doing) is certain to benefit women more than complaining. We can’t change the past, but we can do something about the here and now.”

Are you sacrificing too much for your kids? [Chief Mom Officer] — “That advice they give you on airplanes – to put on your own oxygen mask before helping your kids – applies here. Once your kids have their basic needs fulfilled, you need to make sure that you’re not fulfilling their wants at the expense of your own financial future.”

Last but not least, here’s a video that’s better than it ought to be. It’s three Russian young women performing a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop” in their kitchen. On a trombone and ukelele. No joke…this is awesome!

That’s it for today. See you again tomorrow, money nerds. And remember: If there’s something you think we should share, send it in!

The power of a meaningful life.

Hey hey, whaddya say, money nerds? Today is Tuesday and it’s time for some top money stories from around the web.

We’re going to kick things off by linking to ourselves. That’s right! Jim and I are the guests on the most recent episode of the always-awesome “What’s Up Next?” podcast. Doc G and Paul pick our brains to find out: Why on earth would anyone build a curation site like Apex Money? And, more importantly, is curation art?

Now, here are your regularly-scheduled money stories…

Why you shouldn’t trust numbers and stats from the mass media. [The Financial Bodyguard] — “Big numbers sound scarier. That’s why the media uses them. To drive visitors to their websites, as clickbait, to drive sales and advertising revenue. The media’s interests are not aligned with yours. Next time you see one of these headlines, ask yourself the following questions…”

The power of a meaningful life. [Scientific American] — “Who could argue with happiness? Count the journalist Emily Esfahani Smith as one. Happiness is not itself a problem, of course, but she worries that its relentless pursuit — and the self-help industry that’s grown up around that mission — has left us feeling empty, dislocated and, well, unhappy.”

“How I got rich…” [Derek Sivers] — “I don’t usually talk about money, but a friend asked me what it was like to get rich, and he wanted to know specifics, so I told him my story…When I finished telling my friend this story, he asked for more. I said no, that was it.” I love all of Sivers’ stuff. This is no exception.

To wrap things up for the day, here’s something really obscure. If you’re old like I am, you might remember that in Olden Times, back when the world was young, computer programs came on floppy disks. Or cassette tapes. Or…vinyl records? For real! Check this out…

True story: I still buy the occasional vinyl record. I just picked up U2’s “Unforgettable Fire” last week. And last month I finally acquired Taylor Swift on vinyl!

“How we bought our new car.”

Brrrrr! It’s cold out there, money nerds! We’ve reached December and that means the start of meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere. Time to hunker down by the fire while enjoying some of the top money stories from around the web.

The Munger Operating System: How to live a life that really works. [Farnam Street] — “In 2007, Charlie Munger gave the commencement address at USC Law School…The commencement speech is an excellent response to the Big Question: How do we live a life that really works? It has so many of Munger’s core ideas that we think the speech represents the Munger Operating System for life.”

How (and why) to simplify your life. [Four Pillar Finance] — “I’m a firm believer in the idea that most people can drastically improve their life by simplifying it. By doing less things, but with more focus. By working fewer hours, but with higher productivity. By focusing less on duration and more on intensity. By saying ‘yes’ to fewer activities, but giving more energy to those activities.”

“How we bought our new car.” [The Simple Path to Wealth] — “While buying a new car is now a much better experience than it was in the ‘bad old days’, it is still a bit of a hassle. The key to making it as painless as possible is to separate the selection process from the actual buying process.”

To end things right on a Monday, here’s a beautiful two-minute video of a glider descending in the rain near Florence, Italy. Feels very wintery, doesn’t it? Set it to full-screen and enjoy the experience.

Safe travels!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re in the US, I hope you’re having a relaxing day spending it with family and friends. If you aren’t, or otherwise aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving this year, the best to you and yours as most of the United States consumes what Benjamin Franklin once proposed would be our national bird!

On a scheduling note, we won’t be doing our usual curation today and tomorrow.

In lieu of this, we wanted to share some other money curation sites that we think are great and that you should consider checking out.

Collecting Wisdom, Camp F.I.R.E. Finance, and Personal Finance Blogs (dot com) are three sites that publish daily curations. If you feel like you don’t get enough, those three are great sources of wisdom and it’s fun to see the different curators’ personalities shine through. I think most people can tell the difference between JD and myself, well now you can add more voices to the mix!

See you on Monday when JD will return to his spot on the curation chair!

Why the rich are getting richer…

Happy pre-turkey day!

(if you’re outside the United States, happy regular old Wednesday!)

Today, we have a few juicy posts for you to consume:

Why the Rich are Getting Richer [ESI Money] – ESI ‘reorganizes’ and reviews Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Why The Rich Are Getting Richer. The book explains a few ideas about wealth-building that I think are applicable to everyone and I enjoyed ESI’s commentary, especially about phantom income. 🙂

My $10,000 Passive Side Hustle On Etsy Selling Printables [Debt Free Happens] – “I recently hit a milestone that I never could have imagined two years ago. As of October of this year, I hit over $10,000 in sales on my Etsy shop Modern Printable Shop selling printables (or digital products).” The internet is amazing!

How NBA executive Jeff David stole $13 million from the Sacramento Kings [ESPN] – It’s a little like when you fudge your expense reports… but for like thirteen million dollars. (in all seriousness, this story starts off pretty mundane but if you enjoy a good accounting forensics story, this will be a fascinating read)

And for a little Thanksgiving fun, here are 14 facts about the best Thanksgiving movie ever, courtesy of Mental Floss.

We’ll be back after Thanksgiving!

Volunteering can save you money?

Hello fellow money nerds!

This week is always tricky for me because our kids’ school has half days on Monday and Tuesday and no school on Wednesday (naturally, Thursday and Friday are off). I don’t know if it’s because I’m now the parent or if I forgot, but kids don’t go to school a lot. There are a ton of holidays and half-days built into the schedule.

It’s wild.

Anyway, today’s articles have no theme other than I really enjoyed them all and I hope you do too!

7 Ways Volunteering Can Save You Money [The Dollar Stretcher] – “There are those who see volunteering as just giving your time for free, and while that’s essentially the premise, there’s a lot more to it than that. Depending on the circumstances, volunteering can actually save you money, which means not only are you giving back, but you’re also doing a little something for yourself in the process.”

How to Find Motivation to Save Money When You’re Surrounded by Reckless Spenders [Modern Frugality] – “It takes some serious willpower to forgo instant gratification for a long term reward. Saving money is hard enough. But when you’re surrounded by reckless spenders, the task becomes even tougher. Whilst you’re updating your budget spreadsheet, trying out different investing courses to become more financially stable, and generally fighting the urge to spend money recklessly, your friends are living their best lives, burning through money like there’s no tomorrow and giving you a serious case of FOMO.”

The 5 Types of Market Crash Predictions [A Wealth of Common Sense] – “JP Morgan put out a research note last week that named names of people who have called for a crash scenario in the past decade: […] Reading through these got me thinking about the different types of market crash calls. There has been such a huge influx of crash calls because of the 2008 debacle it seems only fair that we break these down by the motivating force behind these dire predictions.”

The 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years [Slate] – “Slate’s books team selects the definitive works of reporting, memoir, and argument of the past quarter-century.”

How many have you read? (me? zero. Zero! I’ll have to fix that over the holidays)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

The great American tax haven: why the super-rich love …

I roll my eyes whenever someone says that “their mind was blown” by something… because it’s rarely true. What they learned might be a little surprising but it’s not nearly on the level of seeing your amygdala ooze out of your earholes.

BUT… I think I’m going to share with you something that I think will come close.

There’s a state in our union that is rapidly becoming the “go-to” place to hide wealth. Last year, a Chinese billionaire transferred $4.5 billion into the state. And in the past decade, hundreds of billions of dollars have left more traditional havens (like Switzerland) to move to this state.

Want to give it a guess?

The great American tax haven: why the super-rich love South Dakota [The Guardian, but redaction in the title is mine] – “The money of the world’s mega-wealthy, though, is heading there in ever-larger volumes. In the past decade, hundreds of billions of dollars have poured out of traditional offshore jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Jersey, and into a small number of American states: Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming – and, above all, South Dakota. “To some, South Dakota is a ‘fly-over’ state,” the chief justice of the state’s supreme court said in a speech to the legislature in January. “While many people may find a way to ‘fly over’ South Dakota, somehow their dollars find a way to land here.””

Why I Change My Voicemail Weekly Though Nobody Ever Calls [Financial Pilgrimage] – “Like making my bed, setting my voicemail every week is that simple task that helps jump start my work week. […] Once my voicemail message has been recorded, our system requires us to listen back through our message in full before finalizing. Like most everyone (except psychopaths) I hate hate hate listening to the sound of my own voice. (Seeing myself on video is infinitely worse.) Yet, every Monday I put myself through this tiny bit of mental anguish. Why? […] The periods in my life in which the most intense growth has occurred have been during times where I was most uncomfortable. While there is a fine line of when too much discomfort could result in extreme anxiety or even failure, we often need to be placed outside of our comfort zone to grow.”

Financial Freedom Mindset [Handful of Thoughts] – “At the age of 32 and a half, (I know a weird age to reflect on), it hit me. If I was going to work until the traditional retirement age of 65 then I would have to work for as long as I had currently been alive! Just the thought of that depressed me. My job was enjoyable, but it’s not what I wanted to devote the majority of my time and energy to for the next 30+ years. I wasn’t ready to just up and quit my job but something had to change – I needed a mindset shift. So after a lot of thought and reflection I adopted a financial freedom mindset.” Maria shares her approach to establishing her financial freedom mindset and working towards making it a reality in her life.

Before you go, do you love LEGOs? If so, it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a robust secondary market of collectors, investors, and resellers:

Brokering Bricks: The World of Lego Investing [Medium] – “In 2000, you, enterprising investor, might have bought some index funds from the S&P 500 and, financial meltdown and all, ended up doubling your money by today. By contrast, if you invested in one (or several) collector’s edition LEGO Imperial Star Destroyers for $270, you would have made quintupled your money. Today, the same factory-sealed set can fetch over $1,500.”