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Apex Money Posts

The laws of investing.

Ciao, money nerds! It’s Tuesday, and today we have the usual batch of top money stories from the information superhighway. Plus, we have an actual useful personality quiz. How fun is that?

On the media obsession with “financial pornography”. [Of Dollars and Data] — “Financial pornography is the normalization of exceptional financial circumstances in order to gain attention. Financial pornography takes the outliers of the personal finance/investing world and makes them seem ordinary for the purpose of attracting more eyeballs. Just like real pornography tries to make specific sexual fantasies seem more common than they are, financial pornography tries to make specific financial outcomes seem more common than they are.” Preach! This is one of my pet peeves with mainstream media coverage of money topics. [See also: Apps like NextDoor create the illusion that crime is rising when it’s actually falling.]

The laws of investing. [Collaborative Fund] — “What’s an investing law? There’s no definition, so I’ve taken some liberties here. I try to limit them to forces that influence all types of investments, in all sectors, in all countries, throughout all of history, with few exceptions, and some explanation for why it will continue indefinitely.” This is an excellent piece and well worth reading.

How you do anything is how you do everything. [Ryan Holiday] — “Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world to do it well. That’s our primary duty. And our obligation. When action is our priority, vanity falls away.”

Most personality quizzes are junk science. This one isn’t. [Five Thirty Eight] — “What’s your personality, and what can it tell you about your true self? Those questions have launched a thousand online personality quizzes. But you can do better than those specious — yet irresistible — quizzes. You can take a personality quiz backed by science.”

As a guy with a psychology degree, you can imagine how much I liked this quiz. I liked it so much that I’m going to bore you with my results.

I am not very conscientious

I’m an agreeable guy who is open to new experiences. Okay, I agree with that. But I also score high in “negative emotionality”. But only parts of that dimension. (I max out on depression, score high on anxiety, but don’t have much emotional volatility. In other words, I’m hard on myself but not on others.)

What is your personality like?

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Frugal millionaires.

Hello, money nerds, and welcome to another Monday. You are home, stuck in your familiar routine. I, on the other hand, am in Florence, Italy, eating gelato and pasta. Haha.

Okay, sorry for being so mean. Let’s look at some top money stories from around the web.

“We’re financially independent. We just bought a $90,000 house. Yes, we’re moving in.” [Physician on Fire] — “The FIRE movement is often knocked for being overly frugal and unrealistic. By not only purchasing a $90,000 home, but also moving into it, I feel I’m doing my part to perpetuate the stereotype. But we’re not doing this for the sole purpose of looking cheap.”

Millionaire charges electric scooters for beer money. [Retire by 40] — “I’m a millionaire. Is it worth my time to charge scooters for a few bucks? I could charge $100 per hour to be a retirement consultant instead. Wouldn’t that be a better use of my time? Well, that’s the beauty of FIRE. I can do whatever I want without worrying about money much. This side gig has quite a few benefits and it’s fun.

A life with moving sidewalks. [The Retirement Manifesto] — “There are moments in your life where an experience somehow alters your typical day-to-day reality…A ‘Moving Sidewalk Experience’ can be anything which takes you out of your routine. Something with a clear beginning, followed by a non-routine experience, and wrapping up with an adjustment as we return to the ‘reality’ of our lives.”

Exploring health-care options for early retirees. [Michael Kitces] — “While the majority of individuals plan to retire at some point after they reach age 65, there is still a non-trivial number of individuals, whether by choice or by need, who retire before they are eligible for Medicare (or even Social Security, for that matter) and still need health insurance coverage (and can’t just simply be added to their still-working spouse’s employer-sponsored plan). Fortunately, early retirees do have a few options as they consider the best way to obtain health coverage.”

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Don’t live a financial fantasy.

Hello from the friendly skies, money nerds! As you read this, I (J.D.) am jetting on my way to a European vacation. Soon I will be in Rome. Have no fear. I’ve made time to collect some top money stories for you before my trip. Let’s get right to them…

Don’t live a financial fantasy. Manage money based on reality. [Brave Saver] — “We can take a look at all sides of our money, the good and the ugly, without giving in to the temptation to filter it through some financial fantasy. In doing so, we gain power — the power to see clearly, to decide clearly, to more consciously and intentionally shape money management in the present and our financial security in the future.”

How to gain a better understanding of the things that bring you joy. [Four Pillar Freedom] — “The whole point of optimizing your financial life is to give yourself the means to spend more time doing the things you like. And the best way to actually know what things you like doing is to practice self-reflection on a daily basis.”

You are responsible for your own online security. [The Retirement Café] — “Extremely risk-averse investors might be tempted to try to find financial services companies with no Internet access. They may be surprised by how difficult that has become. This is the world we live in: we’re forced online but not adequately protected from online security problems. Security is largely in our own hands.” (And see the follow-up article about how to secure your online financial accounts.)

“I researched cash-back credit cards so that you don’t have to. [/r/personalfinance] — “I made this list for myself as I was deciding which cards to apply for. I already have strong credit, but I wanted to find cards that I could keep open long term to build my credit as my lifestyle changes.” This is a nice bit of research with no affiliate links.

Our last story today is so important: It’s a six-minute video explaining why you can’t fix other people but you can fix yourself. Some folks might be inclined to disregard this clip because of the political subtext. Ignore the political subtext! The political subtext is irrelevant! Who cares about Elizabeth Warren and Jordan Peterson? You care about fixing your life, right?

“Blaming others for your problems is a complete waste of time.” So true. Even if others are the cause of your problems, it’s up to you to fix them.

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Getting shit done.

It’s Thursday, money nerds, and I’m a basket case. Tomorrow morning, I leave for 24 days on the road. SO MUCH STUFF TO DO HOW CAN I EVER GET IT DONE OMG THE WORLD IS GOING TO END! Must be time to read some top stories about getting shit done.

Why working quickly is more important than it seems. [James Somers] — “The obvious benefit to working quickly is that you’ll finish more stuff per unit time. But there’s more to it than that. If you work quickly, the cost of doing something new will seem lower in your mind. So you’ll be inclined to do more.

“I declare to-do list bankruptcy (and you should too).” [Ambition and Balance] — “Trying to clean up your tasks piecemeal without revisiting the whole system is like trying to fit square pegs in round holes…The fastest, easiest, and more effective way to make your task manager useful again is to declare bankruptcy and start from scratch.

“How I got more done, reduced stress, increased focus, and mastered time management.” [For the Interested] — “We don’t know how much time we spend on email. We don’t know how much time we spend in meetings. We don’t know how much time we spend doing work that isn’t important. As a result, we don’t know why we don’t have ‘enough’ time to get things done. Scheduling every minute of your work week counters all of that.

“My quest to be more present and enjoy life more.” [Making Sense of Cents] — “I’m guilty of running through life too quickly and not stopping to really enjoy it. I’ve decided that I really need to slow down, enjoy what’s happening right now, and to live in the moment. I want to be more focused so that I can truly enjoy whatever it is that I am doing…I just want to make sure I get to experience more of this beautiful world that we live in.

Our final piece for today is a 24-minute video about managing distractions so that we can focus on high-value tasks and avoid low-value tasks.

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

The logic of stupid poor people.

Why, hello money nerds! It’s Wednesday, and as always we have some top money stories for you. Enjoy!

Your chances of becoming a millionaire based on race, age, and education. [Financial Samurai] — “In an ideal world, it would be wonderful if everybody could have an equal chance to become a millionaire by race, by age, and by education attainment. Unfortunately, the system is rigged where people already in power naturally look to take care of their own. It’s up to all of us to proactively enrich our minds with knowledge that can help us grow our wealth, regardless of circumstance.”

The logic of stupid poor people. [Tressie MC] — “If you are poor, why do you spend money on useless status symbols like handbags and belts and clothes and shoes and televisions and cars? One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill. And nothing is more logical than trying to survive.” This is a great piece.

Why Americans hate taxes. [Behavioral Scientist] — “Social science research tells us that at least part of our tax aversion stems from the opacity of government processes and the pernicious effect of sludges in the way we file taxes in the United States. To make matters worse, there are powerful special interest groups who are keen to keep the system opaque and sludgy. It does not have to be this way.”

Everyone deserves a cookie

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

What it takes to raise a family.

Today is Tuesday, money nerds, and we’re going to take a look at what it takes to raise a family. From childcare to homeownership to television — these are some of the top money stories we’ve been reading lately.

Child care: What — and who — it takes to raise a family. [The California Sunday Magazine] — “Child care is one of the hardest, most expensive problems for parents to solve…To better understand how people are coping, we asked six families — as well as their nannies, day-care providers, extended family members, and ‘mother’s helpers’ — to explain how they’re caring for their children and how much they’re paying to do it.”

“Home ownership cost us $60,000 in a great housing market.” [Stop Ironing Shirts] — “We recently sold our house and moved as part of our early retirement plan. The place we moved from was considered one of the hotter housing markets in the country (Dallas-Fort Worth) and we sold our home for nearly $50,000 more than we purchased it for after owning it for only 43 months. That sounds like a victory, but when we finalized the numbers we *lost* nearly $60,000 compared to renting over that same time period.”

How the television transformed our homes (and our lives). [Curbed] — “The history of television’s place in domestic interiors fits into a much larger story about the look of technology in the home. Are pieces of consumer technology machines, furniture, or something else?

How television transformed our lives

“How and why my husband and I keep separate finances.” [Making Sense of Cents] — “I want to share with you our experience of managing money independently, as a couple. You may be inspired to separate your finances if they are currently joined. Or it may give you a perspective on how you can be in a relationship but keep your financials separate.”

To round things up, here’s an article that isn’t really money-related…but it’s family-related for many of you.

The hottest new board games from GenCon 2019. [Ars Technica] — “We sifted through the chaos to bring you a big list of games we think you should be paying attention to going into the last few months of the year. With such a massive amount of games on offer, we couldn’t get to everything we wanted to — your correspondent is just one man! — but we think our list has something for everyone on it.”

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Today and tomorrow…and the next day too.

Yawn… Good morning, my money nerds, and welcome to another wonderful week. Before you dive in, let’s take a look at some top money stories from around the interwebs.

Today vs. tomorrow: the see-saw of planning. [Calibrating Capital] — “On one side, you have people who only live for Today. Not thinking of Tomorrow, they allocate almost all of their income and resources for the present. On the other side, you have those who only live for Tomorrow. Not thinking of Today, they allocate almost all of their income and resources for the future. A right balance is somewhere in between – enjoying Today while planning for Tomorrow. And there’s no magical, universal formula, spreadsheet, or ratio to figure this out. It’s entirely subjective to each person and family.”

The biggest wastes of time we regret as we get older. [Kristin Wong on Lifehacker] — “We spend a lot of energy looking for shortcuts to save time, and sure, those shortcuts add up. But when I look back, my biggest time regrets aren’t spending too much time on Twitter or mismanaging my daily tasks. Those are bad habits, but there are bigger, more systematic time wasters that have really gotten in the way.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter lives in a $167,000 house and shops at Dollar General. [CNBC] — “Former President Jimmy Carter might have once called the white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home, but now, he lives in a much, much more modest abode. Carter, the nation’s 39th president and oldest-living former president in U.S. history at 94 years old, lives a fairly normal — and frugal — life…In fact, Carter still lives in the ranch house he built himself in 1961.

Lastly, here’s a fun video featuring a woman who has been driving the same care for 53 years! Grace Braeger bought herself a ’57 Chevy…in 1957. She got a deal because (a) she bought a demo model and (b) the 1958s were about to come out.

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

It’s Friday, August 9th, money nerds and (as always) we have some top money stories to share with you. Are you ready?

Ordinary Americans are using “phone farms” to get free stuff through ad fraud. [Vice] — “Hobbyists and those looking to make a bit of money across the U.S. have been doing the same, buying dozens or hundreds of phones to generate revenue so they can afford some extra household goods, cover a bill, buy a case of beer, or earn more income without driving for Uber or delivering for Grubhub.”

Speaking of farms…here’s an interesting story about how young adults are actually moving back to the farm instead of leaving it nowadays…

Can the Prairie Generation save rural America? [The Christian Science Monitor] — “Never mind ‘keeping ‘em down on the farm’. The youths in this story are showing a deep commitment to their region, coming home as skilled agriculturalists and entrepreneurs, and injecting a much-needed dynamism.”

The art of living life wide rather than long. [Brain Pickings] — “Being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being. Despite a steadily swelling human life expectancy, these concerns seem more urgent than ever — and yet they are hardly unique to our age.”

To send you into the weekend, here’s a non-financial article that Jim enjoyed recently.

How Stephen King was outed as Richard Bachman. [Mental Floss] — “Brown — a bookstore clerk, writer, and fanzine publisher — had read enough King novels to recognize that Bachman’s latest book, Thinner, was unequivocally a King work. After some additional investigation, Brown wrote a letter to King’s agent sharing his discovery and asked how they’d like to proceed. It marked the beginning of the end for Bachman, who would soon perish, King wrote, owing to ‘cancer of the pseudonym’.”

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

“But I don’t WANT to be frugal!”

Personal finance is a delicate balance, isn’t it? You want to save in order to reward your future self. But damn, your present self wants to share in the loot! What’s a money nerd to do?

How to feel rich without money. [A Wealth of Common Sense] — “If we’re using millionaire-status as a way to gauge wealth in this country, a lot of people are never going to get to the point where they’re considered ‘rich’. But there are plenty of other ways to live a wealthy life that extend beyond how much money you have in the bank or your portfolio.”

My girlfriend is annoyed that I don’t want to move into a luxury apartment…even though she’d pay for most of it. [/r/relationships] — “My girlfriend is normally a frugal person, but she wants to move into a $4800 per month luxury-style one-bedroom apartment that her heart is set on. The apartment is very nice, yes, but it’s also a LOT of money for rent and I don’t feel comfortable spending that much money for rent…Her argument is that she’s worked very hard to get to where she’s earning what she currently makes, and she wants to live in a really nice place.

“But I don’t want to be frugal!” [Clipping Chains] — “There’s a point of diminishing returns on frugality, especially for those of us who are naturally frugal. Spending an extra $40-100 a month on items or experiences that we truly value and enjoy will not make or break the budget. In fact, finding an appropriate spending baseline now makes for a more promising future.”

Increasing your income in corporate America. [Fervent Finance] — “Unfortunately, 95% of the related discussions, blog posts, articles, and books on the topic concentrate on budgeting, investing, and debt repayment, yet the one thing that will most likely move the needle the most in someone’s financial journey the most is increasing income…Below I will walk through a list of strategies which I’ve found to be beneficial to my career, as well as my peers, colleagues, family, and friends.”

Finally, here’s a scatterplot showing the individual daily stock market returns for the past decade. Each dot represents one day’s actual return. (The Y axis means nothing, so ignore it.)

Individual stock market returns by day

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Welcome, robot overlords.

Once more it’s Wednesday, money robots, and today we have a set of stories all about automation and how it affects our financial futures. Welcome to the machine!

Introducing Marty, the grocery-store robot. [Mashable] — “This year, Stop & Shop introduced giant, gray, aisle-patrolling robots at more than 200 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey…Once Marty identifies a hazard using its sensors, it stops in its tracks, changes its signature operating lights from blue to yellow, and repeatedly announces ‘Caution, hazard detected’ in English and Spanish.”

How robots became a scapegoat for the destruction of the working class. [The Week] — “For as long as America’s had something like a modern capitalist economy, automation and technology have been disrupting and remaking the jobs market…Historically, technology has tended to increase the number of jobs out there. By making it cheaper to provide some goods and services, automation frees up money to be spent on other things.”

Chase commits to AI after machines outperform humans in copywriting trials. [Ad Age] — “Chase says that ads created by [machine learning] performed better than ads written by humans, with a higher percent of consumers clicking on them—more than twice as many in some cases. The difference can be as simple as what word choice resonates with consumers.” Another weapon in the ongoing battle to separate you from your money…

The tiny video store that survived Netflix. [The Hustle] — “To keep things afloat, Belfer works 12 hours a day, 365 days a year…Being one of the last survivors in a dying industry has its challenges. For one, he’s outlasted most of the industry’s technologies: The world’s last dedicated VCR manufacturer closed shop in 2016; its one-time competitor, Betamax, stopped producing machines in 2002.”

A long (and fascinating) look at the decline in movie theater attendance. [Redef] — “Another day, another box office disappointment. Or record. Or franchise hit. Or franchise RIP. Or indie sleeper. Or indie sleep-with-the-fishes. What’s going on?”

Decline in film ticket sales

Found something you think your fellow nerds might like? You should send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

p.s. Here’s an update! While collecting links this morning, I found a related article. Apparently most people would rather lose their jobs to a robot than to another human being. Interesting…