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Apex Money Posts

I’ve (inadvertently) never budgeted in my life

I have a confession – we don’t budget. I’ve actually never budgeted in the strictest sense.

When I first started working, I kept track of my spending. I eventually graduated from a spreadsheet to Mint. But after a while, I stopped. I started paying myself first and my spending worked itself out because I was an inherently frugal person. I spent money in places that made me happy but I had a well-tuned internal compass that kept me in line even if I didn’t keep close track of it. Plus, saving first made sure I always took care of the important stuff.

I didn’t know I wasn’t “budgeting.” I thought I was!

Turns out I never budgeted ever in my entire life. 🙂

Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone—Try This System Instead [Bitches Get Riches] – “I also know people who make budgets, fail at them, and enter a cycle of constant self-loathing and financial stress that ultimately harms them more than it helps. Some of us chafe against the rigidity of a budget, others thrive within its strict boundaries. So budgeting ain’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you’re excused from managing your money altogether. Even without a budget, it’s still useful to have a system for keeping an eye on your money.”

Speaking of tracking…

Being Good with Money is More Than Simply Spending Less – Insights from Tracking 3 Years of Spending [Cash for Tacos] – “2017 was a year of transformation formation for me. I was newly single and ready to take on the world.

It was also the year I became motivated to improve my finances and started my journey to financial independence. With this newly-formed vision in sight, I started to cut back on my spending.

And slowly but surely my spending decreased, which gave me more money to commit to new priorities.”

I love this graphic from Visual Capitalist:

How to have a true hobby, not a side hustle [Vox] – “… 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! Here are five ways to find, and keep, a fulfilling hobby.”

Downtime is good.

You don’t have to fill your leisure time with productivity!

Now go out and have some fun!

Surprisingly lucrative side hustles

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, side hustles have become very popular in the last few years.

Earning a little extra income from a hustle not associated with your main job is liberating.

It’s also fun to read about “innovative” side hustles because it can get your own creative juices flowing. Today I want to share a few surprisingly lucrative side hustles you may never have thought about.

Teacher Makes $30,000 Charging E-Scooters To Pay Off Debt [Winning to Wealth] – This is a podcast where a teacher from Atlanta shares how he made $30,000 last year charging e-scooters.

Side Hustle #78: Being a TV / Film Extra! [$200+/day] [Budgets Are Sexy] – “To be honest, anybody can be a TV extra. You don’t need any formal acting experience. In fact, you don’t even need to look like a supermodel or know Steven Spielberg or David Cronenberg to succeed. You just need to know how to market yourself as a brand/product with diverse headshots and looks.” I once met a retired engineer who came to Northrop Grumman to give a brief talk. In chatting with him, I learned that one of his side hobbies was being an extra in movies. He was one of the extras in Wedding Crashers!

How You Can Make Money From Hosting an Airbnb Experience [Studenomics] – “I recently launched a coffee crawl as an official experience on the Airbnb platform. Tourists (and anyone in general) can sign up to do my coffee tour to drink coffee with me at unique shops in my community. I’m going to show you how you can make money with Airbnb Experiences by setting up your own activity/thing to do on the Airbnb app. I want you to have the best Airbnb experience so that you bring money in. This is the best income source that you’ve likely never heard of yet…”

(and check out this more recent followup about different Airbnb experiences that Martin has seen)

Public Domain Publishing: $100,000 Selling Classic Books on Amazon [Side Hustle Nation] – “Looking for a part-time side hustle where you get can your inventory for free and there are almost no startup costs?

This week, I’m excited to introduce the side hustle of public domain publishing. […] Since 2013, Aaron Kerr has pocketed over $110k in royalties through this very part-time side hustle. You can see all his public domain projects over at” Not bad!

Lastly but not leastly, did you hear about how Carlos Ghosn snuck out of Japan? He was the former CEO of Nissan who escaped Tokyo, where he was facing criminal charges that could’ve put him in prison for a long time. Here’s the story about how he got out of Japan and to Lebanon.


Mo’ money, mo’ problems? Nope.

You know what they say about mo’ money, mo’ problems – right?

I loved the song but never agreed with the premise. And neither does Miranda Marquit in today’s featured post:

More Money, More Choices [Miranda Marquit] – “We hear a lot about how our choices impact our money. But we don’t often talk about how more money can actually mean more options.” Sometimes more options are bad (analysis paralysis), but in many cases, more options are a good thing.

Of course, I have to embed this:

Look at those puffy shiny jackets! So 90’s!

10 Pieces of Career Advice for Young Professionals [Keeping Up With the Bulls] – ” In your new workplace, you’ll transition to the most junior person in the room and learning to adjust to the new culture. It’s tough, but with the right moves you can get quickly back on track to being recognized as knowledgeable and a leader within the team.” Sensible advice for anyone just starting a new job. I’d add that if you’re young, take more career risks than you are comfortable taking. Despite what you think, you have very little to lose at this point in your career. It’s harder to take risks when you have a family and a mortgage.

Finally, if you’re looking to refresh your resume, you can’t beat this guide:

Applying for a Job? This is Exactly How to Write a Winning Resume [College Info Geek] – “I can’t promise you that I can make writing a resume fun, but I can show you how to do it as painlessly as possible. More importantly, I can show you how to write the resume that will cut through the stack of hundreds (or thousands) and get you that job, internship, or other opportunity you want.” It’s very detailed and very good.

Happy Monday!

Love and Money

Today’s Apex comes courtesy of Elle Martinez of Couple Money. If you want to learn how to become better at money as a couple, check out Elle’s blog and her podcast!

Personal finance is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s pretty objective when you look at it purely through the numbers.

However, that’s not how most of us approach it. Even the most ‘detached’ person, has an opinion or personal preference with how they spend that money.

It’s a layer of complication that has to be acknowledge and embraced if you want to not just be savvy with your finances but actually enjoy it.

And when you’re in a relationship, it can get even more complicated. You have another person’s approach and goals to consider.

Whether you’re a parent, spouse, or taking care of your parents, that mix of love and money can be stressful.

It can also be an opportunity to come together.

Working together as a couple on your finances can be a powerful way to not just improve your net worth, but a way to connect and team up on designing a memorable and meaningful life that you both love.

Becoming a caretaker for your parents can allow you to give your mom and/or dad an opportunity to live their lives with dignity and on their terms within your current circumstances.

Talking with your kids about the family finances can start conversations about what’s on the minds and in their hearts.

A key part of working as a team with your loved ones is identifying what matters (or doesn’t) to you.

It sounds simple, but the reality of putting into practice can be tough and include a lot of conversation and reflection.

This week I wanted to share a few key articles I read that I think will help make this a good year financially and give you some ideas on how to make the most out of 2020.

Why I Stopped Pursuing FIRE and Early Retirement for a Happier Life Today [Marriage, Kids, and Money] – “Lisa has realized, through her FIOR (Financial Independence, Optional Retirement) journey, that it’s all about finding what is right or you and your family.”

Why we’re selling our rental property [Rich and Regular] – “Today, our time is more valuable than it was in 2014, which forced us to re-evaluate the role this property served in our lives.”

How to Communicate Better With Your Children in the New Year [The New York Times] – “Be a sportscaster. Make a glitter jar. Get a pet. Whether or not you rely on strategies like these, the central advice is to listen more.”

5 Signs Your Parents Need Help with Their Finances [Cameron Huddleston] – “Certainly, you don’t want to see your parents put themselves into financial dire straits or become victims of financial fraud. But these scenarios could easily become reality if you don’t recognize the signs that your parents need help with their finances.”

How to plan your goals and actually achieve them [Jessi Fearon] – “While you’re going through this process remember that you can’t be all things to all people nor do you have unlimited availability. You will have to tell some folks “no” and you will have to decide what is important enough to say “yes” to.”

Of course, these are just my favorites. I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite love and money stories out there?

I have something he will never have . . . Enough

Today’s Apex won’t have a theme, it’s just a collection of posts I thought would make you think a little bit.

The last one is meant to make you think more than a little bit.

Let’s just jump into it:

The booming stock market shows America is diseased [The Week] – “The first thing to know about stocks is that a huge fraction of the population owns no stock at all, and only the rich own them in significant quantities. A Gallup poll found that 55 percent of people own any stock — a majority, but most of them own only small amounts. If we break the population into 10 groups (or deciles) based on how much stock they own, as Matt Bruenig does with the Survey of Consumer Finances of 2013, we find that the top decile accounts for 86.8 percent of all stocks. The next decile owns 9.5 percent, the third 2.8 percent, and the rest little or nothing.” I did not know the top 10% accounts for 86.8% ownership of all stocks. Wow.

7 Unexpected Habits Of A Frugal Millionaire [Debt-Free Doctor] – “When you hear about someone being a millionaire, you typically don’t picture them as being frugal. The phrase, “Frugal millionaire” is not something that typically goes together such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich does.

But, if you’ve read books such as “The Millionaire Next Door” and Chris Hogan’s new book, “Everyday Millionaires,” you’d have a different outlook on how millionaires actually live.”

Who doesn’t like free?

11 Things You Are Paying For That You Can Get For FREE! [Budgets Made Easy] – College courses, sample products, books, furniture, shoes, and more. “I scoured the web to give you tips on how to get free stuff — no junk – only quality goods and services that you would gladly pay good money to receive.”

The last one I want to leave you with is actually a commencement speech by John C. Bogle (founder of Vanguard). He gave this speech to the MBA graduates of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in May 2007 and it’s been reproduced on James Clear’s site.

“Enough” by John C. Bogle [] – “Here’s how I recall the wonderful story that sets the theme for my remarks today: At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, the author Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch 22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . Enough.””

It’s worth taking note of.

Emotions are tricky

Being aware of your emotions can be a very challenging thing.

Emotions are like a pot of water. When you start getting hot, you might feel it but it doesn’t quite register. Eventually, it gets hotter and hotter and hotter until the water starts boiling and bubbling. But when you’re in that pre-boil state, a lot of things can happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen. It’s important to try to become more aware of when things get to the point of hot but not yet boiling.

None of the posts today will help you with that. That’s about getting more in tune with yourself, perhaps some meditation.

But the posts today will (try to) help you understand how your behavior might change as a result of how you feel inside:

To Curb Emotional Spending, You Need to Understand It [Brave Saver] – “It was Christmas Day. I’d spent the afternoon napping, nursing a cold, and had emerged to find our front room as I’d left it: with wrapping paper, gifts and candy scattered about. I looked around at the mess and feeling decidedly sullen. What was the point, some voice in my head said. I’d spent hours and hundreds of dollars trying to make this day special. And it probably had been. But from my point of view, I’d spent it in bed, too tired and grumpy to even enjoy anything under the tree.”

There’s quite a bit about managing money that has to do with your emotions and your awareness of your emotions. It’s easy to fall into traps of any kind, money or otherwise, when you aren’t paying attention.

Societal Pressure & Personal Finance [Simple Money Man] – “Recently I was at a conference in the city and between sessions, I decided to go for a walk outside. The conference was in a very trendy hotel in a nice part of the city. Parked outside of the hotel were very nice cars and SUVs. They were luxury vehicles and appeared clean and sleek. Instantly I thought to myself, it would feel so good driving one of these. And a moment later, I thought there is no way I’m selling my current vehicle to add onto my loan balance and acquiring one of these.

But then another thought entered my mind. I do need to get my tires replaced anyway. What if I get my tires replaced and as part of that process replaces my factory wheels with a new set of nice aftermarket rims. So while half-listening to the next training session, I started googling deals on tire and rim packages. Less than 10 minutes into my search, I thought to myself that, the only people that will enjoy its appearance are others, not me. I will be INSIDE the car so I’ll really only appreciate it when I enter and exit the car. And so my brain could not rationalize spending half a grand on rims. Furthermore, it is a cosmetic expense on top of a rapidly depreciating asset.”

It’s really really hard to go down a path like this and reel yourself back in. It’s even harder to do it twice!

Finally, I really like this story about the Golden Rule:

The Power of Being Nice [Trip of a Lifestyle] – “Sometimes being nice brings unexpected results. Not only does kindness make the other person feel better, but it can also lead to camaraderie and friendship. […] Niceness can pay off in more ways than one. It can brighten the day of a fellow human, and it may just benefit you (and I’m not just talking about karma).”

Niceness has unlimited upside.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this fun gem:

How the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service Come Up With Their Code Names [MEL Magazine] – “Rawhide, Tumbler, Mogul, Lancer… Smurfette? What’s the secret behind the coolest (and weirdest) White House code names?”

If you could come up with a short codename, what would it be?

What got you here won’t get you there

“What got you here won’t get you there.”

When you’re in high school, you try to fit in. That’s a good skill because you find your friend group and you can succeed.

When you get to college, it’s somewhat similar but not nearly as important because so many diverse people come together.

When you get into the real world, fitting in means you become invisible. Invisible is bad. If you want to win at life, you have to be different. I don’t mean different to be different. You have to specialize and show that specialization. If you fit in, no one will remember you.

The articles today all discuss ideas around that theme:

Where Are You Still Using Single-Ply? [Tim Ferriss] – “As I held the toilet paper in my hand, I realized that it was single-ply. Clearly, I had long ago decided to save money by cutting this corner. “We are not in a position to indulge in such excesses!” I imagine I might have thought, shifting my shopping gaze from comfy double-ply Charmin to a war-ration house brand of single-ply.

Of course, here’s the problem: single-ply is a fool’s bargain. It’s a translucent sham. If you don’t want to shove your fingers directly into the pit of despair, you need to fold it over itself again and again, defeating any cost savings. And even if you did save $5 per month, isn’t the extra $5 worth trading 30 days of butt-sanding for 30 days of butt-caressing?”

Being frugal helped get me where I am but staying extremely frugal will not help me build wealth. Sometimes you have to be thinking in “survive” mode and sometimes you have to switch it to “thrive” mode – you can’t forever stay in one or you’ll remain in the same place forever.

(many thanks to Bill from FamZoo for sharing this with me!)

The ladders of wealth creation: a step-by-step roadmap to building wealth [Nathan Barry] – Speaking of “what got you here won’t get you there,” this is clearly evident when you talk about building wealth. Nathan Barry goes through his mental model of how to climb up the income ladder. “What lessons do you need to learn to go from odd jobs around the neighborhood to owning a real estate empire? From working as a freelancer to selling your own digital products? What about from working at Wendy’s to owning a SaaS company earning over $1 million per month? That last one is my own path.”

You can’t trade your time for money forever, you have to move up the ladder if you want to break yourself from that cycle.

Will this $1,000 matter when I’m financially free? [Budgets Are Sexy] – This last nugget is a short post by J. Money in which he captures an important point – don’t beat yourself up too much for “small” things.

Be a friend and send today’s Apex to a friend! Please? 🙂

When to follow the rules…

When J.D. and I started Apex Money, we never really talked about whether or not we’d feature articles from either of one of our blogs. Would we exclude them? Feature them sparingly?

Well, we settled on “let’s do what feels natural.”

Today, I want to feature one of J.D.’s articles that I thought was really good… and quite fitting given how we have NO rules in Apex. 🙂

When to follow the rules — and when to break them [Get Rich Slowly] – “You see, I am fundamentally a Rule Follower. When I’m cooking, I follow the recipe exactly. When I’m building an IKEA desk for my new office, I follow the instructions exactly. On the road, I generally stick to the speed limit (which sometimes drives Kim nuts). I used to take pride that never once did I cheat on my homework or tests in high school and college — and I never helped anyone else cheat either. […] Breaking the rules can lead to innovation. Breaking the rules can let you build a life that is truly your own. Breaking the rules can produce better clam chowder. But in order to break the rules, you have to understand them. More than that, you have to know why the rules exist.”

I’m fundamentally a Rule Bender. Is that a type? 🙂

Surviving My First Year of Business (Tough Times & Lessons Learned) [PT Money] – I’ve known PT for many years and I’ve waited a bit before sharing this post that he wrote back in 2012. It’s about his first year of business and really puts a lot of things into perspective. Today, PT is known as a successful entrepreneur who has created a fantastic blog (PT Money) as well as a really amazing community and conference called FinCon. “I quit my day job to give full-time blogging a try.

The past year and a half have been pretty shaky.

It’s been tough on Mrs. PT and I as we’ve dealt with the ups and downs of the self-employment journey.

I know many of you are going through similar scenarios and can relate. So today I thought I would take a moment to fill you in on how things have been going for me.”

It’s great, especially if you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or you are one and feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water.

Now, onto something a little lighter…

I have many a friend who has flipped tickets profitably, mostly because they didn’t or couldn’t use them, but this story has me feeling for fans who can’t seem to get a seat:

The New Ticket Scalpers Are Young, Unashamed, and Very Online [The Atlantic] – “The moment that Harry Styles announced he would play a one-night-only album-release show at Los Angeles’ historic venue The Forum this December, the question was obvious: Would anyone survive the emotional turmoil of attempting to purchase a ticket to this concert?

Preparing to pull off an improbable feat, Styles’s fans were crushingly supportive of one another, praying in public for their “mutuals” to get good spots on the floor of the arena, offering motivational speeches on Twitter, and blessing the timeline with rings of emoji candles, summoning good energy and a little of Harry’s magic. But when the sale ended, many were left empty-handed, horrified by “the real evil” of scalpers buying tickets out from under the people whose attachment is purer than a business pursuit. They weren’t surprised—this happens every time.”

Know someone who would really enjoy an article in today’s Apex? Please send it to them!

How to create a retirement paycheck.

Thank goodness it’s Friday, money nerds! That means it’s time for another round-up of top personal-finance articles from around the web. Here’s what we have for you today.

How to create a retirement “paycheck”. [Liz Weston at NerdWallet] — “Your expenses don’t end when your paychecks do, but creating a reliable income stream in retirement can be tricky. The right choices can result in sustainable income for the rest of your life. The wrong choices could leave you uncomfortably short of cash.”

How to be the best at what you do. [Inc. magazine] — “When you’re confident about what you do and clear about where you’re going, the right strategy will make itself known. Hence, when your ‘why’ is strong, you’ll figure out ‘how’. The how comes from the why. Not the other way around. If you’re looking for how to be successful, you’re going about it all wrong.”

We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously. [The Spectator] — “Let nobody tell you that the second decade of the 21st century has been a bad time. We are living through the greatest improvement in human living standards in history. Extreme poverty has fallen below 10 per cent of the world’s population for the first time. It was 60 per cent when I was born. Global inequality has been plunging…famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.”

A list of works that entered the Public Domain now that it’s 2020. [Open Culture] — “Copyright terms didn’t always last nearly a century. Before the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act they lasted only 75 years, and for the additional two decades of waiting for works to enter the public domain we usually blame Disney. That entertainment giant did indeed do much of the lobbying for copyright extension, seeking to retain its rights to Mickey Mouse’s 1928 debut Steamboat Willie.”

To finish things this Friday, I thought it’d be fun to share this nine-minute video that explains how to get a world-famous actor to appear in your short film.

Colin Levy created this ambitious ten-minute short film called Skywatch:

The project took him six years. And he capped it off by getting Jude Law to make a cameo in the film. Here’s how.

Fun, right?

Speaking of fun, we’ll be back on Monday with more top money stories to share with you. Got something other Apex readers might like? Send it in!

How to host a family financial meeting.

It’s Thursday, money nerds. And it’s January. And it’s 2020. What does that all mean? It means it’s time for some top money stories to keep you interested and engaged! Here’s what we have for you today.

How to host a family financial meeting. [One Frugal Girl] — “My husband and I hosted our first family financial meeting in 2006 and we’ve continued the tradition almost every year since. We set a date every Valentine’s Day for our big talk. It might not sound very sexy, but twenty-two percent of couples divorce over money issues, so I suppose it’s a good way to ensure we don’t split up over financial concerns…Starting a conversation when you can’t pay your bills or feel annoyed by your partner’s spending is not the best time to start discussing your finances.”

What retirement looks like without enough money. [The Atlantic] — “Roberta Gordon never thought she’d still be alive at age 76. She definitely didn’t think she’d still be working. But every Saturday, she goes down to the local grocery store and hands out samples, earning $50 a day, because she needs the money.”

2020 IRS tax refund schedule: When will you receive your refund? [The Military Wallet] — “We can give you a rough idea of when you will receive your tax refund, but only if you file your federal taxes electronically using a software program or with the IRS E-File. Expect longer delays if you file your return on paper because it takes longer for the IRS to process your paperwork. The tax refund chart below offers more information on when to expect tax refunds.”

The new dot-come bubble is here: It’s called online advertising. [The Correspondent] — “When these experiments showed that ads were utterly pointless, advertisers were not bothered in the slightest. They charged gaily ahead, buying ad after ad. Even when they knew, or could have known, that their ad campaigns were not very profitable, it had no impact on how they behaved.”

Help us out, won’t you? If you see something interesting that’s worth sharing, send it in! Don’t horde the good personal-finance stories to yourself. 😉