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Apex Money Posts

“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…

Math doesn’t always fix the problem.

Today is Tuesday, money nerds, and we have more top money stories for you.

What capitalism is and how it affects people. [Teen Vogue — yes, really] — “The reason many millennials haven’t been investing in mutual funds or building up their own financial nest eggs isn’t because they’re too broke, or that they lack personal responsibility — it’s because they think our current economic system, capitalism, will cease to exist by the time they are in their 60s.” This is an interesting, well-sourced piece (even if you don’t agree with it).

Is it harder to retire early with kids? [Retire by 40] — “Is early retirement out of reach if you have kids? As all parents know – children are not cheap. The USDA projected parents will spend $233,610 to raise a child from birth to age 17. That’s a lot of money! Early retirement is already difficult to achieve. Once you add child raising expense, it’s pretty much impossible especially if you have more than one child.” Or is it?

D.I.Y. private equity is luring small investors. [The New York Times, so possible paywall] — “Amateur investors are setting up high-risk, high-return deals on their own, but the key to success varies…These amateur investor groups are another iteration of investment clubs that have popped up around the country for decades. Most of those clubs have sought to channel the collective wisdom of their members to do something that professional investors struggle to do full time.” [via Apex reader Michael Laurence]

Math doesn’t always fix the problem. [Dave Ramsey on YouTube] — I love this video. It demonstrates why Dave Ramsey is great at what he does. “How much of this decision is emotional?” Ramsey asks. “Zero,” the caller says. “If you had a $300,000 in cash sitting on your kitchen table, would you buy this house again?” “Probably not.” BOOM! Personal finance is personal. Money management is about more than math.

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.

Patience and wealth go hand in hand.

It’s Monday once more, money nerds, and that means it’s the start of another week of top money stories from around the web. Let’s get ready to build some wealth!

“I’m a data scientist and I’m skeptical about data.” [Quartz] — “Data doesn’t say anything. Humans say things. They say what they notice or look for in data — data that only exists in the first place because humans chose to collect it, and they collected it using human-made tools.”

Wealth and patience appear to go hand in hand. [Christian Science Monitor] — “Patience, it seems, is associated with factors that are key for upward mobility. Patient individuals, for example, not only were more likely to save but also had higher education levels, researchers found. It may not be a coincidence that some of the wealthiest nations in the world rank as the most patient.” This is a short summary of findings from a much longer journal article.

Patience and wealth are correlated

The unexpected benefits of downsizing your home to save money. [Educator FI] — “I never pretend a choice is universally right for everyone. I can say we’ve experienced amazing benefits from downsizing. If you’re considering it, consider these possibilities. Instead of improving our finances while our living conditions were ‘good enough’ for our remaining work years, moving to a smaller home had a significant positive impact on our quality of life.”

I love today’s final feature — but I hate myself for loving it. Here’s a poor kid getting a harsh life lesson via the game of Monopoly. Nobody likes taxes, my friend. Nobody.

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.

Making $35,000 bonsai scissors.

Far out, money nerds! It’s Friday! The weekend is here and it’s time to celebrate with a handful of top money stories from around the web.

Everything is temporary. Nearly everything is reversible. [CityFrugal] — “Nearly all our financial decisions are like this. If you take a job and you don’t like it, you can find a new one. If you buy an apartment and get moved for work three years later, you can sell it. If you don’t like a city, you can move back to your old one or try another…Nothing we do is permanent.

“Why I don’t use the FIRE acronym to describe financial freedom.” [Monevator] — “Yoking the concept of financial independence together with retiring early is not ideal. I just don’t see them as uniquely wedded at the hip. Also, I suspect it causes confusion about goals, and even cultivates outrage from those dreaded ‘retirement police’ who get angry if a FIRE-ee earns a few bob on the side.”

Is the U.S. on its way to becoming a cash-less society? [Harvard Business Review] — “Taken together, these data do signal that a ‘less cash’ society is emerging and that an entirely cashless society is unlikely any time soon–especially when 70% of Americans still report using cash on a weekly basis. But 50%, 60%, or 70% cashless is certainly conceivable.”

Robo-advisors are still hot. Here’s how their portfolios are performing. [Barron’s] — “Robo assets continue to rise, to at least $440 billion at last count, according to Backend’s analysis. The increase has been driven by new services, including access to live advisors, sustainable-investing products, and higher-yielding cash accounts.”

To finish off our Friday edition of Apex Money, here’s a four-minute video about master blacksmith Yasuhiro Hirakawa. He makes a variety of knives and other tools, including $35,000 scissors. $35,000?!?!? Yep. Take a look.

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

All the right stuff.

Hola, money nerds, y bienvenidos al jueves. Let’s dive right in to our top money stories.

Gathering investment lessons from the headlines. [A Wealth of Common Sense] — “Sometimes the headlines tell us all we need to know about market sentiment. Other times they give us false positives. And other times all the tell us is the financial news organization that put them out had to fulfill their quota for the day.”

Exercise makes you happier than having money. [World Economic Forum] — “It’s clear exercise has health benefits both physical and mental — but what if we could actually prove it was more important to your mental health than your economic status? According to a study carried out by researchers at Yale and Oxford, we may have done just that.”

Meet the men obsessed with carrying all of the right stuff. [Vox] — An introduction to the world of Everyday Carry (EDC). “While the term — usually used as a noun, like ‘my EDC’ — was originally born out of threads on outdoor enthusiast forums where users would reveal the items they carry on their person every day, such as your wallet, keys, phone, or even a knife or two, it’s now exploded into full-blown subculture.”

I’d never heard of EDC until last weekend. If you’ve been reading me (J.D.) for any length of time, you know I’m obsessed with bags. I own too many backpacks and messenger bags. Yet, I just ordered another. It’s the Luminary 15 in burnt orange from Tom Bihn, and it’s billed as an EDC pack.

Here’s how Mythbusters’ Adam Savage describes EDC.

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

Let’s talk like we used to.

What’s up, money nerds? It’s Wednesday and these are your top stories about personal finance.

“Three reasons I prefer bloggers over journalists.” [ESI Money] — “In my online reading, I read a wide variety — both blogs as well as mainstream money articles written by ‘professional’ journalists. After having done so for many years, it’s clear to me that I prefer pieces from bloggers BY FAR over those by journalists. There are a lot of reasons for this, but here are the top three…”

The futility of blame when pursuing financial improvement. [The Simple Dollar] — “When you fail at something (or don’t even try) and blame others for that failure, it’s nothing more than an excuse for your own poor behavior. It’s an excuse for you to not have to put out effort, because you’ll always have that convenient ‘them’ to point at as the convenient ‘reason’ for your failure.”

This next link isn’t really about money. Sorry. It’s about blogging. It’s an article from my friend David Cain, who writes the excellent blog Raptitude, which is all about getting better at being human. If you don’t read this site, you should. Seriously.

Let’s talk like we used to. [Raptitude] — “A few weeks ago someone commented on my new post, saying they had just stumbled across my blog, and that it was ‘very old school’. I took that as a compliment, and got to reminiscing about what old school blogging really felt like, compared to today. Something’s definitely gone missing — some quality that made it vivid and exciting, and I want it back.”

Today’s final link is, well, perhaps a little esoteric. It’s an interview with Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer, philosopher, and Luddite. Never heard of Berry? Not surprising.

Going home with Wendell Berry. [The New Yorker] — “Berry, who is now eighty-four, does not own a computer or a cell phone, and his landline is not connected to an answering machine. We corresponded by mail for a year, and in November 2018, he invited me to visit him at his farmhouse, in Port Royal, a small community in Henry County, Kentucky, with a population of less than a hundred. Berry and his wife, Tanya, received me with exceptional kindness, and fed me well.”

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

Owning your home won’t make you rich.

Time to dive into Tuesday’s top money stories, money nerds. Are you ready? Today it’s all about homes and autos.

What will smart homes like ten years from now? [Time] — “A decade from now, experts say, we’ll move from turning the lights on and off with our voices to total immersion in the Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, the smartest homes will be able to truly learn about their owners or occupants, eventually anticipating their needs.”

Smart homes of the future

Owning your home doesn’t make you rich. Owning someone else’s home does. [L.A. Times] — “In every country Fessler and Schürz studied, homeowners’ wealth hovers near the national average. The biggest gaps are between those who own businesses and rental properties and their customers and tenants. In terms of wealth, that gap is widest in the United States and Austria. In terms of income alone, the United States tops the list.”

Was the automotive era a terrible mistake? [The New Yorker] — “When the people of the future look back at our century of auto life, will they regard it as a useful stage of forward motion or as a wrong turn? Is it possible that, a hundred years from now, the age of gassing up and driving will be seen as just a cul-de-sac in transportation history, a trip we never should have taken?” A l-o-n-g look at the history of driving — and its possible future.

Okay, our final piece today has nothing to do with money (okay, a little to do with money if you count the tip at the end) and is very likely not safe for work — unless you work in a maternity ward.

Here’s a baby being born in the back seat of an Uber (or taxi — I’m not sure which). This driver is crazy calm.

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

Influencers are bullshit.

Happy Monday, money nerds. Today’s top money stories are all about how our friends and family influence us — both on social media and in real life.

How your friends change your habits — for better or worse. [BBC] — “We often think that self-control comes from within, yet many of our actions depend just as much on our friends and family as ourselves. Those we surround ourselves with have the power to make us fatter, drink more alcohol, care less about the environment and be more risky with sun protection, among many things. This is not simply peer pressure…Beneath your awareness, your brain is constantly picking up on cues from the people around you to inform your behaviour. And the consequences can be serious.”

The age of envy: How to be happy when everyone else’s life looks perfect. [The Guardian] — “Perhaps, though, each of us also needs to think more carefully when we do use social media actively, about what we are trying to say and why – and how the curation of our online personas can contribute to this age of envy in which we live.”

“I make seven figures a year traveling the world and let me tell you: Influencers are bullshit.” [Matt Kepnes on Thought Catalog] — “Calling yourself an influencer is all about you. That means all you’re doing is talking about yourself and trying to show your best life on social media — while then often complaining about how many hours you work and how hard it is. You know why it’s hard? Because, since you don’t really create anything of value to others, you have to hustle for every dollar…‘Inspiration porn’ only goes so far.

Lastly, check out the Personal Finance Club account on Instagram. Nearly every day, Jeremy Schneider posts fun and informative images and infographics to help people get better with money. This is an example of how we — all of us — can use social media as a tool for good.

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

“I make a lot more money than my girlfriend. It’s causing problems.”

It’s another freaky Friday, money nerds, and we’re glad to have you with us. Got some great stuff for you today. Let’s dive right in.

The man with the golden airline ticket. [Narratively] — “My dad was one of the only people with a good-for-life, go-anywhere American Airlines pass. Then they took it away. This is the true story of having — and losing — a superpower.” This story is long but it’s a great read.

“I make significantly more money than my new girlfriend. It’s causing problems.” [/r/relationship_advice on Reddit] — “I’m an anesthesiologist in Washington, D.C. and make over 300k a year…My gal works at a nonprofit and makes 55k a year. She’s a bit of a penny pincher, happy to spend money on trips and dining out, but budgets religiously and tracks every penny she spends. We’ve been dating for about four months now, and it’s going really well. I love spending time with her. The issue is, I think she’s uncomfortable with how much money I make…Any thoughts on how to navigate this?

Who actually feels satisfied about money? [The Atlantic] — “These days, not even the rich feel rich. According to a recent survey by the financial-advisory firm Ameriprise Financial, only 13 percent of American millionaires classify themselves as wealthy. Even some of those surveyed who had more than $5 million…said they didn’t feel rich. If multimillionaires don’t feel wealthy, who does?

Lastly, here’s a perfect piece to finish a Friday: a classic stand-up comedy routine from George Carlin in which he talks about how our lives are dominated by Stuff:

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