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All too well.

Hello hello hello! Welcome to yet another day of Apex Money. Let’s dive right into the delicious money stories, shall we?

How does your MBTI personality type affect your income? [Visual Capitalist] — “Extroverts are much more likely to have higher incomes if they are quick to share thoughts, have high energy, and like being in the public eye. Thinkers also score high on income potential, especially if they enjoy debates, make rational decisions, and moderate their emotions.”

Will real estate ever be normal again? [The New York Times, so possible paywall] — “House hacking, cash flow, passive income, financial independence: These are the buzzwords, but they aren’t new concepts. This is the natural culmination of the way in which housing has been transformed into an investment vehicle over the last 50 years — and it’s a recognition of the economy younger generations have inherited.”

Net given: A better money metric to track. [Seed Time] — “What was really exciting, is that I felt when we really did not have much money at all, we still had this desire in our heart to give. And so we started tracking our giving and it was exciting to be able to see that number go up. Even though we still had a ton of debt and we still had other things that we needed. We were in a hole financially that we needed to dig ourselves out of, but the number that actually meant the most to us was how much we gave.”

The most important decision in life. [Of Dollars and Data] — “The quality of your relationships will affect your lifetime happiness more than just about anything else. And your partner (i.e. the person you will spend the most time with) is a significant part of that equation. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy as a single person, but there is some research suggesting that married individuals are marginally happier than their single counterparts.”

There are those who wonder if my vocal public adoration of Taylor Swift is a joke. Hell no, it’s not a joke. She’s an amazing musician, entrepreneur, and person. She kicks frickin’ ass.

Last Saturday, she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She performed one song — a ten-minute version of “All Too Well” in front of a short film based on the lyrics. It was amazing. Even non-Swifties are raving about this…

You know one of my favorite things about Swift? She’s not perfect, and she doesn’t pretend to be. This performance is “pitchy”, as they say, but who cares? It’s so raw and true and vulnerable. Terrific stuff.

Speaking of terrific stuff, I’ll be back tomorrow with a final day of favorite finance stories for the week. Come back to share them with me, ‘kay?

Heavy metal parking lot.

Welcome to Wednesday, money bosses. You’ll find it no surprise that I’ve collected some excellent money stories to share with you today. Let’s get to them.

I spent 44 years studying retirement. Then I retired. [Wall Street Journal, but this is a version that bypasses the WSJ paywall] — “Some retirees, if they can control events, plan a clean break from what went before and head in new directions. In my case, and knowing a lot about the experience of others, I foresaw continuity for myself across the transition: same person, same interests, same relationships. What is clear now is that I have arrived at a place that is further than I had imagined from the worker that I was, from the setting where I worked, and from the younger man that I had been. I have arrived only to embark.”

The booming underground market for bots that steal your two-factor authentication codes. [Vice] — “With these bots that cost a few hundred dollars, anyone can start getting around multi-factor authentication, a security measure that many members of the public may assume is largely secure. The bots’ existence and increased popularity raises questions on whether online services need to offer more phishing-resistant forms of authentication to protect users.”

In the supply chain battle of 2021, small businesses are losing out to Walmart and Amazon. [The Washington Post] — “Small retailers and manufacturers, already crushed by large national brands during the pandemic, are being disproportionately walloped by delays, shortages and other supply chain disruptions ahead of the holidays. In many cases, they’re losing out to giants like Walmart and Amazon, which are spending millions to charter their own ships and planes to move merchandise. Independent shop owners, who have no such recourse, say they’re often the last in line for products because manufacturers prioritize larger, more lucrative contracts.”

And today’s fun non-financial video is a blast from the past. It’s a 17-minute home movie called “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”, which documents heavy-metal music fans gathering in 1986 for a Judas Priest concert in 1986.

This was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, and I have to say: All of this seems so, so familiar. It makes me nostalgic.

Okay, that’s all I have today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more. Join me, won’t you?

The code that controls your money.

Calling all Apexians! Calling all Apexians! Come in, Apexians! It’s time for another day of interesting money stories from around the web. Here’s what I have for you…

The code that controls your money. [Wealthsimple Magazine] — “When your boss hands you your paycheck, odds are it was calculated using COBOL. If you invest, your stock trades run on it too. So does health care: Insurance companies in the U.S. use ‘adjudication engines’ — software that figures out what a doctor or drug company will get paid for a service — which were written in COBOL. Wonder why, when you’re shopping at a retailer you will see a clerk typing into an old-style terminal, with green text on a black background? It’s because the inventory system is using COBOL.” [See also: This conversation about the article on MetaFilter.]

If you don’t ask, you don’t get — so keep asking! [Filled with Monday] — “If you don’t ask, you don’t get means that even if there’s a chance that the other party could be annoyed, it’s the only way to get what you want. If you never ask for things, why would people ever give them to you? People are not mind readers. The easy way to get things you want is to just simply ask for them.”

Dave Ramsey, corporate media, and how we talk about financial distress. [Columbia Journalism Review] — “In this economic moment, and for much of Ramsey’s career, being relatable to a wide audience means invoking financial pain, and vice versa. Individual debt saturates the country, and has for decades—over the same amount of time that media consolidation has been in full swing, with companies leveraging vast amounts of debt to become larger and larger, The Ramsey Show has created an archive of individual financial distress akin to Studs Terkel’s in Hard Times.” [This article long article doesn’t seem to have a clear thesis — not a strong one, anyhow — but it’s interesting nonetheless.]

The same stories again and again. [Collaborative Fund] — “In hindsight we view bubbles as periods when people lose their minds, tempted with dumb decisions and overconfidence. That’s partly true. But there’s another cause: People who spend their whole careers working hard amid uncertainty view the new era of prosperity as their deserved reward, the entire point of putting in years of long hours to begin with. So rather than a warning sign, the bubble is seen as crossing the finish line and being patted on the back after a long journey.”

My cousin Duane came to visit a couple of weeks ago. His throat cancer is getting worse, but he’s still fighting! After an afternoon toodling around our town, we came home and watched comedy on YouTube. It was at that time that Duane introduced me to the glory of British quiz shows.

These “quiz shows” — Would I Lie to You?, QI, Countdown, etc. — are only loosely games. There’s a game going on, sure, but it’s really just an excuse for the panel of comedians to have a good time as they entertain the audience. They feel like the shows I used to love on American TV in the late 70s and early 80s.

Anyhow, as an example of how much fun they are, here’s a twelve-minute clip from Would I Lie to You? during which one team is trying to guess which member of the opposing team is actually telling the truth.

I think it’s funny, funny stuff and I wish there were more shows like this on television nowadays. Perhaps you will like it too.

Okay, that’s all I have for today. Come back tomorrow for more!

There is no such thing as enough money.

Good morning, money nerds, and welcome to another week of Apex Money. This is the place where we gather interesting money stories from all corners of the internet to share with you. Let’s dive right in.

How to increase your savings while spending. [Behavioral Scientist] — “This ‘saving through spending’ setup is an innovative way that government, financial services companies, retailers, and tech companies are working together to help people grow their retirement savings. By combining saving with everyday spending, programs in places as diverse as Mexico, Australia, and Spain are hoping to help solve the problem that too few people are saving enough for retirement, especially for those with lower incomes who fall outside of traditional pension and retirement structures.”

I retired at 30 and now I’m lost, depressed, and don’t know what to do. [/r/financialindependence on Reddit] – “In all, what was supposed to be an amazing journey has turned into one of the darkest periods of my life. I don’t want to go back to work just for the sake of filling my time, and I also don’t know how to move forward either. It’s been hell feeling the time tick away with nothing to do and nothing I have to do. I wish I had read this line before and taken it to heart: retire to a life, not away from one.”

There is no such thing as enough money. [Incognito Money Scribe] — “There is never enough money, if you can’t see the riches in front of you now. The question shouldn’t be: how much money is enough? It should be: how much more clarity do you need to see the rich, joyful things happening all around you?”

Our last piece today is video that’s almost money related. On YouTube, James Hoffman (who does great videos about coffee) reviews Aldi’s absurdly cheap single-cup coffee brewer.

To me, this is entertaining regardless whether you’re in the market for a new coffee brewer. Heck, I don’t even have an Aldi within 500 miles of me. (Although I do see there’s now one in Fresno, which is 571 miles away.) I don’t know why, but I love have James Hoffman nerds out on coffee stuff.

Okay, that’s it for Monday. I’ll be back tomorrow with more. See you then!

What’s Your “Why?”

What’s Your “Why”? (And the Point of FI) [TicTocLife] – “Have you really taken a moment to stop and think about what the wealth you’re building is for? I don’t mean basic motivation that drives just about everyone to save money. I’m not asking about obtaining the ability to pay your bills, make ends meet, or create some sort of “contented life”. Rather, I’m asking you if you have thought about the purpose behind your pursuit of something beyond the normal—financial independence.”

It’s important to ponder these things on your journey towards financial independence.

Buying Crypto Assets [AVC] – “I do not believe the web3/crypto opportunity can be captured by simply holding Bitcoin and Ethereum anymore. You must own a broader set of assets because the market is expanding beyond the OGs now and you need to be exposed to more of it.”

How My Genius Roommate Changed My Perspective [Farhad Ghayour] – This exercise inspired me to approach the world with this new-found mental tool. I thought to myself: “Identify my goal, take into account what I have, and creatively repurpose towards my goal.” I thought that I was ready. I had unlocked his way of thinking. I looked around my room and tried to find other things I could repurpose in creative ways.” The name for this is French – it’s bricolage. I love it.

This last post is very quick to read but something you might want to take some time to ponder:

This column will change your life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory [The Guardian]

Have a great weekend!

Father time is undefeated

I love the phrase “What got you here won’t get you there” because it’s a lesson that is never taught in school.

In school, you’re trying to fit in. When you get out into the real world, you realize that success comes when you don’t fit in. It’s when you stand out and excel. It’s a hard lesson to learn and many never learn it.

A lot of things in life change over time and those who adapt and adjust tend to excel.

How The Money Game Changes With Time [Banker on Fire] – “Spend less than you make, invest the difference, let your investments compound for as long as possible. That being said, you still need to calibrate your approach. The strategies that work when you are twenty-five no longer apply when you are nearing retirement – and vice versa. In today’s post, let’s explore how the money game changes as you go through the various stages of life.”

No, It’s Not Just You: Why time “speeds up” as we get older [Harvard] – “How a clock measures time and how you perceive it are quite different. As we grow older, it can often feel like time goes by faster and faster. This speeding up of subjective time with age is well documented by psychologists, but there is no consensus on the cause. In a paper published this month, Professor Adrian Bejan presents an argument based on the physics of neural signal processing. He hypothesizes that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, and this is what makes time ‘speed up’ as we grow older.” Here’s the longer article published on Cambridge University Press but the post on the Harvard site gives a good summary. Interesting theory.

If we are simply dropping frames, maybe we should use those frames better!

How To Learn Stuff Quickly {Josh W. Comeau] – “Learning how to learn effectively is super important, especially as a software developer; learning new things is practically the whole gig! If you can learn to quickly pick up new languages/frameworks/tools, you’ll be able to be way more productive than the average developer. It’s sort of a superpower. In this blog post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about learning, and show you how I pick up new skills lickety-split!”

I like articles about learning because it’s a meta-skill – get better at getting better at stuff will result in being better at stuff faster! 🙂

All joking aside, it’s a good article, check it out.

Having more options isn’t necessarily better

The Trouble with Optionality [The Harvard Crimson] – “This emphasis on creating optionality can backfire in surprising ways. Instead of enabling young people to take on risks and make choices, acquiring options becomes habitual. You can never create enough option value—and the longer you spend acquiring options, the harder it is to stop.”

Risking, Fast and Slow [Of Dollars and Data] – “Slow risk is the accumulation of bad decisions that eventually leads to an unwanted outcome. It’s developing heart disease after decades of improper eating. It’s getting divorced after neglecting your spouse for years. It’s sitting in cash while you wait to buy the dip. With slow risk, there’s no single event that you can point to and say, “Here’s where I went wrong.” No. It’s the cumulative effect of your improper decision-making that leads you astray.”

REvil Ransom Arrest, $6M Seizure, and $10M Reward [Krebs on Security] – “The U.S. Department of Justice today announced the arrest of Ukrainian man accused of deploying ransomware on behalf of the REvil ransomware gang, a Russian-speaking cybercriminal collective that has extorted hundreds of millions from victim organizations. The DOJ also said it had seized $6.1 million in cryptocurrency sent to another REvil affiliate, and that the U.S. Department of State is now offering up to $10 million for the name or location any key REvil leaders, and up to $5 million for information on REvil affiliates.”

This is kind of cool and kind of ridiculous — Man in Bosnia builds a rotating house [on Youtube]

How the super-rich buy their homes

They’re like you and me, except they have millions of dollars and access to financial instruments we don’t! 🙂

How the super-rich buy their homes [Financial Times] – “For years the super-rich, advised by a suite of lawyers, accountants and bankers have taken mortgages — often reaching up to 100 per cent of the value of the property — on the world’s priciest homes. The majority of loans are interest-only; most are never paid off unless the home is sold; increasingly, when the home is inherited, the next generation will take out a comparable loan. The money saved can then be shuffled around the world in search of the best tax deal and the biggest investment gains.”

Why the Survival of the Airlines Depends on Frequent Flyer Programs [Marker] – “It turns out frequent flyer programs are worth more than the airlines themselves.” The article is from 9/2020 but still accurate today.

Spiders are much smarter than you think [Knowable Magazine] – “Cross studies the behavior of jumping spiders, the undisputed champs of cognition among spiders. Although these tiny arachnids have brains that could literally fit on the head of a pin, the work of Cross and other scientists suggests that they have capabilities we’d have no problem hailing as signs of intelligence if exhibited by animals with much larger brains, like dogs or human toddlers.” You have to read the section where they describe the jumping spiders and the strategies they use to HUNT OTHER SPIDERS. And then the lab tests. It’s remarkable.

Ever wonder what hectamillionaires worry about?

A hectamillion is someone with $100,000,000 – that’s one hundred million dollars (or more!).

I can’t even begin to fathom it but through the power of the internet (mostly Reddit), there’s a hectomillionaire who has written about the things that ZestyLife8262 has been working through:

I enjoyed it for the peek into the life and challenges. I don’t know if “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” is legitimately a thing but Mo’ Money certainly does mean different problems.

Many Americans are overpaying for their car loans!

Welcome to Friday, my friends, and welcome to another day of Apex Money. Today, I’ve got four interesting articles for you all…

How to avoide lifestyle inflation — and when to embrace it. [Bitches Get Riches] — “If all of this sounds suspiciously like lifestyle inflation, that’s because it is! And yet I feel no guilt over inflating my lifestyle from time to time when my income significantly increases. This is generally considered a cardinal sin of personal finance. It’s right up there with buying lattes or taking the name of Dave Ramsey in vain. So let’s unpack that.”

This advice for becoming a better golfer can also help you become a better investor. [Elm Wealth] — “Scott’s insistence on taking uncertainty into account in making good decisions applies equally to golf and investing. We cannot reach good decisions by focusing on the base-case return of an investment. Instead, we need to weigh up all possible investment outcomes, the cost or benefit of each one to us, and the probability of each.” [I like this article a lot.]

Does money buy happiness? [Female in Finance] — “I lived in a beautiful building in the heart of Lake Oswego, Oregon with floor to ceiling windows. And I would lay in bed, and just watch all of the people outside. They were laughing, holding hands, playing with friends, eating ice cream, and walking their dogs. I wanted connection so desperately. I would have done ANYTHING to walk around the block, say hi to a stranger, order a chai latte, walk my dog, grab tacos with a friend. The money didn’t matter. It didn’t make me happy.”

Many Americans are overpaying for their car loans. [Consumer Reports] — “CR’s investigation found that interest rates charged can be stratospheric; in some cases APRs stretch beyond 25 percent. But our analysis also reveals that consumers who are financially similar and have comparable credit scores can be charged wildly divergent interest rates. Even people with high credit scores can be charged exorbitantly. What’s going on?” [This happened to me. I have excellent credit — a score over 800 — and I was given a loan with an exorbitant interest rate. My fault for not pushing back harder, I know. In the end, I just paid it off in a few months, but interesting to know it’s an issue for others too.]

That’s it for this week, Apexians. Jim will be back on Monday with more great stuff. And I’ll see you in ten days — from Cincinnati! 🙂