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Do what you love?

My parents emphasized education because for many immigrants, education is the way to level up in your life.

That said, there wasn’t anything wrong with being a janitor. A janitor may not be paid a lot but janitors are very important because they keep places clean. They work hard, get paid, and when they go home they no longer worry about their work.

The same can’t be said in a corporate job. You may put in 9-10 hour days but sometimes you have to answer emails on the weekend. Or go into work on Sunday. Or go on work trips. You may be paid more but it might not be that much more on an hourly basis!

The janitor doesn’t have a care in the world on Saturdays and Sundays – they’re living their life.

Which is to say this short piece by Paul Jarvis should hit home to those who tie too much of their identity with their your job:

Do what you love [Paul Jarvis] – “I’ve never understood why so many people are so concerned with only doing a job that makes them happy – as if anything else wasn’t worth doing.” This article will take you only a couple minutes to read but you’ll think about it for a while.

That first one was so brief, we need the next two to really cement the message:

Chasing Your Dreams is Probably a Bad Idea [Clipping Chains] – “When it comes to jobs and careers, parents the world over tell their children more-or-less the same message: you can do anything you want in life. Follow your dreams, and the rest will work out in the end. Of course, those same parents leave early each morning to go to a job that — as statistics show — they probably don’t love.”

Face It, We Are All Expendable: Financial Viability Countermeasures That Matter [Leisure Freak] – “It seems unthinkable today. Having your life and chosen future plans made expendable solely on gender and date of birth. As a young teenager I was fully aware what hitting age 18 meant. My poor working class keister could get a draft notification for the jungles of Vietnam.” Speaking of identifying too much with your job, this one reminds us why financial independence is important because of how expendable we are.

Ever wonder why so many companies are “located” in Delaware? Specifically, 1209 Orange Street. Wilmington, DE is home to 285,000 companies! Watch this video.

Bet there isn’t a place in the world that makes as much money per square foot!

If you have a second, please tell a friend to tell a friend about Apex Money!

How to Start Saying No to School Fundraisers

I loathe third-party school fundraisers.

I don’t hate raising money for schools or good causes but our kids come back with donation forms almost every single month. One involved jumping rope, another involved a race, there was one that was just collecting money.

So far it seems innocuous right? The worst part about all of them was the HEAVY emphasis on prizes. Get $25 in donations, you get a stuffed animal. If you collect $50, there’s another prize. It went all the way up to $500 and you get a drone or something.

What lessons are we teaching our kids? Ask family and friends for money so you can get toys? It wasn’t focused on raising money to help a cause, it was solely about getting a toy. It’s infuriating. I had to edit this opening like a dozen times because of all the spelling errors I had because I was so argghrhhrhfhdhdhgjoi!!111!!11! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. OK it’s out of my system.

All this is to prep you for the first article… which clearly hit a hot button for me. And probably every other parent in the world. 🙂

How to Start Saying No to School Fundraisers [The Frugal Engineers] – “The first time we encountered this type of third-party fundraising was in PRESCHOOL. We ordered an obscene amount of frozen pizza and frozen cookie dough so our daughter could earn a ticket to the coveted “private school event” for top fundraisers. The event turned out to be a glorified play date at school. Disenchanted, we vowed to say no to school fundraisers for the rest of the year.”

Incidentally, what we do is pick one fundraising event to do and we skip the rest.

The Hidden Perk of Saving Up for Big Purchases [Half Banked] – “When you save up, it gives you time to think.”

The World’s Most Luxurious “Hut-to-Hut” Hikes [AFAR] – “Not all multi-day trekking experiences are created rugged; some allow you to conquer challenging terrain by day and luxuriate in utter comfort (and maybe a hot tub) by night.” Ohhhh I like hiking but I also like a comfortable bed. Some of these look amazing. Who am I kidding… they ALL look amazing.

Know a friend who might like an article we shared? Please forward this to them 🙂

The little things are the big things

When I was younger, my parents always emphasized finishing. Whatever task I was doing, finish it. 100%.

Not 99%. Not 99.9%. Not 99.99999999% — 100%.

It took into my thirties to finally internalize that message and finish.

That last tenth of a percent may seem silly but there’s power in completing loops and crossing things off the list.

Those little things may not seem significant but they are big in ways that aren’t always immediately obvious.

If you Run a Small Business Park In the Back of the Parking Lot [Skyclerk] – “Even on 30 below zero days with 3 feet of fresh snow on the ground, he would not waver and park any closer to the front door.” This story is framed for small businesses but I’d argue this is a good principle for how people should behave. The little things are the big things.

If you want to be a part of the 1%, you can’t live your life like the other 99% [Steve Adcock] – “If you want to be above average, then you can’t keep acting like you’re average. Living an above-average life means you’re making decisions consistent with being above average, not just average.”

What Really Happens When You Become an Overnight Millionaire? [Marker] – “Peter Rahal, a 33-year-old energy-bar impresario who sold RxBar to Kellogg for $600 million and became something of a consumer-products legend in the process, stood in the gigantic, spotless kitchen in his new Miami Beach mansion. Behind him, floor-to-ceiling windows revealed his pool, his outdoor bar, and Sunset Harbour. Throughout the house were expensive-looking modernist metal chandeliers; in the kitchen’s drawers, there were gold utensils.” That’s the opening paragraph but this isn’t an article slamming wealth. It’s the story of what happens to so many people when they are financially secure after selling a business… it’s half the story of RxBar and half the financial version of a kid growing six inches in a year and learning how to adjust to his new form.

And now for something that tickles the trivia and fun side:

The Secret Story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Last Tango [Daily Beast] – This was one of my favorite movies and I never knew the real ending. “One of the two hosts, James “Santiago” Ryan, had once worked as a butcher, and outside the cabin, he must have cast a critical eye on the men grilling the lamb and beef. The other man, Henry “Enrique” Place, spoke better Spanish than his friend and business partner, and would have spent more of the evening inside with Ethel, his wife. […] In another life, they had gone by other names. Many other names, in fact; the men put on aliases the way other people put on coats. In Argentina, they hoped to conceal forever the names history would remember them by: Butch and Sundance.”

Have a great day!

What is your why

The basics of personal finance are not hard. You want to spend less than you earn, save for the future, etc.

It becomes hard when those principles intersect with life events. An emergency fund is great until you have a problem with your car AND a cut back in hours at work AND pipe leak in your house AND…

It becomes even harder when it collides with problems that cannot be solved with money alone. Like serious medical emergencies.

But what keeps us going through those times is a sense of purpose. It’s the key message in Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Today’s Apex will be all about finding purpose.

An Unproductive life [Go Curry Cracker] – “A couple of centuries ago some people were thinking the industrial revolution would lead to the end of toil and strife. Automation would bring shorter workdays, fewer work weeks, and an abundance of free time. Email would allow people to attend fewer meetings and spend more time outside the office. It would be a new golden age. Alas, in practice most of the advances just resulted in more work. Culturally, we traded greater productivity for a higher material standard of living rather than greater freedom. We do more for the sake of more.” Unproductive is the part that should be in quotes!

Financial Independence Will Not Set You Free [Darius Foroux] – “For the longest time, I chased empty goals. An empty goal is something that doesn’t make you feel any different once you achieve it. Can you relate to that?”

7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose [Mark Manson] – “Most of us have no clue what we want to do with our lives. Even after we finish school. Even after we get a job. Even after we’re making money. Between ages 18 and 25, I changed career aspirations more often than I changed my underwear. And even after I had a business, it took another four years to clearly define what I wanted for my life.” The questions may seem strange until you read why you should ask them… then they are not strange at all.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life Might Just Help You Live a More Fulfilling Life [Thomas Oppong on Medium] – “What’s your reason for getting up in the morning? The Japanese island of Okinawa, where ikigai has its origins, is said to be home to the largest population of centenarians in the world.”

The people in your life are what make it worth living

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest-running studies about adult life at nearly 80 years old.

The study, known as the Grant Study, started with 269 Harvard undergraduates and of that number, 19 are still alive today.

The study revealed a lot of things but one key idea about happiness emerged – “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

Today’s articles all focus on that idea but the first two involve children and are particularly poignant. If you have children in your life, whether your own or others you care deeply for, these articles will likely trigger a reaction.

Warning, they are NOT easy to read yet are incredibly powerful.

My 16 year old won’t say I Love You [The FI Old Guys] – OG2 shares why he’s seeking financial independence. As he puts it, he needs to retire as soon as possible. I’ve never before read a blog post with this breadth of openness, honesty, and emotion.

It’s later than you think [J.R. Storment] – “Eight years ago, during the same month, I had twin boys and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago we lost one of our boys […] After an hour of waiting in shock out front, I told the armed police officers guarding the doors that I couldn’t wait any longer. They allowed me to go out to the deck facing the kids room to peer through the sliding glass window. He lay in his bed, covers neatly on, looking peacefully asleep. I put my hand on the glass and lost it.” J.R. Storment shares the story of the passing of his 8-year-old son and his regrets.

The Tail End [Wait But Why] – “It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.” The first two pieces were about children but this one is going in the other direction.

I want to leave you with this TEDxBeaconStreet talk by Robert Waldinger titled “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.” The study in question is the Grant Study I mentioned in the introduction.

Lastly, go hug someone you care about right now.

I won’t apologize for spending money

I’M BACK!

As you may have seen last week, J.D. is gallivanting in Europe again though this time it involves more work than pleasure, and so I’m (Jim) back. Did you miss me?

If so, I’ll be on deck to curate over the next two weeks.

If not, well, I hope you’ll give me a chance to win you over!

I Won’t Apologize For Spending Money [Passive Income M.D.] – “Recently, a few of my family members expressed some concern over my spending habits. They said to me, in essence, that I was spending too much.” The broader message here is that what you see on the surface is only part of the story. Just as how 90% of an iceberg is below the water’s surface, you can’t tell much about one’s financial situation from the outside.

The 5 Secret Levels in the Game of Money (and How to Beat Them…) [My Money Wizard] – “Money is nothing more than a real life video game. And not just any game, either. ‘Money’ might as well be the most complex Role Playing Game (RPG) ever developed.” This is an interesting framework with which to play the game of money & life.

Podcast sponsorship revenue continues to fuel NPR’s financial growth [Current] – This may be a little inside baseball for other creators but podcast sponsorships are for real. “NPR is projecting that podcast sponsorship revenues will surpass revenues from broadcast sponsorships next year for the first time.” This reminds me of when advertising started moving away from “traditional” platforms and toward “digital” platforms.

I love when masters of something (anything) talk about their craft. For today, I want to leave you with this Wired video featuring Gentry Stein. Stein is a world yo-yo champion and he talks about his mastery. There’s a little yo-yo history but the fun part is when Stein goes to work.

Like it? Love it? Share it?

How to do nothing.

Happy Friday, money nerds. Just a few more hours until the weekend! As I mentioned yesterday, I’m now in Portugal for a week of “rich people talk” at a financial retreat. Following that, I fly to Joshua Tree, California for more of the same. So, yes, it’s another couple of weeks on the road for me.

Starting on Monday, Mr. Wang will take over curation duties here at Apex. Before he does, though, I have a few final money stories to share.

To kick things off, here’s a video that’s far more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I have a lot of experience with blog monetization but I know nothing about making money on YouTube. Shelby Church does. She has 1.3 million subscribers. Recently she shared: “How much I get paid for 1,000,000 views on YouTube.” (Spoiler: It depends.)

Where you are born is more predictive of your future than any other factor. [Bill Gates] — “No one’s life should be a roll of the dice. Were you born, as we were, with the odds in your favor? Or are you one of the billions of people born with the odds against you? Our goal is to even the odds for everyone. When that happens, the future won’t be predicted by random factors…” This presentation is very much about what Warren Buffett calls “the ovarian lottery”.

How you can live your best life without a lot of money. [One Frugal Girl] — “At some point in our lives we lose sight of the aspirations of our childhood. We stop asking the fundamental question, ‘What is important to me?’ […] Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life. Do I want to find a new job or ease into the option of early retirement?”

Shortcuts and biases may help us make better financial decisions. [Nerd’s Eye View] – “We’ve perhaps been too negative towards bias and heuristics. Bias and heuristics are not inherently good, but they aren’t inherently bad either…By effectively using (and refining) heuristic techniques when it is appropriate to do so, we can develop an arsenal of useful decision-making tools”

How to do nothing. [Four Pillar Freedom] — “Activities like stargazing, going for a walk, or just sitting outside in nature might seem unproductive, but they can be highly therapeutic and healing. In an age where mental health problems and anxiety are on the rise, doing nothing offers a free form of therapy.

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 best and worst thing about financial independence.

Hello, money nerds. And good-bye.

This morning, I’m flying out to Portugal for yet another adventure. It’s my fourth visit to Europe in nine months. Crazy. (In fact, I spent the first couple of days of September in Italy!)

This time, though, I”m traveling for work. I’m headed to an FI chautauqua to talk about financial independence and early retirement. As much as I’d love to tour the country — the Rock of Gibraltar is on my bucket list — I don’t have time.

I do have time to share some top money stories with you, though. Today, in celebration of the chautauqua, let’s talk about financial independence. And our first article does a scary good job of pre-saging the talk I’m giving next week…

The best and worst thing about financial independence. [Mad Fientist] — “If you’re unhappy when you’re working and you blame your job for all your problems, you may struggle after FI if you’re still unhappy. What do you do when your biggest scapegoat disappears? […] This leads us to the best and worst things about financial independence. They’re actually the same thing…Financial independence gives you the freedom to do anything you want with your life.

Financial independence isn’t about early retirement — it’s about gaining choice. [Seattle Times] — “Gaining choice and achieving financial independence is the de facto goal of every consumer, every individual trying to save for retirement and to provide for their family. Achieving it doesn’t require an acronym or joining a ‘movement’. Just be financially focused on what’s important…”

Financial independence stories from developing countries. [/r/financialindependence on Reddit] — “I want to know the stories of people not from the U.S.: Romania, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam. Can you tell the same tale [of financial independence]? Does your market return 6-7% just like in the U.S.? Does the volatility in the market make it impossible to achieve FI this way?” [Related: Journey to FI from an African perspective.]

Lastly, here’s an example of financial independence in action. The woman in this story may not be able to achieve early retirement (I don’t know) but she had enough money to make time for something important. She quit her job and spend 57 days searching for her lost dog. And she was successful. Yay!

Through the magic called “working ahead”, I actually have several more days of Apex prepared for you. But soon Jim will return to share some of his favorite recent stories.

Until then, if you’ve 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.

Dense about housing.

Well well well. It’s Wednesday, money nerds, and it’s time for some more top money stories! First up, my pal Douglas Tsoi sent us his latest article from the School of Financial Freedom. We like it.

Dense about housing. [School of Financial Freedom] — “Housing is a prime example of the ‘hedonic treadmill’, which means we emotionally adapt to the material improvements we make in our lives, resulting in the ongoing need to get still more. Our houses are getting bigger and when they do, we want them to get bigger still.”

In his article, Tsoi links to the following photo essay, which is amazing:

Hong Kong’s high-density housing and cramped living conditions. [chinaSMACK] — “Because of historical, political, and geographical reasons, only 23.7% of Hong Kong’s land is developed. 76 square kilometers of land is developed for housing use, which occupies only 6.8% of the total land area. Due to the high population density caused by limits on land development, 7.07 million people mainly live in residential high-rises.”

Many Hong Kong residents live in apartments of only 100 square feet (9.2 square meters)!

Living in 100 square feet

Living in 100 square feet

Discipline trumps vision. [First Round Review] — “In this exclusive interview, Collin dives deeper to put tactical teeth on an entrepreneurial trope, sharing why a founder’s discipline matters more than vision. She describes her approach to communication, time management, fundraising and team building, unveiling impactful practices and sharing the actual emails she relies on to stay on track.” Yes, this article is about managing a successful start-up, but it contains lessons you can use in your personal life.

Lastly, here’s an article from Inc. that’s not really about money: “Ten things incredibly likable people never, ever do (and why you love them for 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.

How to write an email.

It’s Toooooos-day, money nerds. Again. It’s crazy how this seems to happen every seven days. It’s almost as if the wheel of time keeps going round and round and round or something. And while the wheel of time continues to spin, we continue to gather top money stories for you from around the web.

First up, here’s some advice that I would do well to heed…advice on how to write better email.

How to write an email. [TED] — “Turk’s email philosophy is aimed at reducing the overall burden of email on senders and recipients. She says, ‘At its simplest, this can mean cutting down on the number of emails you send and sending them to fewer people…When you do send an email, you should make it as quick and easy as possible for the recipient to deal with.‘ Here is her specific advice.”

How to choose the neighborhood that’s right for you. [CityFrugal] — “Whether you’re moving to a new city or moving around within your city, choosing the right neighborhood is a crucial input into your future happiness. However, I’ve noticed that most people don’t put a ton of thought into selecting a neighborhood.”

Adding 20 minutes to your commute makes you as miserable as getting a 19% pay cut. [Inc.] — “Researchers found that each extra minute of commuting time reduces both job and leisure time satisfaction — though not overall life satisfaction — and increases strain and worsens mental health for workers. Not all commuters fared the same, however. The study found commuters who walk or bike to work don’t report the same dissatisfaction with their leisure time as those who commute by bus or train.

And now for something completely different…

You know how Pokemon cards and baseball cards, etc. have always been popular? Trading cards are a big part of our childhoods — because we’re nerds! Well, trading cards have been around a lot longer than you think. Here’s a story about Victorian-era culinary trading cards (or “trade cards”, as they were called then). That’s right: People used to collect cards containing oats or root beer.

Scotch Oats Essence Hires root beer

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.