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Apex Money Posts

Everything’s Taxed

Happy Friday the 13th money nerds!

I’ll be headed to Boston to visit my sister and her family in a trip that’s been long overdue. My brother in law built an ice rink in his backyard (he’s done it before) and so the kids may try their hand at ice skating. Or graceful falling. Either way, it should make for a fun weekend!

I really enjoyed the first post this week in changing the mental framing around various “taxes.” Some are monetary. Many are not. It’s a good one to think about.

Everything’s Taxed [A Teachable Moment] – ““Criticism is a tax on success. If you’re getting criticized, appreciate it. It means you’re winning more than you’re losing. No one criticizes the underdog, the eight-seed, the perennial loser. Don’t let that [criticism] get you down. Enjoy it. You’ve earned it.””

The Secrets of Stealth Wealth [Financial Imagineer] – “Stealth wealth is the opposite of conspicuous consumption, it’s about finding true wealth and quality of life which financial freedom helps to unlock. It’s all about having the ability to do what you want, when and where you want with whomever you like to.”

5 Behavioral Tricks for Long-Term Investors [Validea] – “Over time, I have found several things can be helpful in helping to achieve that goal. There is no magic bullet when it comes to behavior, and what works for one person won’t work for another, but here are some approaches I have seen that can help.”

See you next week!

The Year of The Flow

Our first post isn’t one offering any type of advice or guidance. In fact, it really just looks like a “here’s what I’m doing” type of update post.

But I want to point out the thinking behind it because it’s powerful. There’s a lot of content online about hustling and grinding your face off. There’s less about the freedom to not have set goals but to go where your heart and your mind feels like.

The Year of The Flow 🤙 [Budgets Are Sexy] – “So all this to say, I’m nixing my schedule for the upcoming year and will only be writing whenever I’m dying to get my thoughts out. Which will probably be less than I’m writing now, but still more than I was the last few years when I was gone 😉 In fact, my hope is that by going this new route I’ll be able to stay here with y’all for the long run since there’s no way I can get burned out again if I only blog when I feel like it! Haha…”

Build Legacy and Generational Wealth By Teaching Kids About Money [The Money Takes] – “Just as you nurture your children physically, ethically, and mentally, it is equally important to nurture them financially to instill valuable financial lessons in them. Remember, how children handle money from a young age determines whether they can make sound financial decisions when they grow up. If you are wondering how to go about raising financially responsible children, here are some tips to guide you:”

Did you know that Kohler sells a $8,625 toilet??? The Numi 2.0 “combines unmatched design and technology to bring you the finest in personal comfort and cleansing. Kohler’s most advanced toilet now offers personalized settings that let you fine-tune every option to your exact preferences, from ambient colored lighting and built-in audio speaker system to the heated seat with hands-free opening and closing. Other upgrades include power-save mode for energy efficiency, emergency flush for power outages, and an intuitive remote that complements the KOHLER Konnect® app for advanced control. From its striking form to its exceptional water efficiency, the Numi 2.0 smart toilet marks a new standard of excellence in the bathroom.”


Failing at Early Retirement.

Hey Plutus Family! Have you ever thought about retiring early, but life brought you back to reality.  Check out this great article, “Failing at Early Retirement”.

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

It’s Time to Work. [Of Dollars and Data] — “Most people don’t get rich through their investment decisions; they get rich through their income. They get rich through their work. Even those who do get rich from their investments, typically, had to work to get the money they used to invest in the first place.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

Experts Say This Is a Key Sign You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Money. [The Zero Report] — “When it comes to money and budgeting, it’s often easier said than done. You may have the best of intentions — you’ll eat out less this month and put the money into your savings account instead. But then life happens. Just like working through any other life, fitness, or wellness issue, a little introspection is often the ticket. If you want to get your finances back in order, a financial psychologist or money mindset coach can help. It all starts with getting your head in the right place.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

Failing at Early Retirement. [Go Curry Cracker] — “The idea that earning some income is equivalent to failure for an early retiree is common, but I think it is misplaced. There is no right/wrong or moral weight to the decision to add or subtract dollars from a retirement portfolio, so if something doesn’t feel right and you think work would help… then work.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

Happiest retirees

What would you do if you heard the happiest retirees had just over $500,000 in liquid assets? If you are like Steve(ark), you’d be surprised and then dig deeper to find out why.

Our first post does something most people don’t, think critically behind some of the numbers we hear.

How Much Money? [Slightly Early Retirement] – “So considering that happy retirees have more than one source of income, have learned to control their expenses, have a reduced cost of living, have no or a managably small amount of debt and have affordable government provided health care, I believe that having a $500,000 retirement nest egg is enough for them to be financially secure.”

Joint Bank Account Pros and Cons [Marriage Kids and Money] – “”Before you and your partner rush to open a joint bank account, it’s worth exploring the joint bank account pros and cons. Then, you want to consider your financial goals and the unique needs of your relationship.”

The Creator Economy Was Way Overblown [Big Technology] – “While today’s economic downturn is causing broad pain, the creator economy is suffering in particular because its middle class hasn’t yet emerged. Online content creation is still mostly viable for the very top echelon of online creators only. And when mid-sized creators can’t make it, the VC-funded platforms meant to serve them can’t scale. So it’ll likely be a while before “link-in-my-bio” startups raise at $1.3 billion valuations again.”

Even “Experts” Measure Stupidly

Our first article digs into the math behind the well worn “statistic” that active funds don’t beat index funds.

The statement is still mostly true, the math behind lacks a bit of… shall we say, rigor.

Even “Experts” Measure Stupidly [The Best Interest] – “how many mutual funds beat more than 75% of other funds in each of 5 straight years, 2017 – 2022. Answer: none.

The average person might say, “Well shit! All the more reason to drink the passively-managed Index Fund Kool Aid!”

Go ahead and drink. It won’t hurt you. Index funds are great. But the NYT is (probably unknowingly) using terrible, misleading math. It’s the third kind of lie. Bad math obfuscates a more important, nuanced truth.”

Practice Frugal Wealth [Financial Tortoise] – “But one of the big dilemmas that many of us will face once you have a sizable amount of wealth is this; the temptation to let the world know how successful we are. Before you couldn’t afford it, but now that fancy new car keeps catching your eye. Maybe your parents might finally come around to praising you instead of criticizing you for your frugal lifestyle? Or how about that huge home down the street that always seemed to have all the toys? It’s finally on the market. And you can finally afford the downpayment. Why not go for it right? You only live once.

But this is where I would caution all of us and recommend we all continue to practice the principle of Frugal wealth. Where despite how wealthy you become, you continue to live out the life of frugality.”

10 Things That Are 100% A Scam But Accepted In Society [A Dime Saved] – “Have you ever been living your life and then suddenly thought, this is a scam? This can’t be real? There are some things that are so part of our society and our everyday life. Still, we just accept them as normal because they’re so ingrained in our society or because everyone else accepts it, and we can’t really do anything about it?” This post got me angrier the longer I read it! 😂

21 Small Actions That Will Make You Richer

We often think success comes with massive gains…

… but in reality, you just need to be consistently improving.

1% better every day means you’ll be almost 38x better at the end of the year.

Our first post includes some of those small steps you can take to make you richer.

21 Small Actions That Will Make You Richer [Darius Foroux] – “A financially consistent person is dedicated to getting richer just a little bit, year after year. It’s about doing the least amount of saving and investing to grow one’s net worth. If you are financially consistent, it’s a guarantee you will become wealthier over time. It’s all about how well you execute the little things. ”

Deep Habits: Read Less, But Better [Simplify & Enjoy] – “It’s great if you can read a book a week. With work and family commitments, I’ve managed to achieve this. However, I’m not only aiming to read more; I’m striving to read better.”

People go CRAZY for free stuff!

Internalized Sexism & Women’s Finances

My wife and I both work and we have four kids, which means it’s literally impossible for her to be “mom” for every kid in every instance. There are simply too many conflicts.

That said, she still feels the pressure to do so and I see the effect when I “step in” (i.e. do my fair share) to do things like doctor’s visits, school functions, etc. I’ve been working from home since 2010 and before Covid, when she would have to go into the office during the week, I did a lot of the school and daycare visits. Sometimes (not often), I’d get comments about how nice it was I was able to be there.

At the time, I didn’t realize (yes, I’m a dolt) that the expectation was that these were “mom” duties. Antiquated, a bit rarer in our region (Washington D.C. – Maryland region), but still sometimes present.

Our first post of the day taught me a lot and gave me better insight into that perspective. There’s a lot that you don’t see out there that influences how people behave.

Internalized Sexism & Women’s Finances: How Misogyny Messes With My Money [Brave Saver] – “I was stumped — because no one had said anything — now that I was a mom. And yet, no one had to say a word for me to know some people were judging that choice. And more than that, I knew that I had wondered if I could be a good mom while working.”

If you’ve been wondering “how often should I rebalance?” then Vanguard has a report for you – Rational rebalancing: An analytical approach to multiasset portfolio rebalancing decisions and insights. The summary is that you should do it about once a year, especially if you aren’t doing any tax-loss harvesting.

Given my blind spots explained in the first post, this is a good video to remind yourself that we all don’t start off at home plate in the game of life – Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race:

Dirty Secrets of Personal Finance.

Good morning, Plutus, Family! We are so excited to start 2023 with you all. Please kick your feet up and enjoy these great articles.

Here’s what we wanted to share with you this week.

Dirty Secrets of Personal Finance. [Emancipare] – “Dividends! Real Estate! Crypto! Gold! Long/Short Options! I-Bonds! Ladders! Alternatives! Credit Card Points & Miles! Day Trading! Market Timing! Guess what – there’s no magic, only illusion. Nobody beats “the market” over time. Nobody.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

A New Free Tool to Manage Your Asset Allocation. [The Retirement Manifesto] — “The free Net Worth template I created years ago has been downloaded by thousands of readers, but I just made a major improvement.  Now, when you open that spreadsheet, you’ll see a new tab titled “Asset Allocation” that is linked to all of the figures in the net worth spreadsheet.” (Submitted by J. Money.)

Price Changes Over Time, Some Things Have Become Ridiculously Cheap. [Accidental fire] — “Where prices are going to go in the near term is anyone’s guess, but over the longer term I think it’s safe to say that in general electronics and established technology items will continue to decrease. Anomalies such as chip shortages can temporarily disrupt that of course as we saw recently.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)

Hello 2023!

It’s Jim and I realize it’s Tuesday (having missed yesterday!) and my apologies – we were traveling back from a vacation and the first Apex of the year will have to be today!

If you missed J.D.’s post from last year, he’s taking a break and stepping away from Apex and, likely, stepping back from writing about money. I’ve known J.D. for over a decade and in that time, he’s always been writing and usually about money. Sometimes our lives move past what we’re doing in the moment and it takes a lot to realize that. If you want to keep in touch with him, check out his personal blog.

Sometimes breaks are good and I wish J.D. the best!

Envy Is the Cancer of the Soul [More to That] – “People like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates will be in that green area. Their wealth is at an incomprehensible level in John’s mind, so instead of being envious of them, he will buy their biographies and seek to learn from them. The people that have taken John’s desire and achieved many multiples of it will feel like distant mentors as opposed to close rivals.” It’s an interesting look at something we all feel and try to control – envy.

Some Holiday Thoughts on Effort, Results, and Control [My Money Blog] – “There is so much we can’t control. I couldn’t choose the country where I was born. I couldn’t choose my parents. I couldn’t choose my genes. I couldn’t choose my gender or race or sexual orientation or decade that I was born. I couldn’t choose to have working eyes, ears, or nervous system.”

Don’t Turn Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle [Bloomberg / Washington Post] – “During a holiday dinner party, the host suggested we each share a significant moment from the year. As one woman shared how her pottery class had allowed her to explore her creative side, another cheekily said, “Oh, you could totally open up an Etsy shop and sell your work.” Before she even finished the sentence, I exclaimed, “No! Don’t monetize your hobby!”

A whole new world…

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve made it to the end of 2022. I know that 2020 and 2021 were rough years for many people, but I’ll be honest. For me, this was perhaps the toughest year I’ve had in my own life. But now I’m done with it. Best of all, December was fantastic. And I’m very hopeful that 2023 can build on that fantastic-ness.

Anyhow, as I promised yesterday I’m here with a bonus weekend edition of Apex Money to take you into the new year. Let’s see what I found for you today.

How to create safety and security without accumulating wealth. [Iris Brilliant] — “Building safety outside of wealth accumulation starts with the practical skills needed to earn at least a minimum wage job, and extends to skills that will always be relevant, even in the face of a rapidly changing world struggling with climate chaos and economic collapse. It would be even more wonderful to include your vocation — the gifts you most long to offer the world to create the impact you want to have.” Two notes: First, this piece is long. Second, its politics will make some people tense. (Hell, I agree with the author in many ways, and its politics still make me tense.) Despite both of these caveats, I recommend this piece. It’s a good one.

How KFC became a Christmas tradition in Japan. [CNN Travel] — “Every year since the mid-1980s, life-size Colonel Sanders statues — dressed as Santa during the holiday — have welcomed droves of locals and tourists alike across the country. According to figures released by the American fast-food chain, KFC Japan pulled in 6.9 billion yen (roughly US$63 million) from December 20 to 25 in 2018, with lines out the door starting on December 23. KFC Japan’s busiest day is usually December 24, on which they usually sell about five to 10 times more than typical days.”

Is now a great time to retire? [1500 Days to Freedom] — “I think most (me included, hence this post) spend waaaaay too much time thinking about our numbers. What if we thought about life instead? This is what really matters. Be flexible and it will be alright.”

In the waiting. [Jillian Johnsrud] — “Right now, I’m waiting. Waiting to see if my life will change. And while I wait, I’m reflecting on everything I’m grateful for and mistakes I’ll keep trying to avoid. Thankfully you don’t have to be in the waiting to reflect on these things. You can simply ask the questions and make next year even richer than this year was.”

And that’s it for this year!

Jim will be back next week to bring in 2023 with you.

As for me? Well, I’m taking a break. As I’ve mentioned over at Get Rich Slowly and on my social media accounts, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, trying to decide what the future holds for me. Increasingly, it looks as if I’m ready to move on from writing about money.

I’ve been doing this for nearly seventeen years now. I’ve enjoyed it, but more and more it feels like I’m clinging to something that’s no longer me. Does that make sense? And by clinging to this, I’m not allowing myself to move forward, to explore other areas.

Right now, my plan is to take a hiatus from Apex Money. I haven’t decided my future at Get Rich Slowly, but it’s quite possible that I’ll be taking a break from that too. But because I know I love to write, I plan to channel my energy into my personal blog. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

In any event, have a fantastic 2023, my friends! See you around…