It’s Tuesday, Apexians, and it’s time for another fresh batch of links. Today, I have three stories for you…
How to get better at difficult conversations. [DINKS on a Bus] — “In my experience, the best things have resulted from having difficult conversations, if they are approached with respect, kindness, trust, and good intentions. So how do we do this? How do we have difficult conversations that are more likely to lead to better outcomes?”
Two fundamental drivers of financial success in retirement. [The Finance Buff] — “When we get our spending right for the market conditions, any optimization tactics will only be icing on the cake, and suboptimal executions won’t jeopardize our retirement. If we get our spending wrong for the market conditions, no amount of optimization will rescue our retirement.”
The million-dollar shot that changed sports contests forever. [ESPN] — “For the next 20 years, Calhoun would get a check for $50,000 every year. Of that money, he’d have to set aside around $12,000 for taxes. He kept his office sales job for a few more years, and the other $38,000 (about $79,000 in 2023 dollars) was a very nice supplemental living. But, as Calhoun says, it was more like a bump up within the middle class.”
Happy Monday morning, my friends. It’s J.D. here with another week of intersting stories to share with you. Most of these will be about personal finance (or money, anyhow), but who knows what other cool stuff I’ll decide to share? Let’s get started.
Inside the delirious rise of ‘superfake’ handbags. [The New York Times Magazine gift article] — “As for how the superfakes are achieving their unprecedented verisimilitude, Lewin, who has observed their factories from the inside, says it’s simply a combination of skillful artisanship and high-quality raw materials. Some superfake manufacturers travel to Italy to source from the same leather markets that the brands do; others buy the real bags to examine every stitch.”
A megathread on home ownership and FIRE. [/r/financialindependence on Reddit] — “The goal of this thread is to consolidate many topics into a single thread. Specifically, I’m providing general starting points for conversation and thought with a FIRE mindset. I won’t cover every single topic or variation of a given topic. This is general.” This is an interesting (and useful) overview of home mortgages and their implications for personal finance (and early retirement specifically). Well worth bookmarking.
Inside the booming Taylor Swift economy. [Axios] — “The pop star’s concerts are fueling an entire Taylor Swift economy — as fans spend big on travel, lodging, food, fashion and makeup to attend the shows…Many fans are traveling to different states to catch shows because they grabbed whatever tickets they could get. And each stop on the tour is prepping for a mini boom when Swift rolls through.” [True story: I saw Swift in Vegas a few weeks ago, but have seriously considered buying tickets to see her again with my girlfriend. That would entail travel to another city, hotel rooms, restaurants, and more.]
To close things out today, I want to share some music I’ve been listening to on YouTube, of all places.
First — and most importantly — there’s lofi hip hop radio from the Lofi Girl channel. I &heart; this music. It’s so relaxing to work to. (And, I’d imagine, to study and/or relax to). If you only check out one of these recommendations, this is the one to look at.
I tend to get somewhat more introspective as we get closer to the weekend. At the start of the week, I’m playing a bit of catch up. The stuff I put off last week plus the stuff that I have to do this week.
But as we get into Thursday and Friday, things start to slow down as I complete tasks and kick the other cans down the road. 😂
So today, I want to look at a couple posts that had an impact on me and my thinking of the future:
Someday When I Retire [Katrina Kibben] – “If the average retirement age is 65 and the average life expectancy is only 75, that means we’ll spend 50 years working to get 10 that we can actually enjoy. That is fucked up, especially when you consider that quality of life within the last few years before you die will most likely be declining. You can’t just get up and go when you’re worried about mobility issues. Retirement is not a finish line but instead a beginning toward the end of our lives.”
Escaping The Waiting Place [Joseph Wells] – “Sadness for all the people in the pictures, waiting for this or that. Waiting to live their lives. Waiting because they were scared of acting. And I realized it’s sad because it’s true. It isn’t a made-up fairy-tale creation. It’s a mirror held up to reality. To the world we all inhabit. To the lives that pass us by while we’re waiting for the perfect timing. Waiting for the chances that never come.”
The Incredible Story of How Nike Signed LeBron James [Esquire] – “After the presentation, Reebok put its offer on the table: $100 million over ten years. The room fell silent. LeBron was astounded. Sonny Vaccaro had told him he was worth a hundred million. But that number had always felt more magical than literal.” I haven’t seen Air yet, which is about Nike’s pursuit of Michael Jordan, but I can’t wait!
And before you go off into the weekend, here’s a powerful video about rising above negativity.
Don’t pin the butterfly: not all hobbies need to become hustles [Ness Labs] – “I was trying so hard to pin the butterfly. Sometimes, ideas and passions are best left alone, given enough space to expand, travel, and connect with other ideas and passions. But our worship of entrepreneurship has made us run after viable businesses, profitable ventures—the kind of activities where time spent translates into money earned.”
Limited Time, Unlimited Dreams: 3 Steps to an Extraordinary Life [Route to Retire] – “If you’re one of the lucky ones who has woken up and realized that there’s more to your limited time here than just going through the motions every day, you’re a step ahead of most. Sadly, that’s only the first step to a better life. Just because you realize there’s more out there, nothing will change unless you make it happen. And we all know that complacency is thy enemy. It’s so much easier to just continue down the same path rather than make any big changes – even if we know it’s for the better.” You only get one life!
We are back Plutus Family. Please enjoy these great articles!
Check out what we have for you this week.
Kids & Money- Empowering the Next Generation. [MitlinFinancial] — “We cannot rely on schools to educate our children, so we need to take this responsibility into our homes and educate our children. Those families that have a solid understanding of financial literacy can take that on themselves and those that do not, need to lean on someone or a professional that does. We have helped many of the families we serve to educate the next generation on creating and maintaining good financial habits.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)
Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes. [Poor.Choices.] — “The Pirahã are lean in appearance, fiercely independent and wary of outsiders and outsiders’ ways of life. They are also very reciprocative, incredibly joyful, and quite peaceful. And as this is a website devoted to words about money, they represent the best lesson in personal finance; wanting less is having more.” (Submitted by J. Money.)
How to File Your Own Tax Return Like A Pro (and get ₪₪₪ back!). [Fionist Dream] — “Have you ever filed an Israeli tax return? If you are a salaried employee in Israel, you are probably grateful for the fact that you don’t HAVE to. Your employer takes care of it for you. But can you? Should you?” (Submitted by Tarsha.)
This is one of those age old questions that really has no single answer for everyone – you should do what works for you.
For my lovely wife and I, we have joint accounts. As it turns out, there’s some science to support this approach and how it impacts happiness.
Married couples who merge finances may be happier, stay together longer [Science Daily] – “Prior research suggests a correlation that couples who merge finances tend to be happier than those who do not. But this is the first research to show a causal relationship — that married couples who have joint bank accounts not only have better relationships, but they fight less over money and feel better about how household finances are handled.”
That said – do what’s best for you!
Is gold hidden under a California peak? This treasure map says so [LA Times] – “The notion that there’s a mother lode beneath the California peak, which is about 100 miles northeast of Barstow, was popularized in the 1930s by a miner who claimed to have seen it during a daring, four-day voyage. But he and his contemporaries never extracted any treasure from the mountain.” Would you try to find treasure buried in a mountain? It’s a possible $1 trillion treasure…
The Best Deal in the World Right Now [Raptitude] – “It’s the year 2089 and the world is enjoying an incredible new medicine. Scientists working in the jungles of Papua New Guinea have discovered a natural compound that induces a host of tremendous health and quality-of-life improvements in virtually everyone who takes it. Because of its incredible properties, it has been named miraculos.” The build up takes its time but the payoff is worth it.
After the excitement of last week, I didn’t know if we’d be seeing a bank failure over the weekend as all those regional bank stocks tanked on Thursday and recovered on Friday. It was a crazy swing there.
But the wise among us know that the FDIC insurance has our back. No need to panic. Just keep calm and carry on! 😂
Here are your gems for today:
Every dollar you spend on one of these things is a GREAT investment:
One paragraph in one book can change the trajectory of your life and business.
This explains why my performance is so good and my career so bad… [Klement on Investing] – “Attractive fund managers attract more money and have a higher chance of being promoted. Fund managers whose faces are one standard deviation more attractive (whatever that is supposed to mean) benefit from an average increase in flows into their funds of 1.1% per year. At fund platforms where the face of the fund manager is shown to retail investors, the excess fund flows increase to 1.9% of assets. No surprise also when we learn that attractive fund managers are more likely to be promoted internally and take charge of more funds and bigger funds over time. Where things get weird is when the study claims that fund managers with less attractive faces systematically outperform fund managers with more attractive faces.” Fascinating! AI is now Hot or Not.
Fidelity Money Transfer Lockdown: Block Fraudulent ACAT Transfer Brokerage Scams [My Money Blog] – “One scam that you may not have heard of is the ACAT Transfer scam. A thief will obtain enough of your personal information to open a new E*Trade brokerage account, and then they will request an ACAT transfer of the entire contents of your existing brokerage account (ex. Fidelity) to that new fake E*Trade account which they control. At this point, they can quickly liquidate the account and send the money elsewhere. The key here is that they just need to be able to open an empty, new brokerage account in your name plus find your Fidelity account numbers from a statement. They don’t need your Fidelity username and password (or pass two-factor authentication).” I did not know about this type of scam (or how easy it seems to be to pull off!)
Happy Friday, folks. It’s J.D. here with one last installment of Apex Money before we head into the weekend.
It’s been over six months now since I’ve written regularly at Get Rich Slowly, my personal-finance blog. I don’t really miss it. I miss interacting with folks, but I don’t miss the work. I’ve entered another phase of my life. I don’t know what that phase is, but it’s not writing about money. Maybe for a little while, this phase of life is simply about idleness.
This week, I’ve had several conversations with folks about the virtues of doing nothing.
“Doing nothing” seems wrong to me. It goes against everything I’ve been taught. It goes against my inner nature. Sure, I’ve shirked a lot of responsibility in my life, no doubt. I don’t deny it. But I’ve always felt guilty for doing so. It’s never been something I’ve embraced. Now, though, I’m beginning to wonder if I ought not give myself permission to loaf.
As I dive into this soul-searching, I’m guided in part by what little Buddhist thought I’ve been exposed to. I like the idea of just being and not judging myself for what that happens to bring. Just exist. Be present in the moment. Enjoy the world around me and the people I’m with. Live.
Too, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality. I’m 54 now. That’s five years older than my father was when he died. It’s twenty years younger than my mother was when she died. The reality is that I don’t have decades left to me. I have maybe two. What’s the point of spending that time doing things I don’t want to do and worrying about what other people think. I want to do what I want to do, you know?
Part of this means spending some of my money now. In the world of personal finance, we talk a lot about saving and investing. A lot of what we read and write condemns spending, especially if the spending is on luxuries. We’re made to feel bad for using the money we’ve earned to improve our lives. Well, I think that’s bullshit. I worked hard for what I have, and if I want to use some of it to buy, say, a pair of $300 shoes, then I’m going to buy a pair of $300 shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that. The trouble comes if I’m trying to buy a pair of $300 shoes with money I don’t have.
Anyhow, these are the things I’m thinking about.
I know this isn’t a typical installment of Apex Money. So far, I haven’t given you any links. And, in fact, I’m only going to give you one link today…and it’s to an article published in 1932.
“In praise of idleness.” [Bertrand Russell in Harper’s Magazine] — “It will be said that while a little leisure is pleasant, men would not know how to fill their days if they had only four hours’ work out of the twenty-four. In so far as this is true in the modern world it is a condemnation of our civilization; it would not have been true at any earlier period. There was formerly a capacity for light-heartedness and play which has been to some extent inhibited by the cult of efficiency. The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake.”
That’s it. That’s your only article for today, and it’s ninety years old. But it’s an excellent, through-provoking piece from a Nobel Prize winning philosopher. You should go read it. It’ll be fifteen minutes well spent. I promise. Even if you don’t agree with it, you’ll get something out of it…
I’ve been a Dune fan for a long, long time and the first film is a personal fave (though, to be fair, I didn’t like it on first viewing). So, I’m eagerly awaiting the second part’s arrival in theaters on November 3.
Okay, that’s all I have for you this week. I’ll be back in ten days with more great stuff. See you then!
Today is Thursday. This is Apex Money. I’m J.D. Roth. And you are one of our loyal readers. Welcome! Let’s look at what sorts of money stories I’ve collected for you today…
How to use A.I. to do practical stuff. [One Useful Thing] — “We live in an era of practical AI, but many people haven’t yet experienced it, or, if they have, they might have wondered what the big deal is. Thus, this guide. It is a modified version of one I put out for my students earlier in the year, but a lot has changed. It is an overview of ways to get AI to do practical things.”
The journey of a humble tire reveals why prices are still so high. [ProPublica] — “The lowly tire shop, it turns out, may be one of the best places to examine the post-pandemic recovery and its uncertain future. Tires have been buffeted by nearly every force driving inflation since the pandemic began — from border shutdowns that prevented migrant workers overseas from reaching rubber plantations to the war in Ukraine’s toll on an obscure but essential ingredient in tires called carbon black. Americans depend on tires to get to work, to get groceries — essentially to live, in much of the country. But unlike food and gas, tires aren’t something people typically budget for.” [Long but interesting.]
Make sure you know what you’re retiring to. [Tawcan] — “Regardless of whether you are close to your retirement or not, it is vital to know yourself and understand what you want to do when you’re retired. Spend some time thinking about your plans in retirement, it will be better than not having any plans and just winging it.”
I’ll be honest. I’ve been a huge proponent of “purpose” for a long time now. In fact, it’s been the core of my message as I write about money. Right now, though, I’m in a place where I feel like I don’t have a purpose. Or that my purpose is changing. That it might actually be fine to live without a purpose.
I’m still chewing this over, and I don’t know where I’ll eventually land. For now, I’ll continue to encourage folks to find a purpose because I know having one was helpful for me, and I know that it’s helpful for others. But the older I get, the more comfortable I am in saying that it’s okay to not have some central goal that guides your life.
How’s that for deep?!
Okay, that’s all for today. I’ll be back with more tomorrow…
Happy Wednesday Plutus Family! We are so excited to share this week’s content with you. Please enjoy!
Check out what we have for you this week.
19 Business Ideas Free for the Taking! [Side Hustle Nation] — “Today, we’re doing another round of business idea giveaways with serial entrepreneur Steve Chou. Steve built not one but two 7-figure businesses — and started both as side hustles.” (Submitted by J. Money.)
Lightyear Could Just Be the Best App for Investing. [Money Side Up] — “This isn’t like a trading app either, so you don’t have to worry about jargon! Instead, this is one of the best apps for buying ETFs. These are exchange traded funds – which means you can buy into hundreds or thousands of stocks in just a few easy clicks. This means it’s not overwhelming like other investing apps.” (Submitted by Tarsha.)
From Skeptic to “Ah hah!”: A Review of The Show ‘How to Get Rich’ with Ramit Sethi. [Financial Mechanic] — “A rich life might bring to mind limos, lavish parties, and jumping off yachts, but that’s not necessarily your rich life. Owning a house might be what you consider something a ‘successful adult’ does, but what is someone else’s rich life might not match your vision. Each person has to go a little deeper than other peoples’ expectations of a Rich Life.” (Submitted by J. Money.)