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Apex Money Posts

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re in the US, I hope you’re having a relaxing day spending it with family and friends. If you aren’t, or otherwise aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving this year, the best to you and yours as most of the United States consumes what Benjamin Franklin once proposed would be our national bird!

On a scheduling note, we won’t be doing our usual curation today and tomorrow.

In lieu of this, we wanted to share some other money curation sites that we think are great and that you should consider checking out.

Collecting Wisdom, Camp F.I.R.E. Finance, and Personal Finance Blogs (dot com) are three sites that publish daily curations. If you feel like you don’t get enough, those three are great sources of wisdom and it’s fun to see the different curators’ personalities shine through. I think most people can tell the difference between JD and myself, well now you can add more voices to the mix!

See you on Monday when JD will return to his spot on the curation chair!

Why the rich are getting richer…

Happy pre-turkey day!

(if you’re outside the United States, happy regular old Wednesday!)

Today, we have a few juicy posts for you to consume:

Why the Rich are Getting Richer [ESI Money] – ESI ‘reorganizes’ and reviews Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Why The Rich Are Getting Richer. The book explains a few ideas about wealth-building that I think are applicable to everyone and I enjoyed ESI’s commentary, especially about phantom income. 🙂

My $10,000 Passive Side Hustle On Etsy Selling Printables [Debt Free Happens] – “I recently hit a milestone that I never could have imagined two years ago. As of October of this year, I hit over $10,000 in sales on my Etsy shop Modern Printable Shop selling printables (or digital products).” The internet is amazing!

How NBA executive Jeff David stole $13 million from the Sacramento Kings [ESPN] – It’s a little like when you fudge your expense reports… but for like thirteen million dollars. (in all seriousness, this story starts off pretty mundane but if you enjoy a good accounting forensics story, this will be a fascinating read)

And for a little Thanksgiving fun, here are 14 facts about the best Thanksgiving movie ever, courtesy of Mental Floss.

We’ll be back after Thanksgiving!

Volunteering can save you money?

Hello fellow money nerds!

This week is always tricky for me because our kids’ school has half days on Monday and Tuesday and no school on Wednesday (naturally, Thursday and Friday are off). I don’t know if it’s because I’m now the parent or if I forgot, but kids don’t go to school a lot. There are a ton of holidays and half-days built into the schedule.

It’s wild.

Anyway, today’s articles have no theme other than I really enjoyed them all and I hope you do too!

7 Ways Volunteering Can Save You Money [The Dollar Stretcher] – “There are those who see volunteering as just giving your time for free, and while that’s essentially the premise, there’s a lot more to it than that. Depending on the circumstances, volunteering can actually save you money, which means not only are you giving back, but you’re also doing a little something for yourself in the process.”

How to Find Motivation to Save Money When You’re Surrounded by Reckless Spenders [Modern Frugality] – “It takes some serious willpower to forgo instant gratification for a long term reward. Saving money is hard enough. But when you’re surrounded by reckless spenders, the task becomes even tougher. Whilst you’re updating your budget spreadsheet, trying out different investing courses to become more financially stable, and generally fighting the urge to spend money recklessly, your friends are living their best lives, burning through money like there’s no tomorrow and giving you a serious case of FOMO.”

The 5 Types of Market Crash Predictions [A Wealth of Common Sense] – “JP Morgan put out a research note last week that named names of people who have called for a crash scenario in the past decade: […] Reading through these got me thinking about the different types of market crash calls. There has been such a huge influx of crash calls because of the 2008 debacle it seems only fair that we break these down by the motivating force behind these dire predictions.”

The 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years [Slate] – “Slate’s books team selects the definitive works of reporting, memoir, and argument of the past quarter-century.”

How many have you read? (me? zero. Zero! I’ll have to fix that over the holidays)

Enjoy the rest of your day!

The great American tax haven: why the super-rich love …

I roll my eyes whenever someone says that “their mind was blown” by something… because it’s rarely true. What they learned might be a little surprising but it’s not nearly on the level of seeing your amygdala ooze out of your earholes.

BUT… I think I’m going to share with you something that I think will come close.

There’s a state in our union that is rapidly becoming the “go-to” place to hide wealth. Last year, a Chinese billionaire transferred $4.5 billion into the state. And in the past decade, hundreds of billions of dollars have left more traditional havens (like Switzerland) to move to this state.

Want to give it a guess?

The great American tax haven: why the super-rich love South Dakota [The Guardian, but redaction in the title is mine] – “The money of the world’s mega-wealthy, though, is heading there in ever-larger volumes. In the past decade, hundreds of billions of dollars have poured out of traditional offshore jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Jersey, and into a small number of American states: Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming – and, above all, South Dakota. “To some, South Dakota is a ‘fly-over’ state,” the chief justice of the state’s supreme court said in a speech to the legislature in January. “While many people may find a way to ‘fly over’ South Dakota, somehow their dollars find a way to land here.””

Why I Change My Voicemail Weekly Though Nobody Ever Calls [Financial Pilgrimage] – “Like making my bed, setting my voicemail every week is that simple task that helps jump start my work week. […] Once my voicemail message has been recorded, our system requires us to listen back through our message in full before finalizing. Like most everyone (except psychopaths) I hate hate hate listening to the sound of my own voice. (Seeing myself on video is infinitely worse.) Yet, every Monday I put myself through this tiny bit of mental anguish. Why? […] The periods in my life in which the most intense growth has occurred have been during times where I was most uncomfortable. While there is a fine line of when too much discomfort could result in extreme anxiety or even failure, we often need to be placed outside of our comfort zone to grow.”

Financial Freedom Mindset [Handful of Thoughts] – “At the age of 32 and a half, (I know a weird age to reflect on), it hit me. If I was going to work until the traditional retirement age of 65 then I would have to work for as long as I had currently been alive! Just the thought of that depressed me. My job was enjoyable, but it’s not what I wanted to devote the majority of my time and energy to for the next 30+ years. I wasn’t ready to just up and quit my job but something had to change – I needed a mindset shift. So after a lot of thought and reflection I adopted a financial freedom mindset.” Maria shares her approach to establishing her financial freedom mindset and working towards making it a reality in her life.

Before you go, do you love LEGOs? If so, it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a robust secondary market of collectors, investors, and resellers:

Brokering Bricks: The World of Lego Investing [Medium] – “In 2000, you, enterprising investor, might have bought some index funds from the S&P 500 and, financial meltdown and all, ended up doubling your money by today. By contrast, if you invested in one (or several) collector’s edition LEGO Imperial Star Destroyers for $270, you would have made quintupled your money. Today, the same factory-sealed set can fetch over $1,500.”

!!!

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Hello, money nerds. It’s Friday. But you knew that already. Typically, Jim and I would bring you a daily dose of money news, but I’ve commandeered today’s edition of Apex Money from him to write about something entirely different.

If you follow me at Get Rich Slowly, you know that I suffer from depression and anxiety. This has been especially bad over the past month, and I don’t know why. But last week, on a whim, I watched last year’s documentary about Mr Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“.

Then, because I’m a nerd, I dove deep. I started reading about the live of Fred Rogers. More importantly, I started listening to what he said. I started paying attention to his philosophy.

Within 24 hours, I was feeling better about myself — and about the world.

Mr. Rogers made a mission out of speaking to children. He wanted to connect with them where they were. But let me tell you: He connected with this fifty-year-old man. His message of radical love and acceptance was just what I needed to hear. He believes that it’s important for every person to learn how to love — and to be loved in return.

So, today’s edition of Apex Money has nothing whatsoever to do with money. It has everything to do with Mr. Rogers. But I promise you that if you take the time to read and watch the pieces here, you’ll be better for it.

Ready?

Can you say…”Hero”? [Esquire] — “He was barely more than a boy himself when he learned what he would be fighting for, and fighting against, for the rest of his life. He was in college. He was a music major at a small school in Florida and planning to go to seminary upon graduation. His name was Fred Rogers. He came home to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, once upon a time, and his parents, because they were wealthy, had bought something new for the corner room of their big redbrick house. It was a television.”

What would Mister Rogers do? [The Atlantic] — “He lost, and that the digitization of all human endeavor has devoured his legacy as eagerly as it has devoured everything else. But that he stands at the height of his reputation 16 years after his death shows the persistence of a certain kind of human hunger — the hunger for goodness. He had faith in us, and even if his faith turns out to have been misplaced, even if we have abandoned him, he somehow endures…

Next, here’s a story that’s not about Fred Rogers but about Tom Hanks, another prototypical “nice guy”. Hanks plays Rogers in new movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is out in theaters today.

This Tom Hanks story will help you feel less bad. [The New York Times] — “Tom Hanks is as nice as you think he is and exactly what you hope him to be, which is great unless you are someone trying to tell a good story about him, with elements like an arc and narrative tension. ‘Saintly Actor Playing Saintly Public Television Children’s Host Mister Rogers Is Saintly’ is not a great story. But what am I supposed to do? He sat facing me, cheerful and focused and willing. Maybe this could just be a story that makes you feel better.

Finally, here’s three-and-a-half minutes of Mr. Rogers bloopers and outtakes!

My hope is that at least one Apex reader will consume all of these pieces today and find that her life is better because of it. Because mine was.

Thank you for joining us, neighbor. Please know that you are loved. And please tell somebody you know that you love them.

We’ll be back on Monday with articles that are actually about money.

Please don’t make stupid bets

Have you ever watched Trading Places?

It was released in 1983 and stars Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. The premise was a bet between two rich brothers, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, that centered around nature vs. nuture. They made a wager to see what would happen if you switched the circumstances of two people on opposite sides of the economic and social spectrum. They swapped the lives of Aykroyd’s character, who was a managing director of the commodities brokerage firm, and Murphy’s character, a street hustler.

Some parts of the movie don’t stand the test of time, as often happens with movies, but overall it’s an entertaining movie that costs the Duke brothers more than they anticipated when they make a bet on frozen concentrated orange juice futures.

Today’s curations, if you can believe it, will be entirely about bets that were both good and bad:

The Trade of the Century: When George Soros Broke the British Pound [Priceonomics] – “In 1992, George Soros brought the Bank of England to its knees. In the process, he pocketed over a billion dollars. Making a billion dollars is by all accounts pretty cool. But demolishing the monetary system of Great Britain in a single day with an elegantly constructed bet against its currency? That’s the stuff of legends.”

How I got sucked into the cryptocurrency craze and walked away with $13 million [The Hustle] – “This is the first-person account of Dan Conway, an ex-middle manager in corporate America who made a fortune betting his life savings on cryptocurrency.” He bet his family’s life savings plus equity in his home on Ethereum. It worked out for him (if you don’t count how the stress may have taken years off his life!) but this was foolishness.

The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program [Recode] – “It’s easy to forget now, but Amazon wasn’t always the king of online shopping. In the fall of 2004, Jeff Bezos’s company was still mostly selling just books and DVDs.” Then Jeff Bezos made a massive bet that people would pay an annual fee to get free two-day shipping. And now Amazon is worth $900 billion.

Do you remember the NBA ref that was caught fixing NBA games? His name was Tim Donaghy and earlier this year ESPN broke down how it all unraveled for him.

Have a great day, send this to a friend you think will enjoy it, and don’t make any stupid bets!

See the world, they said…

Do you enjoy traveling?

When it comes to vacations, I like going to new places where I can see the sights, eat the food, and explore aimlessly. I’m not much of a “go to the beach and hang out”-type, though I do enjoy those vacations as well when it’s with friends and family.

My ideal vacation is going somewhere brand new where I can see and experience how the locals live their daily lives. Sometimes this means going for a longer period of time, so you don’t have the rush of seeing and doing everything touristy, but when it works out it’s wonderful.

It dovetails nicely with our first post today:

Traveling to 45 Countries Taught Me These 8 Things About Money [Retire Before Dad] – “A week after graduating from college, I flew to London and spent the summer riding trains and sleeping in hostels around Europe. […] As a cheap backpacker living on $15-$20 per day, everything I bought was from a local store, market, or restaurant, and I never paid tourist prices. I bargained at every turn to save money because each dollar I kept extended the length of my trip. By age 34, I traveled to 45 countries in Asia, Europe, and South and Central America. The most vivid memories are the human acts of kindness I encountered. A close second is the stories about money. Here are eight things I learned about money while traveling the world.”

The Biggest Secret the Library Offers to Enrich Your Life [Route to Retire] – “Today, I’m excited to talk about one of the biggest secrets the library offers. It might not be a secret to everyone, but I had no idea about it! It’s something that can definitely enrich your life and help you become all the wiser!” – Tip #2 is the one that got me to feature Jim’s blog today. I didn’t know a plugin existed that showed you if an Amazon book was available at your library!

How Fatherhood Sparked My Desire For Financial Independence [Marriage Kids and Money] – “We decided that the 3-pack of pregnancy tests was the best way to go. She’d take two tests and I’d take another one. That way, we’d be triply positive that these little white sticks weren’t defective. Much to our extreme delight, my test was negative (phew!) and both of Nicole’s tests were positive. Those incredible pink plus signs had us jumping around our tiny bungalow like two kids on a sugar high. We were high! We were going to be parents! Up until this point, I had focused a lot on my own personal joy and that of my new wife. Now it was time to think about our child and our child’s future.”

Lastly, everyone loves a good treasure hunt – especially if it’s for … cocaine? Hmmmm.

The Great Cocaine Treasure Hunt [GQ] – “If you knew where a million dollars’ worth of blow was buried, would you go dig it up? Rodney Hyden would. We pick up the story at this critical juncture.” I’m not going to lie – if I knew where a million dollars of cocaine was buried, I’d stay far far away. People who bury a million dollars of cocaine are happy to bury a lot of things.

Have a great day!

Teaching kids about money

Do you have kids?

If so, teaching them about money is crucial. But it’s hard to know when to start, what to talk about, and how to broach the subject.

Today, all the three articles I’ve selected are about the intersection of money and kids – the last one, the “fun” one, involves kids but isn’t really about them. 🙂

Teaching Kids About Money: The Financial Lessons Parents Should Teach Children at Every Age [Fatherly] – “Considering the increasingly abstract ways in which money is earned and spent, and the diminishing safety nets that younger generations won’t necessarily be able to lean on, financial experts, child psychologists and even the American Psychological Association agree that kids need to develop their financial literacy skills sooner rather than later. But where do you start?” If you have kids and you aren’t sure how to teach them about money, this article establishes an intuitive and fairly useful guidelines for what to talk about when.

27 Awards and Scholarships for Young Entrepreneurs [Money Prodigy] – Amanda puts together a great list of awards and scholarships for kids, teens, and college-aged students. It’s a great list if you have kids and I imagine some of these don’t have as much competition as the bigger named scholarships. She also includes resources at the end to help kid and teen entrepreneurs.

How to Set a Christmas Budget You’ll Actually Stick To [Perfection Hangover] – Melissa shares her strategies for setting a Christmas budget, or how much she spends on gifts for her family. The part of this that is interesting is her strategy for her kids. “… most people would think you’d just divide that $400 between the three kids. Now, I don’t know how many of you have a 13 year old, but how far do you think you can get with $133 ($400/3)? You can’t even buy many clothes with $133. Here’s how we do our Christmas budget. You can adjust the numbers based on your own kids’ ages.”

From the Department of “How The .0000001% Live:”

The Playing Fields of Money: The Swiss school that charges around $130,000 a year to raise the future global elite [Air Mail] – “You can tell a lot about a school from its most famous sons. Eton will always be defined by the flagrant smoothy and the born-to-rule—Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Anthony Eden, et al. Le Rosey is the spiritual home of the Euro gadabout and the family curse–baiter—Rothschilds, Radziwills, Rockefellers. The Dragon, meanwhile, is a petri dish for peppy actors and self-confessed attention seekers—Emma Watson, Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston.

Institut auf dem Rosenberg boasts no notable alumni. That’s not because nobody went there, of course—but because almost everybody did. “Our former students are some of the most successful people in the world,” Bernhard Gademann, the fourth-generation headmaster of the Swiss boarding school, tells me. “They’re technology founders, Silicon Valley figures, members of well-established industrial dynasties—real world changers. But we have a rule that we never speak about them, I’m afraid.””

Know someone who has kids and will like these articles? Send it to them!

Should you invest at market highs?

I’m back!

I wanted to share a fun email I received from Anne, a loyal Apexer, about an article she read on Apex:

I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting that Vice article about Airbnb scams. Two days ago, I booked my first ever Airbnb reservations–for an upcoming trip to Miami and the Florida Keys.

After reading that article, I revisited the two listings I had booked. I’m confident that the Miami listing is legit, but I’m just as confident that the listing in Big Pine Key is a total scam. The listing itself had disappeared, but a search turned up an identical listing under a different host’s name. Most of the reviews were glowing (fake, no doubt), but a few of them detailed the very things that the folks in the Vice article experienced.

Fortunately, I read the article (thanks to you!) within the 48-hour full-refund period, so I canceled for a full refund. After 48 hours, I would have gotten only a 50% refund. So you just saved me many hundreds of dollars and prevented my family and me from having a ruined vacation. Thanks so much!! You two do a fantastic job of curating must-read articles. I love Apex Money!

We love you too!

If you have a similar story, or you just want to tell J.D. and me that we’re awesome, please do! We love hearing how awesome we are! 🙂

Onto today’s great gems of personal finance:

Should You Invest At Market Highs? [Can I Retire Yet?] – Chris Mamula gives a very detailed and thorough answer to the age-old question of what to do with your investment dollars when it feels like the market is at its high? “You now have money. You want to invest. Markets are near record highs. Investing your money is scary. So what should you do?”

Spoiler alert: It’s to keep investing but read the post to convince yourself if you find yourself on the fence about it.

From House-Hacker to Landlord: A Complete Financial Breakdown [Tis But A Moment] – “I purchased my first home with the intention of one day turning it into my first-ever rental real estate venture. Now, two years later, it’s time to test the theory: was buying my first home with the intention of renting it out indefinitely a good idea?” Tis goes through some real-life numbers of her experiencing renting out a spare bedroom (a roommate, not AirBnb-style) to renting out the whole thing when she moved in with her partner.

The Evolution of Frequent-Flyer Programs [The Points Guy] – Eric Rosen takes a deep dive into how frequent flyer programs have evolved over the years. He goes back as far as the late 1970s and focuses primarily on the United States. It’s a fun look at how simple they used to be and how incredibly complex they have gotten.

Polygon has a great feature in which they look back at the last 10 years of pop culture. This includes the best games, movies, comics, and more. In its list of games, I hadn’t even heard of two of the top five (#3 and #4), so that should give you an indication of how much fun I am.

If you’ve read something particularly awesome, please let us know!

What does buying a new car really cost?

Well, we’ve made it to another Friday, money nerds. Are you ready for the weekend? To kick things off right, we have some top money stories for you. But before we talk about money, let’s look at something fun — like a whale playing fetch…

How crazy is that? Okay, now let’s get down to business…

“The psychology of poverty (and how adversity taught me to manage my money).” [Financial Mechanic] — “I wasn’t a stranger to heatless winters and a hungry belly coming up. My mom would do her best to make sure I ate dinner but I got tired of seeing her scrambling for my crumbs and drinking warm water to try to fill her belly. So by the time I hit seven, I was choosing to skip meals at home so that she could have them.”

Parents, it’s okay to say no to your kids. [The Frugal Engineers] – “We have to let our kids live through discomfort. Every day in my adult life includes discomfort! When we don’t equip our kids with the skills to cope with discomfort, it’s no wonder so many children turn to drugs. Dealing with tough feelings is hard if you’ve never learned how to do it.”

What does buying a new car really cost over the years? [The Simple Path to Wealth] — “In my last post, Why we bought a brand new car, I made this assertion: ‘To be clear, if you are on the road to FI, you should not be buying new cars.’ And I pointed you to the Frugalwoods saying: ‘In fact, as Mrs. Frugalwoods explains so well in her recent post, you shouldn’t even be buying a newer, low mileage used car.’ But is it true? Well, as my friends at Millennial Revolution say: ‘Let’s math this shit up!’

How can you use values to make the best money decisions? [Women Who Money] — “Your money decisions are a reflection of your values. Even when you’re not dealing with your money, you’re making a money decision (the decision to do nothing is still a decision). So whether you’re spending or not spending, saving or not saving, investing or not investing – these are all money decisions.

“How farming saved my body image.” [Outside magazine] — “No level of training compares to the day-after-day-after-day grind of wrestling food from the earth. In September, I nearly threw up while stacking 60-pound hay bales in a 110-degree barn. I’m fairly sure I have a hernia from shoveling several thousand pounds of gravel. Last summer, when I posted a picture of a tiny blackberry in my palm, most of the comments were variants of Holy cow, those calluses.

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.