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Apex Money Posts

I-Bonds vs. TIPS

This first post is your day’s big financial piece followed by a very actionable one and then two fun links. Enjoy!

I Bonds vs. TIPS: Which is Better? [Can I Retire Yet?] – “Recently I revisited the topic of I Bonds vs. TIPS, and then decided to change our strategy moving forward. It’s worth taking the time to understand the role of I Bonds and TIPS in a portfolio, the differences between them, and which better suits your investment needs.”

The 5 Easiest Money-Saving Phone Calls [The College Investor] – “Some tasks to save money take a lot of time and effort. And, as such, they can end up on your to-do list for a very long time. But there are other things you can do to save money that only take a short phone call. And when I say short, I mean usually 15 minutes or less.” This is a great list!

I love a good puzzle but this one is unreal:

A mystery cube, a secret identity, and a puzzle solved after 15 years [Wired] – “In 2005, an alternate reality game asked players to find a man named Satoshi based just on a photograph. Fifteen years later, the mystery was solved.”

How Noiseless Props Are Made For Movies And TV Shows [Movies Insider] – This is so cool!

2020 seems like a not great year for nomadic lifestyles but…

On paper, you would’ve thought that 2020 would be a terrible year to start a nomadic lifestyle but Purple shares her experiences:

Celebrating 1 Year Of Nomad Life: Revelations And Answering Your Questions [A Purple Life] – “I was so excited to see the world in retirement, but as a result of the pandemic, I obviously haven’t been able to. So I cancelled all my flights and lodgings across the world and instead have been exploring the US with my partner. In doing so, I came to a startling conclusion: there is so much to see and do in my home country!”

Selling a Home By Owner is Easier Than You Think [Physician on FIRE] – “It’s true. Selling a home by owner is not nearly as difficult or complicated as most people assume. I speak from experience, having done so 4 times in the last decade including twice in 2021. Why would one go to the trouble of putting a home up for sale by owner when there are plenty of professionals who would gladly list the house for you? Money. That’s why. Realtors’ fees add up, and the more frequently you move, the more painful they can be, substantially reducing your return on investment.” Selling a home myself sounds terrible! But POF has done it four times!

World’s Oldest Coin Mint Discovered in 2,800-Year-Old Chinese Foundry [ARTnews] – “Archaeologists have uncovered the world’s oldest known coin mint, along with pieces of spade-shaped metal currency, inside a bronze foundry dating to 770 B.C.E. in Guanzhuang, China. Using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, the new research, published this month in Antiquity, reveals the coin mint began operating between 640 and 550 B.C.E., after the foundry switched from producing other valuable items to creating currency.”

Are You Worth More Than You Earned?

This is not an existential question, this is literally a question of whether your net worth exceeds your total lifetime income – an interesting exercise.

I learned that I actually am not worth more than what I’ve earned in my lifetime but I am not surprised. We have kids, we own a house, we have to eat, we pay taxes – it has to be pretty difficult to get your net worth higher than what you earned at this age.

Are You Worth More Than You Earned? [Retire by 40] – “Have you ever wonder how much money you earned over the years? I mean, it has to be a sizeable sum if you’ve been working for a while. I was thinking about this and came up with a natural follow-up question. Are we worth more than what we earned? After all, wealth is what you keep, not what you earn. We have been maxing out our 401k and investing for years. Our net worth is much higher than the average US household. However, I don’t know if it is higher than what we earned over the years. Let’s answer that question today.”

You Can’t Always Make More Money [She Picks Up Pennies] – “One of the most common pieces of advice in personal finance is to increase your income. It’s a solid suggestion. Until it’s not. The truth is that you can’t always make more money. There are a lot of instances when layering on a side income or two is hugely advantageous. I’d argue that in just as many instances, focusing on maximizing your main income source is even more important.” Side hustling gets a lot of attention but many times it’s often better to main hustle. 🙂

The stuff they don’t teach you in books [The Reformed Broker] – “And some of the things I’ve come to learn have never been taught in any textbook or on any exam given industry-wide. These unwritten things are the key to everything. I’ll share a few today… 1. Every thousand dollars you help a client save on taxes is the equivalent of earning that client ten thousand dollars in returns, based on how grateful people are. I don’t know why it is that way. There’s something about “I saved you money” that’s ten times more emotionally satisfying than “I made you some money.” Probably because money made in the market usually continues to remain at risk in a portfolio, while money saved on taxes feels more kept and permanent.” A lot of gems in this one that apply even if you aren’t in the business of managing money, especially towards the end of the list of 10.

“The best thing I’ve ever bought.”

Hello, my friends. It’s Friday and it’s Jim’s birthday. Let’s all send him best wishes, shall we? 🙂

Happy birthday, Jim!

And now, let’s look at some of the top stories from the world of personal finance.

The problem with the homeless shelter system in the U.S. (and why it’s not being fixed) — according to a hobo. [/r/vagabond on Reddit] — “As a vagabond of 18 years, I have been to hundreds of homeless shelters across America. As a volunteer and founder of a non-profit group of homeless volunteers, I have volunteered at hundreds more.
Don’t get me started with how bad some of these places are. Allow me to sum up some of my experiences, and shed some insight as to what you can typically expect at your local shelter(s).”

Seven ways to get free groceries. [Surviving and Thriving] — “Most people already know that food banks provide free groceries. The tactics I’m suggesting below are a bit more outside-the-box. Will they meet your every pantry need? Probably not. But any free items you do score will affect the bottom line.”

“The best thing I’ve ever bought is an ebike.” [Financial Panther] — “When I think about life-changing things I’ve bought over the years, the list is pretty small. A laptop. My first smartphone. The robot vacuum that’s saved me literally hundreds of hours of cleaning time. But perhaps the best thing I’ve ever bought has to be an ebike.”

I’m a little skeptical of new-fangled tracking devices such as Apple’s Airtags. They seem like an expensive solution to a non-problem (for me). But here’s an intersting Twitter thread in which one fellow shares how he used Airtags to recover a stolen $800 scooter. After reading this, the things make a little more sense to me. (I’m not going to buy any, but now I understand why somebody would.)

Last week, I watched this short video essay about why the film Arrival is so good.

The essay prompted me to watch the movie again — even though I just saw it a few months ago. Whoa! I’ve always thought Arrival was fine but nothing remarkable. This time through, I was blown away. This is a great, great movie — but you can only appreciate that if you know what’s going to happen. You have to know the end of the film to understand the beginning.

And that’s kind of the point of the movie. That’s what it’s all about!

I feel like this is a very daring way to make a film, to create a story and structure that is incomplete unless you watch the thing twice. Most people aren’t going to do that. But for those who are willing to do so, it’s an amazingly rewarding experience.

And that’s it for me. Jim will be back next week to share more of the best from the world of money. See you then!

Don’t turn your passions into work.

Hey hey, everyone. It’s Thursday and I’m back to share more of the best from the world of personal finance. I like all of today’s pieces very very much.

More is more: The end of minimalism. [The Walrus] — “In a consumer culture, minimalism was always a somewhat fancyland ruse. It was domestic anorexia sold as health; materialism repackaged as its opposite; perfectionism hawked as peace. It was the perversion of labelling a home curated down to zero the ultimate luxury or, worse, virtue.”

Don’t turn your passions into work. [Bitches Get Riches] — “Your hobbies and your passions are a big part of your identity. Much bigger, in fact, than what you do in your job or career. They are beautiful. The magic they can work on you is powerful. Do not sacrifice them on the altar of something so low and common as a job. It’s the easiest way to grow indifferent to what used to inspire you.”

Health care in the U.S. compared to other high-income countries. [The Commonwealth Fund] — “The top-performing countries overall are Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia. The United States ranks last overall, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product on health care. The U.S. ranks last on access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and health care outcomes, but second on measures of care process.”

Despite remaining non-political on most subjects, I will never shut up about this one. The U.S. health system is some stupid, stupid shit. Half measures aren’t going to fix it. Privatized health insurance is the primary culprit. It has to go. I don’t care how wasteful you think “socialized medicine” is. It’s less expensive than what we currently have…and it’s more effective too.

Health care spending vs. quality

And today’s final link is mostly for me. From my buddy John at ESI Money, here’s the huge list of awesome retirement activities. For a decade, I’ve been fighting against the notion of “retirement”. Today, I’m ready to embrace it. This article is exactly what the title says: a long list of stuff to do when you don’t have to work. I’m going to use it as a source of inspiration!

That’s it for Thursday. Come back tomorrow, won’t you? We can all celebrate Jim’s birthday together.

The three phases of making a major life change.

Welcome to Wednesday and welcome to Apex Money. Today, I’ve rounded up for interesting articles about personal finance. Enjoy!

It’s okay to outgrow the life you thought you wanted. [Rainesford Stauffer] — “Often, there’s a desire to cling onto how we thought life should go, sometimes until it outweighs the reality of how it is going — what makes us happy, versus what we feel should; what is truly stimulating or fulfilling, versus what we’ve been told should be chased and sacrificed for. A question I ponder is: How do we untether ourselves from the people we imagined we’d become?” This piece really hit home for me personally.

The three phases of making a major life change. [Harvard Business Review] — “Research on the transformative potential of a catalyzing event like the coronavirus pandemic suggests that we are more likely to make lasting change when we actively engage in a three-part cycle of transition — one that gets us to focus on separation, liminality, and reintegration. Let’s consider each of those parts of the cycle in detail.”

Young people don’t know what it’s like to be old. [Slightly Early Retirement] — “Most of the people who show the most ignorance about aging are in their forties or younger. This is reasonable because someone like me, in my sixties, fully understands what it is like to be 24, because I’ve been there. But a 24 year old is abysmally ignorant of life at 65 because they have zero first hand experience of what 65 feels like.”

PrepperFI: Achieving financial independence while preparing for the worst. [Tread Lightly, Retire Early] — “I’m hoping that our individual life choices will insulate us from some of the potential ill effects humans and the future could bring. Hopefully we’d be better equipped to suffer the mental strain that could come with wide reaching global environmental austerity measures.”

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more great stuff. Y’all come back, you hear?

The highest forms of wealth.

Good morning, money nerds, and welcome to Apex Money. Today, as every weekday, we’re going to look at some of our favorite personal-finance stories from around the web. Let’s dive in!

The highest forms of wealth. [Collaborative Fund] — “Money buys happiness in the same way drugs bring pleasure: Incredible if done right, dangerous if used to mask a weakness, and disastrous when no amount is enough. The highest forms of wealth are measured differently.”

Negotiating tips for people who hate negotiating. [Bravely Go] — “A lot of us head into any meeting where money will be discussed with guns blazing, ready for war. But the first mistake is thinking that negotiation is a battle. It’s not. You should think of negotiation as a tango; you and your client or boss are in this thing together.”

Homeownership can bring out the worst in you. [Vox] — “None of this is meant to be an indictment of people who want to become homeowners. But it’s a warning about how it could affect your thinking and politics. Because while there is some rationality to the fears that drive homeowners to oppose growth and progress in their communities, there is also a massive cost.”

The state of American friendships. [Survey Center on American Life] — “Americans appear more attuned than ever to the importance of friendship. However, despite renewed interest in the topic of friendship in popular culture and the news media, signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline…Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.”

Lastly, here’s today’s video. And for once, it’s actually sort of about personal finance! From the Half as Intersting channel on YouTube, here’s a five-minute look at how to decode credit card numbers.

This isn’t really useful info, I’ll admit, but it’s sort of fun to know. Well, fun for money geeks, anyhow. 😉

Why you should spend money on your friends.

Hello, Apexians, and welcome to another Monday! It feels like it’s going to be a great week, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s because Kim and I recently made an offer on a home and had it accepted — all without a crazy bidding war!

Our home inspection last Friday went well. Tomorrow, we’ll have an additional structural inspection to look at some cracks around doors and windows. It’s probably just standard settling stuff, but we want to be sure before we actually purchase the place, you know?

The place we’re buying reminds me some of the Brady Bunch house. It’s a 1964 two-level ranch with some mid-century modern vibes. Because of that, let’s lead off today with our bonus video. Here’s a 20-minute CGI recreation of the Brady house. So fun!

Next, let’s dive right into the personal-finance links.

The end of peak consumerism? [The Art of Manliness] — “When you shop online, you’re more likely to only buy things you really need; when you shop in a store, you’re more likely to pick up extra stuff. Statistically and specifically speaking, consumers spend an average of $50 more when they shop in a store versus online.”

What self-care really means. [Thought Catalog] — “Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do.”

Why you should spend money on your friends. [Incognito Money Scribe] — “What are friends for? A lot. While it is important to identify what expenses you can cut from your budget, it is equally important to identify what you like to joyfully spend money on. We should never get too hung up on spending time and money on friends. It sounds trite, but it seems necessary to write because fewer and fewer people have them.”

That last article really hits home for me. This past year specifically (and the past five years, in general), I’ve allowed too many friendships to lapse. This summer, I’m actively working to rekindle those relationships, and it feels like this is some of the best spending I can possible do.

Anyhow, that’s it for Monday. I’ll be back tomorrow with more of the best from the world of personal finance. See you then!

Would you renounce your citizenship?

In 2020, 6,707 Americans renounced their citizenship in favor of a foreign country. And many of them are ultra-wealthy and appear to be doing this to reduce their tax burden.

Wealthy people are renouncing American citizenship [Axios] – “The IRS publishes a quarterly list of the names of people who have renounced their citizenship or given up their green cards, but it only includes people with global assets over $2 million.”

The interesting thing is that we don’t know why they repatriated. I do know that my friends who have dealt with the tax system while working abroad… it’s a nightmare. They had contracts in which the company paid for an accounting firm to do it but even then sometimes they mess things up. I can’t imagine a regular person trying to do it themselves.

My Biggest Financial Regret (And How to Avoid Making the Same Mistake) [Bravely Go] – “It took me three and a half years total to pay off my debt and that is three and a half years of time in the stock market (during the longest bull market in US history I might add!!!!) that I will never, ever get back. Time is the one thing that we can’t make more of. […] Adding a missed three and a half years on top of that lifetime of low income, plus a lack of generational wealth and no inheritance, and time becomes a hell of a lot MORE important to me and people like me.

This next one is a kind of fun to read this meandering discussion about retirement from a guy who has had his hands in a bunch of different things from education to entrepreneurship. I enjoyed this article on his blog, which he wrote in 2006 but recently appeared on HN:

Early Retirement [Philip Greenspun] – “Retirement forces you to stop thinking that it is your job that holds you back. For most people the depressing truth is that they aren’t that organized, disciplined, or motivated.” This is just one small sliver of a massive and delicious apple pie – read the whole thing!

How cool is this domino robot?????

Have a great weekend!

A grab bag of stories

As I read articles on the internet, I throw the most interesting ones into a list that I hope to share with you.

From time to time, I’m able to weave a narrative around a collection of stories. Sometimes I can’t.

Today is one of those days where you get some interesting stories with no connection to one another other than I think they are interesting. Enjoy!

First – my good friend Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a new podcast! He talks with regular people about money and really dives deep. The first episode features a couple who started a baklava business together and it’s spicy!

Check out Ramit’s new podcast

Cities That Will Pay You To Move There [Accidental FIRE] – “The website is a central hub to find places in the United States currently offering incentives to relocate. As of this post some of the cities that will pay you to relocate are as diverse as Honolulu Hawaii, Augusta Maine, and uh, Baltimore Maryland.”

The Billionaire Playbook: How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Millions in Taxes [ProPublica] – “Owners like Steve Ballmer can take the kinds of deductions on team assets — everything from media deals to player contracts — that industrialists take on factory equipment. That helps them pay lower tax rates than players and even stadium workers.”

Wild Superyacht Secrets I Learned When I Became a Deckhand [Bloomberg] – “The to-do list I shared with the eight other crew members included tweezing fried chicken crumbs off the teak flooring, acting as a human clothes rack on seven-figure shopping sprees, and ferrying to the middle of nowhere to pick up caviar. If you thought life was always glam aboard a superyacht, here’s proof that it’s super-not.”

Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog That Waited at Train Station for Deceased Owner [Cesar’s Way] – “Ueno never came home from work, as he suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Of course, Hachi had no idea about this, so the loyal dog continued to wait for his owner’s return. Every day like clockwork, when the train would appear, so would Hachi, searching for Ueno. Hachi’s fidelity earned him the nickname “the faithful dog.” Hachi never gave up hope and continued to wait for more than nine years for his owner to return” That’s loyalty.