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Apex Money Posts

The benefits of taxable accounts.

Hey hey, it’s a Thursday! Welcome back to Apex Money, your source for premium personal-finance posts delivered fresh daily. Have a bite!

What happens when people start reading privacy policies? [The Markup] — “Earlier this week, Zoom, the popular web-conferencing service that became ubiquitous when pandemic lockdowns shifted many in-person meetings to in-little-boxes-on-laptop-screen meetings, was the subject of sharp criticism from users and privacy advocates recently, when an article from the technology news site Stack Diary highlighted a section of the company’s terms of service that said it could use data collected from its users to train artificial intelligence.”

You probably need less money than you think for retirement. [A Wealth of Common Sense] — “Look, I’m not saying everyone has to die with zero. Having a low burn rate is certainly the best hedge against longevity risk in retirement. But what’s the point of saving in the first place if you’re not going to spend some of it?”

The benefits and drawbacks of taxable accounts. [Can I Retire Yet?] — “Taxable accounts, despite their name, can actually be pretty tax friendly. They are particularly valuable to early retirees because they allow access to money without the restrictions of retirement accounts. So it is important to understand the role taxable accounts can play in retirement and the rules that govern them.”

That’s all we have for you today. Come back tomorrow for more great stuff as we head into the weekend…

Your memory is lying to you.

Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds. It’s me, J.D., instead of the folks from Plutus. They’ve lost their curator, so Jim and I are responsible for every weekday once more! Just as well too. I’ve collected a bunch of good stuff this week. Like these:

Create a “brag sheet” to get your work recognized. [Julia Evans] — “There’s this idea that, if you do great work at your job, people will (or should!) automatically recognize that work and reward you for it with promotions / increased pay. In practice, it’s often more complicated than that – some kinds of important work are more visible/memorable than others. It’s frustrating to have done something really important and later realize that you didn’t get rewarded for it just because the people making the decision didn’t understand or remember what you did. So I want to talk about a tactic that I and lots of people I work with have used!”

Your memory is lying to you. [Infinite Loops] — “Our brains have some funny kinks that exist to give us a ‘kinder and gentler’ view of reality and ourselves than is warranted. One such kink is the foundation of hindsight bias, where our brain rewires our ‘memories’ to make them consistent with current conditions…One way to see just how true this is is to keep a handwritten journal of decisions and beliefs throughout time. If you can consistently record thoughts, decisions and beliefs over time, you’ll quickly see that we are all ‘unreliable narrators’.”

How to write an online listing so your stuff actually sells. [Lifehacker] — “Whether you’re moving soon, doing an end-of-season closet clean-out, or simply offloading items that are taking up space and not getting any use, selling online is an easy way to make some cash on your no-longer-needed goods. But to get buyers’ eyes on your stuff and convince them to purchase what you’re selling — quickly — you need a compelling online listing. Here’s how to create a listing to sell your stuff faster online.”

I don’t have any videos to share with you. The truth is that I haven’t seen any fun things to share lately. But rest assured. When I do find something good on YouTube, I’ll post it here.

See you tomorrow!

Home is where the revolution is.

Hello, my friends, and welcome to another day of Apex Money. Here are the stories I’ve gathered to share with you today.

Home is where the revolution is. [The Free Press] — “These are not the isolated, paranoid prepper types that mainstream media mocks. Nearly 60 percent of homesteaders in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to just under 40 percent of the general public. The average homesteader, according to a survey of almost 4,000, is married, under 50, and religious. And the full political spectrum is represented, with over a fourth identifying as liberal, and nearly 44 percent calling themselves conservative—and 90 percent are active voters.”

If it’s important, learn it repeatedly. [Raptitude] — “If you’ve ever read a book a second time, you may have noticed that it’s an entirely different experience from the first time. It doesn’t feel redundant or repetitive. Instead, it feels like gaps are being filled in. Different details strike you as important. The points you do remember now have the benefit of context, and much of it seems entirely new.”

Five books that will prepare you for life in retirement. [Kiplinger] — “Most people view retirement as a whole new chapter in life, one with its own unique adventures but also unique challenges. That’s why retirees in a 2023 Edward Jones study overwhelmingly agree (93%) that ‘preparation, flexibility, and willingness to adapt are keys to success in retirement’. With that goal in mind, these five must-read books about retirement will help you prepare for that next chapter.”

To wrap things up today, here’s a 17-minute video from Rob Berger about how to overcome the fear of retiring.

Berger is one of my favorite personal-finance folks. Smart. Genuine. Nerdy. He’s a good guy and this is a good video.

Lazy-girl jobs.

Hello, Apexians, and welcome to another week of money and more. Can you believe we’re nearing the end of summer? Where I live — in Oregon’s Willamette Valley — it’s been relatively hot recently, but at the same time we can all sense that autumn is around the corner. This is such a great place to live in September and, especially, October.

And you know what? Apex Money is a great place to be every weekday! Let’s see what Jim and I have gathered for you today.

Lazy-girl jobs are Gen Z’s alternative to FIRE. [Millennial Revolution] — “Now that I’m an elderly Millennial, I’m no longer cool enough to start trends or incite revolutions. All my pop culture references are ‘cheugy’, my beloved Harry Potter books are ‘for old people’, and my Instagram account is so 2019. So now I have no choice but to look to Gen Z for inspiration when it comes to trends. And the newest one trending on TikTok, with 17 million uses, is the #lazygirljob.” [I love everything Kristy writes. This is not exception.]

Why I returned to renting after a few years of homeownership. [Dwell] — “As year two of homeownership came to a close, the shiny lure of owning property slowly faded into what felt more like an obligation loaded with unfinished tasks (those bookshelves still weren’t assembled, nor were the impenetrable clay garden beds any less barren), more space than we needed, and a lingering question of whether we’d made the right choice.”

What if you already have enough money? [The Cut] — “Giving yourself permission to achieve less questions society’s reverence of always being busy and the subliminal message that the answer to anything that ails us is to do more, earn more, be more. Instead, you want to take into consideration the kind of life you want to live.”

Let’s wrap things up with a longer video. It’s a fascinating look at a man with no legal identity who lives off the grid in Appalachia.

When I try to explain my background to people, I like to point them to things like this. It’s not exactly how I grew up…but it’s not that far off. And it’s absolutely how some of my cousins live to this very day. This is my family background, folks. And it’s this sort of thing that informs all of my decisions even today.

Keep it simple

Happy Friday!

I want to start today’s post with a thread by Tim Ferriss, of Four Hour Workweek fame:

“(2) For the rest—which could be everything—follow Buffett’s advice. Keep it simple.”


9 Biggest Mistakes High Income/High Net Worth Millennials Make [The Long Game] – “We often associate wealth with financial expertise, but this could not be further from the truth. High net worth people are not immune to making mistakes. In fact, they make just as many mistakes, if not more than everyone else.”

100 Tips for a Better Life [Less Wrong] – “43. Deficiencies do not make you special. The older you get, the more your inability to cook will be a red flag for people.” So many good tips… plus links for more in the numbers themselves.

Enjoy this video on The Timeless Business of Steakhouses:

Have a great weekend!

Are you rich?

“Happiness is making $1 more than your brother in law.”

I don’t know when I heard it first but it’s something that has stuck with me. The point of the quote is to say that happiness is about relativity. For some, it means making more than their peers. For others, it’s being fitter or faster or stronger.

Money is an important part of our lives and, for some, an important part of their identity and happiness.

Wonder how you might compare with the rest of America? Bloomberg can help:

Are You Rich? [Bloomberg] – “Billionaires know they are. Low-wage workers are very well aware that they aren’t. But vast swaths of America’s “regular rich” don’t feel that way, and it’s keeping everybody down.” Comes with a tool that shows you how you stack up with the rest of America and various metro areas.

DraftKings and Other Sports Gambling Apps Are Hitting the Jackpot With ‘Parlay’ Bets. As They Win, You Lose. [Barrons] – “Americans have found a creative new way of losing money at sports betting. They’re losing with such regularity that they’re catapulting gambling apps to profitability well ahead of schedule. Parlay bets, which allow people to wager on several things happening together, have taken off in popularity this year. Instead of simply gambling on the winner of a game, bettors can wrap predictions for every game on the schedule into one bet, or create custom wagers that their favorite quarterback will throw three touchdowns and the defense will sack the other quarterback twice. Sports-betting websites and apps are now offering thousands of bets a day and combining the outcomes of several sporting events together into megabets that could cover four years of college tuition if they pay off. They hardly ever do.” They’re like lottery tickets but the anticipation lasts far longer because multiple events have to happen… sometimes a few of them do and the fun drags out, that’s why they’re popular!

Surprising stat from Redfin… Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. Homes Are Worth at Least $1 Million, Close to All-Time High. “This analysis estimated current home values using the Redfin Estimate, public records and MLS data, and past home values using public records and MLS data. The figures in this report represent June 2023, unless otherwise noted. See the end of this report for a detailed methodology.”

It’s not based on collected data, but estimates, but still surprising to see the percentage up at 8%.

Worries to cross off your list

We tend to worry about things that are triggers in our lives, without really taking into account the probability something will occur. It’s totally understandable, but Christine Benz does a great job reminding us that some financial bogeymen are just extremely unlikely:

4 Financial Worries to Cross Off Your List [Morningstar] – “Over breakfast one day after my parents’ passing, I was sharing some of my worries with her, one by one—mainly related to family dynamics. When I mentioned one particularly remote scenario that had been on my mind, she stopped me and said, “OK, yeah, let’s take that one off the list.” She went on to point out that the possibility I had been mulling over was unlikely to come to pass, and if it did, it wouldn’t be a world-ender.”

Rich and Anonymous [Morgan Housel] – “Business Insider recently did a story of lottery winners who lost it all (people love the schadenfreude of these tales). A common denominator of the stories is that lottery winnings have a high degree of, let’s call it, social debt – friends, family, and strangers who feel entitled to ask, beg, and steal in a way that leaves the winners not only broke, but socially exploited.”

5 Big Lessons Popular Personal Finance Advice Gets Wrong [Gen Y Planning] – “Every day, you’re inundated with information. From social media to texts, phone calls, emails, and news alerts—it’s incredible how much information we process regularly. So when it comes to handling your finances, it’s natural to think that the information you hear repeatedly is the best advice to follow. Right? Well, not quite. Here are five pieces of popular personal finance advice we can almost guarantee you’ve heard before and why you shouldn’t necessarily take it.”

The Best Days Are Ahead

The Best Days Are Ahead [We’re Gonna Get Those Bastards] – ” The second act must be better than the first act. Because your best days must always be ahead of you, rather than behind you. There are a lot of people in the world whose best days are behind them. Professional athletes, for instance. I met a guy in Myrtle Beach who used to pitch for the Orioles. In fact, he was the visiting pitcher for the last game at old Yankee Stadium. I had this guy on for a full two hours of my radio show. You would not believe the stories. And better than the stories on the air were the stories that he was telling me on commercial breaks. He has stories to last a lifetime. You want to know what he is doing now? He is a roofer.” (I cut the quote off there but I want to say that he, by no means, is slamming roofers or being a roofer. Check out the article, it’s a great message)

How to Get Rich in the Markets [The Big Picture] – “Money makes the world go round. Global capital markets (stocks, bonds, private investments, real estate) are worth over $100 trillion. If you want to become wealthy, go where the money is.”

Forensic accountant explains why fraud thrives on Wall Street – wow.

The antidote to envy.

Good morning, Apexians. Ready to get philosophical? Today’s installment explores deep existential questions. Fun!

As part of making 2023 “the year of me”, as part of my quest to learn to do nothing, I’ve been reading a lot about Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Right now, for instance, I’m exploring the work of Alan Watts. He’s big on accepting yourself for who you are and being present in the moment, both practices that have challenged me for most of my life.

Today’s stories (and video) explore these ideas.

The antidote to envy. [More to That] — “Envy is inversely correlated with self-examination. The less you know yourself, the more you look to others to get an idea of your worth. But the more you delve into who you are, the less you seek from others, and the dissolution of envy begins.”

Reversing the Golden Rule. [Bitches Get Riches] — “What if you could be as kind and compassionate to yourself as you are to others? What if you could extend to yourself the same grace and kindness you extend to your friends? How could you be transformed if you were as gentle and helpful with your own health and wellness as you were with the well-being of those you love?”

Both of those pieces are fantastic, and I highly recommend you read them. Today’s video is very much related. Here’s Alan Watts explaining that the purpose of life is not in the future.

“The golden goody isn’t at the end of the line. You’re in it.”

That’s pretty fucking profound, my friends. It’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far during this year of self-discovery.

The comfort crisis.

Good morning, folks! Now that I’ve officially allowed myself to be retired from the world of personal finance, I’m sorting through all of my old money books. I’m keeping the best, but many are destined for local thrift stores. Corvallis is about to get a dose of financial medicine!

And you’re about to get a dose of the same thanks to the stories I’ve gathered for you today.

The comfort crisis. [Mr. Money Mustache] — “While the news headlines cry constantly about our nationwide personal debt crisis or health crisis or any other number of things that suggest that life is so hard these days, I have always seen the opposite: on average, we Americans seem to have a problem of ridiculous overindulgence and easiness in our lives, and our main problem is not recognizing it, and the damage it does to us.”

How to spot fake reviews on Amazon. [Wired] — “Many Amazon reviews are fake. Unscrupulous or desperate sellers pay for glowing reviews, and some offer gift cards or free products in exchange for five-star ratings…It’s tough to identify what’s real with certainty, but you can reduce the risk of being conned when you know the warning signs. We’ve compiled some tips that can help.”

Items to stop buying in order to save money and curb clutter. [Women Who Money] — “If you’re tired of spending on things that quickly end up in the trash or donation pile, be more mindful of what you buy and your motivations. You can save money by avoiding or reducing things that commonly lead to clutter. Also, by asking thoughtful questions and establishing shopping rules, you’ll buy less, saving time, money, and energy.”

Because I’m old, I’ve been on a prolonged quest to indulge my sense of nostalgia. I’ve been reading favorite books from childhood, watching favorite movies and shows, listening to favorite music. That quest led me to this 41-minute YouTube compilation of TV commercials from the 1970s.

Okay, that’s it for today. It’s possible the folks from the Plutus Foundation will drop by with an Apex installment for tomorrow. If they don’t, I’ll see if I can find time to fill in. Else, I’ll see you all on Thursday.