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Apex Money Posts

How to do nothing.

Happy Friday, money nerds. Just a few more hours until the weekend! As I mentioned yesterday, I’m now in Portugal for a week of “rich people talk” at a financial retreat. Following that, I fly to Joshua Tree, California for more of the same. So, yes, it’s another couple of weeks on the road for me.

Starting on Monday, Mr. Wang will take over curation duties here at Apex. Before he does, though, I have a few final money stories to share.

To kick things off, here’s a video that’s far more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I have a lot of experience with blog monetization but I know nothing about making money on YouTube. Shelby Church does. She has 1.3 million subscribers. Recently she shared: “How much I get paid for 1,000,000 views on YouTube.” (Spoiler: It depends.)

Where you are born is more predictive of your future than any other factor. [Bill Gates] — “No one’s life should be a roll of the dice. Were you born, as we were, with the odds in your favor? Or are you one of the billions of people born with the odds against you? Our goal is to even the odds for everyone. When that happens, the future won’t be predicted by random factors…” This presentation is very much about what Warren Buffett calls “the ovarian lottery”.

How you can live your best life without a lot of money. [One Frugal Girl] — “At some point in our lives we lose sight of the aspirations of our childhood. We stop asking the fundamental question, ‘What is important to me?’ […] Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life. Do I want to find a new job or ease into the option of early retirement?”

Shortcuts and biases may help us make better financial decisions. [Nerd’s Eye View] – “We’ve perhaps been too negative towards bias and heuristics. Bias and heuristics are not inherently good, but they aren’t inherently bad either…By effectively using (and refining) heuristic techniques when it is appropriate to do so, we can develop an arsenal of useful decision-making tools”

How to do nothing. [Four Pillar Freedom] — “Activities like stargazing, going for a walk, or just sitting outside in nature might seem unproductive, but they can be highly therapeutic and healing. In an age where mental health problems and anxiety are on the rise, doing nothing offers a free form of therapy.

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.

The best and worst thing about financial independence.

Hello, money nerds. And good-bye.

This morning, I’m flying out to Portugal for yet another adventure. It’s my fourth visit to Europe in nine months. Crazy. (In fact, I spent the first couple of days of September in Italy!)

This time, though, I”m traveling for work. I’m headed to an FI chautauqua to talk about financial independence and early retirement. As much as I’d love to tour the country — the Rock of Gibraltar is on my bucket list — I don’t have time.

I do have time to share some top money stories with you, though. Today, in celebration of the chautauqua, let’s talk about financial independence. And our first article does a scary good job of pre-saging the talk I’m giving next week…

The best and worst thing about financial independence. [Mad Fientist] — “If you’re unhappy when you’re working and you blame your job for all your problems, you may struggle after FI if you’re still unhappy. What do you do when your biggest scapegoat disappears? […] This leads us to the best and worst things about financial independence. They’re actually the same thing…Financial independence gives you the freedom to do anything you want with your life.

Financial independence isn’t about early retirement — it’s about gaining choice. [Seattle Times] — “Gaining choice and achieving financial independence is the de facto goal of every consumer, every individual trying to save for retirement and to provide for their family. Achieving it doesn’t require an acronym or joining a ‘movement’. Just be financially focused on what’s important…”

Financial independence stories from developing countries. [/r/financialindependence on Reddit] — “I want to know the stories of people not from the U.S.: Romania, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam. Can you tell the same tale [of financial independence]? Does your market return 6-7% just like in the U.S.? Does the volatility in the market make it impossible to achieve FI this way?” [Related: Journey to FI from an African perspective.]

Lastly, here’s an example of financial independence in action. The woman in this story may not be able to achieve early retirement (I don’t know) but she had enough money to make time for something important. She quit her job and spend 57 days searching for her lost dog. And she was successful. Yay!

Through the magic called “working ahead”, I actually have several more days of Apex prepared for you. But soon Jim will return to share some of his favorite recent stories.

Until then, if you’ve found something you think your fellow nerds might like, send it in! Help spread the top money stories on the web here at Apex Money.

Dense about housing.

Well well well. It’s Wednesday, money nerds, and it’s time for some more top money stories! First up, my pal Douglas Tsoi sent us his latest article from the School of Financial Freedom. We like it.

Dense about housing. [School of Financial Freedom] — “Housing is a prime example of the ‘hedonic treadmill’, which means we emotionally adapt to the material improvements we make in our lives, resulting in the ongoing need to get still more. Our houses are getting bigger and when they do, we want them to get bigger still.”

In his article, Tsoi links to the following photo essay, which is amazing:

Hong Kong’s high-density housing and cramped living conditions. [chinaSMACK] — “Because of historical, political, and geographical reasons, only 23.7% of Hong Kong’s land is developed. 76 square kilometers of land is developed for housing use, which occupies only 6.8% of the total land area. Due to the high population density caused by limits on land development, 7.07 million people mainly live in residential high-rises.”

Many Hong Kong residents live in apartments of only 100 square feet (9.2 square meters)!

Living in 100 square feet

Living in 100 square feet

Discipline trumps vision. [First Round Review] — “In this exclusive interview, Collin dives deeper to put tactical teeth on an entrepreneurial trope, sharing why a founder’s discipline matters more than vision. She describes her approach to communication, time management, fundraising and team building, unveiling impactful practices and sharing the actual emails she relies on to stay on track.” Yes, this article is about managing a successful start-up, but it contains lessons you can use in your personal life.

Lastly, here’s an article from Inc. that’s not really about money: “Ten things incredibly likable people never, ever do (and why you love them for it”.

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.

How to write an email.

It’s Toooooos-day, money nerds. Again. It’s crazy how this seems to happen every seven days. It’s almost as if the wheel of time keeps going round and round and round or something. And while the wheel of time continues to spin, we continue to gather top money stories for you from around the web.

First up, here’s some advice that I would do well to heed…advice on how to write better email.

How to write an email. [TED] — “Turk’s email philosophy is aimed at reducing the overall burden of email on senders and recipients. She says, ‘At its simplest, this can mean cutting down on the number of emails you send and sending them to fewer people…When you do send an email, you should make it as quick and easy as possible for the recipient to deal with.‘ Here is her specific advice.”

How to choose the neighborhood that’s right for you. [CityFrugal] — “Whether you’re moving to a new city or moving around within your city, choosing the right neighborhood is a crucial input into your future happiness. However, I’ve noticed that most people don’t put a ton of thought into selecting a neighborhood.”

Adding 20 minutes to your commute makes you as miserable as getting a 19% pay cut. [Inc.] — “Researchers found that each extra minute of commuting time reduces both job and leisure time satisfaction — though not overall life satisfaction — and increases strain and worsens mental health for workers. Not all commuters fared the same, however. The study found commuters who walk or bike to work don’t report the same dissatisfaction with their leisure time as those who commute by bus or train.

And now for something completely different…

You know how Pokemon cards and baseball cards, etc. have always been popular? Trading cards are a big part of our childhoods — because we’re nerds! Well, trading cards have been around a lot longer than you think. Here’s a story about Victorian-era culinary trading cards (or “trade cards”, as they were called then). That’s right: People used to collect cards containing oats or root beer.

Scotch Oats Essence Hires root beer

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.

How to win at investing.

Welcome to autumn, my money nerds! At precisely 12:50 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time this morning, our sun passed the autumnal equinox. Good-bye, summer. Hello, fall. Have no fear, though. Jim and I are still here, still finding top money stories from around the web to share with you. Stories like these, in fact…

How to win at investing

The importance of an abundance mindset (and how you can adopt one). [Women Who Money] — “While taking control sounds easy enough to do, it’s harder for some than others. And that’s where scarcity and abundance mindsets come into play. These mindsets can play a significant role in how you make decisions, how you spend, save, and invest your money, and how you go about living each day. Let’s take a closer look at the principle of scarcity and abundance.”

Inside the “Cup Noodle” industrial complex. [Taste] — “Nissin Foods introduced just-add-water instant noodles in a cup to a tepid reception in 1971. In a country where fresh noodles in hot broth were already ubiquitous, cheap, and fast, Cup Noodle (pluralized as “Cup Noodles” only in the American market) were at first a hard sell. The tipping point came a year later, according to a story that’s well known in Japan…”

We return again and again to the “greatest hits” of personal finance because they work. [Above the Market] — “In the worlds of investing and personal finance, it’s easy to focus on the controversial, the difficult, and the arcane. But we should take great care to keep showing fealty to our greatest hits – the tried and true principles that we can and should all agree on and return to routinely.”

Here’s one final piece to start your week on a positive note. Remember: It’s not always about the money.

It's not always about the money.

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.

Slow mornings may be the secret to tech-life balance.

Far out, friends! It’s Friday! Even money nerds like us look forward to the weekend. When else are we going to count our dollars and cents? Like Scrooge McDuck, we need sometime to tally our treasure. And that time is the weekend.

What? You don’t do that?

Well, I know one thing you do do, and that’s come to Apex Money for the latest top money stories from around the web. Here’s what we have for you today.

“I love living with my best friend. So, I bought a house with her and her husband.” [Huffington Post] — “The arrangement is worth the slight awkwardness it engenders. We’ve spent a lot of time soothing people’s embarrassment after they made assumptions that turned out to be wrong. I’m sure some folks believe Maggie and Matt are benevolent do-gooders who have opened their home to a boarder. When I date someone new, the ‘package-deal’ question looms in the back of my mind, along with the question of whether my satisfying home life is what keeps me so frequently single.”

I love living with my best friend.

The state of housing in America. [Accidental Fire] — “The constant drumbeat that home prices have skyrocketed out of proportion is true on the surface, but easy to see why in the numbers. As the chart shows, price per square foot is mostly the same. But total prices have gone way up, no chart necessary, we all know that. So how can total prices go way up when price per square foot hasn’t? You don’t need to be Einstein to solve this equation. The number of square feet has to go way up for that equation to be true.”

We’ve reached peak wellness. Most of it is nonsense. [Outside magazine] — “Across the country, everyone is looking for a cure for what ails them, which has led to a booming billion-dollar industry — what I’ve come to call the Wellness Industrial Complex. The problem is that so much of what’s sold in the name of modern-day wellness has little to no evidence of working.”

Slow mornings may be the secret to tech-life balance. [Medium] — “The slow morning movement is one strategy used among people exhausted by their tech-heavy lives to establish a sense of focus for the rest of the day. Some people exercise, while others enjoy some time alone. The point is to create a lack of technological distraction. A slow morning is supposed to be an antidote to the frenetic pace of 24/7 digital alerts.”

Finally, here’s something that has absolutely zero to do with money. But it’s important!

Which cereal leaves behind the best milk? [/r/askreddit] — There’s nothing more to this thread than answers to the question. Don’t expect life-altering stuff. It’s just an important debate, one to which the correct answer is: Golden Grahams.

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.

Building wealth through experimentation.

Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g, money nerds! It’s the nineteenth, and the nineteenth is always awesome. (All prime-number days are good in my world. Yet another reason I’m a nerd.) Today is especially good because I have some excellent money stories to share with you. Let’s get right to it.

Building wealth through experimentation. [Mr. Tako Escapes] — “Normally, wasting money is a bad thing. Waste should generally be avoided if you want to reach FI. But experimentation (aka purposeful waste) can lead to breakthroughs in optimization that I normally wouldn’t have found without experimenting. Today’s post is an argument that wasting a little money in the name of continuous experimentation, can be a very good thing.”

How to find real-life side hustles that aren’t a waste of time. [The Luxe Strategist] — “Maybe you want to engage your entrepreneurial side. Or maybe you’ve maxed out your salary at your job, and want more money to throw at your debt. Or like me, you just want to buy fancy stuff without wrecking the rest of your money. Whatever the reason, side hustling can help make serious headway on your financial goals…I’m going to show you how to think about finding side hustle ideas that work uniquely for you. The best side hustles are the ones that don’t feel like work at all. And that’s going to be different for everyone.”

“Why I declutter my home via Craigslist.” [Curbed] —”Each time I give away a trash bag full of plastic hangers, or a chunky black bracelet I haven’t worn in 10 years, I breathe a little easier. I feel less stressed and more at peace. I feel happier in my home. I feel, I imagine, just like the teary-eyed stars of Kondo’s Netflix show — except I generated these feelings solo, with nary a high-definition camera in sight.”

The story of us. [Wait But Why] — “When I told people I was planning to write a post about society, and the way people are acting, and the way the media is acting, and the way the government is acting, and the way everyone else is acting, people kept saying the same thing to me. Don’t do it. Don’t touch it. Write about something else. Anything else. It’s just not worth it.” After three years of silence, my favorite blog is back with a new series of articles about how American society reached its current level of contentiousness. I’m enjoying the analysis.

And now for something completely different. Here’s a sweet, sweet video of two strangers singing a song (one that I’ve never heard before) in the aisles of a grocery store. Can’t tell if these two are strangers, but I think they are. In any event, I love this.

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.

Playing offense in retirement.

Wow! It’s Wednesday already, money nerds. Can you believe it? Today at Apex Money, we have some top stories about retirement (and cultural relativism).

Playing offense in retirement. [Can I Retire Yet?] — “These seemingly contradictory pieces of advice have the same solution: Don’t limit your view of retirement. Continue to play some offense. Never stop growing and learning. Consider fun and interesting ways to earn some ongoing income. Give yourself options. Life is more fun when you’re playing to win, rather than trying not to lose.

Ten charts about retirement that everyone should see. [Retirement Field Guide] — “As a Retirement Planner, I eagerly await the release of J.P. Morgan’s Guide to Retirement. It is essentially a booklet of slides filled with a ton of great information impacting retirees…I’ve selected 10 charts that I think everyone transitioning into retirement should see with a little commentary on each.”

Early retirees tend to be less happy (and other research results about happiness). [CNBC] — “Over a period of more than two years, I studied hundreds of academic studies, interviewed psychologists, sociologists, and happiness researchers about what brings a person joy…Happiness is far from a simple concept. It can refer to a wide range of moods, emotions, sensations, and traits — each with benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the most interesting tips.”

This last link isn’t strictly financial, but it’s fascinating…

Why do Chinese people like their government? [SupChina] — “Why do so many people feel that the Chinese can’t possibly be OK with their government or society? It seems that many in West deem the current Chinese government/society as wrong and that any ‘right-thinking’ person would agree and join in the fight.” [See also: Change my view: Some cultures and societies are objectively wrong.]

Reasons people move

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.

How to complain and get results.

Today is Tuesday, money nerds, and there’s so much to do! After a 24-day trip to Europe, I’ve been home for ten days. In ten days more, I leave for another 21 days in Europe and the American southwest. (This time, though, I’m traveling for work.) I don’t have enough time to get everything done!

But I do have time to share some top money stories from elsewhere on the interwebs. To wit:

What consumes your mind consumes your life (and your finances). [Cait Flanders] — “The phrase ‘what consumes your mind controls your life’ was meant to prove that our thoughts can become our reality — especially if we have a positive or negative mindset. But considering the fact that we now spend more than 50% of our waking hours consuming media — and that number is expected to increase — we should be a bit more literal about this subject, and take steps to make sure that what we consume doesn’t negatively impact our lives or finances.”

How to get hired for the job you really want. [Inc. magazine] — “If you’re struggling to land the job you want, don’t complain. Don’t blame other people. Sure, the system often sucks — so accept it sucks, and then figure out how to beat it. Commit to doing more. Commit to doing what other candidates aren’t willing to do. That’s how you stand out. That’s how you get the job you really want.”

How to complain and get results. [Kiplinger’s] — “Taking a complaint to customer service can be maddening. No one wants to deal with endless phone trees, outsourced representatives working from inflexible scripts, automated responses or chatbots…To breach the walls and successfully resolve your complaint…you must use the three p’s: patience, persistence and politeness. Don’t expect an instant fix, and give the company’s complaint process time to work.”

Hyper-capitalism and the cult of Ayn Rand. [The New Republic] — “Objectivists insist that their predilections are derived from a highly logical, uncompromising framework. But there were moments when it felt like we were engaging in a lot of ex post facto justification of Rand’s personal tastes. Jazz, we were later told, sucked. Rock and roll sucked. Gilbert and Sullivan sucked. Bach sucked. Modern art sucked.”

I used to be (and in some ways still am) an Ayn Rand acolyte. I thought it made me smart. Diving deeper into history and philosophy made me realize there’s nothing especially insightful or “objective” about Rand’s thinking. Really, she was just another demagogue. Nowadays, I enjoy reading Rand for fun but there’s no way I take her word as gospel. Because it’s not.

The mad lad!

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.

Dreams remain dreams without doing.

Good morning, money nerds! It is I, J.D., and I’m back after 24 days of travel. It was fun to watch Jim dig up top money articles while I was away. Now I’m back and ready for action. (At least for a few weeks until my next trip haha.)

Before we dive in, I want to remind folks of a couple of ground rules that Jim and I have developed during our first ten weeks of curation. First, we’re going to swear around here from time to time. Second, we’ll feature political articles now and then (although we don’t intend to push a particular agenda). Swearing and politics are okay at Apex. But we promise not to go overboard with either.

Okay, let’s look at some of top money stories from around the web!

What is SlowFI? How does it differ from other types of FIRE? [The Fioneers] — “People pursuing Slow FI could retire early or could retire at the traditional retirement age. The ultimate goal is full financial independence, but the focus is on making the journey as remarkable as the destination. Like slow food and slow travel, Slow FI focuses on the process, connection to the world and people around us, and our experiences along the journey. Slow FI enables us to live our best lives along the way.”

“My boyfriend won’t stop paying for large group dinners. And he wastes food regularly.” [/r/relationships/ on Reddit] — “My boyfriend’s spending is out of hand, and it’s a nearly weekly occurrence that he picks up substantial dinner checks for large groups of people, which he ultimately cannot afford. I called him out in public and I feel so guilty over it, but not sure how to rectify my behavior in a way he will understand as he comes from a significantly wealthier background. What to do to get through to him, and also make things right?” [Semi-related: “Am I a the asshole for demanding that my sister pay rent?”]

Craving freedom, Japan’s women opt out of marriage. [New York Times, so possible paywall] — “The percentage of women who work in Japan is higher than ever, yet cultural norms have not caught up: Japanese wives and mothers are still typically expected to bear the brunt of the housework, child care and help for their aging relatives, a factor that stymies many of their careers. Fed up with the double standard, Japanese women are increasingly opting out of marriage altogether.”

Finally, here’s a terrific video that explains something I’ve been trying to tell people for a couple of decades: Tools don’t make great work; action makes great work. In this seven-minute video on the toolbox fallacy, Ian explains that dreams remain dreams without doing. To live a life without regret, you have to put your dream into action. (And yes, that is a gratuitous reference to one of my favorite albums of 1985.)

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.