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Supercharging your financial bullshit detector.

Good morning, my money nerds! We’re nearing the end of 2020, for which I think it’s safe to assume we’re all celebrating. To get you started this week, here are some of our favorite recent money articles. (Two of these are from The New York Times today. Because that may be behind a paywall for some of you, I’ve included an “extra” story today.)

An oral history of the world’s biggest coupon. [The New York Times] — “The 20 percent off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond — a homely and oversize mailer known as Big Blue — is omnipresent, unmistakable and a joy to deploy in the chain’s endless aisles. It’s also an oddball marketing achievement where the promotion became a stand-in for the brand itself.”

“How do I make money when I inherently hate the system?” [/r/financialindependence on Reddit] — “’m Black and from the hood. Me and everyone I know has been stuck in perpetual poverty our whole lives. I articulate myself, and I suppose I’m fairly clever. But as far as knowledge on how to make money work for me, healthy work patterns, wealth building habits, and financial literacy I have none.”

Giving billions fast, MacKenzie Scott upends philanthropy. [The New York Times] — “All told, Ms. Scott — whose fortune comes from shares of Amazon that she got after her divorce last year from Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder — had given more than $4 billion to 384 groups, including 59 other Y.W.C.A. chapters.”

Supercharging your financial bullshit detector. [Incognito Money Scribe] — “As a creative endeavor, financial success depends on knowing what to include as well as what to exclude; being able to separate good advice from bad advice; telling the truth from the bullshit. A good bullshit detector can go a long way in making better financial decisions.”

To conclude, here’s something that has nothing to do with money, but which I think is important nonetheless.

I know a lot of people who behave as if the news reflects reality. It doesn’t. Whether your news comes from the mainstream media, social media, or alternate sources, it provides a distorted version of the real world. It provides bits of the truth, but it is not the Truth.

Last year, Our World in Data published a small article that reflects one small way in which the news presents us with a distorted view of reality. They asked: Does the news reflect what we die from? The answer, of course, is “hell no”.

Causes of death in the U.S.

Again, this is one small example but it’s representative of the problem, as a whole. Fundamentally, the news is entertainment. It’s a product. News producers want viewers. So, they’re going to present stories that draw viewers, even if that means those stories create a distorted lens through which to view the world.

Okay, that’s it for the first day of the last week of this year. I’ll be back tomorrow with more good stuff. See you then!