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The difference between beginner and advanced advice.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! J.D. here, ready to start another week of Apex Money. I’ve been gatherin’ up those lovely money stories to share, don’t you know? Shall we see what I’ve found?

How do I help my friend in an abusive marriage? [Liberating Motherhood] — “Leaving a bad marriage when you have kids is one of the scariest things a person can do. It is very likely that the husband will get some custody, and it’s possible that he will weaponize the court system for years to come. If he is wealthy, there is a distant possibility that he could take her kids altogether. So while to outsiders, it might seem as simple as ‘just leave’, the story is always more complicated — specially once your friend recognizes that she is indeed being abused.” [The advice here is targeted to women, but applies to men in abusive marriages too.]

Should you be worried about the U.S. debt? [The Belle Curve] — “What does all of this mean for investors? If history is any guide, not much. Being a deficit hawk in the 1980s would not have served you well if you reduced your portfolio allocation to stocks. Same goes for the 90s, early aughts, and the 2010s. Does that mean the debt doesn’t matter? Not exactly.”

The crucial difference between beginner and advanced advice. [Forte Labs] — “Beginner advice tends to take the form of an extremely simple, impossible to misunderstand, black-and-white rule. Don’t do this. Always do that. This is what beginners need – a direct commandment they can follow blindly, trusting that the advice will lead them somewhere good even if they don’t understand how or why. But beginner advice is also inherently limited. It’s a deliberate oversimplification, hiding or ignoring a lot of the complexity of the real world…” Great article.

That last article really resonates with me. I was chatting with my ex-wife the other day (we’re on friendly terms), and I joked about how she is always right. (That was an ongoing theme of the marriage haha.)

“Not really,” she said, “but I always think I am at the time.”

“The older I get, the less sure I am of anything at all,” I replied. And it’s true. My younger self was confident, saw the world in black and white. My older self is doubtful and skeptical and sees everything in shades of grey. This is like applying that Forte Labs article to aging and life, in general. But the article is also spot-on with learning all sort of skills, including financial skills.

When I was getting my shit together in twenty years ago, I needed black-and-white advice that was easy to follow. Now, after reading and writing about money for two decades, I see that nothing is ever as clear as some folks would have you believe.

(I can see it’s also true with watercolor painting, for instance. I’m at the very early stages of learning how to paint, and much of what I’m reading is rules: paint lightest values first, limit your color palette, avoid white or black or grey paint, etc. But I’m already seeing that these rules aren’t written in stones; they’re just general guidelines or “best practices”.)

That’s all I have for you today. But I’ll be back tomorrow with more delightful links. Join me, won’t you?