When Clickbait Kills

Some articles have been making the rounds on Facebook about a new study on the effects of flu shots on pregnant women. The headlines are bold:

Miscarriages Linked to Flu Vaccine

Annual Flu Shots Linked to Increased Risk of Miscarriage

Alarming Study Links Flu Shot with Early Miscarriage

Could Flu Shots Lead to Miscarriage?

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Getting Better Results in Less Time

Today I want to explore a quick tool called an 80/20 analysis that can help you achieve better results in a shorter period of time.

The 80/20 analysis is based on the Pareto Principle. This principle was named for Vilfredo Pareto, who found in the late 1800s that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of Italians in the same way that 80% of the peas produced in his garden came from 20% of the peapods. This finding was one of many analyzing inequality and examining how the few end up with so much in our economies.

From this and similar findings of the tilting of economic benefits, Pareto decided that democracy was an illusion and a ruling class would always emerge from the 20%.

In modern parlance, this extreme conclusion has been ignored and the Pareto Principle has become more of a rule of thumb applied to a wide range of areas.

While my interest in politics and economics would push me to examine the implications for modern income inequality and the policy proposals to address it, this blog is about providing tools and information that is helpful to individuals.

So instead, we’ll be looking at the modern version.

(Don’t worry. I’ve found other excuses to talk about bigger issues of politics and economics.)

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When is More Money Worth Your Time?

If you want to make or save more money, you’re going to need to spend your time.

Side hustles and in-depth investment strategies take time. Cutting coupons and comparison shopping take time.

Most methods for making more money or for saving more money cost you time.

When is that exchange worth it?

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Why We Need To Fail More

Much of the research that I read and write about is geared towards achieving more success.

We work on time management and productivity so that we can accomplish more. We study investing and personal finance so that we can be more successful with our money.

There is a major focus on success in our culture and not much attention paid to failure.

But maybe that’s wrong.

Maybe we should be failing more.

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The Productivity Benefits of Letting Your Mind Wander

When I started making a concerted effort to be more productive, I knew I had to make better use of my time.

One of the early steps in this process was adding podcasts and audio books to my day. Previously, while walking to the subway or around the neighborhood, I would have just let my mind wander. I replaced this lost time with extra learning.

The extra knowledge helped. I felt more productive on my walks. But I started feeling more overwhelmed with the work I had on my plate the rest of the time. It felt like I was actually getting less done.

According to the research, I probably was.

I had lost the benefits of letting my mind wander.

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How to Succeed in the Modern Economy

Neil Irwin of the New York Times published a very interesting article on rising income inequality in America earlier this week.

The article was published by the Upshot, a team of wonks over at the Times who write nerdy, in depth, data driven policy articles. My favorite type of article.

The article took a nuanced look at the evolution of corporate culture and the rise of income inequality. It is worth a read in its own right.

But today I want to pull out just one piece of that story. A part of the story that struck me because it is a drum that I keep beating.

We are living and working in a fundamentally different economy than our parents.

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Don’t Bank on the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Every conversation that I have had discussing the benefits of buying versus renting has eventually turned to the Mortgage Interest Deduction.

(What? Doesn’t everyone have those conversations? Just me?)

If you itemize deductions on your tax return, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows you to deduct the interest that you pay on your mortgage from your income. This ultimately lowers your taxes and, in turn, your cost of home ownership.

This perk is often mentioned to me as a key reason for buying a home rather than renting.

There are a number of reasons why I disagree with this approach, but today I want to explore one in particular.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction could be gone soon.

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