Get Smarter, Richer, and Happier. Go to the Library.

I tend to focus on three distinct categories here: building wealth, becoming happier, and thinking smarter. Usually there is some overlap between these subjects. Even if there is not a direct overlap, there is always at least some connection behind the scenes. Correcting cognitive biases can make you wealthier. Well-spent money can make you happier. Being happier can lead you to better performance at your job.

But today I want to talk about a tool that allows you to hit all three of these subjects directly. The library. Continue reading “Get Smarter, Richer, and Happier. Go to the Library.”

Buffett’s Bet

There is a dispute over how you should be investing your money and Warren Buffett has lined himself up as the antagonist of hedge fund managers.

Before jumping into the fight, a quick primer on active and passive investing: Active funds are actively managed (and clearly creatively named) funds in which the fund manager tries to pick investments that will perform better than the market. Passive funds (or index funds) are funds that simply try to match an index rather than beat it. For example, instead of trying to pick the companies that will outperform the market, a passive S&P 500 index fund will purchase every company in the S&P 500.

Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, is a big believer in passive investing for the average investor. While he takes an active role in managing the investments of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, he believes that the vast majority of people are better off placing their money in low fee index funds and investing passively. Continue reading “Buffett’s Bet”

Happiness Through Kindness

The first trick to becoming happier: doing what your mother taught you.

And here I don’t mean making your bed (although Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project argues strongly that that helps as well). Today we’re talking about being kind to others.

A number of studies have proven what you may have suspected anyway: practicing acts of kindness increases your happiness.

So be selfish. Do things for other people. Continue reading “Happiness Through Kindness”

The Ultimate Guide to Your Credit Score

Credit scores are an important part of modern life, and yet most people don’t actually know how they work. They impact the interest rate you pay for loans, whether you can rent an apartment or get a job, and whether and at what interest rate a bank will give you a mortgage. Plus, people are 40% more willing to date you if you have a higher credit score. 

So how does it work? Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Your Credit Score”

Thinking Smarter: Avoiding Confirmation Bias

One subject on which I want to spend a lot of time and words on this site is why we make bad decisions and how we can make better ones. This means taking a look at our cognitive biases, which are basically holes in our ability to think logically and rationally.

That may sound boring, but by noticing and correcting these holes we can make better decisions, be more convincing, and generally make ourselves smarter.  Does that sound less boring? Continue reading “Thinking Smarter: Avoiding Confirmation Bias”

How Much of Your Happiness Can You Control?

So we’ve learned that everything we do is for the sake of happiness and that this site is aimed at maximizing happiness for you, my lovely readers. That’s all well and good, but how much can our thoughts and actions actually boost our happiness?

The answer is: more than they have been but less than you might think. Continue reading “How Much of Your Happiness Can You Control?”

How to Efficiently Pay Off Your Debt

Americans have a debt problem. The average American household has $90,336 in debt. ($5,517 of this is credit card debt, $7,871 is from auto loans, $9,153 from student loans, and $60,700 from mortgages). The average borrower owes 155% more than what they think they owe.

We also have a math problem. The average credit card interest rate is 17.55%. The average savings account interest rate is 0.06%. The expected return in the stock market is, depending on what time period you measure by, between 7% and 10%. Your credit card debt is costing you far more than your savings are earning you.

In addition to saving you money and giving you more cash flow and freedom to do what you want with your money, getting out of debt can help relieve stress and anxiety in your life. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers and figure out the most efficient way to pay off your debt. Continue reading “How to Efficiently Pay Off Your Debt”

It’s All About Optimizing Happiness

The vast majority of decisions that we make are made, whether consciously or subconsciously, because we think that they will make us happier.

We end a relationship because we think there is someone out there that will make us happier or we start a new relationship because we think it will bring the happiness that we have been missing. We take the higher paying new job so that we can buy more things and experiences that make us happy. Or maybe to pay others to do things that make us unhappy, like cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. Continue reading “It’s All About Optimizing Happiness”

Budgeting (Or Not)

Let me just say up front that I budget. Don’t pretend to be surprised. I know I’m a nerd.

But I won’t judge you if you don’t.

What I do want to make sure you do is make a conscious decision about how to handle your money. If you’re ignoring budgeting because you think it will take too long or be too constricting, then your money may be leaking out in places that you don’t want it to.

Whether you decide to budget or not, here’s what you should know before deciding how to apportion your money. Continue reading “Budgeting (Or Not)”


“You don’t have to live the way other people expect you to.”

– Chris Guillebeau

Most of us go through life living it like the people around us. There’s no real shame in that. Most people do it. But I’ve found that by taking a little extra time up front to learn, we can tweak our thoughts and actions to become wealthier, more productive, and, most importantly, happier. You can’t live like everyone else and expect to achieve better results.  And it’s not that hard to learn how to optimize your life.

I wanted to create a space to share what I have learned so far and what I plan to learn in the future.  I hope that the lessons I’ve learned will help you and, selfishly, I hope that sparking conversation here will help me learn more too.

In learning to optimize our lives, we will pull from a diverse range of disciplines. In optimizing our money, we will look to the obvious choices of personal finance and investing, but we will also spend time with behavioral economics and charitable giving through effective altruism.

In optimizing our happiness we will look to the worlds of positive psychology and philosophy.

We will also look to psychology and the study of cognitive biases to better understand the way we think. If we can understand how our brains react in different situations we can correct our natural flaws and optimize our decision making and productivity.

By learning more about ourselves and our surroundings, we can become the best possible versions of ourselves.

I hope that you are as excited about this endeavor as I am, and I thank you in advance for coming along for the journey and joining in the conversation as we travel together on the path to a richer, better, and happier life.

(P.S. – If there is anything in particular that you are interested in learning more about, feel free to drop it in the comments or shoot me an email. I’m always looking for new things to learn and new ways to optimize.)