Spending for Maximum Happiness

Last week I argued that the cost of happiness is actually significantly less than the commonly-cited $75,000. This, I argued, is because we are bad at knowing which spending will make us happier and which will not.

This may lead you (quite justifiably) to ask me to back this up. If I claim that people should spend their money differently, then how do I think they should spend it? And can I prove that they will be happier?

So today I want to talk about an area of spending that has great return on investment when it comes to happiness: spending on others. Continue reading “Spending for Maximum Happiness”

Introduction to Financial Independence

So now we understand the 4% rule and we know how to figure out our retirement number. We also know how to invest and use compound interest to help us hit that number.

If you stop and think about this for a moment, you will realize that there is no connection between the numbers above and any sort of age. We’re not saying that you will be able to retire when you hit 62 or 65 or 59.5.

You can retire when you hit your number.

And that could be sooner than you thought possible. Continue reading “Introduction to Financial Independence”

Defeating Decision Fatigue in a World of Choices

We live in a world where decisions abound. We have a plethora of options when it comes to just about everything. The alarm goes off and we decide whether to get up or hit the snooze button. We decide what to eat for breakfast. We decide which shampoo and soap and toothpaste to use. We decide which clothes to wear. We decide what method of transportation to use to get to work. We decide which route to take.

And that’s all before getting to our desk on a simple morning. Continue reading “Defeating Decision Fatigue in a World of Choices”

How Much Does Happiness Really Cost?

It has become common in the personal finance space to refer to $75,000 as the amount of money it takes to buy happiness. It has been adjusted for cost of living to see how much happiness costs in your state. (This despite the fact that researchers later clarified that the $75,000 figure was independent of cost of living, including New York City specifically.) It even inspired one CEO to raise his employees’ salaries.

But is it really true? Continue reading “How Much Does Happiness Really Cost?”

Your Emergency Fund

Everybody knows that they need an emergency fund (despite the fact that not enough people have them). Nobody wants the stress of being unable to handle a medical emergency, the loss of a job, or a car that needs repairs. But what priority level should your emergency fund be compared to paying off debt or saving for retirement? How much do you actually need to save? And should it be in all cash or invested? These are the issues we’ll be looking at today.

When to Start Saving

The loudest voice in personal finance is Dave Ramsey. Ramsey tells his readers and listeners to first save $1,000 in an emergency fund, then pay off all non-mortgage debt, then build the emergency fund to 3-6 months of expenses. And all of this before contributing anything to retirement savings.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know from my framing of the last paragraph that I am about to disagree. Continue reading “Your Emergency Fund”

Social Media is a Lie

Today we have a story, a lesson, and a plea.

The Story

I live in an apartment building with a roof deck. Our roof has a clear view to the horizon in the west.

Because of this, on many evenings I will grab a book or a podcast (or nothing at all) and sit on the roof to take in the sunset.

The sunset from our roof, as captured by my lovely and talented wife.
The sunset from our roof, as captured by my lovely and talented wife.

Continue reading “Social Media is a Lie”

The Downside of Keeping Your Options Open

When given an option between a reversible decision and an irreversible decision, we tend to prefer the former. We like money back guarantees. We like no strings return policies. There is something comforting about knowing that we can change our minds in the future.

There is less pressure on us to make the perfect choice. We are not stuck if we make a bad decision.

We’re also inadvertently undermining our own happiness.
Continue reading “The Downside of Keeping Your Options Open”

You Need to Be Investing!

Whatever bad things you want to say about them, Millennials are good at saving.

This is assumed to be due to being in their formative years when the 2008 recession happened. One expert noted that prior generations saw “plenty of boom times where the stock market was going up, home prices were going up, so they didn’t feel they had to save.”

Millennials saw that markets can go down and home prices can go down and placed more emphasis on emergency savings and a bit less on consumption.

That’s great news! The bad news is that Millennials aren’t investing the extra cash that they are stowing away. Continue reading “You Need to Be Investing!”

Pay Yourself First

Sometimes I will read the same piece of advice across a dozen personal finance books and a host of personal finance blogs. My brain will automatically start pushing that to the back of my mind as common knowledge.

And then, sometime later, I will be interacting with someone in the real world and remember that it is not common knowledge. I will remember that I am a weirdo and normal people don’t spend their time reading personal finance books for fun.

One such piece of advice is to pay yourself first. Continue reading “Pay Yourself First”