The Case Against Charity

Earlier this year the personal finance community got into a heated debate about charitable giving. The conversation kicked off with a thread of tweets from Tanja of Our Next Life.

Tanja’s thread was filled with research and nuance, but the big takeaway was basically that we fail to recognize when we are wealthy, and this leads to a scarcity mindset that, among other things, causes us to donate much less money than we are actually able.

This all seemed pretty uncontroversial to me. And yet, it led to a lot of pushback. Especially the idea that those of us with money should be donating more of it.

I wanted to understand why, so I asked. Continue reading “The Case Against Charity”

Personal Finance 101

Today we’re continuing the journey we started last week traveling through the different subjects that we’ve covered this year.

Last week we took a big picture look at life planning, which was our topic for January.

Today, we’re diving into our February research, which was on personal finance basics. Continue reading “Personal Finance 101”

Better Life – Third Quarter Update

2018 is a year of self-improvement.

I’m spending each month exploring a different area of life and figuring out how best to improve and optimize.

As of the last quarterly update we had covered life planning, personal finance basics, time management, the science of happiness, money and happiness, and health.

Since then, we’ve added philosophy and happiness, investing and the economy, and relationships.

Let’s check in for the third quarter update. Continue reading “Better Life – Third Quarter Update”

Better Life – Second Quarter Update

2018 is a year of self-improvement.

I’m spending each month exploring a different area of life and figuring out how best to improve and optimize.

So far we’ve covered life planning, personal finance basics, time management, the science of happiness, money and happiness, and health.

We’re halfway through the year, so it’s time for a quarterly check in. Continue reading “Better Life – Second Quarter Update”

Balancing Money and Happiness Over Time

As we close out our month exploring the intersection of money and happiness, we’ve learned quite a bit.

We’ve learned how money and happiness are linked and how a threshold level of income avoids unhappiness. We’ve also learned a few methods for getting more happiness out of the money that we already spend.

Last week we looked at where we should be spending more money to make ourselves happier and Tuesday we explored the issue of opportunity cost and where more money would make us less happy.

Today, we’re going to take a more complicated look at opportunity cost and tackle a very tricky issue that most people struggle with: weighing the short term against the long term when it comes to money and happiness. Continue reading “Balancing Money and Happiness Over Time”

The Best Happiness Bang for Your Buck

We’re spending the month of May exploring the intersection between money and happiness.

We’ve already learned that money CAN buy happiness, but that you’re probably spending it wrong.

One way to get more happiness out of your money is to indulge in small sporadic treats. You can also practice gratitude and avoid comparing your stuff to others.

Another way is to spend your money on experiences rather than stuff. Continue reading “The Best Happiness Bang for Your Buck”

Materialism and Happiness

Last month, while exploring the science of happiness, we learned about hedonic adaptation.

Hedonic adaptation is one of the key forces that prevents us from becoming happier. It misleads us into thinking that the wrong things will make us happy.

Instead, we end up on a treadmill where we continuously adapt to our new situations and material possessions and stay at the same level of happiness.

Today, we return to hedonic adaptation to see how it impacts the intersection of money and happiness. Continue reading “Materialism and Happiness”

Big Money Changes

While making plans for our finances, we need to keep big changes in mind.

Everyone encounters big changes (and big expenses) at different points in their lives.

Sometimes these big changes are planned! I just had a baby. That was very intentional. It will also make my life much more expensive.

Sometimes these big expenses are unplanned. We can’t predict when we will get sick or injured and face large hospital bills. We can’t predict when we’ll get into a car accident and need to buy a replacement. We can’t predict when our home will flood.

Expensive things happen all the time. Whether planned or unplanned, we need to be prepared. Continue reading “Big Money Changes”

Money for Couples

The topic of how couples should handle money is full of land mines.

There are a lot of people with a lot of very strong feelings about the “right” way to handle money as a couple.

Some people say that if you aren’t entirely joined in every aspect, then you aren’t in a true marriage.

Some say that if you aren’t entirely separated in your finances then you aren’t truly protecting yourself from the realities of the modern world.

I don’t have a single method that I want to prescribe to you today. But my wife and I have gone through a bunch of different ways of handling money as a couple, and I’ve got some lessons that may be useful. Continue reading “Money for Couples”

Making a Plan for Your Money

Now that we know where we are with our money and where we want to go, it’s time to make a plan to get there.

That plan is your budget.

Wait! Don’t leave!

It’s really not that bad! While budgets get a bad rap, they don’t have to be something that you dread dealing with. There are all sorts of different ways to budget.

We’ll find something that works for you! Continue reading “Making a Plan for Your Money”