Successful Careers and Failed Relationships

My last article addressed how to map out a path to a better life.

Never forget the importance of balance in a good lifeIn it, I recommended systematically going through every area of your life and analyzing each individually. Where are you right now in your financial life? Where do you want to go? Where are you in your relationship with your spouse? In your career? In your hobbies? In you physical health? Mental health and intellectual endeavors?

If you are trying to learn to be successful by looking at what people at the very top of their fields have done, my approach may seem counter-intuitive.

As someone who has read a lot of biographies of successful people, I have found that one of the defining factors of these characters is a singular focus and drive. They are obsessively focused on one aspect of their life and they use that focus to push them to the top.

I’m not going to tell you that that won’t work for you.

I’m going to tell you that it might, but you shouldn’t do it anyway. Continue reading “Successful Careers and Failed Relationships”

How I Invest – Timing

Welcome to the last in a series of articles discussing how I choose to invest.

First, we explored the different investment accounts that I utilize. Then we went into the funds that I invest in.

Today we’ll be exploring the timing of my investments.

But first, we need to get into a debate on investment timing.

Continue reading “How I Invest – Timing”

How I Invest – Investments

Way back in the glory days of October I started laying out a description of how I invest.

Previously, we looked at the different accounts that I use – the buckets that hold my investments. Now it’s time to look at the investments themselves.

What you’ll find is that I don’t follow the traditional advice here. I don’t think I’ve seen my strategy advocated by anyone anywhere. I’ve honestly been a bit hesitant to lay it out because it feels a bit odd coming from someone who is all about optimizing.

But here is where I will admit to, explain, and defend, my investing strategy.

Continue reading “How I Invest – Investments”

Why You Should Ask Why

Gretchen Rubin wrote a book on forming habits called Better Than Before.

There are a few other good books on habits (I recommend Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit), but Rubin’s big innovation was identifying different personality types. Some habit-building techniques work for some people, but there are very few universal approaches that work for everyone. Rubin divides her readers into four groups and then provides tips specific to each group.

Under Rubin’s framework, I am a Questioner.

“Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense. They’re motivated by reason, logic, and fairness. They wake up and think, ‘What needs to get done today, and why?’ They decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack sound purpose.”

Beyond habit-building, this is a pretty good view into my permanent mindset. I ask “Why?” about pretty much everything, and if the answer is any variation of “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” then I’m out.

Continue reading “Why You Should Ask Why”

Everything You Need to Know About the New Republican Tax Plan

A lot of people in the personal finance space tune out politics and recommend that their readers do the same. I don’t agree with this approach. I follow politics closely and stay up to date on policy proposals and all sorts of nerdy wonkery.

That said, when approaching topics for this blog, I make sure that every article has a takeaway that you can use to directly improve your life. That rule helps me stay focused on helping people with my writing rather than just writing about areas of my own interest. This also means I usually don’t discuss policy proposals making their way through Congress.

In the case of the current tax overhaul, I decided that it is worth discussing here. Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know About the New Republican Tax Plan”

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?

Continue reading “When is More Money Worth Your Time?”

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.

Continue reading “How to Succeed in the Modern Economy”

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.

Continue reading “Don’t Bank on the Mortgage Interest Deduction”

How to Earn More Money

Everybody is always looking for ways to make more money.

The Internet abounds with articles about side hustles and negotiating raises. There are entire television channels devoted to following stock market investments. Being a co-host of a show about angel investing can help catapult you into consideration to be a vice presidential candidate.

But from what I’ve seen and read, it looks like most people are taking a scattershot approach to making more money.

People try a little bit of this and a little bit of that. They jump into a side hustle and then when that doesn’t work they try another.

Like most other things that I talk about, I think it makes sense to look at earning money in a more systematic way. If we really want to make more money, we should understand the landscape. Continue reading “How to Earn More Money”