Introduction to Investing and Economics

Of the first seven months of the year, only two dealt with money. In February we learned about the basics of personal finance and in May we dove into the intersection of money and happiness.

The rest of the year had been spent on topics like life planning, productivity and time management, health, the science of happiness, and the philosophy of happiness.

In August we made our triumphant return to money with an exploration of investing and economics. Continue reading “Introduction to Investing and Economics”

Investing is Necessary

We’re spending 2018 around here exploring a new topic every month in order to live our best lives.

Way back in February we explored personal finance basics. This month we’re going to go a bit deeper and explore a bit more complex personal finance topics. Our focus will be on investing and the economy as a whole.

We’re going to open the month today with a justification of why we need to cover any of this:

Investing is necessary. Continue reading “Investing is Necessary”

Financial Independence is Simple and Necessary

For 2018 I am spending each month working on improving a different area of my life and discussing it with all of you. January was life planning month and we’ve spent February exploring the basics of personal finance.

In the personal finance space, we tend to treat the concept of financial independence as a more advanced money topic. We view it as something to move on to after you’ve mastered the basics.

I don’t think this is the right approach.

I think we need to teach financial independence as an introductory personal finance topic. It should be a basic of learning about money.

I say this for two reasons.

Financial independence is simple.

Financial independence is necessary. Continue reading “Financial Independence is Simple and Necessary”

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”

Brace Yourself for the Next Recession

There has been a lot of talk of recession lately.

Based on historical trends, we are overdue for a recession. Add in the fact that the President of the United States is considering starting trade wars over his advisers’ objections, and it becomes even more likely, according to economists. Continue reading “Brace Yourself for the Next Recession”

Is It Worth It? (Why I Save So Much, Part 4)

Over the last couple weeks I’ve run through a lot of my philosophy behind saving and investing. I discussed that I invest at least as much as I spend every month because I want to buy options for my life, because I see the value of labor declining over time, and because I don’t want to need to start a new career path if mine gets automated out of existence.

The big question for most people at this point is: “Is it worth it?” Continue reading “Is It Worth It? (Why I Save So Much, Part 4)”

Hard Work Doesn’t Pay (Why I Save So Much, Part 2)

On Tuesday I started trying to explain why I save and invest such a high percentage of my income at such a (relatively) young age.

In that post, we spent some time exploring how a high savings rate can buy you options and can free up how you spend your time in the future. It was an optimistic pitch for saving.

Today will be a bit less optimistic. It will be about a sad truth of our modern economy. (And, more positively, what you can do about it.)

Hard work doesn’t pay.

At least, not as much as it used to. Continue reading “Hard Work Doesn’t Pay (Why I Save So Much, Part 2)”

An Obligation to Work?

The United States Congress has a new member this week. 

After losing the race for governor of Montana in November, Greg Gianforte turned around and won a special election to fill Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives.

Most people are talking about how he won his seat despite body slamming a reporter the night before the election.

Instead, I want to talk about his views on Social Security and retirement.

(And yes, I recognize that only a personal finance blog can be interested in retirement policies while a politician is beating up the press. But we’re all nerds here, and we’re okay with it.) Continue reading “An Obligation to Work?”

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps (and Why I Ignore Them)

Believe it or not, I have had multiple conversations about Dave Ramsey over the past couple weeks.

Dave Ramsey appears to be the introduction to personal finance for a lot of people out in the real world. While there are hundreds of great personal finance blogs, people are much more likely to stumble across the best selling personal finance book or the radio host that wrote it. Continue reading “Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps (and Why I Ignore Them)”

One Tax Season Tip to Save $9,000

I spend a good deal of time preparing taxes this time of year.

My own, sure, but also lots of other people’s. I prepare taxes as a side hustle.

As far as side hustles go, it’s pretty good. The money is solid for a side gig. I can work as much or as little as I want. I get to work with numbers, which is something that I miss in my current day job.

And yes, I recognize that that last line may not be a selling point for most people.

I have learned a lot through this job, but there is one lesson in particular that I want to talk about today.

Nobody is putting enough money in their 401(k)! Continue reading “One Tax Season Tip to Save $9,000”