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)”

Platinum Cards and Status Symbols

You may have noticed that I have a strong interest in politics. Because of this I listen to a lot of political and policy-related podcasts.

One of those podcasts recently covered a topic that I found quite relevant to the personal finance and financial independence space. Continue reading “Platinum Cards and Status Symbols”

Find Your Own Tribe

A lot of advice for succeeding involves being different. Avoiding blending in. Not following the crowd.

Just be yourself! Be weird! People will appreciate it!

And that may all be true. But it doesn’t make it easy.

Even if being different makes sense and is logical, our brains are not built for it.

We have an evolutionary need to fit in.

Continue reading “Find Your Own Tribe”

Are Your Neighbors Making You Poor?

In October 2016, a study was published with the title “Does Keeping Up with the Joneses Cause Financial Distress? Evidence from Lottery Winners and Neighboring Bankruptcies.”

I suppose that’s a relatively exciting name for an academic paper, but a bit underwhelming given how interesting the findings are.

The media went in the complete opposite direction. The study was covered in articles like “Why lottery winners make their neighbors go broke,” “Living Near a Lottery Winner Has A Surprising Downside,” and “Why You Might Go Bankrupt If Your Next-Door Neighbor Wins the Lottery.” Continue reading “Are Your Neighbors Making You Poor?”

When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front

Last week we learned that one of the best ways to buy happiness is to spend money on experiences rather than things. Today, I want to explore a trick to squeeze a little extra happiness out of those same purchases.

The trick is paying in advance for as much of your experience as you can.

This helps increase the happiness you get from your experience in a few ways. First, it separates the event itself from the pain of paying. Next, the anticipation and delayed gratification will make you happier. Finally, in looking forward to your experience, the uncertainty of what is to come will bring you some extra happiness, as well. Continue reading “When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front”

How to Buy Happiness

I apologize in advance for the inherent humblebraginess of vacation pictures. I did warn you, though.

I am generally a pretty frugal person. Three of my last four posts have been about saving money. I’ve written about cognitive biases that get in the way of saving money. I’ve written about the best way to hit savings goals.

And yet, I just spent a whole bunch of money on a three-week vacation to South Africa and Spain. This came thirteen months after a trip to Peru. Which itself came eight months after a honeymoon in the Bahamas (which, to be fair, was paid for with hotel points).

The sun setting over the Atlantic from Cape Town

This may seem out of character or incongruent with my savings focus. But I don’t save money for the sake of saving money. I don’t intend to be the richest man in the cemetery. And while I would love to reach financial independence, I am not aiming to get there as soon as possible by any means necessary. Instead, I want to live my best (and happiest) life with as little waste as possible. Continue reading “How to Buy Happiness”

Actually Saving Money

Recently I’ve spent some time here discussing the most optimal ways to save money. First, focus on the big wins and then take a look at your recurring expenses.

This is a great start, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t actually put that money away. Instead, our natural tendency towards mental accounting may be eating into, or completely negating, our savings.

Continue reading “Actually Saving Money”

Saving Money Better – Recurring Expenses

As a preliminary note: Thank you all for the well-wishes in response to my last post! I had a lovely month out of the country (although everyone everywhere wanted to talk about Trump and the American election). If you’d like to see some pictures from Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Durban, Cape Town, and Barcelona, feel free to check out my wife’s Instagram page. I also have some articles on vacation and travel coming up, in which I will include some photos from the trip.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

I recently wrote about how to save money better. I argued that you should focus first on housing, transportation, food, and taxes. My explanation was that these are the areas where we spend the largest amounts of money, and so they are also the areas where we could save the largest amounts of money. Continue reading “Saving Money Better – Recurring Expenses”

Your Instinctive Thinking Is Losing You Money

Imagine for a moment that you are in the market for a new suit. You find one that you like for $200. A fellow customer then tells you that the same exact suit is on sale across town for only $100. Do you go?

Imagine that you are buying a new car. You’ve done your test drives and made a final decision on which make and model you want. You go to the dealer near your home to find that the car costs $30,000. A salesman sees you eyeing the car and says, “My manager would kill me for saying this, but the dealer on the other side of town has this model for $29,900.” Do you go? Continue reading “Your Instinctive Thinking Is Losing You Money”