I LIKE CHALLENGING myself to do hard things. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired.
Recently, I started thinking about the hardest things I’ve done. Convincing my wife to marry me was hard. She was a tough sell. But eventually I wore her down and got the deal done—one of my best deals, by the way.
Attempting Ironman Cozumel at age 68 was hard and, even though I failed, it’s one of my most cherished memories.
WHILE HANGING OUT at the local Charles Schwab office, you meet a high-octane trader named Hal. He paces up and down like the Energizer bunny and talks so fast you can’t get a word in. Incessantly checking his phone, he abruptly gestures to the door and insists you join him for lunch. Apparently, Apple is up three points, his options are in-the-money and he wants to celebrate.
Hal speeds to a nearby Subway, where he proceeds to order the Spicy Italian for both of you.
JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS, I had a call scheduled with a financial planning client to discuss investment and tax strategies, with an eye to making sure everything was squared away before year-end.
This client is a retired executive who was successful because of her attention to detail. Her retirement is no different. She’s savvy and loves to get into the weeds of financial planning. As a financial nerd, that’s fine with me.
Naturally, given her personality,
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
He believed that spending mental energy to make an inconsequential decision about clothes early in the day might lead to a bad decision on a consequential matter for the country later in the day.
WHAT DO BEN FRANKLIN, Charles Darwin and David Cassidy all have in common? All have advised us not to waste life’s precious time.
Almost everything about money translates into time. Money can buy us time—either more free time or more time spent on higher-value activities. Money can purchase a nicer house or car, a luxury vacation, greater financial support for our children, fun toys or experiences, reduced financial stress—and, eventually, a comfortable retirement. The financial independence-retire early,
I’VE BEEN ENGAGING IN the same end-of-the-year ritual for decades. Right after Christmas, I take a day or two—preferably away from home—to reflect, pray, meditate and write in my journal about the past year and the year that lies ahead.
It’s a time for me to think about what I’ve done, what I haven’t done and what I hope to do in the new year. In this review, I include my financial, spiritual, emotional and physical lives.
MY MOM TOOK ME to a local credit union in 1981, when I was 14 years old, to open my first savings account. I don’t remember how much money I initially deposited. But back then, I had two sources of income. Each summer, I sold a pig at our 4-H fair livestock auction. That typically provided me with $200—funds I budgeted for school clothes and supplies.
I also earned money by showing livestock at our county fair.
DEPRESSION IS BAD not just for your health, but also for your wealth. In 2001, Prof. Robert Leahy touched on the corrosive influence of a person’s mood on his approach to the financial markets. Although intuitively plausible, his observation has never received the attention I think it deserves.
The notion of cognitive bias is a cornerstone of the burgeoning field of behavioral finance. Set in motion by the pioneering research of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1974,
I HAVE A RITUAL ON New Year’s Day—and it has nothing to do with making resolutions or watching college bowl games on TV.
Every Jan. 1, I pull up my handy financial planning spreadsheet on my laptop and input year-end numbers for my investment portfolio based on where the various funds closed out the year. I created the spreadsheet 20 years ago when I was in my early 40s, had just gone through a financially devastating divorce,
AT A PARTY GIVEN BY a billionaire on affluent Shelter Island, New York, author Kurt Vonnegut informs his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host had recently made more money in a single day than Heller had earned in total from his hugely popular novel, Catch-22.
To that, Heller replies, “But I have something he will never have.”
“And what is that?” asks Vonnegut.
“Enough,” says Heller. “Enough.”
The story may be apocryphal—I’ve read a similar version featuring J.D.
DENNIS DEVOURED the computer screen with an intensity he usually reserved for his trading platform. He’d just arrived in Manhattan from St. Louis for an investment banking position he couldn’t refuse, and was hunting for a two-bedroom apartment.
“These rents look like down payments,” he muttered to himself. But this was no time for complaining. Dennis checked his watch and turned on CNBC. It was the first Friday of the month and the employment report was due out momentarily.
SOME PROFESSIONAL investors make a living through arbitrage, exploiting small, short-term differences in the price of stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies. For the average investor, such trades can seem far too complicated. Still, I often look for opportunities for what I call “everyday arbitrage”—situations where I can take advantage of a difference in, say, tax rates or a product’s price.
Here’s an example: In a recent article, I wrote about how 2022’s higher interest rates will significantly reduce the payouts that some retirees will receive from the 2023 lump-sum option on their pension.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE end-of-the-year rituals is watching Turner Classic Movies’ annual memorial to those in the film business who have died during the past year.
Each year, I’m reminded of people who have entertained and often strongly influenced me. It’s four bittersweet minutes of smiling, crying and reliving memories. Movies, and especially holiday movies, have been as important in inspiring and teaching me as any scripture I’ve ever read and any sermon I’ve heard or given.
I HAVE READ THAT confession is good for the soul. I suspect it’s also good for our financial health—or, at least, I hope so. I have a confession to make as a usually loyal fan, regular reader and occasional contributor to HumbleDollar.
I’ve read less than a dozen of the site’s articles in 2022, and I’ve checked my portfolio just as infrequently. This is a new practice for me. I share it somewhat reluctantly because it may or may not be healthy.
HOW WE THINK ABOUT money affects almost every aspect of our lives. All the landmark decisions we make have a thread of money influence running through them. I’m talking about college, career, marriage, kids, the people and places we associate with—even how we spend our time. If we don’t make these decisions intentionally, we’ll drift downstream, carried by the current of the most popular money management ideas.
That brings me to a study recently published by the Journal of Retirement and entitled,