WHAT DOES IT TAKE to manage money prudently? Yes, we should save diligently, favor stocks, diversify broadly, hold down investment costs, buy the right insurance and so on. But all these smart financial moves stem from key assumptions we make about our lives and the world around us.
What assumptions? I believe prudent money management starts with five core notions—which, as you’ll discover below, sometimes contradict one another:
1. We’ll live a long life.
WHEN PEOPLE MENTION Eastern philosophy, Westerners often have images of mystic monks in saffron robes, surrounded by clouds of incense and speaking in cryptic riddles like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
In fact, Asian philosophy can be very pragmatic in addressing everyday decisions, from family matters to investment choices—and many Westerners welcome the different approach to facing life’s challenges.
Daoism (also called Taoism) is one of the world’s oldest philosophies. It’s believed to have emerged more than 2,000 years ago during a period of dissolution,
WE ALL HAVE LIMITED time and limited money. How can we make the most of these two scarce resources?
More than anything, the answer lies in getting the big picture right. That means thinking through the tradeoffs involved, so we don’t allocate too much time and money to some parts of our financial life, while neglecting others.
On that score, it’s hard to offer hard-and-fast rules because personal preferences play a key role. Still,
I THOUGHT SAYING goodbye to my coworkers, and walking out my office door for the last time, would be the most memorable moment from the beginning of my retirement. But, no, that moment didn’t come until the next day.
I woke up, got out of bed and walked into the living room. Staring out the front window, I felt this sense of calm and peacefulness that I can’t remember ever feeling before. I felt so relaxed that I could swear I was weightless.
TWO YEARS AGO, I was 100 pounds overweight and constantly hungry. I had been overweight most of my life. But as a father of young kids, I was newly motivated to try to improve my life expectancy. I fortuitously discovered intermittent fasting and the low-carbohydrate way of eating, and instantly had success. Right away, I set an ambitious goal of losing the entire 100 pounds in one year. With a lot of hard work and dedication,
WARREN BUFFETT doesn’t have the best investment record over the past three decades. That accolade apparently belongs to Jim Simons. Buffett also isn’t the world’s richest person. In fact, he hasn’t held that title for the past dozen years and currently ranks No. 6, with barely half the wealth of today’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.
I doubt Buffett feels bad about this. Is your surname neither Simons nor Bezos? I don’t think you should feel bad,
THIS IS AN ARTICLE about not writing an article. It started with a Vox piece about the changes in society wrought by the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. One graph that caught my eye showed chewing gum sales steadily declining from 2007 to 2017, which was when the Vox article was published.
No economist would ever tie an economic trend to any one factor, but the article proffered an interesting hypothesis. It suggested that,
I SPEND WAY TOO much time analyzing what went wrong and how to do better. Instead, I should probably focus more on what went right and how to do it again.
This tip came from a close friend, when I told him about my money mistakes. My friend’s logic? Despite my missteps, I must have done a few things right to offset the damage.
He had a good point. There are three things I did that paved my path to financial freedom.
JIM AND I RECENTLY moved from Granada, our first home in Spain, to Alicante, a city by the Mediterranean. The move gives us the opportunity to walk along the coast each day.
A few weeks ago, we hiked a rugged coastal trail that’s part of a nature preserve, with an ancient Roman dock still partially visible. Along the coastline, you can also see how layers of sand have built up over the centuries, compacting together to form the breathtaking sandstone hills we enjoy today.
ONE OF THE KEY skills I quickly learned as a new parent: how to curb some of my emotions. Take last night. We were enjoying our normal bedtime routine, including bath time, bottles and a few favorite books.
Then I was vomited all over.
Being vomited on was just another evening with our 16-month-old twins. If you dial up or down your emotions too much in response, they have you. Dial them a bit too high,
BASEBALL USED TO BE a game where managers would go with their “gut.” But Brad Pitt changed everything. In the movie Moneyball, Pitt played Billy Beane, the first baseball general manager to use data analytics to great success—and suddenly it was all the rage.
Today, from a typical game, seven terabytes of data are gathered, everything from the arm angle of every single pitch to the exit velocity of hit balls.
“IT WAS THE MOST stressful time of my career, but also the most rewarding.” I heard that comment, as well as variations on it, from many bankers over the past few months as they talked about PPP, or Paycheck Protection Program, the federal loan program launched to help ease the financial distress caused by the pandemic.
PPP has been criticized because not all the money has ended up with companies it was intended to help.
WHEN I THINK BACK to Finance 101, what I recall—more than anything—is a whole lot of formulas. First came the calculation for present value, then formulas for valuing bonds, stocks, options, futures, forwards and all sorts of other financial instruments.
This was interesting. But with each passing year, I’ve come to realize that this introduction to finance was also incomplete. It was incomplete because—to state the obvious—the real world doesn’t always adhere to formulas.
OUR MOST PRECIOUS resource is time. I’m determined to waste as little as possible.
Unless we’re at death’s door, none of us knows how much time we have, but we all know it’s limited. Yes, money is also limited—but, if we squander money, there’s always a chance we can make it back. Time lost, by contrast, is gone forever.
My preoccupation with time and its dwindling supply has grown as I’ve grown older. I may be patient with my investments,
MORGAN HOUSEL’S new book, The Psychology of Money, covers a host of topics related to money and emotion. I was especially drawn to his notion that “how you behave is more important than what you know.” I’ve been a student of behavioral finance for some time and know this to be true academically—but it also made me think of my father, Ole.
My father was born in 1948 into extreme poverty.