Here is the weekly roundup of the best articles of the week for December 21, 2018.
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A lot of what I read that doesn't make it to the this weekly best content I post on social media.
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This will be my last post for 2018. I'll be out until January 2, 2019.
Best Articles of the Week
Vox.com is one of the premier news sites on the internet. The only problem with it is it can be a time sink. I could spend all day combing through all of the great content Vox offers.
The article I chose for this week's collection is titled Stores Use These Tricks to Get You to Spend Money. Don't Fall For It. Two experts talk about the psychology of sales, coupons, and gifts. See if the first paragraph grabs your attention. It sure grabbed mine.
“The holiday season in America is one giant spending fest, as the months of November and December can account for 30 percent of a brand’s sales, according to the National Retail Federation. Between Black Friday deals and other pre-Christmas shopping, Americans will spend about $720 billion — and companies employ many time-tested tactics to ensure they do.”
The $720 billion number for November and December stunned me. That's almost a freaking trillion dollars! That's greater than the GDP of most countries for crying out loud! Consumerism is alive and well in American. Sadly, much of that goes on high-interest credit cards that will strap consumers when the bills come due.
Some of the tricks are very sneaky. Ok. All of them are sneaky. Things like sales tied to a day, offering credit to your account for special purchases, and gifts with purchases are just a few of the tricks.
Please. Be a smarter shopper this Holiday season. Don't overspend. Don't get caught up in the “on sale” “limited time” offers that sound too good to be true. Most of them usually are too good to be true.
The holiday season in America is one giant spending fest, as the months of November and December can account for 30 percent of a brand's sales, according to the National Retail Federation. Between Black Friday deals and other pre-Christmas shopping, Americans will spend about $720 billion – and companies employ many time-tested tactics to ensure they do.
Budget Like a Lady
Nicole, who runs the blog Budget Like a Lady, wrote a great article called You Don't Suck at Money – Time to Stop Pursuing Perfection. I love the title. If the title is everything in writing, this title hits the mark.
For the perfectionists among us, this post is for you. Let's face it. Many of us (myself included) struggle with perfectionism. We don't like to make mistakes. When we get into things we don't understand or can't seem to master, we get frustrated because we can't do it perfectly. When we find ourselves in these situations, Nicole's advice is to chill. To stop measuring ourselves against what others may be doing.
In today's hypersocial world, what we see and hear on social media is everyone's best attempt to look perfect. It also makes us braver when we can say anything we want without having to look someone in the eye. But I digress.
What Nicole suggests, and I agree, is that personal finance and handling money are learned skills. No one is born as a financial expert. It is something we develop skills at over time. She offers tips to keep us from beating ourselves up over mistakes and puts forward suggestions on better ways to learn from those mistakes.
It's a good read.
I will be the first to tell you nothing is perfect. We scroll through social media and see everyone else “living their best life” and we start to imagine if WE could live our best life. Then, here come the negative thoughts: Why can't I get my finances together?
Life for the Better
Tim, along with his significant other L (that's all we get of her name) are the authors of the blog Life for the Better, and bloggers who've chosen to remain anonymous. We know they live in a tiny house and are pursuing financial independence.
Tim wrote an article this week called Why the Financial Independence Community Matters. In it, Tim talks about the value of community. Specifically, he highlights the community of bloggers pursuing financial independence. As Millennials (I'm making an assumption here) they are very much a part of this growing community. The things Tim points out about the community apply to any other community of people as well.
Things like accountability, learning from each other (the wins and the losses), the reassurance offered by others, and the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves. There is one thing, however, where we disagree.
Tim says he values the different perspectives of the FIRE community. Though it seems to be changing, I'd have to say that for the most part, the FI blogs regurgitates a lot of the same ideas. Most of them are good, few of them new.
Some examples – spend less than you make, save and invest, minimize debt. Those are just the basics of personal finance. They're in love with Vanguard. It's the be all do all of investing. They love passive income from “side hustles” and affiliate marketing. All good things. Not much new. I'm sure I'll take some heat for this view, but it's my blog, so I'm gonna put it out there.
I agree with everything else in the article. As a Boomer, I've been embraced (mostly) by my Millennial friends. It is a great and growing community.
Financial Independence is a lifestyle. It's not for everyone. But just like any hobby or passion – sports, arts, theater, cooking, another language, etc., financial independence is a common goal of a Being part of a group of like-minded people is invaluable for a number of reasons.
Middle Age Money Man
I assume the author of the blog Middle Age Money Man (MAMM) is just that – middle age. It's left to us to define what that means. I'm guessing it's somewhere between Millennial and Boomer. Maybe a late Gen Xer, who knows. It doesn't really matter. He has some great articles and a great sense of humor. Here is what he says you'll find on his blog:
“You are going to find awesome articles about personal finance, life, Mental Health, Depression, life hacks, budgeting, being old like me, and how to just be super-awesome!”
He is very transparent about his struggles in life, including a long-running battle with depression. I too struggle with and have been treated for depression. I'm grateful to hear someone else bringing it to light. Millions of people suffer silently with depression and never seek help because of the stigma. I love that MAMM talks openly about his struggles so others can learn and get help.
The article I'm highlighting for today's roundup is The Good, Bad, and Ugly Kinds of Debt. Be warned. The featured image from the post is, well, ugly. Don't let it dissuade you from reading the article. Too many bloggers today frown on debt as if it is the plague itself. As a financial advisor, I advise people to use it wisely and avoid any high-interest debt. But not all debt is bad.
MAMM takes an objective look at debt and how it can be used constructively for things like a college education, starting a business, and real estate. Good debt should go for things that appreciate over time. All of these things appropriately used fit that description. Bad debt does just the opposite. It goes for things that depreciate. Things like cars, clothes, and anything purchased on high-interest credit cards fit that description.
It's common sense in many ways. MAMM takes a more objective look than most writers I've seen, including the personal finance guru of all gurus, Dave Ramsey. Before all you haters out there start in on me, you should know I'm a Dave Ramsey fan. However, there are many other ways to financial independence that are just as effective as those Dave offers.
At any rate, I encourage you to check out this article and pass it on to anyone it might benefit.
Have you ever really looked at what debt truly is? I mean, what the true definition of debt is. In its most basic form, debt is an amount of money borrowed by one party from another party. For so many people these days, debt has become a fact of life.
My posts this week
It was a light week for me as we get ready for a week off for the Christmas Holiday. Though I only published two posts this week, the top five post article below highlights the most read articles for 2018. You may have missed some of these when originally released.
I'm pleased to share with you my interview with a young man who went from poverty to a Harvard MBA. It's a compelling story that offers hope to anyone who feels they don't have any. My friend, Camilo Maldonado, along with his twin brother Francisco, publish the blog The Finance Twins (appropriate name, yes?).
I wrote a post a few weeks ago summarizing my thoughts after my first year of blogging. As we close out the year, I've compiled a list of the top five articles to read from my blog based on reader views. When Money with a Purpose started, the focus was to be on personal finance.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. May you find time to spend with those you love the most.