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You can afford anything, but not everything. We make daily decisions and create habits around how to spend money, time, energy, focus and attention – and ultimately, our life. Every decision is a trade-off against another choice. But how deeply do we contemplate these choices? Are we settling for the default mode? Or are we ruthlessly optimizing around a deliberate life? Are we creating financial independence, early retirement and debt freedom? Are we managing money wisely? Host Paula Pant i ...
 
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show series
 
#350: Anonymous and her husband have set themselves on the path of saving for retirement. But an old mistake haunts them: a financial planner convinced them to buy a mix of whole and term life insurance, which costs them $700 per month. Do they need whole life insurance, and where else can they save their money? Mike has $60,000 in cash earning one…
 
#348: Aja’s mom is 75 and has to take required minimum distributions from her IRA. She doesn’t need the money. Where should she put it? Anonymous from MA is flummoxed by HSA-compatible health plans. His copay and deductible are awful, and even bronze plans seem better. Are HSA plans overrated, or does the math work out? Julia and her husband, both …
 
#347: Back in the 1960’s, Jack Bogle thought that actively-managed mutual funds performed better than a passive indexing strategy. He pseudonymously published a paper saying so. But academic data from the University of Chicago challenged his preconceived notions. He attended seminars that showed how the drag on returns that come from management fee…
 
#346: Pensions make Chad uncomfortable, to the point of quitting his job to roll his $175,000 over to an IRA. Is the 12 percent match his employer offers good enough to beat the two percent growth of his pension? Or should he leave and never look back? Anonymous and his wife have $275,000 saved and a child on the way. They’re 27 and want to reach f…
 
#345: Let’s talk about one of the biggest expenses you might ever encounter: health care costs. When you get a hospital bill, do you understand it? After all, it looks like it’s written in code (and sometimes it literally is). How do you know if the bill is accurate? Has everything been coded properly? Are you being charged for the services that yo…
 
#344: Russell’s job offers the option to contribute to a 457 plan. Since he’s in the highest tax bracket, should he take advantage of the tax deferral offered through the 457 or invest within a taxable brokerage account? Anonymous is on track to be financially independent in 14 years, but isn’t living up to her potential working a boring job. How c…
 
#343: The real estate market in 2021 has been bonkers. That’s the technical term. From 2012 to 2020, home prices nationwide rose at an annualized average of 5.8 percent per year. From April 2020 to April 2021, home prices climbed 17.2 percent. This sudden surge in prices has many homeowners and would-be investors fearful of a crash. The memories of…
 
#342: Russell is a busy professional who’d like to invest passively in real estate. Is there data he can use to compare this approach to owning and managing their own properties? Laura wants to purchase her first investment property in Miami. Should she cash out some RSUs and stock from her company to use as a down payment? And what type of mortgag…
 
#341: Imagine a line. Cowardice exists at one extreme end of that line. Recklessness exists at the other extreme end. And in the balanced middle, you’ll find courage. Today’s conversation is about courage. We’re not talking about inspiring physical acts of bravery in this episode; rather, we’re discussing moral and social courage. The type of coura…
 
#340: Imagine this: You start a side hustle. Maybe you sell planners or lead workouts in the park. You make a few thousand dollars during your first year. It’s fun beer money, but not enough to quit your day job. But you keep growing. You run this as a one-person operation, though you bring on freelancers or independent contractors. Your revenue gr…
 
#339: Have you ever thought, “I’d like to invest in rental real estate but there are no cheap properties in my area!” “Homes in my city are too expensive. I’d have to invest out-of-state, but that sounds terrifying.” Or have you ever thought, “I’m curious about real estate but I’m not a fan of the idea of taking on all that debt.” Today’s interview…
 
#338: This month, we’re running four episodes based around the four pillars of F.I.R.E. — financial psychology, investing, real estate and entrepreneurship. Today’s episode, which originally aired in April 2018, offers advice to investors who want to sharpen and hone their competitive edge. Here are three lessons from this conversation with investm…
 
#337: Meet Kristen Berman, a top researcher in the field of behavioral economics. She’s the co-founder of Irrational Labs, which designs products that are evidence-based in the behavioral sciences. Her co-founder, Dan Ariely, is the James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, and one of the most famous behavio…
 
#336: Anonymous and his partner have a one-bedroom condo that they rent out in Pasadena, CA. The problem? They’re barely breaking even. Should they keep the condo, or sell it and make better use of the profits? Sam wants to know: how much of an emergency fund does a rental property need? Michael and his wife expect their taxable income to be less t…
 
#335: Have you ever spent years studying the wrong major, climbing the ladder at the wrong company, chasing the wrong career? Have you spent years living in the wrong city? Wrong relationship? Wrong lifestyle? It’s hard to discern what *we think we want* from what we really want. Society teaches us what we’re “supposed” to want. And we follow along…
 
#334: In today’s episode, we answer three questions from a college senior named Rafael. He asks about productivity tools and tactics, student debt, Robinhood and market investing, and how to establish yourself as an expert in a given domain. We answer his questions by widening the lens. People often ask about productivity tools. “Do you use Asana o…
 
#333: In the 1890s and early 1900’s, we had recessions every two years. From 2009 to 2020, we enjoyed an 11-year bull run, the longest bull run in history. And when we finally had a recession, it lasted only two months. It was the shortest recession in U.S. history. The duration between recessions is growing longer (these days, we average 10 years …
 
#332: Ginger’s financial independence (FI) number is $2 million, but she doesn’t want to fully retire early. Once she hits ‘coast’ FI, she wants to 1) buy her time back with outsourcing, 2) take a mini-retirement, and 3) buy a vacation home. Does it make sense for her to divert retirement contributions to these goals, or should she aim to save $2M?…
 
#331: Four thousand weeks. That’s how long we live if we’re lucky enough to celebrate our 80th birthday. We rarely think of our lifespan in terms of weeks. When we do, it seems painfully short. And that’s the point that Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks, wants to drive home. Rather than fight a losing battle against time, Oliver recomm…
 
#330: Linda is 58 and wondering how to account for her Social Security benefits when thinking through the 25x expenditure equation. Her expected expenses are $100,000 - $150,000. How can she figure out if she’s ready to retire? Alise has dreamed of living abroad for long periods of time and wants to buy a property in Portugal before the minimum spe…
 
#329: Have you ever thought about how an economist views financial planning? Would you guess that it's vastly different from how some financial planners approach this work? Today's guest, Laurence Kotlikoff, is a Professor of Economics at Boston University. The Economist named him one of the world's 25 most influential economists in 2014. Professor…
 
#328: Sarah O Sahara’s parents sold their rentals and business of 24 years. They’d like to create a trust for their grandkids with boundaries in place to avoid entitlement. How should they structure this trust? Anonymous in Canada has a fully paid off condo that she wants to turn into a rental once her new townhome is ready. Should she mortgage aga…
 
#327: The stories of success that highlight talent and hard work don’t tell a complete picture. The best artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs don’t always have innate talent. Not all of them have put in 10,000 hours of practice. What sets them apart is their framework for learning. Award-winning social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman discusses his ne…
 
#326: Anonymous is struggling with being too frugal, possibly to the detriment of her health. I mentioned in a previous episode that I struggled with frugality for a long time. She wants to know: in what ways was frugality a hindrance or an asset, and how did I get myself out of such a frugal mindset? John and his wife aren’t sure how much they sho…
 
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