Tag Archives: school

Atomic Habits: What I Learned from James Clear’s Book

We all know habits are important – whether for our personal fitness or our finances. Yet nearly all of us acknowledge the fact that we don’t have the best habits for our personal development.

This book, which I read and reflected on the last two weeks, revealed just how important habits are. I took away many points – some of which I already knew and some of which were completely foreign.

In summary, I learned that habits are crucial for success. They form by a cue and often are formed in large part by our environment. Controlling your environment is a huge part of success. Making your habits Obvious, Attractive, Easy and Satisfying is what the book was really about.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that many of the most successful people got to where they are because of environment and habits. Good habits can come from accountability partners, from creating a good environment or simply working to create the obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying habits the author talks about.

I would highly recommend the book for anyone interested in habits or personal development.

Getting on the Grid: The Importance of Communication

We all like to think, especially here in the U.S., that we’re capable of doing nearly all of the things we set or minds to– and doing them well.

While it’s certainly true that almost anything we set our minds to can be done well, the reality is that we have to pick a few things to become great at. Everything else has to either be left in a mediocre/neutral/average state, delegated or abandoned.

While this might sound like a negative, pessimistic view, it’s actually the truth. There is only so much energy, time and resources in our limited life to do everything we set out to do.

With that in mind, we can understand that facilitating our strengths and weaknesses will ultimately determine our success in life. A big part of this is delegation and communication.

Communication, at it’s simplest level, is just transferring knowledge or feelings from one party to another. And the main way this happens is through connection–through authentic mutual understanding.

Your ability to connect, and therefore communicate, plays a massive role of where you’ll be in 20 years. Take time to focus on it, focus on your strengths, and focus on others.

Are Markets Efficient?

When investing your money you’ll hear many different forms of opinion. Experts like Dave Ramsey will tell you to invest in growth stock mutual funds, others will say that index funds are the way to go. Then there is a group of investors that says you can beat the market by buying “undervalued” stocks.

The question that arises is, is there such a thing as an undervalued stock, and if so, is there a reliable way to take advantage of this “market inefficiency”.

Your investment philosophy in stocks is largely dependent on your opinion on what’s called the Efficient Market Theory (EMT). This theory states that markets are fully efficient. In other words any given price in the markets reflects the cumulative “wisdom” of all investors actings logically on fundamental data regarding value.

Essentially the market, according to this theory, is always acting completely logically based on the current information. So at any given point the market isn’t overvalued or undervalued – it’s priced at the fair equilibrium price given the current information available.

Some practitioners and theorists have brought up concerns with the theory stating that it doesn’t accurately reflect the actual results we see in the real world. For example, in the tech “bubble” of 2000, were investors acting completely logically on the market’s information or was there inefficiency?

Ultimately you’ll have to make your own determination. At the moment there isn’t unanimous agreement by the community.

Maximizing Your Tax- Advantaged Money: How Much You Need to Make The Most of Tax-Free Money

Some of the best tax-advantages are provided by the government for retirement. For example just the 401K alone lets you put aside $19K per year into your employer-sponsored retirement plan. In addition you are allowed to contribute $6K (as of 2019) into an IRA. You can also open these accounts as a Roth account.

A Roth account, whether 401K or IRA allows your contributions to grow tax-free after you pay taxes upfront. This is in contrast to the traditional 401K and IRA which each are contributed to pre-tax but only grow tax-differed. Meaning, you aren’t taxed until you decide to take your money out.

But in addition to these two massive tax-advantaged accounts, you are also able to set aside an additional $3.5K into an HSA(Health Savings Account) account. The account is for the purposes of health expenses. However if you decide, say, when you’re 65 that your HSA is large enough and that you won’t need all of it, you can take out as much as you’d like for non-health purposes. The only catch is that the withdrawal is taxed.

So in essence your HSA can become a glorified IRA if you decide you don’t need it for medical expenses!

Each of these three options together amount to $28,500 a year. In order to take advantage of the full benefit you will need to earn about $85K to $95K in most states so that you can still pay your living expenses.

The bottom line: there are many options for tax-advanced money. It just comes down to making enough and budgeting wisely. So what do you think, is it possible for the average personal to maximize their contributions?

What I learned from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers

Have you ever wondered why nearly all the top hockey players were born in January, February or March? Ever wonder why the smartest people in the world aren’t the most successful? Malcolm Gladwell’s book contains these exact answers and more.

I found his book extremely revealing. I came into the book thinking that success was almost completely determined by intelligence, hard work and intentionality. While these traits are significant parts of making the most with what you have, Gladwell illustrates that much of what determines success is due to completely unpredictable and random factors.

While much of our success is determined by luck – where we were born, who are parents are and their respective network and culture – a lot of these advantages can be recognized and limited. But we can’t just assume luck isn’t impacting these things – it always is.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on my current reads and taking notes to summarize what I’ve been getting out of the books. I did this for Outliers and took away a few key points. Here they are below:

  1. If you see a pattern, don’t assume it’s random, examine the history behind it
  2. Understand your own history and the apparent consequences/indications of what that means for you

I hope these two points are helpful. A key takeaway was to look at the contributing factors and history behind success. This, of course, is consistent with the title of the book!

How I Wrote a Book in One Summer – and How You can Too

Most of us see writing a book as a daunting project – one that could take months, if not years to complete. But it doesn’t have to be this difficult. I began my summer in 2018 with the idea of producing a manuscript that was both clear and comprehensive. And that’s what I was able to do.

I didn’t complete this task out of sheer discipline. In fact I put very little upfront effort into completing the first draft. How?

I all begins with habits. I made a point to start the summer with a new routine. Each morning I would produced about a 500 word chunk that could be added to one of my chapters. As time progressed throughout the summer I began to enjoy the process of writing each morning.

As writing became a daily habit my confidence began to grow. I went from a 10,000 word manuscript to a 25,000 word manuscript to a 40,000 word manuscript. And before I knew it I had completed the first draft of my book.

To be frank I didn’t finish editing the book until the end of the year. What I really did last summer, which I find to be the most difficult part of writing a book, is complete a first draft on little disciplinary effort.

My book, which just came out this January, proves to anyone, including those who hate writing, that book creation doesn’t have to be as tedious as we once thought. The key to success is to start and make writing part of your daily routine.

What is Personal Finance

What is personal finance? And Why does it matter?

Those are two very interesting and important questions to ask as one either begins their life as adults, or being asking questions they’ve never approached before. For the past five months or so, this blog has predominantly been centered around personal finance, both the investing side, as well as the money management side.

I realized that before I continue this journey with all of you, I need to take a moment to explain what Personal finance actually is. Personal finance clearly deals with how individuals manage their money.

While the topic briefly touches on the analysis and performance of businesses and organizations for investment purposes, it predominantly centers around the individuals’ approach to managing each dollar in and each dollar out.

Personal finance answers questions like:

What are my financial goals? What use do I have for money? What should my investment approach be? How much do I need to be saving? How large should my house purchase be? Should I buy this trinket or save the money?

Many of these questions are simply answered through quiet reflection or by asking your friends and family for feedback. However, some of these more complex questions like how to invest your money, or how to craft a financial plan can often be better answered by a financial advisor.

Why does personal finance matter? 

There are three basic reasons why you should pay attention to your finances:

1. Money has impact

2. Money can be complicated

3. Money is emotional

While we of course don’t have the time to go into the details of Personal Finance in one blog post, I hope this gives you a great picture of what this topic is all about.

Meeting A Different Donald: Real Estate and Ways to Invest

Most people, if not almost everyone, has heard of Donald Trump. As the 45th president of the United States, he has been a real estate developer and the previous host of the Apprentice show.

But have you heard of Donald Bren? He grew up as the son of two relatively successful parents. His father was a movie producer and real estate developer like him. His mother was a civic leader. After majoring in Economics and Business a the University of Washington, Bren attempted at Skiing in the Olympics but had to quit due to an injury. In addition, Bren became an Officer in the U.S. marine Corps.

After that he took a $10,000 loan out in 1958, he began developing and flipping homes until he had built up a business which he sold. He started another one, sold it, and then took the proceeds to buy a third stake in the Irvine Company. He eventually bought the outstanding ownership and now has a net worth of over $16 Billion.

Donald Bren took one path to real estate. But there are others. I want to briefly cover the three main ways you can approach real estate investing.

1. Direct Investment

A direct investment in real estate, like what Donald Bren did, involves purchasing property either directly or through a business entity. Either you focus on property appreciation, resale, or cashflow. With these metrics in mind, you seek to partner with others to produce above-average returns over the long-term. This is what Bren did.

2. Indirect Investment

The second, more modern way to invest in real estate is less direct. With an indirect investment you buy a company that invests in real estate. Usually this is either a REIT (real estate investment trust) or some sort of real estate syndication.

3. Hybrid

The last option is some sort of mix. It involves partnering with others so that you own the real estate but you don’t necessarily control management of it directly. An example might be a partnership between a handful of people in which you own, say, 20% of the upfront investment. You put a shared investment with say, 2 other people. One person is in charge of management, and the other two people sit passively by but provide the capital.

A hybrid between direct and indirect is usually less risky but also less financially rewarding if your investment becomes a success.

Conclusion:

Part of investing in real estate is understanding yourself. How much involvement do you want? Often the answer is not much, but for those adventurous few, you never know, you might become the next Donald Bren.

Acquiring a Domicile: How to Rent an Apartment

Most people have or will rent at some point in their life. What often comes up is concern about rising prices or lack of adequate amenities. These issues will always be a concern. However the following steps will help prepare you for a move into someone else’s rental.

1. Determine your Renting Criteria

As soon as you decide that you want to rent, you need to determine what you’re after. What kind of budget are you looking at? What square footage? What types of Amenities do you want? What are your needs verse what are your wants? In which location specifically does this rental need to be?

Answering these questions will give clarity, allowing you to start the next step…

2. Narrow Search to 10 Rentals

As soon as you’ve determined your renting criteria you will be ready to begin screening. Similar to how a landlord screens potential tenants, you will be screen potential landlords. Find ten places that most closely meet your criteria.

Some places you can find rentals include:

Pad Mapper, HotPads, Lovely, Trulia and Walkscore

3. Visit Your List and Come Prepared

With your list in mind you can begin visiting each one. To come prepared, bring a checkbook, wallet, or some means of payment in case they want to charge you for an application fee. Also bring proof of income such as a pay stub or other documentation. Lastly, you’re going to want a photo ID.

At this point you should be well on your way to both knowing which locations fit your needs, and entering yourself into the landlords application process. Assuming you meet the rental criteria, you will probably get one of your applications responded to within a week or to.

You’re on your way! I hope this helps you on your rental journey.

Trimming Your Body and Your Budget

What’s more important than money? I can think of a few things: Relationships with yourself and others and your health. Often when people try to get in shape they spend a lot of time or money trying to set up the best equipment. I understanding wanting to set yourself up for success, but if you can’t afford expensive equipment don’t buy it before you even know you’ll stick with it!

The Surviving Millennial has a great blog post about reducing your fitness budget. Check it out!

Here’s the post:

Fitness At Home

I’d like to share a few points I have used in my own life to reduce exercise expenses. I am currently at a University that has a gym. Using it regularly, I have come to realize that access to exercise equipment is truly a blessing. I know this “free” equipment won’t be around forever.

Here are some exercises I’ve used that don’t cost a dime:

Pushups

Jumpking Jacks

Crunches

Burpees

Planks

Another factor that can play itself out in both budgeting and exercise is concern over other’s behaviors. Maybe you are worried what people will think, or possibly even what they’ll say about what you’re doing. The bottom line is that both budgeting and fitness are hard things to do regularly. If you can get over other’s opinions about what you’re doing, and if you are able to exercise your finances and your body, you’ll be headed in the right direction towards achieving your goals.