New York Times

What If Numbers Don’t Equal Safety?

We have been taught that there is safety in numbers, and sometimes that is true.

But just because there are many people doing something, that doesn’t make it safe. In fact, sometimes it makes it more dangerous.

What mistake might you be making with your money right now because you are doing what a large number of people are doing and calling it safe?

A Nap vs Half Working

A Nap Trumps Half-Working

Last week, I gave myself a public beating over my recent discovery of how I actually use my time. One thoughtful reader sent me an email telling me not to be so hard on myself and suggested that if I try to maximize every second of my life, I would certainly wring the fun out of it.

While this was kind, it made me realize I had failed to make one really important point about the way we spend our time.

Time hunt_800

Half Working or Real Working

Finding time is hard. I often think about all the things I would do if I could just find the time.

But really, what a crazy thing that is to say. Find the time? Where should I look? Did I hide it in the bushes outside the White House? Can I find it on Aisle 10 at Whole Foods next to the biodegradable toilet paper?

I’ve let this question bounce around in my head for the last few months, and I think I figured out where the time went to hide. Let me explain with a small but painful story.

The certainty button_800

A Magic Certainty Button Doesn’t Exist

“How can I feel fine?”

That’s what Julie Elman, from Ohio, wants to know. Julie is 57, retirement is right around the corner, and she’s worried. Despite doing “all the right things,” whenever she spends time reviewing her financial situation, Julie never, ever feels fine about the finance part.

Julie, there is one thing I want you to know. You. Are. Not. Alone.

I’ve traveled all over the world talking about personal finance, and if I had to use one word to describe people’s feelings about money it would be “anxious.”

If you, like Julie, find yourself struggling to feel fine, despite doing all the right things, may I gently suggest two things to consider.

Not your job_800

The Self-Criticism Stops Today

You’re fired.

No, seriously. Pack up your stuff, and get out.

But let me be clear: The job you’re fired from is one you should never have had in the first place — being a critic of your own work.

Done, finished, not your job anymore. When you finish creating something and you start to wonder if it’s any good … nope! Don’t try to answer. You no longer get to decide.

If you need me to fire you, awesome, consider it done. But in fact, what would be even better is if you fire yourself.

Let me tell you why.

Ask the sketch guy_800

Ask the Sketch Guy

I want to try something I’m calling “Ask the Sketch Guy.”

Everywhere I go, when people find out what I do for work, they have questions. Some questions are about the stock market, or people want to know where I think interest rates are going. Those questions aren’t so interesting. You can listen to the financial pornography network for that sort of stuff.

The questions I love are the ones that happen in the hushed tones of a real conversation, often at the coffee shop or even around the warmth of a fire. They are the questions about the messy intersection of how we use our money and how we live our lives. They relate to how we feel about money and how we talk about money.

I want to see if we can recreate some of those conversations, here, with you.

Creative process vs making stuff_800

Don’t Wait for Creativity Strike – Strike Creativity

What if you don’t have to be “creative” to create?

We all know the archetype of the creatives, right? Eccentric, weird, scattered, messy. The creatives are plagued perpetually by writer’s block (or sculptor’s block or painter’s block or whatever block). They spend most of their time lazing about gloomily, smoking cigarettes and cursing this cruel world. But then, every once in a while, the creatives are so touched by the muse that they are forced to immediately drop everything, go into a trance and become a funnel for the beauty of the world.

Personally, I think that’s a bit too precious. This notion of waiting around in the rain until you get struck by lightning to make art (or anything) doesn’t mesh with my experience at all. What comes much closer is the famous Chuck Close quotation: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

Numbers & Feelings

Numbers Don’t Need to Be King

Imagine you’re sitting in an auditorium full of all kinds of people. Everyone is there to learn about what to do with his or her money. All of a sudden, the door to the room opens, and in walks the much-anticipated speaker. Who do you think it is?

If you said Warren Buffett or the retired Fidelity ace Peter Lynch, you’re wrong. The famous speaker is Numbers.

That’s right, Numbers.

You know Numbers, right? Numbers is that really smart person who is always right and always rational and whose suggestions fit nicely into a calculator or spreadsheet. Numbers is the gatekeeper for truth. And when Numbers speaks, all of your other friends — Feelings, Emotions, and Intuition — must shut up and listen. Those are just the rules.