Category Archives: New York Times

Values-Based Budgeting

Values-Based Budgeting: Freeing Up Money and Time

A few months ago, I wrote an article explaining that the solution to keeping a budget is as simple (and complex) as maintaining awareness, and I asked you to do two things:

1. For 30 days, every time you make a purchase, take three seconds to notice what you spend your money on.

2. Send me your stories about your discoveries.

The point was not to change your behavior, or to beat yourself up with what I like to call “the budget stick.” The point was simply to notice.

Quality of Life from Letting Go

Who Do You Help By Not Letting Go?

Over the last few weeks, I have been humbled by the hundreds of emails I received in response to “The Cost of Holding On,” my essay encouraging people to let go of grudges, slights, and yes, underperforming investments.

I’m blown away by your grace and willingness to do the hard work involved in letting go. You have experienced everything from the irritating (like how a spouse cut up a grapefruit), to the life changing (when you dealt with terrible injustices).


Holding On and the Cost of Not Letting Go

There is an actual cost to holding onto things we should let go of. It can come in the form of anger, frustration, resentment or something even worse. The question is, can you really afford to keep paying the bill?

Permission Gap

Permission Granted – You Can Make that Big Life Change

Sixteen days from now, my family and I will board a plane for New Zealand. Not for a vacation — but to live and work for the next 12 months or so. It’s spontaneous, it’s exciting, it’s new, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Sounds awesome, right? Yes!

But it’s also completely terrifying. Big changes are unpredictable. They’re daunting. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them.

Contentment & Diminishing Returns

Finding Enough Before it Becomes Too Much

The more you consume, the less content you are.

If you don’t believe me, think back to the last time you ate just a bit too much of your favorite ice cream. For me, that’s Jeni’s salty caramel. There are few things in life better than that first spoonful. Except, that is, for the second bite, and then the third and the fourth.

But somewhere along the way — at right about the last five spoonfuls in the pint for me — it starts to taste not so good. In fact, at that point, I don’t even want it anymore. I usually just finish it out of a sense of obligation. And then comes the stomachache.


The Disappointing Reality of Meaningless Titles

I fear the clever marketing in the traditional financial services industry continues to confuse many people. They see the title “financial adviser,” “financial planner” or “financial” anything and expect to receive unbiased advice. This concern makes me think of the sketch above, which I shared many years ago in a…


Personal Customs Gate: Stop Stuff From Coming Into the House

My wife and I are setting up a customs screening station in our driveway. No, we’re not starting an international airport. And it’s not for solicitors, strangers or gift-bearing guests.

It’s for us and our stuff.

From now on, before anything new comes into the house, resident buyers will need to answer a series of questions. How much did it cost? Are you replacing something you already own? Why do you think it’s amazing? And if it’s food, are you sure you’ll eat it?

We’re doing this because stuff is taking over our home. And right now we’re in the process of getting rid of things we never use. We’re organizing, sorting and throwing things out from one end of the house to the other. And it feels. So. Good.


Your Market Viewpoint: 5 Days or 5 Years

Early Friday morning, a friend texted me. Here’s what he said: “Will you come talk to my co-workers?! They are talking about stopping their 401(k) contributions because of what’s going on! Driving me nuts!”

Still not quite awake, I replied, “What?”

Within seconds, he replied, “Stock market fell 500 points this morning, Carl! It’s all the way down to 17,537!”

My first thought: “Wow! The Dow is over 17,000.” And this is where things got a bit exciting for me as a financial professional.

Crazy Election_800

The Financial Fear Driving the Election

I’m getting more questions about what this election will mean for people’s personal financial situations than I’ve received in any previous election that I can remember. Financial advisers almost twice my age tell me the same thing. While I’m sure there are many reasons for these questions, I submit that the primary one is this: Our collective anxiety around money has never been higher. People are scared, and at the root of that fear is money (or the lack thereof).

Spreadsheets & Stories

Stories & Spreadsheets: The Two Roles of Money

Money is an interesting actor that plays two roles in our lives. In the first, money equals money. It fits in a spreadsheet. It’s something to be calculated. In the other, money equals stories. It’s what we tell ourselves about our relationship with money.