Category Archives: New York Times

Adventure & Comfort Zone

Investing in Adventure: One of the Best Investments You’ll Ever Make

A few weeks ago, my daughter Lindsey called from the Salt Lake City, Utah, airport. She was on her way to serve a mission in Italy for the Mormon Church and had a chance to call us before she boarded her plane. Since the rest of the Richards family recently moved to New Zealand for a year, we’re all on what feel like crazy adventures.

While we talked, I told Lindsey that we loved New Zealand, but it was turning out to be harder than I expected. Wiser than I am, Lindsey, who is 19, laughed and said, “Dad, I think it’s funny that you are surprised by that. What did you expect? An awesome adventure with no challenges?”

Spending to Save

Your Spending Tail May Wag the Savings Dog

Just over a week ago, we learned that in 1995 Donald Trump “claimed almost a billion dollars in operating losses that could be used to avoid future federal income taxation.” On Sunday night during the presidential debate, he bragged about his tax expertise.

So let me just clear up something that should be obvious to most people. A net operating loss of $916 million in one year isn’t a good thing. This is true even if he was losing other people’s money. And it’s true even if it did “wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.” It doesn’t make Mr. Trump a genius.

But I bring it up here because this kind of talk does reflect the thinking I’ve seen countless people use to justify spending (or losing) money. They think it actually saves them money, and it just isn’t so.


How Humility Keeps You From Making Big Mistakes

Remember that kid in your high-school geometry class who raised his hand and asked the question everyone knew the answer to? Remember how the class laughed and thought he was so dumb?

It turns out that kid wasn’t dumb. That kid was humble. More humble than most of us. And being humble, when it comes to money, is incredibly smart.

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.