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15 Little Life Hacks

Some interesting links I’ve been reading lately (rich people, vapid people, funny CEOs)

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Natasha Mitra: “I love to consume. Consuming is my specialty.” Wow. Conscious spending be damned, I can’t imagine anyone more uninteresting and vapid.

How to get started investing with just a few dollars. Jonathan Clements of the Wall Street Journal is one of the best personal finance writers today.

Splitting the check amongst a big party is never fair. A situation I encountered more in college, but still sometimes today.

Personal responsibility is the cornerstone of financial literacy. I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s an interesting perspective on personal finance.

The single best article on why real estate is not the great investment people think it is.

New Schwab checking account that made me fall out of my chair. Wow. If this writeup of Schwab’s new checking account is true, goodbye Wells Fargo. “4.25% interest, no monthly service charges or minimum deposit requirements. Customers can use a debit card at virtually any ATM and Schwab will automatically rebate the fees. Paper checks and electronic bill payments are free.” If anyone has opened this account, please leave a comment.

New York Times article about how companies raise prices for bigger food portions. Fascinating economics. In a hilarious quote recently, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, shared his thoughts on healthy eating. “My opinion is that the media is the main supporter of healthy eating. We’re certainly not hearing it from our customers,” he said. “And [surveys] show that while consumers say they want to eat healthier, what they actually want is a big juicy burger.” Hahahaha.

The richest people in America, and I don’t mean by money.

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  1. While the Yahoo Finance article is a great explanation of why your house is not the great investment you think it is, it doesn’t have anything to say about other forms of real estate investment.

  2. The New York Times story about portion size was interesting. My wife and I don’t eat out nearly as much as we used to, but here is a tip we developed to combat the large portion sizes.

    We would ask our server for a take home box before the food ever made it to the table. As soon as the meal arrived we would stash half of it in the box and save it for a meal the next day. You don’t eat too much and your $14 pasta now covers 2 meals now making it $7 per meal.

    Just an idea that has worked well for us.

  3. That’s a fantastic idea.

  4. Ah, but in the case of Ms. Mitra, she’s an associate at the Carlyle Group in NYC (you can Google her), Princeton grad, and probably makes a LOT of money, being a top-tier investment banker. Granted, if she had just said “I love to shop, and I’m good at finding things I love,” it wouldn’t have made her look quite so vapid.

    Remember your I-love-shoes girl? The one who spent a lot of money on shoes just because they made her happy? Same deal.

  5. I know, I’m torn (that’s why I said conscious spending be damned). I agree that the way she said it is probably why I feel like vomiting. It’s just hard to swallow someone’s self-described expertise as consumption.

    I wrote a little bit about this in my ebook chapter on producing vs. consuming.

  6. Ramit, first off I love your blog. I have found your explanations easy to understand and even easier to put into practice. I do have one complaint though. The Real Estate link above was obviously very biased. I am a 24 year old Real Estate agent and would NEVER recommend people using their personal residence as an investment tool. The examples the article uses could be applied to an sector of investing: buying at the wrong time, buying in the wrong area (or sector), over paying, cashing out and using the proceeds for fun instead of investing. If somebody cashed out their stocks or any other type of investment to pay off debt or take a trip, the consequences are the same. That fact is, it all comes down to personal responsibility. I have seen people make hundreds of thousands of dollars in only a few years using the type of leverage you can only get in real estate. If someone is irresponsible, they will fail in any investment strategy, not just real estate.

  7. Yeah, the shoes girl is a little nauseating too I have to admit but the way she described her expertise as consumption says more about her than if she’d said “Dude, I love clothes”.

    Not to mention Hilton-esque fashion trend she seems to represent makes me utter a little guffaw every time I see those “housefly” glasses.

  8. But I should point out that it’s great articles like the “richest people in America” that keep me coming back to this site, not emaciated New York fashion queens. Thanks Ramit.

  9. That Schwab account isn’t all that special. My local community bank (with 4 branches) is offering 5.05% with no min balance requirements and $25 of ATM fee reimbursements each month.

    All you need to have to qualify is an ACH/Direct Deposit into the account each month and at least 12 debit card transactions processed as credit cards.

    This isn’t a teaser rate either, they’ve committed to it for a long time. I’m opening my account this weekend.

  10. Ramit, thanks for the post.

    A few points about the Yahoo link on why your own house isn’t a retirement nest egg.

    •The financial calculations don’t measure the cost of ownership vs. the cost of renting. Sure you have all those costs owning but you would also have lots of costs renting. All landlords pay taxes, insurance, repairs, etc so those costs get built into your rent.

    •Buying vs. renting should be more of a decision of seeing how much house you can get for similar rent and mortgage payments. Right now in most markets you can get much more renting, but that isn’t always the case.

    An excellent article (NYT though so gated) is
    Do try the tool that let’s you compare buying vs. renting.

    •The real danger is buying more home than you need or can afford in the assumption it will go up. Whether buying or renting, how much you spend is much more of a lifestyle choice. Where you can really help in your retirement is using the extra money you would have spent buying or renting a larger house to save for retirement.

    Keep up the posts, Ramit.