financial friend

How To Be Awesome At Investing: Lessons From A Decade In Finance

How To Be Awesome At Investing: Lessons From A Decade In Finance

People always assume I am so deeply passionate and stoked about finance. Like I jump out of bed and get excited about interest rates. That's not exactly true. I am super stoked and passionate about helping people, feeling like my work matters and having autonomy over it. So when people ask me why I started The Hell Yeah Group, the answer is often that, " I looked inside of my tool box of skills and realized I had some sharp tools that all pertained to bookkeeping, running a small business and personal financial planning.” As much as I wanted to create a cool company that had nothing to do with finance, I had constraints: I needed to earn money and there was no denying the skills I had, no matter how uncool I thought it was. Not exactly visions of grandeur, more like shining a turd.

But I’ve really grown to love how my work makes me feel, regardless of it’s non-passion status. I want to share the industry-specific things I’ve learned and observed over the years that I think everyone should know.

Twelve Small Truths About Running a Business

Twelve Small Truths About Running a Business

It’s been over 4 years since I’ve gone off my own and I’ve learned more about the world and myself in this short amount of time than I think I’ve learned in my whole life - at least it feels that way. Now that my business is no longer a sketchy house of cards that could fall down at any moment, it’s a lot of fun making things exist in the world to help people.

Here are twelve small truths that I’ve learned while forging my own path. 

Big News: The Money Diaries Podcast!

Big News: The Money Diaries Podcast!

I’ve been a big fan of Refinery 29’s Money Diaries since I first heard about it. Up until then, almost all the articles I’d read about money were drier than Joshua Tree in August. They were boring, not relatable and the antithesis of a conversation.

Needless to say, I was stoked when I was asked to be a co-host for the new Money Diaries podcast.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been working closely with their production team, doing research and recording interviews with experts and new diarists with my co-host, Lindsey Stanberry.

Do You Need a Will?

"I have an app on my phone and it reminds me 5 times a day that I’m going to die,” is exactly what one of my friends told me recently. I stopped and thought about what she said, coming to the conclusion that I didn’t find it morbid. In fact, I think it’s a little weird that we don’t talk about dying more often; that we go around living our lives, putting things off as if we have all the time in the world.

Focus On Earning Money

Saving money is important. So is not spending more than you earn. And so is understanding the implications of big financial decisions like taking on student loans or a mortgage. All of these are crucial for long-term financial sustainability. 

But one huge piece of the equation that not a lot of people focus on is the earning money part. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time thinking about this concept.

Practical Principles: Ten Meditations on Finance

I’ve been spent the better part of the last four years thinking about both the small and massive role that money and finances have in our lives, from the global economy to our everyday choices.

The following principles I’ve written goes beyond the standard practical information I tend to put together. These are things I find myself regularly thinking about often sharing. They are the things I’ve learned through my work helping people and from my annoying curiosity about where our lives intersect with the financial and economic world.

Paco’s Law: Expenses expand to reach the limits of what's available to spend

I’m sure you’ve heard of Murphy’s law; an old adage that states "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And then there is Parkinson's law that basically boils down to: work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to Paco’s law.

How to Be "Financially Responsible"

How to Be Financially Responsible | The Basics of Financial Responsibility

One of the most frequent financial struggles that people talk to me or email me about is having trouble being "fiscally responsible".

When it comes to doing the things one ought to do with their money, according to what I've learned from the industry and society at large, we fall short in a few common ways. Most people have trouble saving when you know you should save, curbing spending on bull shit that you don't need and understanding how the financial markets and economics. I get it. I make weird choices too. A lot of us do it because we're emotional creatures that act on our feelings


Why You Aren’t Achieving Your Financial Goals

Photo by Jad Limcaco

Photo by Jad Limcaco

Goals are the measurement of the vague things we are chasing in our lives. The goal of success can be boiled down to a certain amount of money you earn a year. The goal of being healthier can be measured by your weight or the amount of miles you can run without stopping.  

Habits are the things that will influence your ability to achieve your goals. The good habits help you reach your goals and the bad habits will hinder you from the sweet, sweet glory of achievement. Ultimately, habits influence our automatic behavior and our automatic behavior influences our day-to-day life.

The difference between habits and goals is the action required for each. For example, you could have the goal of saving $500/month or you could have the habit of saving 5% of everything you earn. Creating a budget for the year is a goal, but implementing a system for sticking to it is a habit.

I’ve watched myself set goals and achieve them. I’ve watched myself set goals, grow exhausted, fight a cruel internal dialogue and ultimately fail at what I’d set out to do. At the same time I’ve watched myself build habits without a focus on goals and it’s amazing what I can achieve when my internal dialogue stops and my habits just kick in.

And for the last couple of years, I've joked that my goal is to have no goals, but the more I spend time watching the clouds and thinking about my life, the more I am compelled to quit having goals. 

The Problem with Goals

Goals are flawed to the point that they undermine what they set out to achieve. Goals rely on factors which are outside of your control, they have an endpoint and they require you to try to use your willpower.

There are so many factors outside of your control that impact your finances. The new tax code, a disruption in your supply chain or unexpectedly getting sick are all things that can impact whether or not you achieve your goals.

Goals have and endpoint which makes it easy to revert back to bad habits. Some people reach their savings goal, but spend it all a few months after.

Goals rely on willpower, which cannot be trusted in the long run. Willpower isn’t an automatic behavior, it’s like using a muscle. Overtime if that muscle is working hard, it can get tired. For example, trying to save money by spending less requires willpower and discipline. But automatically having a portion of your income going into savings is a habit that doesn’t require any willpower.

Some studies even cite that goals can cause risky behavior. Some people get so focused on achieving the goal that become blind to anything that appears unrelated to achieving said goal. There can be an overemphasis on short-term thinking or unethical behavior as a result of trying to reach an unrealistic goal.


The Power of Habits

Habits make things that were once difficult easy because habits are automatic.

Habits are easy to complete. You’re no longer beholden to your crappy willpower because habits literally rewire your brain. Your brain changes so the habit becomes easier to enact the than not doing so. You don’t have a mental battle about whether or not you’ll brush your teeth in the morning because it’s a habit that’s so deeply ingrained.

Habits can last for life. Our lives are structured around our habits and once a habit is ingrained, it can last for a lifetime. 

Habits can compound. A single habit can have a deeper and wider impact on our lives. Creating a habit in one area of your life can have an impact on behavior in other areas of your life. For example, someone who starts exercising might also eat less processed junk food. If you start automatically saving money in an emergency fund, you might find yourself making better choices when you're shopping.

Sometimes habits naturally allow you achieve more than your goals because of the automatic nature of them. It’s possible to still achieve results by ignoring goals and focusing on habits and systems. For example, a basketball team can still win a championship even if their focus lies in doing their best at each practice and each game. I've never had a goal with my meditation practice and now I'm going on year six of consistently meditating. When I shifted my focus on habitually adding value to my client's lives and businesses each month, I made more money than when I was focused on an income goal alone.

Fall in Love with Systems

Goals can be a source of joy when you are able to achieve them. Like so many things, they work until they don’t work anymore. And when that happens they can be a source of frustration. In order to continue achieving your goals, you’ll need to constantly seek motivation and inspiration. You’ll constantly be drawing from the ever-depleting well of self-discipline and willpower. You’ll be exhausted over the long haul.

The self-preservationist way around this is to create systems in your life, especially your financial life, that will remove your chatter-filled mind from the driver’s seat. Create systems for savings and fun spending so that instead of wasting time and energy asking yourself if you can afford this new thing you want but you don’t need, you already know that you’ve set aside money for savings, taxes and fun.

As you think about what it is you seek in your financial life, invest the time to understand what are the positive habits you need to form instead of becoming singularly focused on a specific goal.

Finance + Feels: Get to Know Yourself

You want to get your financial shit together and you don’t know where to start.

There is an endless amount of contradictory advice available to you in the depths of the internet. Most of it is mindless, thoughtless bullshit about your 401(k) and it overwhelms you.

There are so many different moving parts. And each part feels like something you should do, but you don’t understand why or how it relates specifically to your human life.

So before we ugly cry about how we’re failing at our money stuff, let’s tackle the only subject that might be more terrifying than our money: the inner terrain of ourselves. Ah, yes.

Inner inquiry and self reflection is where the ignorant go to become wise. So once you learn how to do this heavy lifting, the math part and the part about learning the rules some dudes made up about IRAs and brokerage accounts and taxes, all of that won’t seem so frightening.