Many believe that the world is objectively at its worst right now and that anyone who would say otherwise is stupid or ill-informed. To that, I’ll say you’re objectively wrong and, even if you were objectively right, you are still wrong to act in a pessimistic way.
I’m still an optimist (yes, even in 2020). And I’ll tell you why I refuse to succumb to pessimism and why everyone should be optimistic, even you.
A few years ago, I realized I had discovered the “secret” to succeeding in the health, wealth, and happiness departments. I had lost ten pounds and was keeping it off. My legs had never been so toned, my skin was glowing, work was fulfilling, my finances were growing, and my relationships were going great.
And it wasn’t because I was working harder. I hadn’t been tormenting myself with terrible diets or 5am wake up calls. What was shocking about my transformation was how little sacrifice I had made.
I recently received an email asking for my thoughts on how an aspiring law student should handle the finances of law school. Given the extraordinary cost of tuition, I’ve previously written about why students should think twice (and perhaps three or four times) before enrolling in college and law school.
But students should not consider the cost as the most important factor. Should you go to law school? Here is the way to think about it.
Many people think the American Dream is dead – but immigrants like my parents continue to escape the lower class. Here are some tips on how they did it.
It’s ingrained in the national psyche that “all you need” to achieve the American Dream is to “work hard.” But there are far more people willing to work hard than people are willing to acknowledge. There are plenty of day laborers and people toiling away at minimum- or low-wage jobs or in the gig economy who will never get ahead. Hard workers are not hard to come by, but hard work is not enough now and has never been enough in the past. Truth is, America has never cared that much about hard work. Why do we keep perpetuating this myth?
My parents came to this country with very little and are very comfortable now. My parents didn’t work that hard. And by that, I mean to say, they weren’t toiling in the fields, doing back-breaking labor. They weren’t working crazy hours hustling. They worked hard on a few finite items that I believe led to their ultimate success. Here are the reasons I believe they were able to escape the lower class.
Why do nice girls finish last? Being “nice” is different than being “kind”, even though the two can look the same from a distance. Being nice is performing acts in order to get something in return. Being kind is treating people with compassion without any expectation of return. Surprisingly, despite the lack of manipulation, being kind will get you far in life while being nice will give you nothing but frustration. Always be kind, don’t waste time being nice. Nice girls always finish last.
My friends still talk about the buffet to this day – raw oysters, fresh shrimp, smoked salmon, caviar, fresh carved prime rib. And all sorts of other foods that were delicious (and expensive). Beautiful ambiance. It was cheaper than what we thought they could charge, but it wasn’t so cheap that we suspected something.
It was great but it was also all a bit too much. It was fun mixed with guilt, and the guilt subtracted from the fun.
Sometimes excess is actually an obstacle to being happy, and it’s very possible to have joy even on a bare bones budget.
The 50-20-30 budget is one of the most popular budgets according to personal finance “experts.” In it, you spend 50% on needs, 20% on savings/debt reduction and 30% on “wants.” This is a terrible plan for almost every income and lifestyle and below I will explain why. The 50-30-20 budget is stupid and I will show you a better way.
How to Waste Money on a Budget
The 50-30-20 budget has pitfalls for entry-level and high salaries alike. First, let’s consider the following hypothetical spending of a 23-year old singleton college graduate who makes a slightly below average entry level salary of $38,000/year ($30,000/year post-tax) and has 4% salary increases:
The savings rate for middle-class Americans is low. The rate jumped to 7.6% in 2019, but that’s still far below what it needs to be to put Americans on solid footing. Now that we are in unprecedented times and unemployment rates are up, savings will likely fall back. It seems easy to just give up. After all, even if you save 7.6% of your salary, it will take 13 years to save a year of expenses for an emergency fund. Thirteen years is a long time! But even if the savings are small, there are many benefits of saving even small amounts.
My inbox’s tone has been very gentle lately. The newsletters tell me, it’s a big scary world and I shouldn’t feel bad staying in my fetal position and only resurfacing when the world is better. Drinking more wine, spending time alone, and vegging out are encouraged, perhaps even celebrated.
Most of my newsletters are directed at women. This is not a coincidence. We teach women to retreat; we men to take charge.