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The making of decisions, money, and vaccines

By: Michael Blankenship |

“if your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”
~ Jack Kornfield

Greetings from LA and Hawaii.

This week we learned why big decisions are easy and little decisions are hard, some financial advice that goes against the grain, and what Bill Gates expects from the future of vaccines and viruses. We also share some sage wisdom from Seth Godin and challenge you to think about your financial goals.

Big Decisions Should Be Easy

Thinking less about complex decisions and thinking more about simple decisions can help you make better choices. Seems backward, right? That’s one of the premises of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book, Blink: “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” And he makes some convincing arguments to support his point. For instance…

In 2006, Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam began a study. They created four hypothetical cars with different performance “stats” for things like mileage, handling, trunk space, and sound system. They then asked participants to choose the best car — of the four, one was clearly better than the others. With four minutes to decide, participants got the answer right more than half the time.

Dijksterhuis had another group take the same test but distracted them by requiring them to do anagrams while making their decision. With four minutes to decide, this time, less than half of the participants got the answer correct.

Once more, Dijksterhuis put new participants to the test. But this time, he classified the four cars into 12 different categories, turning a simple decision into a complicated one. Now, what happened? Participants who were given four minutes to think about the decision answered correctly only 20% of the time. Those who were distracted by anagrams — or as Malcolm Gladwell explains, “those who were forced to make an unconscious, spontaneous gut decision” — were correct 60% of the time.

The point?

Freud sums it up nicely…

“When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however…the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.” — Sigmund Freud

Better Financial Advice

Nick Maggiulli wrote a refreshingly honest and practical personal finance article for Of Dollars And Data titled The 10 Biggest Money Mistakes. Here are some of his main points (our favorites), annotated.

Don’t Cut Spending; Raise Income — If you decide to cut spending so that you can save more money… how much more money can you actually save every month? In Maggiulli’s words, “Cutting spending has its limits. You do have to eat after all.” But there is no limit to how much you can raise your income… so it’s often better to focus on increasing your income than it is to penny-pinch your way to long-term wealth.

Don’t Time The Market — No one can predict where the stock market is going. It’s far better to diversify and put your money into safe accounts with a long-term payout. As Harry Markowitz said, “Diversification is the only free lunch.” We recommend checking out Vanguard and Fundrise.

Watch Lifestyle Creep — You make more money so you want to spend more money. That’s normal and you should celebrate life’s wins, but also make sure that you’re saving some of that extra money for your future.

Bill Gates on Covid-19

We enjoyed this 13-minute interview that Veritasium’s YouTube Channel did with Bill Gates about Covid-19 and the future of viruses and vaccines. They also talk about climate change and discuss the fire that Bill Gates has recently taken as a leader of vaccine technology.

A Few Others

Here are some more articles we enjoyed this week…

Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time by The Nuance

Can You Hack Your Body Clock To Become A Morning Person? I Tried It Out by Refinery29

Best Investing Strategies For Beginners And Beyond To Consider by Invested Wallet.

Some Advice From Seth Godin

Here’s Seth Godin’s recent post, Your Big Break…

“Some people get one. Most people don’t.

But, if you’re reading this, it means that you’ve received more than one, perhaps a countless number of, little breaks.

Access to tools, the benefit of the doubt, decent health, occasional peace of mind.

Little breaks. Over and over.

Little breaks get you into a room, but they don’t guarantee your performance.

Little breaks get you a glimmer of trust or opportunity, they give you a microphone and a chance to share your dream.

Little breaks don’t always announce themselves the way big breaks do.

Little breaks compound, one often leading to another. Or they don’t, creating false momentum and then disappointment.

Sometimes little breaks pretend to be big ones, and sometimes they’re hiding in plain sight.

Little breaks are easy to ignore and thus are wasted.

Little breaks don’t like being waited for the way big breaks do, because while you’re waiting, you’re wasting the little breaks you’ve already gotten.”

The Weekly Challenge

How much money are you saving every month? Robert Kiyosaki said, “It’s not about how much money you make, but about how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” If you’re not saving already, then start. And if you’ve already started, then ask yourself if you can increase how much you’re putting away every month.

Until next week!

Mike & Alec

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